Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Das Model


The synchronization of two pendulum clocks hanging from a wall was first observed by Huygens during the XVII century. This type of synchronization is observed in other areas, and is fundamentally different from the problem of two clocks hanging from a moveable base. We present a model explaining the phase opposition synchronization of two pendulum clocks in those conditions. The predicted behaviour is observed experimentally, validating the model.

Concepts: Scientific method, Hypothesis, Das Model, Base, Problem of evil, Pendulum clock, Christiaan Huygens


Animal social learning has become a subject of broad interest, but demonstrations of bodily imitation in animals remain rare. Based on Voelkl and Huber’s study of imitation by marmosets, we tested four groups of semi-captive vervet monkeys presented with food in modified film canisters (“aethipops'). One individual was trained to take the tops off canisters in each group and demonstrated five openings to them. In three groups these models used their mouth to remove the lid, but in one of the groups the model also spontaneously pulled ropes on a canister to open it. In the last group the model preferred to remove the lid with her hands. Following these spontaneous differentiations of foraging techniques in the models, we observed the techniques used by the other group members to open the canisters. We found that mouth opening was the most common technique overall, but the rope and hands methods were used significantly more in groups they were demonstrated in than in groups where they were not. Our results show bodily matching that is conventionally described as imitation. We discuss the relevance of these findings to discoveries about mirror neurons, and implications of the identity of the model for social transmission.

Concepts: Primate, Model, Das Model, Packaging, Canister


The link between adept parental monitoring (PM) and later positive behavioral and health outcomes already has motivated intervention trials, but questions remain about which specific facets and mechanisms of PM make a difference. Our current research questions concern fundamental male-female differences in PM facets as manifest in a US cohort, re-sampled each year at age 12 through 17¬†years during an interval from 2004 to 2009. We hypothesized emergence, by mid-adolescence, of a specific male-female difference in a “limit time with friends” (LTF) facet of adept PM, with overall PM levels held constant. The data, arranged using a “mutoscope” approach, are from six successive nationally representative independent cross-sectional sample surveys of the cohort, with each adolescent measured only once, via a multi-item PM module nested within the larger survey. Estimates and tests of male-female differences are from a “multiple indicators, multiple causes” latent structure model appropriate for complex survey data. In evidence consistent with the advance hypothesis and with PM level held constant via the model, the LTF facet generally was more relaxed for boys as compared to girls, in a difference that emerged by mid-adolescence, possibly due to greater LTF constraints for girls at mid-adolescence. This research adds to the knowledge base about male-female similarities and differences in facets of PM. As a specific PM facet, LTF might function as a mechanism suitable for deliberate intervention and as a possible specific target in “micro-trials” of new prevention research. We acknowledge limitations such as omitted variables, including social media effects, not measured in this investigation’s national surveys, but of potential importance in future research on peer influence as might have more distal parenting determinants.

Concepts: Scientific method, Parent, Difference, Das Model, Exploratory research


Ferric citrate (FC) has demonstrated efficacy as a phosphate binder and reduces the requirements for erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) and intravenous (IV) iron in dialysis patients. We developed a net budgetary impact model to evaluate FC vs. other phosphate binders from the vantage of a large dialysis provider. We used a Markov microsimulation model to simulate mutually referential longitudinal effects between serum phosphate and phosphate binder dose; categories of these defined health states. Health states probabilistically determined treatment attendance and utilization of ESA and IV iron. We derived model inputs from a retrospective analysis of incident phosphate binder users from a large dialysis organization (January 2011-June 2013) and incorporated treatment effects of FC from a phase III trial. The model was run over a 1-year time horizon. We considered fixed costs of providing dialysis; costs of administering ESA and IV iron; and payment rates for dialysis, ESAs, and IV iron. In the base-case model, FC had a net budgetary impact (savings) of +US$213,223/year per 100 patients treated vs. standard of care. One-way sensitivity analyses showed a net budgetary impact of up to +US$316,296/year per 100 patients treated when higher hemoglobin levels observed with FC translated into a 30% additional ESA dose reduction, and up to +US$223,281/year per 100 patients treated when effects on missed treatment rates were varied. Two-way sensitivity analyses in which acquisition costs for ESA and IV iron were varied showed a net budgetary impact of +US$104,840 to +US$213,223/year per 100 patients treated. FC as a first-line phosphate binder would likely yield substantive savings vs. standard of care under current reimbursement.

