Science science

US scientists try 1st gene editing in the body.

US scientists try 1st gene editing in the body.

Very exciting news, I wish him the best of luck! The article doesn’t explain why the zinc finger method was used over CRISPR, any ideas?

I wonder if the anti-GMO movement will spill over here as well. Humans as GMOs must be the devil in their eyes.

Zinc finger as a much more (read: decades) established technology, so it's likely to do with the prior phases of testing this particular intervention has had the chance to go through.

Clinical phases.

The concept that everything we create/alter is artificial is very much a human one, and not objective on a greater scale. From a philosophical, universal point of view everything that we do/alter/create is as valid a part of the progression observed in the phenomena called life as a natural mutation. We, and everything we do, is still very much a part of the overall "nature" on Earth :).

15,000 scientists give catastrophic warning about the fate of the world in new ‘letter to humanity’: 'Time is running out'

15,000 scientists give catastrophic warning about the fate of the world in new ‘letter to humanity’: 'Time is running out'
15,000 scientists give catastrophic warning about the fate of the world in new ‘letter to humanit...

No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood.

Probably going to get downvoted for being pessimistic, but here goes. Realistically people don't act en mass until it is directly in their face, impacting their daily living. I like the ideas people in this thread have proposed and try to be environmentally conscious.. However deep down I think things are going to have to get pretty bad before we start seeing big change. I hope I'm proven wrong

so here's my question - I totally get the problem, but what can I do to help? I try to do my part by recycling, being energy-conscious, and not littering.

At this point I think the scientists could say an asteroid will hit in a few years unless we do something and there will still be nothing but government foot dragging.

Human Mini-Brains Growing Inside Rat Bodies Are Starting to Integrate

Human Mini-Brains Growing Inside Rat Bodies Are Starting to Integrate

The most advanced of these human brain organoids — no bigger than a lentil and, until now, existing only in test tubes — pulse with the kind of electrical activity that animates actual brains.

Question - how does that first 'spark' of electrical activity actually kick off?

There are two kinds of movies: Good ones that uses real science and leaves the audience asking questions, and those that try to tie up all the loose ends with bad science so Debrah doesn't talk during the movie.

Shut the fuck up, Debrah. You should have paid attention in school.

It was meant to be that the Machines were harnessing Human's for their brain's processing power, it was ruled to be too complex for the audience and so they went with the battery idea.

No. That's honestly the most unrealistic part of the whole film. The energetics don't add up in the slightest

Atheists are more intelligent than religious people, say researchers

Atheists are more intelligent than religious people, say researchers

Self congratulatory papers like this should always be taken with a grain of salt. I was only able to look at the abstract, but they do not list an effect size. They list a mean correlation of -0.24, which is probably significant, but not listing an effect size is a red flag. Without the effect size, we could be looking at two populations that are practically the same intelligence. With the sample sizes listed, there could be a 0.5 point difference between the mean devout religious person an the mean staunch atheist, and you could see these results.

Who knew there was a downside to refusing to engage in critical thinking?

No it isn't. Correlation is a measure of the strength of association, and says nothing about the slope of the line. You can have the same correlation whether there is a 50 point difference in IQ between groups or a 0.5 point difference.

Atheist here, and I too find headlines like these a little off-putting. It's very insulting to my obviously superior intelligence :-p

Seriously, though, too many variables- what's meant by "intelligence"? All my religious relatives have masters degrees, and I don't. Seems to be the opposite of what a lot of the polls and studies find.

Atheists and agnostics are more reflective than religious believers, according to a meta-analysis of over 30 studies and 15,000 participants.

Atheists and agnostics are more reflective than religious believers, according to a meta-analysis of over 30 studies and 15,000 participants.
Atheists and agnostics are more reflective than religious believers, according to a meta-analysis...

Until recently, I'd say that most atheists and agnostics defected from a religion they were born into. That itself implies a certain degree of deep thought that someone who never questioned their faith might not have experienced. Of course this is not true for all cases by any means.

