Wednesday Science News Roundup #27

Below are 10 science news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

Depression linked to reduced arginine levels – People suffering from major depressive disorder, MDD, have reduced arginine levels, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows. Arginine is an amino acid which the body uses to produce, e.g., nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, in turn, is a nervous system and immune defence mediator, and it also plays a role in vascular regulation. The global arginine bioavailability ratio, GABR, is an indicator of the body’s arginine levels, and the ratio has previously been used to measure the body’s capacity to produce nitric oxide. Reduced arginine bioavailability is also known to be an independent risk factor of cardiovascular diseases. Science Daily

New stem-cell based stroke treatment repairs damaged brain tissue – A team of researchers at the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center and ArunA Biomedical, a UGA startup company, have developed a new treatment for stroke that reduces brain damage and accelerates the brain’s natural healing tendencies in animal models. They published their findings in the journal Translational Stroke Research. Science Daily

First vaccine in the world developed against grass pollen allergy – Around 400 million people world-wide suffer in some form or other from a grass pollen allergy (rhinitis) — with the usual symptoms such as a runny nose, cough and severe breathing problems. In collaboration with the Viennese firm Biomay AG, MedUni Vienna researchers at the Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research have now shown in a Phase II-b study with 180 patients in 11 European centres, that four injections of the synthetically manufactured vaccine BM32 in the first year and a top-up in the second year of treatment relieve the sufferers’ symptoms by at least 25%. Science Daily

We Might Finally Know Why The Blood of Young People Can Rejuvenate Old Brains – Scientists have been rejuvenating old mice with infusions of not just the blood of younger mice, but even blood from teenage human beings – and we finally have our first clues on why this strange technique works. Science Alert

Here’s Why Matching Your Diet to Your DNA Is a Waste of Time – Diets have always gone through fads. The grapefruit diet, Atkins, paleo, Whole30 – like a many-headed weight-loss hydra, just as soon as one falls out of favor, another rises in its place. Science Alert

Scientists Just Discovered a Never-Before-Seen Structure in Human Sperm – The sperm’s tail is perhaps one of the most iconic structures among all of the cells in the human body, so it’s odd to think there are still some things we don’t know about it. Science Alert

Household products make surprisingly large contributions to air pollution – In urban areas, emissions from consumer goods such as paint, cleaning supplies and personal care products now contribute as much to ozone and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere as do emissions from burning gasoline or diesel fuel. Science News

Babies can recover language skills after a left-side stroke – A stroke on the left side of the brain often damages important language-processing areas. But people who have this stroke just before or after birth recover their language abilities in the mirror image spot on the right side, a study of teens and young adults shows. Those patients all had normal language skills, even though as much as half of their brain had withered away, researchers reported February 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Science News

GM Crops Found To Increase Yields And Reduce Harmful Toxins In 21 Years Of Data – A study looking at 21 years of data on genetically modified crops (GMOs) in the US has found that not only can they increase crop yields, but they can also be good for you. IFLScience

Heavy Drinking Is The Biggest Avoidable Risk Factor In The Onset Of Dementia – An analysis of more than a million dementia patients has found that chronic heavy drinking puts you at serious risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, alcohol use disorders were found to be the biggest avoidable risk factor in the onset of dementia. IFLScience

Wednesday Science News Roundup #26

Below are 10 science news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

Alzheimer’s disease reversed in mouse model – Researchers have found that gradually depleting an enzyme called BACE1 completely reverses the formation of amyloid plaques in the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s disease, thereby improving the animals’ cognitive function. The study raises hopes that drugs targeting this enzyme will be able to successfully treat Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Science Daily

Experimental therapy restores nerve insulation damaged by disease – When the body attacks its own healthy tissues in an autoimmune disease, peripheral nerve damage handicaps people and causes persistent neuropathic pain when insulation on healing nerves doesn’t fully regenerate. Unfortunately, there are no effective ways to treat the condition. Now scientists describe an experimental molecular therapy that restores insulation on peripheral nerves in mice, improves limb function, and results in less observable discomfort. Science Daily

Poor fitness linked to weaker brain fiber, higher dementia risk – Scientists have more evidence that exercise improves brain health and could be a lifesaving ingredient that prevents Alzheimer’s disease. Science Daily

Ancient ozone holes may have sterilized forests 252 million years ago – Volcano-fueled holes in Earth’s ozone layer 252 million years ago may have repeatedly sterilized large swaths of forest, setting the stage for the world’s largest mass extinction event. Such holes would have allowed ultraviolet-B radiation to blast the planet. Even radiation levels below those predicted for the end of the Permian period damage trees’ abilities to make seeds, researchers report February 7 in Science Advances. Science News

