Best of Science on Reddit Last Week

in #science2 months ago

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Weekly Science Update

News and Research Papers From a Variety of Science Subreddits

Red seaweed reduces methane emissions from cow belches by 80%

Red seaweed reduces methane emissions from cow belches by 80%

[Source] | [Reddit Discussion]

  • When the researchers fed beef steers varying amounts of red seaweed and tracked them over 21 weeks, they found that methane emissions dropped by up to 80%.
  • Particularly promising is the red seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis, which has unusually high amounts of bromoform in its cells.
  • When the steers were eating more fiber, the seaweed was relatively less effective at reducing methane emissions.
  • Overall, the steers that received the lower and higher amounts of seaweed slashed their methane emissions by 45% and 68%, respectively.
  • When steers were eating a low-fiber, seaweed-supplemented diet, their methane emissions were reduced by about 70% to 80%.

Health declining in Gen X and Gen Y, national study shows

Health declining in Gen X and Gen Y, national study shows

[Source] | [Reddit Discussion]

  • “The worsening health profiles we found in Gen X and Gen Y is alarming,” Zheng said.
  • The researchers found that the measures of physical health have worsened from the Baby Boomer generation through Gen X (born 1965-80) and Gen Y (born 1981-99).
  • It wasn’t just the overall health markers that were concerning for some members of the younger generations, Zheng said.
  • Results showed that levels of anxiety and depression have increased for each generation of whites from the War Babies generation (born 1943-45) through Gen Y.
  • “People in Gen X and Gen Y are still relatively young, so we may be underestimating their health problems,” he said.

High vitamin D levels may protect against COVID-19, especially for Black people

High vitamin D levels may protect against COVID-19, especially for Black people

[Source] | [Reddit Discussion]

  • In a retrospective study of individuals tested for COVID-19, vitamin D levels above those traditionally considered sufficient were associated with a lower risk of COVID-19.
  • Statistically significant associations of vitamin D levels with COVID-19 risk were not found in white people.
  • "There's a lot of literature on vitamin D. Most of it has been focused on bone health, which is where the current standards for sufficient vitamin D levels come from," Meltzer explained.
  • "Lifeguards, surfers, those are the kinds of folks who tend to have more than sufficient vitamin D levels," he said.
  • While vitamin D supplements are relatively safe to take, excessive consumption of vitamin D supplements is associated with hypercalcemia, a condition in which calcium builds up in the blood stream and causes nausea, vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination.

50 new genes for eye colour

50 new genes for eye colour

[Source] | [Reddit Discussion]

  • An international team of researchers led by King’s and Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam have identified 50 new genes for eye colour in the largest genetic study of its kind to date.
  • These findings will help to improve the understanding of eye diseases such as pigmentary glaucoma and ocular albinism, where eye pigment levels play a role.
  • In addition, the team found that eye colour in Asians with different shades of brown is genetically similar to eye colour in Europeans ranging from dark brown to light blue.
  • This study builds on previous research in which scientists had identified a dozen genes linked to eye colour, believing there to be many more.
  • Previously, scientists thought that variation in eye colour was controlled by one or two genes only, with brown eyes dominant over blue eyes.

Opinion: High-speed trains. Fast internet. Clean water. Solar energy: These should be Biden's goals now

Opinion: High-speed trains. Fast internet. Clean water. Solar energy: These should be Biden's goals now

[Source] | [Reddit Discussion]

  • She wisely highlighted transportation, energy, water, education, and broadband internet as some of the nation's "critical needs."
  • Starting with former President Ronald Reagan, Republicans turned their back on federal infrastructure.
  • There may be several reasons for Republican opposition to federal infrastructure programs, but one of them may be the party's " southern strategy ," designed to curry favor with White segregationist voters in the south.
  • Following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, federal infrastructure aimed to serve all Americans, not just White Americans.
  • As The Wall Street Journal recently noted : "China has more 5G subscribers than the U.S., not just in total but per capita.

