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mindblowingscience:

pickledpennies:

m00nchaser:

If bees become extinct we will have exactly 4 YEARS to live on this planet. I don’t understand how “not giving a fuck” is more important than your life…

okay, I have a thing to say about this. I’m no expert on bees, but I am a biologist (and entomologist) so I think there is something I can contribute that’ll be of worth.

I agree entirely with the sentiment that we must protect honeybees. Obviously they are massively important for biodiversity, as well as pollinating food crops for humans. There is no doubt that if all the honeybees in the world were to vanish in a day that the consequences would be dire.

However, I disagree that the main cause for concern regarding honeybee death is the use of Genetically Modified (GM) crops. I’d be very interested to read a research paper that says ‘GM crops have killed millions of honeybees’, if indeed such a paper exists because in all honesty I find it highly unlikely that this is a true statement.

Let’s start with some facts about GM crops:

1. The development of GM crops is a highly regulated process, bound by strict country-specific legislature. A great number of trials are carried out long before commercial planting of a GM crop is even considered. It is these trials, and accompanying laboratory studies, that ensure a GM crop is safe to non-target organisms (such as honeybees) by investigating direct and indirect effects (Nap et al. 2003).

2. Crops that are genetically modified to express insecticidal proteins (for crop pest control) have a high level of specificity. This means that the insecticidal proteins being produced by the GM plant will only affect a narrow range of insect groups because of the chemical properties of the protein. For example, GM crops expressing insecticidal proteins sourced from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) will only target some Lepidopteran pests (caterpillars; Romeis et al. 2006). Furthermore, a recent meta-analysis of the literature found that GM Bt crops do not negatively affect the survival of adult honeybees or their larvae (Duan et al. 2008).

3. GM crops can be tailored such that the novel gene is expressed only in particular parts of the plant. For example, GM Bt rice plants express the toxin in the stems but not the grains (Datta et al. 1998). This technique means that gene expression can be excluded from the flowers/pollen of the crop plant, so that bees and other pollinators would not be affected. Neat, huh?

So those are a token few reasons why GM crops are safer than perhaps many people believe (as the result of a lot of questionable, non-scientific articles). To come back to our main point about honeybee death, I would like to briefly mention a few alternative explanations for the recent decline in honeybee populations. These are as follows:

1. Many bees have died as the result of broad-spectrum insecticide use. These are pesticides that lack specificity, and can be harmful to non-target organisms. Neonicotinoids are a well-studied example of this (Decourtye & Devillers, 2010). Not to worry, though, because many broad-spectrum pesticides including neonics are well on their way out. Indeed, the EU recently banned a large cohort of neonic pesticides. This is still a topic of controversy, mind (Goulson, 2013).

2. Many bees have died as the result of Varroa mite infestation. Imagine you’ve been bitten by several ticks, except those ticks are the size of dinner plates. That gives you an idea of the severity of a Varroa mite infestation on a single developing bee. The parasitisation of bees by Varroa mites and other parasites is often accompanied by disease transmission. This can result in colonies dying within two years after infestation (Johnson, 2011).

3. Many bees have died as the result of ‘colony collapse disorder’.  This is a phrase that has popped up a lot recently, and is basically an umbrella term for the various causes of bee death including parasite infestation, disease transmission, environmental stresses, and management stresses such as poor nutrition (Johnson, 2011). Colony collapse has been attributed to broad-spectrum pesticide use in some instances. However, it is has still been observed in countries where broad-spectrum pesticides have been withdrawn (in the EU, like I mentioned earlier; Johnson, 2011).

So those are my main points. Please excuse the bullet-point nature of this; I was trying to keep it fairly short. Not sure I managed that haha. But anyway, my take-home message is that GM crops are not the enemy when it comes to honeybee decline. If anything, bees are at much greater danger from the use of broad-spectrum pesticides and from parasites and diseases. Using GM can even help to alleviate some of the problems associated with broad-spectrum pesticides, as they greatly reduce the need to apply such chemicals (Romeis et al. 2006).

