How reducing the number of stressful events in our lives could help beat dementia

by Claire J. Hanley Added 13.08.2017
Stress is bad for our physical and mental health. It has been linked to several leading causes of death, including heart disease and mood disorders, such as depression. Now new research suggests that the actual number of stressful experiences we encounter can have dramatic consequences for the health of our brains. In all, 27 events were identified as being particularly detrimental. These include being expelled from school during adolescence...

Are your parents to blame for your psychological problems?

by Darya Gaysina and Ellen Jo Thompson Added 05.08.2017
Psychologist Sigmund Freud famously proposed that our personal development is pretty much determined by events in our early childhood. While many of his ideas are now outdated, some modern psychological theories also suggest that childhood experiences play an important role in shaping our lives. But is there really any evidence that difficult childhood experiences can cause common psychological problems such as anxiety or depression later in...

How dieting encourages your body to replace lost weight

by David Benton Added 04.08.2017
Obesity is a risk factor for numerous disorders that afflict the human race, so understanding how to maintain a healthy body weight is one of the most urgent issues facing society. By 2025, it is estimated that 18% of men and 21% of women will be obese worldwide. In the US alone, 68.8% of people are already classified as overweight or obese. The UK, meanwhile, has one of the greatest problems in Western Europe – 67% of men, 57% of women and...

How to slam dunk creationists when it comes to the theory of evolution

by Paul Braterman Added 04.08.2017
The 2001 discovery of the seven million-year-old Sahelanthropus, the first known upright ape-like creatures, was yet more proof of humanity’s place among the great apes. And yet Mike Pence, then a representative and now US vice president, argues for the opposite conclusion. For him, our ideas about our ancestors have changed, proving once more that evolution was a theory, and therefore we should be free to teach other theories alongside...

If you could ‘design’ your own child, would you?

by Vivek Wadhwa Added 29.07.2017
Scientists in Portland, Ore., just succeeded in creating the first genetically modified human embryo in the United States, according to Technology Review. A team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health & Science University is reported to “have broken new ground both in the number of embryos experimented upon and by demonstrating that it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases.” The U.S....

Shell, terrified of EVs, expects ‘low forever’ Gasoline Prices; it is too Optimistic

by Juan Cole Added 29.07.2017
The Telegraph reports that Royal Dutch Shell, the massive oil company, has abruptly decided that petroleum prices are likely to remain low “forever,” given the rise of the electric vehicle. France and Britain have both just vowed that they will have no gasoline vehicles by 2040, and India and China both have huge electric vehicle ambitions. Most petroleum is used for transportation, and it is that sector that gives it its high value. It is...

Scientists discover how the brain's hypothalamus controls ageing – and manage to slow it down

by Richard Faragher Added 29.07.2017
If you are reading this and you don’t smoke, then your major risk factor for dying is probably your age. That’s because we have nearly eliminated mortality in early life, thanks to advances in science and engineering. But despite this progress, we still haven’t worked out how to eliminate the damaging effects of ageing itself. Now a new study in mice, published in Nature, reveals that stem cells (a type of cell that can develop into many...

Britain better fix its identity crisis fast – or risk a disastrous Brexit

by Timothy Oliver Added 25.07.2017
There are lots of productive ways to analyse Brexit – why it happened, how it’s developing, and how it might turn out. One of the most interesting is to use the idea of an identity to understand both why the process is proving so painful for the UK, and also why the rest of Europe still seems so confused about why the UK is engaging in this process at all. Identity is one of those concepts that we’re all familiar with on the surface, but...

Why I remain optimistic about Tesla

by Vivek Wadhwa Added 25.07.2017
Tesla’s stock price recently took a hit because of concerns about its delivery capabilities and about increasing competition from carmakers who are switching their product lines to electric. With a market cap still exceeding $50 billion, it can be easy to argue that Tesla’s price remains severely inflated, especially when you compare it with those of GM and Ford — which produce 20 times more revenue. You can understand why Tesla remains one...

‘The Sound of Sleat,’ On Abstract Expressionist Jon Schueler

by David Galenson Added 20.07.2017
The Sound of Sleat is a body of water in western Scotland, between the mainland and the Isle of Skye. The Sound of Sleat is the best book I have ever read about an American painter. Jon Schueler, 1981, photograph by Archie McLellan, © Jon Schueler Estate When Jon Schueler first went to Mallaig and saw the Sound of Sleat in 1957, he wrote to his wife that “this part of Scotland is exactly what I wanted — visually. I have everything I could...

