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    Cosmic lens lets astronomers zoom in on a black hole’s burps

    The beginnings of a jet from an active black hole in a distant galaxy were spotted thanks to a lucky alignment.

    in Science News on August 18, 2017 09:01 PM.

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    Here are the paths of the next 15 total solar eclipses

    From 2017 to 2040, there will be 15 total solar eclipses. Here's a map of where to see them.

    in Science News on August 18, 2017 06:30 PM.

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    Journal knew about problems in a high-profile study before it came out — and did nothing for over a month

    In June, Gene Emery, a journalist for Reuters Health, was assigned to write a story about an upcoming paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, set to come off embargo and be released to the public in a few days. Pretty quickly, he noticed something seemed off. Emery saw that the data […]

    The post Journal knew about problems in a high-profile study before it came out — and did nothing for over a month appeared first on Retraction Watch.

    in Retraction watch on August 18, 2017 02:05 PM.

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    We share the Milky Way with 100 million black holes

    New census calculates black hole populations in galaxies big and small.

    in Science News on August 18, 2017 01:00 PM.

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    Curious: A paper’s acknowledgments harshly criticized Spanish gov’t funding. Now two authors object.

    In 2014, researchers condemned the Spanish Government for “destroying the R&D horizon of Spain and the future of a complete generation” in the acknowledgment section of a paper about wireless networks. Three years later, the two last authors of the paper are protesting that protest, issuing a correction to alert readers that they did not […]

    The post Curious: A paper’s acknowledgments harshly criticized Spanish gov’t funding. Now two authors object. appeared first on Retraction Watch.

    in Retraction watch on August 18, 2017 12:15 PM.

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    Where does the solar wind come from? The eclipse may offer answers

    A quick-fire polarization camera should help scientists detect the origins of the solar wind during the Aug. 21 eclipse.

    in Science News on August 18, 2017 11:00 AM.

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    BMC Ecology Image Competition 2017: the winning images!

    For our 5th annual image competition we once again received terrific entries from talented shutterbug-ecologists from across the world. Anyone affiliated with a research institute was able to enter and we were amazed at the quality and variety of submissions.

    Our guest judge, Chris Darimont of the University of Victoria, Canada picked out the overall winners, while our BMC Ecology Section Editors picked the best images from their sections of the journal. For more on the reasoning behind their choices, please do read our accompanying editorial. This also includes our selection of 24 highly commended images – there are some really great photos, so do take a look!

    Here are our eight winning images:

    Overall winner

    Our winning image was this photo of giant South American turtles (Podocnemis expansa) taken by Ana Carolina Lima of the University of Aveiro, Portugal.

    Overall winner
    Ana Carolina Lima

    First runner-up

    Christin Säwström of Edith Cowan University, Western Australia captured the austere landscape of the Antarctic in her photo ‘Two Towers’.

    First runner-up
    Christin Säwström

    Second runner-up

    An image by Roberto García-Roa of the University of Valencia, Spain entitled ‘Connections’, showing a remarkable series of ecological interactions.

    Second runner-up
    Roberto García-Roa

    Conservation Ecology and Biodiversity

    Our winner in this category was by Zhigang Jiang of the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, with his image of a male Tibetan antelope guarding his harem of females.

    Conservation ecology and biodiversity winner.
    Zhigang Jiang

    Behavioral and Physiological Ecology

    Maïlis Huguin from the Institut Pasteur de la Guyane, French Guiana won this category with his image, ‘Wakeful’, of a lone ant defending its territory.

    Behavioral ecology and physiology winner.
    Maïlis Huguin

    Landscape Ecology and Ecosystems

    The winning image in this category was an image from Mount Teide, the huge volcano located on Tenerife, captured by Harry Seijmonsbergen from the University of Amsterdam, Holland.

    Landscape Ecology and Ecosystems winner.
    Harry Seijmonsbergen

    Community, Population, and Macroecology

    Our winner in this category, entitled ‘Catchers on a hot tin roof’, was this photo of a group of oyster catchers assembling in the morning sun, taken by Trevor Sherwin of the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

    Community, Population and Macroecology winner.
    Trevor Sherwin

    Editor’s pick

    Finally, play ‘spot the octopus’ with this image by Michelle Achlatis of the University of Queensland in Australia entitled ‘A “well-armed” coral reef community’ (if you are having trouble finding it, look for the eye exactly in the middle of the picture).

    Winner, Editor’s pick
    Michelle Achlatis

    Congratulations to all of our winners. Their images, along with our highly commended entries, have been released under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY), so everyone is welcome and encouraged to share them freely, as long as you clearly attribute the image author.

    The post BMC Ecology Image Competition 2017: the winning images! appeared first on BMC Series blog.

    in BMC Series blog on August 18, 2017 09:00 AM.

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    Hate sport? Maybe it’s because you have the genes that make exercise feel awful

    GettyImages-477104912.jpgBy Christian Jarrett

    Have you seen those people who come out of an exercise class with a spring in their step and self-satisfied smile on their face? They really pushed themselves this time and now they’re riding that endorphin high. To them, the ache and burn feels good. But it’s not so for everyone. Others find exercise unpleasant and unrewarding – the aches just, well, ache. Psychologists call this difference the “affective response to exercise” and in a paper in Psychology of Sport and Exercise researchers in the Netherlands report new evidence that it is to a significant degree genetically inherited.

    Nienke Schutte at VU University Amsterdam and his colleagues recruited 115 pairs of identical twins who share the same genes, 111 pairs of non-identical siblings who share roughly half their genes, 35 of their non-twin siblings, and another 6 non-twin sibling pairs (aged 12 to 25). The participants completed a 20 minute non-vigorous ride on an exercise bike and a non-vigorous 20 minute treadmill run. Their breathing was monitored to ensure the exercise didn’t become vigorous. There were also warm up and warm down periods and there was a second brief exercise ride to exhaustion.

    While exercising, participants periodically rated how they were feeling on a scale from very bad to very good, how much they felt they were exerting themselves, and how much they were feeling various adjectival states, such as energetic, lively, jittery or tense. From these measures the researchers established the participants’ affective response to exercise. The researchers also interviewed the participants about how much and how often they participated in voluntary sport and exercise in their everyday lives.

    By looking to see if affective response to exercise was more similar between identical twins than non-identical twins, the researchers were able to deduce how much it is genetically inherited (its “heritability” – in other words, how much the differences in the subjective experience of exercise between people is due to genetic influences).

    The heritability for the affective response to exercise was significant. For instance, using the simple feeling scale, heritability was 15 per cent for the moderate cycle; for perceived exertion during the treadmill it was 35 per cent; and for the adjectival rating scale, heritability varied from 17 to 37 per cent for non-vigorous exercise, and 12 to 37 per cent for the ride to exhaustion, with the figure depending on the adjectives looked at.

    Moreover, and as logic would dictate, affective response to exercise correlated positively with how much exercise the participants did in their everyday lives: those who found exercise more pleasant engaged in more exercise. And the analysis suggested genetic overlap between these measures: in other words, many of the same genes that influence the affective experience of exercise seem to be the same genes that influence how active people are in their lives.

    One caveat: causal direction hasn’t been established here. It’s possible that doing more exercise can change how we experience exercise. In which case perhaps it is the known heritability of inclination to do exercise that is driving the apparent heritability of the affective response to exercise. Likely the influences are mutual. Another possibility is genetic pleiotropy in which the same genes have separate effects on different outcomes.

    This study has uncovered a point of principle – that whether we experience exercise as pleasant or unpleasant is to a significant degree influenced by our genes. Establishing what those specific genes are, and what their other functions might be, is for the future. One candidate gene that the researchers mention is the gene that codes for brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a peptide that has been shown to moderate the influence of exercise on mood.

    Perhaps most interesting is the practical implications this line of research could have for interventions to help people take up more exercise. If some of us are genetically inclined to find exercise less fun and rewarding we might especially benefit from personalised exercise programmes that aim to reduce its arduousness and make it as enjoyable as possible.

    Heritability of the affective response to exercise and its correlation to exercise behavior

    Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest


    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on August 18, 2017 07:59 AM.

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    Anglers' online boasts reveal illegal shark hunting

    Researchers fear sport fishing is a serious threat to endangered species — but study of Internet forum also finds awareness of environmental issues.

    Nature News doi: 10.1038/nature.2017.22475

    in Nature News & Comment on August 18, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Eclipses show wrong physics can give right results

    Math for making astronomical predictions doesn’t necessarily reflect physical reality.

    in Science News on August 17, 2017 07:30 PM.