Abstract

Individual differences in the mere willingness to think analytically has been shown to predict religious disbelief. Recently, however, it has been argued that analytic thinkers are not actually less religious; rather, the putative association may be a result of religiosity typically being measured after analytic thinking (an order effect). In light of this possibility, we report four studies in which a negative correlation between religious belief and performance on analytic thinking measures is found when religious belief is measured in a separate session. We also performed a meta-analysis on all previously published studies on the topic along with our four new studies (N = 15,078, k = 31), focusing specifically on the association between performance on the Cognitive Reflection Test (the most widely used individual difference measure of analytic thinking) and religious belief. This meta-analysis revealed an overall negative correlation (r) of -.18, 95% CI [-.21, -.16]. Although this correlation is modest, self-identified atheists (N = 133) scored 18.7% higher than religiously affiliated individuals (N = 597) on a composite measure of analytic thinking administered across our four new studies (d = .72). Our results indicate that the association between analytic thinking and religious disbelief is not caused by a simple order effect. There is good evidence that atheists and agnostics are more reflective than religious believers.

Isn't this built into the definition of faith, accepting something is the way it is without proof or reflection on it?

So, that would predict a positive correlation between analytic thought and religiosity in people raised by openly atheist parents?

Science AMA Series: I’m UCLA Prof. Tim O’Sullivan, I Investigate how the immune system reacts to Cancer, Viral Infection, and Obesity. Ask Me Almost Anything!

Science AMA Series: I’m UCLA Prof. Tim O’Sullivan, I Investigate how the immune system reacts to Cancer, Viral Infection, and Obesity. Ask Me Almost Anything!

Hi Reddit,

The mammalian immune system is fascinatingly complex. Our understanding of how the immune system recognizes and responds to foreign pathogens has increased tremendously in the last 100 years, however, we still have a great deal to discover. This point is highlighted by the recent discovery of a heterogenous family of tissue-resident lymphocytes (white blood cells) called innate lymphocytes (ILCs), which have been reported to regulate fundamental processes such as host metabolism, wound healing, and host defense. Given the importance of ILCs in these processes, my research focuses on the molecular and cellular signals that activate and sustain certain types of ILCs (Group 1 ILCs) in specific contexts. Understanding these mechanisms could have implications for the treatment of cancer, viral infection, and type II diabetes.

While research from the past few decades has revealed that the immune system bridges virtually all physiological systems as a central regulator of host homeostasis, the general public (as well as scientists in other fields) only have vague ideas about immune function. Specialized jargon rampant in the field represents a barrier for the understanding of important advances in immunology, and for public consensus on its translation to the clinic (e.g. vaccination). Therefore, Immunologists need to make their work more accessible by presenting it in public forums and communicating their studies in a clear manner to try and eliminate these barriers. I think that Reddit AMAs present an excellent opportunity to highlight exciting findings in Immunology, and demystify academic science through informed discussion!

I am happy to answer questions about the immune system, innate lymphocytes, and the implications for tissue-resident immunity in health and disease. I’m also happy to answer any questions about our most recent work http://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(17)31183-2.

Edit 1: Hi all! I'll start answering questions at 3pm ET!!

Edit 2: Thanks again everyone for your excellent questions! Hopefully I have satisfactorily answered them. I'm signing off for now, but if you have further questions you can contact me through www.osullivanlab.com

Hi Tim, and thank you for doing this AMA.

T-lymphocytes have received the lion's share of attention in terms of cancer immunity. I am always curious to hear people's perspectives on why this is - do you think they truly do the most when it comes to mediating anti-tumor responses, or do we just happen to have better tools and systems for studying and modulating these responses? We know that B-lymphocytes and ILCs all play roles in autoimmunity (hyperactivity), so I would be surprised if there was not a bigger role for them in cancer immunity (loss of activity).

Could this at all be related to your handle? ;)

In all seriousness though, atopic dermatitis is associated with hyperactivation of type 2 immunity through the production of IL-4, IL-13 and IgGE. I believe there are some good clinical trials for neutralizing antibodies against IL-13 and IL-4 that you may want to look into! This is called dupilumab clinically (not sure what it is referred to by marketing). Ask your doctor!

Thanks for your comment!

I think the trouble with flu vaccines are that we can only try to predict which serotype will pop up in any given season. So while we can get it right, the heterogeneity of flu serotypes allows for more flu variants to infect people that have been vaccinated against a different serotype .

Disclaimer: Please get vaccinated though! Just because the flu vaccine doesn't always work does not prove that vaccines for polio and measles are not completely effective!

No problem! I think the reason that T cells get the most "press" so to speak is that previously and currently more immunologists tend to study T cell responses. Because of this early bias, the tools and literature for interrogating T cell responses were much more developed than in other cell types. In terms of the T cell bias in cancer immunotherapy, this is because of the success of checkpoint blockade therapy activating "exhausted" T cells in the tumor microenvironment as well as deletion of regulatory T cells that inhibit antitumor responses (but I wouldn't be surprised if other innate immune cell types are also impacted by the this therapy, and I've seen data that suggest exactly this point). You only know the role of each cell if you investigate it, and most researchers seem to be satisfied with looking at the role of T cells rather than interrogating ALL lymphocytes at once.

