Showing posts with label One Paragraph Science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label One Paragraph Science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label One Paragraph Science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label One Paragraph Science. Show all posts

Sunday, August 14, 2016

One Paragraph on Green Energy From Grass


Garden grass could become a source of cheap and clean renewable energy, scientists at Cardiff University, UK, have claimed. They have shown that significant amounts of hydrogen can be unlocked from fescue grass with the help of sunlight and a cheap catalyst; hydrogen is contained in enormous quantities all over in the world in water, hydrocarbons and other organic matter and there is a serious need to release hydrogen from these sources in a cheap, efficient and sustainable way. This process is called photoreforming or photocatalysis and involves the sunlight activating the catalyst (metal based: palladium, gold and nickel) which then gets to work on converting cellulose and water into hydrogen− their “results show that significant amounts of hydrogen can be produced using this method with the help of a bit of sunlight and a cheap catalyst”.

[1] Caravaca A. et al,  Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science, 2016; 472 (2191) [2]

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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

One paragraph on Migraines caused by Vitamin Deficiencies




Whether it's stress or spending too much time focusing on computer/laptop screens we’re all susceptible to experiencing migraines and some people suffer from them even more than others; and we have heard many recommendations on how to prevent migraines, such as drinking plenty of water, but not the actual reasons why we get migraines. Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre have found that a high percentage of children, teens and young adults with migraines appear to have mild deficiencies in vitamin D, riboflavin and coenzyme Q10. It’s possible that these deficiencies may play a role in the onset of migraines but this is still unclear, based on existing studies. In this study, the researchers’ trial drew from a database that looks at vitamin D, riboflavin and coenzyme Q10, all of which are all associated with migraines to some degree, and this has been reported in many previous research studies, some studies have even conflicted each other. Most of the study patients were put on preventative migraine medications and received vitamin supplements if their levels were low in the patient's bloodstream. Since a minority of the study population received vitamins alone, the researchers were unable to determine vitamin effectiveness in preventing migraines. Also, the researchers found that girls and young women were more likely than boys and young men to have coenzyme Q10 deficiencies at baseline. Boys and young men were more likely to have vitamin D deficiency but it’s unclear whether there were folate deficiencies. Patients with chronic migraines were more likely to have coenzyme Q10 and riboflavin deficiencies than those with episodic migraines. Many studies using vitamins to prevent migraines have been published but they have all had conflicting success, therefore more research, which doesn’t include the use of preventative migraine medications, is needed to determine the power that vitamins have on preventing migraines alone - and until research is no longer conflicting.



References: [1]  

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Friday, May 20, 2016

One Paragraph on Origami Surgical Robots


New experiments conducted as a simulation of the human oesophagus and stomach, have shown that a tiny origami robot that can unfold itself from a swallowed capsule and, steered by external magnetic fields, crawl across the stomach wall to remove a swallowed button battery or patch a wound. Could we already be seeing the future in the technology of surgeries? This isn’t the first time that this type of technology has been introduced to the world. A predecessor was introduced last year at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation. Even though this years new robot is a successor to one reported at the same conference last year, the design of its body is significantly different. Like its predecessor, it can propel itself using what's called a "stick-slip" motion, in which its appendages stick to a surface through friction when it executes a move, but slip free again when its body flexes to change its weight distribution. Also like its predecessor -- and like several other origami robots from the Rus group -- the new robot consists of two layers of structural material sandwiching a material that shrinks when heated. A pattern of slits in the outer layers determines how the robot will fold when the middle layer contracts. It’s also possible to compress this robot into the size of a swallowable pill, and once in the stomach, the robot can fully unfold. The robot moves in the stomach in two ways: 1) A “stick-slip” motion (80% of the time) and 2) forward motion by propelling water/ stomach acid (20% of the time). This robot was essentially designed to extract swallowed button batteries. Every year, 3,500 swallowed button batteries are reported in the U.S. alone. Button batteries are digested normally, but if they come into prolonged contact with the tissue of the oesophagus or stomach, they can cause an electric current that produces hydroxide, which burns the tissue. This is a better way to extract unwanted objects which may have been swallowed in the body. Hopefully future research will be able to make robots that can carry out more complex operations in the stomach and oesophagus.  