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    Embryos kill off male tissue to become female

    Female embryos actively dismantle male reproductive tissue, a textbook-challenging study suggests.

    in Science News on August 17, 2017 06:17 PM.

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    How an itch hitches a ride to the brain

    Scientists have figured out how your brain registers the sensation of itch.

    in Science News on August 17, 2017 06:14 PM.

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    Recent finding of misconduct by federal U.S. agency sparks debate

    In 2011, the University of Florida assembled a misconduct report about one of its ob-gyn researchers, identifying falsified data in a 2010 paper. But when an investigator at the U.S. Office of Research Integrity reviewed the report, something didn’t feel right. “I reviewed the data, and I thought [UF] didn’t do their due diligence,” said […]

    The post Recent finding of misconduct by federal U.S. agency sparks debate appeared first on Retraction Watch.

    in Retraction watch on August 17, 2017 03:13 PM.

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    Lost citation snuffs out Aussie fire paper

    A journal has retracted a 2016 paper on wildfires in Australia because the authors neglected to cite earlier work — an unintentional lapse, they said. The article, “Projected changes in Australian fire regimes during the 21st century and consequences for Ecosystems,” appeared in the International Journal of Wildland Fire. The authors are Sandy Harrison and Douglas […]

    The post Lost citation snuffs out Aussie fire paper appeared first on Retraction Watch.

    in Retraction watch on August 17, 2017 12:00 PM.

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    How technology empowers healthcare providers to achieve accessibility, affordability and availability

    Elsevier’s Director of Clinical Solutions and Product Strategy shares the perspective of developing markets

    in Elsevier Connect on August 17, 2017 11:38 AM.

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    Why are the loops in the sun’s atmosphere so neat and tidy?

    Observations during the total solar eclipse may explain why the sun’s atmosphere is so organized despite arising from a tangled magnetic field.

    in Science News on August 17, 2017 11:00 AM.

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    MDMA/Ecstasy may boost psychotherapy by increasing clients’ openness

    GettyImages-488358430.jpgBy Christian Jarrett

    Researchers reported recently that MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine; also known as Ecstasy) can act as a catalyst for psychotherapy, apparently improving outcomes for clients with previously intractable PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Now a study from the same group in Journal of Psychopharmacology has uncovered what may be the key psychological mechanism: lasting positive personality change, especially increased trait Openness to Experience and reduced trait Neuroticism.

    Speculating as to how MDMA might facilitate these trait changes, the research team, led by Mark Wagner at the Medical University of South Carolina, and including Ann Mithoefer and Michael Mithoefer who’ve conducted a lot of the recent pioneering research on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, observed that “Qualitatively, a consistent subjective theme emerged, with our subjects reporting a profound cathartic experience, often described as going to a ‘place’ (in their mind) where they had never been before”.

    The data come from earlier research that involved twenty participants (17 women) with a diagnosis of PTSD related to crime or war-based traumatic experiences and which had so far been untreatable with either drugs or psychotherapy.

    The participants took part in up to 12 sessions of psychotherapy with a pair of therapists working together. Crucially, during two key experimental eight-hour long sessions in the middle of the course of therapy, half the participants received a dose of MDMA (125mg, with the option of a 62.5mg supplement), the others received an inert placebo. Among its effects MDMA can increase feelings of love, empathy, trust and friendliness and reduce fear.

    During these key sessions, all participants were encouraged to introspect and were helped to process traumatic memories and experiences using cognitive restructuring and other techniques (more detail). In a later phase of the trial, those participants previously in the placebo group were given the option to take part in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

    We know from earlier published reports that the participants who took MDMA during the experimental psychotherapy sessions showed significantly improved and lasting recovery from PTSD compared with participants who took placebo (and there was no apparent harm from the drug). What’s new is that the researchers have now reanalysed the data, adding personality trait scores taken through questionnaires at baseline and two-month follow-up as covariates – allowing them to see if changes in personality traits appeared to be important for the differences in symptom outcome for the two groups.

    That’s exactly what they found. When adjusting the data to account for group differences in change to Openness to Experience scores, there was no longer a recovery outcome difference between the MDMA and placebo groups. This suggests MDMA is catalysing psychotherapy by facilitating increased Openness in clients. Indeed, across groups, greater increases in Openness correlated with greater symptom improvement. The same patterns were true for reduced Neuroticism but to a lesser extent.

    The new results complement past research that has suggested in some cases the symptoms of PTSD, including chronic social withdrawal and mistrust and feelings of estrangement, can manifest as lasting harmful personality change. It seems MDMA-assisted psychotherapy may help reverse the harmful personality changes sometimes associated with trauma.

    “Individuals scoring higher on Openness tend to seek out new experiences and be open to self-examination, factors that can serve to enhance therapeutic change in both behaviors and cognitions,” the researchers said. “Qualitatively, and consistently with previous work, therapeutic change seemed to be associated with an epiphany-type experience that subjects consistently reported following the MDMA-assisted psychotherapy sessions and reiterated in the long-term follow-up.”

    Obviously this was a small study and the findings are at a very early experimental stage;  larger replication attempts are needed. A methodological shortcoming was that sometimes the participants and clients were able to correctly guess which group (MDMA or placebo) they were in. The researchers also caution that MDMA may not have beneficial epiphany-related effects outside of a psychotherapy context, in fact the opposite could occur (they added that medically managed MDMA is not the same as street Ecstasy which will be of unknown strength and may contain other ingredients which may be harmful).

    Therapeutic effect of increased openness: Investigating mechanism of action in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy

    Information on MDMA/Ecstasy from the drug advice charity Frank

    Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest


    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on August 17, 2017 09:08 AM.

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    Supernova’s messy birth casts doubt on reliability of astronomical yardstick

    Brightness of exploding stars may vary more than researchers realized.

    Nature News doi: 10.1038/nature.2017.22066

    in Nature News & Comment on August 17, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    A new tool could one day improve Lyme disease diagnosis

    There soon could be a way to differentiate between Lyme disease and a similar tick-associated illness.

    in Science News on August 16, 2017 08:10 PM.

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    Giant larvaceans could be ferrying ocean plastic to the seafloor

    Giant larvaceans could mistakenly capture microplastics, in addition to food, in their mucus houses and transfer them to the seafloor in their feces.

    in Science News on August 16, 2017 07:23 PM.

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    Robot, heal thyself

    Self-healing material is helping make more resilient robots.

    in Science News on August 16, 2017 06:09 PM.

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    When a journal retracts 107 papers for fake reviews, it pays a price

    A company that indexes journals — thereby assigning them impact factors — has chosen to delist a cancer journal after it retracted 107 papers earlier this year for faked peer reviews. Starting July 19, anything published by Tumor Biology will not be indexed in Web of Science, part of Clarivate Analytics (formerly part of Thomson […]

    The post When a journal retracts 107 papers for fake reviews, it pays a price appeared first on Retraction Watch.

    in Retraction watch on August 16, 2017 03:30 PM.

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    More on "Behavior Priming" and Unconscious Influences

    Last year, psychologists B. Keith Payne and colleagues breathed new life into the debate over 'social priming' with a paper called Replicable effects of primes on human behavior. Behavioral or social priming - the idea that subtle cues can exert large, unconscious influences on our behaviour - was a major topic of research for many years, but it's since been largely discredited. The field’s reputation suffered when Diederik Stapel, a leader in the field, was exposed as a fraud. Many resea

    in Discovery magazine - Neuroskeptic on August 16, 2017 03:00 PM.

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    Genetic disorder gets name change, but patient’s father still not happy

    The leading genetic disease database has chosen a new name for a genetic condition, following complaints from a man whose son has the condition. On Aug. 11, 2017, two days after our coverage of the situation, the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) database changed the primary name of the phenotype associated with mutations in […]

    The post Genetic disorder gets name change, but patient’s father still not happy appeared first on Retraction Watch.

    in Retraction watch on August 16, 2017 01:55 PM.

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    Protect little ones’ eyes from the sun during the eclipse

    Pay attention to eye safety for kids during the solar eclipse.

    in Science News on August 16, 2017 01:00 PM.

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    Video blog: Eating with your eyes

     

    The post Video blog: Eating with your eyes appeared first on BMC Series blog.

    in BMC Series blog on August 16, 2017 11:13 AM.

