Backyard Wildlife: Great Tailed Grackle
Posted on June 28, 2016 Comments (0)
I think this is a Great Tailed Grackle, please comment if you think I am wrong. This is taken in my backyard in Arlington, Virginia.
Posted on June 18, 2016 Comments (0)
This shows a cool engineering innovation: canvas-like material that when it is saturated with water will set (over 5+ hours) into hard concrete. In this example a “tent” with regular doors is covered with water and inflated. After setting it hard enough to climb on top of.
The manufacturer’s site has move information.
Related: Concrete pre-fad Houses 1919 and 2007 – Easy to Assembly Off-the-grid Towns – Research on Ancient Roman Concrete Will Allow the Creation of More Durable and Environmentally Friendly Concrete – UW- Madison Wins 4th Concrete Canoe Competition
An Eukaryote that Completely Lacks Mitochondria
Posted on June 11, 2016 Comments (0)
If you don’t have any idea what the title means that is ok. I probably wouldn’t have until the last 15 years when I found how interesting biology is thanks to the internet and wonderful resources online making biology interesting. I hope you find learning about biology as interesting as I do.
What they learned is that instead of relying on mitochondria to assemble iron-sulfur clusters, these cells use a different kind of machinery. And it looks like they acquired it from bacteria.
The researchers say this is the first example of any eukaryote that completely lacks mitochondria.
However, the results do not negate the idea that the acquisition of a mitochondrion was an important and perhaps defining event in the evolution of eukaryotic cells, he adds.
That’s because it seems clear that this organism’s ancestors had mitochondria that were then lost after the cells acquired their non-mitochondrial system for making iron-sulfur clusters.
Biology is amazing and mitochondria are one of the many amazing details. I wish so much that my education could have given biology a tiny fraction of the interest I have found it in after school.
Related: Human Gene Origins: 37% Bacterial, 35% Animal, 28% Eukaryotic – One Species’ Genome Discovered Inside Another’s – Parasite Evolved from Cnidarians (Jellyfish etc.) – Plants, Unikonts, Excavates and SARs
Mountain Lion Roams from South Dakota all the way to 30 Miles from Manhattan
Posted on June 4, 2016 Comments (1)
Over time he showed up in the Twin Cities of Minnesota and in Wisconsin. He disappeared for a couple months, then shows up almost two years later, 30 miles from Manhattan, in Greenwich, Connecticut. In all he probably traveled 2,000 to 5,000 miles, enough to cross the country twice. He forded all the major rivers of the East, navigated highways and an international boundary. It was one of the most spectacular journeys by an animal ever recorded.
In Heart of a Lion: A Lone Cat’s Walk Across America William Stolzenburg provides an exciting tale of the cat’s journey.
Related: Backyard Wildlife: Mountain Lion (2012) – Mountain Lions Returning to the Midwest USA for the First Time in a Century (2012) – Big Cats in America (2004) – USA Designates Large Areas of New Mexico and Arizona as Critical Habitat for Jaguars (2014)
Healthy Living Greatly Reduces Likelihood of Dying from Cancer
Posted on May 28, 2016 Comments (1)
Lifestyle choices can greatly reduce the incidence and death rates from cancer. 4 factors can reduce the incidence of cancer by up to 40% and death rate by 50%: don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol in excess, maintain a BMI between 18.5 and 27.5, and exercising at a moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes or at a vigorous intensity for at least 75 minutes every week.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, with 1.6 million new cancer cases and 0.6 million cancer deaths projected to occur in 2016.1 The cancer mortality rate, age-standardized to the 2000 US standard population, decreased from 199 to 163 per 100 000 between 1969 and 2013.2 However, this decline (17.9%) has been modest compared with the dramatic decrease in heart disease mortality (67.5%) during the same period, highlighting the need for further efforts in cancer prevention and treatment.
The study reviewed previous studies and the makeup of the previous studies and available statistics. As they state in the paper: “Because our cohorts’ participants were predominantly whites, to avoid any influence of different racial distributions on the comparison with the general population, we only included whites in the analysis.” They also excluded about 10% of cancers that are believed to have strong environmental factors.
Notably, approximately 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths could be avoided if Americans adopted the lifestyle of the low-risk group, mainly by quitting smoking. For other cancers, from 10% to 70% of deaths could be prevented. These results provide strong support for the importance of environmental factors in cancer risk and reinforce the enormous potential of primary prevention for cancer control.
Related: A Healthy Lifestyle is More About Health Care than the Sickness Management That We Call Health Care Is – Better Health Through: Exercise, Not Smoking, Low Weight, Healthy Diet and Low Alcohol Intake (2013) – Exercise Is Really Really Good for You – Physical Activity for Adults: Inactivity Leads to 5.3 Million Early Deaths a Year (2012)
International Science Research Scholar Grants
Posted on May 24, 2016 Comments (0)
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation have announced the International Research Scholars Program which aims to support up to 50 outstanding early career scientists worldwide. The program’s aim is to help develop scientific talent worldwide.
The new international competition is seeking top early career researchers from a wide variety of biomedical research fields. Applicants must have started their first independent research position on or after April 1, 2009. Awardees will be invited to participate in research meetings with scientists supported by the funders. These meetings facilitate the exchange of ideas, stimulate new research, and provide an opportunity for collaborative endeavors within the international scientific community.
