Tag: science

Here’s How You Personally Help Stop Climate Change

earth

Are you ready to personally help stop climate change? Turns out, all you have to do is believe that you can!

If we believe that we can personally help stop climate change with individual actions, such as turning the thermostat down, then we are more likely to make a difference, according to the University of Warwick research.

Researcher Jesse Preston demonstrated that people are often negatively affected by climate change helplessness, the belief that climate change is so massive and terrifying, as to be out of our personal control, and that our actions are too small to help.




This feeling of helplessness, however, makes people less likely to bother with individual eco-friendly actions and actually leads to higher energy consumption.

In one study, the researchers tested a group of over two hundred people, and gave different members of the group varying messages about climate change.

Over the next week, the group reported whether or not they adopted behaviours to help stop climate change, such as driving less, hanging washing on the line instead of using the dryer, using less water, or turning the heating down.

climate-change-feature

The people who had received the High Efficacy Climate Change message reported 16.5 percent more of these behaviours than those who read a Helpless Climate Change message and 13 percent more actions than the control group which received no message.

Moreover, people in the group which was told their actions couldn’t make a difference to climate change actually reported higher energy usage than before, showing how destructive a feeling of helplessness can be.

Public messages about climate change which focus on how we can help make a difference as individuals will be far more effective in encouraging people to consume less energy, according to the researchers.

global warming

Preston commented, “Often climate change messages try to persuade the public by increasing belief that climate change is real, or through fear of its dire consequences.”

“But mere belief in climate change is not enough, and fear can backfire if we feel helpless and overwhelmed. It is vitally important that individuals appreciate the impact and value of their own actions for us to make a meaningful change as a whole.”

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According to Researchers, Coffee Drinkers Seem to Live Longer

Studies have found that people who frequently enjoy a cup of joe could live longer lives, according to researchers at the University of Southern California.

“We cannot say drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association,” said Veronica W. Setiawan, associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and lead author of a new study, which will be published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and respiratory and kidney disease for African Americans, Japanese Americans, Latinos and whites, according to the study that used data from the Multiethnic Cohort Study.




“Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play an important role in cancer prevention,” Setiawan said.

“Although this study does not show causation or point to what chemicals in coffee may have this ‘elixir effect,’ it is clear that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle.”

Don’t do caffeine? The study still stands regardless of whether you enjoy regular or decaffeinated coffee.

People who drink one cup daily were 12 percent less likely to die from these diseases. People who drink up to three cups a day had an 18 percent lower risk of death.

coffee

A separate study of more than 520,000 healthy people in 10 European countries, meanwhile, also found coffee drinkers were associated with lower risk for death, specifically from digestive and circulatory diseases.

But an editorial in the journal cautioned “it’s ‘premature’ to recommend that people drink coffee to live longer or prevent disease.” Coffee drinkers could have other things in common that factor into their health.

The study is important because “lifestyle patterns and disease risks can vary substantially across racial and ethnic backgrounds, and findings in one group may not necessarily apply to others.”

But it’s safe to say the association applies to other groups, Setiawan said, since it was seen in four different ethnicities.

Go ahead and order that second cup.

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Invisibility Cloak Might Enhance Efficiency Of Solar Cells

solar panel

Success of the energy turnaround will depend decisively on the extended use of renewable energy sources. However, their efficiency partly is much smaller than that of conventional energy sources.

The efficiency of commercially available photovoltaic cells, for instance, is about 20%. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now published an unconventional approach to increasing the efficiency of the panels.

Optical invisibility cloaks guide sunlight around objects that cast a shadow on the solar panel, such as contacts for current extraction. Energy efficiency of solar panels has to be improved significantly not only for the energy turnaround, but also for enhancing economic efficiency.




Modules that are presently mounted on roofs convert just one fifth of the light into electricity, which means that about 80% of the solar energy are lost. The reasons of these high losses are manifold. Up to one tenth of the surface area of solar cells, for instance, is covered by so-called contact fingers that extract the current generated.

At the locations of these contact fingers, light cannot reach the active area of the solar cell and efficiency of the cell decreases.

“Our model experiments have shown that the cloak layer makes the contact fingers nearly completely invisible,” doctoral student Martin Schumann of the KIT Institute of Applied Physics says, who conducted the experiments and simulations.

solar panel

Physicists of KIT around project head Carsten Rockstuhl, together with partners from Aachen, Freiburg, Halle, Jena, and Jülich, modified the optical invisibility cloak designed at KIT for guiding the incident light around the contact fingers of the solar cell.

