Science & Technology


Doctors identify first case of semi-identical twins

March 14, 2019

A strange pregnancy puzzled doctors in Australia. An initial ultrasound showed two embryos sharing a placenta, which normally indicates monozygotic, or identical, twins. But weeks after, another ultrasound revealed the two fetuses had different sexes, ...

PUBLIC DOMAIN
A pair of semi-identical twins in Australia share only 78% paternal DNA.

 PUBLIC DOMAIN
Crew Dragon’s successful launch prompts future manned missions .

SpaceX's Crew Dragon lands in Atlantic Ocean

March 13, 2019

On March 8, the first flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon landed 200 miles off the coast of Florida at 8:45 a.m. Demo-1, as the flight was called, was launched on March 2 and spent a short, five-day visit at the International Space Station (ISS) before returning back to Earth. 


PUBLIC DOMAIN
The surge against vaccination has been spurred further by social media.

Social media perpetuates the anti-vax movement

March 13, 2019

The flood of false information about vaccines spreading through social media has contributed to decreases in vaccination rates and increases in the number of cases of preventable communicable disease, according to Simon Stevens, chief executive officer of the National Health Service (NHS) in England. 


Neural pathway may lead to gender differentiation

March 14, 2019

Somewhere around puberty, everyone spent a good chunk of their life listening to some adult teach about the wonders of the human body. The physical differences are obvious: males tend to have more facial hair, females are generally shorter and have more delicate facial features. The subtle differences are harder to catch, but still noticeable. Males tend to be louder and more aggressive while females are more emotional. Psychologically, there is a dichotomy between behaviors that men versus women exhibit, and researchers may have found a reason why.

GerryShaw/cc by-SA 3.0
Embryonic development of the amygdala may explain gender differences.

Scientific Animations/CC BY-SA 4.0

Extra mitochondrial iron due to Friedrih’s Ataxia increases risk of cell death from UVA rays.

Genetic disorder raises the risk of UVA damage

March 7, 2019

Researchers at the University of Bath have found that skin cells from individuals with the rare genetic disorder Friedrich’s Ataxia are four to 10 times more likely to be damaged by ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation than those without the disorder. A newly synthesized molecule may provide protection when used as a sunscreen additive. 


We must do better to recognize the contributions of women in science

March 7, 2019

In a now decades-old interview with Gloria Steinem, Sally Ride discussed the barrage of sexist comments she fielded from members of the press, as the first American woman to travel to space. Ride recalled how the news media focused not on her abilities, skills or qualifications, but derailed interviews to remark on her makeup, physique and reproductive organs. Living in 2019, it’s tempting to dismiss such interactions as cringeworthy reminders of a seemingly distant past. Sadly, however, media coverage of women in STEM remains problematic. 

PUBLIC DOMAIN

Padilla thinks that media coverage of women in STEM has decreased since an uptick following Hidden Figures.

Public Domain

The burning of fossil fuels contributes to high levels of carbon dioxide.

Earth may soon surpass early-atmosphere levels of carbon dioxide

March 7, 2019

When planet Earth was formed almost 4.6 billion years ago following an expansion event known as the Big Bang, it was not exactly conducive to supporting the survival of life.  Earth emerged from a hot mix of gases and solids as a celestial body without an atmosphere, which eventually developed as the earth cooled. This early atmosphere was comprised of hydrogen sulfide, methane and 10 to 200 times as much carbon dioxide as there is in today’s atmosphere.


Spacecraft begins its mission on Ryugu asteroid

March 7, 2019

The Hayabusa2 spacecraft finally landed on the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu on Feb. 21, 2019. This was no easy feat. The Hayabusa2’s main body measures about 1 x 1.25 x 1.6 meters (m) in size and weighs 609 kilograms (kg). Launched in December 2014, Hayabusa2 managed to land as planned about four years later on an asteroid no bigger than one kilometer (km) in diameter, orbiting over hundreds of millions of kilometers away from earth.