The small intestine, not the liver, is the first stop for processing fructose – When it comes processing fructose, the liver is a pinch hitter for the small intestine. Science News

Humans are overloading the world’s freshwater bodies with phosphorus – Human activities are driving phosphorus levels in the world’s lakes, rivers and other freshwater bodies to a critical point. The freshwater bodies on 38 percent of Earth’s land area (not including Antarctica) are overly enriched with phosphorus, leading to potentially toxic algal blooms and less available drinking water, researchers report January 24 in Water Resources Research. Science News

Watch nerve cells being born in the brains of living mice – Brain scientists have filmed a first-of-a-kind birth video. It reveals specialized cells in the brains of mice dividing to create newborn nerve cells. Science News

Surprise Discovery Shows We Have Been Totally Wrong About The Size of Andromeda Galaxy – A new technique for measuring the mass of galaxies has been applied to our closest galactic neighbour – and it has found that the Andromeda galaxy is roughly the same size as the Milky Way, and not two to three times bigger as was previously thought. Science Alert

Scientists Just Found a Super-Powerful New Class of Antibiotics in Dirt – The modern medical era began when an absent-minded British scientist named Alexander Fleming returned from vacation to find that one of the petri dishes he forgot to put away was covered in a bacteria-killing mould. He had discovered penicillin, the world’s first antibiotic. Science Alert

An Incredible New Type of Brain Implant Can Boost Memory by 15% – Neural implants that claim to boost memory function aren’t new, but a novel approach to the problem has led to a device that listens to the brain before responding. Science Alert

Wednesday Science News Roundup #19

Below are 10 science news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

Scientists describe how solar system could have formed in bubble around giant star – Scientists have laid out a comprehensive theory for how our solar system could have formed in the wind-blown bubbles around a giant, long-dead star. The study addresses a nagging cosmic mystery about the abundance of two elements in our solar system compared to the rest of the galaxy. Science Daily

Memristors power quick-learning neural network – A new type of neural network made with memristors can dramatically improve the efficiency of teaching machines to think like humans. The network, called a reservoir computing system, could predict words before they are said during conversation, and help predict future outcomes based on the present. Science Daily

Specks in the brain attract Alzheimer’s plaque-forming protein – Globs of an inflammation protein beckon an Alzheimer’s protein and cause it to accumulate in the brain, a study in mice finds. The results, described in the Dec. 21/28 Nature, add new details to the relationship between brain inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease. Science News

New Type Of Bizarre Quantum Material Discovered – Reports are flying around the Web that speak of the creation of a fabled quantum material that may have some relatively magical properties. Whenever anyone suggests that a new quantum material has been discovered, skepticism should be front and center. IFLScience

Physicists Have Created a Set of Conditions in Which Time Seems to Run in Reverse – While we all take for granted the fact that time’s arrow forever points towards the future, physicists have always had trouble showing why this is necessarily the case. Science Alert

Scientists Observe Bizarre ‘Double Whirlpools’ in The Ocean For The First Time – For the first time, scientists have recorded a bizarre phenomenon in fluid dynamics, which up until now had only ever been theoretically predicted, but never observed in the wild. Science Alert

Federal maps underestimate flood risk for tens of millions of people, scientists warn – NEW ORLEANS — National flood maps are underestimating the risk for tens of millions of people in the United States. That’s the conclusion of researchers presenting a new study December 11 at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting. Science News

Christmas Music Could Harm Your Mental Health – You might want to put the Christmas decorations down for a second and unwrap some presents, because there’s a new warning that Christmas music could be bad for your mental health. That’s right, if you’re in the mood to hum along to Mariah Carey’s Christmas jingles, it might be best to leave the high notes to her this year. IFLScience

Gay, lesbian and bisexual high schoolers report ‘tragically high’ suicide risk – High school students who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual are more likely to report planning or attempting suicide compared with their heterosexual peers, a new study finds. Science News

Why Left-Handers Are Less Likely To Believe In God But More likely To Believe In The Paranormal – What do left-handed people and those with schizophrenia have in common? It may not be the first thing that springs to mind, but it’s religion, or rather a lack thereof, according to a new study. IFLScience

10 Science News Roundup #9

Here are 10 science news that I find interesting and important to take note.

