2019年2月6日 星期三

Daily Bulletin for 02/06/2019 

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Straw Bans Won't Solve Plastic Pollution

Andrew Glover, Quillette

The presence of plastic in our oceans has been a growing problem for decades. But only in recent years has it found its way into the public consciousness. In one well-publicized case last year, scientists in Spain discovered the washed-up body of a sperm whale that contained 29 kilos of plastica grim intestinal haul that included dozens of plastic bags and a fuel container.

Snakes May Have Driven the Evolution of Primate Vision

Lynne A Isbell, Aeon

Evolution has favoured the modification and expansion of primate vision. Compared with other mammals, primates have, for example, greater depth perception from having forward-facing eyes with extensively overlapping visual fields, sharper visual acuity, more areas in the brain that are involved with vision, and, in some primates, trichromatic colour vision, which enables them to distinguish red from green hues.

The Self Is Not Entirely Lost in Dementia

Christian Jarrett, Research Digest

In the past when scholars have reflected on the psychological impact of dementia they have frequently referred to the loss of the self in dramatic and devastating terms, using language such as the unbecoming of the self or the disintegration of the self. In a new review released as a preprint at PsyArXiv, an international team of psychologists led by Muireann Irish at the University of Sydney challenge this bleak picture which they attribute to the common, but mistaken, assumption that without memory, there can be no self (as encapsulated by the line from Hume:...

AAAS' Confusing Behavior on Glyphosate

Alex Berezow, ACSH

The AAAS, which stands for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is one of the foremost pro-science organizations in the world. Not only does it advocate for good science and science policy, it publishes the prestigious journal Science, read by millions of scientists around the world.

Fragile DNA Enables New Adaptations to Evolve Quickly

Viviane Callier, Quanta

Evolutionary biologists have puzzled over why nature, with vast genetic resources at its disposal, sometimes seems stuck in a rut. Against the odds, separate species and populations independently evolve the same solutions to life's challenges, and the same genes are recruited to mutate and enable certain adaptations again and again.

The Geologists Who Control Lava

Lauren J. Young, Science Friday

Geologist Jeffrey Karson is no stranger to watching the Earth bleed.He has closely observed molten lava snake down a slope, the material puckering and buckling into an array of patterns. It feels like standing next to a campfire or a wood burning stove at a safe distance, says Karson, but the angry amber glow screams a warning of scorching heat.

What Drives the Flat-Earthers?

Steven Novella, Neurologica

I am still stunned that there are seemingly average people walking around today with the firm belief that the world is actually flat. The numbers, while still small, are also surprisingly high. In a recent survey only 84% of those surveyed were confident that the Earth is round. The rest expressed some doubt, were confident the Earth is flat, or were unsure. For those 18-24 only 66% were confident the world is round.

Female Brains Remain Youthful As Male Brains Wind Down

Jon Hamilton, NPR

Women tend to have more youthful brains than their male counterparts at least when it comes to metabolism.While age reduces the metabolism of all brains, women retain a higher rate throughout the lifespan, researchers reported Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Great Dolphin Dilemma

Lina Zeldovich, Hakai Magazine

Michele Bollo stood on Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge, close to the US Navy base in Point Loma, San Diego, looking through a video camera trained on a network of pens in the water below. The nine-by-nine-meter ocean corrals held 70 dolphins and 30 sea lions belonging to the US Navy Marine Mammal Program (NMMP).

There's No Such Thing as Caffeine Addiction

Harriet Hall, Science-Based Medicine

In the Feb/March 2019 issue of Free Inquiry magazine, there was an article by John Frantz, MD, titled The Biology of Addiction. The title is a misnomer. Rather than covering the biology of addiction, he speculated about one possible explanation for why addiction might have evolved, and then told a series of anecdotes about headache as a withdrawal symptom of caffeine addiction. The article was unfortunate. He's entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts. In the first place, there's no such thing as caffeine addiction.

The Problem With Big DNA

Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic

In 2015, scientists discovered a pig in China that would set off a frantic, worldwide search. The pig carried bacteria resistant to colistin, a drug used to cure infections when almost all other drugs have failed. Colistin is an old antibiotic with sometimes severe side effects in humans.

Maybe I'm Crazy

Sabine Hossenfelder, Backreaction

How often can you hold up four fingers, hear a thousand people shout five, and not agree with them? How often can you repeat an argument, see it ignored, and still believe in reason? How often can you tell a thousand scientists the blatantly obvious, hear them laugh, and not think you are the one who is insane?

The World Might Actually Run Out of People

Megan Molteni, Wired

You know the story. Despite technologies, regulations, and policies to make humanity less of a strain on the earth, people just won't stop reproducing. By 2050 there will be 9 billion carbon-burning, plastic-polluting, calorie-consuming people on the planet.

Cancer Growth Could Originate From a Single Cell

Michael P. Lisanti, Conversation

Cancer remains a frightening and largely incurable disease. The toxic side effects of chemotherapy and radiation make the cure often seem as bad as the ailment, and there is also the threat of recurrence and tumour spread.Cancer treatment still follows a practically medieval method of cut, burn or poison.

New Star Map Reveals the Milky Way Is Warped

Ryan Mandelbaum, Gizmodo

A new analysis of pulsing stars has revealed the Milky Way's twisted shape.Scientists have known since the 1950s that the spiral-shaped Milky Way's disk is warped, bending by thousands of light-years at its outskirts. Now, researchers have created a map of stars called Cepheid variables in order to create a 3D map of our galaxy and understand the warping better than ever.

Netflix Inks Deal With Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop. Sigh.

Alex B. Berezow, ACSH

Gwyneth Paltrow has a great career. Not many actors can claim her rsum: Shakespeare in Love, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Avengers, and even Contagion (ironically, a pro-science movie). Why she feels the need to become America's second biggest scam artist -- after Dr. Oz, of course -- is absolutely mind-boggling. Doesn't she have enough money already?

Specific Gut Microbes Linked With Depression

Ashley Yeager, The Scientist

Two types of bacteria, Coprococcus and Dialister, are depleted in people with depression, researchers report today (February 4) in Nature Microbiology. The study also found that many gut bacteria can produce compounds that act on the nervous system. If confirmed, the results could lead to a deeper understanding of the gut-brain connection, and possibly open avenues to new treatments for mental illness.
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