A finishing note: Do your homework. Go on google scholar and read some of the literature, making sure it is recent (within the past 10-15 years). Literature reviews are a great way to find out what the consensus is on any given topic. Don’t use popular media as your main source of information where science is concerned; they tend to favour scandal and exaggeration. You want to know what’s really going on? Check out some research articles and see for yourself.

Thanks for sticking it through to the end of this impromptu mini-essay! —Alice

References:

Datta, K., Vasquez, A., Tu, J., Torrizo, L., Alam, M. F., Oliva, N., Abrigo, E., Khush, G. S., & Datta, S. K. (1998). Constitutive and tissue-specific differential expression of the cryIA (b) gene in transgenic rice plants conferring resistance to rice insect pest. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 97(1-2), 20-30.

Decourtye, A., & Devillers, J. (2010). Ecotoxicity of neonicotinoid insecticides to bees. In Insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (pp. 85-95). Springer New York.

Duan, J. J., Marvier, M., Huesing, J., Dively, G., & Huang, Z. Y. (2008). A meta-analysis of effects of Bt crops on honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). PLoS One, 3(1), e1415.

Goulson, D. (2013). Neonicotinoids and bees: What’s all the buzz?. Significance, 10(3), 6-11.

Johnson, R. (2011). Honey bee colony collapse disorder. DIANE Publishing.

Nap, J. P., Metz, P. L., Escaler, M., & Conner, A. J. (2003). The release of genetically modified crops into the environment. The Plant Journal, 33(1), 1-18.

Romeis, J., Meissle, M., & Bigler, F. (2006). Transgenic crops expressing Bacillus thuringiensis toxins and biological control. Nature biotechnology, 24(1), 63-71.

This commentary is SO important. Succinct and with proper sourcing; beautiful.

It infuriates me when people blame GMO for everything without actually examining the evidence.

The way scientific replies on tumblr should be handled: Sourced and informed.

(Source: antinwo)

allrightcallmefred:

fredscience:

The Doorway Effect: Why your brain won’t let you remember what you were doing before you came in here
I work in a lab, and the way our lab is set up, there are two adjacent rooms, connected by both an outer hallway and an inner doorway. I do most of my work on one side, but every time I walk over to the other side to grab a reagent or a box of tips, I completely forget what I was after. This leads to a lot of me standing with one hand on the freezer door and grumbling, “What the hell was I doing?” It got to where all I had to say was “Every damn time” and my labmate would laugh. Finally, when I explained to our new labmate why I was standing next to his bench with a glazed look in my eyes, he was able to shed some light. “Oh, yeah, that’s a well-documented phenomenon,” he said. “Doorways wipe your memory.”
Being the gung-ho new science blogger that I am, I decided to investigate. And it’s true! Well, doorways don’t literally wipe your memory. But they do encourage your brain to dump whatever it was working on before and get ready to do something new. In one study, participants played a video game in which they had to carry an object either across a room or into a new room. Then they were given a quiz. Participants who passed through a doorway had more trouble remembering what they were doing. It didn’t matter if the video game display was made smaller and less immersive, or if the participants performed the same task in an actual room—the results were similar. Returning to the room where they had begun the task didn’t help: even context didn’t serve to jog folks’ memories.
The researchers wrote that their results are consistent with what they call an “event model” of memory. They say the brain keeps some information ready to go at all times, but it can’t hold on to everything. So it takes advantage of what the researchers called an “event boundary,” like a doorway into a new room, to dump the old info and start over. Apparently my brain doesn’t care that my timer has seconds to go—if I have to go into the other room, I’m doing something new, and can’t remember that my previous task was antibody, idiot, you needed antibody.
Read more at Scientific American, or the original study.

