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

Concept: Metaphysics


The Mars mission will result in an inevitable exposure to cosmic radiation that has been shown to cause cognitive impairments in rodent models, and possibly in astronauts engaged in deep space travel. Of particular concern is the potential for cosmic radiation exposure to compromise critical decision making during normal operations or under emergency conditions in deep space. Rodents exposed to cosmic radiation exhibit persistent hippocampal and cortical based performance decrements using six independent behavioral tasks administered between separate cohorts 12 and 24 weeks after irradiation. Radiation-induced impairments in spatial, episodic and recognition memory were temporally coincident with deficits in executive function and reduced rates of fear extinction and elevated anxiety. Irradiation caused significant reductions in dendritic complexity, spine density and altered spine morphology along medial prefrontal cortical neurons known to mediate neurotransmission interrogated by our behavioral tasks. Cosmic radiation also disrupted synaptic integrity and increased neuroinflammation that persisted more than 6 months after exposure. Behavioral deficits for individual animals correlated significantly with reduced spine density and increased synaptic puncta, providing quantitative measures of risk for developing cognitive impairment. Our data provide additional evidence that deep space travel poses a real and unique threat to the integrity of neural circuits in the brain.

Concepts: Psychology, Neuron, Brain, Decision making, Cognition, Cerebral cortex, Hippocampus, Metaphysics


Arguments that abortion causes women emotional harm are used to regulate abortion, particularly later procedures, in the United States. However, existing research is inconclusive. We examined women’s emotions and reports of whether the abortion decision was the right one for them over the three years after having an induced abortion.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Causality, United States, Poverty in the United States, Metaphysics, Emotion, Roe v. Wade, Ideology


The Zika virus has spread rapidly in the Americas since its first identification in Brazil in early 2015. Prenatal Zika virus infection has been linked to adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes, most notably microcephaly and other serious brain anomalies. To determine whether Zika virus infection during pregnancy causes these adverse outcomes, we evaluated available data using criteria that have been proposed for the assessment of potential teratogens. On the basis of this review, we conclude that a causal relationship exists between prenatal Zika virus infection and microcephaly and other serious brain anomalies. Evidence that was used to support this . . .

Concepts: Causality, Ontology, Philosophy of science, Metaphysics, Free will, Cosmological argument


Does naturalization cause better political integration of immigrants into the host society? Despite heated debates about citizenship policy, there exists almost no evidence that isolates the independent effect of naturalization from the nonrandom selection into naturalization. We provide new evidence from a natural experiment in Switzerland, where some municipalities used referendums as the mechanism to decide naturalization requests. Balance checks suggest that for close naturalization referendums, which are decided by just a few votes, the naturalization decision is as good as random, so that narrowly rejected and narrowly approved immigrant applicants are similar on all confounding characteristics. This allows us to remove selection effects and obtain unbiased estimates of the long-term impacts of citizenship. Our study shows that for the immigrants who faced close referendums, naturalization considerably improved their political integration, including increases in formal political participation, political knowledge, and political efficacy.

Concepts: Causality, Effectiveness, Law, Experiment, Metaphysics, France, Refugee, Political science


Biological materials are often based on simple constituents and grown by the principle of self-assembly under ambient conditions. In particular, biomineralization approaches exploit efficient pathways of inorganic material synthesis. There is still a large gap between the complexity of natural systems and the practical utilization of bioinspired formation mechanisms. Here we describe a simple self-assembly route leading to a CaCO(3) microlens array, somewhat reminiscent of the brittlestars' microlenses, with uniform size and focal length, by using a minimum number of components and equipment at ambient conditions. The formation mechanism of the amorphous CaCO(3) microlens arrays was elucidated by confocal Raman spectroscopic imaging to be a two-step growth process mediated by the organic surfactant. CaCO(3) microlens arrays are easy to fabricate, biocompatible and functional in amorphous or more stable crystalline forms. This shows that advanced optical materials can be generated by a simple mineral precipitation.

