Latest / page 3

What we're talking about Friday, July 28, 2017

Standing Tall for Vaccines

I recently finished a 2-year stint as an American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer. It’s an excellent program–ASM pays all travel expenses for lecturers, who speak at ASM Branch meetings throughout the country. I was able to attend Branch meetings from California and Washington in the West, to Massachusetts in the east, and south as…

Whenever vaccine uptake falls to a level below that needed to maintain herd immunity, the risk of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases climbs. It doesn’t take that dramatic of a decline. Here’s a study that shows how a small decrease in vaccine uptake can lead to a large increase in disease.

Right now, Europe is in the middle of a massive measles outbreak that has resulted in 35 deaths. Is Europe a harbinger of things to come in the US?

"Who fears or rejects vaccines, why do they do so, and how might we reach them to change their minds?" On Aetiology, Tara C. Smith answers these questions with a new paper written as a primer for those who want to stand up for vaccination. She writes, "for many individuals on the vaccine-hesitant spectrum, it’s not only about misinformation, but also about group identity, previous experience with the health care field, and much more." The stakes of the vaccine debate are high. On Respectful Insolence, a mathematical model from Stanford shows that slight dips in uptake of the MMR vaccine would cause the number of measles cases in the U.S. to balloon. Meanwhile, in Europe, measles has killed dozens of people in the last year amidst thousands of cases that could have been prevented with a shot (or sufficient herd immunity). Orac blames Europe's problems squarely on Andrew Wakefield, and as for the bubbling tensions in the U.S., Orac says "antivaxers have figured out how to weaponize their views by coupling them to right wing rhetoric about 'freedom.'"

Channel Surfing

Life Science

Researchers at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative at Scripps Research Institute have discovered that cows can produce antibodies that effectively neutralize HIV. Thus far, developing an effective vaccine for HIV has been hampered by the ability of the virus to mutate. Some people who have been infected with the virus for a period of years develop antibodies that are…

Dr. Michael Tobler and Dr. Zach Culumber at Kansas State University examined 112 species of live-bearing fish (Poeciliidae) and have made some interesting discoveries about their evolution. Their analyses included information on body shape, fin size, where the species are found and information on global climate. What they discovered is that the evolution of female fish is…

The mitral valve is located between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart where it serves an important role in preventing backflow of blood into the left atrium as the ventricle contracts. Mitral valve prolapse, a condition that occurs in humans, is characterized by regurgitation of blood into the left atrium, which receives blood from the lungs.…

Physical Science

“…and the Sun has perished out of heaven, and an evil mist hovers over all.” -Homer’s Odyssey The great american eclipse is coming, and you’re in luck! This astronomical sight is unlike anything else that occurs on Earth (or any rocky planet in the Solar System), and there are three incredible stories that it teaches…

“Climate change does not respect border; it does not respect who you are – rich and poor, small and big. Therefore, this is what we call ‘global challenges,’ which require global solidarity.” -Ban Ki-moon Earlier this week, the executive editor of the Heartland Institute published a declaration that he was a climate change skeptic, and…

“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson The enterprise of science is one of the most misunderstood in all of society. Some view it as its own religion; others view it as a political ideology gussied up in smart-sounding clothes; still others view it…

Environment

On Class M, James Hrynyshyn shows us how climate change will benefit the economies of some U.S. counties while damaging many others. This mostly has to do with location; coastal areas and southern latitudes are more threatened, with Florida poised to suffer worst of all. James writes, “we’re not just talking about polar bears anymore.…

His “tooth fairy” research with school teachers led to decades of instrumental research on the relationship between lead exposure and intellectual impairment, school performance, and behavior disorders.

Is a familiar concept but also a page-turning pot-boiler by Thomas “just call me Tom” Bingham, which I’m in the middle of reading1. And there is much to be said upon the subject, including the need for clarity; but my attention was drawn to two clauses in his “history of” section, where he includes the…

Humanities

The feds grant billions in contracts to shipbuilders with serious worker safety lapses; Texas lawmakers want to undo an Austin initiative that protects construction workers; Chevron agrees to highest fine in Cal/OSHA history after refinery fire; and Democrats hope to ban a dangerous pesticide after EPA fails to act.

Donald Trump has consulted with his generals and military experts … After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…… — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017 and declared that Transgender individuals will not be allowed to serve in the US Military…

With the future of the Affordable Care Act still up in the air, most of the news coverage has gone to insurance coverage, premiums and Medicaid. And rightly so. But also included in the massive health reform law were a number of innovative measures to improve the quality and value of the medical care we actually get in the doctor’s office. With repeal still on the table, those measures are at risk too.

