SciCombinator

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

1969

Most estimates of global mean sea-level rise this century fall below 2 m. This quantity is comparable to the positive vertical bias of the principle digital elevation model (DEM) used to assess global and national population exposures to extreme coastal water levels, NASA’s SRTM. CoastalDEM is a new DEM utilizing neural networks to reduce SRTM error. Here we show - employing CoastalDEM-that 190 M people (150-250 M, 90% CI) currently occupy global land below projected high tide lines for 2100 under low carbon emissions, up from 110 M today, for a median increase of 80 M. These figures triple SRTM-based values. Under high emissions, CoastalDEM indicates up to 630 M people live on land below projected annual flood levels for 2100, and up to 340 M for mid-century, versus roughly 250 M at present. We estimate one billion people now occupy land less than 10 m above current high tide lines, including 250 M below 1 m.

917

The biology of the blue whale has long fascinated physiologists because of the animal’s extreme size. Despite high energetic demands from a large body, low mass-specific metabolic rates are likely powered by low heart rates. Diving bradycardia should slow blood oxygen depletion and enhance dive time available for foraging at depth. However, blue whales exhibit a high-cost feeding mechanism, lunge feeding, whereby large volumes of prey-laden water are intermittently engulfed and filtered during dives. This paradox of such a large, slowly beating heart and the high cost of lunge feeding represents a unique test of our understanding of cardiac function, hemodynamics, and physiological limits to body size. Here, we used an electrocardiogram (ECG)-depth recorder tag to measure blue whale heart rates during foraging dives as deep as 184 m and as long as 16.5 min. Heart rates during dives were typically 4 to 8 beats min-1 (bpm) and as low as 2 bpm, while after-dive surface heart rates were 25 to 37 bpm, near the estimated maximum heart rate possible. Despite extreme bradycardia, we recorded a 2.5-fold increase above diving heart rate minima during the powered ascent phase of feeding lunges followed by a gradual decrease of heart rate during the prolonged glide as engulfed water is filtered. These heart rate dynamics explain the unique hemodynamic design in rorqual whales consisting of a large-diameter, highly compliant, elastic aortic arch that allows the aorta to accommodate blood ejected by the heart and maintain blood flow during the long and variable pauses between heartbeats.

894

Socioeconomic position (SEP) is a multi-dimensional construct reflecting (and influencing) multiple socio-cultural, physical, and environmental factors. In a sample of 286,301 participants from UK Biobank, we identify 30 (29 previously unreported) independent-loci associated with income. Using a method to meta-analyze data from genetically-correlated traits, we identify an additional 120 income-associated loci. These loci show clear evidence of functionality, with transcriptional differences identified across multiple cortical tissues, and links to GABAergic and serotonergic neurotransmission. By combining our genome wide association study on income with data from eQTL studies and chromatin interactions, 24 genes are prioritized for follow up, 18 of which were previously associated with intelligence. We identify intelligence as one of the likely causal, partly-heritable phenotypes that might bridge the gap between molecular genetic inheritance and phenotypic consequence in terms of income differences. These results indicate that, in modern era Great Britain, genetic effects contribute towards some of the observed socioeconomic inequalities.

805

Experimental and comparative studies suggest that the striped coats of zebras can prevent biting fly attacks. Biting flies are serious pests of livestock that cause economic losses in animal production. We hypothesized that cows painted with black and white stripes on their body could avoid biting fly attacks and show fewer fly-repelling behaviors. Six Japanese Black cows were assigned to treatments using a 3 × 3 Latin-square design. The treatments were black-and-white painted stripes, black painted stripes, and no stripes (all-black body surface). Recorded fly-repelling behaviors were head throw, ear beat, leg stamp, skin twitch, and tail flick. Photo images of the right side of each cow were taken using a commercial digital camera after every observation and biting flies on the body and each leg were counted from the photo images. Here we show that the numbers of biting flies on Japanese Black cows painted with black-and-white stripes were significantly lower than those on non-painted cows and cows painted only with black stripes. The frequencies of fly-repelling behaviors in cows painted with black-and-white stripes were also lower than those in the non-painted and black-striped cows. These results thus suggest that painting black-and-white stripes on livestock such as cattle can prevent biting fly attacks and provide an alternative method of defending livestock against biting flies without using pesticides in animal production, thereby proposing a solution for the problem of pesticide resistance in the environment.