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    What can the eclipse tell us about the corona’s magnetic field?

    The corona’s plasma jumps and dances thanks to the magnetic field, but scientists have never measured the field directly.

    in Science News on August 16, 2017 11:00 AM.

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    More intelligent people are quicker to learn (and unlearn) social stereotypes

    GettyImages-489205086.jpgBy Emma Young

    Smart people tend to perform better at work, earn more money, be physically healthier, and be less likely to subscribe to authoritarian beliefs. But a new paper reveals that a key aspect of intelligence – a strong “pattern-matching” ability, which helps someone readily learn a language, understand how another person is feeling or spot a stock market trend to exploit – has a darker side: it also makes that person more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes.

    Previous studies exploring how a person’s cognitive abilities may affect their attitudes to other people have produced mixed results. But this might be because the questions asked in these studies were too broad.

    In the new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, David Lick, Adam Alter and Jonathan Freeman at New York University decided to home in on social stereotyping. “Because pattern detection is a core component of human intelligence, people with superior cognitive abilities may be equipped to efficiently learn and use stereotypes about social groups,” they theorised.

    To explore this, they conducted a total of six online studies involving 1,257 people recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk survey website. In the first two studies, volunteers saw pictures of aliens that varied on four dimensions (colour, face shape, eye size, ears), with most of the blue aliens  paired with an “unfriendly” behaviour (like “spat in another alien’s face”) and most of the yellow aliens paired with a friendly behaviour (like “gave another alien a bouquet of flowers”). The volunteers also completed items from Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices, which assesses pattern-matching ability.

    A subsequent memory test involved the same participants attempting to pair previously seen faces with their earlier behaviours, but there were also some new blue and yellow faces that actually they hadn’t seen before.  Participants who were better at pattern-matching were more likely to attribute unfriendly behaviours to new blue aliens than to new yellow aliens – suggesting that they’d learned colour–behaviour stereotypes more readily, and applied them.

    In studies three and four, volunteers were instead shown realistic pictures of male human faces. The displays were manipulated, so that most of the faces with a wide nose (for some participants) or a narrow nose (for others) were paired with negative behaviours – like “laughed and jeered at a homeless person”. Most of the faces with the other nose type were paired with friendly behaviours – like “sent flowers to someone who was sick”.

    After viewing the faces, the volunteers played a trust game involving sharing money. They were led to believe this was an unrelated interlude in the study. Before the game began, they chose an avatar from a large group of faces to represent them online. They then played 12 rounds of what they believed was a real game, each time with a different partner who was represented by their own avatar.

    In fact, the volunteers weren’t playing with real partners, and the experimenters manipulated the “partners’'” avatar photos, so that some had wider noses, and some had narrower noses (there were also female “partners” whose nose width did not systematically vary). The team found that volunteers who did better on the test of pattern detection gave less money to partners whose avatars had a nose width related, in the earlier trial, to unfriendly behaviour.

    However, when these volunteers were given new information that contradicted the stereotype they had implicitly developed, the better pattern-detectors were also quicker to update their stereotype – to reverse their biases.

    In a final experiment, the team used a real-world set of stereotypes, relating to traits they believe are often associated with men (such as being more authoritative) and with women (such as being more submissive). After counter-stereotype training – effectively being told that being authoritative is more associated with women rather than men, for example – good pattern-detectors showed a stronger decrease in stereotyping.

    “To our knowledge, these findings are the first to systematically demonstrate that cognitive ability is associated with greater stereotyping,” the researchers write, before adding, “people with superior pattern detection abilities appear to act as naive empiricists, both learning and updating their stereotypes based on incoming information.”

    While existing research tends to focus on the benefits of intelligence, these “findings join a small body of work guiding the field toward a more balanced understanding of the consequences of human aptitudes,” they note. For example, it’s also been suggested that superior, misguided, pattern-matching may play a role in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

    Superior Pattern Detectors Efficiently Learn, Activate, Apply, and Update Social Stereotypes

    Emma Young (@EmmaELYoung) is Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest


    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on August 16, 2017 08:39 AM.

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    Revitalize the world’s countryside

    A rural revival is needed to counter urbanization across the globe, say Yansui Liu and Yuheng Li.

    Nature 548 275 doi: 10.1038/548275a

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    China’s embrace of embryo selection raises thorny questions

    Fertility centres are making a massive push to increase preimplantation genetic diagnosis in a bid to eradicate certain diseases.

    Nature 548 272 doi: 10.1038/548272a

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    China launches brain-imaging factory

    Hub aims to make industrial-scale high-resolution brain mapping a standard tool for neuroscience

    Nature 548 268 doi: 10.1038/548268a

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    California scientists push to create massive climate-research programme

    Effort backed by the state’s flagship universities comes as US President Donald Trump shrugs off global warming.

    Nature 548 267 doi: 10.1038/548267a

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Opioid emergency, climate language and a frozen fruit cake

    The week in science: 11–17 August 2017.

    Nature 548 264 doi: 10.1038/548264a

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Against discrimination

    Science cannot and should not be used to justify prejudice.

    Nature 548 259 doi: 10.1038/548259b

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Identification of CMTM6 and CMTM4 as PD-L1 protein regulators

    The clinical benefit for patients with diverse types of metastatic cancers that has been observed upon blockade of the interaction between PD-1 and PD-L1 has highlighted the importance of this inhibitory axis in the suppression of tumour-specific T-cell responses. Notwithstanding the key role of PD-L1 expression by cells within the tumour micro-environment, our understanding of the regulation of the PD-L1 protein is limited. Here we identify, using a haploid genetic screen, CMTM6, a type-3 transmembrane protein of previously unknown function, as a regulator of the PD-L1 protein. Interference with CMTM6 expression results in impaired PD-L1 protein expression in all human tumour cell types tested and in primary human dendritic cells. Furthermore, through both a haploid genetic modifier screen in CMTM6-deficient cells and genetic complementation experiments, we demonstrate that this function is shared by its closest family member, CMTM4, but not by any of the other CMTM members tested. Notably, CMTM6 increases the PD-L1 protein pool without affecting PD-L1 (also known as CD274) transcription levels. Rather, we demonstrate that CMTM6 is present at the cell surface, associates with the PD-L1 protein, reduces its ubiquitination and increases PD-L1 protein half-life. Consistent with its role in PD-L1 protein regulation, CMTM6 enhances the ability of PD-L1-expressing tumour cells to inhibit T cells. Collectively, our data reveal that PD-L1 relies on CMTM6/4 to efficiently carry out its inhibitory function, and suggest potential new avenues to block this pathway.

    Nature doi: 10.1038/nature23669

    in Nature Biological Sciences Research on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Polylox barcoding reveals haematopoietic stem cell fates realized in vivo

    Developmental deconvolution of complex organs and tissues at the level of individual cells remains challenging. Non-invasive genetic fate mapping has been widely used, but the low number of distinct fluorescent marker proteins limits its resolution. Much higher numbers of cell markers have been generated using viral integration sites, viral barcodes, and strategies based on transposons and CRISPR–Cas9 genome editing; however, temporal and tissue-specific induction of barcodes in situ has not been achieved. Here we report the development of an artificial DNA recombination locus (termed Polylox) that enables broadly applicable endogenous barcoding based on the Cre–loxP recombination system. Polylox recombination in situ reaches a practical diversity of several hundred thousand barcodes, allowing tagging of single cells. We have used this experimental system, combined with fate mapping, to assess haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) fates in vivo. Classical models of haematopoietic lineage specification assume a tree with few major branches. More recently, driven in part by the development of more efficient single-cell assays and improved transplantation efficiencies, different models have been proposed, in which unilineage priming may occur in mice and humans at the level of HSCs. We have introduced barcodes into HSC progenitors in embryonic mice, and found that the adult HSC compartment is a mosaic of embryo-derived HSC clones, some of which are unexpectedly large. Most HSC clones gave rise to multilineage or oligolineage fates, arguing against unilineage priming, and suggesting coherent usage of the potential of cells in a clone. The spreading of barcodes, both after induction in embryos and in adult mice, revealed a basic split between common myeloid–erythroid development and common lymphocyte development, supporting the long-held but contested view of a tree-like haematopoietic structure.

