Posts tagged science
Posts tagged science
A recent study by a researcher at the Centre for Studies on Human Stress (CSHS) at the Hôpital Louis-H. Lafontaine and professor at the Université de Montréal suggests that bullying by peers changes the structure surrounding a gene involved in regulating mood, making victims more vulnerable to mental health problems as they age. The study published in the journal Psychological Medicine seeks to better understand the mechanisms that explain how difficult experiences disrupt our response to stressful situations. “Many people think that our genes are immutable; however this study suggests that environment, even the social environment, can affect their functioning. This is particularly the case for victimization experiences in childhood, which change not only our stress response but also the functioning of genes involved in mood regulation,” says Isabelle Ouellet-Morin, lead author of the study.
A previous study by Ouellet-Morin, conducted at the Institute of Psychiatry in London (UK), showed that bullied children secrete less cortisol—the stress hormone—but had more problems with social interaction and aggressive behaviour. The present study indicates that the reduction of cortisol, which occurs around the age of 12, is preceded two years earlier by a change in the structure surrounding a gene (SERT) that regulates serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and depression.
To achieve these results, 28 pairs of identical twins with a mean age of 10 years were analyzed separately according to their experiences of bullying by peers: one twin had been bullied at school while the other had not. “Since they were identical twins living in the same conditions, changes in the chemical structure surrounding the gene cannot be explained by genetics or family environment. Our results suggest that victimization experiences are the source of these changes,” says Ouellet-Morin. According to the author, it would now be worthwhile to evaluate the possibility of reversing these psychological effects, in particular, through interventions at school and support for victims.
Human Evolution Enters an Exciting New Phase
“Most of the mutations that we found arose in the last 200 generations or so. There hasn’t been much time for random change or deterministic change through natural selection,” said geneticist Joshua Akey of the University of Washington, co-author of the Nov. 28 Nature study. “We have a repository of all this new variation for humanity to use as a substrate. In a way, we’re more evolvable now than at any time in our history.”
There are so many interesting things to do with this information, so many interesting places you could go with it, so many projects and conversations that could be had, that I’m just going to leave this here for you all to have at it.
As fall semesters wind down at the country’s colleges and universities, students will be pulling all-night study sessions to prepare for final exams. Ironically, the loss of sleep during these all-nighters could actually work against them performing well, says a Harris Health System sleep specialist.
Dr. Philip Alapat, medical director, Harris Health Sleep Disorders Center, and assistant professor, Baylor College of Medicine, recommends students instead study throughout the semester, set up study sessions in the evening (the optimal time of alertness and concentration) and get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before exams.
“Memory recall and ability to maintain concentration are much improved when an individual is rested,” he says. “By preparing early and being able to better recall what you have studied, your ability to perform well on exams is increased.”
• Get 8-9 hours of sleep nightly (especially before final exams)
• Try to study during periods of optimal brain function (usually around 6-8 p.m.)
• Avoid studying in early afternoons, usually the time of least alertness
• Don’t overuse caffeinated drinks (caffeine remains in one’s system for 6-8 hours)
• Recognize that chronic sleep deprivation may contribute to development of long-term diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease
If suffering from bouts of chronic sleep deprivation or nightly insomnia that lasts for more than a few weeks, Alapat suggests consulting a sleep specialist.
Roominate – a new line of dollhouses for girls aims to spark interest in science, technology, and STEM rather than reinforcing the gender stereotypes of traditional toys. The startup comes from three female engineers.
Totally getting this for my niece in a few years.
Hmm, sister’s probably too old, what other little girls do I know?
…I would play with this and I’m turning 25 in just under a week.
Although images in textbooks generally represent phylogenetic trees with trunks angling up and to the right, research shows that students have better comprehension when the trunks angle down to the right.
The Goddamn Particle
One of the funniest science facts that I will never be able to tell most of my kids.
One tectonic plate bumped into another and said…..
“Sorry, my fault.”
A Kickstarter project to create a pro-math, pro-science, pro-literature adventure novel that is for and about girls. It chronicles the detective agency of 11 year-old Ada (the world’s first computer programmer) and her friend Mary (the world’s first sci-fi author). They use their brains and their education to solve problems, just like real women do.
As the creator says, “If Jane Austen wrote about zeppelins and brass goggles, this would be the book.”
This is a project we can all get behind. Check it out, and support it!
They’ve reached their goal — I’m mostly posting because this is a book I wish I could have had when I was a little girl who loved math and science and reading (and occasionally history). There wasn’t a lot of sci-fi available for me at the time (pre-internet, where those who dictated what went into the libraries told me that science fiction wasn’t real reading). Instead I devoured biographies of scientists in general and outstanding women particularly, adventure and mystery stories with female protagonists, and occasional fantastic stories that barely had any women at all, but got my mind working. They were all great books, but it would have been lovely to have some literature that left me with big thoughts that were less grounded and more driven by imagination, with characters who looked like me in the driver’s seat.
So yes…this is going to exist, and I am excited.
Two atoms are walking down the street and they run into each other. One says to the other, “Are you all right?”
“No, I lost an electron!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m positive!”
Goodnight everybody, I’m here all week.
Let’s Go To College! But First, Space!
If I got into MIT at age 16, I’d probably want to go out for a steak dinner and guilt my parents into buying me a new laptop.
Erin King had a different idea. She took the tube that carried her admissions package, fastened it to a balloon, tied on a camera, some GPS equipment and a parachute, and sent it up to near-space. 91,000 FEET!!
And it’s awesome. She’s awesome. Go try something. Get curious. Do science.
This is the best way to celebrate anything ever. I was going to treat myself to a drink if any of my recent grant applications come through, but maybe I’ll launch a rocket instead. Yes, that sounds far more entertaining.