What training exercise boosts brain power best? New research finds out – One of the two brain-training methods most scientists use in research is significantly better in improving memory and attention, Johns Hopkins University researchers found. It also results in more significant changes in brain activity. Science Daily

Brain waves reflect different types of learning – Figuring out how to pedal a bike and memorizing the rules of chess require two different types of learning, and now for the first time, researchers have been able to distinguish each type of learning by the brain-wave patterns it produces. Science Daily

A universal flu shot may be nearing reality – One of the planet’s deadliest viruses makes an annual pass through the United States with little fanfare. It rarely generates flashy headlines or news footage of health workers in hazmat suits. There’s no sudden panic when a sick person shows up coughing and feverish in an emergency room. Yet before next spring, this season’s lethal germ will probably have infected millions of Americans, killing tens of thousands. Still, it’s often referred to as just the flu. Science News

Your eyes make waste. Without it, you could go blind – One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, even at the level of the cell. That’s where—according to new research—a waste product of the retina fuels part of the eye that powers the rods and cones that help us sense light. Without this waste, that part of the eye “steals” glucose from the retina, leading to the death of retinal cells and likely vision loss. The finding could help explain why eyesight degenerates with age—and in diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetes. Science

Was this ancient person from China the offspring of modern humans and Neandertals? – When scientists excavated a 40,000-year-old skeleton in China in 2003, they thought they had discovered the offspring of a Neandertal and a modern human. But ancient DNA now reveals that the “Tianyuan Man” has only traces of Neandertal DNA and none detectable from another type of extinct human known as a Denisovan. Instead, he was a full-fledged member of our species, Homo sapiens, and a distant relative of people who today live in East Asia and South America. The work could help scientists retrace some of the earliest steps of human migration. Science

Blood Transfusions From Some Women Can Be More Dangerous For Men, Says Study – Providing a detailed medical history when donating blood could be more important than we know – and not just when it comes to screening for disease. Science Alert

An Alzheimer’s Drug Has Been Found to Help Teeth Repair Themselves in Just 6 Weeks – Dental fillings may soon be left in the ash heap of history, thanks to a recent discovery about a drug called Tideglusib. Developed for and trialled to treat Alzheimer’s disease, the drug also happens to promote the natural tooth regrowth mechanism in mice, allowing the tooth to repair cavities. Science Alert

In many places around the world, obesity in kids is on the rise – Over the last 40 years, the number of kids and teens with obesity has skyrocketed worldwide. In 1975, an estimated 5 million girls and 6 million boys were obese. By 2016, those numbers had risen to an estimated 50 million girls and 74 million boys, according to a report published online October 10 in the Lancet. While the increase in childhood obesity has slowed or leveled off in many high-income countries, it continues to grow in other parts of the world, especially in Asia. Science News

Having A High IQ Puts You More At Risk Of Mental Illness, Study Finds – If you look at television shows featuring a genius you very quickly see a pattern emerge. Hugh Laurie’s TV-doctor, House, is a medical genius but struggles with severe depression as well as a messiah complex. Sherlock Holmes can solve any case, but has many addictions and may just be a sociopath. Countless TV shows, films, and books all peddle the idea that highly intelligent people are prone to mental illness. IFLScience

Nine Year Study Finally Explains The Relationship Between Sugar And Cancer – Scientists have discovered the exact relationship between sugar and cancer by revealing that the way in which cancer cells break down sugar is linked to the stimulation of tumor growth. Cancer cells tend to produce energy differently from normal cells – they use a process that involves fermentation of glucose into lactate, rather than ordinary respiration. IFLScience

Journal #194 – Mental Peace, Contentment

In today’s world, everyone must be able to multi-task. Your boss demands it. Your customer demands it. Your family demands it.

Some people can do it. Some people just simply can’t. Everyone is just different. For me, I am in the latter category and mental peace can be a foreign concept to me.

Why?

I am someone who is high on the neuroticism personality trait. My mind is always worrying and when it does that, it tend to be stuck on a loop about a certain event or situation. That usually happens because I perceived a threat.

The past me won’t be able to deal with a lot of things effectively.

Now?

I know constantly worrying about something specific and have it on a loop in my mind doesn’t help. It’s a waste of mental energy and raises my stress level. It has caused me to suffer sleepless nights. I have since learned to instead attempt to divert my mind’s attention elsewhere more lighthearted. Daydream about something I like even.

Not only that, I have also practiced to write down my worries on paper and put down what are the possible solution when the diversion doesn’t help. I have also tried and talk it out with maybe friends or colleagues. These processes helps to prevent build up inside of me, which brings about the mental peace that I need.