To achieve the cloaking effect, the scientists pursued two approaches. Both are based on applying a polymer coating onto the solar cell. This coating has to possess exactly calculated optical properties, i.e. an index of refraction that depends on the location or a special surface shape.The second concept is particularly promising, as it can potentially be integrated into

The second concept is particularly promising, as it can potentially be integrated into mass production of solar cells at low costs. The surface of the cloak layer is grooved along the contact fingers. In this way, incident light is refracted away from the contact fingers and finally reaches the active surface area of the solar cell.

solar panel

By means of a model experiment and detailed simulations, the researchers demonstrated that both concepts are suited for hiding the contact fingers. In the next step, it is planned to apply the cloaking layer onto a solar cell in order to determine the efficiency increase.

The physicists are optimistic that efficiency will be improved by the cloak under real conditions: “When applying such a coating onto a real solar cell, optical losses via the contact fingers are supposed to be reduced and efficiency is assumed to be increased by up to 10%,” Martin Schumann says.

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Too Much Big Data May Not Be Enough

In the quest to mine and analyze meaningful, reliable, and useful data from the burgeoning plethora of electronic and online sources, healthcare organizations can allow the big picture to overshadow many underlying and valuable components contributing to patient care improvement.

The clinical data and diagnostic images in radiology information systems (RIS) and picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) remain two examples.

For clinical imaging and radiology executives, these visual clues and cues are necessary for effective, efficient decision support.

Certainly a growing number of manufacturers and information technology companies recognize this – even if many healthcare providers have not yet reached the point where they can tackle the necessary underlying infrastructure beyond the planning and strategic stages.

As a result, they’re offering providers a light at the end of the tunnel.




The latest generation of reporting capabilities can help improve the utilization of imaging data for diagnostic decision making,” says Cristine Kao, Global Marketing Director for Healthcare Information Solutions, Carestream.

An NIH study concluded that oncologists and radiologists prefer quantitative reports that include measurements as well as hyperlinks to annotated images with tumor measurements, for example.

A report by Emory and ACR shows eight out of 10 physicians will send more referrals to facilities that can offer interactive multimedia reporting – citing the ability to better collaborate with radiologists.

Connecting all of the technology and tools remains important, too, for a visually rich information view, according to Todd Winey, Senior Advisor, Strategic Markets, InterSystems.

For the clinical and diagnostic data to play a more valuable role in patient care improvement, these trends need to be accelerated, Winey insists, which isn’t without challenges.

VNAs remain only marginally deployed,” he laments. “Many of the advances in radiology information systems and PACS have been focused on productivity improvements for radiologists and are not yet fully supporting advanced interoperability.

Kao agrees with the foundational importance of a VNA but adds that it shouldn’t stop there.

Depending on an organization’s capabilities, imaging data must be accessible to more than just one clinical segment to be included as part of the decision support process, according to Winey.

Kao says she fully anticipates future reporting functions may include “more intuitive searching capabilities that will link pertinent patient information for a specific condition or disease, even if previous reports did not include the specific word involved in the search command.”

“The goal for enhancing the entire diagnostic process is to provide clinically relevant information when and where it’s needed.”

“New advanced reporting techniques provide information that can lead to improved decision support and diagnostic outcomes.

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First Study Shows That Cannabis Could Help Treat Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Which Affect Millions

Chemicals in cannabis can mimic the signals the body uses to regulate inflammation in the gut and could help treat serious chronic bowel conditions like Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis, scientists have said.

Research from the University of Bath said the findings could help explain why some patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) report medical marijuana can help their symptoms.

The trials are only in mice at this stage, but could lead to new drug targets for disorders which affect millions of people around the world.

Professor Randy Mrsny, from the University of Bath’s Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, said: “We need to be clear that while this is a plausible explanation for why marijuana users have reported cannabis relieves symptoms of IBD, we have only worked in mice and have not proven this experimentally in humans.

However our results may provide a mechanistic explanation for anecdotal data that cannabinoid exposure benefits some colitis patients.




“For the first time we have identified a counterbalance to the inflammation response in the intestine and we hope that these findings will help us develop new ways to treat bowel diseases.”

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease and affect 300,000 people in the UK, according to Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

They are chronic conditions and over a life-time the repeated damage from inflammation to the cells of the gut and intestine can require surgery for complications.

The researchers from Bath worked with colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School to conduct their study, which is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

They found gut inflammation is regulated by two processes, which are constantly in flux to respond to changing conditions in intestines.

Previous research identified the first process – a pathway promoting an aggressive immune response in the gut, which is useful to destroy dangerous pathogens but can damage the lining of the intestine when immune cells attack indiscriminately.

