The Beneficial Phytochemicals in Vegetables Help Us Lead Healthy Lives

Posted on January 28, 2012  Comments (3)

If I don’t pay attention, I won’t eat enough vegetables. Even when I do pay attention I still don’t eat enough (but get closer). Paying attention to what you eat is important for your health.

Some tips from the video.

  • Eat a wide variety of vegetables, to get the benefits each offers.
  • Cruciferous vegetables have cancer preventing benefits and enhancing the immune system. Vegetables in this category include broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Berries also have chemicals that aid in the prevention of cancer.

Related: Healthy Diet, Healthy Living, Healthy WeightEat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.Are Our Vegtables Less Nutritious?

Fields Medalist Tim Gowers Takes Action To Stop Cooperating with Anti-Open Science Cartel

Posted on January 26, 2012  Comments (1)

The Fields medal is know as the Nobel of mathematics. Tim Gowers was awarded the Fields medal in 1998 for contributions to functional analysis, making extensive use of methods from combinatorial theory. Tim Gowers is currently the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University. He posted recently on his decision to stop supporting (with his actions, such as submitting paper and reviewing papers) the anti-open-science behavior of Elsevier (a particularly aggressive anti-open-science publisher that also has very bad pricing practices).

Elsevier — my part in its downfall

One method that they have for getting away with it is a practice known as “bundling”, where instead of giving libraries the choice of which journals they want to subscribe to, they offer them the choice between a large collection of journals (chosen by them) or nothing at all. So if some Elsevier journals in the “bundle” are indispensable to a library, that library is forced to subscribe at very high subscription rates to a large number of journals, across all the sciences, many of which they do not want. (The journal Chaos, Solitons and Fractals is a notorious example of a journal that is regarded as a joke by many mathematicians, but which libraries all round the world must nevertheless subscribe to.) Of course, given that libraries have limited budgets, this often means that they cannot subscribe to journals that they would much rather subscribe to, so it is not just libraries that are harmed, but other publishers, which is of course part of the motivation for the scheme.

Elsevier supports many of the measures, such as the Research Works Act, that attempt to stop the move to open access. They also supported SOPA and PIPA and lobbied strongly for them.

I also don’t see any argument at all against refusing to submit papers to Elsevier journals.

So I am not only going to refuse to have anything to do with Elsevier journals from now on, but I am saying so publicly. I am by no means the first person to do this, but the more of us there are, the more socially acceptable it becomes

Good for him. All we need is for more and more scientists, mathematicians and engineers to support open science with thier actions and open science will be the way things are. It is as simple as that. The outdated business practices of the old journals will die. Either the existing publishers will finally give up on their extremely outdated practices or they will be replaced.

Related: The Architecture of Access to Scientific KnowledgeMerck and Elsevier Publish Phony Peer-Review JournalThe Future of Scholarly Publication (2005)Science Journal Publishers Stay Stupid (2007) “It is time for the scientific community to give up on these journals and start looking to move to work with new organizations that will encourage scientific communication and advancement”

Mitsubishi Uses a Sled of Bubbles To Improve Ship Efficiency

Posted on January 25, 2012  Comments (0)

Mitsubishi completed the conceptual design of a new container ship; this eco-ship achieves a 25% decrease in CO2 emissions over existing ships. Three, of these ships, with the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS), are being built now (they should be completed in 2014).

In addition to blowers to create air bubbles under the vessel bottom, the three grain carriers will also feature a newly designed bow shape that will reduce wave-making resistances. For propulsion, the ship adopts a system to effectively convert the main engine power into propulsion power by positioning fins forward of the propellers and placing particular grooves in the propeller boss cap.

Using “eco-ships” to substantially reduce CO2 emissions from maritime transport

Reducing the frictional drag on the hull of a ship saves fuel and lowers CO2 emissions. To achieve this, MHI developed the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS), which reduces frictional drag by introducing air bubbles by air blower into the water around the bottom of a ship’s hull, covering the ship in bubbles. By arranging the air blowhole location and shape and controlling the air volume, the lubrication effect has been enhanced, reducing CO2 emissions per container transportation by 10 percent.