References: [1]



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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

One Paragraph on Diabetes and Psychiatric Disorders

A new report featuring in the February 2016 issue of The FASEB Journal, scientists show that a gene called "DISC1," is believed to play a role in mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (and other forms of depression); influence the function of pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Understanding how the different mechanisms  of diseases in the body is essential to be able to pick efficient therapies for patients. Bortell and colleagues decided to study the function of DISC1 by comparing 2 groups of mice. The first group was genetically manipulated to disrupt the DISC1 gene only in the mouse's pancreatic beta cells. The second group of mice was normal. The mice with disrupted DISC1 gene showed increased beta cell death, less insulin secretion and impaired glucose regulation while control mice were normal. The researchers found that DISC1 works by controlling the activity of a specific protein (GSK3β) already known to be critical for beta cell function and survival. Inhibition of GSK3β resulted in improved beta cell survival and restored normal glucose tolerance in mice with disrupted DISC1. "The connections between these disorders may be surprising, but we have known for a long time that a single protein or gene can play multiple roles in the body," said Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.




References:

1. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160205105345.htm

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

One paragraph on the Zika Virus | One Paragraph Science


We haven't quite forgotten the ebola virus and a new virus has appeared under the spotlight; the Zika virus. The Zika virus is spread by mosquitos, similar in a way to malaria. However, unlike other mosquito-borne diseases, it is relatively unknown and little studied. The virus is currently showing an alarming rise in cases in Latin America and the Caribbean.  The virus has also been associated with an alarming rise in babies born in Brazil with abnormally small heads and brain defects -- a condition called microcephaly. Zika is spread by the same mosquito as the dengue virus: Aedes aegypti. Dengue is a serious disease but it doesn't usually kill people, whereas, Zika, is much more serious in that it is able to pass through a woman's placenta and impact the unborn child. Since the Zika outbreak began in northeastern Brazil last spring, an estimated 500,000 to 1.5 million people have been infected. The resulting illness only lasts a few days. The symptoms consist of rash, joint pains, inflammation of the eyes and fever and tend to be less debilitating than those of dengue. As many as 80% of infected people may be asymptomatic. Since there is little laboratory research on this virus, it is not known what other effects this virus has on unborn children other than microcephaly. Currently, there is no vaccination to prevent Zika virus but it can be prevented by preventing getting bitten by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes that spread the virus usually bite during the day. It is recommended that if you are in an area where Zika virus is prevalent, to wear long sleeved shirts and other tips listed here (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention). The Daily Mail has just reported that a pharma company in brazil could be held responsible for the appearance of this virus. Didcot-based biotechnology company, Oxitec were working on the same type of mosquito 3 years ago to produce genetically modified "sterile" mosquitoes to tackle the spread of dengue fever and malaria. There have been claims that the genetically modified insects were released in Brazil 3 years ago. Oxitec has since denied the fact that the GM insects were the cause of Zika and are currently still continuing their research in Brazil. 



References:
[1]: Science daily: Zika Virus




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Friday, December 04, 2015

One Paragraph on Personal Blood Sugar Responses | One Paragraph Science



A new study conducted by the Weitzmann Institute of Science has shown that personal reactions to food in individuals blood sugar levels are highly individual. The researchers monitored 800 people for a week (that's over 46,000 meals!). "We chose to focus on blood sugar because elevated levels are a major risk factor for diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. The huge differences that we found in the rise of blood sugar levels among different people who consumed identical meals highlights why personalised eating choices are more likely to help people stay healthy than universal dietary advice." Prof Eran Segal and Prof. Eran Elinav commented on their research in Cell journal. Blood sugar, if abnormally high, is a risk for diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Personalised  eating choices are more likely to help people stay healthy and on track with their blood sugar and medication; compared to universal dietary advice. The scientists created/designed an algorithm for predicting individualised responses to food based on the person's lifestyle (a person's lifestyle is particularly important to follow because it's significant to know if the food was followed directly by either sleep or exercise), medical background and the composition and function of his or her microbiome.  Testing this theory on a further 100 volunteers, proved that their algorithm was successful and worked for each individual. Professors Segal and Elinav are currently working on recruiting new volunteers who are in a high-risk group for developing diabetes. They aim to be able to prevent or delay the onset of the disease.

