…our society has become so technologically based that you really can’t be a fully operating citizen unless you understand basic science. How are you supposed to make judgements about the health of your children if you don’t believe in science? How are you supposed to make a judgement about a generation of fuel and power if you don’t believe in science? You can’t operate as a sensible voting member of a democratic society these days unless you understand fundamental scientific principles to a degree.
As Phil Plait informs us at the link above, this gorgeous shot was taken from the International Space Station on Jan 1, 2013. That so many would desire to live in a place so beautiful, with full knowledge of the possible destruction that this active volcano could wreak on their lives (as it did less than two millennia ago), speaks volumes about us.
Sometimes when you take a picture of Earth, it can be a self-portrait of humanity itself. It’s a stunningly beautiful place, and that seems to trump danger and risk for a great many people.
(via Bad Astronomy)
Top 10 Mad Science Fails: When it comes to mad science fails, Dr. Anton Arcane is the absolute worst. Expelled from medical school on a host of ghastly charges, Arcane continued his depraved experiments in the trenches of World War I, where he served as the worst army medic of all time. Unsurprisingly, he also befriended Adolf Hitler… READ MORE HERE: http://is.gd/HDBO5Q
Image courtesy DC Entertainment
What might lurk beneath Antarctica’s 5 million square miles of ice was the subject of speculation by sci-fi writers in the 1930s. One of the icy products this subgenre of Antarctic Gothic horror spawned is HP Lovecraft’s novella, At the Mountains of Madness, in which scientists drill beneath Antarctica’s ice — only to discover horrid things preserved there. Now, scientists are finally enacting Lovecraft’s scenario: Over the next several weeks they are drilling into three subglacial lakes hidden beneath thousands of feet of ice in Antarctica.
What they will find as they sample the lakes and send cameras into their bellies remains to be seen. But one thing is already clear: Lovecraft was actually right about far more than his readers could have realized.
A recent study by a researcher at the Centre for Studies on Human Stress (CSHS) at the Hôpital Louis-H. Lafontaine and professor at the Université de Montréal suggests that bullying by peers changes the structure surrounding a gene involved in regulating mood, making victims more vulnerable to mental health problems as they age. The study published in the journal Psychological Medicine seeks to better understand the mechanisms that explain how difficult experiences disrupt our response to stressful situations. “Many people think that our genes are immutable; however this study suggests that environment, even the social environment, can affect their functioning. This is particularly the case for victimization experiences in childhood, which change not only our stress response but also the functioning of genes involved in mood regulation,” says Isabelle Ouellet-Morin, lead author of the study.
A previous study by Ouellet-Morin, conducted at the Institute of Psychiatry in London (UK), showed that bullied children secrete less cortisol—the stress hormone—but had more problems with social interaction and aggressive behaviour. The present study indicates that the reduction of cortisol, which occurs around the age of 12, is preceded two years earlier by a change in the structure surrounding a gene (SERT) that regulates serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and depression.
To achieve these results, 28 pairs of identical twins with a mean age of 10 years were analyzed separately according to their experiences of bullying by peers: one twin had been bullied at school while the other had not. “Since they were identical twins living in the same conditions, changes in the chemical structure surrounding the gene cannot be explained by genetics or family environment. Our results suggest that victimization experiences are the source of these changes,” says Ouellet-Morin. According to the author, it would now be worthwhile to evaluate the possibility of reversing these psychological effects, in particular, through interventions at school and support for victims.
Fly larvae fed on alcohol-spiked food for a period of days grow dependent on those spirits for learning. The findings, reported in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on November 29th, show how overuse of alcohol can produce lasting changes in the brain, even after alcohol abuse stops.
The report also provides evidence that the very human experience of alcoholism can be explored in part with studies conducted in fruit flies and other animals, the researchers say.
“Our evidence supports the long-ago proposed idea that functional ethanol tolerance is produced by adaptations that counter the effects of ethanol, and that these adaptations help the nervous system function more normally when ethanol is present,” says Brooks Robinson of The University of Texas at Austin. “However, when ethanol is withheld, the adaptations persist to give the nervous system abnormal properties that manifest themselves as symptoms of withdrawal.”
Robinson and his colleagues found that alcohol consumption, at a level equivalent to mild intoxication in humans, at first impeded learning by fly larvae. More specifically, those larvae had some trouble in associating an unpleasant heat pulse with an otherwise attractive odor in comparison to larvae that had not been drinking alcohol.
After a six-day drinking binge, however, those larvae adapted and could learn as well as normal larvae could. In fact, the alcohol-adapted animals learned poorly when their ethanol was taken away from them. And, when given alcohol back, their learning deficit was erased.
Robinson says that the findings are the first proof of cognitive ethanol dependence in an invertebrate, suggesting that some of ethanol’s ability to change behavior must begin at the cellular level. After all, flies and humans share many of the same features at the level of individual neurons, and not so much in terms of the way those neurons are put together into working circuits.
Like my Biochem teacher always said, Test like you study. Study drunk, test drunk. Study high, test high. Study caffeinated, etc. As long as you regulate the body will adjust to perform at peak levels as long as it remains consistent.
The Floral X-rays of Brendan Fitzpatrick are just breathtaking. Check out more at the link.
Nature is full of numerical and geometric patterns, some we can see from the outside and some require that we take on a new perspective (just look at how those rose petals are stacked!!). Some of those patterns are probably coincidental, but some of them are likely a result of nature’s inner workings.
Want to explore more? Take a ride with Vi Hart through the mathematical patterns of pinecones, pineapples and flowers. And then discover the multitudes of mathematical patterns in nature with Cristóbal Vila’s amazing video Nature by Numbers.
What do you think? Are these patterns coincidental or are they proof of some inherent design rules in biology and nature?