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Optimal Schedules of Light Exposure for Rapidly Correcting Circadian Misalignment

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Optimal Schedules of Light Exposure for Rapidly Correcting Circadian Misalignment
Source: PLoS Computational Biology

Jet lag arises from a misalignment of circadian biological timing with the timing of human activity, and is caused by rapid transmeridian travel. Jet lag’s symptoms, such as depressed cognitive alertness, also arise from work and social schedules misaligned with the timing of the circadian clock. Using experimentally validated mathematical models, we develop a new methodology to find mathematically optimal schedules of light exposure and avoidance for rapidly re-entraining the human circadian system. In simulations, our schedules are found to significantly outperform other recently proposed schedules. Moreover, our schedules appear to be significantly more robust to both noise in light and to inter-individual variations in endogenous circadian period than other proposed schedules. By comparing the optimal schedules for thousands of different situations, and by using general mathematical arguments, we are also able to translate our findings into general principles of optimal circadian re-entrainment. These principles include: 1) a class of schedules where circadian amplitude is only slightly perturbed, optimal for dim light and for small shifts 2) another class of schedules where shifting occurs along the shortest path in phase-space, optimal for bright light and for large shifts 3) the determination that short light pulses are less effective than sustained light if the goal is to re-entrain quickly, and 4) the determination that length of daytime should be significantly shorter when delaying the clock than when advancing it.

See: Using mathematics to beat jetlag effectively (Science Daily)

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Unemployment among Doctoral Scientists and Engineers Increased but Remained Below the National Average

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Unemployment among Doctoral Scientists and Engineers Increased but Remained Below the National Average
Source: National Science Foundation

In 2010, an estimated 805,500 individuals in the United States held research doctoral degrees in science, engineering, and health (SEH) fields, an increase of 6.2% from 2008. Of these individuals, 709,700 were in the labor force, which includes those employed full time or part time and those actively seeking work (i.e., unemployed). The unemployment rate for SEH doctorate recipients was 2.4% in October 2010, up from 1.7% in October 2008 and similar to the rate in October 2003 (table 1). Moreover, the 2010 unemployment rate of the SEH doctoral labor force was about one-third of the October 2010 unemployment rate for the general population aged 25 years or older (8.2%).

CRS — Green Infrastructure and Issues in Managing Urban Stormwater

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Green Infrastructure and Issues in Managing Urban Stormwater (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

For decades, stormwater, or runoff, was considered largely a problem of excess rainwater or snowmelt impacting communities. Prevailing engineering practices were to move stormwater away from cities as rapidly as possible to avoid potential damages from flooding. More recently, these practices have evolved and come to recognize stormwater as a resource that, managed properly within communities, has multiple benefits.

CRS — Air Quality Issues and Animal Agriculture: A Primer

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Air Quality Issues and Animal Agriculture: A Primer (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

From an environmental quality standpoint, much of the public and policy interest in animal agriculture has focused on impacts on water resources, because animal waste, if not properly managed, can harm water quality through surface runoff, direct discharges, spills, and leaching into soil and groundwater. A more recent issue is the contribution of air emissions from animal feeding operations (AFOs), enterprises where animals are raised in confinement. This report provides background on the latter issue.

CRS — Bee Health: Background and Issues for Congress (updated)

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Bee Health: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Bees, both commercially managed honey bees and wild bees, play an important role in global food production. In the United States alone, the value of insect pollination to U.S. agricultural production is estimated at $16 billion annually, of which about three-fourths is attributable to honey bees. Worldwide, the contribution of bees and other insects to global crop production for human food is valued at about $190 billion. Given the importance of honey bees and other bee species to food production, many have expressed concern about whether a “pollinator crisis” has been occurring in recent decades.

Acupuncture Research – Areas of High and Low Programmatic Priorities

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Acupuncture Research – Areas of High and Low Programmatic Priorities
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

On this page:

  • Published Research
  • Areas of High Programmatic Priority
  • Areas of Low Programmatic Priority
  • NCCAM Contact Information
  • Selected References

Are you ready for the resource revolution?