Concepts: Optics, Mineral, Solid, Calcium carbonate, Metaphysics, Lens, Glass, Microlens


Current accounts of spatial cognition and human-object interaction suggest that the representation of peripersonal space depends on an action-specific system that remaps its representation according to action requirements. Here we demonstrate that this mechanism is sensitive to knowledge about properties of objects. In two experiments we explored the interaction between physical distance and object attributes (functionality, desirability, graspability, etc.) through a reaching estimation task in which participants indicated if objects were near enough to be reached. Using both a real and a cutting-edge digital scenario, we demonstrate that perceived reaching distance is influenced by ease of grasp and the affective valence of an object. Objects with a positive affective valence tend to be perceived reachable at locations at which neutral or negative objects are perceived as non-reachable. In addition to this, reaction time to distant (non-reachable) positive objects suggests a bias to perceive positive objects as closer than negative and neutral objects (exp. 2). These results highlight the importance of the affective valence of objects in the action-specific mapping of the peripersonal/extrapersonal space system.

Concepts: Time, Psychology, Cognition, Mind, Space, Real number, Graph theory, Metaphysics


Recent advances in nanotechnology and material science have re-ignited interest in drug delivery research. Arguably, however, hardly any of the systems developed and strategies proposed are really relevant for shaping the future (clinical) face of the nanomedicine field. Consequently, as outlined in this commentary, instead of making ever more carrier materials, and making nanomedicine both science-fiction and fiction-science, we should try to come up with rational and realistic concepts to make nanomedicines work, in particular in patients.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Future, Thermodynamics, Nanomaterials, Materials science, Metaphysics, Science fiction, Nanomedicine


Substance use is a risk behavior that tends to increase during adolescence, a time when part of the personality is still in development. Traditionally, personality psychopathology has been measured in terms of categories, although dimensional models have demonstrated better consistency. This study aimed to analyze differences in personality profiles between adolescents with substance use disorders (SUD n = 74) and matched community controls (MCC n = 74) using the Personality Psychopathology Five (PSY-5) dimensional model. Additionally, we compared age at first drug use, level of drug use and internalizing and externalizing symptoms between the groups. In this study, the PSY-5 model has proved to be useful for differentiating specific personality disturbances in adolescents with SUD and community adolescents. The Disconstraint scale was particularly useful for discriminating adolescents with substance use problems and the Delinquent Attitudes facet offered the best differentiation.

Concepts: Psychology, Developmental biology, Ontology, Drug addiction, Model, Adolescence, Psychiatry, Metaphysics


Food allergy is a growing global health issue that affects daily life and food purchasing habits. Quality data on the global consumer perspective of food allergy is limited, particularly about thresholds and food labeling risk. Many individuals with food allergy are counseled that small amounts of allergen can potentially cause life-threatening reactions, and to avoid foods with Precautionary Advisory Labeling (PAL). The purpose of this study was to understand attitudes of consumers about food allergy thresholds and food purchasing habits related to PAL in sixteen countries.

Concepts: Asthma, Allergy, Food, Food allergy, Metaphysics, Eczema, Personal life, Maslow's hierarchy of needs


Thermal chemical vapour deposition techniques for graphene fabrication, while promising, are thus far limited by resource-consuming and energy-intensive principles. In particular, purified gases and extensive vacuum processing are necessary for creating a highly controlled environment, isolated from ambient air, to enable the growth of graphene films. Here we exploit the ambient-air environment to enable the growth of graphene films, without the need for compressed gases. A renewable natural precursor, soybean oil, is transformed into continuous graphene films, composed of single-to-few layers, in a single step. The enabling parameters for controlled synthesis and tailored properties of the graphene film are discussed, and a mechanism for the ambient-air growth is proposed. Furthermore, the functionality of the graphene is demonstrated through direct utilization as an electrode to realize an effective electrochemical genosensor. Our method is applicable to other types of renewable precursors and may open a new avenue for low-cost synthesis of graphene films.

Concepts: Electrochemistry, Carbon nanotube, Chemical vapor deposition, Silicon carbide, Metaphysics, Semiconductor device fabrication, Vacuum, Physical vapor deposition