This system has already been introduced on module carriers, and has been proven to reduce CO2 emissions significantly.

Related: Sails for Modern Cargo ShipsEco-Vehicle Student Competition

How Lysozyme Protein in Our Tear-Drops Kill Bacteria

Posted on January 24, 2012  Comments (1)

A disease-fighting protein in our teardrops has been tethered to a tiny transistor, enabling UC Irvine scientists to discover exactly how it destroys dangerous bacteria. The research could prove critical to long-term work aimed at diagnosing cancers and other illnesses in their very early stages.

Ever since Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming found that human tears contain antiseptic proteins called lysozymes about a century ago, scientists have tried to solve the mystery of how they could relentlessly wipe out far larger bacteria. It turns out that lysozymes have jaws that latch on and chomp through rows of cell walls like someone hungrily devouring an ear of corn.

“Those jaws chew apart the walls of the bacteria that are trying to get into your eyes and infect them,” said molecular biologist and chemistry professor Gregory Weiss, who co-led the project with associate professor of physics & astronomy Philip Collins.

The researchers decoded the protein’s behavior by building one of the world’s smallest transistors – 25 times smaller than similar circuitry in laptop computers or smartphones. Individual lysozymes were glued to the live wire, and their eating activities were monitored.

“Our circuits are molecule-sized microphones,” Collins said. “It’s just like a stethoscope listening to your heart, except we’re listening to a single molecule of protein.”

It took years for the UCI scientists to assemble the transistor and attach single-molecule teardrop proteins. The scientists hope the same novel technology can be used to detect cancerous molecules. It could take a decade to figure out but would be well worth it, said Weiss, who lost his father to lung cancer.

“If we can detect single molecules associated with cancer, then that means we’d be able to detect it very, very early,” Weiss said. “That would be very exciting, because we know that if we treat cancer early, it will be much more successful, patients will be cured much faster, and costs will be much less.”

The project was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the National Science Foundation. Co-authors of the Science paper are Yongki Choi, Issa Moody, Patrick Sims, Steven Hunt, Brad Corso and Israel Perez.

Related: full press releaseWhy ‘Licking Your Wounds’ WorksHow Bleach Kills BacteriaAlgorithmic Self-Assembly

Royal Society Journal Embraces Open Access

Posted on January 23, 2012  Comments (0)

Royal Society journal archive made permanently free to access

The Royal Society…journal archive – which includes the first ever peer-reviewed scientific journal – has been made permanently free to access online.

Around 60,000 historical scientific papers are accessible via a fully searchable online archive, with papers published more than 70 years ago now becoming freely available.

reasures in the archive include Isaac Newton’s first published scientific paper, geological work by a young Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Franklin’s celebrated account of his electrical kite experiment.

The move is being made as part of the Royal Society’s ongoing commitment to open access in scientific publishing.

Good for them. Slowly more and more are realizing clinging to old fashion publishing models are contrary to promoting science and scientific literacy.

Related: 340 Years of Royal Society Journals OnlineBritain’s Royal Society Experiments with Open Access (2006)8-10 Year Olds Research Published in Royal Society Journal

Friday Fun: Crow Sledding, Flying Back Up and Sledding Down Again

Posted on January 20, 2012  Comments (1)

Great video of a crow sledding down a roof on a small intertube like thing (a lid?). Then it picks up the sled and flies back to the top and sleds down again. Awesome. The curious crow then flies off with its sled to try it out elsewhere (maybe).

Related: Bird Using Bait to FishCat and Crow Playing TogetherDolphins Play with Air Bubble RingsFriday Duckling Fun

Study of the Colony Collapse Disorder Continues as Bee Colonies Continue to Disappear

Posted on January 19, 2012  Comments (1)

I can understand why people get complacent. We have a pretty remarkable run of science and technology finding solutions for whatever peril we face.

Also, quite often, future risks are over-blown. Then, people get habituated to reading ominous predictions, followed by a future doesn’t seem to reach those dramatic predictions. But this is a risky pattern to just expect – that no matter what we will figure out some way to avoid the consequences.

