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The Top 10 Ways Science Was Just Advanced In Chicago

Dispatches from the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Chicago this weekend.

1. Loneliness 'A Bigger Killer' Than Obesity For Aged.

"Loneliness in old age is twice as bad for your health as obesity, scientists have warned.

John Cacioppo, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, said that feeling isolated or rejected by society could have profound negative effects on health, ranging from blood pressure to sleep patterns.

"People who reported feeling alone were 14 per cent more likely to die during the six-year study period. This compared with a 7 per cent rise in mortality risk for obese people, found in previous research. The most lonely individuals were twice as likely to die as those who were most sociable.

"Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Professor Cacioppo said maintaining close relationships was as important as finding an idyllic backdrop, warm weather and good food when planning for retirement. "We have mythic notions of retirement," he said. He added that moving to a seaside resort was 'not the best idea.'"

2. Human Resource Needs Threaten Deep-Water Ecosystems.

"Relentlessly rising human demand for for deep-sea resources - fish, gas and oil, rare materials - is posing such a risk that international cooperation is needed if aquatic ecosystems are to be saved, U.S. scientists warn.

"The doubling of the world's population over the past five decades is putting great strain on the deep-sea ecosystems, which cover more than half of Earth, they told an annual science congress in Chicago on Sunday, February 16."

3. 'Neoracism' Growing In Research.

"Advances in genetic sequencing are giving rise to a new era of scientific racism despite decades of efforts to reverse attitudes used to justify the slave trade and Nazi theology, experts say.

"New forms of discrimination, known as 'neoracism,' are taking hold in scientific research, spreading the belief that races exist and are different in terms of biology, behavior and culture, according to anthropologists who spoke at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago on Friday."

4. Science, Religion Go Hand-In Hand In U.S.

"Science and religion can mix easily in the United States, a relatively religious country, a survey released on Sunday found.

"The study by Rice University, in Texas, polled more than 10,000 Americans, including scientists and evangelical Protestants.

"'We found that nearly 50 per cent of evangelical (Christians) believe that science and religion can work together and support one another,' sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund said.

"Ecklund presented the results at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Chicago. The United States is highly diverse, but also majority Christian."

5. Wavier Jet Stream 'May Drive Weather Shift.'

"The main system that helps determine the weather over Northern Europe and North America may be changing, research suggests.

"The study shows that the so-called jet stream has increasingly taken a longer, meandering path.

"This has resulted in weather remaining the same for more prolonged periods.

"The work was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago."

6. Animals Can Dance Too!

"Humans may not be the only species that can shake a leg, scientists have found that some animals such as monkeys and birds possess a sense of rhythm and a fondness for dancing.

"According to research presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Chicago, scientists have filmed a sea lion dancing to the 1970s disco classic 'Boogie Wonderland' by Earth Wind & Fire."

7. Computers Select Personal Medicine.

"U.K.-U.S. scientists have given one glimpse of the future of personalised medicine.

"Using supercomputers, they simulated the shape of a key protein involved in HIV infection in an individual patient and then ranked the drug molecules most likely to block the activity.

"The research was reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

"In the future, it is expected that patient-specific drug selection will become routine."

8. 25% Don't Know Earth Orbits Sun.

"When asked whether Earth orbits the Sun or Sun orbits the Earth, 25 percent of the people replied wrongly. They still don't understand one of the most fundamental principles of basic science.

"National Science Foundation conducted the survey and over 2,200 people in the US were asked few questions from basic science. It was a nine-question quiz based on biological and physical science. The foundation found average score of all the surveyed was 6.5.

"Only 74 percent of the participants knew that Earth moved around the Sun on its orbit and only 48 percent of them believed human beings evolved from earlier species of animals.

"Though poor basic knowledge, but at least the Americans knew more than the Europeans. Only 66 percent of people in the European Union (EU) answered the one question correctly.

"The survey was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago on Friday. The report will also be sent to US President Barack Obama and lawmakers."

9. Robotic Termites Build Without A Boss.

"U.S. scientists last week showed off tiny robots that can tackle tasks much like real-life termites, working collectively to build structures without following orders from a boss.

"The mechanical creatures can tote bricks, build staircases or construct a pyramid, scientists from Harvard University said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting."

10. Solitary Confinement Ravages The Mind, But Use Widespread.

"Robert King sat, slept and ate every meal alone in a cramped cell at Louisiana's notorious Angola prison for 29 long and lonely years.

"His eyesight failed from lack of stimulation, but King insists his resolve to fight the injustice of solitary confinement never did.

"The Black Panther movement member said he managed to stay sane through the strength of his political convictions.

"Many of the more than 80,000 prisoners currently held in solitary confinement in US prisons - and countless more around the world - are not as fortunate.

"The human mind is not built for the sensory and social isolation of solitary confinement, researchers said on Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago."

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on February 17, 2014


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Corporate Spies Like Us.
SPORTS - Why Was This Game Even Scheduled?

BOOKS - Postdictatorship Argentina.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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