SciTech Briefs

Study shows bias persists for women in science

A new study by Yale University researchers revealed that science professors prefer male applicants to their female counterparts. The study gave biology, chemistry, and physics professors at six major research universities one of two résumés and asked them to rate the applicant’s competence on a scale of 1–7.

The two résumés were identical, except one had the applicant named “John” and the other “Jennifer.” John had an average score of 4, while Jennifer only registered a 3.3. The bias was equally prevalent across all scientific disciplines, and among both male and female professors.

Source: The New York Times

Scientists find area in brain used for gluttony

Scientists from The University of Michigan may have found a region of the brain that contributes to obesity. The researchers studied the activity of a particular region of the brain, known as the neostriatum, while their lab mice were eating M&M’s; they observed a spike in a particular neurotransmitter called enkephalin.

The rats began to gorge themselves after their neostriatum was injected with enkephalin, eating as much as 5 percent of their body weight in chocolate and having to be forcibly removed from the treat. The researchers believe this may help scientists understand the neurochemistry behind obesity.

Source: Scientific American

Elusive element 113 created at last, scientists say

Japanese researchers believe they may have created a new element with 113 protons — dubbed element 113. The element is synthetic and not found in nature, and if its existence is confirmed, it fills a current hole in the period table.

The team has been working for years to create the element, which they synthesized by combining one zinc nuclei (which has 30 protons) into a layer of bismuth (which has 83 protons). The scientists hope that creating larger elements will help them to understand how atoms work in the natural world.

If confirmed, this would mark the first time that Japan has created a new element.

Source: MSNBC

Breast and cervical cancer genes show similarities

Researchers have delved into the genetic markers of breast cancer, publishing their data in the journal Nature. The research will help doctors understand the genetic causes of tumors in different cancers.

The study was based on which genes are overactive and lead to tumor growth. The scientists discovered that one type — the aggressive basal-like tumor — has cells similar to those found in cervical cancer. Researchers believe chemotherapy that targets cervical cancer may also be beneficial for basal-like tumors. The influx of genetic information may help pave a path toward better drug development.

Source: Science News

Social bullying prevalent in children’s television

A recent study published in the Journal of Communication revealed that 92 percent of children’s television shows involve some form of social aggression.

The study analyzed the top 50 children’s programs and looked for examples of social bullying — such as gossiping — and observed whether the bullying was punished, rewarded, or justified. The researchers found that most of the bullying was verbal aggression, and hope the research sheds light on the causes and dangers of social bullying.

“Parents should not assume that a program is okay for their child to watch simply because it does not contain physical violence,” said lead researcher Nicole Martin.

Source: Science Daily

Eroded rocks show hints that Mars had water

Recent images from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity show that the planet had a stream of water at some point in its history. The images are of an eroded rock with pits of smooth pebbles and gravel, an indicator for a stream of water “ankle deep,” according to Jim Bell, a planetary scientist working on the mission.

Peter Doran of the University of Illinois, Chicago, claims that the rounded grains in the rock are too large to have been smoothed by the wind.
The new information shows stronger evidence for water than ever before, giving more information to determine if sustained life was ever possible on the red planet.

Source: NPR