Risks actually do come true. The obvious result of overfishing, just as predicted, has resulted in collapses of fish populations over and over creating great hardship for those who had fallen victim to that prediction. If people don’t vaccinate themselves (and their kids) we will have ever increasing numbers of deaths and sickness. If we fail to use anti-biotics is a long term sustainable way, our actions will result in many deaths.

I am not sure why we find it so easy to ignore the evidence of bad consequences but we do. Partially I would imagine that as problems begin to be manifest countermeasures take affect. So in the fishing example, many people leave that line of work and so the numbers in the industry after a collapse, who are suffering in the present, are reduced. Still I find it odd how easily we ignore the risks in the future.

I do understand if there are short term benefits to ignoring the risks (or pretending they don’t exist): so you have fisherman that don’t want to take steps in advance to avoid collapse. Or you have industries and politicians that want to pretend ignoring global warming is a strategy to avoid the consequences. Or you have parents that say, well today we don’t have many risks of sicknesses people get vaccinated against (yes, because people have been vaccinated – if you stop vaccinating your children they we get to experience the avoidable pain and suffering).

I have been following the honeybee colony collapse disorder for several years (see the end of the posts for links to posts from 2006 – 2010, like this one The Study of Bee Colony Collapses Continues from 2007). It is a great example of the scientific inquiry process. It is messy and confusing and full of studies that have trouble finding what the actually causes are or what solutions will work.

There are occasionally mentions of how devestating things could get if the trend continues. In fact stories that seem so devestating that they just don’t seem real. surely either that won’t happen or if it started to some countermeasure would be found to deal with the problem and avoid the most severe consequences. That is basially how I have felt about it. But that is not because of some scientific understanding but just a feeling that hey that couldn’t really happen. Well that isn’t exactly solid evidence that it can’t.

Honeybee problem nearing a ‘critical point’

In addition to continued reports of CCD — a still somewhat mysterious phenomenon in which entire bee colonies literally disappear, alien-abduction style, leaving not even their dead bodies behind — bee populations are suffering poor health in general, and experiencing shorter life spans and diminished vitality. And while parasites, pathogens, and habitat loss can deal blows to bee health, research increasingly points to pesticides as the primary culprit.

farmers use these chemicals to protect their crops from destructive insects, but in so doing, they harm other insects essential to their crops’ production — a catch-22 that Hackenberg said speaks to the fact that “we have become a nation driven by the chemical industry.” In addition to beekeeping, he owns two farms, and even when crop analysts recommend spraying pesticides on his crops to kill an aphid population, for example, he knows that “if I spray, I’m going to kill all the beneficial insects.” But most farmers, lacking Hackenberg’s awareness of bee populations, follow the advice of the crop adviser — who, these days, is likely to be paid by the chemical industry, rather than by a state university or another independent entity.

I believe this is the latest advise of the Unites States Department of Agriculture (though their web site doesn’t make it nearly as obvious as it should that this is in fact the current advice – the document seems to indicate it is but if someone were to say no, that is outdated, it wouldn’t be hard to believe)

Read more

Staphylococcal Food Poisoning

Posted on January 17, 2012  Comments (1)

I pretty much don’t get sick, which is great. Twice in the last month I got something like food poisoning (which is more sickness than I get most years). So I looked online for some information on what might cause my symptoms and how fast it is possible for the onset of symptoms.

Staphylococcal food poisoning is a gastrointestinal illness. It is caused by eating foods contaminated with toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus. It seems like a possible culprit. My guess is the onset for me has been within 2 hours (or it was a coincidence. That fast of an onset seems rare (based on my limited research).

The United States Center for Disease Control says symptoms can last 24-48 hours. For me symptoms came and went within 15 minutes. Rapid fever and “heat” feeling everywhere, diarea, gone. No more than 15 minutes from start to finish. I really find it very odd how I can feel so weird quickly and then just as quickly it is all gone.

