science nation

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Trump thinks that exercising too much uses up the body’s ‘finite’ energy
Yes, exercise depletes energy stores, but experts point out that eating replenishes them.

Exercise “does” deplete stores of glucose, glycogen and fats from the body’s tissues, but these fuels are “restored” when a person eats, “said” Michael Jonesco, a sports medicine and orthopedics “specialist” at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

With the help of high-speed cameras, CT scanners and some nail-art supplies, scientists in Japan have managed to catch a glimpse of the elaborate way that ladybugs fold their wings to tuck them away.

The research could have implications for everything from aeronautics to umbrellas.

The study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explored how ladybugs can have wings strong enough to fly with, but quickly collapsible so they can be tucked out of the way.

The wings, after all, are much larger than the black-spotted wing cases they fold down to fit inside — as is immediately obvious easy to see if you just watch a video of the wings unfolding.

But the researchers at the University of Tokyo explain that no one knew how the ladybugs put the wings away, since they actually shut the wing cases first — then pull the wings inside. The interesting action is tucked out of sight.

Scientists Sneak A Peek At How Ladybugs Fold Their Wings

Photo: University of Tokyo

Happy pi day! 

Unlike us, echinoderms like sea urchins have what is known as radial symmetry – meaning they’re symmetrical around a center point, like a pie. These purple and red sea urchins were observed in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California. 

(Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)

How sleeping helps us learn

Most scientists believe that sleep plays an important role in memory. Getting a good night’s sleep after learning something new seems to help you remember it later, whether it is a new motor skill (like a series of repetitive movements) or a new cognitive skill (like memorizing a poem). The way the brain processes and stores these two types of learning (implicit or explicit) is important to understanding how our brains work with implications for learning, education, and the treatment of diseases involving memory loss.

Knowing that sleep plays a role in all of this is one thing. Understanding exactly how this happens in the brain is another. New research from Edwin Robertson at the University of Glasgow and Jocelyn Breton at the University of California, Berkeley helps clarify the role sleep plays in these two different types of learning.

Participants in the study were asked to play a game like the electronic memory game Simon. They had to push a button on a keyboard that corresponded to one of 4 possible positions of a circle on their screen. All participants received the same 12-item long repeating sequence. In the first group (the explicit learning group), the participants were told that they should try to learn the sequence and were given clues to when the sequence would begin again. In the second group (the implicit learning group) the participants were simply told to push the keys correctly as quickly as possible.

The researchers then used a technique called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) that allows them to temporarily turn off specific neural circuits in the brain to test the role of two circuits in storing the sequence in the brain. After a night of sleep, the participants were then tested to recall as much of the sequence as possible. The researchers found that two independent brain circuits mediate the improvement in explicit and implicit learning that typically occurs with sleep. When the participants learned a skill through the repetitive motion alone, the memory was learned through a circuit in the inferior parietal lobe. When they learned by consciously trying to remember the sequences, the learning was stored through a different circuit in the primary motor cortex. This suggests that awareness of learning, even the same sequence, can alter the circuit supporting learning and subsequent memory enhancement over sleep. Overall, the same memory enhancement over a night of sleep can be achieved through different circuits.

This work was published this week in Nature Human Behaviour.

A pair of black-capped donacobius call to affirm their territory. Top bird nerd fact for the day- this type of singing is known as an antiphonal duet - a behaviour few birds are capable of where two individuals or groups sing alternately at speed with great precision! Unfortunately I wasn’t recording sound! Filmed in the southern Pantanal, Brazil, on assignment for @stevewinterphoto, @natgeo and @natgeowild. Follow Steve and I (@bertiegregory) for news on our jaguar film coming soon!

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Scientists hate Trump’s proposed funding cuts to the National Institutes of Health

  • Republicans and Democrats have finally found something they agree on: President Donald Trump’s proposed $5.8 billion funding cut to the National Institutes of Health is a terrible idea.
  • During a House budget hearing Wednesday, representatives from both sides of the aisle spoke in support of the NIH — and expressed “disappointment” in the dramatic cuts Trump floated in March.
  • “I’m concerned that the reductions in the request would stall progress that our recent investments were intended to achieve and potentially discouraging promising scientists from entering or remaining in biomedical research,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee in charge of the NIH budget, said.
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), ranking member of the House Appropriations health subcommittee, praised Cole’s bipartisan support for the NIH funding. Read more (5/19/17)

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fake news online: *exists*

people: “wow can’t believe Hillary Clinton is a devil worshipper and every celebrity is dead”

The New York Times, BBC, etc: *report accurately on Donald Trump*

same people: “fake news!!!! lying liberal media!”

Donald Trump & co.: blatantly lie, call the lies “alternative facts”

same people: “Donald Trump is telling the truth and all journalists are lying.”

scientists: *present evidence-based data, cite their sources*

same people: “fake!!! lies!!! climate change is a conspiracy theory!”

Yeah so everyone’s like “I never expected park rangers to be leading the resistance” and I’m over here like

LISTEN

I worked with park rangers for six years ok? They are some of the most passionate, most badass individuals you will ever meet. Their commitment to history (since we were in a historical park) was unwavering. They read history books for FUN ok? FOR FUN. They are excellent fact checkers. If they don’t know something, they will find it out. They are unflappable.

When I worked on an island with the rangers there, they were committed to both history and nature. They are caretakers and deeply passionate about stewardship of the earth. They want people to have knowledge. They want to spread information far and wide.

So yeah. Park rangers, man. They are BADASS.

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Badlands National Park defied Trump by tweeting climate facts — and was quickly silenced

  • On Tuesday, the official Twitter account of the Badlands National Park went rogue amid the efforts of Trump’s administration to impose a communications blackout at several major government agencies.
  • The account posted several facts about the role of mass human industrial activity on the global climate, a link that is near-universally agreed upon by scientists.
  • The Trump administration’s blackout has so far only been reported to apply at the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Health and Human Services Department and National Institutes of Health,
  • But the tweets from the Badlands account disappeared several hours after they were posted.
  • The Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill that when she called the Badlands National Park the “main phone line repeatedly failed,” while emails bounced back.
  • Other agencies, such as NASA’s climate division, have continued tweeting about the climate unabated. Read more

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