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On Jun. 28, 2022 by Admin

Ask any scientist -- for every "Eureka!" moment, there's a lot of less-than-glamorous work behind the scenes. Making discoveries about everything from a new species of dinosaur to insights about climate change entails some slogging through seemingly endless data and measurements that can be mind-numbing in large doses. Community science shares the burden with volunteers who help out, for even just a few minutes, on collecting data and putting it into a format that scientists can use. But the question remains how useful these data actually are for scientists. A new study authored by a combination of high school students, undergrads and grad students, and professional scientists showed that when museumgoers did a community science activity in an exhibit, the data they produced were largely accurate, supporting the argument that community science is a viable way to tackle big research projects.

"It was surprising how all age groups from young children, families, youth, and adults were able to generate high-quality taxonomic data sets, making observations and preparing measurements, and at the same time empowering community scientists through authentic contributions to science," says Matt von Konrat, an author of the paper in the journal Research Ideas and Outcomes and the head of plant collections at Chicago's Field Museum.

"This study demonstrates the wonderful scientific outcomes that occur when an entire community comes together," says Melanie Pivarski, an associate professor of mathematics at Roosevelt University and the study's lead author. "We were able to combine a small piece of the Field Museum's vast collections, their scientific knowledge and exhibit creation expertise, the observational skills of biology interns at Northeastern Illinois University led by our collaborator Tom Campbell, and our Roosevelt University student's data science expertise. The creation of this set of high-quality data was a true community effort!"

The study focuses on an activity in an exhibition at the Field Museum, in which visitors could partake in a community science project. (Community science is sometimes called citizen science, but since not everyone is a citizen, community science is a more inclusive name.) In the community science activity, museumgoers used a large digital touchscreen to measure the microscopic leaves photographs of plants called liverworts.

These tiny plants, the size of an eyelash, are sensitive to climate change, and they can act like a canary in a coal mine to let scientists know about how climate change is affecting a region. It's helpful for scientists to know what kinds of liverworts are present in an area, but since the plants are so tiny, it's hard to tell them apart. The sizes of their leaves (or rather, lobes -- these are some of the most ancient land plants on Earth, and they evolved before true leaves had formed) can hint at their species. But it would take ages for any one scientist to measure all the leaves of the specimens in the Field's collection. Enter the community scientists.

"Drawing a fine line to measure the lobe of a liverwort for a few hours can be mentally strenuous, so it's great to have community scientists take a few minutes out of their day using fresh eyes to help measure a plant leaf. A few community scientists who've helped with classifying acknowledged how exciting it is knowing they are playing a helping hand in scientific discovery,"says Heaven Wade, a research assistant at the Field Museum who began working on the MicroPlants project as an undergraduate intern.

Community scientists using the digital platform measured thousands of microscopic liverwort leaves over the course of two years.

"At the beginning, we needed to find a way to sort the high quality measurements out from the rest. We didn't know if there would be kids drawing pictures on the touchscreen instead of measuring leaves or if they'd be able to follow the tutorial as well as the adults did. We also needed to be able to automate a method to determine the accuracy of these higher quality measurements," says Pivarski.

To answer these questions, Pivarski worked with her students at Roosevelt University to analyze the data. They compared measurements taken by the community scientists with measurements done by experts on a couple "test" lobes; based on that proof of concept, they went on to analyze the thousands of other leaf measurements. The results were surprising.

"We were amazed at how wonderfully children did at this task; it was counter to our initial expectations. The majority of measurements were high quality. This allowed my students to create an automated process that produced an accurate set of MicroPlant measurements from the larger dataset," says Pivarski.

The researchers say that the study supports the argument that community science is valuable not just as a teaching tool to get people interested in science, but as a valid means of data collection.

"Biological collections are uniquely poised to inform the stewardship of life on Earth in a time of cataclysmic biodiversity loss, yet efforts to fully leverage collections are impeded by a lack of trained taxonomists. Crowd-sourced data collection projects like these have the potential to greatly accelerate biodiversity discovery and documentation from digital images of scientific specimens," says von Konrat.

Credit: Science Daily Article

Source: Field Museum

On Oct. 04, 2021 by Eridite

From time to time I find that my office desk is littered with notes and scraps of paper from things I have written or ideas that I have had about one subject or another. There is usually no apparent cohesion to these notes and I'm always tempted to just brush them off into the waste basket. But every now and then my eye catches something on a scrap of paper or note that causes a bell to go off in my head and I pick it up for a closer look. And then I spot another and another and another and suddenly a story idea is born right there in the confines of my mind. That's when I ask myself the question: where to begin? And so after assembling these notes into some sort of cohesive outline in my mind I begin to write.

