Quality of Audio Recordings is Possibly Important for Assessing Scientific Information

Kind of daunting if significantly true, but truth tellers should be aware of this as they face well-funded corporate propaganda machines. From what I know about sound quality, the rooms that are recorded in can actually make a substantial difference based on the texture of the floors and walls. That’s probably why rooms specifically designed for audio recording can easily cost thousands of dollars, but I do also think that a lot of people have a better BS detector than this study would suggest.

Separating fact from fiction in the age of alternate facts is becoming increasingly difficult, and now a new study has helped reveal why. Research by Dr Eryn Newman of The Australian National University (ANU) has found that when people listen to recordings of a scientist presenting their work, the quality of audio had a significant impact on whether people believed what they were hearing, regardless of who the researcher was or what they were talking about.

Dr Newman, of the ANU Research School of Psychology, said the results showed when it comes to communicating science, style can triumph over substance.

“When people are assessing the credibility of information, most of the time people are making a judgement based on how something feels,” Dr Newman said. “Our results showed that when the sound quality was poor, the participants thought the researcher wasn’t as intelligent, they didn’t like them as much and found their research less important.”

The study used experiments where people viewed video clips of scientists speaking at conferences. One group of participants heard the recordings in clear high-quality audio, while the other group heard the same recordings with poor-quality audio.

Participants were then asked to evaluate the researchers and their work. Those who listened to the poorer quality audio consistently evaluated the scientists as less intelligent and their research as less important.

In a second experiment, researchers upped the ante and conducted the same experiment using renowned scientists discussing their work on the well-known US Science Friday radio program. This time the recordings included audio of the scientists being introduced with their qualifications and institutional affiliations.”It made no difference,” she said. “As soon as we reduced the audio quality, all of a sudden the scientists and their research lost credibility.”

As with the first experiments, participants thought the research was worse, the scientists were less competent and they also reported finding their work less interesting.

Dr Newman said in a time when genuine science is struggling to be heard above fake news and alternate facts, researchers need to consider not only the content of their messages, but features of the delivery.

“Another recent study showed false information travels six times faster than real information on Twitter,” she said.”Our results show that it’s not just about who you are and what you are saying, it’s about how your work is presented.”

Research Into Optimal Sleep Positions

Apparently sleeping on one’s back is supposedly most beneficial to health, according to this research.

Sometimes we wake up groggy even though we’ve gone to bed on time and had a solid eight hours of sleep.

Experts say it could be down to your sleeping position – sleeping on your back is supposedly the best position, but ultimately, comfort is key.

There’s no longer any doubt that sleep is incredibly important. But it’s not just about getting enough sleep, it’s also about trying to stick to a sleep schedule that is in tune with your body clock, or circadian rhythm.

If people are out of sync, they can wake up feeling groggy, and find it difficult to focus the next day. But even when you think you’ve done everything right – you went to bed on time and got a good eight hours of sleep – you may still wake up tired and irritable.

According to sleep experts, this could be because of the way you’re sleeping.

Shelby Harris, a sleep medicine expert and a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine told Popular Science that if your sleeping position isn’t working for you, there are things you can do to change it.

Most people sleep on their sides, according to the National Sleep Foundation, but this position can cause shoulder and hip pain. Also, sleeping on your right side may even aggravate heartburn, some research found.

The theory is that a muscle in your esophagus that keeps acid in your stomach and out of your throat is loosened by the position, so some acid creeps up and causes a burning sensation. If you sleep on your left side, this muscle keeps the gap shut.

Harris said you should try sleeping on your left side if you get heartburn. Also, you should buy pillows that are thick enough to support your head, and tuck a pillow under your knees to support your lower back.

The absolute worst sleeping position, Harris said, is lying on your stomach. Only 7 percent of people do this, but it puts pressure on your entire body. You’re likely to wake up with numbness and tingling, and it can increase the chance of muscle and joint pain.

To make it easier on your body, Harris said you can use a flatter pillow to reduce neck strain.

The best position is sleeping on your back, which only 8 percent of people do. It’s the best position for reducing aches and pain, and it doesn’t cause heartburn because your head is elevated above your chest.

Of course, lying on your back increases the risk of snoring. If you’re prone to sleep apnea, it might not be the position for you, although there are exercises you can try to reduce snoring.

If you’d like to change your style, Harris said you can put pillows on both sides of your body, and one under your knees. This should stop you moving around too much.

If this doesn’t work, you can sew a tennis ball into the lining of your shirt, so the discomfort makes you flip back over if you try and turn.

“Although it is commonly recommended that sleeping on your back is the best position to sleep in, comfort is key,” Harris said. “If you’re in pain or uncomfortable from your sleep position, it can definitely impact your sleep quality.”

So if you find you’re often waking up groggy, and you’re not sure why, try changing your sleeping position.