Having said that, I think that it is undeniable that T cell responses are crucial for antitumor responses when mutated antigens are present on tumor cells. However, when tumor cells mutate and lose MHCI expression (the ability to present mutated antigen), then T cell responses will not matter because they can't become activated. Luckily, natural killer (NK) cells recognize downregulated MHCI molecules to kill cancer cells in a process called "missing self recognition", but tumors can also evade NK cell responses in processes which we are only beginning to investigate.

All in all, your question is a very interesting one for the field of immunology. Now that we have the ability to collect more immunophenotypic parameters through mutlicolor flow cytometry, Cytof, and single-cell RNA sequencing, why aren't immunologists interrogating these questions from a more non-biased perspective?

BBC News: Fossil of 'our earliest ancestors' found in Dorset

BBC News: Fossil of 'our earliest ancestors' found in Dorset
BBC News: Fossil of 'our earliest ancestors' found in Dorset

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a couple of shrew-like things

Is... there not a more technical term for them?

The stereotype of a tortured genius may have a basis in reality after a new study found that people with higher IQs are more at risk of developing mental illness.

The stereotype of a tortured genius may have a basis in reality after a new study found that people with higher IQs are more at risk of developing mental illness.
The stereotype of a tortured genius may have a basis in reality after a new study found that peop...

I’d be curious to see a study that examined mental illness in personality type. My initial hunch is that mental illness becomes more likely as you stray away from the cohesion of social validation and peer groups. Intelligence may be correlated with mental disorder, but more broadly I’d put my money on the cause being uniqueness in general.

Edit: an important word

Nah, it’s probably a physiological thing, like mental illness pretty much always is.

Mental illness is physical, not just a product of social influences.

Title seems wrong. The article seems to be about creativity and doesn't mention IQ or intelligence. The new study that seems to have inspired the article states:

The ancient issue of genius and madness has prompted long-standing public and clinical interest. Although geniality has other components than creativity (e.g., intelligence) and is rooted ina social context, it is difficult to imagine an un-creative genius (Eysenck, 1995).

You see a lot of mental illness in programmers and IT.

Of the 15 peers I work with on a regular basis, 6 have some degree of depression or anxiety and 4 are afflicted with some other disorder (there is overlap between the groups).

Harvard study shows how intermittent fasting and manipulating mitochondrial networks may increase lifespan

Harvard study shows how intermittent fasting and manipulating mitochondrial networks may increase...

I study mitochondrial Dynamics and mitophagy/autophagy/metabolism.

Here's the deal: all this stuff is important for mitochondria to "take out the trash." Starvation and caloric restriction increase mitophagy and autophagy in such a way that the cell breaks down its damaged components first. I'm writing my dissertation right now on how mitochondrial fusion is important not only for this stuff, but also proper insulin secretion from your pancreas.

Also, the article is wrong, fused mitochondria are not "youthful" but they may be generally associated with younger nematodes. Human mitochondria change their shape all the time, with obese people having more fragmented mitochondria and starving people having more fused ones.

Consequently, fused mitochondria convert fuel (sugar, fat, protein) into energy (ATP) MUCH more efficiently than fragmented mitochondria.

Editing for some common questions:

Here's an open access article from my lab for more info on why mitochondrial Dynamics matter:

http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(13)00104-6?_returnURL=http%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS1550413113001046%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

If that link won't work, use this and click thru to the open access:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23562075

Yes, my PhD has changed my diet. I started out weighing 300 lb and now weigh 230. I have some more to lose, but I'm still working on it. I fast from 10p to 11a every day, drinking water and occasionally coffee during that period. I'm not sure if it actually contributed to my weight loss because I've changed a lot of my lifestyle. But i feel better than when i eat in the morning so i stick with it.

I want to caution everyone against anecdotal evidence (which is what personal experience is) because humans are so incredibly diverse genetically and metabolically.

EDIT 2: thanks for gold!

Apologies, I am not knowledgeable enough on the fasting literature to properly answer many of the questions about "am i fasting right?" I study mitochondria on a very basic level and rarely think about the entire organism in a fasting context like everyone is asking. I'd say take this info to your doctor and discuss, or better yet, a certified nuritionist.

