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Common food additive messes with gut bacteria

A widely used food additive, carboxymethylcellulose, alters the intestinal environment of healthy people, perturbing levels of beneficial bacteria and nutrients, a new study shows. The findings, published in the journal Gastroenterology, demonstrate the need for further study of the long-term impacts of this food additive on health. “It certainly...

Can windy days shield you from COVID-19?

Low wind speeds and stale air are associated with a higher incidence of contracting COVID-19 when people socialize outside, perhaps as much as 45% more, a new study shows. While it may not be the season for beach going and barbecues, people continue to work and gather outside in many settings. Is that cause for concern in these latest stages of the...

Deep breath video can calm a child in 1 minute

Taking a few slow, deep breaths significantly reduces children’s physiological arousal in everyday settings, research shows. It’s one of the first things parents and teachers tell a child who gets upset: “Take a deep breath.” But research into the effect of deep breathing on the body’s stress response has overwhelmingly ignored young children—and studies...

Humpback whale song is for finding other whales, not courting them

A new paper is another feather in the cap for advocates of the sonar hypothesis, a proposal stating that singing humpbacks use their songs not to attract females but to actively explore their environments. Think of common courtship displays in the animal kingdom, like the flashy display of a peacock’s tail or the treetop melody of a songbird’s tune....

Sensor tells coral (and human) sperm to swim

Corals, sea urchins, and even humans share a molecular pathway governing sperm motility, research finds. The mechanism is regulated by a pH sensor that signals when sperm are to begin swimming. The work appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Climate change, which is making the oceans more not only warmer but also...

100 household task benchmarks are like robotics ‘North Star’

Researchers have created benchmarks for 100 everyday household tasks for robot assistants, creating a path for more useful agents. Robots that do everything from helping people get dressed in the morning to washing (and putting away) the dishes have been a dream for as long people have uttered the words “artificial intelligence.” But, in a field where...

Healthy gorilla gut microbiomes don’t all look alike

A new study finds significant diversity among gorilla gut microbiomes, suggesting that what constitutes a “healthy” microbiome can vary between individuals. The findings move researchers closer to developing tools that can use the microbiome to diagnose potential health challenges for gorillas in human care. The gut microbiome refers to the ecosystem...

Neonic pesticides can harm bees for generations

A new study finds that pesticides directly affect bee health and the effects from past exposure can carry over to future generations. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that bees may require multiple generations to recover from even a single application. Bees play a critical role in agricultural...

Can selfie software predict if you’ll develop Parkinson’s?

Machine learning lets researchers accurately identify signs of Parkinson’s disease by analyzing facial muscles. Every day, millions of people take selfies with their smartphones or webcams to share online. And they almost invariably smile when they do so. “What if, with people’s permission, we could analyze those selfies and give them a referral in...

Baby vaccination declined during the pandemic

A number of factors during the pandemic made it less likely that infants received their recommended vaccinations in the first months of their lives, a new study reveals. The factors include negative impacts from the pandemic during pregnancy, health care experiences, and reports of discrimination. The study serves as an indicator that a focus on vulnerable...

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