[Video] NASA Gets a Halloween Treat: a “Great Pumpkin” Asteroid!

Today, NASA has a rare opportunity to study an asteroid “up close” (in astronomical distance terms, that is) as an asteroid dubbed 2015 TB145 and nicknamed “The Great Pumpkin” by scientists speeds past Earth at a distance of about 300,000 miles, which is about 1.3 lunar distances from our planet.

According to an excellent article on the NASA website, there is no danger to the Earth or the Moon, but the asteroid’s flyby does give astronomers an excellent opportunity to image and map the asteroid’s surface using radio telescopes:

NASA scientists are tracking the upcoming Halloween flyby of asteroid 2015 TB145 with several optical observatories and the radar capabilities of the agency’s Deep Space Network at Goldstone, California. The asteroid will fly past Earth at a safe distance slightly farther than the moon’s orbit on Oct. 31 at 10:01 a.m. PDT (1:01 p.m. EDT). Scientists are treating the flyby of the estimated 1,300-foot-wide (400-meter) asteroid as a science target of opportunity, allowing instruments on “spacecraft Earth” to scan it during the close pass.

Asteroid 2015 TB145 was discovered on Oct. 10, 2015, by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS-1 (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) on Haleakala, Maui, part of the NASA-funded Near-Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program. According to the catalog of near-Earth objects (NEOs) kept by the Minor Planet Center, this is the closest currently known approach by an object this large until asteroid 1999 AN10, at about 2,600 feet (800 meters) in size, approaches at about 1 lunar distance (238,000 miles from Earth) in August 2027.

“The trajectory of 2015 TB145 is well understood,” said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “At the point of closest approach, it will be no closer than about 300,000 miles — 480,000 kilometers or 1.3 lunar distances. Even though that is relatively close by celestial standards, it is expected to be fairly faint, so night-sky Earth observers would need at least a small telescope to view it.”

The gravitational influence of the asteroid is so small it will have no detectable effect on the moon or anything here on Earth, including our planet’s tides or tectonic plates.

The Center for NEO Studies at JPL is a central node for NEO data analysis in NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observation Program and a key group involved with the international collaboration of astronomers and scientists who keep watch on the sky with their telescopes, looking for asteroids that could be a hazard to impact our planet and predicting their paths through space for the foreseeable future.

“The close approach of 2015 TB145 at about 1.3 times the distance of the moon’s orbit, coupled with its size, suggests it will be one of the best asteroids for radar imaging we’ll see for several years,” said Lance Benner, of JPL, who leads NASA’s asteroid radar research program. “We plan to test a new capability to obtain radar images with two-meter resolution for the first time and hope to see unprecedented levels of detail.”

The excellent, informative video on the next page explains the asteroid’s flyby and the details of the unique method that the radio telescopes will be using to capture images of it…


Using Sound to Help Blind People See

The world is a jumble of sights, sounds, and smells. While these signals may seem distinct and independent, they actually interact and integrate within the brain’s network of sensory neurons.

A new assistive device for blind people taps into this sensory network. It translates images into sounds, allowing visually impaired people to detect their environment without the need for hours of training or intense concentration.

The work is described in a paper published in Scientific Reports.

“Many neuroscience textbooks really only devote a few pages to multisensory interaction,” says Shinsuke Shimojo, a professor of experimental psychology at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and principal investigator on the study. “But 99 percent of our daily life depends on multisensory—also called multimodal—processing.”

As an example, he says, if you are talking on the phone with someone you know very well, and they are crying, you will not just hear the sound but will visualize their face in tears. “This is an example of the way sensory causality is not unidirectional—vision can influence sound, and sound can influence vision.”

Shimojo and postdoctoral scholar Noelle Stiles have exploited these crossmodal mappings to stimulate the visual cortex with auditory signals that encode information about the environment.

They explain that crossmodal mappings are ubiquitous; everyone already has them. Mappings include the intuitive matching of high pitch to elevated locations in space or the matching of noisy sounds with bright lights. Multimodal processing, like these mappings, may be the key to making sensory substitution devices more automatic.


The researchers conducted trials with both sighted and blind people using a sensory substitution device, called a vOICe device, that translates images into sound.