    Nature doi: 10.1038/nature23653

    in Nature Biological Sciences Research on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Mechanism of intracellular allosteric β2AR antagonist revealed by X-ray crystal structure

    G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) pose challenges for drug discovery efforts because of the high degree of structural homology in the orthosteric pocket, particularly for GPCRs within a single subfamily, such as the nine adrenergic receptors. Allosteric ligands may bind to less-conserved regions of these receptors and therefore are more likely to be selective. Unlike orthosteric ligands, which tonically activate or inhibit signalling, allosteric ligands modulate physiologic responses to hormones and neurotransmitters, and may therefore have fewer adverse effects. The majority of GPCR crystal structures published to date were obtained with receptors bound to orthosteric antagonists, and only a few structures bound to allosteric ligands have been reported. Compound 15 (Cmpd-15) is an allosteric modulator of the β2 adrenergic receptor (β2AR) that was recently isolated from a DNA-encoded small-molecule library. Orthosteric β-adrenergic receptor antagonists, known as beta-blockers, are amongst the most prescribed drugs in the world and Cmpd-15 is the first allosteric beta-blocker. Cmpd-15 exhibits negative cooperativity with agonists and positive cooperativity with inverse agonists. Here we present the structure of the β2AR bound to a polyethylene glycol-carboxylic acid derivative (Cmpd-15PA) of this modulator. Cmpd-15PA binds to a pocket formed primarily by the cytoplasmic ends of transmembrane segments 1, 2, 6 and 7 as well as intracellular loop 1 and helix 8. A comparison of this structure with inactive- and active-state structures of the β2AR reveals the mechanism by which Cmpd-15 modulates agonist binding affinity and signalling.

    Nature doi: 10.1038/nature23652

    in Nature Biological Sciences Research on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    CMTM6 maintains the expression of PD-L1 and regulates anti-tumour immunity

    Cancer cells exploit the expression of the programmed death-1 (PD-1) ligand 1 (PD-L1) to subvert T-cell-mediated immunosurveillance. The success of therapies that disrupt PD-L1-mediated tumour tolerance has highlighted the need to understand the molecular regulation of PD-L1 expression. Here we identify the uncharacterized protein CMTM6 as a critical regulator of PD-L1 in a broad range of cancer cells, by using a genome-wide CRISPR–Cas9 screen. CMTM6 is a ubiquitously expressed protein that binds PD-L1 and maintains its cell surface expression. CMTM6 is not required for PD-L1 maturation but co-localizes with PD-L1 at the plasma membrane and in recycling endosomes, where it prevents PD-L1 from being targeted for lysosome-mediated degradation. Using a quantitative approach to profile the entire plasma membrane proteome, we find that CMTM6 displays specificity for PD-L1. Notably, CMTM6 depletion decreases PD-L1 without compromising cell surface expression of MHC class I. CMTM6 depletion, via the reduction of PD-L1, significantly alleviates the suppression of tumour-specific T cell activity in vitro and in vivo. These findings provide insights into the biology of PD-L1 regulation, identify a previously unrecognized master regulator of this critical immune checkpoint and highlight a potential therapeutic target to overcome immune evasion by tumour cells.

    Nature doi: 10.1038/nature23643

    in Nature Biological Sciences Research on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Stromal R-spondin orchestrates gastric epithelial stem cells and gland homeostasis

    The constant regeneration of stomach epithelium is driven by long-lived stem cells, but the mechanism that regulates their turnover is not well understood. We have recently found that the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori can activate gastric stem cells and increase epithelial turnover, while Wnt signalling is known to be important for stem cell identity and epithelial regeneration in several tissues. Here we find that antral Wnt signalling, marked by the classic Wnt target gene Axin2, is limited to the base and lower isthmus of gastric glands, where the stem cells reside. Axin2 is expressed by Lgr5+ cells, as well as adjacent, highly proliferative Lgr5− cells that are able to repopulate entire glands, including the base, upon depletion of the Lgr5+ population. Expression of both Axin2 and Lgr5 requires stroma-derived R-spondin 3 produced by gastric myofibroblasts proximal to the stem cell compartment. Exogenous R-spondin administration expands and accelerates proliferation of Axin2+/Lgr5− but not Lgr5+ cells. Consistent with these observations, H. pylori infection increases stromal R-spondin 3 expression and expands the Axin2+ cell pool to cause hyperproliferation and gland hyperplasia. The ability of stromal niche cells to control and adapt epithelial stem cell dynamics constitutes a sophisticated mechanism that orchestrates epithelial regeneration and maintenance of tissue integrity.

    Nature doi: 10.1038/nature23642

    in Nature Biological Sciences Research on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    The primed SNARE–complexin–synaptotagmin complex for neuronal exocytosis

    Synaptotagmin, complexin, and neuronal SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide sensitive factor attachment protein receptor) proteins mediate evoked synchronous neurotransmitter release, but the molecular mechanisms mediating the cooperation between these molecules remain unclear. Here we determine crystal structures of the primed pre-fusion SNARE–complexin–synaptotagmin-1 complex. These structures reveal an unexpected tripartite interface between synaptotagmin-1 and both the SNARE complex and complexin. Simultaneously, a second synaptotagmin-1 molecule interacts with the other side of the SNARE complex via the previously identified primary interface. Mutations that disrupt either interface in solution also severely impair evoked synchronous release in neurons, suggesting that both interfaces are essential for the primed pre-fusion state. Ca2+ binding to the synaptotagmin-1 molecules unlocks the complex, allows full zippering of the SNARE complex, and triggers membrane fusion. The tripartite SNARE–complexin–synaptotagmin-1 complex at a synaptic vesicle docking site has to be unlocked for triggered fusion to start, explaining the cooperation between complexin and synaptotagmin-1 in synchronizing evoked release on the sub-millisecond timescale.

    Nature doi: 10.1038/nature23484

    in Nature Biological Sciences Research on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Mammals divert endogenous genotoxic formaldehyde into one-carbon metabolism

    The folate-driven one-carbon (1C) cycle is a fundamental metabolic hub in cells that enables the synthesis of nucleotides and amino acids and epigenetic modifications. This cycle might also release formaldehyde, a potent protein and DNA crosslinking agent that organisms produce in substantial quantities. Here we show that supplementation with tetrahydrofolate, the essential cofactor of this cycle, and other oxidation-prone folate derivatives kills human, mouse and chicken cells that cannot detoxify formaldehyde or that lack DNA crosslink repair. Notably, formaldehyde is generated from oxidative decomposition of the folate backbone. Furthermore, we find that formaldehyde detoxification in human cells generates formate, and thereby promotes nucleotide synthesis. This supply of 1C units is sufficient to sustain the growth of cells that are unable to use serine, which is the predominant source of 1C units. These findings identify an unexpected source of formaldehyde and, more generally, indicate that the detoxification of this ubiquitous endogenous genotoxin creates a benign 1C unit that can sustain essential metabolism.

    Nature doi: 10.1038/nature23481

    in Nature Biological Sciences Research on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    A randomized synbiotic trial to prevent sepsis among infants in rural India

    Sepsis in early infancy results in one million annual deaths worldwide, most of them in developing countries. No efficient means of prevention is currently available. Here we report on a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of an oral synbiotic preparation (Lactobacillus plantarum plus fructooligosaccharide) in rural Indian newborns. We enrolled 4,556 infants that were at least 2,000 g at birth, at least 35 weeks of gestation, and with no signs of sepsis or other morbidity, and monitored them for 60 days. We show a significant reduction in the primary outcome (combination of sepsis and death) in the treatment arm (risk ratio 0.60, 95% confidence interval 0.48–0.74), with few deaths (4 placebo, 6 synbiotic). Significant reductions were also observed for culture-positive and culture-negative sepsis and lower respiratory tract infections. These findings suggest that a large proportion of neonatal sepsis in developing countries could be effectively prevented using a synbiotic containing L. plantarum ATCC-202195.

