Political ads have little persuasive power

Every four years, US presidential campaigns collectively spend billions of dollars flooding TV screens across the country with political ads. But a new study co-authored by Yale political scientist Alexander Coppock shows that, regardless of content, context, or audience, those pricey commercials do little to persuade voters.

Source: Political ads have little persuasive power

Common sunscreen ingredients prove dangerous for freshwater ecosystems

The results show that long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) filters–including avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octocrylene–is lethal for some organisms living in freshwater environments. One of the largest sources of UV-filter contamination in both marine and freshwater environments is from sunscreen leaching off of the skin while swimming.

Source: Common sunscreen ingredients prove dangerous for freshwater ecosystems

COVID-19 Tracking Data API and Data Anomalies (No Correlations? Cases to Hospitalizations Increases)

Is there a correlation between Positive cases and Hospitalizations? Below is the API for python access, open to all who desire to filter the data. I want to just give easy access to all the beginner students data scientists out there, such as myself..Explore and Discover: **My Apologies It says High Def, but does not look High Def on video here**

Code: import matplotlib.pyplot as plt import pandas as pd from scipy import stats import statsmodels.api as sm import requests import time from IPython.display import clear_output response = requests.get(“https://covidtracking.com/api/v1/us/daily.csv”) covid = response.content ccc = open(“daily.csv”,”wb”) ccc.write(covid) ccc.close() df = pd.read_csv(“daily.csv”, index_col = ‘date’) df.head() data = df[[‘positiveIncrease’,’hospitalizedIncrease’]] dataT = df[[‘positiveIncrease’,’hospitalizedIncrease’,’hospitalizedCurrently’]] dataD = df[[‘hospitalizedIncrease’,’deathIncrease’]] dataT.head(20) plt.figure(figsize=(20,10)) Y = data[‘positiveIncrease’] X = data[‘hospitalizedIncrease’] plt.scatter(X,Y) plt.ylabel(“Tested Positive Increase”) plt.xlabel(“Hospitalization Increase”) plt.show() Y1 = sm.add_constant(Y) reg = sm.OLS(X, Y1).fit() reg.summary() data.plot(y=[‘hospitalizedIncrease’,’positiveIncrease’],xticks=data.index[0:len(data):30], rot=90, figsize=(20,10) ) for x in range(len(data)): plt.figure(figsize=(20,10)) plt.xticks( data.index.values[0:len(data):30], rotation = 90, fontsize=20 ) plt.plot(data.tail(x))

AKG may increase Lifespan and DRAMATICALLY Increase Healthy Years

AKG may increase Lifespan and DRAMATICALLY Increase Healthy Years

Noting that some of the mice did experience moderate lifespan extension (the average was around 12%), measures of healthspan increased more than 40 percent. Lithgow says the goal is always to compress the time of disease and frailty. “The nightmare scenario has always been life extension with no reduction in disability. In this study, the treated middle-aged mice got healthier over time. Even the mice that died early saw improvements in their health, which was really surprising and encouraging.”

Citation: Alpha-ketoglutarate, an endogenous metabolite, extends lifespan and compresses morbidity in aging mice DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet 2020.08.044


Lockdowns have economic and social costs for world’s poorest families

Low socioeconomic families – and particularly women – experienced increased financial hardship, food insecurity, domestic violence and mental health challenges during COVID-19 lockdown measures in Bangladesh, a new research study shows.

In the first study of its kind, Australian and Bangladeshi researchers documented the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown measures on the wellbeing of women and their families in rural Bangladesh. The study found that low socioeconomic families experienced a range of economic and mental health challenges during the two-month stay-at-home order, and women reported an increase in intimate partner violence.

The study, published today in The Lancet Global Health, suggests in the event of future public health lockdowns, the wellbeing of families – and particularly women – needs be actively addressed.

