Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 2021)

Science news and science current events archive February, 2021.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 2021

The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: 40% of countries show no progress in reducing cigarette smoking in adolescents over last 20 years
Despite an overall reduction in cigarette use over the last 20 years, nearly 1 in 5 boys (17.9%) and more than 1 in 10 girls (11.5%) around the world used tobacco at least once in the past month between 2010-2018, according to a new study published today in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

'In the blink of an eye' statistics
HSE University researchers Yuri Markov and Natalia Tiurina discovered that when people visually estimate the size of objects, they are also able to consider their distance from the observer, even if there are many such objects. The observers rely not only on the objects' retinal representation, but also on the surrounding context. The paper was published in the journal Acta Psychologica.

Effect of high-dose zinc, ascorbic acid supplementation vs usual care on symptom length, reduction among ambulatory patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection
These findings suggest that treatment with zinc, ascorbic acid or both doesn't affect SARS-CoV-2 symptoms.

The Lancet: USA failing to reach populations most in need of HIV prevention and treatment services as epidemic grows in the South and rural areas
The USA continues to lag behind other G-7 nations when it comes to controlling its HIV epidemic and is the only high-income country among the top 10 most HIV-affected countries worldwide. The majority of HIV infections are now concentrated in the South and rural areas, where women and minorities are disproportionately affected; a disparity that has also been seen in the COVID-19 pandemic which has disproportionately affected African Americans, Latinx Americans, Native Americans, and prisoners and detainees.

If healthy people are purposefully infected with COVID-19 for the sake of science, they should be paid
Multidisciplinary team of international experts suggests participants should receive a ''substantial'' amount, be paid ethically.

Mobile game that uses implicit learning improved children's short-term food choices
A new study examined how Indian 10- and 11-year-olds' food choices were affected by playing a pediatric dietary mobile game that uses implicit learning--educating players without making them aware of the lessons through innovations in neurocognitive training and immersive technology. The study found that the game significantly improved children's food choices immediately after play.

Front-of-package product names and ingredient lists of infant and toddler food can be hard to navigate
Early exposure to nutritious foods may help children develop more healthful eating habits, but package labels can make it difficult for parents to understand what they are feeding their young children, according to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, published by Elsevier.

The Lancet Public Health: Survey taken after France's first COVID-19 wave indicates almost one-third of working-age people could reject a vaccine
Nearly one in three working-age adults in France (29%) surveyed in July 2020 - when lockdown restrictions had been eased - were outright opposed to being vaccinated against the virus, according to new research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Chinese scientists use knowledge from climate system modeling to develop a global prediction system for the COVID-19 pandemic
Chinese scientists use knowledge from climate system modeling to develop a global prediction system for the COVID-19 pandemic

Happy childhood? That's no guarantee for good mental health
It's well understood that a difficult childhood can increase the likelihood of mental illness, but according to new research from the University of South Australia, a happy and secure childhood does not always protect a child from developing a mental illness later in life.

The Lancet: New report details devastating impact of the Trump administration's health-harming policies, calls for sweeping reforms
The first comprehensive assessment of the health effects of Donald Trump's presidency is published today in The Lancet revealing devastating impacts on every aspect of health in the USA. The Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era [1] also traces the policy failures that preceded and fueled Trump's ascent and left the USA lagging behind other high-income nations on life expectancy.

Experiment shows how our visual system avoids overloading
Russian researchers from HSE University have studied a hypothesis regarding the capability of the visual system to automatically categorize objects (i.e., without requiring attention span). The results of a simple and beautiful experiment confirmed this assumption. The paper was published in the journal Scientific Reports. The study was supported by a Russian Science Foundation grant.

How likely are consumers to adopt artificial intelligence for banking advice?
A new study published in Economic Inquiry is the first to assess the willingness of consumers to adopt advisory services in the banking sector that are based on artificial intelligence (AI).

Emergency department visits for mental health, overdose and violence before, during COVID-19 pandemic
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were used to look at changes in emergency department visits for mental health, suicide attempts, drug and opioid overdoses and outcomes of violence before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scientists identify how harmless gut bacteria "turn bad"
An international team of scientists has determined how harmless E. coli gut bacteria in chickens can easily pick up the genes required to evolve to cause a life-threatening infection. Their study, published in Nature Communications, warns that such infections not only affect the poultry industry but could also potentially cross over to infect humans.

Trapping gases better with boron nitride "nanopores"
Porous activated carbon (AC) is well-known for its ability to efficiently trap gases and help in catalyzing chemical reactions on its surface. Lately, boron nitride (BN), with a structure similar to that of carbon, has emerged as an attractive alternative to carbon. Now, in a new study, scientists from Japan reveal superior gas confinement in porous BN compared with that of AC, thereby unveiling a novel material to take high-performance adsorption to the next level.

Nanotech plastic packaging could leach silver into some types of foods and beverages
Antimicrobial packaging is being developed to extend the shelf life and safety of foods and beverages. However, there is concern about the transfer of potentially harmful materials, such as silver nanoparticles, from these types of containers to consumables. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces illustrate that silver embedded in an antimicrobial plastic can leave the material and form nanoparticles in foods and beverages, particularly in sweet and sugary ones.