    Nature doi: 10.1038/nature23480

    in Nature Biological Sciences Research on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    CDK4/6 inhibition triggers anti-tumour immunity

    Cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) are fundamental drivers of the cell cycle and are required for the initiation and progression of various malignancies. Pharmacological inhibitors of CDK4/6 have shown significant activity against several solid tumours. Their primary mechanism of action is thought to be the inhibition of phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma tumour suppressor, inducing G1 cell cycle arrest in tumour cells. Here we use mouse models of breast carcinoma and other solid tumours to show that selective CDK4/6 inhibitors not only induce tumour cell cycle arrest, but also promote anti-tumour immunity. We confirm this phenomenon through transcriptomic analysis of serial biopsies from a clinical trial of CDK4/6 inhibitor treatment for breast cancer. The enhanced anti-tumour immune response has two underpinnings. First, CDK4/6 inhibitors activate tumour cell expression of endogenous retroviral elements, thus increasing intracellular levels of double-stranded RNA. This in turn stimulates production of type III interferons and hence enhances tumour antigen presentation. Second, CDK4/6 inhibitors markedly suppress the proliferation of regulatory T cells. Mechanistically, the effects of CDK4/6 inhibitors both on tumour cells and on regulatory T cells are associated with reduced activity of the E2F target, DNA methyltransferase 1. Ultimately, these events promote cytotoxic T-cell-mediated clearance of tumour cells, which is further enhanced by the addition of immune checkpoint blockade. Our findings indicate that CDK4/6 inhibitors increase tumour immunogenicity and provide a rationale for new combination regimens comprising CDK4/6 inhibitors and immunotherapies as anti-cancer treatment.

    Nature doi: 10.1038/nature23465

    in Nature Biological Sciences Research on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Vaccine-driven pharmacodynamic dissection and mitigation of fenethylline psychoactivity

    Fenethylline, also known by the trade name Captagon, is a synthetic psychoactive stimulant that has recently been linked to a substance-use disorder and ‘pharmacoterrorism’ in the Middle East. Although fenethylline shares a common phenethylamine core with other amphetamine-type stimulants, it also incorporates a covalently linked xanthine moiety into its parent structure. These independently active pharmacophores are liberated during metabolism, resulting in the release of a structurally diverse chemical mixture into the central nervous system. Although the psychoactive properties of fenethylline have been reported to differ from those of other synthetic stimulants, the in vivo chemical complexity it manifests upon ingestion has impeded efforts to unambiguously identify the specific species responsible for these effects. Here we develop a ‘dissection through vaccination’ approach, called DISSECTIV, to mitigate the psychoactive effects of fenethylline and show that its rapid-onset and distinct psychoactive properties are facilitated by functional synergy between theophylline and amphetamine. Our results demonstrate that incremental vaccination against a single chemical species within a multi-component mixture can be used to uncover emergent properties arising from polypharmacological activity. We anticipate that DISSECTIV will be used to expose unidentified active chemical species and resolve pharmacodynamic interactions within other chemically complex systems, such as those found in counterfeit or illegal drug preparations, post-metabolic tissue samples and natural product extracts.

    Nature doi: 10.1038/nature23464

    in Nature Biological Sciences Research on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    The rise of algae in Cryogenian oceans and the emergence of animals

    The transition from dominant bacterial to eukaryotic marine primary productivity was one of the most profound ecological revolutions in the Earth’s history, reorganizing the distribution of carbon and nutrients in the water column and increasing energy flow to higher trophic levels. But the causes and geological timing of this transition, as well as possible links with rising atmospheric oxygen levels and the evolution of animals, remain obscure. Here we present a molecular fossil record of eukaryotic steroids demonstrating that bacteria were the only notable primary producers in the oceans before the Cryogenian period (720–635 million years ago). Increasing steroid diversity and abundance marks the rapid rise of marine planktonic algae (Archaeplastida) in the narrow time interval between the Sturtian and Marinoan ‘snowball Earth’ glaciations, 659–645 million years ago. We propose that the incumbency of cyanobacteria was broken by a surge of nutrients supplied by the Sturtian deglaciation. The ‘Rise of Algae’ created food webs with more efficient nutrient and energy transfers, driving ecosystems towards larger and increasingly complex organisms. This effect is recorded by the concomitant appearance of biomarkers for sponges and predatory rhizarians, and the subsequent radiation of eumetazoans in the Ediacaran period.

    Nature doi: 10.1038/nature23457

    in Nature Biological Sciences Research on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    First date with the Hive

    Mind how you go.

    Nature 548 366 doi: 10.1038/548366a

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    History: Ingenious solutions sparked by a crisis

    Nature 548 281 doi: 10.1038/548281e

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Carbon emissions: More nuclear power can speed CO2 cuts

    Nature 548 281 doi: 10.1038/548281d

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Climate adaptation: Past US floods give lessons in retreat

    Nature 548 281 doi: 10.1038/548281c

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Data sharing: do scientists know best?

    Nature 548 281 doi: 10.1038/548281b

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Data sharing: guard the privacy of donors

    Nature 548 281 doi: 10.1038/548281a

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Books in brief

    Barbara Kiser reviews five of the week's best science picks.

    Nature 548 279 doi: 10.1038/548279a

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Seismology: Quake news from America

    Roger Bilham savours two rich accounts of seismicity across the continent.

    Nature 548 278 doi: 10.1038/548278a

    in Nature News & Comment on August 16, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Seismologists get to the bottom of how deep Earth’s continents go

    Scientists may have finally pinpointed the bottoms of the continents.

    in Science News on August 15, 2017 09:46 PM.

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    “The paper is extremely flawed:” Journal retracts article linked to vaccines

    A journal has retracted a 2016 paper after receiving criticism from outside researchers who raised concerns about its methodology and data. The paper shares multiple authors with another paper that linked the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) to behavioral problems in mice. Last year, a journal removed the study; later that year, the authors published […]

    The post “The paper is extremely flawed:” Journal retracts article linked to vaccines appeared first on Retraction Watch.

    in Retraction watch on August 15, 2017 06:31 PM.

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    These spiders crossed an ocean to get to Australia

    The nearest relatives of an Australian trapdoor spider live in Africa. They crossed the Indian Ocean to get to Australia, a new study suggests.

    in Science News on August 15, 2017 01:00 PM.

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    What should journals do when peer reviewers do not disclose potential conflicts?

    Peer reviewers, like authors, are supposed to declare any potential conflicts of interest. But what happens when they don’t? Take this case: In a court transcript from Feb. 23, 2017, Bryan Hardin testified that he was a peer reviewer on a 2016 paper in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, which found that asbestos does not increase […]

    The post What should journals do when peer reviewers do not disclose potential conflicts? appeared first on Retraction Watch.

    in Retraction watch on August 15, 2017 12:00 PM.

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    Can the eclipse tell us if Einstein was right about general relativity?

    During the eclipse, astronomers will reproduce the 1919 experiment that confirmed Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

    in Science News on August 15, 2017 11:00 AM.

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    Psychologists have developed the first scientific test of everyday charisma

    GettyImages-673558204.jpgBy Christian Jarrett

    “Figures such as Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey, Mahatma Gandhi, Ronald Reagan, and Adolf Hitler share this triumphant, mysterious, and fascinating descriptor”, write the authors of a new paper on charisma. And yet, they add, “the empirical study of charisma is relatively young and sparse, and no unifying conceptualization of charisma currently exists”. The research and theorizing that has been done has focused on charismatic leadership, they explain, neglecting the everyday variety. In their paper in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology the University of Toronto researchers describe how they developed their new six-item measure “The General Charisma Inventory” (GCI), and they show how scores on the GCI are associated with people’s persuasiveness and likability.

    The team, led by Konstantin Tskhay, began by asking just over a hundred American volunteers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk online survey website to come up with four characteristics of charismatic individuals. The researchers then whittled these suggestions down in various stages, which involved volunteers rating the suitability of the items and other volunteers rating themselves on the items. Removing any redundancy, the researchers ended up with a six-item self-report measure of charisma loading onto two main factors to do with having influence over others (including being able to guide them) and coming across as affable (being able to make others feel comfortable and at ease).

    Participants taking the new test are asked to rate their agreement on a five-point scale from 1 Strongly Disagree to 5 Strongly Agree, whether “I am someone who…”:

    • Has a presence in a room
    • Has the ability to influence people
    • Knows how to lead a group
    • Makes people feel comfortable
    • Smiles at people often
    • Can get along with anyone

    (The first three items tap the influence factor of charisma and the last three items tap the affability factor.)

    Having devised their test, the researchers put it through its paces in a number of ways. For example, they asked volunteers to complete the new charisma measure plus lots of other established psychological measures, and were able to show that scores on the new test are related to but distinct from established psychological constructs such as the Big Five personality traits, emotional intelligence and political skill. For instance, people’s scores on the the affability factor of the new test correlated with their trait Agreeableness, which makes conceptual sense. On the other hand, charisma scores appeared to be completely separate from intelligence, suggesting that “individual differences in general charisma are not redundant with cognitive ability”.

