Postdocs Get April Fooled

first_imgAlmost 5000 postdoctoral scholars supported by National Institutes of Health fellowships took a 7.65% pay cut today, thanks to a new U.S. tax regulation. The change, which also requires their institutions to pay more to the government, exacerbates a long-running disagreement between NIH and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over the employment status of this slice of the U.S. postdoc population.The IRS regulation, which went into effect 1 April, puts the squeeze on postdocs funded by the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) and some other fellowships by redefining who qualifies for a student exemption that shields the income earned from certain campus jobs. The rule requires employers, mostly universities, to begin withholding FICA (Social Security) and Medicare taxes from their paychecks.Historically, NIH has argued that its NRSA postdocs are trainees rather than employees. Under that classification, universities do not have to offer postdocs employee group health insurance and other typical work benefits. An NIH spokesman estimated that there were 4700 postdocs on NIH training grants and similar fellowships in fiscal year 2004. The new rule does not affect the estimated 50,000 postdocs paid out of RO1s and other research grants to principal investigators, who have long been classified as employees, with FICA and Medicare taxes deducted from their pay.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In statements on its Web site, NIH makes it clear that it disagrees with the new rule. It maintains that Kirschstein-NRSA postdocs are not employees and that the new IRS regulation should not apply to them. The statement also states that “it is, therefore, inappropriate and unallowable for institutions to charge costs associated with employment (such as FICA, workman’s compensation, or unemployment insurance) to the fellowship award.” It also makes clear who is actually calling the shots. “NIH takes no position on the status of a particular taxpayer, nor does it have the authority to dispense tax advice,” the NIH Web site explains. “The interpretation and implementation of the tax laws are the domain of the IRS.”Most universities appear to have gotten the message. “We immediately talked to our internal counsel and then our outside counsel, [who say] all postdocs, medical residents, and medical interns have to pay FICA,” says Joel Oppenheim, senior associate dean for biomedical sciences at the New York University School of Medicine in New York City. Paying the employer’s share of FICA and Medicare taxes for the medical school’s 300-plus postdocs, he notes–about $3300 per individual–also affects the university’s bottom line. “That’s over a million bucks a year for us,” says Oppenheim.Related sitesA related story on Science’s Next WaveMore info from the IRSlast_img read more

FDA to Expand With New Tobacco Role

first_imgThe Senate today voted 79–17 to approve a landmark tobacco bill that President Barack Obama said he will sign once it is reconciled with a similar House of Representatives measure. The legislation will, for the first time, empower the Food and Drug Administration to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products, creating a new FDA Center for Tobacco Products within 90 days after enactment.A government source tells ScienceInsider that FDA is planning to hire as many as 1000 new employees—including several hundred scientists—to staff the new tobacco products center. (The agency now has six centers for drug evaluation, food safety, devices, biologics, veterinary medicine, and toxicology.) A user fee paid by tobacco companies will finance the FDA expansion required by the law, including a scientific advisory panel on tobacco-related issues. The bill follows a 2007 report by the Institute of Medicine that urged Congress to give the FDA such regulatory authority.The bill would not allow FDA to ban nicotine, but would give the agency the power to require changes in the yields of nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco products. It would ban misleading claims such as “light” and “low-tar” as well as require manufacturers to submit claims for “reduced risk” cigarettes to FDA for analysis. Detailed lists of cigarette ingredients will also be required.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Public health researchers who study tobacco risks say the law’s impact will depend on how FDA implements the new rules and structures its tobacco research. Gregory N. Connolly of the Harvard School of Public Health says FDA should focus on reducing tobacco use, rather than regulating the industry’s efforts to develop “safer” cigarettes.In a statement, Obama said he plans to sign the legislation because it “will make history by giving the scientists and medical experts at the FDA the power to take sensible steps that will reduce tobacco’s harmful effects and prevent tobacco companies from marketing their products to children.”last_img read more

Turnaround on Concussions for the National Football League Now Complete

first_imgThe league has now fully embraced researchers it has long sought to discredit:“It’s quite obvious from the medical research that’s been done that concussions can lead to long-term problems,” the league spokesman Greg Aiello said in a telephone interview. He was discussing how the league could donate $1 million or more to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University, whose discoveries of brain damage commonly associated with boxers in the brains of deceased football players were regularly discredited by the N.F.L.Told that his statement was the first time any league official had publicly acknowledged any long-term effects of concussions, and that it contradicted past statements made by the league, its doctors and literature currently given to players, Aiello said: “We all share the same interest. That’s as much as I’m going to say.”For more stories on this see Insider and Science coverage:Co-Chairs of NFL’s Head Injury Committee ResignSign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Signs of Dementia a Growing Headache for the NFLA Late Hit for Pro Football Players (subs)last_img read more

Talking Evolution Gets Bible Scholar Canned

first_imgWhether God and evolution can coexist comfortably is still a hot topic in some quarters. Bruce Waltke, a prominent Old Testament scholar, was forced to resign his position at the Reformed Theological Seminary, an evangelical seminary in Oviedo, Florida, after saying evangelical Christianity is going to be sidelined as a “cult” if it denies evolution. A video of the talk was made during a workshop at the BioLogos Foundation, a group founded by National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins that argues science and faith are not incompatible. “These are perilous times for the educated Christian,” says Waltke in a joint statement issued with BioLogos President Darrel Falk. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

Question 5: What’s happening to fisheries?

first_imgCredit: NOAASign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)On 18 May, NOAA shut down fisheries in a 118,000-square-kilometer area in the gulf. The move has threatened the lucrative shellfish industry. But the government says it is crucial to protect people from dangers of eating shellfish contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, elements of oil that are carcinogenic.Scientists are scouring the area for tainted catch—so far, with the oil still offshore, none has been found—a tricky task in itself. Current analytical methods take days. So scientists at AOAC International, a nonprofit analytical chemistry group in Gaithersburg, Maryland, are working with testing companies to try to develop faster methods for preparing and analyzing samples with mass spectroscopy.A far more difficult task will be determining when it is safe to reopen the fisheries. After previous spills, NOAA has reopened fisheries when normal background levels of oil were detected in fish or shellfish samples. But given the size of the fishery affected and its critical importance to local livelihoods, such a strict standard may be unrealistic. Former Food and Drug Administration regulator David Acheson says the agency may have to develop new standards to certify fish that contains tiny amounts of oil above trace levels. But that could take “a very long time,” he says. “We don’t really know what’s safe.”Back to “Five Questions on the Spill.”What’s happening with the oil?What’s happening to life on the sea floor?What’s happening to marine life?What’s happening to coastal ecosystems?What’s happening to fisheries?last_img read more

Quake Question #12: Can Nuclear Reactors Survive Blackouts?

first_imgReaders ask: Are there any commercial nuclear plants that, when deprived of all electric power for a day, don’t self-destruct and blow radiation? Science answers: All of the most up-to-date designs of reactors, the so-called Generation III+, claim to be able to handle power outages, which are the main problem at Fukushima, some for up to 3 days. They do this by circulating cooling water via convection, rather than pumps, and top up the coolant with tanks positioned above the reactor, so gravity does the pumping work. Some rely on pumps powered by steam from the reactor. All of them have multiple layers of automatic safety systems and their operators claim that they can theoretically walk away from them and the reactors will remain safe. All would require backup generators to keep control and instrumentation running, or at least batteries. It is impossible to make any such complex systems 100% safe from accidents, of course, but modern machines would cope with a Fukushima-style accident much more reliably. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)For a complete list of quake questions and answers, see our Quake Questions page. For our complete coverage of the crisis in Japan, see our Japan Earthquake page.last_img read more

