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United Academics Connects Science to Society.
Small numbers can imply big things. Global sea level rose by a little less than 0.2 metres during the 20th century – mainly in response to the 0.8 °C of warming humans have caused through greenhouse gas emissions. That might not look like something to worry about. But there is no doubt that for the next century, sea level will continue to rise substantially. The multi-billion-dollar question is: by how much?... Read more »
Levermann A, Clark PU, Marzeion B, Milne GA, Pollard D, Radic V, & Robinson A. (2013) The multimillennial sea-level commitment of global warming. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(34), 13745-50. PMID: 23858443
As a junk food lover, I found this news really depressing. The New England Journal of Medicine recently published an article on a study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington. The study followed a large group of subjects (about 2,000) for an average of almost seven years to look at the effects of blood glucose levels on the chance of developing dementia.... Read more »
The specific vulnerability of the immune system to recent environmental changes is reflected in the dramatic increase in virtually all inflammatory disorders, such as allergy and autoimmunity. Furthermore, clinical expression of allergy within the first months of life and detectable immune dysregulation at birth provide clear evidence of very early environmental effects. Already, approximately 30% to 40% of the world’s population is affected by one or more allergic conditio... Read more »
Prescott SL. (2013) Early-life environmental determinants of allergic diseases and the wider pandemic of inflammatory noncommunicable diseases. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 131(1), 23-30. PMID: 23265694
There is a new trend in the social network world: opting out. Websites like suicidemachine, seppukoo and quitfacebookday help people to just quit being virtually social. Who are these people? And what drives them? Austrian psychologists tested it and just published their results.... Read more »
Stieger S, Burger C, Bohn M, & Voracek M. (2013) Who commits virtual identity suicide? Differences in privacy concerns, internet addiction, and personality between facebook users and quitters. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking, 16(9), 629-34. PMID: 23374170
How do you get to know one of Earth’s most mysterious creatures? By looking at its earwax, according to a group of US researchers. Analysing the contents of blue whales’ ears, through a process similar to analysis of tree rings, led the team to construct a chemical timeline of the its life. This technique, they say, should allow significant further research both into how blue whales develop and how they respond to environmental concerns.... Read more »
Stephen J. Trumble et al. (2013) Blue whale earplug reveals lifetime contaminant exposure and hormone profiles. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1311418110
People that just lost a loved one or got fired don't loose their general feeling of happiness forever. Scientists have proven that major life events usually influence your well-being for no longer than three months.... Read more »
Suh E, Diener E, & Fujita F. (1996) Events and subjective well-being: only recent events matter. Journal of personality and social psychology, 70(5), 1091-102. PMID: 8656337
A baby’s first year of life is all take and very little give. “Change my nappy!” “Feed me!” “Me! Me! Me!”
We all start out as very demanding, seemingly thankless creatures. But collectively we make up one of the most social species on Earth. As we develop, we all acquire the abilities needed to participate in a give-and-take society.
Young children start helping their parents – and other adults – soon after their first birthday. If an adult drops something – say a clothes peg when trying to hang up the washing – the chubby fingers of an observant toddler could come to the adult’s aid.... Read more »
You’ve probably heard that human beings and chimpanzees share almost 99% of their DNA. But is this enough to explain the many differences we see between ourselves and our evolutionary cousins?*
Enter DNA methylation. When a methyl group (CH3) binds to DNA, this can alter the expression of the gene that that specific DNA sequence represents. So, two genes, identical in sequence, can be expressed differently depending on the methyl groups bound to it.
A new study, published in PLOS Genetics, has investigated the methylation patterns in the DNA of humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans**. And indeed, the researchers found several differences in their comparative analysis.... Read more »
Rodriguez RM, Suarez-Alvarez B, Salvanés R, Muro M, Martínez-Camblor P, Colado E, Sánchez MA, Díaz MG, Fernandez AF, Fraga MF.... (2013) DNA methylation dynamics in blood after hematopoietic cell transplant. PloS one, 8(2). PMID: 23451113
Chronic lack of sleep has serious public health implications... Read more »
Alvaro PK, Roberts RM, & Harris JK. (2013) A Systematic Review Assessing Bidirectionality between Sleep Disturbances, Anxiety, and Depression. Sleep, 36(7), 1059-1068. PMID: 23814343
Suffering a miscarriage can be a very distressing experience but for many women their next pregnancy is a normal one. For women, however, who suffer recurrent miscarriage, where they have three or more in a row, it can be utterly devastating.
More frustrating still is that in many cases – more than half – doctors are unable to find an underlying cause or offer more than just a handful of options for treatment... Read more »
Kuroda K, Venkatakrishnan R, James S, Sucurovic S, Mulac-Jericevic B, Lucas ES, Takeda S, Shmygol A, Brosens JJ, & Quenby S. (2013) Elevated Periimplantation Uterine Natural Killer Cell Density in Human Endometrium Is Associated With Impaired Corticosteroid Signaling in Decidualizing Stromal Cells. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. PMID: 24025400
Being attracted to one gender only is só last century. That’s at least the idea you get when reading Elizabeth Morgans just published review of various international studies on the sexual orientation of youth and emerging adults. It seems that many youngsters are not easily placed in a box of perfectly corresponding sexual orientation, identity, fantasy and experience. New generations are instead getting increasingly sexually flexible.... Read more »
Elizabeth M. Morgan. (2013) Contemporary Issues in Sexual Orientation and Identity Development in Emerging Adulthood. Emerging Adulthood. DOI: 10.1177/2167696812469187
Prince Charming and the boy accused of the Boston bombings may not seem to have much in common. But thousands of teenage American girls appear to be falling in love with 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and the explanation may lie in a very awkward place indeed – somewhere between the shining armour and the poisoned apple.