I finally learned why I completely space when I cross to the other side of the lab, and that I’m apparently not alone.
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allrightcallmefred:

fredscience:

The Doorway Effect: Why your brain won’t let you remember what you were doing before you came in here

I work in a lab, and the way our lab is set up, there are two adjacent rooms, connected by both an outer hallway and an inner doorway. I do most of my work on one side, but every time I walk over to the other side to grab a reagent or a box of tips, I completely forget what I was after. This leads to a lot of me standing with one hand on the freezer door and grumbling, “What the hell was I doing?” It got to where all I had to say was “Every damn time” and my labmate would laugh. Finally, when I explained to our new labmate why I was standing next to his bench with a glazed look in my eyes, he was able to shed some light. “Oh, yeah, that’s a well-documented phenomenon,” he said. “Doorways wipe your memory.”

Being the gung-ho new science blogger that I am, I decided to investigate. And it’s true! Well, doorways don’t literally wipe your memory. But they do encourage your brain to dump whatever it was working on before and get ready to do something new. In one study, participants played a video game in which they had to carry an object either across a room or into a new room. Then they were given a quiz. Participants who passed through a doorway had more trouble remembering what they were doing. It didn’t matter if the video game display was made smaller and less immersive, or if the participants performed the same task in an actual room—the results were similar. Returning to the room where they had begun the task didn’t help: even context didn’t serve to jog folks’ memories.

The researchers wrote that their results are consistent with what they call an “event model” of memory. They say the brain keeps some information ready to go at all times, but it can’t hold on to everything. So it takes advantage of what the researchers called an “event boundary,” like a doorway into a new room, to dump the old info and start over. Apparently my brain doesn’t care that my timer has seconds to go—if I have to go into the other room, I’m doing something new, and can’t remember that my previous task was antibody, idiot, you needed antibody.

Read more at Scientific American, or the original study.

I finally learned why I completely space when I cross to the other side of the lab, and that I’m apparently not alone.

trcunning:

wordplaying:

firesnaps:

MD Lab: Hello, yes, is this the CDC 

CDC: Uh, yes. 

MD Lab: Listen, I don’t want to alarm you, but we found some small pox this morning. 

CDC: Wait— wait what? You found smallpox. Like a person infected with smallpox? How and what. 

MD Lab: No, no, no. Not a person. Just a vial of it. Well, Carl found it. Erm, a few vials. Multiple vials of smallpox are in play here. 

CDC: I’m trying to get past the “found” smallpox here. How do you “find” an eradicated disease 

MD Lab: Yes, Carl found it. He was cleaning out an old storage room and he discovered a literal box of smallpox. We assume it’s been there for a while. Honestly, I didn’t even know that room existed until we found it while moving some cabinets the other wee— 

CDC: Is the threat contained? Did Carl follow your lab’s procedure on discovering potentially hazardous material? 

MD Lab: Erm. He sorta just…chucked it onto my desk. But it didn’t break! 

CDC: You’re telling me a lab worker threw a box of smallpox at you. 

Carl? What? No, he’s Bill in accounts’ son. He’s been cleaning here all summer

CDC: ….ffs. Who runs this lab 

MD Lab: …uhhhh, the FDA. 

RIGHT?!

And the real glory is that you’re right, I will bet you anything it was a gaggle of summer interns who were tasked to do the inventory and actually found the stuff; they hire a zillion of them every year. One of them is our sometimes-babysitter-slash-Spanish-tutor, the college kid who lives 2 doors down. 

So, you know. Feel confident and stuff. 

Holy shit!

swarthyvillain:

wildforniall:

turnaboutkid:

cozmopolitan:

ifweweremartians:

a-wak-e:

cozmopolitan:

a-wak-e:

The lie is over now.
The truth is out.

Its time to wake up and accept the fact that the people on the top, don’t have your best interest in mind. All they ever wanted, want and will want is money over your and your children’s dead body. Its Eugenics. Nothing new.

Wake up and Care and Share before too late.

you people are the reason why measles are back in new york

If measile is back, then it should only affect those who aren’t vaccinated. But is affecting those who are. THINK.

Vaccination doesn’t work, and even if it did… it only protects for couple years max.