At a glance


  • Australian and Bangladeshi researchers, in the first study of its kind, joined forces to study the impact of lockdown measures in a rural community in Bangladesh. 
  • Lockdown measures enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused many families’ incomes to drop below the international poverty line. 
  • There was an increase in food insecurity, depression, anxiety and domestic violence during the lockdown period.


Devastating impacts of lockdown

Like many countries around the world, Bangladesh used stay-at-home (or lockdown) orders to limit the spread of COVID-19 in April and May 2020. Using an existing research network in Bangladesh, a collaborative team led by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research in Bangladesh was able to measure the impact of the lockdown on financial stability, food security, mental health and domestic violence in 2424 families in a rural Bangladesh community.

The impact of the lockdown on households was worrying, said Associate Professor Sant-Rayn Pasricha from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

“While the lockdown was an essential public health measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we were concerned about the problems it could pose for the families in our study,” Associate Professor Pasricha said.

“Comparing how families were faring before and during lockdown, we observed substantial financial and mental health pressures experienced during lockdown.”

The study revealed 96 per cent of families experienced a reduction in employment and 91 per considered themselves to be financially unstable.

“During the lockdown, almost half (47 per cent) of families saw their earnings drop below the international poverty line of US$1.90 per day,” Associate Professor Pasricha said.

“Seventy per cent experienced food insecurity, with one in six families running out of food, going hungry or missing meals.”

The lockdown also had mental health impacts, with women showing an increase in depression symptoms, and 68 per cent of participants reporting their anxiety level had increased. Concerningly, among the women who reported emotional, physical or sexual violence from their intimate partner, more than half reported violence had increased since lockdown.

Families need more support

Associate Professor Pasricha said the study indicated the lockdown had unintended yet devastating outcomes for the families.

“Stay-at-home orders lasting more than two months, in a rural South Asian setting, have inflicted an enormous economic and psychosocial burden on women and their families,” he said.

Associate Professor Pasricha said the results reflected similar studies that indicated the flow-on effect of stay-at-home orders to food security and nutrition would be experienced globally.

“The marked increase in severe food insecurity in our study population shows the impact of economic pressure on food access and supports modelling to suggest the pandemic could have a catastrophic effect on food security and consequently on nutrition worldwide.

“Our study, which is the first of its kind, highlights the need for wide-reaching welfare and other forms of financial support for families impacted by lockdown measures, not only for those on low incomes. Crucially, social support is needed to protect women’s safety and it is essential that domestic violence intervention services remain accessible during lockdown.

Bangladeshi Principal investigator, Dr Jena Hamadani, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research, Bangladesh, said she hoped the research would help inform governments about the need for welfare support for people in rural communities in low and middle income countries during lockdowns.

“We hope our findings will be valuable for public health officials, and will inform and improve future public health measures, should lockdowns continue,” Dr Hamadani said.

Source: Lockdowns have economic and social costs for world’s poorest families

Bacteria could survive travel between Earth and Mars when forming aggregates

Imagine microscopic life-forms, such as bacteria, transported through space, and landing on another planet. The bacteria finding suitable conditions for its survival could then start multiplying again, sparking life at the other side of the universe. This theory, called “panspermia”, support the possibility that microbes may migrate between planets and distribute life in the universe. Long controversial, this theory implies that bacteria would survive the long journey in outer space, resisting to space vacuum, temperature fluctuations, and space radiations.

“The origin of life on Earth is the biggest mystery of human beings. Scientists can have totally different points of view on the matter. Some think that life is very rare and happened only once in the Universe, while others think that life can happen on every suitable planet. If panspermia is possible, life must exist much more often than we previously thought,” says Dr. Akihiko Yamagishi, a Professor at Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences and principal investigator of the space mission Tanpopo.

In 2018, Dr. Yamagishi and his team tested the presence of microbes in the atmosphere. Using an aircraft and scientific balloons, the researchers, found Deinococcal bacteria floating 12 km above the earth. But while Deinococcus are known to form large colonies (easily larger than one millimeter) and be resistant to environmental hazards like UV radiation, could they resist long enough in space to support the possibility of panspermia?