But that doesn’t mean my mind is peaceful. It is only more peaceful than what it usually is. Because being a highly-sensitive person means I also get overwhelmed by my physical environment easily or when I have lots of things to do or handle in life.

So this is why I found minimalism so helpful. It taught me to prioritize. It helped me to decide what are the things that’s useless to me and what are valuable to me. With that, I focus on doing the essentials. I focus on decluttering my schedules. I focus not so much on material possession but more on experiences. It is all about being un-busy.

This bring me to my work. The past me would be extremely worried about the current schedule of my current project. It’s too tight and there’s 101 thing to do. My manager in all her wisdom decided to accept instead of taking a strong stand against pilling on more features just because the customer refuse to budge. Yet these days, I’m not worried at all. I just focus on doing what I need to be doing. I take my break from time to time. My neurotic mind knows very well that I can’t finish on time and yet I made a conscious choice of focusing on crafting my code. Why? Because software development is an art to me now.

You see, I’m now perfectly ok if my boss decides to kick me away, scold me, or fire me for failing to meet the requirements. Because at the end of the day, my company isn’t going to be there when I suffer major health problem. They aren’t going to pay for any future illness that I may suffer in the future caused by overwork during my younger days. They aren’t going to be there to provide psychological services when I need it. It’s up to me to take care of me. I know my body, my mind, and what I want in life.

So now, I’m at peace. I’m content.

10 Science News Roundup #8

Here are 10 science news that I find interesting and important to take note.

How fever in early pregnancy causes heart, facial birth defects – Duke researchers now have evidence indicating that the fever itself, not its root source, is what interferes with the development of the heart and jaw during the first three to eight weeks of pregnancy. Science Daily

When the brain’s wiring breaks – Among all the bad things that can happen to the brain when it is severely jolted — in a car accident, for example — one of the most common and worrisome is axon damage. Axons are the long stalks that grow out of the bodies of neurons and carry signals to other neurons. They are part of the brain’s “wiring,” and they sometimes grow to amazing lengths — from the brain all the way down to the spinal cord. But axons are thin and fragile. When the brain receives a strong blow, axons are often stressed past their structural limits. They either break or swiftly degenerate. Science Daily

Superbugs may meet their match in these nanoparticles – Antibiotics may have a new teammate in the fight against drug-resistant infections. Researchers have engineered nanoparticles to produce chemicals that render bacteria more vulnerable to antibiotics. These quantum dots, described online October 4 in Science Advances, could help combat pathogens that have developed resistance to antibiotics (SN: 10/15/16, p. 11).

Secret Supereruption That Once Changed The World Found In North America – Yellowstone’s supervolcano gets all the attention these days, but it’s not the only vessel of apocalyptic eruptions. Today, there are several spots around the world that could bring about a game-changing eruption, and volcanologists are always on the hunt for ancient ones that until now have slipped beneath the radar.

Turns Out The Great Barrier Reef Can Actually Heal Itself, But We Have to Help It – he Great Barrier Reef is suffering from recent unprecedented coral bleaching events. But the answer to part of its recovery could lie in the reef itself, with a little help. In our recent article published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, we argue that at least two potential interventions show promise as means to boost climate resilience and tolerance in the reef’s corals: assisted gene flow and assisted evolution.

Bright light therapy at midday helped patients with bipolar depression – Daily exposure to bright white light at midday significantly decreased symptoms of depression and increased functioning in people with bipolar disorder, a recent Northwestern Medicine study found. Science Daily

NASA Is Running Out of The Most Precious Ingredient Needed For Future Space Missions – Classroom models lie – our Solar System isn’t a bunch of bright, closely nestled orbs. Instead, other planets are separated from Earth by unfathomable distances – and are often too cold, dim, and remote for any spacecraft to explore on solar power alone. Science Alert

EPA Says “The War on Coal Is Over” in Major Reversal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan – The Trump administration has formally announced its plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan – President Obama’s key policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions produced by power plants. Science Alert

This Is How Online Dating Has Changed The Very Fabric of Society – Digital match-making services have done more than just change how we find our perfect squeeze; they’re changing the fundamental nature of our social networks. According to a pair of researchers investigating online dating, the way we’re looking for love (and lust) is connecting communities in completely novel ways, breaking down boundaries and possibly even making for stronger long-term relationships. Science Alert

How to make the cosmic web give up the matter it’s hiding – Evidence is piling up that much of the universe’s missing matter is lurking along the strands of a vast cosmic web. A pair of papers report some of the best signs yet of hot gas in the spaces between galaxy clusters, possibly enough to represent the half of all ordinary matter previously unaccounted for. Previous studies have hinted at this missing matter, but a new search technique is helping to fill in the gaps in the cosmic census where other efforts fell short. The papers were published online at arXiv.org on September 15 and September 29. Science News

Journal #133 – Concluded Psychological Evaluation

“Oh crap!”