    In another study the researchers asked small groups of unacquainted students to chat to each other for five minutes and to rate themselves and other group members on the charisma test. This showed that individuals’ charisma self-ratings on the test correlated with the charisma ratings they received from others. In another similar study, students’ self-ratings on the charisma test correlated with ratings they received from friends or family.

    The researchers also asked pairs of unacquainted students to chat to each other for ten minutes and then rate each other’s likability. The students also rated themselves on standard personality measures and on the new charisma measure. The higher the students scored on charisma (specifically the affability factor), the more likable they tended to be rated by their partners, even after taking into account their scores on the Big Five personality traits of Extraversion, Agreeableness etc.

    In another demonstration of the tests’ validity, the researchers asked more student volunteers to read out either a weak or strong argument for wind energy and then to complete the charisma test. Next, participants on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk listened back to the recordings and rated how persuasive they found them. When it came to the weak arguments, they found participants who’d scored themselves higher on charisma (specifically the influence factor) to be more persuasive. In relation to the affability factor, women who scored higher on this were rated as more persuasive, whereas for men the affability scores were not relevant (the researchers speculated this has to do with cultural expectations for women to be warm).

    “We believe that the investigation of charisma in daily life is important for disentangling a construct previously understood primarily in terms of its consequences for leadership,” Tskhay and his colleagues concluded, “and hope that other researchers will share our enthusiasm about the potential new lines of research that this new conceptualization may elucidate.”

    Charisma in Everyday Life: Conceptualization and Validation of the General Charisma Inventory

    Image: April 2017 George Clooney attends the Lost In Space event at the Tate Modern (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage).

    Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest

     


    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on August 15, 2017 09:39 AM.

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    Why 14 ecology labs teamed up to watch grass grow

    Multi-lab efforts point the way to shoring up the reliability of field studies.

    Nature 548 271 doi: 10.1038/548271a

    in Nature News & Comment on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    A little democracy could go a long way

    The Middle East is freezing out Qatar. A science academy could help — and would set an important precedent for the region, says Ehsan Masood.

    Nature 548 261 doi: 10.1038/548261a

    in Nature News & Comment on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    The End

    Scientific American 317, 96 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-96

    Author: Mark Fischetti

    What Do Most Women and Men Die Of?

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    50, 100 & 150 Years Ago

    Scientific American 317, 94 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-94

    Author: Daniel C. Schlenoff

    Innovation and discovery as chronicled in Scientific American

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    The Face of Evil

    Scientific American 317, 92 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-92

    Author: Steve Mirsky

    Not every movie villain has terrible skin, but it helps

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Postmodernism vs. Science

    Scientific American 317, 90 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-90

    Author: Michael Shermer

    The roots of the current campus madness

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    End the Assault on Women's Health

    Scientific American 317, 9 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-9

    Republican efforts to dismantle U.S. health care unfairly target one gender

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Recommended

    Scientific American 317, 88 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-88

    Author: Andrea Gawrylewski

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    The Woman Who Saved the Planet

    Scientific American 317, 86 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-86

    Author: Jen Schwartz

    By harnessing “female energy,” Christiana Figueres convinced humanity to take on climate change

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Return of the Missing Daughters

    Scientific American 317, 80 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-80

    Author: Monica Das Gupta

    Traditions that favor sons in Asia—resulting in millions of dead or neglected girls—have started to change

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Mind the Gap

    Scientific American 317, 78 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-78

    Author: Amanda Montañez

    Gender inequality remains a global phenomenon

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Women's Work

    Scientific American 317, 72 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-72

    Author: Ana L. Revenga & Ana Maria Munoz Boudet

    As more women contribute to the economy, life gets better for everyone. Why are the barriers to opportunity so hard to change?

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    The Blogger and the Trolls

    Scientific American 317, 70 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-70

    Author: Emily Temple-Wood

    Turning online harassment into a force for good

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Letters

    Scientific American 317, 7 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-7

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Girl Code

    Scientific American 317, 66 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-66

    Author: Reshma Saujani

    Early intervention is crucial to close the gender gap in computer science

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    The Brilliance Trap

    Scientific American 317, 60 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-60

    Author: Andrei Cimpian & Sarah-Jane Leslie

    How a misplaced emphasis on genius subtly discourages women and African-Americans from certain academic fields

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Welcome to Everybody's Issue

    Advertisment

    Scientific American 317, 6 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-6

    Author: Mariette DiChristina

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Life before Roe

    Scientific American 317, 58 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-58

    Author: Rachel Benson Gold & Megan K. Donovan

    Before 1973, abortion in the U.S. was severely restricted. More than 40 years later Roe v. Wade is under attack, and access increasingly depends on a woman's income or zip code

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Not Just for Men

    Scientific American 317, 52 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-52

    Author: Marcia L. Stefanick

    Researchers and doctors must dig deeper into gender differences before they can provide women with better treatments

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Beyond XX and XY

    Scientific American 317, 50 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-50

    Author: Amanda Montañez

    A host of factors figure into whether someone is female, male or somewhere in between

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    When Sex and Gender Collide

    Scientific American 317, 44 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-44

    Author: Kristina R. Olson

    Studies of transgender kids are revealing fascinating insights about gender in the brain. Many trans children show surprisingly firm identities at young ages, for instance, and important differences divide trans girls from boys who like pink

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Is There a “Female” Brain?

    Scientific American 317, 38 (2017). doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0917-38

    Author: Lydia Denworth

    The debate over whether men and women have meaningfully different brains could have profound implications for health and personal identity

    in Scientific American on August 15, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Call of MRI: Action Video Games And The Brain

    No sooner had I published my last post, on the much-discussed "women's brains are more active than men's" study, than another neuroscience paper triggered a fresh media storm. This time, the subject was videogames, and the headlines were alarming: Playing shooter video games damages the brain, study suggests Violent shooter video games really DO rot your brain Playing these video games could lead to brain disease Here's the paper, published in Molecular Psychiatry by University of M

    in Discovery magazine - Neuroskeptic on August 14, 2017 08:16 PM.

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    Multitasking: is it Overrated?

    The ability to multitask is usually viewed positively. But does it help in improving productivity? New research indicates that this is highly unlikely.

    For years we have been hearing and being allured by the term multitasking, with many of us unwittingly believing that it is something supernatural and too good to neglect, and we ought to develop it in ourselves to succeed. But the question arises, is it as good as it sounds? What does the new research say? Is it possible for a person to concentrate and remain productive on several tasks at once?

    Going through research articles can be perplexing for most of us, but most of the research seems to favor doing one task at a time. There are several downsides to multitasking, often resulting in decreased overall productivity and quality of work. A person who tries to finish one job at a time seems to do more at the end of the day. Multitasking could be valuable only to a certain extent if you are doing some simple tasks, but after a certain threshold productivity decreases and quality of work suffers. Multitasking often fails to improve productivity.

    Ultimately, it depends on the kind of tasks you are doing. If a person is doing lots of jobs, that are simple and the person performing them is adept at them, then maybe yes, in some cases multitasking may be good, but mostly this is not the case. Some people are inherently inferior to others in multitasking. One thing that most scientific research demonstrates is that multitasking results in significant loss of accuracy. The more you multitask, the more errors you are bound to make, thereby leading to reduced overall productivity. Considering that in some cases performance errors can even be catastrophic, improved performance with most multitasking is a mere illusion that comes at the price of poor results and higher error rate.

    Multitasking leads to mental overloading

    When people are given various tasks, they need some time to switch to another function. This results in the loss of both time and productivity. This switching time is directly related to the complexity of the task. If the task is being switched to is complicated and less familiar, one needs more time then when attending to more familiar task. Thus multitasking can result in mental overloading in reconfiguring mental settings as one switches between tasks. Also one has to memorize more information while switching between the various functions, like the progress status of the previous task. Research shows that these short mental blocks between the switching can bring down productivity by as much as forty percent. Scheduling tasks can be more efficient in increasing productivity as compared with multitasking.

    What about gender differences?

    Women may be better at juggling between several tasks, but this is true only when the tasks are simple in nature, the kind of tasks achieved on a daily basis, that do not require much mental processing. Examples include cleaning the house and talking on the phone. But when multitasking involves more complex tasks, this gender difference becomes irrelevant. Therefore,  talking on the phone while driving is equally dangerous for both sexes. In fact, one study demonstrated that women dislike multitasking as much as the men do. Given a choice, women don’t seem to switch between several tasks more often than men. When multitasking, both genders perform equally poorly. Whether multitasking is done by free will or it has been forced due to job constraints does not seem to have any effect on productivity.