A Video Animation Describing The Study Here.







REFERENCES:


Weizmann Institute of Science. "Blood sugar levels in response to foods are highly individual." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151119143445.htm>.


  1. David Zeevi, Tal Korem, Niv Zmora, David Israeli, Daphna Rothschild, Adina Weinberger, Orly Ben-Yacov, Dar Lador, Tali Avnit-Sagi, Maya Lotan-Pompan, Jotham Suez, Jemal Ali Mahdi, Elad Matot, Gal Malka, Noa Kosower, Michal Rein, Gili Zilberman-Schapira, Lenka Dohnalová, Meirav Pevsner-Fischer, Rony Bikovsky, Zamir Halpern, Eran Elinav, Eran Segal. Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic ResponsesCell, 2015; 163 (5): 1079 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.11.001

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Wednesday, December 02, 2015

One Paragraph on Biological Heart Pacemakers | One Paragraph Science



Patients with heart problems sometimes experience issues with regulating their heart beat and often require artificial pacemakers. but the problem with artificial pacemakers is that they aren't that great anymore and have to be checked and replaced periodically. A review article published on November 20 in Trends in Molecular Medicine highlights the promise and limitations of new methods based on stem cell and reprogramming technologies to generate biological pacemakers that might one day replace electronic pacemakers. Biological pacemakers, which are composed of electrically active cells, can functionally integrate with the heart and could provide natural heart rhythm regulation without the need for indwelling hardware. One way to work with stem cells; scientists can coax the stem cells into becoming cells found in the SAN (Sino-Atrial Node). The second way to work with stem cells; by directly programming supporting cells, already present in the heart - for example, fibroblasts and convert them into pacemaker cells to restore cardiac function. Animal studies have shown positive results, but there still needs to be more work and more research so that the scientists can understand the underlying biological mechanisms which control the development and maintenance of pacemaker cells in the SAN (functional analyses). The scientists are looking forward to rapid progress in the next few years.







REFERENCES;

Cell Press. "Can stem cell technology be harnessed to generate biological pacemakers?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151120182815.htm>.


  1. Vasanth Vedantham. New Approaches to Biological Pacemakers: Links to Sinoatrial Node DevelopmentTrends in Molecular Medicine, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.molmed.2015.10.002

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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

One Paragraph on Male and Female Brain Differences | One Paragraph Science



There’s actually no difference between the male and female minds. 
A new research study, published in the journal Neuroimage, is disproving the myth that states that the hippocampus (a crucial part of the brain that consolidates new memories and helps connect emotions to the senses) is larger in females than in males. Leading a team of students at the Rosalind Franklin Medical School, Lise Elliot, Ph.D., conducted a meta-analysis of structural MRI volumes that found no significant difference in hippocampal size between men and women. A meta-analysis is a statistical technique that allows researchers to combine the findings from many independent studies into a comprehensive review. The team examined findings from 76 published papers, involving more than 6,000 healthy individuals. Hippocampi are located on both sides of the brain, under the cerebral cortex. The team's findings test the familiar argument that a disproportionately larger hippocampus explains females' tendency toward greater emotional expressiveness, stronger interpersonal skills, and better verbal memory. Through their research, they found that there is no difference in the size of the corpus callosum (which is the white matter that allows the two sides of the brain to communicate) nor do men and women differ in the way their left and right hemispheres process language. 