The vOICe device is made up of a small computer connected to a camera that is attached to darkened glasses, allowing it to “see” what a human eye would. A computer algorithm scans each camera image from left to right, and for every column of pixels, generates an associated sound with a frequency and volume that depends upon the vertical location and brightness of the pixels.

A large number of bright pixels at the top of a column would translate into a loud, high-frequency sound, whereas a large number of lower dark pixels would be a quieter, lower-pitched sound. A blind person wearing this camera on a pair of glasses could then associate different sounds with features of their environment.


In the trials, sighted people with no training or instruction were asked to match images to sounds; while the blind subjects were asked to feel textures and match them to sound. Tactile textures can be related to visual textures (patterns) like a topographic map—bright regions of an image translate to high tactile height relative to a page, while dark regions are flatter.

Both groups showed an intuitive ability to identify textures and images from their associated sounds. Surprisingly, the untrained (also called “naive”) group’s performance was significantly above chance, and not very different from the trained.

The intuitively identified textures used in the experiments exploited the crossmodal mappings already within the vOICe encoding algorithm.

“When we reverse the crossmodal mappings in the vOICe auditory-to-visual translation, the naive performance significantly decreased, showing that the mappings are important to the intuitive interpretation of the sound,” explains Stiles.

“We found that using this device to look at textures—patterns of light and dark—illustrated ‘intuitive’ neural connections between textures and sounds, implying that there is some preexisting crossmodality,” says Shimojo.

One common example of crossmodality is a condition called synesthesia, in which the activation of one sense leads to a different involuntary sensory experience, such as seeing a certain color when hearing a specific sound. “Now, we have discovered that crossmodal connections, preexisting in everyone, can be used to make sensory substitution intuitive with no instruction or training.”

The researchers do not exactly know yet what each sensory region of the brain is doing when processing these various signals, but they have a rough idea.

Continue on to the next page see a video that demonstrates the process and explains more about how the device works.


Cassini Successfully Completes Fly-through of Geysers on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft successfully flew through the south pole geysers on Enceladus at an altitude of 30 miles on October 28th, and is now transmitting back stunning photos of the dramatic event. While the photos are amazing, the more exciting science is yet to come, according to NASA scientists, since other instruments onboard Cassini were used to take samples of the ice plumes.

A fantastic article on the NASA website chronicles the Cassini happenings:

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has begun transmitting its latest images of Saturn’s icy, geologically active moon Enceladus, acquired during the dramatic Oct. 28 flyby in which the probe passed about 30 miles (49 kilometers) above the moon’s south polar region. The spacecraft will continue transmitting its data from the encounter for the next several days.

“Cassini’s stunning images are providing us a quick look at Enceladus from this ultra-close flyby, but some of the most exciting science is yet to come,” said Linda Spilker, the mission’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Researchers will soon begin studying data from Cassini’s gas analyzer and dust detector instruments, which directly sampled the moon’s plume of gas and dust-sized icy particles during the flyby. Those analyses are likely to take several weeks, but should provide important insights about the composition of the global ocean beneath Enceladus’ surface and any hydrothermal activity occurring on the ocean floor. The potential for such activity in this small ocean world has made Enceladus a prime target for future exploration in search of habitable environments in the solar system beyond Earth

You can see more of the “raw” images from Cassini on the mission website at: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/flybys/enceladus20151028, and you can learn more from the excellent article on the NASA website as well.


Source: NASA.com – “Saturn’s Geyser Moon Shines in Close Flyby Views

Featured Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Sugar Isn’t Just Empty, Fattening Calories — It’s Making Us Sick

Robert Lustig, University of California, San Francisco

Children are manifesting increased rates of adult diseases like hypertension or high triglycerides. And they are getting diseases that used to be unheard of in children, like Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease. So why is this happening?

Everyone assumes this is the result of the obesity epidemic – too many calories in, too few out. Children and adults are getting fat, so they’re getting sick. And it is generally assumed that no one specific food causes it, because “a calorie is a calorie”.

I’ve been studying the role that sugar plays in contributing to chronic disease for years, and my research group at the University of California, San Francisco has just published research in the journal Obesity that challenges this assumption. If calories come from sugar, they just aren’t the same.

Diabetes is increasing faster than obesity

It’s clear that the cause of rising rates of health conditions like Type 2 diabetes isn’t as simple as people just eating too many calories.

