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The best science websites you should be reading in 2022 (other than this one)

We here at ZME Science don’t just write about science, we also read a lot. We spend much of our time scouring through sources, seeing what other journalists have to say, and constantly trying to learn. Both as journalists and just as citizens, we enjoy reading fine science stories. But in this day and age where misinformation is rampant, finding good, reliable sources can be challenging. So we decided we’d make a list of our favorite (English-speaking) science websites.

We each made a list of what we consider to be the best science websites (or the science sections of a general magazine) and we condensed it all into one list. By popular vote, here are the ZME Science staff’s favorite science websites (other than ours, of course *chuckle*), in no particular order:

The BBC was present on everyone’s Top Ten list, and it’s not hard to understand why. The quality standard that the BBC has imposed and maintained over the decades is simply stunning. It’s as reliable a source as any, and it also manages to keep stories interesting and fresh. The BBC’s science section also has a well-deserved reputation for editorial integrity and independence, as it is funded by annual licensing fees, not a single investor or investment group.

Despite being based in the UK and featuring plenty of UK-focused stories, the science section of the BBC is a gold mine for anyone who enjoys reading about science, regardless of where they’re from. In addition to its general science section, the BBC also features a monthly science magazine called Science Focus, as well as a Future section, both of which are well worth a regular read. Here’s just one example of the type of content that makes BBC‘s science section so appreciated.

National Geographic is one of the titans of science journalism. It started its life as a scientific journal in the late 1880s, but didn’t really come into its own until photographs made their way to its pages. To this day, it’s one of the best sources for stunning photography, good stories, and good writing. 

If what you’re looking for is a glimpse into the planet’s most spectacular sights, incisive yet personal angles, a captivating story to take you along, and a balanced dissection of the topics at hand, National Geographic never disappoints. “31 photos from the Nat Geo archives that evoke joy” is a great summary of their photographic style and great breadth of subject matter.

As a science journalist, it’s hard not to appreciate Science. Although it does have a ‘news’ section with ready-to-read articles, Science is also one of the prominent journals out there, and it’s a great resource to find interesting studies and research to cover.

The outlet is not only concerned with covering research, but also touches upon adjacent, yet still impactful, stories. Policy, commentaries, the lives and deaths of people who shaped our understanding of the world around us also make headlines on Science. If you’re interested in research, researchers, and the greater gears that keep our worlds a’turning, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out on Science. I recommend “More than a virus: Science’s areas to watch in 2022” to get you primed on what to expect in 2022.

The New York Times is one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world and the recipient of 132 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other organization. Although the New York Times is famous for its investigations and political coverage, its science desk shouldn’t be ignored as it regularly publishes some of the best science journalism out there. During the pandemic, for instance, New York Times journalists painstakingly sifted through confusing narratives and folly to report the truth from the front lines. The newspaper also employs the latest technology, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and enhanced media communication. Their coronavirus daily charts and stats have proven so well designed and reliable that they surpassed those reported by official government sources. 

A home to compelling storytelling that demystifies arcane-sounding science studies, you can never go wrong with the New York Times science section. 

Eurekalert may be less known to the general public, but every science journalist worth his salt is familiar with it. Eurekalert is an editorially independent, non-profit news release distribution service launched by the American Association for the Advancement of Science  (AAAS), covering all areas of science, medicine, and technology. It’s essentially a gateway between hardcore science and science journalism and communication, where thousands of universities and institutes publish press releases and announcements.

Every day, dozens of study-related releases get published, and while you should keep in mind that these are not science journalism but rather press releases, Eurekalert is the perfect place to get your daily dose of science.

Wired is a monthly technology-oriented publication with a print and digital presence. The magazine debuted in 1993 at the Macworld Conference with a mission to empower the upcoming digital generation. The founding principle of Wired was that it would be optimistic — change is good and the magazine wants to become the first place you hear about the techno-utopia. 

Although Wired is widely recognized as a tech publication, its stories that mainly focus on the latest scientific research are nothing but great and entertaining. These include headlines like “The Physics of Wile E. Coyote’s 10 Billion-Volt Electromagnet” or “Your Brain Is an Energy-Efficient ‘Prediction Machine”. 

If you are looking for the latest peer-reviewed research works, you should not miss Nature, an international scientific journal that has been active since 1869. From environmental science to immunology, and genetics, Nature has research articles on every topic and subject that you can think of. The reputation of Nature as a scientific publication can be well understood from the fact that in 2019, the publication was declared the world’s most-read and cited scientific journal by the Journal Citation Reports (JCR). Furthermore, Nature accepts less than 8% of the total papers submitted on the website, and the ones that are selected for publication are internationally acclaimed.