Education

Researchers at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative at Scripps Research Institute have discovered that cows can produce antibodies that effectively neutralize HIV. Thus far, developing an effective vaccine for HIV has been hampered by the ability of the virus to mutate. Some people who have been infected with the virus for a period of years develop antibodies that are…

Dr. Michael Tobler and Dr. Zach Culumber at Kansas State University examined 112 species of live-bearing fish (Poeciliidae) and have made some interesting discoveries about their evolution. Their analyses included information on body shape, fin size, where the species are found and information on global climate. What they discovered is that the evolution of female fish is…

  Preeclampsia is a serious complication that develops in about 5-8% of pregnant women. It is characterized by elevated blood pressure and is typically accompanied by excess protein in the urine (a sign of kidney problems). Symptoms often (but not always) return to normal after delivery of the baby. Elabela is a recently discovered micropeptide secreted by the placenta in…

Politics

The feds grant billions in contracts to shipbuilders with serious worker safety lapses; Texas lawmakers want to undo an Austin initiative that protects construction workers; Chevron agrees to highest fine in Cal/OSHA history after refinery fire; and Democrats hope to ban a dangerous pesticide after EPA fails to act.

If you give your children over to the Boy Scouts for a day or two, they may do something to them akin to abuse. This happened. The Boy Scouts knew what they were getting into when they invited Donald Trump to speak at their national event. They even posted warnings for the troop leaders and…

With so many threats to public health arising each month, it can be hard to catch all of them. The Union of Concerned Scientists has performed a tremendous service by producing the report Sidelining Science from Day One: How the Trump Administration Has Harmed Public Health and Safety in Its First Six Months.

Medicine

I recently finished a 2-year stint as an American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer. It’s an excellent program–ASM pays all travel expenses for lecturers, who speak at ASM Branch meetings throughout the country. I was able to attend Branch meetings from California and Washington in the West, to Massachusetts in the east, and south as…

Whenever vaccine uptake falls to a level below that needed to maintain herd immunity, the risk of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases climbs. It doesn’t take that dramatic of a decline. Here’s a study that shows how a small decrease in vaccine uptake can lead to a large increase in disease.

His “tooth fairy” research with school teachers led to decades of instrumental research on the relationship between lead exposure and intellectual impairment, school performance, and behavior disorders.

Brain & Behavior

Remarks about safety for cyclists at the Tour de France have a familiar ring to those about workplace safety.

Most of us have heard the phrase: Laughter is contagious. When we hear other people laughing, we often smile even if we have no idea why they are laughing. Dr. Sophie Scott from the University College of London and her colleagues played both positive sounds (like laughter) and negative sounds (like retching or screaming) to subjects and…

While lavender aromatherapy has been documented to reduce stress in humans, little is known about its potential for reducing stress in veterinary medicine. Horses can develop elevated heart rates and stress hormone levels when they are confined to horse trailers and transported to new competition venues. Therapies to reduce stress in competition horses are regulated…

Technology

First, a word about Arduino and why you should care. An Arduino is what is called a “prototyping micro-controller” aka “really fun electronic gizmo toy.” Micro-controllers are everywhere. When you “turn on” a machine in your house, chances are there was already a micro-controller sitting there, running on a minute bit of juice from a…

I got an Amazon Echo Dot for my birthday. This allows me to command a computer, using voice, to do things. The voice response on the echo is amazing. It does not get much wrong, and you can speak in a fairly normal voice from another room and the mysterious entity that apparently lives inside…

Anyone asked to identify the two biggest forces for change in the world today could do worse than choose artificial intelligence and climate change. Both are products of technology whose effects are only beginning to be felt, and the ultimate consequences of both will almost certainly be transformative in every sense of the word. Other than that, there…

Information Science

At the moment, all these are anywhere from free to two bucks. The Darwin books are always cheap, the others are probably temporarily cheap. If you’ve not read The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, you should. It is always avaialable for next to nothing on the kindle, currently this version is 99 cents. Concerning his autobiography–written…

I’m avoiding books that are recent so you can get a deal on price, and to bring books from the past that you didn’t read but should have back into focus. Each of these, I’ve either read (most of them) or have a recommendation from top notch sources. You should be able to finish then…

Today is the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Harry Potter phenomenon.Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published on this day in 1997, and Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix,…

Jobs

The feds grant billions in contracts to shipbuilders with serious worker safety lapses; Texas lawmakers want to undo an Austin initiative that protects construction workers; Chevron agrees to highest fine in Cal/OSHA history after refinery fire; and Democrats hope to ban a dangerous pesticide after EPA fails to act.

Business lobbyists in California claim proposed worker safety rules for heat illness prevention are on too fast a track. They might think differently if they set up their desk in a warehouse or laundry without air conditioning.

Two global unions, four labor rights organizations and 23 apparel brands and retailers agreed in late June to extend the ground-breaking Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety that has led to safer working conditions for 4 million garment workers. The legally-binding agreement came about following the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse that killed 1,138 workers in Dhaka.