Don’t seek vaccination … but nutrition my friend. Nutrition is the true medicine.

vaccines are bullshit and cause adverse reactions like death

where is your proof

hOLY FRICK YOU DONE PISSED ME OFF AND I DON’T GET MAD EASILY SO CONGRATS

SIT YOUR IGNORANT FEARMONGERING SELF DOWN AND LISTEN UP BECAUSE THIS IS GONNA BE LONG

THE HUMAN IMMUNE SYSTEM IS MADE OF TWO PARTS: THE INNATE SYSTEM AND THE ADAPTIVE SYSTEM. YOU NEED BOTH WORKING TOGETHER TO PROTECT YOU FROM DISEASES, BUT THE ADAPTIVE SYSTEM IS DESIGNED TO ONLY PROTECT YOU FROM THINGS IT’S ALREADY EXPERIENCED. IT CAN TAKE UP TO TWO WEEKS TO KICK IN AGAINST AN INFECTION IT’S NEVER SEEN BEFORE, AND GUESS WHAT FARTNUGGET YOU CAN BE DEAD OR SCREWED OVER FOR LIFE IN TWO WEEKS. BUT WHEN IT SEES A DISEASE IT CREATES MEMORY CELLS THAT REMEMBER THAT DISEASE AND CAN KICK IN IMMEDIATELY WHEN IT HAPPENS AGAIN, USUALLY QUICK ENOUGH TO PREVENT YOU FROM GETTING SICK AT ALL.

THE POINT OF VACCINES IS TO USE A NATURAL BODY RESPONSE TO PROTECT PEOPLE BY HELPING IT DO WHAT IT DOES ALREADY. YOU USE ATTENUATED NONVIRULENT FORMS OF THE DISEASE TO PREP THE IMMUNE SYSTEM SO IT WILL REMEMBER HOW TO RECOGNIZE AND FIGHT THAT DISEASE IN THE FUTURE. THAT IS HOW YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM WORKS SO DON’T YOU DARE START CLAIMING THAT YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM MEANS YOU DON’T NEED VACCINATIONS. THAT’S THE ENTIRE POINT. YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM CAN’T DO IT ALONE. THAT’S WHY SMALLPOX KILLED 500 MILLION PEOPLE BEFORE VACCINATIONS STOPPED IT.

VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM HOLY FRICK THERE HAS NEVER IN THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE BEEN PROOF OF THAT AND I CHALLENGE YOU TO SHOW ME SOME. THERE WAS ONE DOCTOR WHO PUBLISHED A STUDY IN 1998 SHOWING VACCINES MIGHT CAUSE AUTISM. IT WAS FAKE AND PROVED WRONG OVER AND OVER AGAIN AND IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT HE USED UNETHICAL AND INVASIVE PROCEDURES ON CHILDREN AND HE WAS BANNED FROM PRACTICING MEDICINE. 

THE DIAGNOSIS OF AUTISM HAS IMPROVED SINCE 1970. CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION. YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE HAS INCREASED SINCE 1970? INTERNET USAGE. MAYBE THE INTERNET CAUSES AUTISM, IF YOU’RE GONNA USE THAT LOGIC.

AND HOLY FRICKING HECK EVEN IF YOU REALLY BELIEVE THE LIE THAT VACCINES ARE LINKED TO AUTISM, ARE YOU REALLY THAT SCARED OF AUTISM THAT YOU’D RATHER YOUR CHILD DIE HORRIBLY OF A COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE DISEASE THAN BE AUTISTIC