Chinese people may be more susceptible to obesity-related health risks than other racial, ethnic groups
Chinese people are more likely to face high blood pressure and other health risks as a result of higher body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference than people from other racial and ethnic groups, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Study finds consensus for arming school resource officers, division on arming teachers and other staff
A new study examined public support for arming school employees. The study found consensus for arming school resource officers, but division over whether to arm teachers and nonteaching staff. The research has clear implications for policy, including the possibility that support for arming school staff may diminish over time as young people (who are less supportive) make up a larger share of voters.

Mentally ill kids become less healthy adults
A new pair of studies from a Duke research team's long-term work in New Zealand make the case that early-life mental health problems can lead to physical diseases and advanced aging in adulthood. But because mental health conditions can appear early in life, the researchers say that investment in prompt mental health care could be used to prevent later diseases and reduce healthcare costs.

LSU Health study finds psychosocial factors may drive peritoneal dialysis patient dropout
A retrospective study conducted by LSU Health New Orleans reports that contrary to previous research, most patients who drop out of peritoneal dialysis may do so for psychosocial reasons. The findings are published in The American Journal of the Medical Sciences. The paper inspired a companion editorial.

The Lancet: 3-month interval between first and second dose of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine results in higher vaccine efficacy than 6-week interval
* Exploratory analyses including 17,178 participants find that higher vaccine efficacy is obtained with a longer interval between the first and second standard dose (81% for 3-month interval vs 55% for up to 6-week interval). In addition, a single dose of vaccine is highly efficacious in the first 3 months (76% efficacy from 22 days after vaccination onwards).

Mail-in sperm testing system just as reliable in predicting male fertility as tests performed in clinic settings
Keck Medicine of USC study shows that semen can accurately be tested up to 52 hours after being collected, offering men greater flexibility in how they provide sperm specimens

Lifestyle changes in pregnant women affected babies' genes
A study led by researchers at Lund University in Sweden showed a connection between lifestyle intervention in pregnant women with obesity and epigenetic alterations in the baby. The study is published in the journal Diabetes.

Two distinct pathways leading to the development of septic shock pave the way for personalized medicine in sepsis
Diagnostics company SphingoTec GmbH announced today that two distinct processes are involved in the development of septic shock and that SphingoTec's biomarkers for endothelial function (vascular integrity) and cardiovascular depression allow early identification of these underlying mechanisms requiring different interventions.

Wintering bird communities track climate change faster than breeding communities in Europe and North America
A study recently completed in Europe and North America indicates that the composition of wintering and breeding bird communities changes in line with global warming. However, wintering bird communities are considerably faster at tracking the changing climate compared to breeding communities.

Association of maternal cardiovascular health during pregnancy with later health of offspring in adolescence
The observational study examined associations between maternal cardiovascular health during pregnancy (as measured by body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol level, glucose level and smoking) with the later cardiovascular health of their offspring at ages 10 to 14 years old (as measured by body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol level and glucose level).

Global study of 48 cities finds nature sanitizes 41.7 million tons of human waste a year
Researchers found that nature provides at least 18% of sanitation services in 48 cities worldwide, according to researchers in the United Kingdom and India. The study, published February 19 in the journal One Earth, estimates that more than 2 million cubic meters of the cities' human waste is processed each year without engineered infrastructure. This includes pit latrine waste that gradually filters through the soil--a natural process that cleans it before it reaches groundwater.

Evolution's game of rock-paper-scissors
A group of scientists at Lehigh University led by Gregory Lang, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has recently provided empirical evidence that evolution can be nontransitive. Lang and his team identify a nontransitive evolutionary sequence through a 1,000-generation yeast evolution experiment. In the experiment, an evolved clone outcompetes a recent ancestor but loses in direct competition with a distant ancestor.

The Lancet: Study reports preliminary efficacy and safety results from interim analysis of Russian COVID-19 phase 3 vaccine trial
An interim analysis of data from the phase 3 trial of the COVID-19 vaccine from Russia (Gam-COVID-Vac) suggests that a two-dose regimen of the adenovirus-based vaccine offers 91.6% efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19. The preliminary findings, published in The Lancet, are based on analysis of data from nearly 20,000 participants, three-quarters of whom received the vaccine and one quarter received a placebo.

Study finds childhood diet has lifelong impact
Eating too much fat and sugar as a child can alter your microbiome for life, even if you later learn to eat healthier, a new UC Riverside study in mice suggests.

New insight into protein structures that could treat Huntington's disease
In Huntington's disease, a faulty protein aggregates in brain cells and eventually kills them. Such protein aggregates could, in principle, be prevented with a heat shock protein. However, it is not well known how these proteins interact with the Huntington's disease protein. New research by Patrick van der Wel (University of Groningen) and colleagues at the University of Texas has partially resolved the structure of heat shock proteins that bind to such aggregating proteins.