Rferences: {1}



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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

One Paragraph on Green Tea Supplements


Using high doses of green tea extract supplements for weight loss become increasingly popular, but at the same time potential liver toxicity has become a serious concern. In the last decade, dozens of people have been diagnosed with the condition. However, it’s been found that drinking green tea in the weeks before taking supplements likely reduces risk, according to researchers. Researchers gave mice high doses of the green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). The dosage was equivalent to the amount of the polyphenol found in some dietary supplements taken by humans. The research data showed that dietary pre-treatment with the green tea polyphenol protects mice from liver toxicity caused by subsequent high oral doses of the same compound, explained Josh Lambert, associate professor of food science. He suggested that the research has relevance to people who are taking or are considering taking supplements containing green tea extract. There are some daring people who drink surprisingly large amounts of green tea, according to Lambert, as much as 10-20 cups a day, but liver toxicity has never been reported in that perspective. "No person can sit down and drink 16 cups of green tea all at once," he said. "However if you take a supplement you can get that type of green tea extract dose, so there is some indication that the dosage form has an influence on the potential to cause liver toxicity."

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References [1]

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

One Paragraph on Hypoallergenic Parks


Are we ready for hypoallergenic parks? Sounds like an oxymoron, right?  Well, this dream could soon become a reality thanks to research published in the American Society of Agronomy. The researchers hope their efforts will lead to “fantastic urban green spaces that don't cause allergic reactions for 30 percent of the city's population”. Professor Paloma Carinanos’ team specifically studies the city of Granada, Spain. This city's climate and layout is like that of many cities in the Mediterranean area, which has the highest occurrence of pollen allergies in the world. The researchers hope their efforts will lead to fantastic urban green spaces that don't cause allergic reactions for 30% of the city's population. To research team lead by Carinanos began by classifying the trees in Granada's ten largest green spaces. They grouped the trees into three categories. Then they recorded the type of pollination, the length of the pollination period, and the potential for causing allergies for each tree. The researchers used all of this information to calculate if the green space was negatively affecting air quality and causing allergies. What the researchers found was surprising. Many of the most common trees in Granada were among the trees causing unhealthy or hazardous air quality. The researchers hope to use this research as a tool for planning and preventing allergies in open spaces, to make sure that the public can enjoy the great outdoors without being struck by allergies, watery eyes and runny noses.


References:  [1]

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Monday, September 28, 2015

One Paragraph On Designer Drugs



Designer drugs make up a larger proportion of the illegal drug market and although they don’t have a specific definition, it's a term that’s used to describe illegal and abused drugs such as ketamine, fentanyl, LSD, PCP, quaaludes, methcathinone, and amphetamine derivatives such as ecstasy and cocaine. Chemists are continually trying to solve the growing problem of designer drugs – whose regulation is elusive because they involve ever-changing formulas. This is one of the topics which has been discussed at a session at the 250th ACS National Meeting & Exposition this summer in Boston U.S.A. “It is relatively simple to take a drug that has a known psychoactive effect and change one substituent group to make it into another drug that is not yet classified as illegal but provides the same or similar psychoactive high”, explains William Hoffmann, a postdoctoral student at West Virginia University’s forensic and investigative science department. Hoffmann and his colleagues have been using mass spectrometry to differentiate between similar drugs to define illegal from legal drugs. Another topic that was discussed was bath salts“Bath salts” are synthetic analogues of the naturally-occurring cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the khat plant. These drugs have been linked to paranoia, hallucinatory delirium, psychotic and violent behaviour, as well as deaths. Scientific research aims to develop and optimise a rapid, simple and reliable laboratory test that can analyse commonly abused synthetic cathinones in saliva and the scientists hope that such technology will be widely available soon.



References [1] [2] - Images [1]

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

One Paragraph On The Ultimate Flu Vaccine



The flu virus mutates every year and there are many different strains of flu virus. If you are in the “at risk” group of people you’re required to take a flu shot every year / every flu season. This can be very cumbersome, so scientists are working on developing a universal flu vaccine that would be active against all strains of the virus and you wouldn’t need inoculations every year. Promising research published in Science Express journal, demonstrates how the team of scientists at the Crucell Vaccine Institute at the Janssen Center of Excellence for Immunoprophylaxis in the Netherlands (and other research centres in the US), have extracted different antigens from most flu virus and placed them in the vaccine to mimic the flu virus and stimulate the immune response to produce antibodies in defence, and also keep in memory different types of flu virus, so in the future, dealing with the virus is easier and less burdensome on the victim. Final results of the study have developed two different flu vaccines which could potentially offer broader protection against a variety of flu strains than current vaccines. But since this has only been tested on animals, we’ll have to wait and see the response in humans in future research.