    Who is multitasking and why?

    One study focused on finding personality differences between self-proclaimed multitaskers and non-multitaskers. The study tried to find out why some people opt to multitask while other may avoid, and if the multitaskers are actually any good at multitasking. Results of the research were quite astonishing.

    Most of the people who multitask are not necessarily good at it. In fact, the results pointed to the opposite: people who are good at multitasking usually avoid doing it. Generally, those who are impulsive sensation seekers tend to multitask. By multitasking, some of these people seem to gain pleasure. Another reason why certain people multitask is due to overbloated self-assessment. Individuals who more regularly multitask often overrate their capabilities and fail to understand that they are not better than others in multitasking.

    Multitaskers make mistakes more often, and they seem to be less self-critical about their abilities, and they have lowered understanding of their errors and losses. Further, multitaskers are often people with attention deficits who have difficulty focusing on a single given task.

    What we know so far about multitasking

    • Multitasking decreases productivity in most cases, by as much as forty percent.
    • Multitasking results in much higher error rates, which reduces productivity and can be harmful in some cases.
    • There are no proven gender differences in efficient multitasking.
    • Multitasking is often related to certain personality traits like being impulsive and sensation seeking.
    • Multitaskers are not typically the people who are good at it.
    • Multitaskers often lack the ability to concentrate properly on a given task.
    • Effectiveness of multitasking depends on the complexity of the job, with multiple complex jobs being harder to do at the same time than multiple easy jobs.
    • Scheduling the various tasks can increase productivity relative to multitasking.

    Thus,  the existing research studies seem to favor doing tasks sequentially or one by one, rather than multitasking. Multitasking increases the risk of making mistakes, and this rule applies equally to both genders. Therefore, understanding the downsides of multitasking not only improves productivity, but might also save us from catastrophic errors.

    References

    Adler, R.F., Benbunan-Fich, R., 2012. Juggling on a high wire: Multitasking effects on performance. Int. J. Hum.-Comput. Stud. 70, 156–168. doi: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2011.10.003.

    Buser, T., Peter, N., 2012. Multitasking. Exp. Econ. 15, 641–655. doi: 10.1007/s10683-012-9318-8.

    Kc, D.S., 2013. Does Multitasking Improve Performance? Evidence from the Emergency Department. Manuf. Serv. Oper. Manag. 16, 168–183. doi: 10.1287/msom.2013.0464.

    Multitasking: Switching costs [WWW Document], n.d. . http://www.apa.org. URL http://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask.aspx (accessed 7.22.17).

    Sanbonmatsu, D.M., Strayer, D.L., Medeiros-Ward, N., Watson, J.M., 2013. Who Multi-Tasks and Why? Multi-Tasking Ability, Perceived Multi-Tasking Ability, Impulsivity, and Sensation Seeking. PLOS ONE 8, e54402. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054402.

    Image via SerenaWong/Pixabay.

    in Brain Blogger on August 14, 2017 03:25 PM.

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    Normally aloof particles of light seen ricocheting off each other

    Scientists spot evidence of photons interacting at the Large Hadron Collider.

    in Science News on August 14, 2017 03:00 PM.

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    Polluted water: It’s where sea snakes wear black

    Reptile counterpart proposed for textbook example of evolution favoring darker moths amid industrial soot.

    in Science News on August 14, 2017 01:00 PM.

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    Journal corrects paper by researcher sanctioned for misconduct

    A biology journal has issued a correction to a 2014 paper by a researcher with 11 retractions, citing “inadvertent errors” that don’t affect the conclusions. The researcher, Rony Seger, was recently sanctioned by his institution (The Weizmann Institute in Israel) following a finding of “serious misconduct” involving data manipulation. Specifically, the institute barred him from […]

    The post Journal corrects paper by researcher sanctioned for misconduct appeared first on Retraction Watch.

    in Retraction watch on August 14, 2017 12:00 PM.

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    What can we learn about Mercury’s surface during the eclipse?

    Instruments aboard twin research jets will take advantage of the total solar eclipse to make the first thermal map of Mercury.

    in Science News on August 14, 2017 11:00 AM.

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    Helping researchers from Syria: Mendeley and the Council for At-Risk Academics

    Elsevier partners with Cara to give support to researchers in dire need

    in Elsevier Connect on August 14, 2017 09:08 AM.

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    Positive “emodiversity” – experiencing a variety of positive emotions – plays an important role in bodily health

    Many ways of happinessBy Emma Young

    Your body’s immune system normally fights illness or injury, but when it’s overactive over a prolonged period of time, the consequences can be harmful. “Chronic systemic inflammation” (marked by raised levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines through the body) has been linked to a wide range of physical and mental health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and depression. One cause is a poor lifestyle, involving little exercise and an unhealthy diet. Anthony Ong, at Cornell University, US, and his team were interested in whether our emotional lives might play a role too. Their new research, published in the journal Emotion, found that people with lower systemic inflammation didn’t simply report more happiness, rather they experienced a greater variety of positive emotions every day.

    “There’s growing evidence that inflammatory processes may help to explain how emotions get ‘under the skin,” the researchers write in their paper. They point to evidence suggesting that negative emotions, such as fear and shame, can stimulate inflammatory responses. And also to work finding that positive emotions are associated with lower levels of C-reactive protein and IL-6 (two classic markers of inflammation). “Taken together, experiences of negative and positive emotion in both trait and state form appear to influence the adaptive regulation of core biological systems that maintain health,” they write.

    The team analysed previously-collected data on 175 healthy people aged 45-60 living in Phoenix, Arizona. These volunteers had their levels of three inflammatory markers (IL-6, CRP and fibrinogen) measured at the start of the study, and at a six-month follow-up. They were also taught how to use a tablet computer to provide questionnaire-led diary entries each night for 30 days.

    The questions included a measure of daily emotional experiences: the volunteers were asked to rate the extent to which they’d experienced 16 positive emotions (including feeling enthusiastic, determined or amused), and 16 negative emotions (including feeling afraid, distressed, jittery, anxious or ashamed) during that day.

    When the team analysed the data, they found that greater positive “emodiversity” – regularly experiencing a broad range of positive emotions – was associated with lower levels of inflammation (this was after they’d controlled statistically for any influences of age, gender, medications, BMI, medical conditions and personality). There was, however, no significant relationship between negative emodiversity and inflammation. “These findings highlight the unique role daily positive emotions play in biological health,” the researchers conclude.

    There were limitations with the study. Volunteers were asked to remember at night all the different emotions they’d experienced in the course of the day. Since chronic inflammation is also associated with poorer memory, it’s possible that people with elevated inflammation just couldn’t remember all their emotional experiences. Studies using a more intensive emotion sampling approach could provide more useful results.

    It’s also impossible, from this study, to answer the question: how could experiencing a diverse spectrum of positive emotions influence inflammation? It’s possible that being more in tune with exactly how you’re feeling could lead to more adaptive health behaviours, the researchers suggest.

    But as they also concede, “the directionality of the observed associations cannot be determined.” It might be that a lack of diversity in emotion results from heightened levels of inflammation, rather than causes them. Certainly, when it comes to depression, for example, while raised levels of inflammatory markers are associated with depression, whether that’s a result or a cause is debated. Clearly, there’s a need for good longitudinal studies to clarify these relationships.

    Emodiversity and Biomarkers of Inflammation

    Emma Young (@EmmaELYoung) is Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest


    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on August 14, 2017 08:39 AM.

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    Ecologists protest Australia’s plans to cut funding for environment-monitoring network

    Scientists say the move will reduce the country’s capacity to predict future ecosystem changes.

    Nature News doi: 10.1038/nature.2017.22453

    in Nature News & Comment on August 14, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Budget cuts fuel frustration among Japan’s academics

    Funding trouble at flagship research centre reflects a broader malaise in the country’s scientific priorities that must be addressed.

    Nature 548 259 doi: 10.1038/nature.2017.22444

    in Nature News & Comment on August 14, 2017 12:00 AM.

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    Olfactory Deterrence


    A military aide carries the “nuclear football” aboard the Marine One helicopter in which President Trump was waiting to depart the South Lawn of the White House on Feb. 3. (Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency). via Washington Post.


    August 6, 1945 President Harry S. Truman, announcing the bombing of Hiroshima:

    “If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.” (video)
    [Trump was less than a year old.]