But Nature does more than just publish science — it also has an excellent news section. At present, more than 30 million readers visit Nature Magazine’s website every month. Apart from scientific breakthroughs you can also find a lot of research work here related to business, humanities, psychology, engineering, and mathematics. So whether you are a student, a regular reader, or a journalist, if you want to stay up to date about the latest developments in any discipline, try Nature.

An online publication that focuses on both basic and bizarre science topics and presents them in a very easy to grasp format. Whether you are a school student who is looking forward to learning basic topics like Newton’s laws of motion, gravity, etc. or a tenured professor who is trying to stay updated with the latest development taking place in your field of interest, Live Science has something for every kind of science learner.

Apart from covering the latest research work taking place in fields like healthcare, animal science, paleontology, and astronomy, Live Science also occasionally enjoys fluff pieces and even has a dedicated section “Strange News” where you can find articles on the weirder side. Live Science is also one of the most popular science-only websites, being visited by more than 20 million science readers across the globe.   

The National Public Radio (NPR) is a non-profit media organization from the United States, privately and publicly funded. It started in 1970 and currently serves as a syndicator for over 1,000 radio stations in the US. NPR also hosts a news website, including one section on science and one section on climate.

The website includes clips from the radio shows as well as unique and well-researched stories. These range from CRISPR and its implication for human evolution to a guide on how to talk to people who have doubts over the COVID-19 vaccine. One of the latest stories I’ve enjoyed reading was on weather forecasts and how it’s getting more difficult to make them and also for people to understand them. 

The UK-based newspaper goes way back, founded in 1821 under the name The Manchester Guardian. It’s among the most trusted media outlets, according to several polls, and gives a big room for science and environmental news – with a big team of specialized reporters working from different parts of the world and reporting on the latest developments.

It features three sections on “science,” “climate crisis”, and “environment.” Stories range from new studies on the effects of the rising temperatures on people’s health to the unfolding of the James Webb telescope by NASA. The Guardian is one of my favorite news websites I like to start my day with. One of the recent stories I’ve enjoyed is this roundup with opinions from climate scientists on the Don’t Look Up movie from Netflix.

Honorable mentions

While these are our favorite ten science websites, there are plenty of other good ones out there. Here are just some of those, honorable mentions that are well worth your time and attention:

COP21

COP21 Live Blog: Day 11

COP21

Live updates and recent developments from COP21, in Paris — Day 11.

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COP21 Live Blog: Day 10

COP21

Live updates and recent developments from COP21, in Paris — Day 10.

COP21 Live Blog: Day 9

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Live updates and recent developments from the COP21 Conference in Paris, Day 5

COP21

COP21 Live Blog: Day 5

COP21

Live updates and recent developments from the COP21 Conference in Paris, Day 5

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COP21 Live Blog: Day 4

Live updates and recent developments from the COP21 Conference in Paris, Day 4

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COP21 Live Blog: Day 3

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cop 21 paris

COP21 Live Blog: Day 2

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Everything you should know about COP21

If you’ve heard the words “COP21”, “Climate Summit” or “Paris Climate… thingy” but don’t know what to make of them – this is what you need to read.

Image via francebleu

What’s COP21?

The 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Climate Convention, COP 21 or CMP 11 is a United Nations Conference with the goal of achieving a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. The Conference will take place in Paris, and all the UN nations will be represented there.

Why does this matter?

Are you kidding me? All the world’s nations will be represented, and they’ll try (hopefully) to achieve a binding agreement on climate – i.e. they’ll try to agree on what we have to do to help preserve our planet’s climate by keeping global warming at 2 degrees Celsius past industrial levels. The world is already 0.85 degrees in.

Up to now, the closest we’ve come to something like this is the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, but it’s pretty flimsy — only 52 developed countries agreed to the modest targets set at Kyoto. The average target was a cut of around 5% relative to 1990 levels by 2012. Compounding the problem is that while some regions and countries (the European Union for example) met their targets, increase from other nations, most notably China and the US, means that overall we’re in worse shape than before — worldwide, we’ve seen emissions increase by nearly 40 percent from 1990 to 2009.  An attempt was made to extend the Protocol to developing countries at the 2009 Copenhagen conference, but no consensus was reached.

Overall, emissions climbed a steep slope since 1990 – the opposite of what was intended. In that sense, the Kyoto protocol has been a failure. But it was unquestionably an important first step in global climate diplomacy, and there were many lessons to be learned. These would be setting realistic expectations and including developing nations into the framework.

