Scientists Search for Rudolph's Red Nose, and other great stories.
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Green light (530nm) is readily absorbed by both oxygenated and deoxygenated blood but bounces (scatters) off of the surrounding tissue. Shining green light inside the nose of reindeer and humans, the researchers were able to take detailed videos of the nasal circulatory system, tracking the rate of blood flow through individual blood vessels.The researchers wrote their own image analysis software that can determine the density of blood vessels and track velocity of red blood cells through the dense network of blood vessels.Despite the tongue-in-cheek premise of this study, researchers have not previously used this imaging technique to study nasal circulation. The team found that humans and reindeer noses both feature hairpin-shaped blood vessels and similar capillary networks. Most pertinent to their aim, they found that the density of blood vessels in reindeer noses is 25% greater than the density in human noses, leading to a rosy tint. \"These factors explain why the nose of Rudolph, the lead flying reindeer employed by Santa Claus to pull his sleigh, is red and well adapted to carrying out his duties in extreme temperatures,\" the authors conclude in their paper.The annual BMJ holiday issue is a great read-- check out other great findings from the holiday issues including: whether 27 is actually the dangerous age for musicians, how fast you have to walk to beat Grim Reaper , and the dreamed-of expose on tooth fairy malpractice.

Mysterious Heat Spikes inside Cells Are Probed with Tiny Diamonds
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The dispersal of that heat sets an overall body temperature, with different types of cells contributing to varying degrees. Because the fluid in cells is water-based, scientists have generally assumed it carries heat much like water does. Instead heat dissipates in cells about five times more slowly—a speed more akin to the way it dissipates in oil. Until now “nobody knew this basic property of living cells,” Suzuki says. The heat conductivity identified in the new work can explain smaller heat spikes of a couple of degrees F, though not the massive heat surge in mitochondria, Suzuki says.

How the Suburbs Could Help Save Biodiversity
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This past summer saw at least tens of thousands of migrating birds drop dead from the sky over the Southwest. Too many of the exotic plants sold in nurseries are essentially inedible to most native animals. Yes, you’re saving water over planting thirsty ornamentals or a lawn, but drought-tolerant exotic plants can become invasive disasters when they escape our yards. Even in drier areas, like the American West, the selection of attractive native plants to choose from is vast. For those disenchanted with dry landscaping, using underappreciated and lush water-loving native plants to make your garden a real-life oasis could lifesaving to wildlife.

Vaccines Need Not Completely Stop COVID Transmission to Curb the Pandemic
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According to Dawn Bowdish, a professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster University, this so-called sterilizing immunity was a key factor in eliminating smallpox. “The [smallpox] vaccination caused sterilizing immunity, meaning that you don’t carry any of the virus. Sterilizing immunity may have been a lofty goal for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, though not necessary to curb disease. The oral polio vaccine (OPV) generates localized intestinal immunity, preventing infection and protecting against disease and transmission. But ample precedent points to vaccines driving successful containment of infectious diseases even when they do not provide perfectly sterilizing immunity.

The Timeless Journey of the Möbius Strip
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If you were to trace both “sides” of a Möbius strip, you would never have to lift your finger. The figurative and narrative implications of the Möbius strip are rich: when you try to go forward, you ring sideways, when you try to circle in, you find yourself outside. The continuum of crossing a Möbius strip is emblematic of how we experience time in a nonlinear way. ‘Time passes.’ ‘That’s how it goes,’ Aureliano admitted, ‘but not so much.’”The unorientable quality of the Möbius strip is perhaps its most distinctive. The Möbius band is used in hardware and popular imagery, but the mathematical and scientific fascination with the Möbius strip has also endured for over a century.

Unrivaled View of Brilliant ‘Planetary Nebula’ NGC 2899
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A star at the center of this tie-dye apparition is collapsing, a process scientists have watched and measured for decades. In 2020 astronomers overcame the 3,000 to 6,500 light-years separating us from this celestial beauty, named NGC 2899, for the clearest picture of it yet. Though the phenomenon is called a planetary nebula, the term is a misnomer. In the image of NGC 2899, oxygen (blue) is surrounded by hydrogen (pink). Discovered in 1835 by English astronomer John Herschel in the constellation Vela, NGC 2899 looks like a butterfly because it is made of two stars.