To answer this question, Dr. Yamagishi and the Tanpopo team, tested the survival of the radioresistant bacteria Deinococcus in space. The study, now published in Frontiers in Microbiology, shows that thick aggregates can provide sufficient protection for the survival of bacteria during several years in the harsh space environment.

Dr. Yamagishi and his team came to this conclusion by placing dried Deinococcus aggregates in exposure panels outside of the International Space Station (ISS). The samples of different thicknesses were exposed to space environment for one, two, or three years and then tested for their survival.

After three years, the researchers found that all aggregates superior to 0.5 mm partially survived to space conditions. Observations suggest that while the bacteria at the surface of the aggregate died, it created a protective layer for the bacteria beneath ensuring the survival of the colony. Using the survival data at one, two, and three years of exposure, the researchers estimated that a pellet thicker than 0.5 mm would have survived between 15 and 45 years on the ISS. The design of the experiment allowed the researcher to extrapolate and predict that a colony of 1 mm of diameter could potentially survive up to 8 years in outer space conditions.

“The results suggest that radioresistant Deinococcus could survive during the travel from Earth to Mars and vice versa, which is several months or years in the shortest orbit,” says Dr. Yamagishi.

This work provides, to date, the best estimate of bacterial survival in space. And, while previous experiments prove that bacteria could survive in space for a long period when benefitting from the shielding of rock (i.e. lithopanspermia), this is the first long-term space study raising the possibility that bacteria could survive in space in the form of aggregates, raising the new concept of “massapanspermia”. Yet, while we are one step closer to prove panspermia possible, the microbe transfer also depends on other processes such as ejection and landing, during which the survival of bacteria still needs to be assessed.

Source: Bacteria could survive travel between Earth and Mars when forming aggregates

Cosmic rays may soon stymie quantum computing

The practicality of quantum computing hangs on the integrity of the quantum bit, or qubit.

Qubits, the logic elements of quantum computers, are coherent two-level systems that represent quantum information. Each qubit has the strange ability to be in a quantum superposition, carrying aspects of both states simultaneously, enabling a quantum version of parallel computation. Quantum computers, if they can be scaled to accommodate many qubits on one processor, could be dizzyingly faster, and able to handle far more complex problems, than today’s conventional computers.

But that all depends on a qubit’s integrity, or how long it can operate before its superposition and the quantum information are lost — a process called decoherence, which ultimately limits the computer run-time. Superconducting qubits — a leading qubit modality today — have achieved exponential improvement in this key metric, from less than one nanosecond in 1999 to around 200 microseconds today for the best-performing devices.

But researchers at MIT, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have found that a qubit’s performance will soon hit a wall. In a paper published in Nature, the team reports that the low-level, otherwise harmless background radiation that is emitted by trace elements in concrete walls and incoming cosmic rays are enough to cause decoherence in qubits. They found that this effect, if left unmitigated, will limit the performance of qubits to just a few milliseconds.

Given the rate at which scientists have been improving qubits, they may hit this radiation-induced wall in just a few years. To overcome this barrier, scientists will have to find ways to shield qubits — and any practical quantum computers — from low-level radiation, perhaps by building the computers underground or designing qubits that are tolerant to radiation’s effects.

“These decoherence mechanisms are like an onion, and we’ve been peeling back the layers for past 20 years, but there’s another layer that left unabated is going to limit us in a couple years, which is environmental radiation,” says William Oliver, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and Lincoln Laboratory Fellow at MIT. “This is an exciting result, because it motivates us to think of other ways to design qubits to get around this problem.”

The paper’s lead author is Antti Vepsäläinen, a postdoc in MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics.

“It is fascinating how sensitive superconducting qubits are to the weak radiation. Understanding these effects in our devices can also be helpful in other applications such as superconducting sensors used in astronomy,” Vepsäläinen says.