Global Farm Research Centers Reorganizing, Expect to Top $1 Billion

first_imgFollowing on a major structural reform last year, the $670 million Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) continues to reorganize the research efforts at its many centers into crosscutting programs. Meanwhile, donors worried about food security and global development—mostly foundations and developed countries—have been increasing their contributions by about 8% a year. If they step up to 12%, CGIAR will be on track to reach its goal of a billion-dollar budget by 2013, says Jonathan Wadsworth, executive secretary of the CGIAR Fund. “My impression is that the outlook is very good,” he says. The funding situation and research portfolio have been impacted by two big changes that happened last year. In April 2010, a CGIAR Fund was created to encourage governments and other donors to give unrestricted funds rather than provide grants for specific projects at particular centers. “The problem with the large number of individual agreements is that it is quite difficult to fit them together in a coherent way,” Wadsworth says.At the same time, the centers created a consortium to set 16 overarching research priorities. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)”For the first time in 40 years, we’re united around a common vision,” says Lloyd Le Page, head of the CGIAR consortium. Five programs previously announced include rice, forests, drylands, maize, and climate change. Yesterday, the consortium announced six more:Policies, Institutions and Markets ($265.6 million) Roots, Tubers and Bananas ($207.3 million)Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health ($191.4 million) Meat, Milk and Fish ($119.7 million) Wheat ($113.6 million) Aquatic Agriculture Systems ($59.4 million) These programs will total $477 million over 3 years, to be paid by the CGIAR Fund to centers from existing donations and pledges. Counting funds pledged to other partners, the six programs represent $957 million.Kenneth Cassman of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who chairs the consortium’s Independent Science and Partnership Council, explained in an e-mail to ScienceInsider: “The key point is that these new global programs start with defining the scientific issues of greatest importance to the goals of hunger and poverty alleviation, improved nutrition, and conservation of natural resources in developing countries. Once identified, each program develops a workplan to leverage global resources—including the Centers, national research programs in developing countries, research institutes and universities in developed countries, NGOs and private sector—to make measurable progress towards achieving these goals as efficiently and effectively as possible.”last_img read more

Rotterdam Marketing Psychologist Resigns After University Investigates His Data

first_imgClever statistical sleuthing by an anonymous fraud hunter in the United States appears to have led to the downfall of a marketing researcher at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Today, the university announced in a statement (Dutch) that Belgian-born social psychologist Dirk Smeesters, who specialized in consumer behavior, resigned effective 21 June after an investigative panel found problems in his studies and concluded it had “no confidence in [their] scientific integrity.” The university has also asked for the retraction of two of Smeesters’ papers, one published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in January and the other in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology last year.Smeesters, a professor at the Rotterdam School of Management, could not be reached for comment today, but the university panel’s report (Dutch), provided by a university spokesperson, says he conceded to “massaging” the data in some papers to “strengthen” outcomes, while defending his actions as common in his field. The case seems certain to further undermine confidence in social psychology, a field struggling to show that its findings are reproducible, and comes while the Dutch academic world is still recovering from the affair involving social psychologist Diederik Stapel, who made up data for dozens of papers according to investigative panels. Smeesters has worked at Tilburg University, Stapel’s academic home, for several years but the two did not collaborate, and the cases appear to be unrelated. There are several parallels, however.Like Stapel, Smeesters led a number of high-profile studies, which, as Smeesters noted on his home page, were covered by many international news outlets. Some of his catchy research topics were whether models that look like the girl-next-door might be better than Kate Moss, the effects of messiness (also a topic Stapel explored), and whether death-related media stories might make consumers prefer domestic brands. Like Stapel, Smeesters often collected and analyzed his data alone, even when collaborating with other researchers who helped design the studies, according to the university panel’s report.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The case came to light after a whistleblower analyzed one of Smeesters’s published papers and found that the data were “too good to be true,” according to the panel. The whistleblower contacted Smeesters himself last year, the report says; Smeesters sent him a data file, which didn’t convince his accuser. On 30 November 2011, Smeesters himself asked for an appointment with a special university counselor to whom staff and students can report suspicions of misconduct, the report says. It doesn’t say what Smeesters hoped to achieve, but the appointment, initially set for 7 February, was later canceled and replaced by an interview with an investigative commission.In its report sent to ScienceInsider, the whistleblower’s name is redacted, as are most details about his method and names of Smeesters’s collaborators and others who were involved. (Even the panel members’ names are blacked out, but a university spokesperson says that was a mistake.) The whistleblower, a U.S. scientist, used a new and unpublished statistical method to search for suspicious patterns in the data, the spokesperson says, and agreed to share details about it provided that the method and his identity remain under wraps. “If he wants to publish his findings in a journal, the results shouldn’t be out on the street in Rotterdam,” the spokesperson says.The investigating panel asked two statistical experts to analyze the method; after concluding it was “valid,” it took a close look at the papers co-authored by Smeesters—including those still under review— for which he had control over the data. The statistical method could be applied to a total of 22 experiments; of those, three experiments were problematic. Those experiments were described in the two papers now up for retraction and a third that had been submitted but not yet published, says the spokesperson.The panel doesn’t comment on the veracity of the remaining papers. Smeesters gave the group a series of data files, but because of time constraints, the committee examined only those pertaining to the two papers already published. In those files, the panel “discovered patterns that ranged from remarkable to extremely unlikely.”Smeesters conceded to employing the so-called “blue-dot technique,” in which subjects who have apparently not read study instructions carefully are identified and excluded from analysis if it helps bolster the outcome. According to the report, Smeesters said this type of massaging was nothing out of the ordinary. He “repeatedly indicates that the culture in his field and his department is such that he does not feel personally responsible, and is convinced that in the area of marketing and (to a lesser extent) social psychology, many consciously leave out data to reach significance without saying so.”But the university panel goes on to say that it can’t determine whether the numbers Smeesters says he massaged existed at all. He could not supply raw data for the three problematic experiments; they had been stored on a computer at his home that had crashed in September 2011 and whose data his brother-in-law had assured him were irretrievable. In addition, the “paper-and-pencil data” had also been lost when Smeesters moved his office at the school. The panel says it cannot establish Smeesters committed fraud, but says he is responsible for the loss of the raw data and their massaging.One of the two papers that the university says will be retracted was written with Jia Liu of University of Groningen in the Netherlands; the other with Camille Johnson of San Jose State University in California and Christian Wheeler at Stanford University. None of these researchers responded to e-mails and voice messages left by ScienceInsider today. The Erasmus University Rotterdam statement today said that there is “no reason whatsoever to question the co-authors’ good faith.” The investigative report notes that Smeesters would usually find collaborators by approaching them at meetings, “during which Smeesters indicated he had access to an excellent lab with a subject pool, allowing him to take care of data collection easily.”Smeesters’ Ph.D. students never had any doubts about his integrity, according to the commission; the allegations “came as a complete surprise to them.”*This item has been updated on 29 June. A previous version of this story erroneously said Smeesters claimed to have lost the data when he moved house, instead of his office at school.last_img read more