791

To examine the dose-response associations between accelerometer assessed total physical activity, different intensities of physical activity, and sedentary time and all cause mortality.

790

780

Each year, the American Cancer Society estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths that will occur in the United States and compiles the most recent data on population-based cancer occurrence. Incidence data (through 2016) were collected by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program; the National Program of Cancer Registries; and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. Mortality data (through 2017) were collected by the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2020, 1,806,590 new cancer cases and 606,520 cancer deaths are projected to occur in the United States. The cancer death rate rose until 1991, then fell continuously through 2017, resulting in an overall decline of 29% that translates into an estimated 2.9 million fewer cancer deaths than would have occurred if peak rates had persisted. This progress is driven by long-term declines in death rates for the 4 leading cancers (lung, colorectal, breast, prostate); however, over the past decade (2008-2017), reductions slowed for female breast and colorectal cancers, and halted for prostate cancer. In contrast, declines accelerated for lung cancer, from 3% annually during 2008 through 2013 to 5% during 2013 through 2017 in men and from 2% to almost 4% in women, spurring the largest ever single-year drop in overall cancer mortality of 2.2% from 2016 to 2017. Yet lung cancer still caused more deaths in 2017 than breast, prostate, colorectal, and brain cancers combined. Recent mortality declines were also dramatic for melanoma of the skin in the wake of US Food and Drug Administration approval of new therapies for metastatic disease, escalating to 7% annually during 2013 through 2017 from 1% during 2006 through 2010 in men and women aged 50 to 64 years and from 2% to 3% in those aged 20 to 49 years; annual declines of 5% to 6% in individuals aged 65 years and older are particularly striking because rates in this age group were increasing prior to 2013. It is also notable that long-term rapid increases in liver cancer mortality have attenuated in women and stabilized in men. In summary, slowing momentum for some cancers amenable to early detection is juxtaposed with notable gains for other common cancers.

751

The rise of ancient genomics has revolutionised our understanding of human prehistory but this work depends on the availability of suitable samples. Here we present a complete ancient human genome and oral microbiome sequenced from a 5700 year-old piece of chewed birch pitch from Denmark. We sequence the human genome to an average depth of 2.3× and find that the individual who chewed the pitch was female and that she was genetically more closely related to western hunter-gatherers from mainland Europe than hunter-gatherers from central Scandinavia. We also find that she likely had dark skin, dark brown hair and blue eyes. In addition, we identify DNA fragments from several bacterial and viral taxa, including Epstein-Barr virus, as well as animal and plant DNA, which may have derived from a recent meal. The results highlight the potential of chewed birch pitch as a source of ancient DNA.

708

To examine how a healthy lifestyle is related to life expectancy that is free from major chronic diseases.

695

We compared students' self-reported perception of learning with their actual learning under controlled conditions in large-enrollment introductory college physics courses taught using 1) active instruction (following best practices in the discipline) and 2) passive instruction (lectures by experienced and highly rated instructors). Both groups received identical class content and handouts, students were randomly assigned, and the instructor made no effort to persuade students of the benefit of either method. Students in active classrooms learned more (as would be expected based on prior research), but their perception of learning, while positive, was lower than that of their peers in passive environments. This suggests that attempts to evaluate instruction based on students' perceptions of learning could inadvertently promote inferior (passive) pedagogical methods. For instance, a superstar lecturer could create such a positive feeling of learning that students would choose those lectures over active learning. Most importantly, these results suggest that when students experience the increased cognitive effort associated with active learning, they initially take that effort to signify poorer learning. That disconnect may have a detrimental effect on students' motivation, engagement, and ability to self-regulate their own learning. Although students can, on their own, discover the increased value of being actively engaged during a semester-long course, their learning may be impaired during the initial part of the course. We discuss strategies that instructors can use, early in the semester, to improve students' response to being actively engaged in the classroom.