Review Category : Science & Technology

School health officials push for UC Davis students to take vaccines more seriously

Many students do not realize that a bad case of measles can cause pneumonia, brain damage and death, or that complications from mumps can lead to pancreatitis, meningitis and hearing loss. Before vaccines became available, whooping cough caused thousands of deaths in the United States every year. By the year 2000, the Center for Disease Control had deemed that each of these illnesses had been eliminated, controlled or vaccine-preventable, yet in the last five years they have all infiltrated University of California (UC) campuses. Most Americans living in the 21st century have never experienced the devastation that can result from measles, whooping cough and mumps. According to some experts, this lack of experience might be one reason why Americans are not prioritizing vaccinations and why vaccination rates in some parts of the country are declining. Dr. Thomas Ferguson, medical director of the UC Davis Student Health Center, wants to make sure vaccination rates at UC Davis remain high. New vaccine requirements coming to UC Davis Ferguson is one of several leaders... ...

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This Week In Science

Pot has new potential A recent study has found a new potential use for marijuana in patients with autoimmune disorders. Researchers at the University of South Carolina discovered that THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana, can suppress the body’s immune system through epigenetic pathways. THC can change molecules called histones, which surround the DNA, and may alter the function of certain genes. These findings suggest that marijuana could therefore be used to treat autoimmune diseases that cause chronic inflammation, such as arthritis and lupus. Fetal cells: a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease Researchers at McLean Hospital discovered that fetal dopamine cells transplanted into the brains of Parkinson’s patients remained healthy and functional for 14 years. The scientists analyzed the brains of five patients who received fetal cell transplants over 14 years, and they found that the patients’ dopamine transporters and mitochondria were still healthy up until the patients’ deaths. While some other similar studies have experienced corruption within the transplanted cells, this particular study was successful in proving that... ...

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Study finds novel relationship between blood brain barrier, stroke

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, a recent study from UC Irvine provides new insights on the relationship of the blood brain barrier and stroke. Assistant professors Dr. Dritan Agalliu and Dr. Axel Nimmerjahn from Salk Institute collaborated on this study to observe the changes that occur in the brain during and after a stroke in living animals. The blood brain barrier (BBB) functions as a cushion which separates circulating blood from entering the brain. It does however allow for water, particular gases and other soluble molecules to pass through. It is also one of the first areas to become severely damaged during a stroke. Damage to the BBB can often cause permanent deficits in cognition, as well as motor functions. This study developed a novel mouse strain and used fluorescent tags to tag them in order to see the BBB junctions. The researchers discovered that the BBB becomes severely impaired after six hours after the onset of a stroke. Interestingly, they also... ...

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Tech Tip: Protect yourself with Watch Over Me

As college students, we often take safety for granted, especially in familiar settings. Inspired by a real life story, an app called Watch Over Me ensures your safety no matter where you go, for those less than ideal moments (e.g. walking to your car late at night) through automated tracking. Co-founder Xin-Ci Chin was inspired to create this app for urban women — but really anyone — because she was abducted by two men in Malaysia. This incident occurred during a Sunday afternoon in one of her favorite shopping towns. Luckily enough, Chin was able to unlock the car during the abduction and successfully managed to stumble out of the car while it was still moving. The scariest part of this unfortunate situation was that she did not have the luxury to get in contact with her loved ones easily. Often times, during an emergency, simply pulling out your phone to make a phone call seems like a difficult task, especially when you have to be discreet about what you... ...

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Tech Tip: Work it with Sworkit

As college students, our lives are filled with multiple commitments, ranging from academic to extracurricular to social. The last thing some of us want to do after a long day is exercise. There’s just no time to fit in a workout, right? Maybe you’ll change your mind after trying Sworkit, an app designed to motivate people to workout wherever and whenever their busy schedule allows. How much does it cost? Sworkit is currently free in the Apple Store and is available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle. You can also upgrade to Sworkit Pro for just $0.99. How does it work? Once you open the app, you simply choose from several types of exercise (strength training, cardio, yoga, stretching, etc.) and select the duration of the workout. Based on your input, Sworkit will design randomized circuit training workouts that require no equipment and can be done anywhere. To begin the workout, press the start button. The app will display a different exercise every 30 seconds before you move on to... ...

