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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote talib84 Replybullet Posted: 01 November 2010 at 4:06pm
Al-Cordoby, you post a lot of articles on the brain...are you a neuroscientist or psychologist?
"To be sure, Jesus will come and will restore all things. But I tell you, Jesus has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished."
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 02 November 2010 at 12:52am
No, I'm not in the medical field
 
It's one of the areas of interest and there is a lot research can reveal on the human brain which we don't yet understand
 
 
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 06 November 2010 at 2:08am

Hard Work Improves the Taste of Food, Study Shows

ScienceDaily (Nov. 5, 2010) — It's commonly accepted that we appreciate something more if we have to work hard to get it, and a Johns Hopkins University study bears that out, at least when it comes to food

The study seems to suggest that hard work can even enhance our appreciation for fare we might not favor, such as the low-fat, low calorie variety. At least in theory, this means that if we had to navigate an obstacle course to get to a plate of baby carrots, we might come to prefer those crunchy crudités over sweet, gooey candy bars more easily accessible via the office vending machine.

"Basically, what we have shown is that if you have to expend more effort to get a certain food, not only will you value that food more, but it might even taste better to you," explained Alexander Johnson, an associate research scientist in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins. "At present, we don't know why effort seems to boost the taste of food, but we know that it does, and this effect lasts for at least 24 hours after the act of working hard to get the food."

The study, titled "Greater effort boosts the affective taste properties of food," appears in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The study results are significant not only because they hold out hope that people who struggle to maintain a healthy weight could be conditioned to consume lower calorie foods, but because they also might provide insight into methods of altering other less-than-optimal behavior, according to Johnson, who led the study ...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101104154344.htm

 

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 09 November 2010 at 9:21am

Why Scientific Studies Are So Often Wrong: The Streetlight Effect

Researchers tend to look for answers where the looking is good, rather than where the answers are likely to be hiding.

A bolt of excitement ran through the field of cardiology in the early 1980s when anti-arrhythmia drugs burst onto the scene. Researchers knew that heart-attack victims with steady heartbeats had the best odds of survival, so a medication that could tamp down irregularities seemed like a no-brainer. The drugs became the standard of care for heart-attack patients and were soon smoothing out heartbeats in intensive care wards across the United States.

But in the early 1990s, cardiologists realized that the drugs were also doing something else: killing about 56,000 heart-attack patients a year. Yes, hearts were beating more regularly on the drugs than off, but their owners were, on average, one-third as likely to pull through. Cardiologists had been so focused on immediately measurable arrhythmias that they had overlooked the longer-term but far more important variable of death.

The fundamental error here is summed up in an old joke scientists love to tell. Late at night, a police officer finds a drunk man crawling around on his hands and knees under a streetlight. The drunk man tells the officer he’s looking for his wallet. When the officer asks if he’s sure this is where he dropped the wallet, the man replies that he thinks he more likely dropped it across the street. Then why are you looking over here? the befuddled officer asks. Because the light’s better here, explains the drunk man.

That fellow is in good company. Many, and possibly most, scientists spend their careers looking for answers where the light is better rather than where the truth is more likely to lie. They don’t always have much choice. It is often extremely difficult or even impossible to cleanly measure what is really important, so scientists instead cleanly measure what they can, hoping it turns out to be relevant. After all, we expect scientists to quantify their observations precisely. As Kelvin put it more than a century ago, “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it”...

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 14 November 2010 at 10:26am
Combatting Vitamin D deficiencies in women
 
There is a silent epidemic among Muslim women that is especially problematic. The issue in question is vitamin D deficiency (specifically D3) and how a person’s exposure to sunlight, or rather her lack of exposure, can lead to a host of other more serious syndromes.

Case study: A hijab-wearing Muslim woman walks into her internist’s office, armed with a list of symptoms including chronic headaches, irritability, and fatigue. To some, this may resemble the characteristics of a new mom, or even a bad week. However, after answering questions on personal fitness, diet, nutrition, and ‘could it be depression?’ a simple blood test reveals that this 20-something woman is severely vitamin D3 deficient. Moreover, she will need more than 10 times the weekly requirement as a supplement in order to ‘bring her back to life.’ This deficiency, caused by low levels of sunlight (best source of D).
 