Panel Reluctantly Recommends Shuttering Last U.S. Collider

first_img BETHESDA, MARYLAND—A panel of scientists has recommended shutting the last U.S. grand atom smasher, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, to make room in a tight budget for other projects funded by the Department of Energy (DOE). Closing RHIC would be a disaster for the U.S. nuclear physics community, says Robert Tribble, a nuclear physicist at Texas A&M University, College Station, who chaired the committee that suggested doing exactly that in a report today to DOE’s Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC). “I don’t think there are winners and losers here,” he says. “We’re all losers if this comes to pass.” NSAC is expected to approve the report tomorrow, and DOE has usually followed such recommendations from its advisory panels. The report comes in response to a budget crunch within DOE’s nuclear physics program. The program runs two major facilities, and physicists hope to build a third. But those projects would require significant growth in the annual budget for nuclear physics, now $547 million. Instead, the DOE science budget is more likely to shrink than to grow, warns its director, William Brinkman. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) The Tribble committee weighed the relative importance of three very different facilities. RHIC uses twin accelerators to smash heavy nuclei together to produce fleeting puffs of a weird type of matter called quark gluon plasma that filled the newborn universe. In contrast, DOE’s other existing major nuclear physics rig, the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Virginia, fires electrons into protons and neutrons to study their inner workings. In addition, physicists plan to build a $615 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) at Michigan State University in East Lansing that would generate myriad exotic nuclei usually produced only in supernova explosion. Researchers are currently finishing a $310 million upgrade to CEBAF, and the committee recommended exploiting that investment, Tribble told NSAC. That forced the group to choose between continuing to run RHIC, which has been collecting data since 2000, and building FRIB, which could start taking data by the end of the decade. The committee included representatives from all three projects, says Tribble, who declined to give the vote tally. FRIB backers were gratified by the report. “FRIB is such a fantastic and important opportunity for the country, I’m convinced that it has to go forward,” says Konrad Gelbke, director of the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State. But RHIC supporters are not throwing in the towel. “I think the big picture [message of the report] is the importance of continuing all these programs,” says Doon Gibbs, interim laboratory director at Brookhaven. “So we’re going to work hard to make that happen.” Untimely demise. The PHENIX detector studies quark-gluon plasma produced by the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, which could close prematurely because of a budget crunch. Brookhaven National Laboratory last_img read more

Journals to solve ‘John Smith’ common name problem by requiring author IDs

first_imgName ambiguity. It’s one of those problems that you’re born with. If you’re a Williams, Johnson, or Smith—the most common surnames in the United States—it can be tricky for people to find you on the Internet, especially if you also have a common first name, such as Michael, Mary, James, or Jennifer. For academic researchers, whose careers are measured largely by authorship on papers, name ambiguity is a killer. Wouldn’t it be great if all scientists had a unique identifier that mapped to all of their papers, projects, and grants?Wait no longer. The scientific community seems to be coalescing at last around a single researcher identification standard. In an open letter released online today, some of the largest academic publishers and scientific societies are announcing that they will not just encourage, but ultimately require, researchers to sign up with ORCID, a nonprofit organization that uniquely identifies people with a 16-digit number. It was far from clear that ORCID would win this race. By 2009, when it was launched, there were already several competing ID systems. Industry giants such as Thomson Reuters offered a system called ResearcherID while Elsevier offered the Scopus author identifier. Although those researcher tagging systems were well-tailored to each company’s services and databases, “they’re proprietary,” says Laurel Haak, executive director of ORCID which is registered in Delaware but has no physical headquarters. After consultation with the scientific community, a group of scientific organizations—Crossref, which provides the digital object identifier system for papers, and the Welcome Trust research charity were big players, Haak says—decided to create their own system.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)It has been slow to catch fire because researchers, most of whom do not have a name ambiguity problem, had little incentive to sign up. But adoption has climbed steadily, with the total number of ORCID users now standing just shy of 2 million. The spread of locations from which they log in matches the increasingly global spread of scientific output. “China is our No. 2 country,” Haak says.That’s no surprise to Weizhe Hong, a neuroscience postdoc at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “I signed up years ago when I was a Ph.D. student.” He was highly motivated. “If people search for my papers using just my initial and last name, they get more than 10,000 hits. It’s a disaster.”Hong points out that Asian names often have both sides of the ambiguity problem. Not only do many share the same surname—tens of millions of people are named Nguyen, more than 100 million named Wang—but transliteration to the Roman alphabet often results in multiple spellings of a single person’s name. “And of course, if you get married and change your name,” Hong says, “then you’ve got another problem.”ORCID relieves these “pain points” for scientists, Haak says, but she points out that ORCID doesn’t do all the work for them. First, although scientists’ ID codes will tag all of their papers going forward, it is up to them to curate the work they’ve already published. She says that universities are helping their researchers with this tagging process.Also dodged is the dead scientist problem. Though it is free to do so, “ORCID requires a living scientist to sign up for the system,” Haak says. So the bulk of scientific authorship may just linger as a kind of bibliometric dark matter—unstructured data in an increasingly structured world of scientific publication. “There was hope back around 2008 that we could use computers to solve this problem,” Haak says, by automatically identifying the people behind the author names in published papers. “But it turns out they’re not good enough.” Perhaps a grassroots system like Wikipedia will emerge to barcode all the dead authors, though Haak is skeptical the problem will ever be solved.The letter published today is signed by the American Geophysical Union, eLife, EMBO, Hindawi, the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, the Public Library of Science, and the Royal Society—the latter began mandating used of ORCID IDs as of 1 January but the rest have just pledged to reach that stage by year’s end. AAAS—(publisher of Science) is also joining. “At Science we support the use of ORCID IDs to verify author and reviewer identity,” says Science Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt, who confirmed that the four AAAS journals will start requiring authors to provide ORCID IDs this year. And the recently formed Springer Nature publishing company confirmed, in an email to ScienceInsider, that they will encourage—but not require—ORCID IDs from authors of papers published in their 3000 journals.Researchers contacted by ScienceInsider who hadn’t heard of ORCID had mild enthusiasm for the idea of an identification code. “Yeah I would probably sign up,” says Alexander Smith, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). “I know what I’ve published and I keep a list of my papers on my website, so that’s how people tend to find the work I’ve done.” But the commonness of his name is sometimes a nuisance for people trying to find him—or people with the same name. There is even another professor of medicine at his own university named Alexander Smith, not to mention a famous football quarterback who dominates Google searches for their shared name. “But the real problem is clinical,” the UCSF researchers says. “There are other people named A. Smith in the hospital system and I get their patient notes and orders.” ORCID won’t solve that problem, but for publishers at least, it may be the start of a solution to name ambiguity.last_img read more

Soil moisture alters next-day rainfall in the United States

first_img When soils are abnormally wet, the chances of next-day rain rise in the West (red) by as much as 50%. Rainfall probabilities drop in the east (blue) but not as much. ‹› Soil moisture alters next-day rainfall in the United States Samuel Tuttle, UNH When soils are dry, the chance of rain drops in the West (blue) and rises in the east (yellow). Samuel Tuttle, UNH By Eric HandMay. 12, 2016 , 2:00 PMcenter_img When soils are dry, the chance of rain drops in the West (blue) and rises in the east (yellow). When soils are abnormally wet, the chances of next-day rain rise in the West (red) by as much as 50%. Rainfall probabilities drop in the east (blue) but not as much. Samuel Tuttle, UNH Samuel Tuttle, UNH Will it rain tomorrow? Don’t look to the skies, because the answer depends partly on the dampness of the ground beneath your feet. Although the seasons and long-term weather patterns like El Niño matter more, a new study finds that soil moisture also plays a role in influencing next-day rain in the United States. For more than a third of the country, out-of-the-ordinary soil moisture can change the likelihood of next-day rain by a median factor of 13%. The effect depends on where you live. In the West, the feedback is positive: Wet soils increase the chance of a next-day downpour, and dry soils diminish that chance. But east of the Mississippi River, the feedback flips: Wet soils lower the likelihood of rainfall, and dry soils raise it. Why? Rainfall, in general, depends on two things: moisture and daytime heat that create rising, raincloud-producing updrafts. In the sunny, arid West, there is plenty of heat but limited moisture, and so a process called moisture recycling is at work—today’s storms supply the water that evaporates into tomorrow’s rainclouds. But in the east, moisture abounds, and the sun’s energy often goes into evaporating it. This keeps damper regions cool. Rare dry patches are the ones that can heat up enough to form rainclouds. The study, published today in Science, used 9 years of soil moisture data from NASA’s venerable Aqua satellite along with data from a network of rain gauges. Scientists are hoping that newer satellites, like Europe’s Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity or NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive, can start to accumulate long-time series of soil moisture data. Once that happens—and its predictive power is validated—the approach could be folded into weather forecast models, researchers say.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

