science

Physicist Stephen Hawking dies aged 76

Physicist Stephen Hawking dies aged 76

We regret to hear that Stephen Hawking died tonight at the age of 76

We are creating a megathread for discussion of this topic here. The typical /sub/science comment rules will not apply and we will allow mature, open discussion. This post may be updated as we are able.

A few relevant links:

Stephen Hawking's AMA on /sub/science

BBC's Obituary for Stephen Hawking

If you would like to make a donation in his memory, the Stephen Hawking Foundation has the Dignity Campaign to help buy adapted wheelchair equipment for people suffering from motor neuron diseases. You could also consider donating to the ALS Association to support research into finding a cure for ALS and to provide support to ALS patients.

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.” RIP

A sad day for scientists and science enthusiasts around the world. He was instrumental in inspiring so many with a love for science. Even as someone in a totally unrelated field, Hawking was one of the people that made me excited about science as a kid. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Rest in peace.

“We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful.” - Stephen Hawking

Rest In Peace to a man who in 1962 was only expected to live two more years. Thank you for giving me someone to look up to as a lost child and sharing your genius with the world.

“I wouldn’t compare it to sex, but it lasts longer,” - Stephen Hawking on the eureka moment of scientific discovery.

People with depression use language differently

People with depression use language differently

From the outset, we predicted that those with depression will have a more black and white view of the world, and that this would manifest in their style of language. Compared to 19 different control forums (for example, Mumsnet and StudentRoom), the prevalence of absolutist words is approximately 50% greater in anxiety and depression forums, and approximately 80% greater for suicidal ideation forums.

Perhaps a quick linguistic analysis of /sub/depression could corroborate these findings?

It’s easy to argue that the treatment isn’t exactly random.

You’d also have to demonstrate that a (self diagnosis) using the sub is a good instrument for true clinical depression.

Isn't it possible that it's just talking about depression lends itself to black and white language? Like when someone is talking about depression, they might say "It feels like everything is terrible," and now they're in the "absolutist language" category. But it doesn't show that people with depression use that kind of language when they're talking about other things, which would be much more interesting

Wow, using machine learning to identify mental health issues. A) Cool B) I can think of a few ways this could be abused.

Scientists conclude 13,000 years ago a 60 mile wide comet plunged Earth into a mini-Ice Age, after examining rocks from 170 sites around the globe

Scientists conclude 13,000 years ago a 60 mile wide comet plunged Earth into a mini-Ice Age, afte...

The title is a little misleading.

It wasn't a 60 mile wide comet, it was the fragments and remnants of an old comet that was originally that size. Younger Dryas has long been suspected to be due to a meteor impact event. The story here is it appears to be multiple small to medium impacts. Old hypothesis had been centered around an (Ontario) Great Lakes region single impactor.

The Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T) extinction event, that ended the dinosaurs, was between 6 and 9 miles wide. It wiped out 70 percent of life on earth, created 300 foot tall tsunamis, and left a 112 mile wide crater. So yeah, an impact 10 times that size would be bad.

Glad to know this. I would think a 60 mile wide comet hitting the earth would turn the whole planet into seething magma, again.

It wouldn't be 10 times it's mass though assuming same density. It would be about 100 times it's mass and 100 times the energy assuming the same speed.

Edit 1: Everyone here saying it's a 1000 times the energy is right. I should drop out of engineering and major in music and weed...

Edit 2: Ok I guess I was right if it was made of ice. However, the method was wrong and that's what counts :(

How Bill Gates aims to clean up the planet, It’s a simple idea: strip CO2 from the air and use it to produce carbon-neutral fuel.

How Bill Gates aims to clean up the planet, It’s a simple idea: strip CO2 from the air and use it...
How Bill Gates aims to clean up the planet, It’s a simple idea: strip CO2 from the air and use it...

How are they planning to strip the C from the O₂? Isn’t it very energy intensive? The leaves of plants are doing just that and look how much surface area/sunlight/power they need.

We require a modicum of it to maintain our blood PH levels, as well as it helping maintain favorable heat levels on earth. However for either of these to become problems we would have to strip an utterly stupid amount of co2 from the atmosphere and I just don't see us doing it. Our bodies are pretty self regulating too, so I'm not quite sure if the ph issue is even relevant.

They're planning to use solar so far.

Nuclear might be more feasible on a larger scale.

A study found that from 2014 to 2016, there was a reduction in infant deaths in states under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while average infant mortality rates rose in states that had not expanded Medicaid coverage.