But COP21 in Paris might likely succeed where Kyoto failed for a number of reasons, the most important being that most countries have already more or less agreed to level their emissions. Instead of hammering out a target from scratch for each country at the conference, each county was invited beforehand to pledge their intended emissions target, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). This is genius because the talks can start from a well established footing, amounting to fewer surprises. If a country wrote in its INDC that it pledges to curb emissions by X% by 2025, it’s pretty clear they’re prepared to accept a target that’s at least this strong. There have been 155 countries who have proposed their own plans to curb climate change, covering nearly 90 percent of total global emissions of greenhouse gasses between them.

When all of these INDCs are summed together, a global average emissions per capita drop follows of as much as 8% by 2025 and 9% by 2030, the U.N. says. That may be enough to avert three degrees of warming at most, well far off from the stated goal of 2 degrees. Hopefully, a more ambitious consensus might be reached in Paris.

What can we do?!

Well, we can all play our part — be energy conscious, pollution conscious, and try to limit our carbon footprint as much as possible — but this one is for our leaders. What we can do is let them know how we feel, let them know what we want, and let them know that you care about this, so that they can make the right decision. It’s a monumentally complex issue, but it’s not impossible. We can make it happen – or at the very least, influence the people that can make it happen!

OK, you’ve got my interest. I want more!

The first thing to do is to stay informed. This is the Wikipedia Page of the conference, this is the official homepage. The internet is also full of relevant and insightful articles, but be advised – take everything with a grain of salt.

ZME Science is in Paris now covering the latest developments on site from COP21. Be sure to follow the website for updates.

 

mit climate colab

Crowdsourcing the Climate: MIT’s Climate CoLab

MIT’s Climate CoLab has an innovative approach to the huge problem of climate change: breaking it up into smaller, manageable problems and crowdsourcing a way out.

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Image credit: via FlickR under CC license

Conceived in a paper submitted to MIT’s Innovations journal in 2007, the Climate CoLab was developed by scientists at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. Instead of subscribing to the idea that only expert scientists have the answers and the political clout to reverse climate change, CoLab approaches the problem with an open source mentality. By breaking down the complex problem of climate change into smaller problems, and opening the discussion up to everyone who is interested, they’re making it easier for individuals to see what difference they can make.

Climate change has worldwide impact, and every country and every citizen of the planet contributes in some small way to the global rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases. That’s why it’s important that anyone can join the CoLab website and propose possible projects and avenues of study. To date, over 35 thousand members from dozens of countries have signed up online, and over a thousand proposals have been submitted for consideration.

Contests Inspire Creative Collaboration

Every year, CoLab runs a round of contests, where members can create and submit proposals to tackle specific problems in the context of environmental stewardship. One of the current open contests calls for the design of a high-density bicycle parking area for an urban setting. Any member of the site can propose a design idea, and all submissions are carefully evaluated for feasibility and originality. The evaluation and weeding out of unworkable ideas is done by a team of over two hundred CoLab experts who serve as judges, mentors, and advisers who help the best proposals to get off the ground.

The website breaks up contests into questions of who, what, and where, in order to help individuals to target their proposals to a specific problem and audience. Software tools on the CoLab website allow users to evaluate the impact of their proposals on carbon emissions before submitting them. Once experts narrow the field down to a selection of finalists, everyone – members and experts alike – votes on which projects will move forward. The system is a blend of competition and collaboration, which allows the best ideas to surface and be taken on by as many eager minds as are interested.

Right now, Climate CoLab is hosting a contest to find the best ideas for what the world as a whole can do about climate change. It’s been split up into smaller regional contests, each focused on reduction of greenhouse emissions in a different region: India, China, the United States, Europe, and developing countries. Proposals currently in the voting stage include social campaigns to bring climate change to the top of every global citizen’s priority list, and a system for capturing carbon from decaying trees.

It’s not too late to join the site and propose some solutions of your own!

Even small changes at a local level can add up to a global solution for climate change, and that’s exactly the kind of collaborative work that Climate CoLab is supporting.

By Jen MacCormack. Jen is a medical laboratory scientist and freelance writer with an interest in science communication and renewable, sustainable technologies.

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The Technological Arms Race In World Rugby

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Image: Pixabay

Rugby is certainly ahead of the curve when it comes to ushering in new technology. As soon as innovations are able to improve the game, whether through player training and performance or making the game better for spectators, they are brought in without a fuss. This is no truer than in the case of video referees, who since 2001 have been assisting the on-field official with tight calls and regular match-deciding decisions. That the game of rugby has been so quick to embrace technological change is to its credit, and has definitely led to a reduction in controversial results; something which is, despite all the financial implications of each game and huge global audience, still a huge problem in football.

Here are a few ways in which rugby is already leading the way in the application of technology, along with some things you can expect to see in the not too distant future.