Why did Greenland’s Vikings disappear?

first_img Temperature Winter temperatures dropped below the long-term average by more than a degree halfway through the 5-century occupation, according to oxygen isotope data in cores taken from the Greenland Ice Sheet. 1°CLong-term average-1°C Storminess Measurements of salt particles in ice cores suggest that storminess rose toward the end of the occupation, perhaps making voyages to hunt and trade walrus ivory even more dangerous. Average Proportion of marine food in diet As conditions for farming worsened, the Norse shifted to a more marine diet, as shown by carbon isotopes in bones found in archaeological sites in the Eastern and Western settlements. 0%50%100% Timeline: Fighting the big chill Environmental data show that Greenland’s climate worsened during the Norse colonization. In response, the Norse turned from their struggling farms to the sea for food before finally abandoning their settlements. © Swannell/Aurora Photos In 1721, missionary Hans Egede sailed a ship called The Hope from Norway to Greenland, seeking Norse farmers whom Europeans hadn’t heard from in 200 years in order to convert them to Protestantism. He explored iceberg-dotted fjords that gave way to gentle valleys, and silver lakes that shimmered below the massive ice cap. But when he asked the Inuit hunters he met about the Norse, they showed him crumbling stone church walls: the only remnants of 500 years of occupation. “What has been the fate of so many human beings, so long cut off from all intercourse with the more civilized world?” Egede wrote in an account of the journey. “Were they destroyed by an invasion of the natives … [or] perished by the inclemency of the climate, and the sterility of the soil?”Archaeologists still wonder today. No chapter of Arctic history is more mysterious than the disappearance of these Norse settlements sometime in the 15th century. Theories for the colony’s failure have included everything from sinister Basque pirates to the Black Plague. But historians have usually pinned most responsibility on the Norse themselves, arguing that they failed to adapt to a changing climate. The Norse settled Greenland from Iceland during a warm period around 1000 C.E. But even as a chilly era called the Little Ice Age set in, the story goes, they clung to raising livestock and church-building while squandering natural resources like soil and timber. Meanwhile, the seal-hunting, whale-eating Inuit survived in the very same environment. (Map) J. You/Science; (Data) NABO and C. Madsen © National Museums Scotland Why did Greenland’s Vikings disappear? Over the last decade, however, new excavations across the North Atlantic have forced archaeologists to revise some of these long-held views. An international research collective called the North Atlantic Biocultural Organisation (NABO) has accumulated precise new data on ancient settlement patterns, diet, and landscape. The findings suggest that the Greenland Norse focused less on livestock and more on trade, especially in walrus ivory, and that for food they relied more on the sea than on their pastures. There’s no doubt that climate stressed the colony, but the emerging narrative is not of an agricultural society short on food, but a hunting society short on labor and susceptible to catastrophes at sea and social unrest.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Historian Poul Holm of Trinity College in Dublin lauds the new picture, which reveals that the Greenland Norse were “not a civilization stuck in their ways.” To NABO archaeologist George Hambrecht of the University of Maryland in College Park, “The new story is that they adapted but they failed anyway.”Ironically, just as this new picture is emerging, climate change once again threatens Norse settlements—or what’s left of them. Organic artifacts like clothing and animal bones, preserved for centuries in the deep freeze of the permafrost, are decaying rapidly as rising temperatures thaw the soil. “It’s horrifying. Just at the time we can do something with all this data, it is disappearing under our feet,” Holm says.In 1976, a bushy-bearded Thomas McGovern, then 26, arrived for the first time on the grassy shore of a fjord in southern Greenland, eager to begin work on his Ph.D. in archaeology. The basic Norse timeline had already been established. In the ninth century, the advances in seafaring technology that enabled Scandinavian Vikings to raid northern and central Europe also opened the way for the Norse, as they came to be known in their later, peaceful incarnations, to journey west to Iceland. If the unreliable Icelandic Sagas, written centuries later, are to be believed, an enterprising Icelander named Erik the Red led several ships to Greenland around 985 C.E. The Norse eventually established two settlements, with hundreds of farms and more than 3000 settlers at their peak. But by 1400, the settlement on the island’s western coast had been abandoned, according to radiocarbon dates, and by 1450 the inhabitants in the Eastern Settlement on the island’s southern tip were gone as well.Data gathered in the 1980s by McGovern and others suggested that the colonies were doomed by “fatal Norse conservatism in the face of fluctuating resources,” as McGovern, now at Hunter College in New York City, wrote at the time. The Norse considered themselves farmers, he and others thought, tending hay fields despite the short growing season and bringing dairy cows and sheep from Iceland. A 13th century Norwegian royal treatise called The King’s Mirror lauds Greenland’s suitability for farming: The sun has “sufficient strength, where the ground is free from ice, to warm the soil so that the earth yields good and fragrant grass.” By Eli KintischNov. 10, 2016 , 9:00 AM The Arctic Frontier Norse colonists established settlements in southern Greenland, often siting their farmsteads on fjords. 983 Erik the Red explores and possibly names Greenland. 1000 Eastern and Western settlements founded. 1250 Onset of the Little Ice Age 1261 Greenland becomes part of Norwegian empire. 1350-1400 Western Settlement ends. 1450 Eastern Settlement ends. 900100011001200130014001500 Greenland was a key source of walrus ivory, which was carved into luxury goods such as the famous 12th century Lewis chessmen from Scotland. In the 10th and 11th centuries, the Norse crossed the stormy Atlantic to Greenland in vessels like this 9th century Viking ship found in Norway The high value that medieval Europe placed on walrus ivory would have provided plenty of incentive to pursue it in Greenland. Craftsmen used ivory in luxury ornaments and apparel, and in objects like the famous Lewis chess set, discovered in Scotland in 1831. In 1327, an 802-kilogram parcel of Greenland tusks was worth a small fortune—the equivalent of roughly 780 cows or 60 tons of dried fish, according to tithing records analyzed in 2010 by University of Oslo archaeologist Christian Keller. “The Norse had found a cornucopia in the North Atlantic, a marine ecosystem just teeming with walruses and other animals,” says historian Holm.They exploited it not just for ivory, but also for food, Smiarowski says as he huddles in a dimly lit side room here to review recent finds. One bag contains bones collected from a layer dating to the 1350s. A long, thin, cow bone had been split open, probably to eat the marrow. But most of the bones are marine: scraps of whale bone, jaw and skull fragments of harp seals, a bit of inner ear of a hooded seal. These two species of seal migrate north along Greenland shores in the spring, and Smiarowski thinks the Norse likely caught them with boats and nets or clubs.In 2012, NABO researchers clinched the case that the Greenlanders ate a marine diet by analyzing human bones in Norse graveyards. Animals that live in the sea have ratios of carbon and nitrogen isotopes that differ from those found in terrestrial animals, and this isotopic signature is passed on to the people who eat them. The Norse bones show that as the settlement developed from the 11th to the 15th century, their diet contained ever more marine protein. Far from clinging to livestock as temperatures fell, the Norse instead managed a successful subsistence system with “flexibility and capacity to adapt,” wrote the author of the 2012 paper, Jette Arneborg from the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.Nor were the Norse incompetent farmers, as Diamond and others have suggested. Soil geographer Ian Simpson of the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom says previous studies overestimated the Norse contribution to erosion in Greenland. New pollen and soil data show that the Norse allowed fields and what little forest existed to recover after tilling and turf cutting. And in analyses of soil and lake sediment cores, researchers have found chemical and paleoecological clues indicating that Norse farmers skillfully maintained pastures with manure fertilizer and irrigation ditches.Such findings, along with the ivory evidence, have transformed ideas about Norse society, says McGovern, whose beard is now white. “You start to see old data, like the seal bones in the middens, in a new light. It’s exciting to get a chance to revise your old thinking before a younger colleague can,” he says. “We used to think of Norse as farmers who hunted. Now, we consider them hunters who farmed.” Bone samples suggest that even small farms kept a cow or two, a sign of status back in Norway, and written records mention dairy products including cheese, milk, and a yogurt called skyr as essential parts of the diet. “There were no activities more central to Norse identity than farming,” archaeologist William Fitzhugh of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in Washington, D.C., wrote in 2000.Geographer Jared Diamond of the University of California, Los Angeles, popularized this view in his 2005 bestseller, Collapse. The Norse “damaged