Improved Process for Making Clean Drinking Water Out of Salt Water Developed

It would be helpful in creating much more safe drinking water if it actually becomes mass produced.

Using an innovative combination of sunshine and hydrogels, a new device just unveiled by scientists is able to produce clean drinking water from virtually any source – even the salty waters of the Dead Sea.

This new technique could prevent tens of thousands of death every year, since access to safe drinking water is at a premium in many developing nations, not to even mention the wake of a natural disaster or emergency anywhere in the world.

The technology is compact, inexpensive, and uses ambient solar energy in order to evaporate water and remove impurities, making it a substantial upgrade over similar processes that have been used in the past.

“Water desalination through distillation is a common method for mass production of freshwater,” says one of the researchers, Fei Zhao from the University of Texas at Austin.

“However, current distillation technologies, such as multi-stage flash and multi-effect distillation, require significant infrastructures and are quite energy-intensive.”

“Solar energy, as the most sustainable heat source to potentially power distillation, is widely considered to be a great alternative for water desalination.”

The new filtering device works by combining several gel-polymer hybrid materials that mix both hydrophilic (water-attracting) and semiconducting (solar-adsorbing) properties.

The nanostructure of the gels enables more water vapour to be produced from less solar energy, and without the complicated series of optical instruments that existing devices use to concentrate sunlight. Here, that concentration isn’t needed.

When a jar of contaminated water is placed in direct sunlight with the hydrogel evaporator on top, vapour is released that’s then trapped and stored by a condenser.

“We have essentially rewritten the entire approach to conventional solar water evaporation,” says lead researcher Guihua Yu, from the University of Texas at Austin.

To give their new contraption a thorough testing, the researchers tried it out at the Dead Sea, which borders Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. With a salinity of around 34 percent, it’s about ten times as salty as your standard ocean water.

The hydrogel filtering device passed its test with flying colours, producing drinking water from the Dead Sea that met the accepted drinking water standards put down by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

CDC Warning About Resistant “Nightmare Bacteria” Appearing in the U.S.

Antimicrobial resistance is among the most important issues facing society today, and it’s somewhat unnerving that there’s such a lack of focus on it. There needs to be a massive new funding effort to develop new ways to fight this threat.

You’ve probably read about antibiotic resistance at some point, but sometimes it’s hard to stress just how important this issue is, especially when it feels like a far off problem.

So how about this – each year, over 23,000 Americans die because of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.

According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last year, nationwide tests discovered 221 instances of ‘unusual’ germs – bugs resistant to all, or most antibiotics tested on it.

This is no longer a far-off problem – it’s something hospitals are fighting right now.

“Unusual resistance germs, which are resistant to all or most antibiotics tested and are uncommon or carry special resistance genes, are constantly developing and spreading,” the CDC team writes for their in-house journal, Vital Signs.

“Lab tests uncovered unusual resistance more than 200 times in 2017 in “nightmare bacteria” alone.”

Nightmare bacteria are bacteria that are either nearly, or fully untreatable.

The study found that one in four samples sent into the lab for testing had bacteria with special genes that allowed them to spread resistance to other bacteria.

Not only that, but in facilities that had these bacteria with unusual genes, about 1 in 10 symptomless people who were screened had at least one resistant bug.

These people can pass on the resistant bacteria, effectively becoming a silent carrier of an illness.

“CDC’s study found several dangerous pathogens, hiding in plain sight, that can cause infections that are difficult or impossible to treat,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat.

So, what can we do? Many researchers are working on developing more antibiotics, or ways of stopping bacteria without antibiotics, but the CDC is urging hospitals and healthcare providers to stay on top of the problem as well.

“As fast as we have run to slow [antibiotic] resistance, some germs have outpaced us,” Schuchat said to Kaiser Health News.

“We need to do more and we need to do it faster and earlier.”

The paper recommends rapid identification of bacteria to check for resistance, completing infection control assessments, and testing those without symptoms who may also carry and spread the germs.

This is on top of the advice already provided by the CDC to do with correct use to antibiotics, both in prescribing, and taking them – for example, not using antibiotics when you have a viral infection like the common cold or the flu.

But there is some good news as well – the CDC lab network “is working at an absolutely high level of effectiveness,” said William Schaffner, from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine to Kaiser Health News.

Latest Synthetic Antibiotic is Capable of Eliminating Some Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

An important discovery for sure.

A “game changing” new antibiotic which is capable of killing superbugs has been successfully synthesised and used to treat an infection for the first time — and could lead to the first new class of antibiotic drug in 30 years.

The breakthrough is another major step forward on the journey to develop a commercially viable drug version based on teixobactin — a natural antibiotic discovered by US scientists in soil samples in 2015 which has been heralded as a “gamechanger” in the battle against antibiotic resistant pathogens such as MRSA and VRE.