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This Week in Science (5/16/14-5/21/14)

Custom fit hip surgery Researchers from the University of Southampton, England for the first time made a titanium hip to custom fit a patient undergoing her seventh hip surgery. They used her CT scan and computer aided design as well as computer aided manufacturing technology to implant a new socket for the ball of the femur bone to enter. The science behind finding your soul mate Recent research from University of Colorado, Boulder suggests that spouses are more genetically related. According to the study, we are more likely to select mates who have similar DNA as ours compared to randomly selected individuals from the same population. The researchers determined this by examining the genomes of 825 American couples. Alpha waves and the brain Alpha waves were once thought to emerge when we dozed off and the brain went on idle mode. However, according to Pr. Ole Jensen from Radboud University, Netherlands, the alpha frequency is much more important. His theory postulates that these frequencies allow the brain to concentrate on... ...

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Tech Tip: Breeze, easy breezy way of tracking your steps

Being in a community where health is one of the forefronts of research for UC Davis, students, faculty and residents are more aware of fitness and its importance. Fairly recently, RunKeeper launched a new app called Breeze. Breeze encompasses old-school functions of an actual pedometer worn on the hip as well as some sleek new features. The app makes use of a M7 motion processor, which allows it to run in the background of your iPhone 5 as to prevent drainage of battery. The M7 motion processor is a cool feature because there is nothing more annoying than having an app open on your device when you don’t really need to use it at the moment. Not only that, the app’s sleek, simple and easy to understand interface personalizes to each user by giving them a new goal to reach every day. Walking 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day is often recommended by health professionals, but the more important aspect of walking or running is ensuring that you aim to... ...

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This Week In Science

The Indian superbug A new paper in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy sheds more light on the terrifying gene factor named NDM, also known as “the Indian superbug” for its resistance to virtually all antibiotics. NDM travels in gut bacteria and can spread between people through the fecal-oral route. Because only a few known drugs are able to treat infections caused by NDM, the research staff at Public Health England state that it presents a huge challenge to medicine as we know it. Rethinking Neanderthals A recent paper published in the journal PLOS ONE argues against the conventional notion that the Neanderthals went extinct because they were cognitively inferior to modern humans. Study authors Paolo Villa and Wil Roebroeks say that the Neanderthals were accomplished big game hunters and used pitch to make their own weapons, demonstrating an abstract reasoning ability. There were more complex factors involved in their disappearance, such as male sterility from interbreeding with Homo sapiens. Ivy League students and their need for speed A new study... ...

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For better or for worse, couples directly influence each other’s dietary lifestyles

It’s often hard to say no to one more chip, one more cookie or whatever your guilty food pleasure might be. Ninety percent of U.S. adults have a poor lifestyle due to smoking, lack of exercise, lack of maintaining a healthy weight and a poor diet. Dr. Thomas Bradbury, a psychology professor and co-director of the Relationship Institute at UCLA, shed some important insights on effective ways of communicating with our partners in order to have positive impacts on each other. Bradbury and his research team interviewed and analyzed conversation recordings between 1,000 newlywed couples who expressed a desire to lose weight and exercise more. The research revealed that when couples genuinely tried to have discussions with each other about losing weight, the conversations went astray. “A reason why conversations oftentimes go awry is because when one partner recognizes that it is time to make a change, the other partner can feel threatened,” Bradbury said in an email. They discovered that the most common reasons for the couples’ lack of... ...

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How to keep your laptop battery happy, healthy

As college students, almost every Aggie has a laptop; they are a great tool due to their mobility. However, they are less effective when they are constantly plugged into a power source. There are many myths and tips on how to maximize battery life and battery health in order to get the most of your device. The way you charge your battery can affect its ability to hold a charge in the long run. Some believe that you should let your computer drain and then charge it to 100 percent to keep the battery healthy. However, according to a Microsoft spokesperson, this might not be the best practice. “If you frequently drain a lithium-ion battery, and then recharge it, it can quickly lose its ability to hold a charge, which affects the accuracy of the battery meter …  Lithium-ion batteries last longer if you charge them often, a little at a time, to maintain a minimum charge of about 40 percent capacity,” said a Microsoft spokesperson in an email interview.... ...

