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Studies find medical marijuana unproven to help many illnesses

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 19:17
  • Evidence was weak that marijuana helps anxiety and sleep disorders
  • Many edible products list inaccurate amounts of active ingredients

Medical marijuana has not been proven to work for many illnesses that state laws have approved it for, according to the first comprehensive analysis of research on its potential benefits.

The strongest evidence is for chronic pain and for muscle stiffness in multiple sclerosis, according to the review, which evaluated 79 studies involving more than 6,000 patients. Evidence was weak for many other conditions, including anxiety, sleep disorders, and Tourette’s syndrome and the authors recommend more research.

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Categories: Science news

Sexism in science: did Watson and Crick really steal Rosalind Franklin’s data?

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 19:05

The race to uncover the structure of DNA reveals fascinating insights into how Franklin’s data was key to the double helix model, but the ‘stealing’ myth stems from Watson’s memoir and attitude rather than facts

The wave of protest that followed Sir Tim Hunt’s stupid comments about ‘girls’ in laboratories highlighted many examples of sexism in science. One claim was that during the race to uncover the structure of DNA, Jim Watson and Francis Crick either stole Rosalind Franklin’s data, or ‘forgot’ to credit her. Neither suggestion is true.

In April 1953, the scientific journal Nature published three back-to-back articles on the structure of DNA, the material our genes are made of. Together, they constituted one of the most important scientific discoveries in history.

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Could these piglets become Britain's first commercially viable GM animals?

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 18:34

Pigs ‘edited’ with a warthog gene to resist African swine fever could help spawn GM animal farms in the UK

On an isolated farm outside Edinburgh, pigs grunt eagerly as their food arrives. The barn has a typical farmyard whiff, and a litter of tiny piglets, born just hours earlier, lie with trotters outstretched and eyes sealed, as helpless as any newborns. Only the occasional fluorescent snout or trotter reveals that the building is home to one of the world’s most advanced genetic modification projects.

“These are happy animals. They have a lovely sheen on them, their tails are wagging away,” said Prof Bruce Whitelaw, head of developmental biology at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, which is responsible for the pigs.

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Categories: Science news

Stop defending Tim Hunt

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 16:24

The likes of Richard Dawkins and Brian Cox should focus on taking up the real issue of sexism in science. It is absurd to say that scientists can do and say what they like in the name of academic freedom

As the Tim Hunt storm continues unabated, I find myself pondering my decision to break the story from the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea about his culturally insensitive and sexist remarks.

After an empty apology and then declaring that “he stood by his comments”, Hunt has taken the spotlight and somewhat self-indulgently allowed it to remain focused on him.

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Categories: Science news

Medical marijuana offers only weedy health benefits

New Scientist - news - Tue, 2015-06-23 16:00
A review of 79 clinical trials to assess the value of medical marijuana finds little solid evidence that the drug alleviates symptoms







Categories: Science news

Lamb with jellyfish gene 'may have been deliberately sent to abattoir'

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 12:04

Lamb genetically modified with jellyfish protein may have been sent from Paris lab to abattoir after dispute between researchers – and ended up on someone’s plate

A lamb born with a jellyfish gene was mistakenly sold for human consumption and probably ended up on someone’s plate, French authorities have said. A dispute between researchers at a highly respected national institute may have been the cause of the animal being deliberately sent to the abattoir last year. Police have now been called in and an inquiry launched into how the lamb could have been passed as fit for human consumption.

Le Parisien newspaper reported that the animal’s mother was a sheep called Emeraude whose DNA had been modified to include a jellyfish gene called Green Fluorescent Protein by researchers at the National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) in Paris. Her lamb, Rubis, was born with the gene in the spring of 2014. Although produced for research purposes, Rubis was allegedly deliberately mixed with several other lambs that had not been genetically modified and sent to an abattoir.

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Categories: Science news

Is science policy a theological matter?

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 11:34

With his latest statement on science, technology and the environment, Pope Francis has sought to change the debate on climate change. But his statement has broader significance for the way we think about the future

The Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ released by Pope Francis last week has generated a wide range of reactions ranging from enthusiastic praise to uneasy criticism. For some, the Pope’s key message was about climate change, for others about the downsides of economic growth, and some saw in it a reconciliation of science and religion. But the Encyclical also lays bare a debate much larger than each of these perspectives, one that is fundamentally about what kind of world we want to inhabit. The Pope’s message is just the latest intervention in a debate over technologies that has been going on for centuries.

Pope Francis writes of the “human roots of the ecological crisis” defined in terms of deference to a “technocratic paradigm” which contains “the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth.”

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Categories: Science news

Earth seen from International Space Station – timelapse video

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 11:29
Watch a collection of stunning timelapses from the International Space Station, as made by film-maker Dmitry Pisank, using images and video courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Nasa Johnson Space Centre. Visit The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth for more images and video from the International Space Station Continue reading...







Categories: Science news

Google's block on revenge porn images a blow to online harassers

New Scientist - news - Tue, 2015-06-23 10:00
Google's decision to block revenge porn images is no censorship slippery slope, but a welcome boost for victims, says Jennifer Golbeck







Categories: Science news

Gift of rare basking shark to Victorian scientists 'fantastic' for research

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 08:01

The 3,500kg, 6.5-metre ‘gentle giant’ accidentally netted by trawler in Bass Strait and donated to Museum Victoria

A basking shark, rarely seen in Australian waters, will be donated to scientists after it was caught by the Castella Rosa fishing trawler off Victoria’s south-west coast.