The second process, revealed in the new research, turns off this inflammation response via molecules transported across the cells lining the gut into the intestine cavity.

This response requires a naturally-produced molecule called endocannabinoid, which is very similar to cannabinoid molecules found in cannabis, the researchers say.

If the endocannabinoid is not present, inflammation is not kept in balance and can flare up as the body’s immune system cells attack the intestinal lining.

The researchers believe that, because cannabis use introduces cannabinoids into the body, these molecules could help relieve gut inflammation as the naturally produced endocannabinoids would.

Professor Beth McCormick, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said: “There’s been a lot of anecdotal evidence about the benefits of medical marijuana, but there hasn’t been a lot of science to back it up.

For the first time, we have an understanding of the molecules involved in the process and how endocannabinoids and cannabinoids control inflammation.

“This gives clinical researchers a new drug target to explore to treat patients that suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases, and perhaps other diseases, as well.”

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Smartphone Overuse May ‘Damage’ Eyes, Say Opticians

They are warning overuse from phones and other devices like computers, tablets, and flat screen TVs can lead to long-term damage.

It comes as a survey of 2,000 people suggests under 25s check their phones thirty-two times a day.

Optician Andy Hepworth said: “Blue violet light is potentially hazardous and toxic to the back of your eyes. So over a long period of time it can potentially damage your eyes.

“When you’re looking at a smart phone, the light peaking out of that is blue violet.”




He says tests have found that over exposure to blue-violet light has the potential to put us at greater risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.

Opticians say that, although “good” blue light (blue-turquoise) is needed to help regulate biological clocks, it is also thought that extensive exposure to blue violet light can disrupting sleep patterns and affect moods.

Although we don’t know if there’s a direct link with it creating eye problems, there is strong lab evidence it can potentially do that,” Andy added.

It’s the combination of not blinking enough and bringing the device closer than you normally look at objects – it strains your eyes.”

More headaches

The survey, commissioned by a group of independent opticians, found that on average, an adult spends nearly seven hours a day staring at a screen with nearly half feeling anxious when away from their phone.

Statistics also suggest 43% of under 25s experience genuine irritation or anxiety when they can’t check their phone when they want.

It also found 55% felt the amount of screen time they’re exposed to affects them with eye discomfort the main problem.

She said: “I’ve definitely noticed that my eyes are getting worse from staring at my computer and phone.

“I am getting more headaches.”

Amanda Saint, who is also an optician, says the advice is simple.

Get your eyes tested regularly and take regular breaks from your computer and hand held device.”

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Stew From A Polar Bear Liver Will Kill You In A Most Gruesome Way

Liver has long been a staple in many diets. Deep-fried chicken livers are a favorite in parts of the American South. Travel to Germany and you can feast on traditional liverwurst.

In Japan, you can order a heaping helping of sashimi made with raw fish liver. As delicious (or disgusting) as some of these dishes may sound to you, not every bird, fish or mammal necessarily offers the best ingredients for a culinary masterpiece.

In fact, if you ever have the chance to try polar bear liver, think twice — it may be the last meal you ever eat.

The native peoples of the Arctic have never shied away from cooking up some polar bear stew, but they’ve long known to avoid eating the livers of various arctic creatures.




Western explorers, however, learned the hard way. As early as 1596, explorers returned to Europe with accounts of horrible illnesses resulting from the consumption of polar bear liver.

Illness severity depended on how much liver the explorers consumed, but symptoms typically included drowsiness, sluggishness, irritability, severe headache, bone pain, blurred vision and vomiting.

Perhaps the most horrific symptom they encountered was peeling skin. While milder cases merely involved flaking around the mouth, some accounts reported cases of full-body skin loss.

Even the thick skin on the bottoms of a patient’s feet could peel away, leaving the underlying flesh bloody and exposed. The worst cases ended in liver damage, hemorrhage, coma and death.

These explorers suffered from acute hypervitaminosis A, a condition resulting from the overconsumption of vitamin A during a short period of time.

The polar bear’s liver, much like those of arctic seals and huskies, contains extremely high levels of retinol (the form of vitamin A found in members of the animal kingdom).

Top 5 Perseid Meteor Shower Facts

Photo Credit: NASA/MSFC/D. Moser, NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office

Every August, the night sky is peppered with little bits of comet debris in what we call the annual Perseid meteor shower.

In 2018, the Perseids will peak on Aug. 12 (best showing the nights of Aug. 11-12 and Aug. 12-13), with 60-70 meteors per hour possible for observers with clear, dark skies, according to NASA.