The benefits of reading outdoors
Investigators demonstrate that image luminance has opposite effects on the contrast sensitivity of cortical pathways signaling lights than darks. It impairs luminance discrimination for the brightest stimuli of the scene while improving it for the darkest stimuli, a mechanism that is needed to efficiently sample natural scenes.

Study finds risk factor for blood clots occurs in more than 10 percent of transgender men using testosterone
A potentially dangerous side effect of testosterone therapy for transgender men is an increase in red blood cells that can raise the risk of blood clots, heart attack or stroke, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Experiences of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) linked to nutritional health
A study of factors associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has led to a number of novel findings linking nutrition to experiences of PTSD. Notable among them is the discovery that Canadians, between the ages of 45 and 85, were less likely to exhibit PTSD if they consumed an average of two to three fiber sources daily.

Dark-skinned teens, females prime targets of acne's psychological fallout
A more aggressive approach to treating acne that marries the disciplines of psychology and dermatology is needed, according to two UC Riverside psychology researchers. They also assert that women and people with darker skin disproportionately suffer from acne's psychological impacts.

Study suggests environmental factors had a role in the evolution of human tolerance
Environmental pressures may have led humans to become more tolerant and friendly towards each other as the need to share food and raw materials became mutually beneficial, a new study suggests.

First COVID-19 lockdown cost UK hospitality and high street £45 billion in turnover, researchers estimate
However, UK supermarkets and online retailers made an additional £4 billion each thanks to the coronavirus lockdown that began in March last year, according to recent estimates.

Significant cancer rates in California sea lions has major human health implications
20-plus years of data in newly released study by The Marine Mammal Center shows ocean pollutants is one of the leading causes of cancer in sea lions, and highlights how the exposure to environmental contaminants can fast-track the likelihood of humans developing virally caused cancers.

Applying quantum computing to a particle process
A team of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) used a quantum computer to successfully simulate an aspect of particle collisions that is typically neglected in high-energy physics experiments, such as those that occur at CERN's Large Hadron Collider.

New study on the forecasting of extreme rainfall events in Mediterranean countries
A new study identifies nine specific large-scale weather patterns that influence extreme precipitation over the Mediterranean. Making use of this connection between localized extremes and large-scale weather variability can help to better predict heavy rainfall up to three weeks ahead. Researchers at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF, UK) and TU Bergakademie Freiberg (Germany) presented their results in the current issue of the International Journal of Climatology.

Ceramic fuel cells: Reduced nickel content leads to improved stability and performance?
A research team in Korea has developed a ceramic fuel cell that offers both stability and high performance while reducing the required amount of catalyst by a factor of 20. The application range for ceramic fuel cells, which have so far only been used for large-scale power generation due to the difficulties associated with frequent start-ups, can be expected to expand to new fields, such as electric vehicles, robots, and drones.

How shared partisanship leads to social media connections
MIT scholars have found that Twitter users are three times more likely to follow other Twitter accounts they are aligned with in political terms, showing how much partisan identification itself drives social groupings.

Emory MVA COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective in animal models
Yerkes NPRC/Emory University researchers have developed a COVID-19 vaccine that has proven safe and effective in mice and monkeys. The Emory MVA COVID-19 vaccine uses modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) to induce strong neutralizing antibodies and killer CD8 T cells. Researchers say the vaccine is easily adaptable to address variants, can be used in combination with existing vaccines to improve their ability to combat variants and may be equally effective with a single dose.

New stem cell therapy in dogs -- a breakthrough in veterinary medicine
A team of scientists in Japan has developed a novel method to induce stem cell generation from the blood samples of dogs. Through this technique, the scientists hope to advance regenerative therapies in veterinary medicine. This would mean that, in the near future, veterinarians might be able to reverse conditions in dogs that were previously thought incurable.

Computer model makes strides in search for COVID-19 treatments
A new deep-learning model that can predict how human genes and medicines will interact has identified at least 10 compounds that may hold promise as treatments for COVID-19.

Bacterial degradation of the MYC oncogene -- a new cancer treatment strategy?
Scientists at Lund University have discovered how E. coli bacteria target and degrade the well-known oncogene MYC, which is involved in many forms of cancer. The study is now published in Nature Biotechnology.

Not all banking crises involve panics
Historically, even ''quiet'' banking crises without customer panics can cause losses leading to economy-wide downturns, according to new research co-led by MIT Sloan's Emil Verner.

Poorer mental health smolders after deadly, devastating wildfire
UC San Diego researchers report that climate change is a chronic mental health stressor, and promotes a variety of mental health problems. The 2018 Camp Fire is a case study.

Vegan diet better for weight loss and cholesterol control than Mediterranean diet
A vegan diet is more effective for weight loss than a Mediterranean diet, according to a groundbreaking new study that compared the diets head to head. The randomized crossover trial, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found that a low-fat vegan diet has better outcomes for weight, body composition, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol levels, compared with a Mediterranean diet.

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