    August 8, 2017 President Donald Trump:

    “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen... he has been very threatening beyond a normal state[ment]. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.” (video)

    Issuing a threat of nuclear war is not something to cheer about (“We're number one! We're number one!”). Jesus does not condone such an action, despite what pastor Robert Jeffress says.

    “The mixture of foreign policy, golf and veiled threats about nuclear war is unprecedented and jarring,” said BBC reporter Tara McKelvey.

    I would like to think that most Americans are horrified by the prospect of nuclear war. But many are pleased with the blunt, bracing talk and feel “protected by the vastness of America” “It doesn’t concern me,” said [a guy] at the Morgan County Fair in Brush, Colo. “We live in the safest part of the whole country.”

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!! I shout to myself.1 The people interviewed for that article were between the ages of 45 and 76 (mean = 64.5 yrs), so they were all alive during the Cold War and probably watched The Day After on TV (now on YouTube). Mushroom clouds, incineration, radiation sickness, utter devastation. In Kansas. The apocalyptic wasteland of suffering encouraged by a younger generation of trolls immune to actual footage of melting bodies and acute radiation syndrome.


    Olfactory VR

    The callous Gamergate set requires a more visceral and disgusting approach to the gravity of the Trump-Kim Jong-un escalation. My near-future sci-fi solution to nuclear trolling would involve delivering odorants that carry the stench of death (e.g., cadaverine, putrescine) each and every time these jokers spread anxiety and discord. This would require immersive virtual reality (or some preposterous way to deliver odorants via smart phone) and real-time monitoring of social media streams for key phrases. Exposure to the nauseating, inescapable smell of rotting flesh might be punishing enough to initiate a change in behavior...




    ...but this could ultimately backfire in the event of an actual Zombie Apocalypse, because they would be protected from the marauding undead hoards. And that's not what we want.






    For a very different view on ironic amusement, see this essay:
    Today, the younger generations that will determine our future did not experience terrifying emotions as part of their nuclear education. For them, the gigantic mutant ants and degenerate war survivors that stalk the memories of their grandparents are obvious myths, evoking only the kind of ironic amusement that young people find in video games, TV shows and superhero movies. These post-Cold War generations should therefore be more ready than their elders to face nuclear missiles dispassionately, not as supernatural prodigies but as plain machinery.


    Footnote

    1 But wait. Don't Conservatives Scare More Easily Than Liberals? (“Say Scientists” so it must be true). Or not. There were a lot of problems with that study, see Conservatives Are Neurotic and Liberals Are Antisocial.

    in The Neurocritic on August 13, 2017 12:26 PM.

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    What happens in Earth’s atmosphere during an eclipse?

    The charged layer of Earth’s atmosphere gets uncharged during an eclipse, and that could have implications for everything from GPS accuracy to earthquake prediction.

    in Science News on August 13, 2017 11:00 AM.

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    Weekend reads: Predatory fraud; risky spreadsheets; how to report issues in a paper

    The week at Retraction Watch featured a look at publishing bounties around the world, and the story of how the “right to be forgotten” law had led to a retraction. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: “Publishing in [fraudulent] journals is not a matter of academic freedom. Predatory publishers are frauds and criminals. To knowingly use them is […]

    The post Weekend reads: Predatory fraud; risky spreadsheets; how to report issues in a paper appeared first on Retraction Watch.

    in Retraction watch on August 12, 2017 01:00 PM.

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    What do plants and animals do during an eclipse?

    A citizen science experiment will gather the biggest dataset to date of animal responses to a total eclipse.

    in Science News on August 12, 2017 11:00 AM.

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    JAMA tells readers: “Caution advised.” Here’s why.

    Last week, JAMA issued some unusual notices, letting readers know they should use caution when reading an editorial and letters associated with now-retracted articles by a bone researcher in Japan. The notices — for papers by Yoshihiro Sato, now up to 14 retractions — remind readers not to heed the results of the now-retracted papers, […]

    The post JAMA tells readers: “Caution advised.” Here’s why. appeared first on Retraction Watch.

    in Retraction watch on August 11, 2017 03:23 PM.

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    Is that a peanut or a landmine? Experiences when dining out with food hypersensitive children

    Dining out

    Preparing a child for eating out at a dine–in restaurant may present a challenge for some families. Children can be picky and fickle with their preferences; smell, color and even shape of food may drive a child to an extreme opinion, forever prejudicing them against an otherwise inoffensive foodstuff.

    Finding a restaurant that their child is excited to visit is no small victory for caregivers. Though, for caregivers of children with food hypersensitivities, eating out with the family can prove to be more complex. Restaurants serving foods prepared with peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, cereals containing gluten and crustaceans require careful approach. Or, frequently in cases where compromise appears improbable, total avoidance.

    Food hypersensitivity is a generic descriptor, used for anyone who suffers reproducible and objective symptoms that occur after the ingestion of a particular food. Total avoidance is a common strategy for families of food hypersensitive children; both food items and the restaurants serving them can be abstained from to remove the chance of endangering a food hypersensitive child.

    Given that eating out is attributed with 50% of deaths related to food allergen consumption, constant vigilance is required. Living with food hypersensitivity is an ongoing day-to-day challenge that can be described as “living with risk” for both the families and children with food hypersensitivities.

    Additional pressures

    stick to the same place if you’ve been there once and its ok, and if he doesn’t have a reaction…if he likes it, it’s a bonus

    Anxiety for many caregivers can stem from an anticipated lack of competence or understanding on the part of restaurants, school cafeterias or other outside food venues. Worries can worsen when caregivers are not present to ensure their child’s safety. Accidental cross contamination of triggering foodstuffs may place a child at risk.

    However, in some worrying cases, children may be directly served the food item that they have a hypersensitivity to even after being told the nature of the child’s allergy. One caregiver stated so much when they shared that “[At] the start (nursery) struggled….They have had a couple of slip ups like the (ready mix dessert) and a couple of times because the teacher will go on holiday… I feel quite let down sometimes because I stress to them when I go in.”

    To avoid potential issues, monotony in dining can quickly become the norm, with a focus on safety over enjoyment. One parent explained that they would “…tend to stick to the same place if you’ve been there once and its ok, and if he doesn’t have a reaction…if he likes it, it’s a bonus.”  However, the authors describe the necessity for creating a balance between caution with variety; safety with social freedom; and preferences of the food hypersensitive child with preferences of their siblings.

    I feel quite let down sometimes because I stress to them when I go in

    Alleviating stressors

    The transfer of responsibility from caregiver to child during adolescent development may alleviate some of the anxiety experienced by caregivers; through the incorporation of a number of strategies to support self-management and autonomy in their children, caregivers may feel relief knowing that their child has the tools to navigate the world safely when outside of their homes.

    By encouraging their children to clearly state their hypersensitivity and consequent dietary needs many children effectively avoid their allergen without the need of their caregiver’s direct supervision.

    Giving food hypersensitive children the tools to operate without the immediate support of their caregivers is an important step towards providing them with a level of personal responsibility, while also relieving caregiver anxieties. However, a need exists for food proprietors to further their support and understanding of the tools and strategies to ensure positive eating out experiences for children with food hypersensitivity.

    Ultimately, Fiona M Begen et al. suggest that there is a potential to reduce the day-to-day anxieties of caregivers and to provide them and their children with improved quality of life.

    The post Is that a peanut or a landmine? Experiences when dining out with food hypersensitive children appeared first on BMC Series blog.

    in BMC Series blog on August 11, 2017 01:00 PM.

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    Why midsize animals are the fastest

    New analysis delves into the mystery of why medium-sized animals are speedier than bigger ones.

    in Science News on August 11, 2017 01:00 PM.

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    Scientist steps down from South Korea government position over criticism of her role in stem cell scandal

    A professor at Sunchon National University has resigned from a prominent government position in South Korea after facing heavy criticism for being a co-author of a fraudulent stem cell paper. Earlier this week, President Moon Jae-in appointed Park Ky-young to run a newly created Science, Technology and Innovation Office at the Ministry of Science and ICT. […]

    The post Scientist steps down from South Korea government position over criticism of her role in stem cell scandal appeared first on Retraction Watch.

    in Retraction watch on August 11, 2017 12:30 PM.

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    What will scientists learn from the Great American Eclipse?

    Between now and August 21, astronomy writer Lisa Grossman will explore the top questions scientists will tackle during the 2017 total solar eclipse.

    in Science News on August 11, 2017 11:00 AM.