Co-authors at MIT include Amir Karamlou, Akshunna Dogra, Francisca Vasconcelos, Simon Gustavsson, and physics professor Joseph Formaggio, along with David Kim, Alexander Melville, Bethany Niedzielski, and Jonilyn Yoder at Lincoln Laboratory, and John Orrell, Ben Loer, and Brent VanDevender of PNNL.

A cosmic effect

Superconducting qubits are electrical circuits made from superconducting materials. They comprise multitudes of paired electrons, known as Cooper pairs, that flow through the circuit without resistance and work together to maintain the qubit’s tenuous superposition state. If the circuit is heated or otherwise disrupted, electron pairs can split up into “quasiparticles,” causing decoherence in the qubit that limits its operation.

There are many sources of decoherence that could destabilize a qubit, such as fluctuating magnetic and electric fields, thermal energy, and even interference between qubits.

Scientists have long suspected that very low levels of radiation may have a similar destabilizing effect in qubits.

“I the last five years, the quality of superconducting qubits has become much better, and now we’re within a factor of 10 of where the effects of radiation are going to matter,” adds Kim, a technical staff member at MIT Lincoln Laboratotry.

So Oliver and Formaggio teamed up to see how they might nail down the effect of low-level environmental radiation on qubits. As a neutrino physicist, Formaggio has expertise in designing experiments that shield against the smallest sources of radiation, to be able to see neutrinos and other hard-to-detect particles.

“Calibration is key”

The team, working with collaborators at Lincoln Laboratory and PNNL, first had to design an experiment to calibrate the impact of known levels of radiation on superconducting qubit performance. To do this, they needed a known radioactive source — one which became less radioactive slowly enough to assess the impact at essentially constant radiation levels, yet quickly enough to assess a range of radiation levels within a few weeks, down to the level of background radiation.

The group chose to irradiate a foil of high purity copper. When exposed to a high flux of neutrons, copper produces copious amounts of copper-64, an unstable isotope with exactly the desired properties.

“Copper just absorbs neutrons like a sponge,” says Formaggio, who worked with operators at MIT’s Nuclear Reactor Laboratory to irradiate two small disks of copper for several minutes. They then placed one of the disks next to the superconducting qubits in a dilution refrigerator in Oliver’s lab on campus. At temperatures about 200 times colder than outer space, they measured the impact of the copper’s radioactivity on qubits’ coherence while the radioactivity decreased — down toward environmental background levels.

The radioactivity of the second disk was measured at room temperature as a gauge for the levels hitting the qubit. Through these measurements and related simulations, the team understood the relation between radiation levels and qubit performance, one that could be used to infer the effect of naturally occurring environmental radiation. Based on these measurements, the qubit coherence time would be limited to about 4 milliseconds.

“Not game over”

The team then removed the radioactive source and proceeded to demonstrate that shielding the qubits from the environmental radiation improves the coherence time. To do this, the researchers built a 2-ton wall of lead bricks that could be raised and lowered on a scissor lift, to either shield or expose the refrigerator to surrounding radiation.

“We built a little castle around this fridge,” Oliver says.

Every 10 minutes, and over several weeks, students in Oliver’s lab alternated pushing a button to either lift or lower the wall, as a detector measured the qubits’ integrity, or “relaxation rate,” a measure of how the environmental radiation impacts the qubit, with and without the shield. By comparing the two results, they effectively extracted the impact attributed to environmental radiation, confirming the 4 millisecond prediction and demonstrating that shielding improved qubit performance.

“Cosmic ray radiation is hard to get rid of,” Formaggio says. “It’s very penetrating, and goes right through everything like a jet stream. If you go underground, that gets less and less. It’s probably not necessary to build quantum computers deep underground, like neutrino experiments, but maybe deep basement facilities could probably get qubits operating at improved levels.”

Going underground isn’t the only option, and Oliver has ideas for how to design quantum computing devices that still work in the face of background radiation.

