Imagine your house sinking 2 inches per month!! Drought in California is having that impact in valleys! #climate


The valleys in California are sinking at truly unbelievable rates in response to massive drought and as groundwater is being pumped out. Some areas are sinking almost 2 inches per month!!!  More details at the NASA website.

As Californians continue pumping groundwater in response to the historic drought, the California Department of Water Resources today released a new NASA report showing land in the San Joaquin Valley is sinking faster than ever before, nearly 2 inches (5 centimeters) per month in some locations.

LabTV: Curious About the Microbiome

Curious about what the microbiome is??? Great video and post from NIH Director Francis Collins!!

NIH Director's Blog

Keisha FindleyWhen people think about the human microbiome—the scientific term for all of the microbes that live in and on our bodies—the focus is often on bacteria. But Keisha Findley, the young researcher featured in today’s LabTV video, is fascinated by a different part of the microbiome: fungi.

While earning her Ph.D. at Duke University, Durham, N.C., Findley zeroed in on Cryptococcus neoformans, a common, single-celled fungus that can lead to life-threatening infections, especially in people with weakened immune systems. Now, as a postdoctoral fellow at NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, MD, she is part of an effort to survey all of the fungi, as well as bacteria, that live on healthy human skin. The goal is to get a baseline understanding of these microbial communities and then examine how they differ between healthy people and those with skin conditions such as acne, athlete’s foot, skin ulcers, psoriasis…

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Treating asthma by targeting the immune system? – T cells take my breath away! #science #twinning

A new connection between asthma and T cells in the immune system!! Props to my twin brother – one of the authors, and the featured scientist in the NIH video below! More info from the NIAID here – paper in Science Translational Medicine here, and featured summary –  T cell types that take your breath away.

A new study has shown that targeting two immune cells—Th2 and Th17—and their downstream, inflammatory effects is better than targeting just one pathway in the context of asthma. The researchers also show that blocking the Th2 pathway, which is a target of commonly-prescribed corticosteroid drugs, may unexpectedly boost conditions for Th17-driven inflammation. These results clarify how immune cells and their products contribute to asthma, and the work may enable researchers to design and test therapies that target both pathways. The study appears in the August 19, 2015, edition of Science Translational Medicine and included scientists from NIAID, the University of Leicester, and Genentech.


Springer Publishing retracts 64 papers due to fake peer review – Investigation please… #science

The Washington Post reports on the announcement by Springer Publishing that it is retracting 64 papers due to problems with the peer-review of the papers. Namely, that the peer reviewers were fake, or made up, or the authors’ themselves.

In the latest episode of the fake peer review phenomenon, one of the world’s largest academic publishers, Springer, has retracted 64 articles from 10 of its journals after discovering that their reviews were linked to fake e-mail addresses.

The article includes some terrific commentary from Ivan Oransky of Retraction Watch blog. Hopefully these mass retractions will make publishers pay more attention to their peer-review systems… which should be a priority for any academic/scientific publishing company. And can we see a list of who faked the emails? Investigate whether the authors’ were involved and punish them? Because in the meantime, scientists and science as a whole are being dragged through the mud in full public view.

Practical Nuclear Fusion Power Plant!? #Almost #MIT

Check out this awesome research being done at MIT:

A small, modular, efficient fusion plant

New design could finally help to bring the long-sought power source closer to reality.

David L. Chandler | MIT News Office
August 10, 2015

A cutaway view of the proposed ARC reactor. Thanks to powerful new magnet technology, the much smaller, less-expensive ARC reactor would deliver the same power output as a much larger reactor. Illustration courtesy of the MIT ARC team

A cutaway view of the proposed ARC reactor. Thanks to powerful new magnet technology, the much smaller, less-expensive ARC reactor would deliver the same power output as a much larger reactor. Illustration courtesy of the MIT ARC team

It’s an old joke that many fusion scientists have grown tired of hearing: Practical nuclear fusion power plants are just 30 years away — and always will be.

But now, finally, the joke may no longer be true: Advances in magnet technology have enabled researchers at MIT to propose a new design for a practical compact tokamak fusion reactor — and it’s one that might be realized in as little as a decade, they say. The era of practical fusion power, which could offer a nearly inexhaustible energy resource, may be coming near.

Using these new commercially available superconductors, rare-earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tapes, to produce high-magnetic field coils “just ripples through the whole design,” says Dennis Whyte, a professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and director of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center. “It changes the whole thing.”

The stronger magnetic field makes it possible to produce the required magnetic confinement of the superhot plasma — that is, the working material of a fusion reaction — but in a much smaller device than those previously envisioned. The reduction in size, in turn, makes the whole system less expensive and faster to build, and also allows for some ingenious new features in the power plant design. The proposed reactor, using a tokamak (donut-shaped) geometry that is widely studied, is described in a paper in the journal Fusion Engineering and Design, co-authored by Whyte, PhD candidate Brandon Sorbom, and 11 others at MIT. The paper started as a design class taught by Whyte and became a student-led project after the class ended.  Continue reading