Let’s revisit vitamin D and find out why, when taken on a regular basis, it is now reported to protect you from the flu, regenerate cells, clear your skin, and free your mind from depression. What do you think of when you hear about Vitamin D? Fortified milk? Sunlight? Healthy bones? Children are encouraged to drink milk fortified with vitamin D3 (it helps our bodies absorb calcium). We were told that milk with vitamin D is like ‘liquid sunshine,’ given that nature’s best way to obtain vitamin D3 is to soak up some rays at least 15 minutes daily. In nearly 100% of the lay magazines I perused while writing this article there was a reference to Vitamin D3 with regards to a deficiency or as a new form of healthy living. What is behind this new ideology?

Recent interest groups and stakeholders are pushing for better prospective studies to show the efficacy of higher doses of vitamin D3. One such organization is the American Medical Association (AMA) which recognizes the positive relationship between increasing the current recommended dosage of vitamin D and the prevention of cancer, diabetes and other morbidities. The current ‘recommendations’ by the Food & Drug Administration is a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) between 400 and 600 IU. If you are not getting enough from your diet, or from at least 15 minutes of adequate sunlight daily, chances are you are already vitamin D deficient. And as the above mentioned case suggests, modestly-dressed Muslim women are not getting their dose of liquid sunshine.

The push for increased vitamin D is timely in light of recent reports related to incidences of H1N1 deaths and seasonal flu cases which correspond with low levels of vitamin D3, according to Dr. John Cannell MD, an expert at the Vitamin D Council. He reaffirms this wonder drug to be a powerful nutrient that stimulates the production of “antibacterial peptides and boots the innate immunity system.”

Scientists and physicians are beginning to refer to vitamin D3 (Cholecalficerol) as a hormone, moving away from the vitamin classification. It has an important function as a ‘precursor’ hormone which works with Calcitrol (a steroid hormone). So, we’ve migrated from the belief that vitamin D is traditionally intended to fortify strong bones and promote white teeth to the increasingly popular approach that vitamin D is actually a misnomer, i.e., not a vitamin, but rather a hard-working hormone and/ or nutrient, and if supplemented in greater than recommended doses, one that can help ward off the flu and an assortment of morbidities, not to mention, lift Muslim women out of the gloom of constant fatigue, mood swings, headaches and poor sleep.

To confirm my assertion of the above paradigm shift, I checked in with an endocrinologist, and was pleasantly surprised. Dr. Kashuf Munir, MD, Chief of the Endocrinology Section at the Baltimore Washington Medical Center, in Baltimore, MD, asserts that “vitamin D has now been discovered to be an important hormone with effects throughout the body. Studies have shown [that] deficiency in vitamin D is associated with osteoporosis, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, malignancies, and hypertension.” Further confirming my suspicion and the motivation for me to pen this article with Muslim women in mind was his comment that “more than half of Americans are vitamin D insufficient or deficient and up to a billion people worldwide.” Immediately I remember all the women who have recently told me they got diagnosed as vitamin D deficient.  These women are lucky because while there are many who are deficient and present the right symptoms, they are misdiagnosed as having depression and / or other morbidities.

Next steps? How can I increase my daily intake?

Diet. Select whole foods that are dense in nutrients. If your diet currently does not include vitamin D rich foods, such as oily fish, cod liver oil, eggs and fortified drinks, chances are that you are deficient.

Sunlight. If your lifestyle doesn’t encourage you to seek sun daily, you are missing the best source vitamin D. (That said, don’t forget the sunblock!) Again this issue has been overlooked in the Muslim community, and as a result, traditionally covered Muslim women as compared to non-Muslim women are at high risk of deficiency. In fact, studies from Middle-Eastern countries have reported case after case of women who had low levels of D3, when presented with a variety of symptoms of deficiency.

Supplement. If the body produced vitamin D itself (by exposing skin to sunlight), it would produce 3,000 to 10,000 IU daily! The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendation of a daily allowance (RDA) of only 400 to 600 IU is clearly deficient. Select a supplement of D3, but first consult with your physician to determine the additional amount your body requires. Dr. Munir states that many people may require supplements in addition to their diet and sun exposure. Vitamin D can be taken safely in large doses (up to 10,000 international units daily) without any untoward side effects.

Recommendations

Know the symptoms. Muscle pain; weakness; headaches; low-energy/fatigue; sleep irregularities; mood swings; symptoms of depression.

Get tested. Testing for deficiency is a simple blood test at your internist’s office. The physician will order a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test, also called a 25(OH)D. Dark-skinned and covered women who may experience some of the symptoms should consider testing for vitamin D deficiency.

