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Science AMA Series: I'm Steven Strogatz, a professor of mathematics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. I apply math to biology and physics and love communicating with the public about math through books, radio shows, and New York Times articles, and I’m here today to talk about it. AMA!
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Researchers find that one person likely drove Bitcoin from $150 to $1,000, in a new study published in the Journal of Monetary Economics. Unregulated cryptocurrency markets remain vulnerable to manipulation today.
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Fracking is one of the least sustainable ways to produce electricity, says new study. When comparing environmental, economic and social sustainability, scientists find shale gas extraction ranks 7th out of 9 different energy sources.
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Conservatives are more vulnerable than liberals to "echo chambers" because they are more likely to prioritize conformity and tradition when making judgments and forming their social networks.
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The Varroa mite may be the biggest threat to honeybees. Now, scientists have found a new way to fight them. Tiny amounts of lithium chloride kill 90% to 100% of mites without killing bees.
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More than half of youth and young adults who had consumed energy drinks reported adverse outcomes, some serious enough to warrant seeking medical help. The adverse outcomes were significantly more prevalent than with other sources of caffeine such as coffee.
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Wildlife species are being exposed to high levels of rat poison in northwest California, with illegal marijuana farms the most likely source point. Study found 7 of the 10 northern spotted owls and 40% of the 84 barred owls collected tested positive for rat poison.
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The probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri may help treat colicky breastfed babies less than 3 months old. Study has found that the probiotic is twice as likely as a placebo to reduce crying by 50% after three weeks of treatment for colicky babies who are exclusively breastfed.
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The "Two Brothers" mummies were found in 1907 with a label showing their mom's name. DNA evidence shows they were not brothers but half-brothers.
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Group recreates DNA of man who died in 1827 not using his remains but just DNA samples from his descendants
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When an infectious disease cannot be contained, ants engage in “destructive disinfection.” Researchers exposed ant pupae (developing “babies”) to a fungus. The pupae were groomed to remove any signs of the fungus. Then, they were sprayed with formic acid, leaving behind a heavily damaged corpse.
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Dietary salt promotes neurovascular and cognitive dysfunction through a gut-initiated TH17 response
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Chemists have synthesised several variants of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. Its structure can be altered with light, and the researchers have used this to create a new tool that can be used to more effectively study the body’s own cannabinoid system.
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Genetically "normal" BRCA-1 genes with abnormal methylation are strongly associated with ovarian cancer. This may have clinical implications as current screening tests do not capture abnormal methylation.
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Surfers more likely to harbour antibiotic resistant superbugs, study finds - Beach Bums project looked at surfers’ faeces and found they are three times more likely to carry drug-resistant E coli bacteria. Researchers found that surfers swallow ten times more seawater than swimmers.
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New Study Links Pregnant Women Taking Acetaminophen with Language Delays in Baby Girls
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For the first time, astronomers spot a supermassive black hole that has spewed out material twice, revealing its feeding behavior over time.
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A survey of 4000 millionaires found that only at higher levels of wealth are they happier than those at lower levels and that those that inherited their money were less happy than those who earned it
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After crows fight they touch and preen each other to make up
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A study that utilized a CT scan has made it possible to 3D print the skull of the dinosaur species Massospondylus that roamed South Africa 200 million years ago.
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In urban streams, persistent pharmaceutical pollution can cause aquatic microbial communities to become resistant to drugs.
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Study of 385-million-year-old shark suggests humans and sharks shared common ancestor 440 million years ago
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Robust prediction of individual creative ability from brain functional connectivity
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Human Emissions Made Ocean Heat Wave 53 Times More Likely - Three 2016 marine heat waves that killed whales, birds, corals, and shellfish from Australia to Alaska were many times more likely thanks to climate change.
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Cancer Risk: Why do women with melanoma do better than men
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Children who experienced severe peer victimization/bullying were more than twice as likely to report depression or low moods at age 15, and 3 times more likely to report anxiety. The severe victimization group was almost 3.5 times more likely to report serious suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.
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Study finds that global warming exacerbates refugee crises | when temperatures in agricultural areas and seasons at the source countries varied away from an optimal value (of about 20°C), the number of people seeking asylum increased.
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Feeding live invertebrate prey in zoos and aquaria: Are there welfare concerns?
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Harvard Geoengineering researchers propose seeding of airplane engine exhaust with sulfuric acid (in the stratosphere) for better particle size distribution control that is suited to solar radiation management purposes
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Caught a meteor falling outside my apartment tonight
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Learning Dependent Chromatin Remodeling Highlights Noncoding Regulatory Regions Linked to Autism
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Meta-analysis of action video game impact on perceptual, attentional, and cognitive skills. - PubMed
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Western University researchers are finding a link between athletes with severe concussions and patients living with ALS — a degenerative neurological disorder.
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UK group identifies a novel botulinum toxin gene cluster from Enterococcus species. This is the first complete botulinum toxin gene cluster identified in a non-clostridial genome.