That’s how I felt when I woke up this morning. It was 0928hrs and I have an appointment with my psychologist at 1030hrs.

So I went to with my morning routine and showered while my mom prepared a simple sandwich with slices of hard boiled egg and margarine. I rushed out of the house after packing my bag for work at around 1000hrs and ate my sandwich while making my way to the bus stop opposite my apartment block.

I made a mistake of not bothering to set my alarm clock to wake me up at around 0830hrs and left it at the original 0730hrs. So when the alarm did go off, and I intentionally left my phone on my desk, which is a walking distance from my bed, I walked over to switch off the alarm and went back to bed. I had thought I would wake up automatically at around 0830hrs, which would have given me enough time to prepare. Well, I’m not really a morning person unless I’m forced to or when I’m stressed out.

During the past two weeks, I dare say I made sufficient progress in evaluating what I want in my life, and what my goals and fears are. With that, I set a rule and shall constantly be reminding myself that whatever full-time job that I take on shall just be a means to an end. It is to secure necessary funds for me to do what I enjoy: writing.

After my session with the psychiatrist, I went for lunch at Ichiban Boshi at Jurong Point. Then I made my way to my client’s office. Instead of getting the usual Cold Brew, I went with Earl Grey. Why the change? Well, I tend to get acne outbreaks if I ate too much roasted, fried, or oily food. I know most scientific studies were not able to find a connection there but my body just behaves this way. Since coffee beans are mostly roasted, my face had a couple pimples.

At work today, I focus on bug fixing and enhancing one of the modules. Then at around 1640hrs, I went to get two curry puffs from Tip Top Curry Puff. Once I’m done with the puff, I went back to work. Did some testing of the bug fixes and enhancement before uploading the executable to the company’s FTP server.

I left the office at around 1830hrs, I left to a sea of crowd at Raffles Place station. There was a train signaling fault from Ang Mo Kio station to Marina South Pier station. That’s like practically half of the north-south train line. That meant that trains are moving extremely slowly between those stations.

However, I felt extremely pissed at SMRT for shutting down majority of the fare gates. I know that they are trying to control the amount of people waiting at the platforms for the north-south line but it inadvertently affect the people who are traveling on the east-west line. Making things worse is that some of the passengers have issues tapping their ez-link cards to go through the fare gates. One of the reasons why they have problem was that their cards were in their bags and they attempt to scan their card with their bag through approximation. That’s just plain fucking stupid. Is it so hard to take the card out and scan?

So by the time I went through the gate, I was already sweating heavily caused by the amount of heat generated by the large volume of people. If you are wondering why, I am highly sensitive to certain sounds, temperate, and crowds. So in a way, I’m suffering from over-stimulation. Over-stimulation raised my stress level, which led me to blame SMRT for their inability to manage the crowding situation.

Anyway, I reached home at around 1950hrs. Had a shower, and took some painkiller with muscle relaxant before eating dinner at around 2030hrs. The whole day I was feeling like crap. The left side of my body, especially the neck and shoulder area is extremely sore and painful. I had trouble turning or tiling my head to the right or down. I wasn’t sure why.

The painkiller didn’t help though and so I decided to paste on some medicated plaster to help ease the soreness. The medicated plaster did help but then the effect lasted only for a little bit. Now I need to deal with the pain.

After dinner, I went on to watch the last episode of Planet of the Apps and a couple of YouTube videos.

Special Mention

I also want to thank Mr. Yann Girard for letting me know about his book: 121 Unusual Tips to Being a Better Writer. I don’t get direct messages on Twitter unless it’s because I contacted the support team of a specific company for help or when they are my friends. So to me, it is a big deal and I really appreciate the personal touch. As for the book itself, I haven’t really start reading yet but I suppose it may help in my own writing.

One of his articles, From Employee to Entrepreneur in 10 steps, sounds just like a variation of what I am doing now. I admit that I’m fumbling about right now but I see it as necessary. The most important thing is the process of getting to the end goal and not the actual goal.

That’s all for now.

Here I conclude my journal for today.