Scientists from the University of Lincoln, UK, have now successfully created a simplified, synthesised form of teixobactin which has been used to treat a bacterial infection in mice, demonstrating the first proof that such simplified versions of its real form could be used to treat real bacterial infection as the basis of a new drug.

[…]

As well as clearing the infection, the synthesised teixobactin also minimised the infection’s severity, which was not the case for the clinically-used antibiotic, moxifloxacin, used as a control study. The findings are published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

It has been predicted that by 2050 an additional 10 million people will succumb to drug resistant infections each year. The development of new antibiotics which can be used as a last resort when other drugs are ineffective is therefore a crucial area of study for healthcare researchers around the world.

Dr Ishwar Singh, a specialist in novel drug design and development from the University of Lincoln’s School of Pharmacy, said: “Translating our success with these simplified synthetic versions from test tubes to real cases is a quantum jump in the development of new antibiotics, and brings us closer to realising the therapeutic potential of simplified teixobactins.

“When teixobactin was discovered it was groundbreaking in itself as a new antibiotic which kills bacteria without detectable resistance including superbugs such as MRSA, but natural teixobactin was not created for human use.

“A significant amount of work remains in the development of teixobactin as a therapeutic antibiotic for human use — we are probably around six to ten years off a drug that doctors can prescribe to patients — but this is a real step in the right direction and now opens the door for improving our in vivo analogues.”

Dr Lakshminarayanan Rajamani from SERI added: “We need sophisticated armour to combat antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Drugs that target the fundamental mechanism of bacterial survival, and also reduce the host’s inflammatory responses are the need of the hour. Our preliminary studies suggest that the modified peptide decreases the bacterial burden as well as disease severity, thus potentially enhancing the therapeutic utility.”

Micro-Scale Nuclear Fusion Produced by Laser-Heated Nanowires

This could be such an important development for the massive generation of energy that it’s difficult to make a brief statement on it. Nuclear fusion’s potential brings with it immense potential for harm or benefit though — its power will have to be controlled appropriately.

Nuclear fusion, the process that powers our sun, happens when nuclear reactions between light elements produce heavier ones. It’s also happening — at a smaller scale — in a Colorado State University laboratory.

Using a compact but powerful laser to heat arrays of ordered nanowires, CSU scientists and collaborators have demonstrated micro-scale nuclear fusion in the lab. They have achieved record-setting efficiency for the generation of neutrons — chargeless sub-atomic particles resulting from the fusion process. Their work is detailed in a paper published in Nature Communications, and is led by Jorge Rocca, University Distinguished Professor in electrical and computer engineering and physics. The paper’s first author is Alden Curtis, a CSU graduate student.

Laser-driven controlled fusion experiments are typically done at multi-hundred-million-dollar lasers housed in stadium-sized buildings. Such experiments are usually geared toward harnessing fusion for clean energy applications.

In contrast, Rocca’s team of students, research scientists and collaborators, work with an ultra fast, high-powered tabletop laser they built from scratch. They use their fast, pulsed laser to irradiate a target of invisible wires and instantly create extremely hot, dense plasmas — with conditions approaching those inside the sun. These plasmas drive fusion reactions, giving off helium and flashes of energetic neutrons.

In their Nature Communications experiment, the team produced a record number of neutrons per unit of laser energy — about 500 times better than experiments that use conventional flat targets from the same material. Their laser’s target was an array of nanowires made out of a material called deuterated polyethylene. The material is similar to the widely used polyethylene plastic, but its common hydrogen atoms are substituted by deuterium, a heavier kind of hydrogen atom.

The efforts were supported by intensive computer simulations conducted at the University of Dusseldorf (Germany), and at CSU.

Making fusion neutrons efficiently, at a small scale, could lead to advances in neutron-based imaging, and neutron probes to gain insight on the structure and properties of materials. The results also contribute to understanding interactions of ultra-intense laser light with matter.

Cancer Immunotherapy Eliminates Tumors in Mice

It’s notable research due to the similarities humans share with mice, but it’s unclear just how relevant this improvement in immunotherapy will be.

Injecting minute amounts of two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors in mice can eliminate all traces of cancer in the animals, including distant, untreated metastases, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The approach works for many different types of cancers, including those that arise spontaneously, the study found.

The researchers believe the local application of very small amounts of the agents could serve as a rapid and relatively inexpensive therapy that is unlikely to cause the adverse side effects often seen with bodywide immune stimulation.

“When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,” said Ronald Levy, MD, professor of oncology. “This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient’s immune .”

One agent is currently already approved for use in humans; the other has been tested for human use in several unrelated clinical trials. A clinical trial was launched in January to test the effect of the treatment in patients with lymphoma.