Tag Archives | experiments

How To Read And Comprehend A Scientific Paper

scientific paperFind primary research literature baffling? Violent Metaphors has step-by-step instructions on how to cut through the jargon and interpret experimental scientific findings for yourself:

Before you begin reading, take note of the authors and their institutional affiliations. Some institutions (e.g. University of Texas) are well-respected; others (e.g. the “Discovery Institute”) are actually agenda-driven.

As you read, write down every single word that you don’t understand. You’re going to have to look them all up.

Begin by reading the introduction, not the abstract.

Identify the BIG QUESTION. Not “What is this paper about”, but “What problem is this entire field trying to solve?”

Identify the SPECIFIC QUESTION(S) What exactly are the authors trying to answer with their research? What are the authors going to do to answer the SPECIFIC QUESTION(S)?

Now read the methods section. Draw a diagram for each experiment, showing exactly what the authors did. Include as much detail as you need to fully understand the work.

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The Nazis’ Bizarre Plan To Breed Giant Angora Rabbits

angora rabbitsSecret Nazi pets, as revealed by the Daily Mail:

A bizarre Nazi plan to breed giant Angora rabbits in concentration camps to provide fur-lined clothing for Hitler’s armed forces has been unearthed in a German archive.

‘Operation Munchkin’, as it was known, was the brainchild of sinister S.S. chief Heinrich Himmler who was had a career as a trained chicken farmer before he became the architect of the Holocaust.

He ordered a breeding programme for the rabbits and specified that they were to be raised in luxury just yards away from the where crimes against humanity was taking place.

The plans were detailed the ‘Angora book’ which was discovered hidden at Himmler’s home on the fringes of the Tegernsee lake in Bavaria in 1945. A chart in his book counted 6,500 rabbits by the end of 1941 and 25,000 by 1943.

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Scientists Create New Form Of Matter Composed Of Pure Light

light_saber

Light sabers are now a reality, ScienceDaily reports:

A group at the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms have managed to coax light photons into binding together to form molecules — a state of matter that, until recently, had been purely theoretical.

The discovery runs contrary to accepted wisdom about the nature of light. Photons have long been described as massless particles which don’t interact with each other. “Photonic molecules,” however, behave more like something in science fiction — the light saber.

“What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they begin to act as though they have mass, and they bind together to form molecules,” Lukin said.

The system could be useful in classical computing, considering the power-dissipation challenges chip-makers now face. It might one day even be used to create complex three-dimensional structures wholly out of light.

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Anaesthesiologists Claim Evidence Of Third State Of Consciousness

state of consciousnessVia Live Science, supposedly unconscious patients under certain dosages of general anaesthesia exist in a zombie-like state in which they can respond to commands, yet have no impulses of their own and feel nothing:

New findings point to the possibility of a state of mind in which a patient is neither fully conscious nor unconscious, experts say.

This possible third state of consciousness, may be a state in which patients can respond to a command, but are not disturbed by pain or the surgery, according to Dr. Jaideep Pandit, anesthetist at St John’s College in England.

Pandit dubbed this state dysanaesthesia, and said the evidence that it exists comes partly from a recent study, in which 34 surgical patients were anesthetized, and had their whole body paralyzed except for their forearm, allowing them to move their fingers in response to commands.

In the patients who responded to the doctor’s command by moving their hand, the doctors took it as a sign of consciousness, and increased the anesthetic dose.

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A Campaign To Preserve The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab As A Museum

 Princeton Engineering Anomalies ResearchPresenting a much-needed Kickstarter to save the Twin Peaks-esque headquarters of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) program. PEAR ran fascinating experiments using strange and fantastic devices with the goal of detecting collective consciousness and the physical manifestation of mental projection:
Operated at Princeton University from 1979 to 2007, PEAR is internationally renowned for its studies of human/machine anomalies and the role of consciousness in the construction of physical reality. Its legacy is now being carried forward by International Consciousness Research Laboratories (ICRL), a not-for-profit organization, which will house the proposed museum in its Princeton, NJ, headquarters. Designed to study the potential vulnerability of engineering devices and information processing systems to the anomalous influence of the consciousness of their human operators, machines that will be in this exhibit were based on some form of random physical noise that produced a statistical output distribution, which was automatically recorded on hard copy and in a computer file.
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Scientists Grow Pea-Sized Human Brains In Lab

pea-sized human brain

How long do we have until the creation of the “pea people”? The BBC reports:

Miniature “human brains” have been grown in a lab by scientists at Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

The pea-sized structures reached the same level of development as in a nine-week-old foetus, but are incapable of thought. The study has already been used to gain insight into rare diseases.