The Perseids are bits of the comet Swift-Tuttle and often create the most amazing meteor shower of the year, although this year its splendor will be dampened slightly by a bright moon.




Largest Object

Comet Swift-Tuttle, whose debris creates the Perseids, is the largest object known to make repeated passes near Earth. Its nucleus is about 16 miles (26 kilometers) across, roughly equal to the object that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Near-miss Coming?

Back in the early 1990s, astronomer Brian Marsden calculated that Swift-Tuttle might actually hit Earth on a future pass. More observations quickly eliminated all possibility of a collision.

Marsden found, however, that the comet and Earth might experience a cosmic near miss (about a million miles) in 3044.

Heated Air

When a Perseid particle enters the atmosphere, it compresses the air in front of it, which heats up. The meteor, in turn, can be heated to more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,650 Celsius).

The intense heat vaporizes most meteors, creating what we call shooting stars. Most become visible at around 60 miles up (97 kilometers).

Some large meteors splatter, causing a brighter flash called a fireball, and sometimes an explosion that can often be heard from the ground.

Lots of Comets

Comet Swift-Tuttle has many comet kin. Most originate in the distant Oort cloud, which extends nearly halfway to the next star. The vast majority never visit the inner solar system.

But a few, like Swift-Tuttle, have been gravitationally booted onto new trajectories, possibly by the gravity of a passing star long ago.

Many Streams

Perseid meteoroids are anywhere from 60 to 100 miles apart, even at the densest part of the river of debris left behind by comet Swift-Tuttle.

That river, in fact, is more like many streams, each deposited during a different pass of the comet on its 130-year orbit around the Sun.

The material drifts through space and, in fact, orbits the Sun on roughly the same path as the comet while also spreading out over time.

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This Tiny Robot Walks, Crawls, Jumps And Swims. But It Is Not Alive.

Researchers in Germany have developed a robot that is about a seventh of an inch long and looks at first like no more than a tiny strip of something rubbery. Then it starts moving.

The robot walks, jumps, crawls, rolls and swims. It even climbs out of the pool, moving from a watery environment into a dry one.

The robot prototype is small enough to move around in a stomach or urinary system, said Metin Sitti, head of the physical intelligence department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany, who led the research team.

The robot hasn’t been tested in humans yet, but the goal is to improve it for medical use — for instance, delivering drugs to a target within the body.




What is most unusual about the research, Dr. Sitti said, is that such a “minimalist robot” can achieve “all different type of motion possibilities to navigate in complex environments.

Leif Ristroph, a mathematician at New York University’s Courant Institute who developed a small flying robot that mimics the motion of jellyfish, wrote in an email: “The array of behaviours and capabilities is certainly impressive and sets this robot apart from most others.”

These critters are very cute!” he said. “Love how the authors put the little guy through mini-obstacle courses.

My other thought is that the pilot, who we don’t see, is also quite impressive,” added Dr. Ristroph, who was not involved in the research.

Clearly whoever is controlling the magnetic fields has gained some hard-earned intuition and fine skills based on a lot of experience and trial-and-error.

The research was reported Wednesday in the journal Nature. Below are excerpts from a telephone conversation with Dr. Sitti. They have been edited for length and clarity.

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3 Animals That Mate For Life

Did you know there are members of the animal kingdom (other than humans) that mate for life?

In some cases of monogamous mates – for example, beavers – both parents care for their offspring.

When one partner in a monogamous pair dies, most surviving partners go on to find a new mate before the next breeding season.




Beavers

Adult beavers can weigh 40 pounds or more, and they mate for life during their third year. Their babies are called kits, and typically 1 to 4 are born in the spring.

Both parents care for their kits, who stay with them for about two years. The yearlings typically help care for the next litter. A beaver colony can consist of six or more individuals, including parents, yearlings, and kits.

Gibbons

Gibbons are the nearest relatives to humans that mate for life. They live in small, stable family groups with a monogamous mated pair and offspring under the age of 7.

Gibbon families are territorial and defend their territory with morning songs sung by the breeding pair.

Gibbons reach sexual maturity between 6 and 8 years of age. Females give birth to one baby at a time, and mating pairs produce an average of 5 to 6 offspring over their reproductive lifetimes.

Wolves

Wolves live in packs that are typically family groups including a male and female breeding pair and their offspring of varying ages. Only the breeding pair mates, and has one litter a year.

Wolves reach sexual maturity between 2 and 3 years of age, and once the youngsters are ready to mate, most leave their birth pack to start their own pack or join an existing pack.

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