Coronavirus News Roundup: January 9–January 15
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People “should not really consider themselves protected until after a week or two following dose two,” he adds. The researchers now are studying whether outcomes vary for people on specific types of these drugs, the release states. Experts call this a One Health approach or concept, and they want governments to factor it into policies, Robbins reports. As humans move into more of Earth’s natural environments, more spillovers of animal diseases into humans are expected. “The spillover of animal, or zoonotic, viruses into humans causes some 75% of emerging infectious diseases,” Robbins writes.

The Science of Spiritual Narcissism
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Perhaps on the whole, spiritual practices really do help quiet the ego, and spiritual narcissism isn’t that widespread. SELF-CENTRALITY AND SPIRITUALITYIn the past few years, a number of high-quality studies have started to unearth the existence of spiritual narcissism and self-enhancement among spiritual practices that purport to quiet the ego. SPIRITUAL SUPERIORITY AND SPIRITUAL PRACTICESIn a more recent set of studies, Roos Vonk and Anouk Visser conducted an exploration of “spiritual superiority.” They interviewed several psychologists, spiritual trainers and lay people, and asked them to describe people who use spirituality as a self-enhancement tool. Interestingly, their scale of spiritual superiority was more strongly correlated with communal narcissism than self-esteem, providing evidence for the notion of “spiritual narcissism.” Indeed, it’s important to distinguish between healthy self-esteem and narcissism. Increases in healthy self-esteem as a result of spiritual practices may be a good thing, and are not necessarily indicative of spiritual narcissism, which is why it’s good that the researchers were able to tie their measure of spiritual superiority to a specific form of narcissism: communal narcissism.

Climate Deniers Shift Tactics to ‘Inactivism’
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The graph also helped make the researcher a target of attacks by climate change deniers. They have merely changed their tactics, Mann contends in his book The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet. You argue that the climate change deniers are going extinct and being replaced by a new group that you call “the inactivists.” Who are the inactivists? They are trying to convince people that climate change is not the result of their corporate policies but of our own individual actions. Can you give some concrete examples of how the fossil fuel industry has been working to create divisions within the environmental community?

Should Your Kidney Doctor Have a Financial Stake in Dialysis?
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By 2008, the average zip code in the U.S. had 1.2 dialysis clinics, with some having as many as seven. Especially for young nephrologists, joint venture dialysis clinics can seem like the only viable path. Joint venture dialysis facilities take advantage of certain exceptions written into Stark Law rules, but a closely related federal law, the Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits payments for patient referrals. But the database didn’t include any information about which dialysis clinics were joint ventures, let alone the parties that owned them. With everyone profiting from the current arrangement except for patients, dialysis clinics have little incentive to change.

Humans May Have Befriended Wolves with Meat
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How did dogs become humans’ best friend? Well, one idea is that docile wolves flocked to waste dumps near human camps. Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, she and her colleagues present a different hypothesis: that humans purposely shared their leftovers with wolves instead. And they found there likely would have been more than enough meat to go around. That’s because humans can’t survive on protein alone—but wolves can for months.

How to Avoid Becoming a Meal for a Cheetah
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Think of it this way: for every cheetah on the planet, there are more than four Starbucks coffee shops. Even though these communication hubs only comprise around 10 percent of the landscape, cheetahs spend most—sometimes all—of their time within them. “This is basically a long-term tradition, which is passed on from cheetah generation to cheetah generation. “I told him, ‘Look, Wilfred, I have the idea that they are actually there because of these marking trees. In all, the number of calves lost to cheetah predation fell by a whopping 86 percent.

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Shaped Our Language in 2020
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The pandemic has transformed lives and livelihoods. He says a lot of the words that came up fresh to many people in 2020 had existed in scholarly literature for decades. “So, for example, ‘contact tracing’ is attested from 1910—been in use for well over a century. But it took on new life during the pandemic. At a recent virtual meeting, they voted on the 2020 Word of the Year.