A study found that from 2014 to 2016, there was a reduction in infant deaths in states under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while average infant mortality rates rose in states that had not expanded Medicaid coverage.
A study found that from 2014 to 2016, there was a reduction in infant deaths in states under the ...

This title is a bit of a mess (and the piece it links to as well).

All states have seen a decline in infant mortality since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (mortality rate 6.9 per 1,000 live births in 2010 vs. 5.9 per 1,000 in 2016).

In 2014, a feature of the ACA would have expanded access for Medicaid to people living at up to 133% of the poverty line. The US Supreme Court ruled that this aspect of the law was unconstitutional, and that states had the right to opt in. Most did, but a large number of (mostly Republican led) states did not.

This article is comparing trends in mortality for states that opted in to Medicaid expansion vs. those that did not over the two year period, from 2014 to 2016.

States that opted in: 5.8 per 1,000 -> 5.6 per 1,000 States that did not opt in: 6.4 per 1,000 -> 6.5 per 1,000

Is this solely a result of Medicaid expansion? Probably not. Lots of other things are going on as well. Demographically, states that did not opt in are, on average, poorer and present with more co-morbidities. Would Medicaid expansion have helped people in these states? Probably. Would it have been worth the money? That's the subject of large policy debates.

On the subject of infant mortality in the US vs. other countries, something that many people don't appreciate is that it is hard to make apples to apples comparisons since the methodology for collecting this data can vary pretty considerably. For example, most European health agencies will categorize deaths of *premature births as stillborn whereas the US will categorize the same as an infant death.

This CDC report breaks down the methodology differences pretty nicely.

Your link shows that even after considering the differences in methodology, US has much higher rates than many European countries.

From the summary: "There are some differences among countries in the reporting of very small infants who may die soon after birth. However, it appears unlikely that differences in reporting are the primary explanation for the United States’ relatively low international ranking. "

The US as a whole has pretty embarrassing infant mortality rates. We're 27th in the world. Despite medical care costing more, a baby born in the US is more than twice as likely to die before it's first birthday than one born in a country like Spain, Korea, or Finland.

And theres a big difference between states. Mississippi for example has infant mortality rates ranking between Bahrain and Botswana according to CDC. Source

Yeah, for sure the US has room for improvement. At the time of this comment, though, the top comment was likening the US infant mortality rate to that of Botswana. It is important to understand the nuances of the data in order to interpret it correctly.

I think the real interesting finding of the report is that the US infant mortality gap is almost entirely caused by pre-term births. That sets a nice bullseye for public health policy.

Most cases of tickborne Lyme disease consist of fever, headache, fatigue, and the characteristic “bull's eye” skin rash. But now, scientists have reported a mysterious outbreak in the upper Midwest of a neuroinvasive form of the disease that can cause muscle weakness and facial paralysis.

Most cases of tickborne Lyme disease consist of fever, headache, fatigue, and the characteristic ...

Is this really a mysterious outbreak?

In medical school we are taught that myalgias and Bell's Palsy are common manifestations of secondary lyme disease. My suspicion it's for this reason that a subset of lyme disease isn't epidemiologically reportable, because it falls under the same heading of lyme disease, and someone may have decided it's more-or-less splitting hairs.

I was diagnosed at 17 and the first sign was the left side of my face becoming fully paralyzed.

Yes after 2 weeks, but I still have nerve damage causing my left side to seem a bit droopier than the right.

I thought this was always known to be a common symptom?

I lived in Lyme for a while. Didn't go out in my own back yard.

Hi! We work on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission – the only spacecraft orbiting the Moon right now. We’re here to answer your questions on anything Moon-related – from the super lunar eclipse on Wednesday to Apollo to the latest science! Ask us anything!

Hi! We work on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission – the only spacecraft orbiting the Moon right now. We’re here to answer your questions on anything Moon-related – from the super lunar eclipse on Wednesday to Apollo to the latest science! Ask us anything!

*The ARTEMIS mission has two spacecraft in orbit around the Moon, collecting data on how the Moon and the Sun interact.

Yes, the Moon landings were real. Now that that is out of the way, we are a group of scientists who work on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission. LRO has been in orbit around the Moon since 2009, gathering data on the Moon’s resources, temperature, radiation, geologic history, and potential landing sites. The long duration of our mission has enabled us to map the Moon as it changes over time. We’ve seen new craters form, calculated global temperature changes, and measured the topography in such detail that we now know the shape of the Moon better than any other celestial body in the universe! Plus, all of our instruments on the spacecraft are refining how they collect data – so we’re using our tools more efficiently.