Very seldom does the entire story suddenly flow onto the paper. There are many many road blocks along the way; many detours that I have to take before feeling comfortable with the main outline. A plot must be developed, characters must be developed, place time and setting come together slowly. Just getting to this point usually takes a considerable amount of time.

But then the story begins to flow. Patience and determination are then the ruling factors that govern the story development.

This is my story of how I go about writing a fiction story. It's never easy but is always fun.

On Oct. 03, 2021 by Admin

It was the perfect house for Frances Yankedwire. Located in New Hampshire, it was everything the octogenarian wanted - a house in a busy neighborhood with lots of young families. As a matter of fact, the previous owners who occupied it were a middle age couple with three young kids. They sold the house and vacated it in late June of this year. Frances was the first and only one to look at it on a hot day on the first of July.

Frances looked through the house with her real estate agent - Barney Sellout, whose record to sell every house to the first homebuyers earned him disdain among his colleagues at his real estate firm. He won the firm's #1 seller award every year. However, he had been known to use devious ways of selling to the first home prospector by lying about some or all of the homes' features.

But Ms. Yankedwire wasn't being duped. Barney showed all of the two-floor brick home's features. Barney didn't have to invent lies, because Ms. Yankedwire loved the home and as much as she looked at it, the more she wanted to sign the deal. However, she couldn't see that well and her hearing was terrible.

Barney showed the woman the garage, which held a secret he wouldn't share. He pointed the lady to three switches located on the garage's right side. "Here are your switches. This one closest to you turns on the garage lights. The one next to it turns on the outside light right above the outside garage door. Now, don't touch the last one, because... it turns on the water sprinklers around the front lawn." Barney had lied about that last switch; he wasn't about to reveal what the former owners hadn't taken down in January.

Ms. Yankedwire didn't pay too much attention, because anything Barney told her would be something good about the house. "I'll take the house," she exclaimed. "You will?... That's wonderful!" Now, all Barney had to do was try to hurry the lady out of the house in the hot weather, into his hot car and drive to the agency's office before she changed her mind. After arriving at the agency, she signed on the dotted line and within a week she moved in.

She celebrated her first night by drinking a glass of sherry while she called her son to tell him the good news. After she hung up the phone, she walked to the garage and decided to push all the switches on, which is what the agent told her not to do with the last switch. But she went upstairs anyway and went to sleep.

When she turned that last switch on, some long white plastic blob emerged from her lawn. It blew up slowly until it yelled, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!" Then music began to loudly play "Frosty the Snowman". It blew up to where his comical face made the float reach eight feet in the air. At the same time, over 1,000 Christmas lights of every color came to life on the roof, blinding a young man passing by while riding a motorbike. As a result he lost control of his bike and fell off the road. Blinking Christmas lights turned on all around the yard in the bushes and trees. More lights lit up around the front door. Meanwhile, Frosty stopped singing and immediately afterward, Elvis' voice began blaring, "I'll have a blue Christmas without you."

But, Ms. Yankedwire didn't notice any of this. She was practically deaf, and only heard a little music, but dismissed it as just some loud young neighbors. Also, she couldn't see much from the light show going on in her own yard. Then she quickly went to sleep oblivious to all the Christmas hoopla going on in her yard, but most of her neighbors were shaken out of their wits.

The Christmas show went on and finally shut off at 3 AM. Ms. Yankedwire got plenty of sleep until she woke up at 8 AM. She went downstairs in her robe and fixed herself a small portion of bacon and eggs. A few hours later, some neighbors walked over to welcome her to the neighborhood. They politely told her about the Christmas festivities that went on outside last night, but she couldn't hear what they were saying. She just pretended to understand, nodding her head because she thought it was the polite thing to do.

That evening, Ms. Yankedwire's Christmas show came on again. This continued throughout the rest of the week. When the neighbors had enough, they called the police and complained. When two cops arrived at the old lady's door they tried to explain what was happening to her home, and if her "show" continued, they would arrest her. She still didn't understand.

That night when, once again, her house reminded the neighbors about Christmas, they took matters into their own hands. Ten of them killed Frosty and tore him out of the ground. They ripped all of the lights out of the trees and shrubs and damaged the speakers that played all of the Christmas music. Then a few climbed up a ladder and yanked off all of the lights.

Meanwhile, Barney, Mrs. Yankedwire's former real estate agent passed by in his car. He looked and laughed heartily at the scene. He said to himself, "Ah another happy customer."