THIOMERSAL IS AN ORGANIC MERCURY-CONTAINING COMPOUND THAT WAS USED AS A PRESERVATIVE IN VACCINES IN CONTROLLED AMOUNTS BECAUSE GUESS WHAT DOUCHECANOE EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD IS CHEMICALS AND THESE GUYS ARE PAID TO KNOW HOW TO COMBINE THEM PROPERLY. IT WAS NEVER SHOWN TO CAUSE AUTISM AND THE SIGNS OF MERCURY POISONING ARE WELL-KNOWN AND NOTHING LIKE WHAT PEOPLE ARE CLAIMING VACCINES DO. EVEN SO, IT WAS PHASED OUT OF VACCINES IN 2001. THE ONLY ONE THAT EVER STILL USES IT IS THE INFLUENZA VACCINE AND GUESS WHAT? AFTER A CRAPTON OF TESTS DONE BY PEOPLE SMARTER THAN YOU WHO ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING AND HOW CHEMISTRY AND MEDICINE WORK, IT WAS FOUND THAT THE ONLY SIDE EFFECT WAS- WAIT FOR IT- SLIGHT REDNESS AT THE INJECTION SITE.BECAUSE AGAIN, THIOMERSAL IS NOT PURE MERCURY YOU ABSOLUTE TURDSTAIN AND IS NOT THE LEAST BIT COMPARABLE TO TOXIC WASTE. AND DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW MUCH 25 MICROGRAMS IS? THAT’S 0.000025 GRAMS. GRAMS. THAT IS AN ABSURDLY SMALL AMOUNT. I CAN’T EVEN CONVEY HOW SMALL THAT IS. PROBABLY THE SIZE OF YOUR BRAIN.

IM NOT TOUCHING THE BILL GATES THING BECAUSE I DONT KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT IT. SOMEONE ELSE CAN DO THAT FOR ME. OR YANNO YOU COULD GOOGLE IT AND ACTUALLY EDUCATE YOURSELF FROM OBJECTIVE SOURCES AND NOT SOURCELESS FEARMONGERING JPEGS REPOSTED SO MANY TIMES THEY’RE ALMOST COMPLETELY ILLEGIBLE.

HEEYYYYYY GUESS WHAT ALL THE FOOD IN THE WORLD WON’T HELP YOU IF YOU’RE THROWING IT UP OR CRAPPING IT OUT OR IF SOMETHING COMPLETELY UNRELATED TO FOOD IS KILLING YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT. YEAH MAN PEOPLE NEED FOOD AND WE SHOULD HELP MORE WITH THAT BUT YOU ALSO GOTTA PRIORITIZE THINGS THAT KILL SO MUCH MORE EFFECTIVELY THAN STARVATION.

YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY THAT WE’VE GOT ALL THESE VACCINES NOW. PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN THE 1700’S WOULD BE CRYING TEARS OF JOY IF THEY HEARD THAT WE HAD WIPED OUT SMALLPOX AND POLIO AND WE COULD PREVENT ALL THESE OTHER DISEASES. LOOK AT THAT LIST. THAT’S NOT A LIST OF POISONS. THAT’S A LIST OF THE DISEASES WHOSE BUTTS WE’VE KICKED AND THAT DESERVES THE BIGGEST HELL YEAH IN THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE.

EXCEPT NOW MORONS LIKE YOU ARE BRINGING THEM BACK. YOUR BIT OF NON-LOGIC THERE JUST PROVES HOW LITTLE YOU UNDERSTAND THIS. THERE’S A THING CALLED HERD IMMUNITY AND IT’S JUST AS IMPORTANT, IF NOT MORESO, THAN INDIVIDUAL IMMUNITY. SOME PEOPLE CAN’T GET VACCINES DUE TO HEALTH ISSUES. WE’RE PROTECTING THEM TOO WHEN EVERYONE ELSE DOES BECAUSE IT CAN’T SPREAD. BUT LET’S TALK ABOUT HEALTHY PEOPLE, SINCE THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE ASKING ABOUT. DO YOU KNOW HOW FAST DISEASES MUTATE? WITHIN LESS THAN FIVE YEARS FOR SOME. AND IT’S CAUSED BY A THING CALLED SELECTIVE PRESSURE. SELECTIVE PRESSURE IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET A TWO WEEK DOSE OF ANTIBIOTICS AND ONLY TAKE TEN DAYS’ WORTH BECAUSE YOU FEEL BETTER AND YOU KNOW BETTER THAN THOSE SILLY DOCTORS. WELL GUESS WHAT? YOU DIDN’T KILL ALL THE BACTERIA AND NOW THEY’RE FREE TO GROW AGAIN. AND SINCE THEY’RE THE ONES THAT SURVIVED, THEY’RE NOW IMMUNE TO THE ANTIBIOTICS AND FREE TO SPREAD THAT TO OTHERS. CONGRATS BUTTMUNCH YOU JUST RUINED IT FOR EVERYONE BECAUSE NOW IT’S MUTATED AND SPREADING AGAIN AND THE ANTIBIOTICS DON’T WORK. THE SAME THING HAPPENS WITH VACCINES. IF PEOPLE LIKE YOU KEEP AVOIDING VACCINES, IT GIVES DISEASES LIKE MEASLES A TOEHOLD IN THE POPULATION TO MUTATE AND SPREAD AND CAUSE ANOTHER EPIDEMIC