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This week in science: March 12, 2014

 Vitamin D reduces risk of breast cancer According to researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, breast cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream were twice as likely to survive than cancer patients who did not. These findings were published in Anticancer Research. When present in sufficient levels, vitamin D prevents tumors from growing. Consulting your physician is highly recommended before increasing your vitamin intake. http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140306163236.htm Improved care through smart-eye phones Exciting new research published in the Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine from Stanford University Medical Center sheds a new path on providing ophthalmology care. The innovative technology uses smartphones to take very accurate images of the eye and immediately uploads them to patients’ electronic records. This would allow for health professionals to provide remote feedback between specialties and thus effectively diagnose and treat a patient. It also cuts down the cost of the standard equipment, which requires extensive training to use. Anyone in the health field could use this technology... ...

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UC Riverside, Russian Academy for Science produce holographic memory

Joint research out of UC Riverside and the Russian Academy for Science has produced a new type of holographic memory device utilizing spin waves. Their invention has the potential to make improvements to modern technology, including the benefits of increased storage and processing capacity that has never before been attainable. The UC Riverside team is led by Professor Alexander Khitun, who has worked on spin wave-based technologies for over nine years. He, along with team member and UC Riverside graduate student Frederick Gertz, submitted their research for publication in the journal Applied Physics Letters on Jan. 21 of this year. Spin waves are magnetic waves that are caused by an alternating magnetic field. They were used in order to increase memory capabilities, lower energy consumption and meet the requirements of today’s electrical components. “If you throw two rocks into a pond at the same time, they will both create waves, and where these waves meet they will ‘interfere’ or cause the waves to change slightly. The same is true for... ...

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Study tracks Yosemite black bear food consumption

The Yosemite black bear is a curious, bold and predictable creature. Many of these bears, who have learned since infancy to fulfill their energy requirements through consumption of the vastly diverse and procurable human foods, pose an imminent nuisance to campers and hikers vacationing on the Yosemite grounds. Jack Hopkins, a research fellow at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), has composed a rigorous investigation of the changing dietary patterns of the Yosemite bear population over time. He has done so hoping to highlight successful methods in deterring food based human-bear interactions. With the help of his research, Yosemite management will continue to take successful, preventative measures in encouraging bears to return to their natural diets and to spend less time foraging in visitor areas. Through the installation of bear-resistant food-storage containers and the establishment of a “bear team,” Yosemite continues to see increased visitor compliance regarding food storage in areas that are popular spots for bears to scavenge. “Yosemite has a rich history of bear-management practices as a... ...

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This week in science: March 6, 2014

Gesture into the future New gesture recognition technology is now cheaper than ever before and uses significantly less power than touch screens. AllSee, created by Bryce Kellogg, Vamsi Talla and Shyam Gollakota from the University of Washington, has a small sensor that can be installed on the phone. Through this sensor it uses television signals that already exist to recognize gestures and sources of power itself. Unlike current gesture recognition technology, the device can be in your pocket and still pick up your gestures. Diet vs. regular According to a paper published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, cognitive psychologist Cecile Marczinski found that mixing vodka with diet soda would get men drunk faster than if they had mixed it with regular soda. Apparently, diet soda mixers increase the rate of alcohol absorption. It may come down to the the types of sugars used because because diet drinks contain artificial sugars. Breast milk cheese It turns out you cannot make cheese from human breast milk. According to Michael... ...

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UCLA researchers link common pesticides to Parkinson’s disease

A team of medical researchers at UCLA has drawn an unnerving link between pesticide exposure and an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease. For individuals of a genetically at-risk population, even low levels of exposure can exponentially increase the likelihood of developing the disease. The research was published in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal Neurology. Parkinson’s disease is the progressive degradation of an individual’s capacity to move in a smooth, stable fashion. This chronic disorder involves the loss of function and eventual death of indispensable neuronal tissue in the brain, specifically of the substantia nigra region (this is the region responsible for voluntary movement). One of the primary functions of the endangered neuron population is the synthesis of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is key for movement control and coordination. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, the declining neural population of the substantia nigra region is unable to secrete adequate levels of dopamine for an individual to produce coordinated movement. What begins as a faint quiver eventually progresses into a pronounced loss... ...

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