“If we want to build an industry, we’d likely prefer to mitigate the effects of radiation above ground,” Oliver says. “We can think about designing qubits in a way that makes them ‘rad-hard,’ and less sensitive to quasiparticles, or design traps for quasiparticles so that even if they’re constantly being generated by radiation, they can flow away from the qubit. So it’s definitely not game-over, it’s just the next layer of the onion we need to address.”

Source: Cosmic rays may soon stymie quantum computing

Russian scientists predicted increased unrest in the United States back in 2010

There has been a steady increase in protests in the United States and Great Britain since 2011, which, as Peter Turchin and other scientists suggest, is the result of a predictable 50-year cycle of socio-political dynamics that has culminated with a surge of violence. This cycle was identified by Russian experts in cliodynamics and structural-demographic theory. Back in 2010, they predicted the current course of events. And now they have been able to verify their mathematical models.

In 2010, the Russian-American scientist Peter Turchin used structural-demographic theory (SDT) to predict the dynamics of socio-political conditions in the United States and Western Europe until 2020. His model predicted that, over the next decade, political instability and an increase in social conflicts would occur in Western democracies. In a new article, Turchin, together with Andrey Korotayev, another leading specialist in SDT at HSE University, conducted a retrospective assessment of the forecasts made in 2010-2012 and confirmed the accuracy of the conclusions. The paper was published in PLoS ONE journal: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0237458.

The following approach is applied: the postulated historical hypothesis is turned into a mathematical model. It is then calculated. A specific prediction is extracted from the model. This forecast is then tested on real historical events. Thus, mathematical models can be tweaked, fine-tuned and, as a result, provide fairly accurate predictive analytics.

Historians are helped by the theory of complex systems, originally developed by physicists to describe nonlinear, chaotic processes, which can be used for climate modelling and weather prediction, for example. The American sociologist and historian Jack Goldstone was the first scholar to apply a mathematical apparatus from the theory of complex systems to historical processes. He developed the structural-demographic theory (SDT), which made it possible to take into account the many forces interacting in society that put pressure on it and lead to riots, revolutions, and civil wars.

Using the SDT, Goldstone established that every major coup or revolution is preceded by a surge in fertility. As a result, the size of the population exceeds its economic possibilities for self-sufficiency. A crisis comes, the population’s standard of living the drops sharply, and unrest begins. At the same time, the state loses political flexibility and the elites split, with some of them siding with the protesters against the current system. A coup takes place, usually accompanied by an explosion of violence and a civil war.

Later, Goldstone’s ideas were picked up and developed by Russian scientists and scholars, including not only Peter Turchin but also Sergei Nefyodov, Leonid Grinin and HSE Professor Andrei Korotayev. They applied their developments to predict socio-historical dynamics in the United States and Great Britain, as well as other Western European countries.

Structural demographic theory consists of four main components:


  • the state (size, income, expenses, debts, the legitimacy of power, etc.); 
  • population (size, age structure, urbanization, wage level, social optimism, etc.); 
  • elites (number and structure, sources of their income and current welfare, conspicuous consumption, internal competition, social norms); 
  • factors of instability (radical ideologies, terrorist and revolutionary movements, acts of violence, riots, and revolutions).

Goldstone himself also proposed methods to operationalize and measure them, as well as a general integral indicator that allows future unrest to be predicted–an indicator of political stress Ψ (PSI, or the political stress indicator). Retrospective studies have shown that Ψ was off the charts before the French Revolution, the English Civil War, and the crisis of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, if the mathematical model shows the growth of Ψ curve at any time intervals in the future, then we can confidently speak about coming socio-political instability at this time in this region.

In general terms, the equation for calculating Ψ looks like this:


Here, MMP stands for Mass Mobilization Potential, EMP stands for Elite Mobilization Potential, and SFD represents the level of State Fiscal Distress in the state. Each of the equation indicators is calculated separately using many other socio-demographic variables and various mathematical tools, including differential equations.