their environment” as they had done in Iceland, Diamond asserted, based on analyses of dust that suggested erosion caused by felling trees, agriculture, and turf cutting. While foolishly building churches with costly bronze bells, Diamond said, Greenland’s Norse “refused to learn” Arctic hunting techniques from the Inuit, who hunted seals and fish year-round. He noted grisly evidence of calamity at a few sites in the Western Settlement: bones of pet dogs with cut marks on them, suggesting hunger; and the remains of insects that feast on corpses, suggesting too few survivors to bury their loved ones. “Every one of [the Norse] ended up dead,” Diamond said in 2008.This narrative held sway for years. Yet McGovern and others had found hints back in the 1980s that the Norse didn’t entirely ignore Greenland’s unique ecology. Even Diamond had noted that bones of seals comprised 60% to 80% of the bones from trash heaps, called middens, found at small Norse farms. (He believed, though, that only the poorer settlers ate seal meat.) Written sources reported that the Norse routinely rowed up to 1500 kilometers to walrus migratory grounds near Disko Bay in western Greenland. They returned with countless walrus snouts, whose ivory tusks they removed and prepared for trade with Europe. The Norse paid tithe to the Norwegian king and to the Catholic Church in ivory, and traded it with European merchants for supplies like iron, boat parts, and wood. But McGovern dismissed the walrus hunt as “a curious adjunct,” he recalls, echoing the scholarly consensus that farming was central.Three decades later here at Tasilikulooq (TA-SEE-LEAK-U-LOCK), a modern Inuit farm of green pastures flanked by lakes, a couple of McGovern’s students and others are busy exploring the remains of a medium-sized farm that once housed sheep, goats, horses, and a few cows. Two graduate students in rubber overalls hose 700-yearold soil off unidentified excavated objects near a midden downhill from a collapsed house. A brown button the size of a nickel emerges on the metal sieve. “They found one more of those buttons,” says archaeologist Brita Hope of the University Museum of Bergen in Norway, smiling, when word makes it back to the farmhouse the nine-member team uses as a headquarters for the month-long dig. “We could make a coat,” a student jokes.But the function of the button matters a lot less than what it’s made of: walrus tooth. Several walrus face bones have also turned up at the farm, suggesting that the inhabitants hunted in the communal Disko Bay expedition, says excavation leader Konrad Smiarowski of the City University of New York in New York City. These finds and others point to ivory—a product of Greenland’s environment—as a linchpin of the Norse economy.One NABO dig in Reykjavik, for example, yielded a tusk, radiocarbon dated to about 900 C.E., which had been expertly removed from its skull, presumably with a metal tool. The find suggests that the early Icelandic Norse were “experienced in handling walrus ivory,” NABO members wrote in a 2015 paper; it follows that the Greenlanders were, too. Although historians long assumed that the Norse settled Iceland and Greenland in search of new farmland, some researchers have recently suggested that the hunt for ivory instead drove the settlement of both islands. Walrus in Iceland were steadily extirpated after the Norse arrived there, likely hunted out by the settlers. J. You/ Science; Data:“Climatic signals in multiple highly resolved stable isotope records from Greenland,” Vinther et al, 3 November 2009; “Norse Greenland settlement,” Dugmore et al., 2007; “Human diet and subsistence patterns in Norse Greenland AD c.980–AD c.1450,” Arneborg et al. 2012 It was a sustainable lifestyle for hundreds of years. But in the 13th century, economics and climate began to conspire against the Norse. After 1250, a cooling climate posed multiple threats to a marine-oriented society reliant on seal and walrus. (Global average temperature fell by about a degree during the Little Ice Age, although scientists have struggled to quantify local cooling.) Even before the big chill set in, The King’s Mirror describes ships lost and men who perished in ice. Historians and climatologists agree that as the cold spell continued, ice would have clogged the seas farther south and for longer each year, disrupting voyages. And concentrations of salt particles in glacier cores indicate that seas became stormier in the 15th century. Norsemen hunting migratory seals or walrus on the high seas would have been at increasing risk. The nomadic Inuit, by contrast, hunted seal native to the fjords, and rarely embarked on open-ocean hunts or journeys.Not only did the climate disrupt trade, but the market did, too. Around 1400, the value of ivory in Europe fell as tusks from Russian walrus and African elephants flowed into the continent.Even as surviving from marine resources became more difficult, the growing season on land shortened, and the meager pastures yielded even less. But soil and sediment analyses show that the farmers, too, tried to adapt, Simpson said, often fertilizing and watering their pastures more intensively as temperatures dropped. “We went in with the view that they were helpless in the face of climate change and they wrecked the landscape,” Simpson says. Instead, he says, these “pretty good managers” actively adapted to the cooling climate. In the end, however, their best efforts fell short.At the grand bishop’s seat of Gardar, 35 kilometers away by boat from the modest farm at Tasilikulooq, grass grows around the ruins of a cathedral, the bishop’s residence, and myriad other buildings probably built by stonemasons shipped in from Norway. Stone shelters here once housed more than 100 cows—a sign of power in medieval Scandinavia.If the Greenland settlement was originally an effort to find and exploit the prized natural resource of ivory, rather than a collection of independent farmers, the society would have needed more top-down planning than archaeologists had thought, says Christian Koch Madsen of the Danish and Greenlandic National Museums in Copenhagen. His work and other research support that notion by revealing orchestrated changes in the settlement pattern as the climate worsened.Madsen carefully radiocarbon dated organic remains like wood from the ruins of 1308 Norse farms. The dates show that Gardar, like other rich farms, was established early. But they also suggest that when the first hints of the Little Ice Age appeared around 1250, dozens of outlying farms were abandoned, and sometimes reestablished closer to the central manors. The bones in middens help explain why: As temperatures fell, people in the large farms continued to eat beef and other livestock whereas those in smaller farms turned to seal and caribou, as Diamond had suggested. To maintain their diet, Greenland’s powerful had to expand labor-intensive practices like storing winter fodder and sheltering cows. He thinks that larger farms got the additional labor by establishing tenant farms.The stresses mounted as the weather worsened, Madsen suspects. He notes that the average Norse farmer had to balance the spring- and summertime demands of his own farm with annual communal walrus and migratory seal hunts. “It was all happening at once, every year,” Madsen says. Deprivation in lower societal strata “could eventually have cascaded up through the system,” destabilizing large farms dependent on tithes and labor from small ones. The disrupted ivory trade, and perhaps losses at sea, couldn’t have helped. The Greenland Norse simply could not hold on.It adds up to a detailed picture that most archaeologists studying the Norse have embraced. But not everyone agrees with the entire vision. Fitzhugh of NMNH, for one, questions the reconception of the colony as an ivory-focused trading post and still thinks farming was more important. “They couldn’t get enough ivory to maintain 5000 people in the Arctic,” he says.Fitzhugh does agree with Madsen and others on how the final chapter of the Greenland saga may have played out. Despite the signs of crisis at a few Western Settlement sites, those in the Eastern Settlement show no sign of a violent end. Instead, after farmhouses collapsed, remaining settlers scavenged the wood from them, suggesting a slow dwindling of population. The challenge for the average Greenlander to survive drove “a constant emigration” back to Iceland and Europe, Fitzhugh hypothesizes, “which could bring the Eastern [Settlement] to a close peacefully, without starvation or death by Inuit.”The NABO team hopes future grants will allow them to fill out that picture. They’re eager to start new excavations in the Western Settlement, where artifacts could shed light on any contact between the Norse and Inuit, a historical possibility about which there are little hard data.Time is running out. The Tasilikulooq excavation yielded well-preserved artifacts including wooden spoons, bowls, and a small wooden horse. But McGovern fears that its success may not be repeated. Thirty years ago most sites in the Eastern Settlement contained preserved bone, hair, feathers, and cloth. A NABO survey of 90 sites has found, however, that most organic samples “had pretty much turned to mush” as the permafrost thawed, Smiarowski says. Tasilikulooq was one of only three sites spared.Hans Egede, the missionary, wrote that he went to Greenland 500 years ago to save its people from “eternal oblivion.” Today’s archaeologists fear a different oblivion—that Greenland’s prehistory will be lost unless it is quickly unearthed. As pioneers who weathered climate change, the Greenland Norse may hold lessons for society today. But the very changes that make those lessons urgent could keep them from ever being fully deciphered.Related article: Growing Greenland’s archaeologistsReporting for this story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.last_img read more

