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

Concept: 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


There is increasing research evidence about the causal role of alcohol in cancer, accompanied by unclear and conflicting messages in the media. This paper aimed to clarify the strength of the evidence for alcohol as a cause of cancer, and the meaning of cause in this context.

Concepts: Alcohol, Causality, The Canon of Medicine, Ethanol, Meaning of life, Metaphysics, Music, Mass media


Does becoming aware of a change to a purely visual stimulus necessarily cause the observer to be able to identify or localise the change or can change detection occur in the absence of identification or localisation? Several theories of visual awareness stress that we are aware of more than just the few objects to which we attend. In particular, it is clear that to some extent we are also aware of the global properties of the scene, such as the mean luminance or the distribution of spatial frequencies. It follows that we may be able to detect a change to a visual scene by detecting a change to one or more of these global properties. However, detecting a change to global property may not supply us with enough information to accurately identify or localise which object in the scene has been changed. Thus, it may be possible to reliably detect the occurrence of changes without being able to identify or localise what has changed. Previous attempts to show that this can occur with natural images have produced mixed results. Here we use a novel analysis technique to provide additional evidence that changes can be detected in natural images without also being identified or localised. It is likely that this occurs by the observers monitoring the global properties of the scene.

Concepts: Detection theory, Change, Metaphysics, Awareness, Identification, Property, Localization, Observer


Women appear to copy other women’s preferences for men’s faces. This ‘mate-choice copying’ is often taken as evidence of psychological adaptations for processing social information related to mate choice, for which facial information is assumed to be particularly salient. No experiment, however, has directly investigated whether women preferentially copy each other’s face preferences more than other preferences. Further, because prior experimental studies used artificial social information, the effect of real social information on attractiveness preferences is unknown. We collected attractiveness ratings of pictures of men’s faces, men’s hands, and abstract art given by heterosexual women, before and after they saw genuine social information gathered in real time from their peers. Ratings of faces were influenced by social information, but no more or less than were images of hands and abstract art. Our results suggest that evidence for domain-specific social learning mechanisms in humans is weaker than previously suggested.

Concepts: Psychology, Human, Gender role, Metaphysics, Abstraction, Suggestion, Charles Darwin, Abstract art


The two-player Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma game is a model for both sentient and evolutionary behaviors, especially including the emergence of cooperation. It is generally assumed that there exists no simple ultimatum strategy whereby one player can enforce a unilateral claim to an unfair share of rewards. Here, we show that such strategies unexpectedly do exist. In particular, a player X who is witting of these strategies can (i) deterministically set her opponent Y’s score, independently of his strategy or response, or (ii) enforce an extortionate linear relation between her and his scores. Against such a player, an evolutionary player’s best response is to accede to the extortion. Only a player with a theory of mind about his opponent can do better, in which case Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma is an Ultimatum Game.

Concepts: Game theory, Mind, Metaphysics, The Evolution of Cooperation, Prisoner's dilemma, Nash equilibrium, Evolutionarily stable strategy, Stag hunt


Prior work decoding linguistic meaning from imaging data has been largely limited to concrete nouns, using similar stimuli for training and testing, from a relatively small number of semantic categories. Here we present a new approach for building a brain decoding system in which words and sentences are represented as vectors in a semantic space constructed from massive text corpora. By efficiently sampling this space to select training stimuli shown to subjects, we maximize the ability to generalize to new meanings from limited imaging data. To validate this approach, we train the system on imaging data of individual concepts, and show it can decode semantic vector representations from imaging data of sentences about a wide variety of both concrete and abstract topics from two separate datasets. These decoded representations are sufficiently detailed to distinguish even semantically similar sentences, and to capture the similarity structure of meaning relationships between sentences.

Concepts: Linguistics, Language, Grammar, Ontology, Semantics, Metaphysics, Semiotics, Decoder


Causal reasoning is an important aspect of scientific thinking. Even young human children can use causal reasoning to explain observations, make predictions, and design actions to bring about specific outcomes in the physical world. Weight is an interesting type of cause because it is an invisible property. Here, we tested preschool children with causal problem-solving tasks that assessed their understanding of weight. In an experimental setting, 2- to 5-year-old children completed three different tasks in which they had to use weight to produce physical effects-an object displacement task, a balance-scale task, and a tower-building task. The results showed that the children’s understanding of how to use object weight to produce specific object-to-object causal outcomes improved as a function of age, with 4- and 5-year-olds showing above-chance performance on all three tasks. The younger children’s performance was more variable. The pattern of results provides theoretical insights into which aspects of weight processing are particularly difficult for preschool children and why they find it difficult.

Concepts: Scientific method, Causality, Cognition, Science, Experiment, Philosophy of science, Theory, Metaphysics


Mass strandings of whales and dolphins have puzzled biologists since Aristotle. Although environmental factors are often assumed to initiate strandings, social forces must also influence the dynamics of many of these events, particularly for the primary species involved in mass strandings, the long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas). Here, we test two hypotheses derived from common assumptions about the social dynamics of long-finned pilot whales by identifying maternal lineages from mtDNA haplotypes and inferring kinship from microsatellite genotypes of 490 individuals from 12 stranding events. Contrary to the “extended matriline” hypothesis, we found that multiple maternal lineages were present in at least 9 of the 12 mass strandings. Contrary to the “kinship cohesion” hypothesis, we found no correlation between spatial distribution and kinship along the stranding beach. Most notably, we documented the spatial disruption of the expected proximity between mothers and their dependent calves. These results challenge the common assumption that kinship-based behavior, such as care-giving, are a primary factor in these mass strandings. We suggest instead that disruption of kinship bonds could result from interactions among unrelated social groups during feeding or mating aggregations, perhaps playing a causal role in these events. Our finding that dependent calves were often spatially separated or absent from their mothers has important implications for humane management of rescue efforts. To improve our understanding of the social causes and consequences of mass strandings, future documentation of strandings should include exhaustive DNA sampling, with accompanying spatial and temporal records.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Causality, Force, Metaphysics, Whale, Pilot whale, Matrilineality


Worldwide, more than 50 million ECGs are carried out annually. Studies show that the standard wrist-ankle placement method may produce poor quality ECGs. Factors including limb movement, tremor, anxiety, cold extremities cause artefacts (distortions of the baseline and ECG waveforms). A problem exists. Physicians face a challenge interpreting poor quality ECGs. Diagnostic delays occur. Patients are subjected to recalls; compassion initiated this study. Torso (modified) leads are favoured as they provide rapid acquisition of better quality ECGs, but cause erroneous electrocardiography. Investigators have not attempted to correct these errors. This study analyses the errors and aims to rectify them.

Concepts: Electroencephalography, Cultural studies, Metaphysics, Electrocardiography