Obesity is increasing globally at 1% per year, while diabetes is increasing globally at 4% per year. If diabetes were just a subset of obesity, how can you explain its more rapid increase?

And certain countries are obese without being diabetic (such as Iceland, Mongolia and Micronesia), while other countries are diabetic without being obese (India, Pakistan and China, for instance). Twelve percent of people in China have diabetes, but the obesity rate is much lower. The US is the fattest nation on Earth and our diabetes prevalence is 9.3%.

While 80% of the obese population in the US is metabolically ill (meaning they have conditions like diabetes, hypertension, lipid problems and heart disease), 20% is not. Conversely, 40% of the normal weight population has metabolic syndrome.

If normal weight people have these conditions, how then are they related to obesity? Indeed, we now know that obesity is a marker rather than a cause for these diseases.

Epidemiological studies have found a correlation between added sugar consumption and health conditions like cardiovascular disease. So could cutting excess sugar out of our diets reverse metabolic syndrome?

What happens when you stop feeding kids added sugar?

Our group at UCSF studied 43 Latino and African-American children with obesity and metabolic syndrome over a 10-day period. We started by assessing their metabolic status – insulin and glucose levels, as well as blood fats and other markers for disease, like lactate and free fatty acids – on their home diet.

For the next nine days, each child ate an individual tailored diet. We catered their meals to provide same number of calories and protein and fat content as their usual home diet. We gave them the same percentage of carbohydrate, but we substituted starch for sugar. The big difference: this special diet had no added sugar. This means their diet had no sugar from sugarcane or high fructose corn syrup. The kids consumed foods such as fruits and other whole foods that naturally contain some sugar. These foods also have fiber, which reduces the rate of sugar absorption, so they don’t affect the body the same way that added sugar does.

We took chicken teriyaki out. We put turkey hot dogs in. We took sweetened yogurt out. We put baked potato chips in. We took donuts out. We put bagels in. We gave them unhealthy processed food, just with no added sugar. Each child was given a scale to take home, and if their weight was declining, we made them eat more. Then we studied them again.

The children had eaten the same number of calories and had not lost any weight, and yet every aspect of their metabolic health improved. With added sugar cut out of their diet for 10 days, blood pressure, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad cholesterol”), insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance all improved. And remember, we weren’t giving them just leafy greens and tofu – we fed the kids processed foods, just ones without sugar.

Further studies are needed to see if this will also work in adults, and if the benefits are short-term or long-term.

Sugar is like alcohol

This study demonstrates that a calorie is not a calorie, and that sugar is a primary contributor to metabolic syndrome, unrelated to calories or weight gain. By removing added sugar, we improved metabolic health.

Sugar may not be the only contributor to chronic disease, but it is far and away the easiest one to avoid. Kids could improve their metabolic health – even while continuing to eat processed food – just by dumping the sugar. Can you imagine how much healthier they’d be if they ate real food?

The naysayers will say, “But sugar is natural. Sugar has been with us for thousands of years. Sugar is food, and how can food be toxic?”

Webster’s Dictionary defines food as:

material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy.

Sugar by itself furnishes energy, and that’s about it. In that sense, sugar is like alcohol. It’s got calories, but it’s not nutrition. There’s no biochemical reaction that requires it. And at high doses, alcohol can fry your liver.

Same with sugar. Fructose, the sweet molecule in sugar, contains calories that you can burn for energy, but it’s not nutrition, because there’s no biochemical reaction that requires it. In excess, it can fry your liver, just like alcohol. And this makes sense, because where do you get alcohol from? Fermentation of sugar.

Too much sugar causes diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease and tooth decay. When consumed in excess, it’s a toxin. And it’s addictive – just like alcohol. That’s why children are getting the diseases of alcohol – Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease – without alcohol. But our research suggests we could turn this around in 10 days – if we chose to.

The Conversation

Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics , University of California, San Francisco

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Featured Photo Credit: By Uwe Hermann (http://hermann-uwe.de/photoblog/sugar) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

An Incredible Tale of Six Tails

What is Argentinian, reptilian, and has six tails?  The lizard shown in the photo above! Lizards are well-known for their ability to regrow their tails after losing them while escaping from predators. In some cases, the tail is injured in such a way that regeneration is triggered and the reptile ends up with more than one tail. A lizard found in Argentina has set the record, however, by regenerating 6 tails!