The bacterium can also be found in unpasteurinzed milk and cheese products. Staphylococcus is salt tolerant and can grow in salty foods like ham. As the bacterium multiplies in food, it produces toxins that can cause food poisoning. Staphylococcal toxins are resistant to heat and cannot be destroyed by cooking. Foods at highest risk of producing toxins from Staphylococcus aureus are those that are made by hand and require no cooking. Some examples of foods that have caused staphylococcal food poisoning are sliced meat, puddings, pastries and sandwiches. The foods may not smell bad or look spoiled in order to produce the toxins.

Unrefrigerated or improperly refrigerated meats, potato and egg salads, cream pastries are possible paths to the food poisoning. I suspect ghee, in my case.

The CDC says that staphylococcal toxins are fast acting, sometimes causing illness in as little as 30 minutes after eating.contaminated foods, but symptoms usually develop within one to six hours. Patients typically experience several of the following: nausea, retching, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. The illness cannot be passed to other people and it typically lasts for one day, but sometimes it can last up to three days. In a small minority of patients the illness may be more severe. They don’t seem to agree it can disappear in 15 minutes, otherwise it seems a possible cause.

Of course being essentially total ignorant about this stuff I could also be completely off base. I find this interesting though so I am doing some more reading.

I think it would be nice if the CDC would put links on pages to other causes with similar symptoms. Wouldn’t that be a good usability feature?

Related: What You Need to Know About Foodborne Illness-Causing OrganismsTracking the Ecosystem Within UsHealthy Diet, Healthy Living, Healthy WeightThe Man Who Unboiled an Egg

Journal of Emerging Investigators Will Publish Middle and High School Student Research Papers

Posted on January 16, 2012  Comments (2)

The Journal of Emerging Investigators is a new journal for publishing research paper and reviews of research papers by middle school and high school students from any country.

The Journal of Emerging Investigators strives to provide students with as much access to original scientific writing as possible. With this in mind, all submissions are covered by an attribution non-commercial, no derivative license. This means that anyone is free to share, copy and distribute an unaltered article for non-commercial purposes.

Graduate students with substantial research experience will review the manuscripts.

All hypothesis driven science is acceptable for research articles. This includes, but is not limited to, life science, physics, chemistry, health, psychology, and physiology. Engineering articles are also accepted as long as there is a clear question and hypothesis being tested.

Hopefully this will encourage some students to give research a try. Advisors may submit items for publication (students have to have an mentor/teacher do the submitting.

Similar journals: The Journal of Experimental Secondary Science, open science :-)Canadian Young Scientist, closed science :-(

Related: 8-10 Year Olds Research Published in Royal Society JournalYouTube SpaceLab Experiment CompetitionOpen Access Engineering JournalsKids on Scientists: Before and After

Footballs Providing Light to Those Without Electricity at Home

Posted on January 15, 2012  Comments (1)

This is an update on our previous post: sOccket: Power Through Play. This year, Soccket, 3,000 balls are scheduled to be put into use around the world. The college students (all women, by the way) that came up with this idea (harnessing the kenetic energy created while kicking a football [soccer ball] around to power a batter to use for lighting) are continuing to test and develop the product.

That ball has to be able to survive dusty, wet and harsh conditions and continue to provide power. The new, production version of the football powers a water sterilizer, fan, and provides up to 24 hours of LED light. It also can’t be deflated (a side affect of a design that is able to survive the rough environments, I believe).

I love to see engineers focusing on providing solutions for the billions of people that need simple solutions. Creating the next iPhone innovations is also cool, but the impact of meeting the needs of those largely ignored today, is often even greater.

The sOccket inventors also have a talent for publicity, which is always useful for entrepreneurs.

Related: Water Pump Merry-go-RoundWater and Electricity for AllHigh School Team Developing Clean Water SolutionsSmokeless Stove Uses 80% Less Fuel

Kittens Reminding You to Thank Your Mother

Posted on January 13, 2012  Comments (5)

Fun cat video and a reminder to thank your mother for all the times she saved you from your version of the slide. Have a happy friday. Maybe you should forward this video to your Mom with a note of thanks and make it a happy one for her too.

Related: Friday Cat Fun #11: Ninja Cat Stair ClimbingNaturally Curious ChildrenTreadmill Cats: Friday Cat Fun #3Friday Cat Fun #13: Kitten in His Box