References and Resources

http://www.womentowomen.com/healthynutrition/vitamind.aspx
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 25 November 2010 at 12:41am

Dark energy and flat Universe exposed by simple method

Researchers have developed a simple technique that adds evidence to the theory that the Universe is flat.

Moreover, the method - developed by revisiting a 30-year-old idea - confirms that "dark energy" makes up nearly three-quarters of the Universe.

The research, published in Nature, uses existing data and relies on fewer assumptions than current approaches.

Author Christian Marinoni says the idea turns estimating the Universe's shape into "primary school" geometry.

While the idea of the Earth being flat preoccupied explorers centuries ago, the question of whether the Universe itself is flat remains a debatable topic.

The degree to which the Universe is curved has an effect on what astronomers see when they look into the cosmos.

A telescope on or near Earth may see an image of a celestial object differently from how the object actually looks, because the very fabric of space and time bends the light coming from it.

Christian Marinoni and Adeline Buzzi of the University of Provence have made use of this phenomenon in their technique.

Dark prospect

The current model of cosmology holds that only 4% of what makes up our Universe is normal matter - the stuff of stars and planets with which we are familiar, and that astronomers can see directly. Once you measure the abundance of matter and energy in the Universe, you have direct information on its geometry; you can do geometry as we learn in primary school”

The overwhelming majority of the Universe, the theory holds, is composed of dark matter and dark energy. They are "dark" because they evidently do not absorb, emit and reflect light like normal matter, making direct views impossible.

Dark energy - purported to make up 73% of the known Universe - was proposed as the source of the ongoing expansion of everything in the cosmos. Astronomers have also observed that this expansion of the Universe seems to be accelerating.

Even though gravity holds that everything should attract everything else, in every direction astronomers look there is evidence that things are in fact moving apart - with those objects further away moving faster.

Dark energy is believed to pervade the essence of space and time, forcing a kind of "anti-gravity" that fits cosmologists' equations but that is otherwise a mysterious quantity.

"The problem is that we do not see dark energy because it doesn't emit light, so we cannot measure it by designing a new machine, a new telescope," explained Professor Marinoni.

"What we have to do is to devise a new mathematical framework that allows us to dig into this mystery," he told BBC News ...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11810553

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 06 December 2010 at 3:14pm
NASA Finds a “Weird” Kind of Life on Earth

Mono Lake in California, with the bacteria (inset) that lives there. Credit: Science

No, NASA has not found life on another planet, but has found life here on Earth that is almost “alien” to our narrow, phosphate-based view of life. Scientists have discovered — or “trained,” actually — a type of bacteria that can live and grow almost entirely on a poison, arsenic, and incorporates it into its DNA. This “weird” form of life, which can use something other than phosphorus — what we think of as a basic building block of life — is quite different from what we think of as life on Earth. It doesn’t directly provide proof of a “shadow biosphere,” a second form of life that lives side-by-side with other life on our planet, but does suggest that the requirements for life’s beginnings and foundations may be more flexible than we thought. This means life elsewhere in the solar system and beyond could arise in a multitude of conditions.

“Our findings are a reminder that life-as-we-know-it could be much more flexible than we generally assume or can imagine,” said Felise Wolfe-Simon, lead author of a new paper in Science. “If something here on Earth can do something so unexpected, what else can life do that we haven’t seen yet?”
 
 
Backlash/Feedback on NASA’s Arsenic Findings
I’m not a biologist – just a journalist who specializes in space and astronomy — so I won’t pretend to be knowledgeable about NASA’s announcement last week of the weird life in a California lake that appears to be able to live with arsenic instead of phosphorous. But I did want to bring to our reader’s attention some various points of view on the topic that have emerged since last Thursday’s press conference.

Microbiologist Rosie Redfield at the University of British Columbia has written what could be called a “take-down” of the science paper by Felisa Wolfe-Simon and her team. It is a detailed and thorough review, and her bottom line is: “Lots of flim-flam, but very little reliable information.”

Her opinion was quickly seconded by many other biologists/bloggers, as you can read in David Dodds post at Wired, and also this post by Larry Moran, a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto.

SETI’s Seth Shostak, however, has written an article about it at Huffington Post, and he says the news is “exceedingly cool.”

Our pal Phil Plait was a guest on CBCRadio and talked about the media hype/failure on this event.