Concepts: Nephrology, Iron, Retrospective, Calcium carbonate, Das Model, Renal osteodystrophy, Phosphate binders, Hyperphosphatemia


Ooids are typically spherical sediment grains characterised by concentric layers encapsulating a core. There is no universally accepted explanation for ooid genesis, though factors such as agitation, abiotic and/or microbial mineralisation and size limitation have been variously invoked. Here we examine the possible influence of microbial organomineralisation on the formation of some naturally occurring ooids. We develop a mathematical model for ooid growth, inspired by work on avascular brain tumours, that assumes mineralisation in a biofilm to form a central core which then nucleates the progressive growth of concentric laminations. The model predicts a limiting size with the sequential width variation of growth rings comparing favourably with those observed in experimentally grown ooids generated from biomicrospheres. In reality, this model pattern may be complicated during growth by syngenetic aggrading neomorphism of the unstable mineral phase, followed by diagenetic recrystallisation that further complicates the structure. Our model provides a potential key to understanding the genetic archive preserved in the internal structures of some ooids.

Concepts: Bacteria, Mathematics, Structure, Brain tumor, Sedimentary rock, Das Model, Limestone, Oolite


A system is said to be meritocratic if the compensation and power available to individuals is determined by their abilities and merits. A system is topocratic if the compensation and power available to an individual is determined primarily by her position in a network. Here we introduce a model that is perfectly meritocratic for fully connected networks but that becomes topocratic for sparse networks-like the ones in society. In the model, individuals produce and sell content, but also distribute the content produced by others when they belong to the shortest path connecting a buyer and a seller. The production and distribution of content defines two channels of compensation: a meritocratic channel, where individuals are compensated for the content they produce, and a topocratic channel, where individual compensation is based on the number of shortest paths that go through them in the network. We solve the model analytically and show that the distribution of payoffs is meritocratic only if the average degree of the nodes is larger than a root of the total number of nodes. We conclude that, in the light of this model, the sparsity and structure of networks represents a fundamental constraint to the meritocracy of societies.

Concepts: Graph theory, Das Model, Marketing, Path, Shortest path problem, Network theory, Meritocracy, Merit


Archaeological accounts of cultural change reveal a fundamental conflict: Some suggest that change is gradual, accelerating over time, whereas others indicate that it is punctuated, with long periods of stasis interspersed by sudden gains or losses of multiple traits. Existing models of cultural evolution, inspired by models of genetic evolution, lend support to the former and do not generate trajectories that include large-scale punctuated change. We propose a simple model that can give rise to both exponential and punctuated patterns of gain and loss of cultural traits. In it, cultural innovation comprises several realistic interdependent processes that occur at different rates. The model also takes into account two properties intrinsic to cultural evolution: the differential distribution of traits among social groups and the impact of environmental change. In our model, a population may be subdivided into groups with different cultural repertoires leading to increased susceptibility to cultural loss, whereas environmental change may lead to rapid loss of traits that are not useful in a new environment. Taken together, our results suggest the usefulness of a concept of an effective cultural population size.

Concepts: Biology, Economics, Culture, Gain, Model, Das Model, Globalization, Punctuated equilibrium


The fear-avoidance model describes how the belief that pain is a sign of damage leads to pain-related fear and avoidance. But other beliefs may also trigger the fear and avoidance responses described by the model. Experts have called for the next generation of fear avoidance research to explore what beliefs underlie pain-related fear and how they evolve. We have previously described damage beliefs and suffering/functional loss beliefs underlying high pain-related fear in a sample of individuals with chronic back pain. The aim of this study is to identify common and differential factors associated with the beliefs in this sample.

Concepts: Back pain, Belief, Das Model, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Next Generation, Chronic pain, Standard Model, Kanye West


Countries and cities are likely to enter economic activities that are related to those that are already present in them. Yet, while these path dependencies are universally acknowledged, we lack an understanding of the diversification strategies that can optimally balance the development of related and unrelated activities. Here, we develop algorithms to identify the activities that are optimal to target at each time step. We find that the strategies that minimize the total time needed to diversify an economy target highly connected activities during a narrow and specific time window. We compare the strategies suggested by our model with the strategies followed by countries in the diversification of their exports and research activities, finding that countries follow strategies that are close to the ones suggested by the model. These findings add to our understanding of economic diversification and also to our general understanding of diffusion in networks.

Concepts: Time, Economics, Das Model, Social sciences, Finding, Economy


Miconazole nitrate is an imidazole derivative used to treat skin disorders caused by fungi. The aim of this study was to investigate in a systematic way whether miconazole nitrate can have skin penetration enhancing properties. Using Franz diffusion cells, three representative model compounds (caffeine, testosterone and ibuprofen) were applied to human skin as 10 mM aqueous-ethanolic solutions with or without 1 mM of miconazole nitrate. The apparent permeability coefficient K(p) for each of the model compounds was determined with and without miconazole nitrate. While a statistically significant penetration enhancement effect of 33% was found for testosterone, no overall statistically significant effect could be demonstrated for caffeine and ibuprofen. The increase in skin permeability of testosterone is mainly due to an improved partitioning from the dose solution into the skin, thereby resulting in a higher delivery through the human skin. Our results indicate that miconazole can act as a penetration enhancer.

Concepts: Statistical significance, Skin, Effect size, Das Model, Human skin color, ACT, Miconazole, Imidazole