By Harrington A Lackey
Article Source: Ezine Articles

On Oct. 03, 2021 by Angela

In a world burdened with increasing population, animals are bound to take a back seat. Nevertheless, the depths of cruelty that humanity can descend to are astonishing in their extremity. While it may not be possible to adapt a life of a complete vegetarian or vegan and let go of using animal products altogether, instances of needless cruelty to innocent animals by humans make one wonder about the fate of this planet in the not too distant future.

The most prevalent instances of animal abuse in the domestic sphere are neglect and abandonment. People often take up a pet without considering the long-term consequences. Subsequently, when the first flush is over, they find in their hands an animal which is not all cuddly sweetness but a great deal of responsibility and caring. As a result, animals are let out into the open streets to fend for themselves or are left behind in a locked apartment without food, water or heat.

Pets are not used to fending for themselves; they wander in absolute shock and grief, terrorized of the world outside or starve slowly within the confines of the house, not realizing what they have done wrong to deserve such treatment. In either case, they die in agony. Sometimes, an owner will do the 'humane' thing and leave the pet at a shelter, where they will be euthanized. The term 'euthanasia' means that the pet is old or ill beyond recovery and will have to be put down so as to minimize its suffering. In reality, strong and healthy pets are killed in ways cruel beyond imagination.

In America, animals are put in metal or wooden boxes, even used oil drums, sometimes searing hot, in which carbon dioxide pumped. The animals agonizingly choke to death. Sometimes they are electrocuted or placed alive into freezers. Many helpless animals are often shot in full view of other animals. Often the pets are dragged to their death screaming in terror, clawing at each other and injuring themselves in their desperate bid to escape death.

This is the 'humane' face of animal abuse. There are other faces present as well, right under our noses. In the United States, millions of vertebrate animals are used for laboratory testing every year. The animals are burned, blinded, maimed, and injected with lethal infections, gassed and more. This is in the name of research for medicines, cosmetics, and other household utilities. Animals are dissected without adequate anesthesia so that medical students can learn their trade. Every year, animals are bred and killed in the hundreds of thousands for the purpose of using their body parts for research when human tissues, which are actually genuinely useful material, are incinerated.

People who think that they are animals lovers and buy a pet can contribute to animal abuse, albeit inadvertently. The cute animals available at pet shops or stores are usually produced in mills where unscrupulous breeders let females breed again and again until they can do no more and then they are killed. Indiscriminate breeding produces puppies born with genetic defects. Once they are born, the puppies are put into cages where they can barely stand and shipped off to stores.

A large part of the dog population is strays. While managing them remains an issue, most countries apply methods unacceptable by any human values - poisoning, shooting, and electrocution to name a few. It seems that spaying or neutering them is too bothersome for some cruel people; killing the defenseless animals is the easier and cost effective option.

Sometimes there is a story on TV showing a circus animal that has escaped. Animals do not choose to perform in a circus, unlike their human counterparts. They are forced to do so under torture- induce fear. Elephants are routinely beaten with bull hooks, leaving them screaming and bleeding. They are also poked with electric prods. In addition, Horses are stabbed by pitchforks and whipped, as well as punched in the face and their lips are twisted painfully to ensure total control.

Animals such as big cats and chimpanzees are kicked and beaten. Apart from these, animals are made to travel in boxed conditions within extreme climates. They are denied food and water. Sometimes animals spend their entire life in shackles. Tigers, bears and other big animals are crammed in cages where they have to share space and are forced to eat, drink, defecate and urinate in the same place. Baby elephants, still not weaned from their mothers, are sold away.

With America being a major meat consuming country, slaughterhouses abound. Apart from problems arising because of untrained handlers which give rise to contamination, cruelty towards the animals led to be killed is rampant. They are hoisted by their leg, stabbed directly into their hearts, somersaulted, throats butchered, spinal cords punctured, or a blunt instrument driven to their skull. All of this happens, while the animal is alive, conscious and terrorized. Since horse-meat is banned in the USA, they are shipped to Canada and other countries to be slaughtered.

Apart from the day-to-day life, where animals, despite being an integral part of society, are subject to unspeakable cruel practices, other forms of social requirement which are entirely human made, further expose animals to torture and cruelty. Two of the most guilty spheres are fashion and greed.

Furs are something every vain woman will desire. Each bit of fur not only takes an innocent life away; it takes it away in the most gruesome manner possible. Fur farms use the cheapest way possible to kill an animal, so they are often beaten to death, suffocated or bled until they die. The animals are also skinned alive and then left to die a slow and agonizing death.

Animals are trapped in the wild where they suffer shock from blood loss, dehydration, gangrene and frostbite. Steel traps often cut through the bone and conibear traps crush their necks with pressure of 90 pounds or more per square inch. Water set traps leave beavers, muskrats and other animals to die while struggling for more than nine minutes before they drown. An animal which is being targeted for fur cannot hope for a merciful death by a bullet, as that will damage its pelt. If found alive, it will be clubbed to death instead.