"I wish I could avoid the flu."
References: [1]

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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

One Paragraph on Meningitis B Vaccines


Today, a new Meningitis B vaccine has been released for babies at age two, four and 12 months old. Every year, 1761 cases are diagnosed in the UK.  Meningitis is the acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord,  known as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with Meningococcal bacteria, which is carried harmlessly in the nose or throat by approximately 1 in 10 people. Meningitis can be life-threatening because of the inflammation's proximity to the brain and spinal cord; therefore, is a serious medical emergency. After years of discussions and plenty of research, the Meningitis B vaccine will be available for children from September 2015. Campaigners said it could prevent up to 4,000 cases by 2025, but warned that parents should also be aware of meningitis symptoms.  Finally, a catch-up programme will be available for babies born since May who have missed the first jabs. This vaccination has been delayed before, due to cost disputes which have, thankfully, been resolved. 


References: [1] [2] [3] [4

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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

One Paragraph on Invisibility Cloaks




This Christmas, kids will be expecting something bigger and a million times better than the latest new toy or piece of tech, instead they'll be expecting an invisibility cloak! (Okay, maybe not this year, but very soon indeed.) Scientists in the University of California - San Diego are working on making a cloaking device that is "both thin and does not alter the brightness of light around a hidden object." They've basically created an invisibility "carpet" which doesn't change the brightness of light around an object sitting on a flat surface by mimicking the reflection of light off the flat surface, which therefore cancels the overall distortion of light caused by the object's shape - making the observer think that there's a flat surface. Commenting on their research, Dr Hsu explains "By changing the height of each dielectric particle, we were able to control the reflection of light at each point on the cloak." Dr Hsu continues on to say "Our computer simulations show how our cloaking device would behave in reality. We were able to demonstrate that a thin cloak designed with cylinder-shaped dielectric particles can help us significantly reduce the object's shadow." Every day science is advancing almost making sci-fi movies become real-life.
The invisible man.

The reflection pattern from an uncloaked object on a flat surface (top) compared to the reflection pattern of the same object covered with the cloaking device (bottom), which effectively mimics the reflection from a completely flat surface.
Credit: Li-Yi Hsu/Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego


Images: [1] [2]
Story and quotes: [1] [2]

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131218130229.htm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150707093347.htm

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Monday, August 31, 2015

One Paragraph on Smart Drugs


Modafinil (a stimulant drug normally used to treat narcolepsy, to help people with sleeping disorders to stay awake) could soon become the new “smart drug” according to a review published in European Neuropsychopharmacology. Neuroenhancement is the term used to describe the targeted enhancement and extension of cognitive and affective abilities based on an understanding of their underlying neurobiology. The FDA-approved drug modafinil, has been heavily researched for cognitive modulation in healthy humans, and appears safe for widespread use. Their review on the cognitive effects of the “smart pill” modafinil has found that it can improve the performance of healthy people on cognitive tasks, meaning it can be considered the first of these “neuroenhancement agents”.


References: [1]

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

New year, new ideas and a New Logo!

I'm starting this second year on my blog, trying to come up with new ways to grow Crystals and Catalysts and create content that you will like at the same time.

Starting with: One Paragraph Science.....

Starting from next week. Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays, I will be posting new news in science but in  a new and different way. This is called One Paragraph Science where I will be condensing down news in science (obviously) to just one paragraph, whilst maintaining its meaning and keeping them, short, snappy and straight to the point.

This idea I believe, is a great challenge for me because condensing down a long piece of complex research is way harder than it looks.

New logo..?

Yes,  I've made a brand new, shiny, more professional logo to go with Crystals And Catalysts. I hope everyone likes it as much as I do. :)


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