The scientists used either embryonic stem cells or adult skin cells to produce the part of an embryo that develops into the brain and spinal cord – the neuroectoderm. The cells were able to grow and organise themselves into separate regions of the brain, such as the cerebral cortex, the retina, and, rarely, an early hippocampus.

The “mini-brains” have survived for nearly a year, but did not grow any larger. There is no blood supply, just brain tissue, so nutrients and oxygen cannot penetrate into the middle of the brain-like structure.

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Study Reveals That Death Occurs More Slowly Than Believed

death

Being alive or dead may not be such a black and white matter. Via Discovery:

A new study reveals how death in organisms, including humans, spreads like a wave from cell to cell until the whole individual is dead. In certain cases, scientists may be able to stop the biochemical process that leads to this death wave, reviving the individual.

Researchers focused their analysis on worms, which surprisingly possess mechanisms that are similar to those that are active in mammals. A remarkable feature of worms is that, as they die, the spread of death through their bodies can easily be seen under magnification. It’s a fluorescent blue light caused by necrosis, or the cell death pathway. This, in turn, is dependent upon calcium signaling.

The individual cell deaths trigger a chemical reaction that leads to the breakdown of cell components and a build-up of molecular debris. If this goes on unchecked, the individual is toast.

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Engaging In Expressive Writing Makes Physical Wounds Heal Faster

physical woundsShould your doctor be giving you books of poetry? Expressing your emotions via writing literally makes your body heal more quickly, a new University of Auckland study suggests. Via PubMed:

In this randomized controlled trial, 49 healthy older adults were assigned to write for 20 minutes a day either about upsetting life events (Expressive Writing) or about daily activities (Time Management) for 3 consecutive days.

Two weeks postwriting, 4-mm punch biopsy wounds were created on the inner, upper arm. Wounds were photographed routinely for 21 days to monitor wound reepithelialization.

Participants in the Expressive Writing group had a greater proportion of fully reepithelialized wounds at Day 11 postbiopsy compared with the Time Management group, with 76.2% versus 42.1% healed.

This study extends previous research by showing that expressive writing can improve wound healing in older adults and women. Future research is needed to better understand the underlying cognitive, psychosocial, and biological mechanisms contributing to improved wound healing from these simple, yet effective, writing exercises.

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Surgeon Claims Human Head Transplant Is Possible

human head transplant

How would you feel being attached to a different body? Via the Telegraph:

Dr. Sergio Canavero believes that the technology now exists that will allow surgeons to carry out the Frankenstein-style procedure, which has been tested out on animals since 1970.

Up until now there has been no way to successfully reconnect the spinal cord, leaving the subjects paralysed from the point where the transplant was connected. Recent advances have meant that re-connecting the spinal cord is now possible, and it is believed that the breakthrough means that previously fatal diseases could be cured.

In 1970 Robert White successfully transplanted the head of a rhesus monkey onto the body of a second rhesus. Dr. Canavero, a member of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, has proposed using a similar method.

He said: “The greatest technical hurdle to such endeavour is of course the reconnection of the donor’s and recipient’s spinal cords.

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Low Dose Psychedelics Allow Mice To Generate Neurons And Unlearn Conditioned Fear

psychedelics

Psychedelic Frontier reports on another study pointing to the immense power (and hazards) of psychedelics:

A new study of mice published in Experimental Brain Research shows that low doses (but not high doses) of psychedelics increase the rate of neuron creation in the hippocampus, and help the mice to rapidly unlearn conditioned fear responses.

Mice injected with low doses of PSOP [psilocybin] extinguished cued fear conditioning significantly more rapidly than high-dose PSOP or saline-treated mice. PSOP facilitates extinction of the conditioned fear response, and this, and similar agents, should be explored as potential treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions.

Research continues to confirm psychedelics’ ability to reduce the conditioned fear response, enabling patients to confront fearful stimuli without the usual baggage of anxiety and defense mechanisms.

With the right therapeutic approach, psychedelics allow us to rewire our brains in a positive manner. On the flip side, reckless use of these substances may cause lasting negative changes in the brain.

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