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Black Death spread by human fleas and lice, research shows
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A new study suggests that older people who have worsening anxiety symptoms may be more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. Anxiety disorders are common across the United States, thought to affect around 40 million adults each year.
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A Military Medicine pilot study finds that meditation brings PTSD symptoms below clinical levels in 80% of veterans within 30 days, an average 54.5% decline in PTL-5 scores among the 46 veterans in the study
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Here's a physiological reason why some people are more creative than others
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The share of culturally different immigrants is a significant and sizable determinant of anti-immigration votes (research paper)
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A study has found that junior surgeons need years of training before becoming excellent surgeons. However, with the advent of robotic surgery, the junior surgeon's practice is significantly reduced, and evidence suggests that junior surgeons don’t acquire the skills they require.
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Obesity shaved almost a year off life expectancy in the US, according to a new study PNAS.
209 SirT6 I thought this was a super intriguing paper. What the authors show is that there is a neuronal gene, Arc, that forms virus-like capsids. In the body, endogenous Arc protein forms capsules that contain mRNA, and these capsules are transferred to nearby neurons. This mRNA actually gets turned into protein in the receiving cells. Why this is happening is unclear. But this pathway appears to be conserved across a wide range of species. And the Arc protein itself appears to trace its evolutionary lineage back to an old retroviral protein. Things I wonder about: - We know that dysfunction in the production of Arc protein has been implicated in various neurological conditions including: amnesia, Alzheimer's disease, autism spectrum disorders, and Fragile X syndrome. Is this related to the RNA-transferring activity of the protein? - What sort of mRNA messages are being transported? How dynamic is this process? Is it important to the biology of the system? - What is the point of transferring mRNA this way? Presumably the receiving cells have the same genome and could make the mRNA themselves. And protein-based transduction signals are far better characterized methods for cell-cell signaling. Is there anything special about transferring information this way? - What about other organ systems? Are there similar examples of this type of cell-cell communication? The closest I could think of was the example of mutant EGFRvIII protein, which can form membrane-based blebs and transfer from one cancerous cell to nearby cells, and inform oncogenic signaling. But this mostly happens in the brain too (glioblastoma). The full research paper, [The Neuronal Gene Arc Encodes a Repurposed Retrotransposon Gag Protein that Mediates Intercellular RNA Transfer ](http://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-86741731504-0) was published in the journal *Cell*.
71 moreawkwardthenyou We are a soup of bacteria, viruses and pride
16 Slackerjacks2017 From the paper, a gene that has virus like properties and encodes a protein called Arc (activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein) is involved in the transfer of vesicles which contain mRNA from one neuron to another. The mRNA contained in the vesicles could be modulating the transcription activity of neighboring neurons - which is similar to viral activity.
62 kildala "back-boned animals"... you mean vertebrates?
16 FdaPM Could this be used to improve the effectiveness of gene therapy?
10 Batgate This is super cool! Another example of how capable evolution is. Could this be the mechanism for biologically coded memory? I've only read a little bit of the article, but the concept of viruses that store memory data and transfer it by replicating is super interesting. The article states that Arc genes exist in plenty of different kinds of animals, and that without it, animals are incapable of forming memories. Very cool stuff.
19 kadenjtaylor DUDE! Geoffrey Hinton (computer scientist) has a talk in which he claims that human brains must be using backpropagation (way to update/modify internal weights) just like a neural network does, even though neuroscientists haven't found evidence that such a process is going on. Could it be that the brain is sending asynchronous update packets which are used by the receiving neurons to update their structure?
4 DisguisedPhoton Very interesting. I wonder if something like this comes completely unforseen and strange or if maybe it makes sense because, say, it could explain some mechanisms about memory foeming scientists had not yet fully understood. This is all really fascinating to me. Can someone explain what is (or what was until now) the current theory about how memories are formed and stored in our brains?
4 PM_ME_YOUR_CLIT_LADY Matrix was right. We are virus
3 lunarul Reminds me of the nanovirus in Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time
4 Bat_city I’m currently prepping for my Microbiology final and this is fascinating!!
8 Bahatur That is very interesting. As an analogy, consider moving data between computers: we have an internet and can send it via satellite or fiber optic cable, but the fastest way to move huge quantities of data remains loading it on to high-density drives and shipping the drives. RNA and DNA are fantastically dense ways of packaging information. I bet if we took the information in one of these ARC capsules, and measured the 5mm or whatever it might move before attaching to another neuron, it would be an *extremely* fast method of transmission. Considering that neurons use electrochemical signaling normally, which is much slower than the electrical signals we use in computers, I would not be surprised if ARC capsules proved to be the majority of total information transmission in the brain.
2 Reflections-Observer Ha-Ha! We are walking fermenting bags of skin used by "ideas" viruses to spread memes around. And technology is just another step of evolution of these viruses :P
2 Mnementh2230 ...probably parkinsons and alzheimers, I'd wager. One wonders what the evolutionary pressure behind this trait would have been.