An amazing article on the New Scientist website provides the details:

Many lizards can regenerate their tails after being injured or shedding them as a defence strategy to escape predators. In response to a threat, tails can be voluntarily detached at a specific fracture plane in vertebrae. Bleeding is quickly shut off, the tail stubs heal rapidly and regeneration begins.

In some cases, the tail breaks but doesn’t detach completely, leading to the regenerated tail having two or even three tips.

But “this is the first case of ‘hexafurcation’ ever reported”, says Nicolás Pelegrin of the National University of Córdoba in Argentina, who has reported the discovery, along with Suelem Muniz Leão of National Scientific and Technical Research Council in Buenos Aires.

You can find additional details about this unusual lizard in the great article on the New Scientist website.


Source: NewScientist.com – “First known case of a lizard growing six new tails at once

Featured Photo Credit: Nicolás Pelegrin

Enceladus “Plume Dive” by Cassini Probe: 7 Things to Know [+ Video]

While the data and images from the Cassini space probe’s deep dive into the icy plume at the south pole of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, on October 28th will take 24 to 48 hours to be transmitted to earth and analyzed, NASA reports that there are seven “key facts” to know about the plume dive and what the probe can an cannot accomplish on its historic dive into the plume. During the dive, Cassini will come within 30 miles of Enceladus’ surface, the closest flyby that the probe has attempted.

From a very informative article on the NASA website, here are the seven facts that everyone should know:

1 — Enceladus is an icy moon of Saturn. Early in its mission, Cassini discovered Enceladus has remarkable geologic activity, including a towering plume of ice, water vapor and organic molecules spraying from its south polar region. Cassini later determined the moon has a global ocean and likely hydrothermal activity, meaning it could have the ingredients needed to support simple life.

2 — The flyby will be Cassini’s deepest-ever dive through the Enceladus plume, which is thought to come from the ocean below. The spacecraft has flown closer to the surface of Enceladus before, but never this low directly through the active plume.

3 — The flyby is not intended to detect life, but it will provide powerful new insights about how habitable the ocean environment is within Enceladus.

4 — Cassini scientists are hopeful the flyby will provide insights about how much hydrothermal activity — that is, chemistry involving rock and hot water — is occurring within Enceladus. This activity could have important implications for the potential habitability of the ocean for simple forms of life. The critical measurement for these questions is the detection of molecular hydrogen by the spacecraft.

5 — Scientists also expect to better understand the chemistry of the plume as a result of the flyby. The low altitude of the encounter is, in part, intended to afford Cassini greater sensitivity to heavier, more massive molecules, including organics, than the spacecraft has observed during previous, higher-altitude passes through the plume.

6 — The flyby will help solve the mystery of whether the plume is composed of column-like, individual jets, or sinuous, icy curtain eruptions — or a combination of both. The answer would make clearer how material is getting to the surface from the ocean below.

7 — Researchers are not sure how much icy material the plumes are actually spraying into space. The amount of activity has major implications for how long Enceladus might have been active.

Continue to the next page to view the video that provides the details on what Cassini is looking for in the water ice plumes of Enceladus…


Molecule Stops Alzheimer’s in its Tracks

In the war against Alzheimer’s disease, one of the big villains is a protein called amyloid beta—”Abeta” for short.

In a diseased brain, sticky strands of the protein clump into plaques that kill nerve cells and choke the gaps between them. Under a microscope the plaques look sinister, even to the untrained eye—scattershot black blotches, splattered across healthy tissue.

Amyloid beta plaques (Credit: Nephron/Wikimedia Commons)

Scientists, knowing the damage Abeta can cause, have searched for therapies that clear the protein from the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. So far, all clinical trials of this approach have failed. Though two trials are still ongoing, for now Alzheimer’s remains a disease with no prevention, treatment, or cure.

Now Carmela Abraham, Boston University professor of biochemistry and medicine, and colleagues have discovered a new way to attack Abeta. Instead of clearing it from the brain, the scientists have found a compound that prevents the body from making it in the first place.

The work, funded by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, may eventually lead to a novel treatment for this deadly disease.