Why Does the Secret Service Protect a President's Adult Children?
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The Secret Service has, during the four years of Trump's tenure, spent enormous amounts of money providing protection to Trump's children. The adult Trump children have caught plenty of flak during their father's administration for hauling their Secret Service details all over the world at the U.S. taxpayer's expense. While in office, neither the president nor the vice president can decline Secret Service protection, but their spouses and adult children can. Almost all presidential families have accepted full Secret Service protection for as long as the law allows. Despite the cost, the Trump family is doing nothing unusual by accepting Secret Service protection at home and while traveling abroad.

Are Small Modular Reactors the Future of Nuclear Power?
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According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration , nuclear power plants produced 19.6% of the total electricity generated in the U.S. in 2019. Over the last several years, however, there has been a decline in the number of operating nuclear power plants. If conventional nuclear power plants continue to be shuttered, then how will we replace this energy source? Nuclear reactors are, effectively, costly boilers.While the debate about nuclear power is contentious, one thing remains clear: it remains a critical part of our energy infrastructure. The continued development of SMR technologies may be an important and beneficial upgrade to commercial nuclear energy production.

What's the Difference Between Cake Flour and All-purpose Flour?
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\" \" Cake flour has less protein than all-purpose flour, which means you end up with a lighter and moister end product. Now that the world is on a mission to bake as much in the kitchen as humanly possible, ingredients like all-purpose flour and cake flour are in the spotlight. For the amateur bakers out there who can't discern flour from baking soda or sugar from salt, here's an easy explainer that tells you everything you need to know about the difference between cake flour and all-purpose flour. Your typical batch of cake flour contains around 5 to 8 percent of protein, compared to all-purpose flour, which has around 10 to 13 percent. And consider spending a little extra to buy high-quality cake flour, especially for use in simple cake recipes where flavor is critical.

Farm Protests in India Are Writing the Green Revolution’s Obituary
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The move enraged farmers—especially in the northwestern state of Punjab, an epicenter of the Green Revolution since the 1950s. After protesting in vain for two months, tens of thousands of Punjab farmers began a march to New Delhi in late November. In a broader perspective, however, this agitation is writing the obituary of the Green Revolution. Underlying this broad base of discontent is the failure of the Green Revolution. In short, the Green Revolution secured cheap cereals in exchange for justice and ecological sustainability.

Rainbow Chameleons Display True Colors When Courting
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\" \" A male of the new chameleon species Calumma uetzi flaunts his display colors. The visually striking highlight of the three new lizards is undoubtedly the Calumma uetzi, a chameleon with rainbow-colored stripes along its back and tail. Researchers have located only about a dozen of the third little chameleon, Calumma juliae. Although Madagascar is the fifth-largest island on Earth, rampant deforestation and habitat loss mean all three of these new chameleon species are threatened by extinction. In the meantime, researchers keep racing to document more fauna like these little lizards before they are lost forever.

Running on Empty? How Bad Is It for Your Car?
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Don Farrall/Getty ImagesExperts say you should keep your gas tank at least a quarter full at all times. AdvertisementAdvertisementYou could also get debris stuck in your fuel pump by running your tank too low. If you're constantly running your gas tank dry, the fuel pump could be overheating, which will cause it to wear out prematurely. Now that you know that driving on empty is actually bad for your car, it should be easier to break the habit. That said, if you find yourself in a situation where you're running low, you won't ruin your car if it's only the first or second time it happens.

Anomaly Hunting and Boris Johnson's Phone Call
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The latest internet conspiracy theory involves a phone call between President Biden and Boris Johnson’s. The phone cable should be visible in the mirror descending from Boris Johnson’s watch, in this official Downing St picture. When I look at those pictures I absolutely see a phone cord, no problem. I can understand the initial reaction of – hey, where’s the phone cord in the mirror? They are about mystery mongering – look at that anomaly – and then attach a sinister implication to the anomaly.

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