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Are you ready for the resource revolution?
Source: McKinsey & Company

Meeting increasing global demand requires dramatically improving resource productivity. Yet technological advances mean companies have an extraordinary opportunity not only to meet that challenge but to spark the next industrial revolution as well.

Occupational Outlook Quarterly — Spring 2014

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Occupational Outlook Quarterly — Spring 2014
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Articles include:

  • STEM 101: Intro to tomorrow’s jobs
  • Careers with options: Occupations with jobs in many industries
  • Healthcare: Millions of jobs now and in the future
  • My career: Veterinary technician
  • Brief items of interest to counselors and students
  • You’re a what? Roastmaster
  • More education, less unemployment

Emerging Arctic Explored in New CFR InfoGuide

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Emerging Arctic Explored in New CFR InfoGuide
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has released a new interactive guide examining the economic opportunities and environmental risks emerging in the Arctic. Climate change, technological advances, and a growing demand for natural resources are driving a new era of development in the Arctic region. Many experts assert that Arctic summers could be free of sea ice in a matter of decades, opening the region up to hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, most notably in energy production and shipping.

Secretary of Energy Advisory Board — Task Force Report on FracFocus 2.0 (March 28, 2014)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Secretary of Energy Advisory Board — Task Force Report on FracFocus 2.0 (March 28, 2014) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Energy (Energy Advisory Board)

This report presents the findings and recommendations for the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) Task Force on FracFocus. This Task Force report builds upon and extends the 2011 SEAB Subcommittee report on the environmental impacts of unconventional gas production.

The Task Force believes that the FracFocus experience to date demonstrates the ease of disclosure of chemicals added to fracturing fluid for companies, the value of this disclosure for the public, and the importance of public confidence in the quality and accessibility of the FracFocus chemical registry data. It has accomplished a good deal and shows the capacity to make improvements at modest additional cost. FracFocus has greatly improved public disclosure quickly and with a significant degree of uniformity.

The Task Force recommends a number of actions that will further improve the effectiveness of the FracFocus disclosure of chemical additives and improve transparency for regulators, operating companies, and the public. Recommendations are made for improving the accuracy and completeness of registry submissions. In addition, the Task Force believes that an independent audit to assess the accuracy and compliance of the process will be useful for all stakeholders.

Report: Nearly 300,000 New Yorkers Flooded in Sandy Lived Outside FEMA Flood Zones

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Report: Nearly 300,000 New Yorkers Flooded in Sandy Lived Outside FEMA Flood Zones
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps for New York City did not identify that nearly 65 percent of the area inundated during Hurricane Sandy—home to nearly 300,000 people—was at risk from coastal flooding, according to a new analysis from the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report tallies the human toll and impact to critical infrastructure like schools and hospitals.

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)
Source: National Research Council

The Arctic has been undergoing significant changes in recent years. Average temperatures are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. The extent and thickness of sea ice is rapidly declining. Such changes may have an impact on atmospheric conditions outside the region. Several hypotheses for how Arctic warming may be influencing mid-latitude weather patterns have been proposed recently. For example, Arctic warming could lead to a weakened jet stream resulting in more persistent weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. Or Arctic sea ice loss could lead to an increase of snow on high-latitude land, which in turn impacts the jet stream resulting in cold Eurasian and North American winters. These and other potential connections between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather are the subject of active research.

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns is the summary of a workshop convened in September 2013 by the National Research Council to review our current understanding and to discuss research needed to better understand proposed linkages. A diverse array of experts examined linkages between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather patterns. The workshop included presentations from leading researchers representing a range of views on this topic. The workshop was organized to allow participants to take a global perspective and consider the influence of the Arctic in the context of forcing from other components of the climate system, such as changes in the tropics, ocean circulation, and mid-latitude sea surface temperature. This report discusses our current understanding of the mechanisms that link declines in Arctic sea ice cover, loss of high-latitude snow cover, changes in Arctic-region energy fluxes, atmospheric circulation patterns, and the occurrence of extreme weather events; possible implications of more severe loss of summer Arctic sea ice upon weather patterns at lower latitudes; major gaps in our understanding, and observational and/or modeling efforts that are needed to fill those gaps; and current opportunities and limitations for using Arctic sea ice predictions to assess the risk of temperature/precipitation anomalies and extreme weather events over northern continents.

Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (2014)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (2014)
Source: National Research Council

Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences examines how to update human subjects protections regulations so that they effectively respond to current research contexts and methods. With a specific focus on social and behavioral sciences, this consensus report aims to address the dramatic alterations in the research landscapes that institutional review boards (IRBs) have come to inhabit during the past 40 years. The report aims to balance respect for the individual persons whose consent to participate makes research possible and respect for the social benefits that productive research communities make possible.

The ethics of human subjects research has captured scientific and regulatory attention for half a century. To keep abreast of the universe of changes that factor into the ethical conduct of research today, the Department of Health and Human Services published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in July 2011. Recognizing that widespread technological and societal transformations have occurred in the contexts for and conduct of human research since the passage of the National Research Act of 1974, the ANPRM revisits the regulations mandated by the Act in a correspondingly comprehensive manner. Its proposals aim to modernize the Common Rule and to improve the efficiency of the work conducted under its auspices. Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences identifies issues raised in the ANPRM that are critical and feasible for the federal government to address for the protection of participants and for the advancement of the social and behavioral sciences. For each identified issue, this report provides guidance for IRBs on techniques to address it, with specific examples and best practice models to illustrate how the techniques would be applied to different behavioral and social sciences research procedures.

Taking on the Rising Death Toll from Traffic & Pollution

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Taking on the Rising Death Toll from Traffic & Pollution
Source: World Bank

+ The annual death toll linked to road transportation is higher than many policy makers realize, reaching at least 1.5 million people worldwide and rising, according to a new analysis.

+ The report, Transport for Health, counts the number of lives lost to road crashes and, for the first time, also quantifies deaths related to vehicle pollution.

+ It offers practical actions countries can take now to improve transportation, air quality, and road safety data.

Update on National Hurricane Center Products and Services for 2014

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Update on NHC Products and Services for 2014 (PDF)
Source: NOAA (National Hurricane Center)

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) will implement the following changes to its text and graphical products for the 2014 hurricane season…

EU — The future of public health: A horizon scan

April 10, 2014 Comments off

The future of public health: A horizon scan
Source: RAND Corporation

Public Health England (PHE) commissioned RAND Europe to undertake a horizon scanning study exploring the future of public health and related scientific services. This work was intended to help inform thinking at the strategic level within PHE, firstly in relation to the wider vision of the Agency (which was only established in April 2013) and, secondly, in relation to the proposals for the creation of an integrated public health science hub.

The report is based on a literature review, a brief Delphi exercise using the ExpertLens platform and key informant interviews with a range of PHE staff and external experts. It focuses on the different future public health science needs and the extent to which an integrated science hub could serve PHE as it evolves over the next twenty years. Thus, the report considers PHE’s future remit and objectives in order that decisions about an integrated and co-located science hub be made in context and with reference to expert perceptions about the future.

Few Americans Know Where Elected Officials and Candidates Stand on Government Support for Research and Innovation, New Polling Booklet Reveals

April 10, 2014 Comments off

Few Americans Know Where Elected Officials and Candidates Stand on Government Support for Research and Innovation, New Polling Booklet Reveals
Source: Research!America

Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say it’s important for candidates running for office to assign a high priority to funding medical research, according to America Speaks, Volume 14, a compilation of key questions from public opinion polls commissioned by Research!America. Polling shows that Americans place a high value on U.S. leadership in medical innovation, yet only 12% say they are very well informed about the positions of their senators and representative when it comes to their support of medical and scientific research. www.researchamerica.org/poll_summary.

To help close this knowledge gap, Research!America and partner organizations are launching a national voter education initiative, Ask Your Candidates! Is Medical Research Progress a Priority? Through online and grassroots activities, social media strategies and on-the-ground events, congressional candidates will be urged to share their views on government policies and support for medical innovation conducted in both the public and private sectors. www.askyourcandidates.org.