- Awardees will receive a total of $650,000 over five years.
- Applications are due June 30, 2016.
- Awardees will be notified in April 2017.
HHMI and its partners have committed a total of $37.4 million for the International Research Scholars Program and will award each scientist who is selected a total of $650,000 over five years. The competition is open to scientists who have trained in the U.S. or United Kingdom for at least one year. Additionally, eligible scientists must have run their own labs for less than seven years, and work in one of the eligible countries.
Countries that are not eligible for this competition include the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States), as well as countries identified by the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as being subject to comprehensive country or territory-wide sanctions or where current OFAC regulations prohibit U.S. persons or entities from engaging in the funding arrangements contemplated by this grant program. For this program, such sanctioned countries or territories currently include Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and the Crimea region of Ukraine.
Related: Directory of Science and Engineering Scholarships and Fellowships – Funding Sources for Independent Postdoctoral Research Projects in Biology – Scientific Research Spending Cuts in the USA and Increases Overseas are Tempting Scientists to Leave the USA (2013) – HHMI Expands Support of Postdoctoral Scientists (2009) – Science, Engineering and Math Fellowships
USA Health Care Crisis: Opioid Abuse
Posted on May 17, 2016 Comments (0)
Opioid abuse has greatly increased these deaths in the last decade. Chronic pain is a real problem we need to manage. But the current practices are leading to troubling results as are our methods for dealing with drug abuse (including illegal drugs such as heroin). Abusing prescription drugs such as addictive opioids and illegal drugs such as heroin are both leading to an increasing number of deaths in the last decade.
Heroin is an example of a non-prescription opioid.
Related: President Obama Proposes $1.1 Billion in New Funding to Address the Prescription Opioid Abuse and Heroin Use Epidemic – 200,000 People Die Every Year in Europe from Adverse Drug Effects – How Can We Improve? – The War on Drugs has been a Huge Failure with Massive Unintended Consequences (we need to use health care strategies to manage the problem not war strategies) – Over-reliance on Prescription Drugs to Aid Children’s Sleep? (2007)
Bitbeam: Open Source Hardware Prototyping Platform
Posted on April 19, 2016 Comments (1)
Bitbeam is an open source construction toy/hardware prototyping platform. A collection of LEGO Technic compatible parts (beams) which can be combined to construct whatever contraption the user has thought up.
The Bitbeam project aims to define a set of parts which the users themselves can produce using increasingly available technologies for local fabrication like 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC mills.
Tapster is a robot that automates mobile application checking on a smartphone. It is built using bitbeam.
The latest post on the Bitbeam web site is from 2013 but it seems it is still an active project (it would be nice if they update the site).
Please add a comment if you now of updated information or of similar open source projects.
Related: Open Source Ecology: Using Open Engineering to Create Economic Benefit – Arduino Introduction Video Tutorial – 3D Printing at Home: Today, Challenges and Opportunities – Introduction Video on 3D Printing – Lego Mindstorms Robots Solving: Sudoku and Rubik’s Cube (2009)
Sustainable Ocean Farming
Posted on April 3, 2016 Comments (4)
There are serious problems with our ability to grow healthy food for the number of people we have today (and will have in the future). Innovations have allowed us to feed ourselves. But the damage done to topsoil and other damage including pollution of our rivers is huge. Overfishing and factory farms are keeping us going today but are doing immense damage and are not sustainable.
Seed companies abusing the corrupt government patent systems creates even more damage. We need better solutions. We have many people doing great things but we need to do much more. Ocean farming is one of many areas we should expand. And we should greatly reduce the use of factory farms, antibiotics for livestock, overfishing and the overuse of pesticides.
I never thought climate change had anything to do with my life. But it does. From my vantage point, climate change is not an environmental issue at all — it’s an economic issue.
As ocean farmers, we reject aquaculture’s obsession with monoculture, an obsession similar to that of modern land farming. Our goal is diversity. It’s a sea-basket approach:We grow two types of seaweeds, four kinds of shellfish, and we harvest salt. But with over 10,000 edible plants in the ocean, we’ve barely scratched the surface.
Instead of repeating history we’re building infrastructure from seed-to-harvest-to-market. We’re starting nonprofit hatcheries so that our farmers can access low-cost seed. We’re creating ocean seed banks so that the Monsantos of the world can’t privatize the source of our food and livelihoods.
Posted on March 24, 2016 Comments (0)
Another great webcast from SciShow. In this webcast Hank Green discusses how we have used plants to treat us and improve our health.
In the webcast, Hank also does a good job touching a bit on the scientific inquiry process (which is something I find interesting and I think is very important for people living in society today to understand).
Gut Bacteria Explored as Medical Treatment – even for Cancer
Posted on March 14, 2016 Comments (0)
The interaction between gut bacteria and human health continues to be a fertile area of medical research. It appears to be in the very early days of such research. Of course, as I have said before, headline making news often doesn’t result in medical breakthrough, and even when it does a decade isn’t a long wait for it to happen.
The complex interactions involved in human health is another area that has huge room for research going forward.
Related: Some Bacteria Might Fight Cancer (2008) – Cancer Vaccines (2011) – Using Diatom Algae to Deliver Chemotherapy Drugs Directly to Cancer Cells (2015) – Webcast of a T-cell Killing a Cancerous Cell (2012)