“Alzheimer’s is now the number six killer of adults in the United States. Deaths from breast cancer and heart disease keep dropping, but Alzheimer’s increases every year,” says Abraham. “Caring for Alzheimer’s patients costs over $200 billion per year. The estimate for 2050 is $1.1 trillion, which means it will completely break the health care system. We have to find a drug.”

The brain creates Abeta with enzymes that chop a larger protein, called the amyloid precursor protein (APP), into smaller bits. Sometimes, for reasons scientists don’t quite understand, two APP proteins join together in a process called dimerization, which ultimately leads to increased Abeta.

Abraham wondered: if scientists could stop dimerization, would that stop Abeta in its tracks? She decided to try.

Continue reading to learn the astonishing discovery she made.


Musicians’ Brains Rock at Processing Rhythm

Researchers have figured out how brain rhythms help process music.

The study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, points to a newfound role the brain’s cortical oscillations play in the detection of musical sequences. The findings also suggest musical training can enhance the functional role of brain rhythms.

“We’ve isolated the rhythms in the brain that match rhythms in music,” explains lead author Keith Doelling, a PhD student at New York University. “Specifically, our findings show that the presence of these rhythms enhances our perception of music and of pitch changes.”

Not surprisingly, the study found that musicians have more potent oscillatory mechanisms than do non-musicians—but this discovery’s importance goes beyond the value of musical instruction.

“What this shows is we can be trained, in effect, to make more efficient use of our auditory-detection systems,” observes study coauthor David Poeppel, a professor in psychology department and Center for Neural Science and director of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt.

“Musicians, through their experience, are simply better at this type of processing.”

Previous research has shown that brain rhythms very precisely synchronize with speech, enabling us to parse continuous streams of speech—in other words, how we can isolate syllables, words, and phrases from speech, which is not, when we hear it, marked by spaces or punctuation.

However, it has not been clear what role such cortical brain rhythms, or oscillations, play in processing other types of natural and complex sounds, such as music.

To address these questions, the researchers conducted three experiments using magnetoencephalography (MEG), which allows measurements of the tiny magnetic fields generated by brain activity. The study’s subjects were asked to detect short pitch distortions in 13-second clips of classical piano music (by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms) that varied in tempo—from half a note to eight notes per second.

The study’s authors divided the subjects into musicians (those with at least six years of musical training and who were currently practicing music) and non-musicians (those with two or fewer years of musical training and who were no longer involved in it).

For music that is faster than one note per second, both musicians and non-musicians showed cortical oscillations that synchronized with the note rate of the clips—in other words, these oscillations were effectively employed by everyone to process the sounds they heard, although musicians’ brains synchronized more to the musical rhythms. Only musicians, however, showed oscillations that synchronized with unusually slow clips.

This difference, the researchers say, may suggest that non-musicians are unable to process the music as a continuous melody rather than as individual notes. Moreover, musicians much more accurately detected pitch distortions—as evidenced by corresponding cortical oscillations.

Brain rhythms, they add, therefore appear to play a role in parsing and grouping sound streams into “chunks” that are then analyzed as speech or music.

The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation supported the work.


Source: Reproduced from Futurity.org as a derivative work under the Attribution 4.0 International license. Original article posted by 

Featured Photo Credit: danbruell/Flickr

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Explainer: Do Common Chemicals Increase Your Risk of Cancer?

Darren Saunders, UNSW Australia

New research about the risk of cancer from exposure to common chemicals is usually accompanied by headlines screaming “X causes cancer!” So when a new study on the topic was published in Carcinogenesis last week, I cringed in anticipation.

Cancer is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences – a kind of genetic lottery where the odds are stacked by environmental and lifestyle factors.

There are valid concerns over chemical exposure and cancer risk. The World Health Organization (WHO) and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) estimate toxic environmental exposure to known carcinogens accounts for between 7% and 19% of cancer cases. With around 14 million new cases of cancer diagnosed worldwide annually, this accounts for a huge personal and financial cost.

The reporting of this kind of study is often framed in a way that fuels chemophobia, an “irrational” fear of chemicals. It’s perfect fodder for the likes of blogger Food Babe and the echo chamber of alternative health blogs.

Compound Interest, CC BY-NC-ND

In this latest case, the Daily Mail didn’t disappoint, with its headline claiming chemicals in fried potatoes, handwash and sunscreen could lead to cancer if combined. The Daily Mail’s hyperbolic contribution to classifying things as either causing or curing cancer (or both) is legendary, spawning the Kill or Cure website.

