Tag Archives: environmental factors

Who’s Afraid of Math? Study Finds Some Genetic Factors

Genetics plays a role, but researchers say environment still key

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new study of math anxiety shows how some people may be at greater risk to fear math not only because of negative experiences, but also because of genetic risks related to both general anxiety and math skills.

The study, which examined how fraternal and identical twins differ on measures of math anxiety, provides a revised view on why some children – and adults – may develop a fear of math that makes it more difficult for them to solve math problems and succeed in school. (more…)

Read More

Made in IBM Labs: Scientists Turn Data into Disease Detective to Predict Dengue Fever and Malaria Outbreaks

IBM teams up with Johns Hopkins University and UC San Francisco to help public health officials model, predict and track the possible spread of infectious diseases

SAN JOSE, Calif., – 30 Sep 2013: Scientists from IBM are collaborating with Johns Hopkins University and University of California, San Francisco to combat illness and infectious diseases in real-time with smarter data tools for public health. The focus is to help contain global outbreaks of dengue fever and malaria by applying the latest analytic models, computing technology and mathematical skills on an open-source framework.

Vector-borne diseases, like malaria and dengue fever, are infections transmitted to humans and other animals by blood-feeding insects, such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. (more…)

Read More

Where Does Charcoal, or Black Carbon, in Soils Go?

Scientists find surprising new answers in wetlands such as the Everglades

Scientists have uncovered one of nature’s long-kept secrets–the true fate of charcoal in the world’s soils.

The ability to determine the fate of charcoal is critical to knowledge of the global carbon budget, which in turn can help understand and mitigate climate change.

However, until now, researchers only had scientific guesses about what happens to charcoal once it’s incorporated into soil. They believed it stayed there.

Surprisingly, most of these researchers were wrong. (more…)

Read More

UW Nautilus Expedition May Have Spied New Species

A University of Washington research team has captured color photographs of what could be a previously undocumented species of chambered nautilus, a cephalopod mollusk often classified as a “living fossil,” in the waters off American Samoa in the South Pacific.

“This is certainly a new taxon, but we are not sure if it is a new species, subspecies or variety,” said UW paleontologist Peter Ward, who led the expedition to Samoa and Fiji.

“The Samoan nautiluses are large for the genus, brightly colored, and very, very rare,” he said. (more…)

Read More

March of the Pathogens: Parasite Metabolism Can Foretell Disease Ranges under Climate Change

Knowing the temperatures that viruses, bacteria, worms and all other parasites need to grow and survive could help determine the future range of infectious diseases under climate change, according to new research.

Princeton University researchers developed a model that can identify the prospects for nearly any disease-causing parasite as the Earth grows warmer, even if little is known about the organism. Their method calculates how the projected temperature change for an area would alter the creature’s metabolism and life cycle, the researchers report in the journal Ecology Letters. (more…)

Read More

Genomic Detectives Crack the Case of the Missing Heritability

Despite years of research, the genetic factors behind many human diseases and characteristics remain unknown. The inability to find the complete genetic causes of family traits such as height or the risk of type 2 diabetes has been called the “missing heritability” problem.

A new study by Princeton University researchers, however, suggests that missing heritability may not be missing after all — at least not in yeast cells, which the researchers used as a model for studying the problem. Published in the journal Nature, the results suggest that heritability in humans may be hidden due only to the limitations of modern research tools, but could be discovered if scientists know where (and how) to look. (more…)

Read More

Mussels Cramped by Environmental Factors

The fibrous threads helping mussels stay anchored – in spite of waves that sometimes pound the shore with a force equivalent to a jet liner flying at 600 miles per hour – are more prone to snap when ocean temperatures climb higher than normal.

Emily Carrington, a University of Washington professor of biology, reported Saturday (Feb. 16) that the fibrous threads she calls “nature’s bungee cords” become 60 percent weaker in water that was 15 degrees F (7 C) above typical summer temperatures where the mussels were from. She spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston. (more…)

Read More

Public Acceptance of Climate Change Affected by Word Usage, Says MU Anthropologist

Better science communication could lead to a more informed American public.

Public acceptance of climate change’s reality may have been influenced by the rate at which words moved from scientific journals into the mainstream, according to anthropologist Michael O’Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri. A recent study of word usage in popular literature by O’Brien and his colleagues documented how the usage of certain words related to climate change has risen and fallen over the past two centuries. Understanding how word usage affects public acceptance of science could lead to better science communication and a more informed public.

“Scientists can learn from this study that the general public shouldn’t be expected to understand technical terms or be convinced by journal papers written in technical jargon,” O’Brien said. “Journalists must explain scientific terms in ways people can understand and thereby ease the movement of those terms into general speech. That can be a slow process. Several words related to climate change diffused into the popular vocabulary over a 30-50 year timeline.” (more…)

Read More