VACCINES DON’T WEAR OFF AFTER FIVE YEARS I DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GETTING THAT INFORMATION BUT HOLY JEEZ IT’S JUST PLAIN WRONG. THE CLOSEST THING I FOUND ON GOOGLE WAS SOME CONTROVERSY ABOUT THE HPV VACCINE LASTING 6-9 YEARS AND EVEN THAT WAS UNDER SCRUTINY AND NOT EVERY DISEASE WORKS THE SAME WAY. SOME ARE FOREVER, SOME REQUIRE BOOSTERS, ETC ETC. I COULD GET INTO WHY BUT THIS HAS GOTTEN LONG ENOUGH SO LET’S BRING IT BACK TO PEOPLE SMARTER THAN YOU HAVE STUDIED THIS AND BUILT ON CENTURIES OF MEDICAL PROCESS AND THIS IS WHAT THEY DO FOR A LIVING SO I THINK THEY MIGHT KNOW A BIT MORE ABOUT IT THAN YOU

P.S. NUTRITION? NUTRITION? I’LL JUST EAT THIS APPLE AND IT’LL FIGHT ALL THESE BACTERIA AND VIRUSES. OR MAYBE POTATO CHIPS CAUSE MEASLES. STOP AND LISTEN TO YOURSELF HOLY CRAP. 

*furious loud clapping*

Preaching to the choir, but…

ralphewig:

Replaceable Me - an impressive info graphic summarizing current capabilities in upgrades to the human body. Created by Jeong Suh of Bryan Christie Design for New York Magazine, it covers everything from artificial limbs, to major internal organs, and sensory functions like the eyes and nose. All of these are existing technology, with each element calling out the organizations and/or individuals who have demonstrated successful development.

Granted, many of these are still in their early stages. For example, SynCardia’s artificial heart is still a long way from the reliable replacement used by Captain Picard in Star Trek’s The Next Generation; it requires the user to carry an external battery as a power source and is only meant for temporary use (not a full time replacement). Nonetheless, it is astonishing to see how far we have come already in making real what was once purely science fiction.

thenewenlightenmentage:

How the Moon Formed: Lunar Rocks Support Giant Impact Theory

A new analysis of lunar rocks now supports the idea that the moon was born in a gigantic collision between the nascent Earth and a mysterious planet-size rock, scientists say.

Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago, and scientists think the moon came into being shortly afterward. The prevailing explanation for the moon’s origin, known as the Giant Impact Hypothesis, is that it resulted from two protoplanets (or embryonic worlds) that slammed together — the Earth as it was forming, and a Mars-size object called Theia. A lot of debris went on to form the moon.

Continue Reading

Don’t Look Now

conjuringseed:

The original story of Kitty Genovese’s death, first promulgated by the New York Times in a front-page article 50 years ago today—young single woman brutally murdered while 38 strangers watched and did nothing—was incorrect in almost every particular.

The murder itself was horrifying, of course. The Times got that right. But the story that made Genovese a household name and a symbol of modern social dysfunction got nearly everything else wrong. From the number of witnesses to the details of the crime to the timing of the police response, there are by my count no fewer than 29 significant errors in the original Times story, five of them in its very first sentence.

this article is so perfect i want to scream

(Source: peakcapitolism)

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