In addition to talking about LRO, we can answer your questions about Earth’s Moon and lunar exploration, past, present and future. We’re especially excited to talk to you about the lunar eclipse coming up on Wednesday and give you the inside scoop on why people are calling it a Super Blue Blood Moon.

Dr. Catherine Elder: I’m a planetary geologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. I study the surfaces and interiors of planets and moons and work on the Diviner instrument on the LRO spacecraft, that measures lunar temperatures.

Andrea Jones: I’m a planetary geologist and the Public Engagement Lead for LRO at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Dr. Erwan Mazarico: I am a geophysicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and have worked on the LRO and GRAIL missions that mapped the lunar shape (via laser altimetry) and its gravity field.

Dr. Noah Petro: I am a planetary geologist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the Deputy Project Scientist for LRO at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. My research includes the use of lunar data from Apollo as well as from LRO, in an effort to understand how the surface of the Moon has changed over billions of years.

Ernie Wright: I am a science visualizer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. I’m a computer scientist by training, and use programming and data to create lunar visualizations, like this one: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4604

Steve Odendahl: I’m the Mission Operations Director for LRO. I manage our engineering team to make sure that our spacecraft runs smoothly.

Learn more about LRO: lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov

The Moon: moon.nasa.gov

Follow us @NASAMoon and @LRO_NASA to stay updated.

**We are signing off now. Thank you for all of your excellent questions. We had a lot of fun. Stay in touch with us with @NASAMoon, @LRO_NASA, and LRO's Facebook page! And learn the latest on nasa.gov/moon.

How realistic is the discussion about creating a moon base in one of the large caverns there? If it is possible, what timeline would we be looking at for something like this?

Can you speak a bit to the calculations necessary to keep the LRO in a stable orbit?

Is it in a truly stable orbit, or does it need to be adjusted? If so, how often?

What other factors influence the satellite’s path? I’m sure the Earth’s gravity is a factor, but is it influenced by other bodies in the solar system?

What is the strangest and/or least explainable thing your team has observed on the moon?

Since Gene Cernan stepped off the Moon as the last human to visit, what are some of the most notable discoveries about the Moon that were not then known to Apollo Astronauts?

Hi! We’re program directors for the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research Program. We’re here to answer your questions about how genomics impacts society (because it does)! Ask us anything!

Hi! We’re program directors for the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research Program. We’re here to answer your questions about how genomics impacts society (because it does)! Ask us anything!

The reach of genomics is wide-ranging and can touch on many different aspects of society from forensics, to how we understand our ancestry, to the promise of precision medicine for all individuals and populations. When the Human Genome Project was launched in 1990, the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research Program at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI – we’re one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the NIH) was launched alongside it, with the anticipation that once we started generating massive amounts of human genomic data, there’d be lots of societal factors to consider.

Now that the Human Genome Project has been completed and researchers and clinicians are sequencing human genomes faster than ever, considering the societal implications of genomic data and what we can learn from it is even more crucial. With great amounts of data comes great responsibility to use the data in an ethical and effective way. We’re experts in these types of issues and we want to know what questions you have about how genomic data can impact your medical care, your interpretation of your ancestry, or just your everyday life. Our research program covers a range of issues, but here are some questions to jumpstart your curiousity and help you come up with your own!

How do we incorporate race or ethnicity in genomics research, and how does self- reported race, ethnicity, or ancestry change how we are prescribed meds and cared for by our doctors?

What ethical considerations do we need to think about in genomic testing of newborns?

How should direct-to- consumer genomic tests, like 23andMe be regulated, used and marketed?

What privacy protections are in place when sharing your genetic information?

Can my genomic information be used to discriminate against me?

What’s the deal with CRISPR gene-editing system? What kinds of questions do new technologies like CRISPR raise?

We want to know what you’re curious about, so ask us anything!