In a new paper, scientists drew information from the Cross-National Time-Series Data Archive (CNTS) database. It contains information on the 200 most important indicators for more than 200 countries around the world from 1815 to the present. The researchers were most interested in data on anti-government demonstrations, riots, government crises, revolutions and purges (although for the United States and Great Britain there is little data for reliable statistical analysis with regard to the last two phenomena). An independent dataset from the US Political Violence Database (USPVD) and an archive of publications from The New York Times were also used to check and correct the information.

It turned out that in full accordance with the forecasts for 2010-2012 in the United States over the past 10 years, the number of anti-government demonstrations has sharply increased, and the number of street riots has increased significantly (see graph below). It is important to note that the prediction made at that point in time was completely at variance with the current trends and could not be a simple extrapolation, since from the early 1980s to 2010 the level of social unrest remained consistently low.

It is important to note that the events of 2020 do not affect or change the simulation results in any way. All the trends that have clearly manifested themselves in the USA, Great Britain, and a number of European countries have been slowly but steadily growing throughout the decade. The COVID-19 pandemic, of course, has also had an impact, and it was impossible to predict it based on historical data (although virologists and epidemiologists have regularly written about the potential danger of coronaviruses in scientific periodicals since the 2000s). But epidemics of dangerous diseases often arise during periods of social crisis and hit the most vulnerable sectors of society (as happened in the United States), which only mobilizes the masses even more and takes them to the streets.


Source: Russian scientists predicted increased unrest in the United States back in 2010

Adenosine Helps Regrow Cartilage in Osteoarthritis

Injections of a natural ‘energy’ molecule prompted regrowth of almost half of the cartilage lost with aging in knees, a new study in rodents shows.

#arthritis #osteoarthritis #adenosine

Carmen Corciulo, Cristina M. Castro, Thomas Coughlin, Samson Jacob, Zhu Li, David Fenyö, Daniel B. Rifkin, Oran D. Kennedy, Bruce Neil Cronstein. Intraarticular injection of liposomal adenosine reduces cartilage damage in established murine and rat models of osteoarthritis. Scientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-68302-w


Media’s pivotal pandemic power

The mass media’s coverage of the pandemic health crisis carries an important responsibility to offer balanced messaging about COVID-19 and public behaviour, Flinders University public health researchers says. While freely available, trustworthy news is vital – in particular when conveying personal risk and government mandated guidelines – the Flinders University research warns of less favourable issues such as inciting panic or causing stigmatisation in the community by laying blame on certain groups or organisations.

Source: Media’s pivotal pandemic power

Defiance and low trust in medical doctors related to vaccine scepticism

A new study shows that individuals who react negatively to rules and recommendations and have lower trust in doctors more often use complementary and alternative medicine, that is, treatments or substances that are not included in the care offered or recommended by doctors. The study included altogether 770 parents of young children.

Source: Defiance and low trust in medical doctors related to vaccine scepticism

Why obeying orders can make us do terrible things

War atrocities are sometimes committed by ‘normal’ people obeying orders. Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience measured brain activity while participants inflicted pain and found that obeying orders reduced empathy and guilt related brain activity for the inflicted pain. This may explain why people are able to commit immoral acts under coercion.

Source: Why obeying orders can make us do terrible things

Cashew shell compound may mend damaged nerves

Cashew shell compound may mend damaged nerves

In laboratory experiments, a chemical compound found in the shell of the cashew nut promotes the repair of myelin, a team reports today.

#anacardicacid #nerverepair #cashews

Åsa Ljunggren-Rose, Chandramohan Natarajan, Pranathi Matta, Akansha Pandey, Isha Upender, and Subramaniam Sriram. Anacardic acid induces IL-33 and promotes remyelination in CNS. PNAS, 2020 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2006566117


Using personal frequency to control brain activity

Individual frequency can be used to specifically influence certain areas of the brain and thus the abilities processed in them – solely by electrical stimulation on the scalp, without any surgical intervention. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have now demonstrated this for the first time.