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 14 December 2010 at 4:06pm

Religion and Science: Busting Assumptions

When Stephen Hawking claims that religion is based on authority, while science is purely rational, the great man makes a beginner’s error.

It's not a boxing match

In a recent essay in the New York Times, Dennis Overbye laments the virus-like proliferation of science rumors. Not a day goes by, it seems, that we aren’t bombarded with scientific information that could potentially, as he writes, “rock the Universe As We Know It.” Overbye is not decrying the abundance of scientific discoveries that seem to bring us one step closer to understanding the big picture questions of life (Who are we? Where do we come from? Who else is out there?). What is troubling is the explosive combination of (even modest) statements by scientists that travel across the Internet at warp speed with the public’s thirst for quick answers to these cosmic questions.

When it comes to science in the media, it seems that complicated questions are often boiled down to simple, easily digested messages that promise to change our world in the blink of an eye. We want black-and-white answers to complicated questions about life, reality, and nature—things that can’t always be described in a Twitter-friendly 140 characters or less.
 
These questions about life and reality are often the same questions that sit at the heart of the so-called wars between religion and science, depicted in the media as two opposing sides in an endless battle. It’s as if the world exists in two realms: scientists on one side, religion (and those who study it) on the other.
 
In an interview this summer, Diane Sawyer explored “the God question” with physicist Stephen Hawking. When asked about whether there might be a relationship between religion and science, Hawking explained that, “there is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.” The match seems to be set: in one corner we have scientists who argue for science, reason, modernity, and progress and in the other, we have religious believers who see an intelligent design in creation and a divine plan for life. But is it really that simple?
 
Despite these publicly marked divides, the field of religion and science cannot easily be described by sticking a “vs.” between the two words. Rather than an ideological battle in which, as Hawking states, one side of the ring will “win” over the other, for some, the question is about how the two sides might work together.For these researchers and funders, the question is not religion vs. science, but how to integrate the two.
 
Following the Funding
 
In an article for The Nation, RD contributor Nathan Schneider chronicled how the John Templeton foundation has carved a growing niche for scientists interested in tackling what they call the “Big Questions” of religion and science. As the foundation notes, Sir John Templeton was interested in these questions in order to discover “new spiritual information,” that might lead to a greater understanding of humanity and nature and, significantly deeper religious truths. As Schneider notes, the combination of the foundation’s immense funding pool and its focus on “elite research and broad understanding” has placed it at the center of controversies around the proper realm of influence between religion and science. New Atheist critics like Richard Dawkins have accused the foundation of trying to manipulate science in order to prove something about religion. While the foundation’s grant recipients argue that is not the case, the controversies and questions that surround Templeton funding and projects bring to light a key question: How can and should we pursue research and teaching in the area of religion and science?
 
In part due to the proliferation of Templeton funds, research and teaching in the interdisciplinary field of religion and science is growing rapidly. Among these scholars and teachers, there are many who are seeking out a more dialogical approach, as well as a more critical view of the kind of assumptions that fuel the science/religion opposition. Is it reasonable to believe, as Stephen Hawking seems to, that religion is always on the side of the irrational? Or that scientists are not frequently aware of the fluidity of the assumptions that undergird their work, or of the philosophical and historical contexts they work in? At the very least, these must be open questions.
 
This type of approach to religion and science was highlighted in an April 2009 roundtable hosted by Emory University, and funded by the Ford foundation. The participants—scientists, scholars, and practitioners of religion—were tasked with thinking through the question of how to engage various publics in a deeper understanding of the relationship between religion and science. 
 
Thinking Things Through
 
The scholars began by discussing the ways that science is often presented in the media—the sort of “gee whiz” culture that assumes scientific discovery is a quick fix to society’s problems. Participants also highlighted the heated debate around particular issues that sit at the crossroads of religion and science: evolution, stem-cell research, abortion debates, genetic testing, sexuality and reproductive health. Given the embattled language of these debates and the abundance of promised miraculous answers to complicated questions, participants wondered how their students (let alone the public) are able to navigate these arenas. While ideological wars rage on, the real question seemed to be: How are we helping students to make sense of it all?
 
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 25 December 2010 at 1:20am

Solar plane's records confirmed

The UK-built solar-powered Zephyr aeroplane has been confirmed as a record-breaker following its non-stop two-week flight earlier this year.

The world governing body for air sports records, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), gave Zephyr three records including longest time aloft.

