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Vitamin D may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis, suggests study

21 November, by Haroon Siddique[ —]

Higher doses may be needed, or possibly new treatment that bypasses or corrects vitamin D insensitivity, authors say

Maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels may help to prevent rheumatoid arthritis, according to researchers.

A study led by the University of Birmingham compared the ability of immune cells in blood from inflamed joints in people with rheumatoid arthritis to respond to the so-called sunshine vitamin.

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Babies may be able to link certain words and concepts, research suggests

20 November, by Nicola Davis[ —]

Study indicates infants as young as six months old may realise certain words are related – and that interaction with adults boosts understanding

Babies as young as six months old may have an inkling that certain words and concepts are related to each other, say scientists in research that sheds new light on how infants learn.

The study also found that babies who were more often exposed to adults talking to them about items in their vicinity did better at identifying a picture of an object when the item was said out loud.

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Interstellar object confirmed to be from another solar system

20 November, by Stuart Clark[ —]

Astronomers have named interstellar asteroid ’Oumuamua and found it to be rich in organic molecules

Astronomers are now certain that the mysterious object detected hurtling past our sun last month is indeed from another solar system. They have named it 1I/2017 U1(’Oumuamua) and believe it could be one of 10,000 others lurking undetected in our cosmic neighbourhood.

The certainty of its extraterrestrial origin comes from an analysis that shows its orbit is almost impossible to achieve from within our solar system.

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Why losing the European Medicines Agency is bad news for patients, jobs – and the NHS

20 November, by Daniel Zeichner[ —]

Based in London for twenty years, the European Medicines Agency has cemented Britain’s place at the heart of the pharmaceutical industry. Now this is under threat.

I’m old enough to remember John Major’s government like it was yesterday. I watched the Maastricht debates, and I’m prepared to admit I even read the treaty. I remember the troubles that John Major had navigating debates over Europe, and that one of his achievements, despite all those difficulties, was securing the location of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in the UK.

Twenty years on, that success is being put at risk by another Conservative prime minister. Major complained about “the bastards” on his own side – now they’re running the show. Earlier this week, I led a debate in Westminster on the future of the EMA because we need to know about the government’s plans for medicines regulation following Brexit.

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Joseph Banks: botanical work on Cook's voyage finally makes it to print

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/australia-newsplay episode download
20 November, by Michael Slezak[ —]

Life-size prints of hundreds of plant specimens collected by the British naturalist come together in Florilegium

The publishing deadline was missed by more than 200 years, but finally the work of one of the great men of the Enlightenment has been printed and distributed, sharing with the world the detailed botanical work of Joseph Banks on his journey aboard James Cook’s Endeavour.

Cook’s mission when he left England in 1768 was ostensibly to chart the transit of Venus – a measurement that would allow the estimation of the distance from the Earth to the sun, which would aid navigation. However, Cook had been instructed to attempt the “discovery of the southern continent so often mentioned”.

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Did you solve it? This apple teaser is hard core!

20 November, by Alex Bellos[ —]

The solution to today’s puzzle

On my puzzle blog earlier today I set you the following puzzle:

You and your two friends Pip and Blossom are captured by an evil gang of logicians. In order to gain your freedom, the gang’s chief, Kurt, sets you this fearsome challenge. The three of you are put in adjacent cells. In each cell is a quantity of apples. Each of you can count the number of apples in your own cell, but not in anyone else’s. You are told that each cell has at least one apple, and at most nine apples, and no two cells have the same number of apples.

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On a roll: blue whales switch 'handedness' when rolling to scoop food

play episode
20 November, by Nicola Davis[ —]

Blue whales show ‘lateralisation’ – like handedness in humans – when rolling, choosing left or right depending on depth and type of roll

They are the largest animals on Earth, can live to around 90 years old and have a tongue that weighs as much as an elephant. Now scientists have revealed another insight into blue whales: how they roll.

A study has found that blue whales have a tendency to roll to one side or the other when lunging for prey, with the preference apparently down to the depth of the water and the type of roll they execute.

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Blue Planet II: what have we learned so far?

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/documentaryplay episode download
20 November, by Elle Hunt[ —]

The documentary’s marvels are not just new to television – many are new to science as well. From hyper-intelligent fish to the origin of life itself, we round up the series’s biggest discoveries

It is testament to the number of spectacles packed into Blue Planet II that the strategic change of gender a giant wrasse is – scientifically speaking, at least – one of the least remarkable. Changing gender, or sequential hermaphroditism, is a fact of life for more than 400 species of fish, and has already been widely studied.

But many of the programme’s marvels are new not just to television but to science itself. Some have only been published within the past half-decade; others existed only anecdotally until now. Here we track some of the most astonishing findings of the series so far – to be updated after each new episode.

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A gold star for the nurseries that have stopped being glitter bugs | Jules Howard

20 November, by Jules Howard[ —]
As well as polluting our seas with microplastics, the devilish dandruff turns up all over my house and about my person – I applaud those schools banning it

What will the rocks record about the lives we lead? What might a future palaeontologist, human or otherwise, make of the structures that will come to signify these moments in which you and I live our lives? They will notice extinctions, of course. Fossils of mammals’ tusks and horns will abound in the rocks, only to disappear when we humans turn up. They will come across our mines – enormous trace fossils, perhaps the largest ever to have existed. They will see, by studying fossil pollen, that the climate changed. They will find our discarded KFC bones and they will wonder how the world supported so many chickens. And there, among it all, they will probably find that most awful of human inventions: glitter. Oodles of it – purples, pinks and reds – crushed into rocks the world over. Mineralised madness. Our lowest ebb. What will those future palaeontologists make of it? What will glitter say about us?

Perhaps this is our mark in the geological strata. A post-glitter epoch that all started with a handful of nurseries

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Can you solve it? This apple teaser is hard core!

20 November, by Alex Bellos[ —]

The logic puzzle that has a peel

UPDATE: The solution can be seen here

Hi guzzlers,

What’s the similarity between a logic puzzle and an apple? Deduce! Sorry ... let’s begin.

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