Tsarnaev has become the focal point for a number of fan clubs on social media, largely comprising teenage girls protesting his innocence and professing undying love. Two Facebook groups have 8,400 and 13,500 members respectively.... Read more »
Peter Glick, Susan T. Fiske. (1996) The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating Hostile and Benevolent Sexism . Journal of Psrsonality and Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1037//0022-35220.127.116.111
On the same day that the of the Jurassic Park film series has been confirmed, a study published in the journal PLOS One has detailed experiments that seem to prove once and for all that dinosaurs will never again walk the Earth.
The 1993 film, based on a book by Michael Crichton, depicts a theme park island filled with dinosaurs, resurrected from ancient DNA extracted from fossilised mosquitoes trapped in amber.
In the early 1990s, several scientists announced they had extracted DNA from insects fossilised amber as long as 130 million years ago. Insects from this time in Earth’s history, the early Cretaceous period, would have flown among dinosaurs such as flying pterosaurs, swimming plesiosaurs, giant, long-necked sauropods, among the largest creatures ever on land, feathered birds and mammals.... Read more »
David Penney et al. (2013) Absence of Ancient DNA in Sub-Fossil Insect Inclusions Preserved in ‘Anthropocene’ Colombian Copal. PLoS ONE. info:/
Many children and teenagers see themselves as immune to the risk of accidents and injury.
Now, new research suggests that pointing out the positive aspects of avoiding risky behaviour may be a more effective way to modify young people’s behaviour than repeated warnings about all the bad things that could happen.
The study, conducted by researchers from University College London and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today, involved a study of 52 volunteers aged nine to 26.... Read more »
Christina Moutsiana et al. (2013) Human development of the ability to learn from bad news. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. info:/
It is nice to get people to do stuff you like. And luckily, just by hanging out with the people around you, you probably already found a lot of ways to accomplish this.... Read more »
Robert B. Cialdini, Wilhelmina Wosinska, Daniel W. Barrett, Jonathan Butner, Malgorzata Gornik-Durose. (1999) Compliance with a request in two cultures: The differential influence of social proof and commitment/consistency on collectivists and individualists. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. DOI: 10.1177/0146167299258006
The majority of cellular proteins are rapidly degraded and replaced with newly synthesized copies, minimizing accumulation of potentially toxic damage and ensuring a functional proteome throughout a cell’s lifetime. Several studies have measured global protein turnover rates in yeast and mammals and reported an average protein half-life of 1.5 hr to 1–2 days, respectively.... Read more »
Toyama BH, Savas JN, Park SK, Harris MS, Ingolia NT, Yates JR 3rd, & Hetzer MW. (2013) Identification of long-lived proteins reveals exceptional stability of essential cellular structures. Cell, 154(5), 971-82. PMID: 23993091
Father’s involvement in raising a child, on average, brings good news. It leads to lower child mortality and better social, psychological and educational outcomes. So why do some men choose not to invest in their children? According to a new study, at least part of the reason may be related to testicle size and testosterone levels.... Read more »
Jennifer S. Mascaro et al. (2013) Testicular volume is inversely correlated with nurturing-related brain activity in human fathers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/
Picture a group of identically dressed giggling girls and then think of a couple of boys kicking garbage cans. Who do you think is most suspectible to peer pressure?... Read more »
Martina Lotar Rihtarić, & and Željka Kamenov. (2013) Susceptibility to peer pressure and attachment to friends. Psihologija. DOI: 10.2298/PSI1302111L
For most of human history, dreaming has been seen as a second “reality” in which altered forms of perception provide insights into ourselves and others, our fears, fantasies and motivations or even the future.
What Freud referred to as the “royal road to the unconscious” served as a source of wonderment and prophecy. So what do we think about it now?
What is dreaming? What does science say? And what mysteries remain?... Read more »
Forget elaborate dances, sweet serenades or complicated foreplay. And throw away the Spanish fly and oysters. If you’re a female silkmoth, chances are that your would-be mate is already drunk on your very own elixir of love if he’s within whiffing distance. It takes just 170 molecules of the sex pheromone bombykol to put a male silkmoth in the mood.
Farmers have been using bombykol for years to bamboozle love-sick moths in their fields. But how so few molecules elicit such a strong behavioural response has been somewhat of a mystery to scientists. But in a new study, a team of Japanese researchers have cleverly deciphered the neural circuitry of the Bombyx mori olfactory system as it responds to the sex pheromone.... Read more »
Tabuchi M, Sakurai T, Mitsuno H, Namiki S, Minegishi R, Shiotsuki T, Uchino K, Sezutsu H, Tamura T, Haupt SS.... (2013) Pheromone responsiveness threshold depends on temporal integration by antennal lobe projection neurons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 24006366
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