Built by defence technology company Qinetiq, the craft completed its two-week flight in the US in July.

The company sees applications in surveillance and communications.

The July feat led to Zephyr being dubbed the "eternal plane"...

The FAI noted that Zephyr smashed the previous record for the absolute duration of an unmanned autonomous vehicle (UAV) flight - set by Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk in 2001 - by a factor of 11.

The organisation set the official duration at 336 hours, 22 minutes and eight seconds.

Zephyr's flight also set a new mark for flight duration for a UAV of its class - unmanned craft weighing 50-500kg - and, for that class, the altitude record of 21,562m (70,741ft

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12074162

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 07 January 2011 at 2:46pm

Deep Interior of Moon Resembles Earth's Core

ScienceDaily (Jan. 6, 2011) — The Moon, Earth's closest neighbor, has long been studied to help us better understand our own planet. Of particular interest is the lunar interior, which could hold clues to its ancient origins. In an attempt to extract information on the very deep interior of the Moon, a team of NASA-led researchers applied new technology to old data. Apollo seismic data was reanalyzed using modern methodologies and detected what many scientists have predicted: the Moon has a core...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110106144751.htm

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 08 January 2011 at 9:04am
Scientists trick cells into switching identities
 
 

Suppose you could repair tissue damaged by a heart attack by magically turning other cells into heart muscle, so the organ could pump effectively again.

Scientists aren't quite ready to do that. But they are reporting early success at transforming one kind of specialized cell directly into another kind, a feat of biological alchemy that doctors may one day perform inside a patient's body.

"I think everyone believes this is really the future of so-called stem-cell biology," says John Gearhart of the University of Pennsylvania, one of many researchers pursuing this approach.

The concept is two steps beyond the familiar story of embryonic stem cells, versatile entities that can be coaxed to become cells of all types, like brain and blood. Scientists are learning to guide those transformations, which someday may provide transplant tissue for treating diseases like Parkinson's or diabetes.

It's still experimental. But at its root, it's really just harnessing and speeding up what happens in nature: a versatile but immature cell matures into a more specialized one.

The first step beyond that came in 2007, when researchers reversed the process. They got skin cells to revert to a state resembling embryonic stem cells. That opened the door to a two-part strategy: turn skin cells from a patient back into stem cells, and then run the clock forward again to get whatever specialized cell you want.

The new direct-conversion approach avoids embryonic stem cells and the whole notion of returning to an early state. Why not just go directly from one specialized cell to another? It's like flying direct rather than scheduling a stopover.

Even short of researchers' dreams of fixing internal organs from within, Gearhart says direct conversion may offer some other advantages over more established ways of producing specialized cells. Using embryonic stem cells is proving to be inefficient and more difficult than expected, scientists say. For example, the heart muscle cells developed from them aren't fully mature, Gearhart noted.

And there's no satisfactory way yet to make mature insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, which might be useful for treating diabetes, says George Daley of Children's Hospital Boston and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

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Antimatter: The Mirror We Didn’t Look At

Science always taught us to think outside the box, get out of templates, step out of the crowd and put restrictions aside.

Last January NASA’s Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope surprised the entire world with an unexpected finding: “Thunderstorms make antimatter,” a bombshell which hit the world and especially scientists.

Fermi telescope observed that Gamma rays shot by lightning interact with atoms in the atmosphere to form electrons as well as positrons...

http://www.onislam.net/english/health-and-science/science/451796-antimatter-the-mirror-we-didnt-look-at.html

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Effects of Climate Change in Arctic More Extensive Than Expected, Report Finds

ScienceDaily (May 4, 2011) — A much reduced covering of snow, shorter winter season and thawing tundra: The effects of climate change in the Arctic are already here.

And the changes are taking place significantly faster than previously thought. This is what emerges from a new research report on the Arctic, presented in Copenhagen this week. Margareta Johansson, from Lund University, is one of the researchers behind the report.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110504084032.htm

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Giant Galaxy Cluster Crash

Astronomers spot an enormous collision between four galaxy clusters, shearing apart hundreds of galaxies and hinting at the nature of dark matter.

A slow-motion cosmic "car crash" of immense proportions has come into sharp focus for astronomers.

The Pandora cluster - so named because it comprises so many unusual phenomena - is a mess of four galaxy clusters that have collided over the course of 350 million years.

The "crash investigation" should yield clues about the nature of dark matter...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13878171

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