November 19, 2018

    We shouldn’t like coffee, but weirdly we do

    Mind and Brain | Nov 19, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    The curious case of coffee love
    We shouldn’t like coffee, but weirdly we do - short science news and articles

    Evolutionarily, bitterness is like a natural warning system to protect us from harmful substances, so in an ideal world we should just spit out the coffee.

    However, researchers have found out that, more a person is sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine, the more they drink the coffee. This discovered that this sensitivity is due to a genetic variation in these people.

    This suggests that people who consume coffee and are especially sensitive to the bitter taste, learn to associate the bitter taste of coffee with its stimulating properties through positive reinforcement. In other words, they learn to associate ‘good things’ with coffee.

    Read the full story: Northwestern University
    Scientific publication: Scientific reports


    New double-action virus kills cancer cells

    Health | Nov 19, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    This new type of virus targets cancer cells using two different mechanisms
    New double-action virus kills cancer cells - daily science news headlines

    Normal cells around tumors can be tricked into shielding cancer from the immune system. Cancer treatments normally ignore these “healthy” cells, until now.

    A team of scientists developed a new virus that can target both the tumor itself and the healthy cells protecting it from the immune system. So far, the dual-action virus has been tested successfully on human cancer samples and in mice.

    If further experiments will be positive, the virus could be tested in clinical trials involving humans with carcinomas as early as next year.

    Read the full story: Medical Research Council
    Scientific publication: Cancer Research


    “Artificial sun” reaches 100 million degrees - a key step for fusion science

    Technology | Nov 19, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    A temperature six time higher than the sun was achieved in the lab
    “Artificial sun” reaches 100 million degrees - a key step for fusion science - science news headlines in brief

    Scientists working with the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) nicknamed the “Chinese artificial sun” reported an amazing achievement: they reached a plasma central electron temperature of 100 million Celsius degrees, six times hotter than the Sun itself!

    This is a crucial step towards achieving the dream of fusion energy. For stable fusion, a temperature of 100 million C is one of the most fundamental elements. Nuclear fusion needs very high temperature and great pressure, and since the required pressure cannot be achieved on Earth, scientists can only raise the temperature.

    This result establishes an important foundation for the development of clean fusion energy.

    Read the full story: Hefei Institues of Physical Science Chinese Academy of Sciences


    Workplace bullying and violence increase risk of cardiovascular disease

    Health | Nov 19, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    A violent working place can increase the chances of heart and blood vessel problems
    Workplace bullying and violence increase risk of cardiovascular disease - short science news

    People who experience violence or bullying at work are at higher risk of heart disease and cardiovascular issues, according to a new research study.

    The researchers analyzed data from 79,201 working individuals in Denmark and Sweden, aged 18 to 65, with no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The scientists found a strong correlation between violent episodes at work and the incidence of cardiovascular diseases.

    The study is purely observational so it doesn’t show that bullying or violence directly cause cardiovascular problems. Next, the researchers will study the biological and behavioral mechanisms behind this observation.

    Read the full story: European Society of Cardiology
    Scientific publication: European Heart Journal


    Ancient lakes and canyons on the surface of Mars

    Space | Nov 18, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Jezero crater is a paleolake, the outlet canyon of which is at the upper right side of the crater. Ancient rivers carving the inlets are on the left. Image: NASA/Tim Goudge
    Ancient lakes and canyons on the surface of Mars - space short science news

    Scientists have found that lakes on Mars contained at times so much water that they overflowed and burst from the sides of their basins. This created catastrophic floods that carved canyons extremely rapidly, possibly even in the matter of weeks.

    These observations suggest that disastrous geological processes may have shaped the surface of Mars in the past, before the water became frozen and confined in ice caps.

    Read the full story: University of Texas at Austin
    Scientific publication: Geology


    Increased risk of death associated with social isolation

    Health | Nov 16, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Social isolation is an easily modifiable risk factor: It could decrease risk of death
    Increased risk of death associated with social isolation - short science news and articles

    Researchers have reported that there is an increased risk of death, cancer and heart disease due to social isolation. This is true irrespective of gender or race for the 580,182 adults enrolled in this study.

    However, there was an increased risk of death in socially isolated white men and women due to cancer. Social isolation is associated with hypertension, inflammation, smoking, decreased physical activity and other health risks.

    Being married, regularly attending religious services or other group activities decreased the mortality risk over 30 years. This is important because if future studies indicate a reversal of these risks by addressing the problem of social isolation, it would be an easily modifiable risk factor.

    Read the full story: Neuroscience news
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Epidemiology


    The kilogram and three other fundamental units of measurement redefined

    Technology | Nov 16, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Revolution in science: four fundamental units of measurements will be redefined. Credit: BIPM - International System of Units
    The kilogram and three other fundamental units of measurement redefined - daily science news in brief - metrology

    The kilogram is defined by a platinum cylinder, International Prototype Kilogram (informally Le Grand K or IPK), manufactured in 1889 and stored in Paris. Countries made copies of this reference cylinder and used them to measure the mass.

    However, this approach induces small variations in the results of metrological measurements. Not all copies are perfect replicas of the Le Grand K. Changes in the environment can also impact the mass. Similar issues apply to other units of measurement.

    To eliminate these issues and ensure precise and constant measurements all over the world, the International System of Units (SI) is redefining the kilogram together with other three fundamental units in terms of fundamental units, which are unchanging numbers. The changes will come into effect on 20 May 2019.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: BIPM - Bureau International des Poids et Mesures


    New class of antibiotics from insects

    Health | Nov 16, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The spined soldier bug produces thanatin which could serve as a basis for a new class of antibtiotics. Image: Wikimedia Commons
    New class of antibiotics from insects - health short science news

    In the light of increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics, scientists search for other molecules that could help us fight bacterial infections. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now found that an antibiotic called thanatin attacks the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Thanatin is made by the spined soldier bug Podisus maculiventris, and disrupts protein-protein interactions in bacteria, so that they cannot build their protective outer membrane and die. Therefore, thanatin could serve as a basis for the development of a new class of antibiotics.

    Read the full story: University of Zurich
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    Does a low-gluten diet improve gastrointestinal function in healthy people?

    Health | Nov 16, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Low-gluten diets are becoming more popular even in the absence of gluten allergy
    Does a low-gluten diet improve gastrointestinal function in healthy people? - health short science news

    In a study with 60 healthy middle-aged Danish adults, scientists found that a low-gluten diet has moderate effects on the composition of the gut microbiota, reduces fasting, and improves self-reported bloating. However, these changes could be mostly attributed to the increased fiber content of the diet, rather than by reduced gluten per se. Although getting more popular amongst healthy people, for the moment there is no clear evidence that a low-gluten diet has beneficial health effects; dietary fibers may have a greater impact on intestinal comfort.

    Read the full story: University of Copenhagen
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Living in colder climates increases alcohol consumption and liver diseases

    Health | Nov 16, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Alcohol intake increases as people live in cold climates
    Living in colder climates increases alcohol consumption and liver diseases - short science news and articles

    Researchers have found out that as temperature and sunlight hours decrease the level of alcohol consumption increases. While it has been empirically known for several years now that people in colder countries drink more, it was never shown experimentally.

    Also, there is an increase in the number of alcoholic liver diseases in the colder countries as compared to their warmer counterparts. These results hold true even if the scientists controlled for religion and alcohol habits.

    Alcohol being a vasodialator gives a feeling of warmth, which could be the reason for increased alcohol consumption in colder climates.

    Read the full story: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
    Scientific publication: Hepatology


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