Baby seals are hooked and dragged to boats while still conscious. They are often bludgeoned to death with metal clubs by barbarians. Their carcass is left to rot, as there is no market for the meat. They are yet to start swimming or eat their first solid food. As there is a ban on a few animal trapping, such as fox for instance, the babies die a horrendously cruel and needless death, so that some vain woman may wrap herself up in fur.

Another source of fur is rabbit, which are often 'farmed' for the purpose. They are made to stay in wire cages which cause blisters on their feet. Most of these innocent, beautiful, precious creatures are skinned alive by barbarians. Their fur is cruelly plucked from their body, leaving the rabbits in shock and agony. The French breed of Angora rabbit has its fur removed this way. Fur is... Legally Cruel. No laws stop the suffering of animals on 'fur farms.' Only you can help them. Please don't buy fur coats or products with fur trim.

Whales are stabbed to death, or harpooned through their flesh and dragged along the boat. They are animals which flee from their hunters until they are too tired. These creatures are targeted because of their blubber, while the meat is thrown away. Even the poor dolphins are brutally slaughtered each year. Their blood turns the seawater red.

Sadistic humans use animals for blood sports, confining domesticated or pet animals and killing them where they are unable to flee. They sexually abuse animals by penetrating them, causing serious tears in their anal ducts. Furthering the human perversion are crush videos, where a deadly woman is seen crushing a small animal to death with her spiked heels, all in the name of sexual gratification. Animals are regularly used in blood sports, again in the name of gratification of the senses, where they are made to injure, maim, and kill each other.

A society that fails to protect defenseless animals is a sick and evil society. A society that necessitates killing of innocent creatures goes beyond that. In order to promote free and fair living conditions for humans, cruelty towards animals need to be stopped, unequivocally. The animals deserve better and we do too.

By: Dr. Shenita Etwaroo

Article Source:

On Sep. 14, 2021 by Admin

Summary: Researchers have found that blood flow in the brain capillaries, which is important for oxygen/nutrient delivery and waste removal, was increased during rapid eye movement sleep in mice. Adenosine A2a receptors might be at least partially responsible for this increased blood flow. These findings bring new hope for understanding the function of sleep and developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases that involve the buildup of waste products in the brain, such as Alzheimer's disease.

Scientists have long wondered why almost all animals sleep, despite the disadvantages to survival of being unconscious. Now, researchers led by a team from the University of Tsukuba have found new evidence of brain refreshing that takes place during a specific phase of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is when you tend to dream a lot.

Previous studies have measured differences in blood flow in the brain between REM sleep, non-REM sleep, and wakefulness using various methods, with conflicting results. In their latest work, the Tsukuba-led team used a technique to directly visualize the movement of red blood cells in the brain capillaries (where nutrients and waste products are exchanged between brain cells and blood) of mice during awake and asleep states.

"We used a dye to make the brain blood vessels visible under fluorescent light, using a technique known as two-photon microscopy," says senior author of the study Professor Yu Hayashi. "In this way, we could directly observe the red blood cells in capillaries of the neocortex in non-anesthetized mice."

The researchers also measured electrical activity in the brain to identify REM sleep, non-REM sleep, and wakefulness, and looked for differences in blood flow between these phases.

"We were surprised by the results," explains Professor Hayashi. "There was a massive flow of red blood cells through the brain capillaries during REM sleep, but no difference between non-REM sleep and the awake state, showing that REM sleep is a unique state"

The research team then disrupted the mice's sleep, resulting in "rebound" REM sleep -- a stronger form of REM sleep to compensate for the earlier disruption. Blood flow in the brain was further increased during rebound REM sleep, suggesting an association between blood flow and REM sleep strength. However, when the researchers repeated the same experiments in mice without adenosine A2a receptors (the receptors whose blockade makes you feel more awake after drinking coffee), there was less of an increase in blood flow during REM sleep, even during rebound REM sleep.

"These results suggest that adenosine A2a receptors may be responsible for at least some of the changes in blood flow in the brain during REM sleep," says Professor Hayashi.

Given that reduced blood flow in the brain and decreased REM sleep are correlated with the development of Alzheimer's disease, which involves the buildup of waste products in the brain, it may be interesting to address whether increased blood flow in the brain capillaries during REM sleep is important for waste removal from the brain. This study lays preliminary groundwork for future investigations into the role of adenosine A2a receptors in this process, which could ultimately lead to the development of new treatments for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.

Copied From: Science Daily
Source: University of Tsukuba

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