[ALSO READ] Rugby Technology of the Future

Match Officials are Given All the Help They Need

The acceptance of video referees has meant that controversial decisions in rugby, where the fate of matches often rests on whether or not a ball has crossed a line, are almost a thing of the past. As well as confirming if a try has been scored or not, video replays are also used to assist in the administration of retrospective punishment.

[ALSO READ] How high tech analytics might change NFL forever

On top of extra officials watching the game on TV, referees are also equipped with microphones and cameras, meaning that players can’t get away with dissent in the way that they do in football. Ref-cam also provides an incredibly unique perspective when watching live coverage of a match – something which will only be rivaled when drones eventually begin to film the action from just above.

Muscular Sensors

Rugby is leading the way in real-time fitness observation. GPS monitors are widely used in sports, and can be attached to players to track their movement and see how much distance they are covering.  But sensors are also beginning to be used to keep track of specific muscles during training sessions, as coaches look to pre-empt muscular injury by observing the intensity of individual contractions live. In a sport as physically demanding as rugby the risk of injury is high, so it’s not surprising that any help medical start can get is being embraced

Concussion Detection

Companies such as Jolt are developing tiny sensors which can actively alert the wearer if they’ve been involved in a possible concussion-causing incident. A small wearable can be worn on the head, for example on the side of a scrum cap, alerting both medical staff and the player should a heavy impact to the head be taken.

Hawk-Eye

The ongoing Rugby World Cup is being used to test the Hawk-Eye ball monitoring system applied in tennis and football, with a view to assisting video referees with tight calls faster. The system will detect if say, a ball or player has crossed the line, and should help to deal with the one complaint which can be levelled at rugby currently, which is that there are too many stoppages in play while video referees are consulted.

If rugby continues to welcome the latest advances in technology, then there’s no doubt that the game will improve. As players become fitter, faster, cleverer and stronger due to innovative training equipment and techniques, the real people to benefit will be the fans in the crowd.

Mobile dining

Dinner in your palm: social media and eating out [infographic]

Mobile technology is revolutionizing nearly everything consumers do. From browsing price comparisons in the store to checking movie times for nearby theaters while you’re still on the road, it’s possible to streamline virtually every activity using your smartphone. Dining is one of the most recent additions to the world of mobile conveniences. Having a smart device powered by a fast 4g network like the sleek Samsung Galaxy S6 in hand when your stomach starts rumbling can make it easier than ever to find, order, and enjoy your meal.

Starbucks has established itself as one of the forerunners with mobile ordering. Customers with the app can place an order for their caffeine fix before they stumble out of the house so the steaming cup is waiting when they stroll in the door a few minutes later. Several pizza restaurants are utilizing similar technology by offering mobile ordering through their apps. Consumers are extremely receptive to this type of technology, with 74 percent of those aged 18 to 34 saying they would order delivery or takeout through a mobile device if it was available.

If you’re in the mood for a more leisurely meal, your smartphone can help here, too. Restaurant finder apps are hardly new, offering locations, phone numbers, menus, and reviews on the fly, so you can pinpoint the best options in your vicinity. Reservation apps are joining the scene as well, making it easy to snag a table before you arrive to minimize your wait.

Mobile conveniences extend all the way into the restaurant. Thirty percent of consumers have used a restaurant’s app to pay their bill. Forrester predicts that mobile payments will reach $142 billion by 2019 as people ditch their wallets for the convenience of paying with a smartphone. Thanks to smartphones, the traditional dining experience may never be quite the same again. Read on to learn more about how technology is changing the way we dine.

Mobile dining

3D printing: the history and the future

The technology of 3D printing has reached an interesting point in its trajectory: it’s been around for years, lots of people know it exists and it has even reached the high street. However, there’s still something of a gap between its promise and the reality, and it looks like the general public are yet to be convinced. So perhaps now is a good time to take stock of 3D printing: its history and its future.

3D printing emerged in the 1980s, when much of the technology and processes still in use today were originally developed. One of today’s leading companies in 3D printing, 3D Systems, is often credited with inventing the technology and was born in the 1980s.

The essential concept is the computer-guided mechanical layering of sequential layers of raw material – generally polymer plastics – to incrementally build up a three dimensional object. The early use of inkjet printer heads for this purpose led to this method of manufacture getting its name. The definition of 3D printing was subsequently expanded to include automated metalwork processes.

Applications in the early days focused on rapid prototyping and other product development processes, but it was not until the late 2000s and early 2010s that the technology has begun to scale up.

Today, the increase in 3D printing machines and the reduction in costs has brought this technology to the mass market. Applications today span construction, architecture, biotechnology, eyewear, defence, fashion and even food.

Image via Wize.

2014 also saw the debut of the Strati, the world’s first 3D printed car. According to Jay Rogers – CEO of Local Motors, which developed the vehicle – the key to the design is simplification. He stated in an interview that: ‘if you can make a vehicle out of one material, you can massively reduce the number of parts.’