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt/ CC By 3.0

Hayabusa2 will collect asteroid samples that may shed light on early solar system conditions.

Bone marrow transplants may slow Alzheimer’s

March 7, 2019

Neurocognitive disorders have become more and more prevalent in society. Cognitive disorders can be defined as any disorder that significantly impairs the cognitive function of an individual in motor coordination, learning and memory, and impaired judgement. These disorders make it impossible to function normally in everyday life.


Sharks possess DNA-stabilizing genes

March 7, 2019

An international team of researchers from institutions in the United States, Russia and Portugal recently achieved the feat of decoding the great white shark’s entire genome.  After doing so, the team proceeded to compare the great white’s genome to that of other species such as whale sharks and humans. 

LAURA WOLF/CC BY 2.0

Genome stability in sharks mean similar research could be done on humans.

Jordan Uhl/ cc by 2.0

If passed, the new rule would restrict Title X funding from health clinics which provide abortion referrals.

Proposed rule may limit reproductive health funds

March 6, 2019

The Trump administration submitted a rule to bar groups which offer abortions or provide abortion referrals from partaking in Title X funding. It was first introduced in May 2018 and was submitted on Feb. 7 to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for final review. 


Opioid deaths are more frequent in certain states

March 6, 2019

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency regarding the opioid epidemic in the U.S. While recent data shows that death rates have been dropping in recent years, data has also shown that opioid abuse related deaths still seem to be much more common in some states than others. 

Elizabeth Roy/ CC by-SA 3.0

Synthetic opioids may be responsible for the third wave opioid epidemic.

Controversial soda tax is shown to be effective

February 27, 2019

 A soda tax may be an effective way to curb rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.  According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health conducted by the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), the consumption of sugary drinks dropped 52 percent among low-income Berkeley residents. 

  
MARLITH / CC BY-SA 3.0
The soda tax raised eyebrows, but a new study shows it’s working.

  
PUBLIC DOMAIN
Doctors often incorrectly treat dialysis as the only option to treat poor kidneys.

Dialysis is not the only treatment for ailing kidneys

February 27, 2019

The discussion about end-of-life care often centers around the value of invasive surgeries and that of palliative care, which is designed to treat symptoms rather than the cause of illness. One treatment that is rarely referred to as voluntary is kidney dialysis, which is defined by the National Kidney Foundation as treatment that includes the removal of waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body; the maintenance of a safe level of potassium, sodium and bicarbonate in the blood; and control of blood pressure. 


Underground mountains discovered in Bolivia

February 27, 2019

During our days in elementary school science, most of us learned the basics of geology. We learned about the layers of the earth (crust, mantle, outer and inner core) and plate tectonics, among other topics. However, this was a great oversimplification of all that goes on under our feet. 

 PUBLIC DOMAIN
A 1994 earthquake offered clues to find underground mountain range.

New cancer drug combination therapy is promising

February 27, 2019

Finding a cure for cancer is one of the most highly researched topics in science because of its major impact all over the world. According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2018, there was an estimated 1.7 million new cases of cancer diagnosed in the United States and approximately 17 million new cases worldwide. 


Some clinical trials improperly report outcomes

February 21, 2019

Clinical trials are essential for testing new medications because they let researchers know whether new medications, from vitamins to vaccines, are safe and effective. However, a new study published in Trials shows that researchers aren’t properly reporting the outcomes of their clinical trials. This may make a new treatment appear to be safer or more effective than the product actually is.

NIAID / CC BY 2.0
Published clinical trials often report on trial outcomes they did not intentionally study.

PUBLIC DOMAIN 
Researchers found that certain species of fish can recognize themselves in mirror images.

Certain fish species might be more self-aware than we believed

February 20, 2019

A recent study revealed that self-awareness might not be a cognitive function unique to primates and mammals with complex cognitive systems. This possibility was opened by the surprising performance of a species of fish commonly known as the cleaner wrasse when faced with the mirror test.