Everything gives you cancer?

The IARC classifies chemicals on a scale of decreasing carcingogenic certainty. The widely used weedkiller glyphosate, for example, was recently classified in Group 2: possibly/probably carcinogenic to humans.

For context, this places it in the same category as burning wood in your fireplace and shift work. There is a possible link to lymphoma with very high glyphosate exposure (for farmers spraying huge quantities of the stuff) but the data are limited and conflicting.

This review of the cancer risk associated with 50 common ingredients from random recipes in a cookbook is a brilliant demonstration of the difficulties faced in weighing evidence for cancer risk. While lots of studies claim a link between various foods and either increased cancer risk, or a protective effect, in many cases the evidence is unconvincing.

Sensationalist reporting of medical research often leaves a lot to be desired, but the blame doesn’t always lay at the feet of journalists and bloggers. A recent case study of reporting around a study into pancreatic cancer risk and red meat consumption showed that most journalists simply regurgitated information in the accompanying press release.

Does this study tell us anything new?

The latest study represents a big effort by an international team of more than 200 cancer biologists and toxicologists involved in the Halifax Project. It is not a primary research study, but reviews the available literature on the carcinogenic potential of low-dose environmental exposure to chemical mixtures.

Data on 85 chemicals – with varying levels of evidence – were included in the review. In some cases, only a single study was available, so the evidence is severely limited in some aspects.

The Halifax Project study puts forward an interesting hypothesis – that exposure to low doses and mixtures of chemicals might synergise to cause cancer. The authors go on to suggest that World Health Organization efforts to assess chemical safety should be realigned with our current understanding of cancer biology.

Probably the most telling (under)statement in the whole paper is that:

[the hypothesis] needs to be rigorously pursued before the merits of this hypothesis can be further advanced.

A new framework for understanding chemical risk in cancer?

For me, the most interesting outcome of this study is the recommendation to change research and regulatory strategy when assessing chemical risk to use an “adverse outcome pathway concept” model.

In other words, the carcinogenic potential of low-dose chemical exposure should be interpreted in the context of the “hallmarks of cancer”. This concept provides a mechanistic framework for understanding cancer biology, describing characteristic features of tumours such as sustained growth, new blood vessel formation, and so on.

Missing the forest for the trees

The hallmarks concept has been a galvanising force in cancer biology. Its great strength is as an organising principle for rationalising the complexity of cancer. It is only valid as a whole.

To assess the cancer-causing potential of chemical agents against each of the individual hallmarks in isolation completely misses the point. Effects on a single individual feature in isolation do not necessarily translate into transforming a normal cell into a cancer cell. Even then, there are huge challenges in translating lab-based findings on the effects of individual chemicals or mixtures of chemicals to whole body in real world.

What can we do?

The authors of this study admit their suggestion for expanding the evaluation of chemical risk is “not a trivial undertaking” and it would be hugely expensive. In the face of limited funding and time, it’s valid to question whether this approach will provide a return on the investment.

Environmental chemical exposure is a valid concern, but the evidence does not support hyperbolic claims that we are swimming around in a soup of cancer-causing chemicals. Lifestyle changes such as giving up smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding too much alcohol are far more achievable ways to reduce cancer risk.

The Conversation

Darren Saunders, Senior Lecturer, UNSW Australia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Featured Photo Credit: F Mira/Flickr, CC BY-SA

[VIDEO] NASA’s Cassini will be Flying Through Enceladus Ice Plumes Today – Here’s a Preview

NASA’s Cassini has flown by Saturn’s moon Enceladus several times and produced very interesting data and observations about the moon. Ice plumes erupt from the South Pole of Enceladus and may contain clues to whether microbial or rudimentary life exists in the oceans that lurk below the icy surface of the moon. Scientists speculate that the very warm sub-surface oceans may host life that is similar to that which exists on Earth near volcanic vents in the oceans. Although Cassini is not designed to detect that kind of thing, It will be flying through the ice plumes today to make additional “up close and personal” observations about them.

This fantastic video from the ScienceAtNASA YouTube channel gives a great preview of what is about to happen:

Check back later for updates!