EDIT: even though my caveat that whole organism nutrition isn't my particular field of study, everyone is jumping on me for saying certified nutritionist. Apparently the appropriate clinical term is registered dietitian.

I'm a bench scientist, not a clinician, cut me a little slack, I'm still trying to answer some questions.

Shown in a nematode C.elegans... not humans... not even mammals... cool though

There are two sources of fuel storage in your body, 'sugar' and 'fat'. The 'sugar storage' is quite small, less than about 2-3 days worth of fuel. But it is really easy for your body to store it that way and very easy to access it when it needs more energy. In contrast, your 'fat storage' take more work to store, and access, but it is effectively infinite.

When you eat, your body sends out a message to all of your cells with a chemical called insulin. This message says 'store sugar'. As you digest the food you ate, the energy in that food gets shuttled through your blood to all of the cells in your body. Those cells that have responded to the 'store sugar' message will take up the 'sugar' and store it inside themselves. Your muscles and liver are particularly responsive to the 'store sugar' message because they have special storage mechanism to handle more 'sugar' than most cells.

As all of your cells become full of 'sugar' they will begin to stop listening to the 'store sugar' message. But we can't have too much 'sugar' in the blood because it is sticky and will cause problems. so we need to deal with that. So we have fat cells that are also listening to that 'store sugar' message and they will take that 'sugar' in the blood and convert it into fat and store it inside themselves.

However, if you overconsume food, you run the risk of overfilling the 'sugar storage'. Which means you are always storing fat and getting bigger and bigger. And even the fat cells can become unresponsive to the 'store sugar' message. This is called insulin resistance. And if gets bad enough, we call that type 2 diabetes. Nearly 40% of the US population has some form of diabetes for this very reason.

As I said before 'sugar storage' is very easy to access, but it is small. For extended periods without enough to eat, it will be depleted in as little as a day. Out body has to go to it's backup 'fat storage' to make up the difference. (There actually another process here, many actually, but we will ignore it.) The problem is that the process is not instantaneous. That 'store sugar' message actually has a dual role. Whenever the 'store sugar' message is present, your body can not access it's 'fat storage'. You need an extended period of very few 'store sugar' messages before your fat cells will start releasing the energy stored inside. This process takes a while.

This is where fasting comes into play. If you limit the window of time that you allow yourself eat, you are limiting the amount of time over which your cells is getting 'store sugar' messages. Thus your body has more ready access to fat because the messages are low. Combined with a calorie deficit, your 'sugar storage' levels will become very low meaning more of your energy must come from fat storage.

Everyone has a fast every day. From the time you go to bed until they first meal of your day, that is a fast. That is why it is called breakfast...'break'...'fast'. Intermittent fasting can take many different forms. But it is all about reducing the frequency (time axis) of your diet. A typical intermittent fast is from like evening (8PM) until noon the next day (12PM). This is 16 hours without eating compare to the more usual 8-12 hours. Other types might eat one day and then fast the next.

There's also some other things going on with insulin. It doesn't just mean 'store sugar'. It is also means 'grow'. and you body has two major states in this regard. 'grow' and 'not grow'. And 'not grow' is a sort of synonym in your body for 'repair'. So any time your body is receiving the 'grow' message, it is just building like crazy. And only when the 'grow' ('store sugar') messages dies down do the repair processes ramp up. So intermittent fasting, because it reduces the number of grow messages, can increase the rate of 'repair' in the body. And in a bit more handwavey speculation, this is also thought to be why the natural inclination of the sick or injured is to not eat (fast). It could be that this commonly observed natural appetite suppression is an adaptation to optimize for 'repair' mode.

I glossed over quite a bit, but I hope that helps.

Yes, but eukaryotes of all species tend to have remarkable similarities at the cellular level. The biochemistry of cell metabolism is largely conserved across multicellular organisms

A study has found that taking just a few moments each day to notice how things in nature make you feel will render you happier and improve your overall well-being. Previous studies have found that individuals who live in areas with more green spaces benefit from improved mental health

A study has found that taking just a few moments each day to notice how things in nature make you feel will render you happier and improve your overall well-being. Previous studies have found that individuals who live in areas with more green spaces benefit from improved mental health
A study has found that taking just a few moments each day to notice how things in nature make you...

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” -John Muir

Tldr Stop and smell the roses

Moved from the ghetto to a nice friendly neighborhood surrounded by trees, grass, and flowers. Can guarantee it's lifted my mood.

Get a bird feeder and put it somewhere you can see it.

Try one of these subthreads