Source: Using personal frequency to control brain activity

A novel strategy for quickly identifying twitter trolls

Two algorithms that account for distinctive use of repeated words and word pairs require as few as 50 tweets to accurately distinguish deceptive ”troll” messages from those posted by public figures. Sergei Monakhov of Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, presents these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on August 12, 2020.

Source: A novel strategy for quickly identifying twitter trolls

Untapped potential for TikTok to convey COVID-19 guidance

Research published in DeGruyter’s International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health suggests TikTok is rich with untapped educational potential. The platform could play a vital role in conveying important health information alongside lip-syncing videos and viral dance challenges, the paper’s authors say.

Source: Untapped potential for TikTok to convey COVID-19 guidance

Honeysuckle Decoction Inhibits SARS-CoV-2

In a new study in Cell Discovery, Chen-Yu Zhang’s group at Nanjing University and two other groups from Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Second Hospital of Nanjing present a novel finding that absorbed miRNA MIR2911 in honeysuckle decoction (HD) can directly target SARS-CoV-2 genes and inhibit viral replication. Drinking of HD accelerate the negative conversion of COVID-19 patients.

#mir2911 #sarcov2 #honeysuckle

Zhou, L., Zhou, Z., Jiang, X. et al. Absorbed plant MIR2911 in honeysuckle decoction inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication and accelerates the negative conversion of infected patients. Cell Discov 6, 54 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41421-020-00197-3


Study: Most Americans don’t have enough assets to withstand 3 months without income

A new study from Oregon State University found that 77% of low- to moderate-income American households fall below the asset poverty threshold, meaning that if their income were cut off they would not have the financial assets to maintain at least poverty-level status for three months.

Source: Study: Most Americans don’t have enough assets to withstand 3 months without income

An easier way to go vegan, Vitamin B12 CAN be produced during grain fermentation

The highest production was found in the rice bran (ca. 742 ng/g dw), followed by the buckwheat bran (ca. 631 ng/g dw), after fermentation. Meanwhile, the addition of L. brevis was able to dominate indigenous microbes during fermentation and thus greatly improve microbial safety during the fermentation of different grain materials. #b12 #vegan #fermentation https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10138/317682/insitufo.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y In situ fortification of vitamin B12 in grain materials by fermentation withPropionibacterium freudenreichii, Chong Xie ISBN 978-951-51-6355-4 (PAPERBACK) ISBN 978-951-51-6356-1 (PDF, http://ETHESIS.HELSINKI.FI) ISSN 0355-1180 UNIGRAFIA HELSINKI 2020

Survey finds Americans social media habits changing as national tensions rise

A new national survey commissioned by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finds more Americans are adjusting how they use social media platforms. Many participants cited stress from COVID-19 and divisive political issues as reasons for taking a social media break. The survey found more than half of Americans (56%) changed their social media habits because of tensions surrounding current events this year, and 1 in 5 (20%) have taken breaks from social media.

Source: Survey finds Americans social media habits changing as national tensions rise

Owe the IRS? No problem, some Americans say

A new study shows the surprising way that many American taxpayers adjust their standard of living when they owe money to the IRS versus when they receive tax refunds. Researchers found that when households received tax refunds, they immediately started spending that new money. But those same households didn’t cut their spending in years when they owed taxes to the IRS.

Source: Owe the IRS? No problem, some Americans say

Post-pandemic brave new world of agriculture

Recent events have shown how vulnerable the meat processing industry is to COVID-19. Professor Robert Henry says reducing risk of spreading infection in a future pandemic will require automation. But is the public ready for robots slaughtering and eviscerating animals to reduce the risk of infectious disease? And while there is ongoing resistance to GMOs and gene edited foods, Professor Henry says governments need policies to support these technologies, to safeguard regionally-based future food production.

Source: Post-pandemic brave new world of agriculture

A rebranding of ‘freedom’?