Your hosts today are:

Lawrence Brody, Ph.D., division director in the Division of Genomics and Society at NHGRI

Joy Boyer, B.A., program director in the Division of Genomics and Society at NHGRI

Dave Kaufman, Ph.D., program director in the Division of Genomics and Society at NHGRI

Nicole Lockhart, Ph.D., program director in the Division of Genomics and Society at NHGRI

Cristina Kapustij, M.S., chief of the Policy and Program Analysis Branch in the Division of Policy, Communications and Education at NHGRI

Sonya Jooma, M.A., health policy analyst in the Policy and Program Analysis Branch in the Division of Policy, Communications and Education at NHGRI

Rebecca Hong, B.S., program analyst in the Policy and Program Analysis Branch in the Division of Policy, Communications and Education at NHGRI

Relevant links:

Learn more about the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Research Program: https://www.genome.gov/elsi/

And if you want more inspiration to come up with questions, here’s a longer list of the types of research we support: https://www.genome.gov/27543732/elsi-research- domains/

UPDATE: Wow, thanks for all the really fantastic questions, Reddit-ers! We had so much fun answering them and are just wrapping up. Happy Monday, all!

How do you prevent ideological biases from influencing the (1) results and (2) interpretations of research funded by the NHGRI? In other words, if I were to receive a NHGRI grant, how can you reassure me that I can conduct my research without fear of political backlash? AND, what can you do to demonstrate to the public that my own political biases have not influenced my research?

I'm asking because the broader picture of the relationship between scientists and the public is somewhat dim from my perspective. For example, researchers who suggest that there are inherent differences in the career preferences of men and women face accusations of political bias from the political left whereas researchers who suggest that the aforementioned gender differences are socialized tend to face accusations of political bias from the political right. As an aspiring researcher myself, I can attest to the pressure from my colleagues to avoid certain research questions and to interpret my own findings through a particular political lens. How can you help shield researchers from this kind of external influence and how can you demonstrate the effectiveness of those efforts to the public?

Hello, this is Larry Brody. Geneticists have spent considerable time thinking (pun intended) about the genetics of intelligence. Unfortunately, intelligence is a very difficult trait to measure in any objective way. Specific elements of cognition, i.e., spatial manipulations, musical ability, reading comprehension, are a bit easier to study. When we look into the genetics of those specific elements, we find that many genes influence a person’s ability in any one area. This makes it very difficult to predict what genes to engineer/edit and whether or not changes to these genes would also be associated with bad outcomes in other traits. The other layer of complexity is we are still not very good at getting CRISPR into specific cells in mature tissues like the brain. Given how little we know about the genetics of intelligence, I would not expect us to start these kinds of experiments in humans for a long time. It would worry me greatly if a company or clinic somewhere in the world was claiming that they can engineer your brain to increase your intelligence.

Do I, as a natural person, actually own my DNA or the information stored in it? What is the legal status of ownership in regards to genetic information? With the right of ownership comes the right to sell it, license it or not?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the direct to consumer marketplace for genomics which seem to range from benign to predatory. Few genetic tests have been considered useful for medical care (I think there are fewer than 50 considered medically relevant and covered by most insurers), and yet the marketing of many consumer platforms suggest they can tell you everything from your optimal nutrition profile to your metabolic fitness profile to chronic disease risk. Do you think this information is being responsibly marketed, and are there risks to patient health of individuals make personal medical and lifestyle decisions based on direct to consumer commercial products (or also worth considering, people making decisions for their children or other dependents)?

Nobody Knows Why These Bees Built a Spiral Nest

Nobody Knows Why These Bees Built a Spiral Nest

"It may be unwise to attempt to explain the adaptive significance of why this form may have evolved," Heard told Live Science.

It’s like the bees are pressuring him to keep quiet.

Hi ShellyLazoff, your post has been removed for the following reason(s)

The referenced research is more than 6 months old.

If you feel this was done in error, or would like further clarification, please don't hesitate to message the mods.

Bee keeper keeps hot boxing them.

From cancer.gov: "A meta-analysis of 34 in vitro and in vivo studies of cannabinoids in glioma reported that all but one study confirmed that cannabinoids selectively kill tumor cells."

From cancer.gov: "A meta-analysis of 34 in vitro and in vivo studies of cannabinoids in glioma re...

Did I miss something where OP opposes GMOs and glyphosate? If not, why bring it up since it contributes exactly zero to the thread?

Now the feds will pull the plug on their research grants unless they retract that study.

I'm sorry. I should've been more clear.

I don't disagree with the studies. There's a host of benefits to legal cannabis beyond the medical merits. The problem is the difficulty in big pharma maximizing profits from something everyone can grow in their backyard, so the pharma lobbyists will kill it, no matter the cost.

Responding to the second half of your comment.. what ? The only science I'm supporting is the proven medicinal value of cannabis. How does that relate to GMO's, please explain.

Try one of these subthreads