Significantly, it is also now quite possible for an average person to purchase a 3D printer from a high street electronics store and use it in their own home. However, despite the development of home use over the last ten years, the prospect of millions of consumers printing off common household objects has not yet to materialised.

The potential of 3D printing seems obvious, but at the same time a little vague. For many, it’s clear that being able to create print parts on demand could revolutionise the worlds of manufacturing and retail, and yet it’s difficult to predict exactly where the big breakthrough will start.

Designers, for example, no longer have to wait weeks for their prototypes to be created. The notorious flipside to that ease of use is the 3D printed firearm, which garnered headlines back in 2013. In terms of intellectual property protection, the spate of digital piracy blighting the music and movie industries could easily translate to manufacturing sectors via 3D printing.

3D printing is not having an easy time of it on the markets, either, and stock market prices have stumbled. The share price of German manufacturer Voxeljet started 2014 at a high of $47, a strong increase from its flotation a few months earlier. At the start of 2015, however, it had slumped to just under $8.

The company remains positive about its future, collecting innovation awards and developing new technology. A new industrial or retail development in 2015 could well reignite excitement in this company and others like it.

Often, though, the markets can be remarkably prescient in predicting when a technology is unlikely to take off. Investors and companies involved in 3D printing will be hoping that they are wrong about this particular trend.

Obesity

Hamilton’s Sean Wharton: “Obesity Is a Medical, Multi Factorial Problem”

The topic of obesity inspires quite a bit of discussion, as well it should.  The claim that North America is currently experiencing an obesity “epidemic”, a claim oftentimes mentioned by the media, is not hyperbole.  Indeed, weight management has become such a global issue that the World Health Organization (WHO) has also termed the problem an “epidemic”.

Here are some facts that may put the problem with obesity in clearer perspective.  In the United States, over 65% of the adult population is overweight.  In Canada, meanwhile, roughly 40 to 60% of adults are struggling with a weight problem.  As reported by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), between 1980 and 2000, obesity rates in the United States doubled among adults.  Even more alarming, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and more than quadrupled in adolescents over the past thirty years, based on figures also reported by the CDC.

In trying to find a solution to the rise in obesity rates, many have subscribed various reasons to why people are obese.  Some have considered obesity to be an addiction and, therefore, something that can be treated like any other type of addiction.  Others have subscribed the rise in obesity to the fact that North Americans no longer exercise regularly and have more sedentary jobs.

Sean Wharton argues something entirely different.  An internal medicine specialist who studied under Dr. Arya Sharma, Sean Wharton now runs the government-funded Wharton Medical Clinic in Canada.  Having studied and worked with obesity for more than a decade, Dr. Sean Wharton argues that instead of obesity being caused by one particular reason, obesity is a multi-factorial problem.

What does that mean?

What Dr. Wharton means is that obesity is caused by various factors that include genetics, level of exercise, and diet, among others.

In a radio broadcast recorded several years ago, Dr. Sean Wharton described what he means by a obesity being a multi-factorial problem in this way:

… so it’s not so much whether [obesity’s] an addiction or not … the thing is that it is a multi-factorial problem.  So, it’s a medical problem.  And the medical problem itself has multiple different causes, endocrinology problems, like either thyroid problems or disorder eating, or emotional problems, or just a genetic predisposition to hang on to weight.  So, it’s not just about addiction, it’s about a multiple of things.

Dr. Sean Wharton’s multi-factorial stance also plays a significant role in how he and his team treat obesity at the Wharton Medical Clinic.  Understanding that weight management is influenced by a number of factors, Dr. Wharton and his team of internal medicine specialists approach weight loss on a number of fronts, including improving a patient’s diet, monitoring and reducing the risk for co-morbidities, like stroke and hypertension, and creating an executable exercise routine.

Those who struggle with weight management not only debate why they are obese, but also how to go about losing weight.  In considering these questions, some will consider the effectiveness of commercial weight loss programs and whether they are healthy and can actually help achieve long-term weight loss.

There are plenty of opinions on commercial diet programs.  It’s interesting to note that Dr. Sharma and Dr. Wharton do not dismiss commercial weight loss programs outright.  However, what many internal medicine specialists caution against, including Dr. Sharma and Dr. Wharton, is the yo-yoing affect that many commercial programs cause.

“In my professional view, obesity is a medical problem,” says Sean Wharton, “and it deserves a multi-disciplined treatment by internal medicine specialists.  Moreover, healthy weight management should be geared toward long-term treatment, as opposed to rapid weight loss.  Commercial weight loss programs that promote or promise rapid weight loss, in my mind, are not only suspect, but will probably causing a yo-yoing, weight-loss-weight-gain pattern that is very unhealthy to the body.”

