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The Misuse of Meta-Analysis?

Posted: March 24, 2017, 10:33 pm |
Over at Data Colada, Uri Simonsohn argues that The Funnel Plot is Invalid.

Funnel plots are a form of scatter diagram which are widely used to visualize possible publication bias in the context of a meta-analysis. In a funnel plot, each data point represents one of the studies in the meta-analysis. The x-axis shows the effect size reported by the study, while the y-axis represents the standard error of the effect size, which is usually inversely related to the sample size.

In theory, t

An Incidental Diagnosis

Posted: March 24, 2017, 10:25 pm |
Today is World TB Day, commemorating Dr. Robert Koch’s groundbreaking 1882 discovery of the organism that causes tuberculosis. At the announcement of his research to the public, he declared, “If the importance of a disease for mankind is measured by the number of fatalities it causes, then tuberculosis must be considered much more important than those most feared infectious diseases, plague, cholera and the like.” Thirteen years later he would be awarded the Noble Prize for his discovery.

World’s Tiniest Race Cars Will Cover 100 Nanometers in 36 Hours

Posted: March 24, 2017, 9:25 pm |
Four racing teams from around the world will gather in France this spring to compete for a first-of-its-kind title.

Their vehicles will “inch” to the starting line and explode into motion to kick off a marathon 36-hour race that will have covered less than the width of a human hair by the time a victor is crowned. The vehicles participating in the race are custom-built tuners assembled out of a few hundred atoms by researchers, which are propelled across the surface of a gold disk by a st

‘Logan’ Is a Western Wandering the Sci-Fi Frontier

Posted: March 24, 2017, 5:13 pm |
The X-Men films have consistently shown their mutant superheroes as powerful but misunderstood outcasts living in the shadows. One of the loneliest and angriest of them all has been Wolverine: the seemingly ageless mutant played by Hugh Jackman whose superhuman healing powers and retractable metal claws enable him to literally tear through squads of gun-toting enemies. But the third and last film of the standalone Wolverine trilogy, titled “Logan” in a nod to the mutant’s other nickname, fin

Random Chance: A Primary Driver of Cancer Mutations?

Posted: March 23, 2017, 6:22 pm |
Whether we like to or not, we’re all gamblers.

Every waking moment, countless stem cells inside our bodies are dividing in order to replace worn out biological machinery. But every time these perfectly healthy cells divide, roughly three mistakes occur in the genetic code—no one’s perfect. These mutations, though unpredictable, are typically benign, but sometimes this molecular game of Roulette takes an unlucky turn.

“Most of the time these mutations don’t do any harm; they’re in junk

The Slow Life Movement: A Microbial Perspective of the Subsurface Biosphere

Posted: March 23, 2017, 4:59 pm |
On the seafloor, “marine snow” is constantly falling. Bits of dead plankton, decaying fecal material, biological remnants from shore – it all finds its way to the bottom of the ocean, delivering needed sources of organic molecules and energy to the microbial communities lying in wait.

Over time, this snow – along with sediment mineral grains – accumulates, burying previous layers. In Denmark’s Aarhus Bay, for example, digging ten meters down beneath the seafloor is like going 8,700 years

Convincing Cells to Die Could Make Us Stronger

Posted: March 23, 2017, 4:00 pm |
The majority of our cells die noble deaths; they cease to be once they’re damaged beyond repair. However, some ragged cells refuse to turn out the lights, and that’s where the trouble begins.

These stubborn, damaged cells can accumulate in the body over time, and they can accelerate the aging process and cause the onset of disease. But there might be a way to put these lingerers out of their misery. Peter de Keizer, a researcher of aging at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherl

Wastewater and Beer Make a Fine Pairing

Posted: March 22, 2017, 7:35 pm |
In the water cycle, what comes out of us eventually goes back in. Along the way, we can make it something better.

That’s the idea behind a new beer from San Diego’s Stone Brewery made from the city’s recycled wastewater. Their aptly named Full Circle Pale Ale uses water from Pure Water San Diego, a water treatment company that aims to supply one-third of the city’s water within the next two decades. They’ve partnered with the brewery to give the much-maligned concept of “toilet to tap” a

WHAT?! A Massive Dinosaur Family Tree Rewrite

Posted: March 22, 2017, 6:00 pm |
Ask any obsessive dino-phile above kindergarten age to explain the dinosaur family tree and it’s likely the first thing you’ll hear is that all dinosaur species fall into one of two groups. It’s a core concept upon which our entire understanding of dinosaurs is built. But according to a new study, we got that most fundamental aspect of dinosaur evolution completely wrong. Oops.

For more than a century, the dinosaur family tree was understood as having a very early split into two branches:

Climate change in 2016 — and continuing into 2017 — has brought the planet into “truly uncharted territory”

Posted: March 22, 2017, 3:37 pm |
A new report confirms that last year brought record global temperatures, exceptionally low sea ice, and unabated sea level rise

Yesterday I reported that even though the warming influence of El Niño is long gone, February of 2017 brought very little letup in global warming.