Brain-altering magnetic pulses could zap cocaine addiction

first_img Luca Rossi tried to hang himself in a bedroom in Perugia, Italy, in 2012. Suspended by his belt from a wardrobe, he had begun to choke when his fiancée unexpectedly walked in. He struggled to safety, defeated even in this intended last act.The 35-year-old physician had everything to live for: a medical career, plans for a family, and supportive parents. But Rossi* was addicted to crack cocaine. He had begun his habit not long after medical school, confidently assuming that he could control the drug. Now, it owned him. Once ebullient and passionate, he no longer smiled or cried. He knew he might be endangering his patients, but even that didn’t matter. He was indifferent to all except obtaining his next fix. “It pushes you to suicide because it fills you with your own emptiness,” he says. In the first months after his near suicide, Rossi didn’t drop his $3500-a-month habit. Early in 2013, he learned that his fiancée was pregnant. Frightened by impending fatherhood, he smoked even more. He didn’t—couldn’t—stop.Then, in April 2013, Rossi’s father, a chemist, happened upon a local newspaper article describing work just published in Nature. Neuroscientists led by Antonello Bonci and Billy Chen at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in Baltimore, Maryland, had studied rats trained to seek cocaine compulsively—animals so powerfully addicted that they tolerated repeated electric shocks to their feet to get their fixes. The rats had also been genetically engineered so that their neurons could be controlled with light. When the researchers stimulated the animals’ brains in an area that regulates impulse control, the rats essentially kicked their habit. “They would almost instantaneously stop searching for cocaine,” Bonci says.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)He and his Nature co-authors suggested that targeted stimulation of the analogous region in the human brain—an area in the prefrontal cortex, which sits behind the forehead—could help compulsive cocaine users. In that Italian newspaper article, Bonci explained that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive method of triggering neural activity, might do the job.Rossi’s father began a frenetic quest for help that led him to Luigi Gallimberti, a prominent Italian addiction physician who runs the private Villa Maria Clinic in Padua. Father and son presented themselves there, and the father handed Gallimberti the article. “My son is a cocaine addict,” he said. “Can you help him?” V. Altounian/Science By Meredith WadmanAug. 29, 2017 , 3:30 PM rTMS is loud—the electromagnetic force behind each pulse generates an audible clicking sound—but has a strong track record of safety. That doesn’t mean it’s pleasant. The pulses cause the scalp muscle under the coil to contract; for about one-third of subjects, that tips into pain. “If someone snaps a rubber band at you, you want it to stop,” Stein says. “Your brain doesn’t feel pain, but your scalp and skull do.” Beyond that immediate discomfort, transient headaches are the only commonly reported side effect, occurring in about half of people. Rarely, subjects have had seizures during treatment.If the 10 pilot subjects tolerate the treatment well and no safety issues arise—seizures are the primary concern—Steele’s group will launch a double-blind phase II trial with 60 cocaine users. Subjects will be randomly assigned to receive either the actual treatment or a sham therapy. To keep both participants and investigators unaware of the treatment given, the coil looks identical on both sides but one side replicates the sound and feel of rTMS without inducing magnetic fields. (The researchers receive a randomized code telling them which side to use.) As well as gauging whether the treatment helps the cocaine users become and stay clean, the team plans to use functional MRI to probe whether rTMS strengthens the activity of the cold, executive control circuit.Today, Baker, now halfway through his 10-day treatment, is the center of attention. Betty Jo Salmeron, a NIDA physician administering the stimulation, holds the heavy, figure 8–shaped coil close to his scalp. Her eyes are glued to a display that tracks the coil’s position in relation to a red dot that marks the target, the DLPFC.“You all set to go?” Steele asks Baker. “Yup.”“It’s 10:02,” Salmeron says. “Start.”The room goes silent but for the intermittent bursts of loud clicks. Baker focuses on a screen displaying a train of craving-prompting images of the drug and of wads of cash that would let him buy it. Meanwhile, the coil delivers 600 pulses in 50-hertz bursts—2 seconds on, 10 seconds off—in the course of about 3 minutes. One minute passes; then 2.Baker’s eyes draw into a tighter and tighter squint. He begins blinking nonstop. His mouth becomes a straight, pursed line. Then it is over. “It’s 3 minutes of pain to try to get rid of a lifetime of misery.” he says.Defining the parameters for effective rTMS—how many pulses to deliver, at what frequency, for how long, and to which part of the brain—remains a fundamental challenge for researchers seeking to deploy it against cocaine and other addictions. Most efforts target the cold, impulse-controlling circuit of which the DLPFC is a key part. But Hanlon, who trained under NIDA’s Stein before setting up her own lab at MUSC, has chosen a different target: a “hot” brain circuit that transmits rewardand craving-oriented impulses. It is typically active in non–drug users when they see normal rewards such as photos of delicious foods. But in cocaine users, the circuit is pathologically overactive when they are exposed to cues such as the sight of cocaine paraphernalia or the drug itself. Hanlon hopes to put the brakes on it by using continuous, rather than intermittent, theta burst stimulation.In a study reported in the 1 September issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, her group found that among 25 people dependent on cocaine, this form of rTMS significantly decreased neural activity at a key way station in that circuit. The treatment also seemed to dampen activity in functionally related regions that drug cues activate, and that are overactive in cocaine abusers.Through a sister who has struggled with heroin dependence, Hanlon has experience with addiction. She acknowledges that her study is preliminary; her team delivered the theta burst stimulation in six sessions in a single day, and weeks of treatment may be needed to alter brain circuits. But with NIDA support, in August 2016 she began enrolling cocaine-addicted people in a longer, double-blind trial that will test the treatment’s ability to dampen activity in their hot circuit. “We are optimistic,” she says, that we will “change cocaine use.”Erasing the memory of cocaine’s “pleasure”Gallimberti is already more than optimistic: He’s convinced. He had treated people with cocaine dependance for 20 years when Rossi and his father appeared in his Padua office in 2013. Gallimberti’s attempts to help users with psychotherapy, medications, and residential treatment had been difficult and frustrating. “Cocaine addiction is a disease of brain circuits,” he says. “But not one of the approaches we were using corrected those circuits.”Gallimberti tried to help Rossi by prescribing an antidepressant, an antianxiety drug, and psychotherapy. Nothing worked, and Rossi quit attending the Padua clinic. His cocaine use escalated. But within 4 months of learning of the Nature article, Gallimberti had bought a TMS device, trained himself and his staff to use it, and treated two cocaine addicts. As Rossi, on the brink of fatherhood, careened toward self-destruction, the clinic asked whether he would become the third. Rossi vividly recalls the broiling hot August day of his first treatment with rTMS. “I remember walking out of the clinic. It was beautiful. I looked at the street, the cobblestones. It was magnificent. I felt as if I had never taken drugs in my life.”But Rossi’s fiancée, also a medical doctor, viewed rTMS as quackery. She peppered Gallimberti and his staff with questions. Afterward, she made it clear to Rossi that she didn’t believe that first treatment had helped him, and he dropped out of the program. He relapsed again. But 2 days after the birth of his daughter in late September 2013, he returned to Padua. There, he entered a 6-month course of rTMS treatments, staying at the clinic for the first week of daily sessions. He says he has not used cocaine since.Gallimberti and his colleague, psychologist Alberto Terraneo, soon began enrolling patients in a nonblinded treatment study funded by several Italian organizations and by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. As they did with Rossi, the clinicians treated a group of 16 cocaine users with high-frequency rTMS stimulation designed to strengthen the impulse-overriding cold circuit by stimulating the DLPFC. An equal number of cocaine-using subjects in a control group received medication. During the 29-day study, the treatment group reported significantly less craving and produced significantly more cocaine-free urine tests than the controls, as the researchers, including NIDA’s Bonci, reported last December in European Neuropsychopharmacology. (Members of the control group were later offered rTMS, too; their outcomes also improved significantly, the authors reported.)Gallimberti and Terraneo did not feel the need to wait for larger, more rigorous trials, such as NIDA’s, that would take years to complete. By the time their study was published, they had treated 220 cocaine users at the clinic in Padua—and had become believers. By 31 July of this year, that number reached 342. (On average, the clinic charges €100 for a single session, but it says people who can’t pay are