IP in a World Without Scarcity

April 10, 2014 Comments off

IP in a World Without Scarcity
Source: Social Science Research Network

Things are valuable because they are scarce. The more abundant they become, they cheaper they become. But a series of technological changes is underway that promises to end scarcity as we know it for a wide variety of goods. The Internet is the most obvious example, because the change there is furthest along. The Internet has reduced the cost of production and distribution of informational content effectively to zero. In many cases it has also dramatically reduced the cost of producing that content. And it has changed the way in which information is distributed, separating the creators of content from the distributors.

More recently, new technologies promise to do for a variety of physical goods and even services what the Internet has already done for information. 3D printers can manufacture physical goods based on any digital design. Synthetic biology has automated the manufacture not just of copies of existing genetic sequences but any custom-made gene sequence, allowing anyone who want to create a gene sequence of their own to upload the sequence to a company that will “print” it using the basic building blocks of genetics. And advances in robotics offer the prospect that many of the services humans now provide can be provided free of charge by general-purpose machines that can be programmed to perform a variety of complex functions. While none of these technologies are nearly as far along as the Internet, they share two essential characteristics with the Internet: they radically reduce the cost of production and distribution of things, and they separate the informational content of those things (the design) from their manufacture. Combine these four developments – the Internet, 3D printing, robotics, and synthetic biology – and it is entirely plausible to envision a not-too-distant world in which most things that people want can be downloaded and created on site for very little money.

The role of IP in such a world is both controverted and critically important. IP rights are designed to artificially replicate scarcity where it would not otherwise exist. In its simplest form, IP law takes public goods that would otherwise be available to all and artificially restricts their distribution. It makes ideas scarce, because then we can bring them into the economy and charge for them, and economics knows how to deal with scarce things. So on one view – the classical view of IP law – a world in which all the value resides in information is a world in which we need IP everywhere, controlling rights over everything, or no one will get paid to create. That has been the response of IP law to the Internet so far.

Facts for Features: 2014 Hurricane Season Begins

April 10, 2014 Comments off

Facts for Features: 2014 Hurricane Season Begins
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The North Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and lasts through Nov. 30. The U.S. Census Bureau produces timely local statistics that are critical to emergency planning, preparedness and recovery efforts. The growth in population of coastal areas illustrates the importance of emergency planning and preparedness for areas that are more susceptible to inclement weather conditions. The Census Bureau’s rich, local economic and demographic statistics from the American Community Survey gives communities a detailed look at neighborhood-level statistics for real-time emergency planning for the nation’s growing coastal population.

Emergency planners and community leaders can better assess the needs of coastal populations using Census Bureau statistics. This edition of Facts for Features highlights the number of people living in areas that could be most affected by these dramatic acts of nature.

A Few Winners, But Many More Losers: Southwestern Bird and Reptile Distributions to Shift as Climate Changes

April 9, 2014 Comments off

A Few Winners, But Many More Losers: Southwestern Bird and Reptile Distributions to Shift as Climate Changes
Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Dramatic distribution losses and a few major distribution gains are forecasted for southwestern bird and reptile species as the climate changes, according to just-published research by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of New Mexico, and Northern Arizona University.

Overall, the study forecasted species distribution losses – that is, where species are able to live – of nearly half for all but one of the 5 reptile species they examined, including for the iconic chuckwalla. The threatened Sonoran (Morafka’s) desert tortoise, however, is projected to experience little to no habitat losses from climate change.

Breeding bird ranges exhibited greater expansions and contractions than did reptile species. For example, black-throated sparrows and gray vireos are projected to experience major gains in breeding habitat, but pygmy nuthatches, sage thrashers and Williamson sapsuckers are forecasted to experience large losses in breeding habitat, in some cases by as much as 80 percent. Thus, these three species might be expected to experience large future population declines.

The iconic pinyon jay is expected to experience from one-fourth to one-third loss in breeding habitat in the future, as its welfare is tied to declining pinyon pine habitat.

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