 

Changes in the brain that contribute to age-related hearing loss

Generally, as we age, our hearing deteriorates. Around one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss, increasing to 50% from the age of 75 upwards.

A percentage of sufferers will experience loss through links to other contributory health factors such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Others will have experienced hearing trauma, either instantly due to a noise above 140dB or at a lower volume over a sustained period. Illness and injury may also be factors for some sufferers, who may then need assistance. A hearing aid from Hidden Hearing or other similar company may become a significant part of the user’s life, allowing him or her to live life relatively normally.

These various causes have been well understood for some time, but what is less-understood is the connection between the brain and the inner ear. We know more of the process of sound travelling by the outer ear, to the inner ear, where it is then converted into a signal for the brain to decode.

We also know that there’s a mass of data suggesting that hearing loss is deleterious to the brain. For example, John Hopkins University reported that the normal brain shrinkage associated with ageing is accelerated in those with hearing loss. In a long-term study showing brain changes over time, 126 participants were tracked over a decade to find evidence of brain changes, and those who had hearing impairment at the start of the study showed accelerated signs of brain atrophy compared to those with normal hearing. Because of the long term nature of the study it eliminated the possibility that the brain structures were damaged before hearing loss occurred.

But what about the ‘other direction’? It’s believed that the brain can tell the ear to make adjustments so that it’s easier to discriminate sounds in a noisy environment, via a set of nerves. A postgraduate study at MRC Leicester has attempted to see what happens to these nerves as aging progresses. It will examine whether change occurs, and if so, whether these changes could actually affect how the nerves deal with damage externally. In other words, could damage to the overall control system between the ear and the brain occur from two directions?

Image via Skidmore.

The results from the study do not seem to have been processed, but whatever comes of it, clearly more research into the effect of aging on the brain will need to be done. If it proves difficult to differentiate the two ‘directions’ – in other words, whether does brain atrophy causes hearing loss, or vice versa, or both – then a greater understanding of all parts of the auditory system will surely be necessary.

And it could be vital, because not only does hearing loss affect the elderly physically, but also socially and emotionally. It may perhaps preclude them from not being able to speak to relatives on the telephone, and deter them from leaving their home or meeting others. Hearing loss has also been linked to depression, social isolation, paranoia and Alzheimer’s Disease. And with the world’s elderly population increasing year on year the research is more vital than ever.

Ontario Waste Reduction

Apotex Is Backing Ontario’s Waste Reduction Strategy – Here’s Why

We all know that developing and implementing recycling policies is something that takes continual effort.  Recycling on a municipal level began in earnest in the 1980s, when communities realized that endlessly sending waste to landfills was not going to be a sustainable option over the long-term.

Ontario Waste Reduction

Image: Ontario.ca

Since then, certain municipalities have faired better than others.  In the ‘80s, Canada’s recycling efforts drew international attention with the introduction and enforcement of its Blue Box recycling system.  First introduced in Kitchener, Ontario, the Blue Box recycling program established requirements for municipal recycling collection systems throughout Ontario.  In many ways, the Blue Box Program drove Canada’s recycling efforts.  It was even a recipient of a United Nations Environmental Award, given to the province in 1989.

Unfortunately, as elaborated in Ontario’s Waste Reduction Strategy, which was published in 2013, over the past decade Ontario’s recycling and waste reduction efforts have decidedly faltered.

As mentioned in the report, the province’s recycling rate has hovered around 25% for the greater part of a decade.  The Report also highlights that the recycling rate for the province’s non-residential sector (i.e. factories, universities, shopping malls, and the like) has been a measly 13%.

After highlighting all this, the Report goes on to describe a multi-prong strategy to increase recycling rates throughout the province, especially in the commercial sector.  One way Ontario will do this will be to put the cost of recycling back on producers, which will force producers to devise more efficient packaging methods and increase the use of recyclable materials.

During the past decade, other cities and counties in North America have faced similar lapses in their recycling programs.  As it turns out, the benefits of recycling – and we’re not just talking about environmental benefits – is something that needs continual reinforcement.

However, not every company has failed to implement effective waste management programs within their organizations.  There are recycling success stories in the non-residential sector, despite Ontario’s tone of concern.

Apotex, which is Canada’s largest generic pharmaceutical maker and which operates manufacturing and R&D facilities in Ontario, has been a notable example of a private company that’s made dedicated, long-term efforts to curb its waste production.

Apotex’s success with reducing waste in every branch of its organization has earned the company recent attention and a recent very positive write-up.

Statistics highlighting Apotex’s recycling rate add further perspective as to why this company has earned recognition for its waste management abilities.