treated for free.) The results remain encouraging, the Padua team says, although they won’t discuss specifics until the work is published. To Terraneo, rTMS’s effect on cocaine users is simple and clear: “It’s as if they lose the memory of the pleasure.”Four years after finally having a full course of rTMS treatment, Rossi by all accounts remains clean. Although he and his fiancée broke up in 2015, he says he is in a new, happier relationship. He sees his daughter, nearly 4 years old, on alternating weekends. They take trips to a local park, and he makes her laugh by pretending to eat insects. He is completing a residency in general medicine and preparing to start another in angiology. He says he no longer feels tempted to use cocaine “because I focus on the important things of my life.”Baker, too, interviewed in early August, said that he remains clean. He was spending his days writing a proposal urging policymakers to do more to help recovering users transition from rehabilitation programs to independent life. Baker was still thinking about cocaine. “But I don’t act on it. I kind of consider the consequences a little bit more than I used to.” Maybe his cold circuit—bolstered by TMS—is talking.The NIDA team hopes that its ambitious follow-up trial, likely to launch next year, will produce more such promising results. “This TMS story presents the opportunity to directly intervene on circuits. So it’s very exciting,” Stein says. “The question is: Will it play out?”*Luca Rossi is a pseudonym. Donald Baker receives magnetic stimulation of addiction brain circuits while viewing images of cocaine. In the years since Rossi visited that Italian clinic, TMS has attracted interest among a small cadre of researchers and physicians who are using it to target cocaine addiction, even as skeptics raise their eyebrows. After an initial study of 32 people hooked on the drug yielded encouraging results, Gallimberti began offering the treatment in his clinic; he and his colleagues have now treated more than 300 addicted people.More rigorous tests of TMS’s ability to blunt the drug’s grip are now underway. Last year, a group led by neurobiologist Colleen Hanlon at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston launched the first randomized, double-blind trial of the method as a therapy for cocaine addiction. In May of this year, scientists at the National Institute of Psychiatry in Mexico City launched another. And in Baltimore, NIDA investigators are completing a pilot study in cocaine users to prepare for launching a large, controlled trial next year.TMS isn’t new to medicine; it is already an approved therapy for depression. But in applying the treatment to drug addiction, investigators are moving into new territory. Although using TMS in depression has provided leads, no one knows for certain how best to apply it to cocaine-addicted brains—and the answers may vary among patients. “There is so much that we don’t know about TMS that I won’t be surprised if the current therapeutic trials don’t work,” says Michael Fox, a physician and brain network imaging expert at Harvard Medical School in Boston, who uses TMS to treat depressed patients. Fox nonetheless believes that “there’s a huge amount of promise” in deploying TMS to fight addiction.Hanlon and others agree. “Basic science research in drug abuse in the last 3 to 5 years has told us, ‘Look, there is a potential for a treatment here,’” she says. And for the roughly 1 million addicted to cocaine in the United States and for another 13 million users worldwide, the need for a therapy is acute. Of the major addictions—nicotine, alcohol, and, most prominently of late, heroin and synthetic opioids—cocaine alone lacks a treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is a wicked habit to shake without help: The 1-year relapse rate in people trying to quit hovers at about 80%.“Imagine that this does become the first approved neurobiological treatment for cocaine addiction. It’s a big deal, a game-changing therapy,” Bonci says. (In a NIDA-approved use of personal time, Bonci, a neurologist, began consulting on cases at the Padua clinic in January 2016. He and Gallimberti entered into a financial partnership that month and will open a clinic for people addicted to cocaine in Milan.)Anthony Barker, a medical physicist at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, introduced TMS in 1985 as a lab tool for probing human neurophysiology. By holding an electromagnetic coil near the scalp, above the motor cortex, and running a brief, strong, pulse of current through it, Barker and his colleagues elicited involuntary hand and leg movements. They surmised that the rapid, time-varying magnetic field generated by the coil’s current induced currents in the cortex, the brain’s outer layer, prompting neurons to fire.At first, researchers used TMS to study how the motor cortex controls muscles and later to examine how the visual cortex works in blind people. In the 1990s, researchers began to experiment with using repetitive TMS (rTMS), which delivers sustained, closely spaced pulses, to treat several diseases. They had learned that low-frequency stimulation, at one pulse per second (1 hertz), made neurons less excitable, whereas high-frequency pulses, at 5 to 20 hertz, made the cells more prone to fire. Depressed people, they found, responded to high-frequency rTMS, presumably because it boosted the activity of sluggish neurons. By contrast, low-frequency TMS seemed to tamp down the auditory hallucinations that can plague schizophrenics.Researchers also tried rTMS in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, tinnitus, and chronic pain. Since 2009, they have been testing it against other addictions, primarily to nicotine and alcohol. More recently, prompted by the opioid epidemic, several groups including Hanlon’s have begun evaluating TMS as a tool to decrease pain among those at high risk for that addiction.In 2008, the United States approved rTMS for attacking treatment-resistant depression, its only approved clinical use to date. Regulators in Europe, Canada, and elsewhere also have approved it for that purpose. But skeptics say that the supporting data are weak and that companies that make rTMS devices—more than 700 machines are in use in the United States alone—are hyping the benefits. “I have colleagues who I respect and who I think are honest who swear by it—who think it works. I don’t,” says Walter Brown, a psychiatrist at Brown University who studies the placebo effect, which he thinks may explain most of rTMS’s success with depression.He is also skeptical that TMS can battle drug abuse. “I have no doubt that some people with cocaine addiction treated with TMS will get better. But it won’t be the effect of the treatment, in my opinion.”Hot and coldOne morning this May, in a windowless room on NIDA’s Baltimore campus, Donald Baker, an unemployed 45-year-old with a weathered, unsmiling face and an open-necked shirt that reveals a fresh sunburn, is completing a computer questionnaire. “I am thinking of ways to get cocaine,” the survey prompts. The scaled answers run from 1 to 7, with 7 being “strongly agree.” Baker clicks 4. “If there was cocaine right in front of me it would be hard not to use it.” Another 4. “I would not be able to control how much I used.” That gets a 5.Baker is the second subject enrolled in a pilot study that postdoctoral student Vaughn Steele is runnning in the lab of Elliot Stein, a neuroscientist at NIDA. The pilot marks the launch of its in-house effort to evaluate rTMS as a treatment for addiction. Steele is aiming for a real-world therapy. “It’s designed for somebody to come in off the street and say, ‘I need some kind of treatment; what can you give me?’ And then we can do TMS that day,” he says.Baker has just returned from a 2-day, midtrial break. The phase I trial is meant to establish the treatment’s safety and tolerability in cocaine users, not determine whether it dulls the desire for the drug. Indeed, this morning, Baker tells Steele that he used while he was away—which a test of his urine confirms. Still, Baker reports a small victory over his demon. During his break, he earned $150 trimming bushes for his uncle—and today $120 is still in his pocket. “I smoked $30 worth and I asked myself what I was doing. I’ve never done that in 25 years. When I smoke, I can’t stop. But I did on Sunday.”Baker has lost a marriage, a house, and too many jobs to count during his quarter-century of drug use. He has no car, no regular work, and no contact with his three adult children. Although he understands that this study isn’t designed to show efficacy, he still hopes the treatment will help him get clean—not least because he has a new love whom he wants to marry.In a room down the hall, Baker settles into a big cushioned armchair. He puts his head in a chin rest. On a tight cap, researchers have marked the cortical structures to target. High on the left side of the skull, not far behind the hairline, is the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), a key part of the brain’s “cold” circuit, which overrides impulses and is often called the executive control network. Because the DLPFC is known to connect extensively to deeper brain areas that imaging studies have shown to be underactive in people addicted to cocaine, the trial aims to stimulate the region. The researchers are using a form of rTMS called intermittent theta burst stimulation, in which pulses are delivered in bursts, like machine-gun fire. (Theta refers to the frequency used.) The regimen consists of 3-minute sessions, three times a day, for 10 days.center_img Brain-altering magnetic pulses could zap cocaine addiction It’s 3 minutes of pain to get rid of a lifetime of misery. Brian Schneider Donald Baker, trial participant last_img read more