SEE ALSO: As the Trump administration proposes to gut climate change funding, the climate continues to change

Now, the World Meteorological Organization is confirming that 2016’s “extreme weather and climate condit

Dubai Officials Enlist RoboCops for Street Patrols

Posted: March 21, 2017, 7:10 pm |
Some of the world’s first robotic police officers will reportedly hit the streets of Dubai in May.

Brigadier Abdullah Bin Sultan, director of the Future Shaping Centre of Dubai Police, made the announcement Monday during a police forum held in the city. By 2030, Dubai officials hope that up to 25 percent of their police force will be artificially intelligent. This, from the same crime-fighting organization that has Lamborghini, Ferrari and Bentley patrol cars parked in its garage. 
Your

As the Trump administration proposes to gut climate change funding, the climate continues to change

Posted: March 21, 2017, 6:46 pm |
Last month brought scant relief from global warming, and there’s a chance that 2017 could turn out to be the warmest year on record

Even though the warming influence of El Niño is long gone, and 2017 was expected to offer some relief from record temperatures set last year, February saw very little letup in global warming.

And now there’s at least a chance that 2017 as a whole could be headed for the record books.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is moving aggressively to halt U.S.

Soaking in a Hot Bath Yields Benefits Similar to Exercise

Posted: March 21, 2017, 4:17 pm |
Many cultures swear by the benefits of a hot bath. But only recently has science began to understand how passive heating (as opposed to getting hot and sweaty from exercise) improves health.

At Loughborough University we investigated the effect of a hot bath on blood sugar control (an important measure of metabolic fitness) and on energy expended (number of calories burned). We recruited 14 men to take part in the study. They were assigned to an hour-long soak in a hot bath (40˚C) or an

Could Life’s Earliest Stages Have Survived Without a Key Ingredient?

Posted: March 21, 2017, 10:25 am |
“CHNOPS” is one of science’s most revered acronyms, an amalgamation of letters that rolls of the tongues of high school biology students and practicing researchers alike. It accounts for the six elements that comprise most biological molecules: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and sulfur.

Biologists have traditionally assumed that all six elements were prerequisites, as each one is found in several of life’s most essential molecules. But what if earlier life forms weren’t

You Can Become a Memory Champion, Too

Posted: March 20, 2017, 8:23 pm |
Need to memorize a series of numbers? Try this: Imagine yourself walking through a house while locking visualizations of a “12” or “78” into different rooms and cabinets located throughout the house.

You’ve just used the “method of loci,” which is a fundamental memorization technique that dates back to ancient Greece and is employed by champion memory athletes. Radboud University Medical Center neuroscientist Martin Dresler, lead author of a study recently published in the journal Neuron,

Unethical “Stem Cell” Therapy for Autism In India?

Posted: March 17, 2017, 9:29 pm |
I just read a concerning paper about an experimental stem cell treatment for children with autism.

The authors are Himanshu Bansal and colleagues of India. The senior author, Prasad S Koka, is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Stem Cells where the paper appeared, which raises questions about whether the manuscript received a thorough peer review. Koka is actually an author on all five of the research papers published in that issue of the journal. But that’s a minor issue compared

Weapons Physicist Posts Declassified Nuclear Test Videos to YouTube

Posted: March 16, 2017, 7:44 pm |
A trove of footage from early U.S. nuclear weapons tests has just been declassified and uploaded to YouTube.

The film release was part of a project headed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) weapons physicist Greg Spriggs which aimed to digitize and preserve thousands of films documenting the nation’s nuclear history. The endeavor required an all-hands-on deck approach from archivists, film experts and software engineers, but the team says that this digitized database is alre

Earth’s Original Crust Still Hanging Around

Posted: March 16, 2017, 6:00 pm |
Researchers who want to study the nature of Earth’s original crust find themselves between a rock and a hard place: Our planet’s top layer is constantly wearing down in one spot and building up in another, continents colliding or slip-sliding past each other in the great mosh pit of plate tectonics. You might have figured none of the early crust was even still around. New research shows you would have figured wrong.

Today in Science, researchers announced they’d found bits of Earth’s orig

We Deserve At Least Half the Blame for Declining Arctic Sea Ice

Posted: March 16, 2017, 12:00 pm |
Natural variability in atmospheric conditions could account for as much as half of the recent decline in Arctic sea ice, according to a new study.

While the masses of ice that float atop the planet have been in steady decline over the past few decades, scientists haven’t been able to say how much of the losses are attributable to human-driven climate change and how much is simply the result of periodic swings in climate conditions. While the scientific consensus is that human activities h

The Secret Life of Fat

Posted: February 6, 2017, 12:00 pm |
Changes in our DNA can determine much more than the battle of thick versus thin.