In 2004, the company didn’t have very much to boast about considering that its recycling rate was at a low 22%.  However, over the past ten years, Apotex has managed to increase its rate of recycling to 52%.  That equates to an extra 5,279,001 kg of waste being recycled instead of going to landfill.

Compare the 13% recycling rate for Ontario’s commercial sector with Apotex’s 52% and it’s clear that Apotex understands how to incorporate and implement an effective culture of sustainability.

But, the question is, how can other large companies, like Apotex, follow the same path toward better waste management?  Naturally, private companies have to follow waste management laws enforced by municipal codes.  But, the best recycling programs start from within organizations themselves.

Earl Black, Apotex’s Director of Safety, Health and Environment, provides one reason why Apotex has found such success in diverting its waste away from landfills. It’s a reason that, as we see, is based around good economics.

“At Apotex, we strive to create a sustainable business model,” says Mr. Black.  “This includes the development of business practices that will have positive economic impacts while also minimizing our environmental impacts.  In working with responsible waste vendors, we have been able to increase our diversion rates and achieve results that we can all be proud of.  We have found that this has not only helped to build employee engagement but has also made a positive impact on our overall costs.  Recycling and waste diversion makes good business sense, plain and simple.”

Although Ontario and other municipalities are on the right track in bringing recycling costs back to producers themselves, that should only be one part of the story.  In order to improve recycling rates, companies need to be reminded that recycling and using recycling material can save them a lot of money.

ZME Science – Winter is Coming

Brace yourselves – because winter is coming! Well, unless you live in Australia, in which case brace yourself for heat waves. But no matter where you are, Christmas and New Year’s are closing in, and with that in mind, we are working even harder on finishing some new features on the website. Your suggestions have been of immense value and as always, we want to make things better – for you! So keep the suggestions and feedback coming! Here’s what we’ve been working on:

The Newsletter

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Thanks to your response, we now know that many of you read us on your email, and we’ve been experimenting with this quite a lot. Ultimately, we’ve settled to a different format. Some of you have already seen the new and improved format, and we encourage you to re-sign up for the newsletter HERE. Eventually, all of you will receive the same newsletter format, but this way, you’ll get access to all the extra features sooner rather than later.

So, for those of you using the new format… Do you like it? Do you think there’s still something we should work on? Tell us! Reply to this very message (now!), and tell us what you don’t like. Oh, and if you do like it… it would also be nice to know.

Secret Santa

Yep, this year we’re doing a Secret Santa! The page is not up yet, but all you have to do to sign up is write a message to us with your name, mailing address and anything which may be relevant for someone who wants to buy you a gift. We will randomly assign you to someone else on December 1st, and you’ll have plenty of time to plan and send your gift! Then, after you receive your gift, take a picture of it and send it to us – we’ll publish it on ZME Science! Science presents get extra points!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering… yep, we’re also in on it :)

ZME Shop

Speaking of gifts, we’ve also been working on a ZME Shop. The idea is to create a place where you can get your hands on juicy ZME merchandise, cool science gadgets, good books and lots of other awesome science stuff! Also, there will be a marketplace section where you can sell your own products (as long as they’re science related and good). We’d also love to hear what you think about this!

Donations and Ads

Recently, I’ve received a surprisingly large number of emails asking me for an account to send donations. I’ve been really reluctant to accept donations because first of all, if you want to give money to a good cause, there are other much more urgent causes out there than helping us, and second of all, because we have ads. But this got me thinking a lot.

Would you be interested in donating once in a while and having an ad free website? If some of you feel this way, then we can definitely start implement this as well!

As always, thank you!

You guys are really awesome, and the support we get from you is what keeps us going. So, shout-out to all you, and may you have a wonderful November!

Wishing you love, peace and happiness,
The ZME Team.

Rolling out ZME Q&A: Science Questions and Answers !

It’s time, ladies and gentlemen! We’ve been working on this idea for months, and now it’s finally here (though still in its early stages) – I’m talking about the ZME Science Questions and Answers section!

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Asking questions…

ZME Questions and Answers (ZME Q&A) is a place where anyone (yes, YOU) can come and ask science-related questions; and I’m talking any field! From astrophysics to nanotechnology, from psychology to geology and everything in between – everything that you’ve ever been curious about – come and ask away!

You can create a user, or simply log in with your Facebook – we won’t have access to ANY of your private data or do any funny stuff. It takes you less than 1 minute to do set things up. You can also vote up or down questions and answers, and you get points for your activity. Hurray for internet points!