​NTU Singapore scientists develop device to 'communicate' with plants using electrical signals

​NTU Singapore scientists develop device to 'communicate' with plants using electrical signals

[Source] | [Reddit Discussion]

  • Scientists have known for decades that plants emit electrical signals to sense and respond to their environment.
  • However, plants' electrical signals are very weak, and can only be detected when the electrode makes good contact with plant surfaces.
  • It does not affect the plant's ability to perform photosynthesis while successfully detecting electrical signals from the plant.
  • By monitoring the plants' electrical signals, we may be able to detect possible distress signals and abnormalities.
  • Moving forward, the NTU team is looking to devise other applications using the improved version of their plant 'communication' device.

Scientist behind coronavirus shot says next target is cancer

Scientist behind coronavirus shot says next target is cancer

[Source] | [Reddit Discussion]

  • Ozlem Tureci founder of the BioNTech company speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, March 18, 2021.
  • (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)Ozlem Tureci founder of the BioNTech company speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, March 18, 2021.
  • (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)BERLIN (AP) — The scientist who won the race to deliver the first widely used coronavirus vaccine says people can rest assured the shots are safe, and the technology behind it will soon be used to fight another global scourge — cancer.
  • “We have several different cancer vaccines based on mRNA,” said Tureci, who is BioNTech’s chief medical officer.
  • “You began with a drug to treat cancer in a single individual,” Steinmeier told the couple.

Association of “#covid19” Versus “#chinesevirus” With Anti-Asian Sentiments on Twitter: March 9–23, 2020

Association of “#covid19” Versus “#chinesevirus” With Anti-Asian Sentiments on Twitter: March 9–23, 2020

[Source] | [Reddit Discussion]

  • To examine the extent to which the phrases, “COVID-19” and “Chinese virus” were associated with anti-Asian sentiments.
  • Data were collected from Twitter’s Application Programming Interface, which included the hashtags “#covid19” or “#chinesevirus.” We analyzed tweets from March 9 to 23, 2020, corresponding to the week before and the week after President Donald J. Trump’s tweet with the phrase, “Chinese Virus.” Our analysis focused on 1 273 141 hashtags.
  • One fifth (19.7%) of the 495 289 hashtags with #covid19 showed anti-Asian sentiment, compared with half (50.4%) of the 777 852 hashtags with #chinesevirus.
  • When comparing the week before March 16, 2020, to the week after, there was a significantly greater increase in anti-Asian hashtags associated with #chinesevirus compared with #covid19 (P < .001).
  • Our data provide new empirical evidence supporting recommendations to use the less-stigmatizing term “COVID-19,” instead of “Chinese virus.” (Am J Public Health.

Summers could last for half the year by 2100

Summers could last for half the year by 2100

[Source] | [Reddit Discussion]

  • Our summers are already about 20% longer than they used to be, and if the climate crisis continues unabated then northern hemisphere summers could cover nearly half of the year by 2100, making them more than twice as long as they were in the 1950s.
  • And unlike their counterparts of the 1950s, future summers will be more extreme, with heatwaves and wildfires more likely.
  • Researchers used historical climate data to measure how much the seasons have changed already.
  • Their results, published in Geophysical Research Letters, show that the average northern hemisphere summer has grown from 78 to 95 days between 1952 and 2011, while winter has shrunk from 76 to 73 days.
  • Using climate change models, they were able to show that even bigger changes are to come, with northern hemisphere summers lasting an average of 166 days by 2100, squeezing out all the other seasons and shrinking winter to just 31 days.

Trump’s election hurt shares of fossil fuel companies — but they’re rallying under Biden

Trump’s election hurt shares of fossil fuel companies — but they’re rallying under Biden

[Source] | [Reddit Discussion]

  • The counterintuitive result came despite Trump's pledges to embrace fossil fuels and criticism of green energy, leading researchers to conclude that, "The Paris Agreement trumped Trump."
  • The researchers used a portfolio event study, controlling for factors like oil prices and general market volatility that could have also affected oil and gas shares.
  • The Otago researchers were not the first to evaluate the effects of the Paris accord and Trump's election on oil and gas stocks.
  • By contrast, the Otago researchers gave equal weight to small and large firms.
  • "The integrated oil companies, the Exxons, are global by nature and had been under a lot of pressure around this stuff," said Diaz-Rainey.