Sensing the dead is perfectly normal – and often helpful

by Simon McCarthy-Jones Added 20.07.2017
Céline Dion recently revealed that she still senses the presence of her husband, even though he died from cancer in January 2016. What’s more, the Canadian singer said she still talks to René Angélil, who she was married to for 22 years, and can still hear him at times. While her remarks prompted ridicule in some quarters, seeing, hearing or sensing the presence of a deceased loved one is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it is a...

25% of Australian Homes have gone Solar and other Green Triumphs this Week

by Juan Cole Added 16.07.2017
Renewables continue to take the world by storm, which is good news for the climate. Because of less expensive and more efficient technology, about one quarter of all Australian households now have solar panels. This process is uneven, with a rush to put them up recently because of a fall in the price of the panels. The adoption of solar may slow next year. But the technology is such that there will certainly be more periods of rapid...

Liu Xiaobo: a voice of conscience who fought oppression for decades

by Hermann Aubié Added 15.07.2017
Only a few weeks after being diagnosed with a late-stage liver cancer in late May 2017, the world learned that China’s most prominent dissident, Liu Xiaobo, died at 61 in a hospital in the north-east region of China, where he was born. As the poetess Tang Danhong wrote, he departed as “an innocent prisoner into the eternal light” (无罪的囚徒,融入永恒的光芒). What a tragedy for a man who fought most of his life for freedom to live out his last days in a...

The 'French paradox' turned out to be an illusion, but it led to some interesting research

by Emma Wightman Added 15.07.2017
Everybody loved the French paradox. It was a term coined in 1980 by French scientists in their paper on heart disease and fat intake. It refers to the fact that, despite consuming a diet high in saturated fat, French people have relatively low levels of coronary heart disease, especially when compared with people in Britain. A slew of studies followed, all seeming to support this idea. In looking to explain the paradox, some scientists...

How We Triumph In the Age of Ignorance

by Jeff Schweitzer Added 14.07.2017
We face a crisis of ignorance in this country, with potentially tragic consequences both at home and abroad. But not all is lost. We can avoid disaster by using this crisis to understand where we went wrong, and from that insight identify opportunities to correct our course. The fundamental problem we face, the essence of what ails us, is a growing disdain for fact over fiction. Rational thought, critical thinking, objective truth, evidence...

Faith, Fox and the Failure of Politics

by Jeff Schweitzer Added 11.07.2017
·           As the Keanu Reeves title character John Wick said, “Well, yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.” While I do not have Wick’s martial arts skill, good looks or quiet charm (or any of his redeeming qualities, or hair, for that matter), I share with him a deep frustration with the need to confront unpleasant realities after an extended effort to ignore them. One could argue that blogging in the age of Trump is an act of self-flagellation, a...

Taking Comfort from the Success of Others

by David Coates Added 11.07.2017
  With the wisdom of hindsight, it is now clear that the sheer quality of the Obama intellect, and the solid integrity of his character, lulled many of those who twice voted for him into a false sense of security. It was as though we forgot, with too great an ease and for too long a time, just how difficult and disappointing life becomes for progressive people in this country when both the White House and the Congress are in less...

How your pile of laundry fills the sea with plastic pollution

by Natalie Welden Added 06.07.2017
After decades of intense observation and campaigning by conservation groups, awareness of microplastic pollution has fortunately grown. There is now worldwide concern about tiny pieces of plastic litter that are having a harmful impact on marine species and habitats. Large plastic litter has already been identified as both an eyesore and a danger to turtles, seabirds and marine mammals. So the scene was already set for mass action against...

I spent three days as a hunter-gatherer to see if it would improve my gut health

by Tim Spector and Jeff Leach Added 05.07.2017
Jeff Leach, Author provided Mounting evidence suggests that the richer and more diverse the community of microbes in your gut the lower your risk of disease. Diet is key to maintaining diversity and was strikingly demonstrated when an undergrad student went on a McDonald’s diet for ten days and after just four days experienced a significant drop in the number of beneficial microbes. Similar results have been demonstrated in a number of...

Ageism in the New Yorker

by David Galenson Added 04.07.2017
In The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik confidently asserts that “lyric poetry is for the young.” This is incorrect, and it is ageist. Perhaps it is sufficient here to quote from a New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell, “Late Bloomers,” October 20, 2008: Some poets do their best work at the beginning of their careers. Others do their best work decades later. Does Adam Gopnik bother to read his own magazine? Does his editor?
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