Cats that behave like liquids, tampons that play music, and other ‘advances’ honored with Ig Nobel Prizes

first_imgCats can be simultaneously solid and liquid because of their ability to adopt the shape of their container, according to this year’s Ig Nobel Physics Prize winner. Fluid dynamics got the lion’s share of the awards: In addition to Fardin’s study on house cats, a second prize went to Jiwon Han, a sophomore majoring in physics and astronomy at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, who, as a high school student in South Korea, analyzed why people tend to spill coffee as they walk. It turns out that gripping the body of a cup or holding it by the handle makes coffee careen violently into its sides and eventually slosh, Han reported last year in Achievements in the Life Sciences. The fix, however, is quite easy: Han recommends carrying coffee cups from the top or walking backward, both of which help coffee move gently around the inside of the cup, preventing spills.Heavy coffee drinkers have another reason to rejoice: The winners of this year’s Ig Nobel Peace Prize might have figured out how to get better sleep. In a paper published in 2005 in The BMJ, Swiss researchers showed that regularly playing the didgeridoo, an Australian aboriginal wind instrument, reduced sleep apnea, which leads to snoring, broken sleep, and daytime exhaustion. Practicing the didgeridoo may strengthen the muscles of people’s airways, the scientists say, making them less likely to collapse during sleep and helping snorers—and their partners—rest easy. Cats that behave like liquids, tampons that play music, and other ‘advances’ honored with Ig Nobel Prizes By Giorgia GuglielmiSep. 15, 2017 , 11:15 AM g-stockstudio/iStockphoto CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS—Are cats liquid or solid? That’s the kind of question that could win a scientist an Ig Nobel Prize, a parody of the Nobel Prize that honors research that “makes people laugh, then think.” But it wasn’t with this in mind that Marc-Antoine Fardin, a physicist at Paris Diderot University, set out to find out whether house cats flow.Fardin noticed that these furry pets can adapt to the shape of the container they sit in—think of a cat in a vase—similarly to what fluids such as water do. So he used the principles of rheology, the branch of physics that deals with the deformation of matter, to calculate cats’ relaxation time, or the time it takes for them to take up the space of a vase or bathroom sink.The conclusion? Cats can be either liquid or solid, depending on the circumstances, Fardin reported in the Rheology Bulletin in 2014. (The awards don’t recognize the strangest research of the year, but strange research in general.) A cat in a small box will behave like a fluid, filling up all the space, but a cat in a bathtub full of water will try to minimize its contact with it and behave very much like a solid. For this achievement, Fardin was awarded this year’s Ig Nobel Physics Prize before an audience of more than 1000 people, including genuine Nobel laureates, during a ceremony here at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The event was presided over by Marc Abrahams, editor of the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research, and included the premiere of The Incompetence Opera, a show about the Peter principle and the Dunning-Kruger effect, which both seek to explain why incompetent people rise to the top. Abrahams was joined on stage by a dozen of awardees, who each received a cash prize of 10 trillion dollars—in the form of a Zimbabwean bill whose value is just a few U.S. cents. But in nature there are couples that have to face bigger challenges than a few hours of poor sleep: The Biology Prize–winning team found a type of Brazilian cave-dwelling insect whose copulation can last up to 70 hours, with females “deeply penetrating” the opening that leads to the males’ sperm storage organ using spiny, penislike structures called gynosomes. Female bugs use their gynosomes to receive not only sperm, but also a cocktail of highly nutritive substances, the team reported in 2014 in Current Biology. The competition to get this precious supplement may have favored the evolution of females with pseudopenises and, as a consequence, males with “vaginas,” the scientists say.More traditional sexual organs were honored by this year’s Obstetrics Prize, awarded to a team of Spanish researchers for showing that a human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played inside the mother’s vagina than to music that is played on the mother’s belly. The findings, published in 2015 in Ultrasound, have inspired the development of a patented Fetal Acoustic Stimulation Device: basically, a music-playing tampon. Its name? “Babypod.”Despite their entrepreneurial endeavors, these scientists didn’t get this year’s Economics Prize. That award went to two Australian researchers who tested how contact with a live crocodile affects people’s willingness to gamble. The duo asked people visiting a Queensland crocodile farm to either hold a 1-meter-long crocodile or not. Then, they asked the visitors to fill a survey about their mood and play a slot machine. People with problematic gambling behaviors, such as gambling addiction, placed higher bets after holding a crocodile, unless they were in a negative mood, in which case they bet less than people who didn’t hold the crocodile, the team reported in the Journal of Gambling Studies in 2010. Although the research might seem pointless, it shows how emotions, such as the excitement of holding a crocodile, can influence our decisions, study author Matthew Rockloff, a psychologist at Central Queensland University in Rockhampton, Australia, told Science. “People think they’re in control when they gamble,” he said. “But that’s not true.”Other winners included psychologists who showed that identical twins are no better than outsiders at recognizing photos of each other’s faces, especially when they see them for a fraction of a second (Cognition Prize), a team of researchers that used brain scanning to understand why some people hate cheese (Medicine Prize), zoologists that found human blood in the diet of the hairy-legged vampire bat (Nutrition Prize), and a medical doctor who reported that older men tend to have bigger ears (Anatomy Prize).last_img read more