According to recent Gallup polls, socialism is now more popular than capitalism among Democrats and young people, and support for ”some form of socialism” among all Americans is at 43% (compared to 25% in 1942). Policies that went unmentioned or were declared out-of-bounds in elections four years ago — a federal jobs guarantee, single-payer health care, free college, massive tax hikes on the rich, and the Green New Deal–are commonplace in Democrats’ 2020 campaigns.

Source: A rebranding of ‘freedom’?

In cell studies, seaweed extract outperforms remdesivir in blocking COVID-19 virus

In a test of antiviral effectiveness against the virus that causes COVID-19, an extract from edible seaweeds substantially outperformed remdesivir, the current standard antiviral used to combat the disease.

Paul S. Kwon, Hanseul Oh, Seok-Joon Kwon, Weihua Jin, Fuming Zhang, Keith Fraser, Jung Joo Hong, Robert J. Linhardt, Jonathan S. Dordick. Sulfated polysaccharides effectively inhibit SARS-CoV-2 in vitro. Cell Discovery, 2020; 6 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41421-020-00192-8

#fucoidan #covid19 #heparin


Junk DNA might be really, really useful for biocomputing

When you don’t understand how things work, it’s not unusual to think of them as just plain old junk. So it was with DNA that repeats the same sequences over and over again; how could such junk DNA be useful? Isn’t it just garbage that nature didn’t bother to take out? In a paper published in Trends in Genetics, Dr. Alan Herbert of InsideOutBio Inc shows that these repeats may be more treasure than trash.

Source: Junk DNA might be really, really useful for biocomputing

Health, well-being and food security of families deteriorating under COVID-19 stress

The ongoing disruptive changes from efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are having a substantial negative impact on the physical and mental well-being of parents and their children across the country, according to a new national survey published today in Pediatrics.

Source: Health, well-being and food security of families deteriorating under COVID-19 stress

Black raspberries show promise for reducing skin inflammation, allergies

Pandemic disproportionately affects scientists with young children

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate, negative impact on the careers of scientists with young children at home, a new survey finds. They have been forced to drastically reduce the amount of time they spend on their research, which could have long-term effects on their careers and could exacerbate existing inequalities.

Source: Pandemic disproportionately affects scientists with young children

Global sentiments towards COVID-19 shifts from fear to anger

The fear that people developed at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak has given way to anger over the course of the pandemic, a study of global sentiments led by NTU Singapore has found. Xenophobia, a common theme among anger-related tweets, evolved to reflect feelings arising from isolation and social seclusion. Accompanying this later shift is the emergence of tweets that show joy, which suggest a sense of gratitude and hope.

Source: Global sentiments towards COVID-19 shifts from fear to anger

Nitrous Oxide May bring quick relief from PTSD

Nitrous Oxide May bring quick relief from PTSD

For this new study, three veterans with PTSD were asked to inhale a single one-hour dose of 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen through a face mask. Within hours after breathing nitrous oxide, two of the patients reported a marked improvement in their PTSD symptoms. This improvement lasted one week for one of the patients, while the other patient’s symptoms gradually returned over the week.

#ptsd #relief #nitrousoxide


Andrea Varias, Peter van Roessel, Maryam Parsiani, Maria Filippou-Frye, Thomas C. Neylan, Peter Nagele, Jerome Yesavage, J. David Clark, Carolyn I. Rodriguez. Does Nitrous Oxide Help Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder? A Case Series. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2020; 81 (4) DOI: 10.4088/JCP.20l13393

Ups and downs in COVID-19 data may be caused by data reporting practices

As data accumulates on COVID-19 cases and deaths, researchers have observed patterns of peaks and valleys that repeat on a near-weekly basis. A study published this week in mSystems reports that those oscillations arise from variations in testing practices and data reporting, rather than from societal practices around how people are infected or treated.

Source: Ups and downs in COVID-19 data may be caused by data reporting practices