The 3,500kg, 6.5-metre shark was being dissected by staff from Museum Victoria on Tuesday after being pulled in by the trawler on Sunday afternoon at Portland.

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The genesis and renaissance of general relativity

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 07:15

Another Perimeter Institute lecture, by Jürgen Renn, on the theory by which as John Wheeler put it - ‘Matter tells space how to curve. Space tells matter how to move’

As described in Pedro Ferreira’s book “The Perfect Theory”, after its development by Albert Einstein about a 100 years ago, and the subsequent big splash of its vindication by Eddington’s observations of stars near to the Sun during an eclipse, the general theory of relativity went into a bit of a lull, becoming something of a backwater. It answered the fundamental questions in physics that it was intended for, and the equations supported some interesting solutions, but the theory did not develop. Unusually for a great breakthrough in science, it did not seem to lead on to further exciting questions and phenomena, especially when contrasted with quantum theory, which was bursting out all over.

It was not until the second half of the 20th century when a renaissance in general relativity combined with the rise of relativistic astrophysics and observational cosmology, and gave the theorists data to chew on and the astronomers new things to look for. This talk by Jürgen Renn will trace the genesis of general relativity, look at Einstein’s research and the work of many other scientists who contributed to the theory, and show how general relativity eventually became not only a highly active field of research, but one of the principal challenges to the conceptual unification of physics.

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Categories: Science news

Academic freedom sexism | Richard P Grant

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 07:01

Shutting other people up when you’re powerful but frightened isn’t defending academic freedom. It’s repressing it

Two weeks ago, a Nobel Laureate made some ill-advised remarks in front of the World Conference of Science Journalism.

Whether or not these were intended as a joke is irrelevant at this stage; the remarks were made, people got offended, and the rest is history. Sir Tim Hunt offered his resignation from an honorary position (with no responsibilities and no salary) at University College London, and it was accepted. Again, whether he was pushed or whether he jumped is today of little concern.

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Categories: Science news

The ethics of AI: how to stop your robot cooking your cat

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 07:00

By tracking how people live their values, businesses can and must instil ethical frameworks into the technologies of the future

At a time when most media surrounding artificial intelligence are focused on wondering when machines will become self-aware, a larger question is which ethical frameworks should guide this autonomous evolution.

Personalisation algorithms scrutinise human behaviour to a molecular level and define, by our actions, what values we’re living on a daily and even momentary basis. But when it comes to questions of consciousness, spirituality and wellbeing, it’s only by becoming self-aware that we will be able to define humanity within the environment of mechanised sentience.

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Categories: Science news

Exposure to mixture of common chemicals may trigger cancer, scientists find

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 06:39

One in five cancers may be caused when common chemicals – deemed safe on their own – blend lethally inside the human body, study reveals

Chemicals deemed safe to humans may blend lethally together inside the human body to cause cancer, a report says.

Researchers, including New Zealand scientist Dr Linda Gulliver, have released findings into possible links between common chemicals and the development of cancer.

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Categories: Science news

Red aurora from space: astronaut's photograph has the world saying wow

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 05:43

American astronaut Scott Kelly posted this image on Twitter on Tuesday with the words: “I’ve never seen this before- red #aurora. Spectacular! #YearInSpace”. His post garnered more than 5,000 favourites in a matter of hours and the first comment, by @Jordan_D, summed up public reaction: “wowowowowow.” Another photo posted by Kelly captured the “curtain of [the] aurora closing”.

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Categories: Science news

NHS cancer guide for GPs and patients could save 5,000 lives a year, says Nice

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 00:29

Guidance on symptoms and tests drawn up by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for doctors and patients could transform cancer care in UK

Doctors are being advised to extend cancer tests to half a million more people a year under new guidelines which could eventually prevent 5,000 deaths a year.

Thousand of lives will be saved every year if GPs and patients act on new NHS guidance, which details for the first time the symptoms that could indicate cancer.

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Categories: Science news

Climate change threatens 50 years of progress in global health, study says

Guardian Science - Tue, 2015-06-23 00:01

But slashing fossil fuel use also presents greatest global opportunity to improve people’s health in 21st century, says Lancet and UCL commission

Climate change threatens to undermine half a century of progress in global health, according to a major new report.

But the analysis also concludes that the benefits to health resulting from slashing fossil fuel use are so large that tackling global warming also presents the greatest global opportunity to improve people’s health in the 21st century.

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Categories: Science news

IUCN list shows no new extinctions – but they loom large

New Scientist - news - Tue, 2015-06-23 00:01
The latest IUCN Red List update shows 14 more species have become critically endangered, as other research says the sixth mass extinction is starting







Categories: Science news

Fighting climate change is opportunity to improve public health

New Scientist - news - Tue, 2015-06-23 00:01
Making changes to slow down climate change would also improve the health of millions worldwide, and could cut healthcare costs







Categories: Science news

Robo-roach rolls its curved back to wriggle through cracks

New Scientist - news - Tue, 2015-06-23 00:01
A thinner body isn't the only way to fit through a tight gap. A new shape has helped a robot cockroach to perfect its manoeuvres







Categories: Science news
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