… and answering them

Asking the right questions is very important, but who will answer them? The short answer is: us. We will. No, not just ‘we’ from ZME Science – we’ll try to do our best, but we’re a relatively small team and there’s only so much we can cover. We, the community will do this – together. This is where you step in; help us, and help other people interested in science by sharing your knowledge and your passion. Every input matters, every bit of information helps.

We have also teamed up with some leading researchers in various fields, who will also step in and answer questions as their time allows it. We will continue to extend the number of collaborators and ensure a high level of discussion in all topics. We’ll keep you posted with all the developments.

… now with prizes!

If you’ve been with us for a while, you know that we like to give stuff away. It’s not big things or expensive gadgets, it’s just a token of our appreciation, because we are truly grateful for each and every one of you! This time is no exception, and we will be giving out small items, as a simple “thank you” for asking good questions and/or answering them! Every week we’ll have a prize for the most active user, and every month we’ll give surprise prizes for the best questions and answers.

Clearly, the big win here is being a part of an engaged, active and (dare I say) knowledgeable community, but cool mugs and books never hurt anyone! (they probably did, don’t hurt anyone with your mug).

 

 

 

 

 

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The ZME Science 2014 MEGA GIVEAWAY: help us make this site better and win awesome prizes

We can’t believe it’s been seven years already since ZME Science was founded – and what a ride it’s been!

True to our mission of bridging the gap between hard-science and you, we’ve published over 5,000 articles on the latest cutting-edge research, technology, design, environmental problems and many, many more. This year was really good to ZME Science – we’ve grown alongside you, we’ve shared the joy of science, and we rolled out some new features, like the ZME Science Q&A community platform where you can ask and answer science-related questions.

Obviously, we couldn’t have made it this far without you: the faithful reader. Here’s a warm shoutout to all you fine folks for being part of ZME Science and joining us in our mission to bringing science back into focus!

As a sign of gratitude we, the staff at ZME Science, launched a massive giveaway exclusively for our readers consisting of over 40 prizes: t-shirts, fossils, gadgets, puzzles and all sorts of really awesome items. To enter the contest, which will be awarded at random, all you have to do is fill out our survey – it will only be 2 minutes of your time or roughly just as long as it takes to read a typical ZME Science article.

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By completing this survey, you’ll help us make ZME Science better for you! Since this implies being relatively familiar with the website, this giveaway is exclusively available to the people who have been reading us for at least one month. Thank you once again!

The winners will be announced on December 30th.

 

Cooking Green In Your Energy Efficient Kitchen

Cooking green is a lot easier than you might think. The idea is to simply learn how to save energy in the kitchen and use foods and cooking practices that are better for both your wallet and the planet. Luckily, there are dozens of ways to accomplish the goals of cooking healthier, cooking cheaper and cooking in an eco-friendly way.

The Food You Choose:

It all starts with the food you choose to cook or eat. To begin with, you can be very eco-friendly by simply eating more foods that don’t require you to cook at all. Fruits, vegetables, salads and sandwiches are all fairly healthy, easy to prepare and take no cooking time or energy. So, they are great foods, if you want to stay healthy, save money and protect the planet.

If you are planning to cook, however, you still should be careful about what foods you choose to cook. For example, you can buy in bulk to reduce packaging and cut costs. If you have a freezer, that’s ideal for buying meats in bulk.

You can also choose foods to buy that can be cooked together. For example, you can plan your shopping list ahead and buy ingredients for a soup, stew or stir fry. Those sorts of dishes only require using one pot or pan, which minimizes your cooking times and energy expenditures.

The Pots You Choose:

The pots you choose are also important. You need to have the right type of pot for the stove top and for the job at hand. Here are some tips:

• Always use pots and pans that are the same diameter as your burners.
• Always use pots and pans that are flat on the bottom for the best contact with the burners.
• Replace any pots that have warped over time.
• Always use pots that are the right size for the amount of food you are cooking. A pot that is too large will just mean that it takes more time and energy to heat the pot up.

Simple Stove Top And Oven Suggestions:

A lot of your cooking is likely to be done on the stove top or in the oven. That’s fine, but you can maximize efficiency by doing a few simple things. For starters, invest in an induction stove top. Induction uses magnetic energy to transfer heat right from the stove top to the pot. That way, you don’t heat the room up as much and all of the heat and energy get used efficiently.

As for the oven, the best thing to do is learn to let it work. A lot of energy is lost when you open the oven door to check on the food. So, get some good recipes and learn to trust them. If you absolutely have to check on the food, make sure that your oven has a clean glass door and a built in light.

Finally, keep in mind that the oven isn’t the only cooking appliance in your kitchen. You can use a microwave or even a toaster oven for the smaller jobs. Both microwaves and toaster ovens heat up quickly, can cook a lot of food and can be cleaned with a few wipes of a paper towel or cloth.