The reputation of DNA testing remains mostly untainted, rose-tinted by the mental imagery of white-coated techs working in spotless labs to deliver justice, surrounded by all sorts of science stuff and high-powered computers. In reality, testing methods vary greatly from crime lab to crime lab, as do the standards for declaring a match. People lose their freedom thanks to inexact science and careless handling of samples. And it happens far more frequently than anyone involved in crime lab testing would like you to believe.
https://www.cnet.com/news/sending-tiny-spacecraft-to-alpha-centauri/, posted 23 Aug by peter in science space
But if Breakthrough Starshot succeeds, we could get snapshots of the Alpha Centauri solar system 4 light-years away — roughly the same as 6,800 trips to Pluto — 30 to 40 years from now. And maybe we'll get a better idea about just how rare life is in the universe./
Complementary Medicine, Refusal of Conventional Cancer Therapy, and Survival Among Patients With Curable Cancers
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/fullarticle/2687972, posted 22 Jul by peter in health science
Question What patient characteristics are associated with use of complementary medicine for cancer and what is the association of complementary medicine with treatment adherence and survival?
Findings In this cohort study of 1 901 815 patients, use of complementary medicine varied by several factors and was associated with refusal of conventional cancer treatment, and with a 2-fold greater risk of death compared with patients who had no complementary medicine use.
Meaning Patients who received complementary medicine were more likely to refuse other conventional cancer treatment, and had a higher risk of death than no complementary medicine; however, this survival difference could be mediated by adherence to all recommended conventional cancer therapies.
Evidence That Lifelong Low Dose Rates of Ionizing Radiation Increase Lifespan in Long- and Short-Lived Dogs
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5347275/, posted 22 Jul by peter in health science
After the 1956 radiation scare to stop weapons testing, studies focused on cancer induction by low-level radiation. Concern has shifted to protecting “radiation-sensitive individuals.” Since longevity is a measure of health impact, this analysis reexamined data to compare the effect of dose rate on the lifespans of short-lived (5% and 10% mortality) dogs and on the lifespans of dogs at 50% mortality. The data came from 2 large-scale studies. One exposed 10 groups to different γ dose rates; the other exposed 8 groups to different lung burdens of plutonium. Reexamination indicated that normalized lifespans increased more for short-lived dogs than for average dogs, when radiation was moderately above background. This was apparent by interpolating between the lifespans of nonirradiated dogs and exposed dogs. The optimum lifespan increase appeared at 50 mGy/y. The threshold for harm (decreased lifespan) was 700 mGy/y for 50% mortality dogs and 1100 mGy/y for short-lived dogs. For inhaled α-emitting particulates, longevity was remarkably increased for short-lived dogs below the threshold for harm. Short-lived dogs seem more radiosensitive than average dogs and they benefit more from low radiation. If dogs model humans, this evidence would support a change to radiation protection policy. Maintaining exposures “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA) appears questionable.
www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/05/what-s-really-behind-gluten-sensitivity, posted 29 May by peter in food health science
As data trickle in, entrenched camps have emerged. Some researchers are convinced that many patients have an immune reaction to gluten or another substance in wheat—a nebulous illness sometimes called nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).
Others believe most patients are actually reacting to an excess of poorly absorbed carbohydrates present in wheat and many other foods. Those carbohydrates—called FODMAPs, for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols—can cause bloating when they ferment in the gut. If FODMAPs are the primary culprit, thousands of people may be on gluten-free diets with the support of their doctors and dietitians but without good reason.
Those competing theories were on display in a session on wheat sensitivity at a celiac disease symposium held at Columbia in March. In back-to-back talks, Lundin made the case for FODMAPs, and Alaedini for an immune reaction. But in an irony that underscores how muddled the field has become, both researchers started their quests believing something completely different.
After all, there are 100-mile impact craters on our planet’s surface from the last billion years, but no 600-mile craters. But, of course, there couldn’t be scars this big. On worlds where such craters exist, there is no one around afterward to ponder them.
www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/02/23/standing-desks-increase-pain-slow-mental-ability-new-study/, posted Feb '18 by peter in cognition health msm science
Researchers at Curtin University in Australia observed 20 participants working at standing desks for two hours.
They found discomfort “significantly” increased for the lower back and lower limb regions, which correlates with previous research suggesting standing desk is responsible for swelling of the veins, which can endanger the heart.
Mental reactiveness also slowed down after roughly an hour and a quarter, however “creative” decision making was shown to marginally improve.
bgr.com/2017/11/28/mars-worms-nature-soil-farming/, posted Nov '17 by peter in msm science space
The soil, which was developed by NASA to be as close as possible to what space travelers would be working with on Mars, was mixed with pig manure and then "seeded" with adult earthworms. Overcoming several potential dangers, the worms managed just fine, and soon the scientists discovered baby worms which had been born in the soil simulant.
A lot of evidence suggests that in cases of this kind, employers will stubbornly trust their intuitions — and are badly mistaken to do so. Specific aptitude tests turn out to be highly predictive of performance in sales, and general intelligence tests are almost as good. Interviews are far less useful at telling you who will succeed.
Most of the really wrong design decisions in the Shuttle system — the side-mounted orbiter, solid rocket boosters, lack of air-breathing engines, no escape system, fragile heat protection — were the direct fallout of this design phase, when tight budgets and onerous Air Force requirements forced engineers to improvise solutions to problems that had as much to do to do with the mechanics of Congressional funding as the mechanics of flight. In a pattern that would recur repeatedly in the years to come, NASA managers decided that they were better off making spending cuts on initial design even if they resulted in much higher operating costs over the lifetime of the program.