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+ - Social networking inspires new way to find disease genes->

Submitted by mkortsha
mkortsha (2774091) writes "Inspired by social networking, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a method to create networks of genes-diseases and search the networks for potential gene-disease links. The researchers are looking for human disease genes, but the network includes genes and phenotypes from across nature, including plants, bacteria, and yeast. The method outperforms all other gene-disease linking technologies on the market today."
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+ - Galois system makes parallel computing an option for all programmers->

Submitted by mkortsha
mkortsha (2774091) writes "A University of Texas at Austin researcher has developed an open software system called Galois that identifies parallel features in serially written code and converts the code so it can efficiently run on parallel computers. The system is not completely automatic. The serial code needs to be written with Galois specific tags in mind. But developer Keshav Pingali hopes that it will help open up the world of powerful parallel systems to programmers that don't have a background in parallel computing."
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Medicine

+ - New anatomical structure discovered and described in human spine ->

Submitted by mkortsha
mkortsha (2774091) writes "Researchers at The University of California, San Francisco have discovered a new anatomical feature of the human spine. Using micro-CT imaging technology the scientists were able to clearly image the presence of a secondary endplate layer in some spinal specimens. The double layer appears to provide additional support to the spinal endplate, which may help protect the vertebral body in case of endplate damage."
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Medicine

+ - Engineered T cells resistant to HIV infection, could lead to cure for AIDS->

Submitted by mkortsha
mkortsha (2774091) writes "Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Stanford University have genetically engineered T cells to be resistant to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The engineered cells had over a 17,000 fold protection against certain strains of HIV. Researchers hope therapies can be developed that use this technique to create HIV resistant population of T cells in those infected with HIV.

"“It will allow these T cells to coexist with HIV in the blood stream,” Richard Voit, a former Stanford graduate student and researcher, said. “ It is
not a cure for HIV, but what we are looking at is a potential cure for AIDS.”"

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+ - NASA Planes Fly Over Bay Area to Measure Air Pollution Level

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "NASA is trying to measure the air pollution by flying a plane at various altitudes. The tests are a part of a larger effort led by the DISCOVER-AQ campaign — a multi-year program launched across the United States in 2011 by NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. DISCOVER-AQ stands for Deriving Information on Surface conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality. NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., is the lead center for the mission."
Democrats

+ - When it comes to science policy, most Texans say to follow your gut ->

Submitted by mkortsha
mkortsha (2774091) writes "Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have found that 51 percent of Texas voters trust their gut reactions as much as scientific experts — but only 45 percent of Texas Democrats agree with that statement. It’s a result that fits into a larger trend uncovered by the team that shows scientific opinions being split cleanly across party lines.

Working with The Texas Tribune, UT government professor Daron Shaw and post-doctoral researcher Joshua Blank polled 800 registered Texas voters for their opinions on the role of science in policy, the ideological leanings of researchers and the importance of faith when making decisions. Finding evidence of a party split was not all surprising, said Blank, with the poll “putting into numbers” what he said many would suspect: Democrats advocating for science based policies and Republicans often leaning against them.

What caught Blank’s attention was that the issues where Republican respondents believed scientific advice should be taken into less consideration were the most politicized.

For example, on a 10-point scale that measured how much should politicians defer to scientists on different issues, with 10 being follow science completely and zero to ignore advice, Republicans reported an average score of 4.3 on the issue of global warming, 4.9 on birth control and 4.2 on abortion. Democrats on the other hand, always reported averages, ranging from 6.4-8.1 depending on the issue, which weighted science as having more influence than other factors.

“There’s a very plausible explanation to where Republicans were less inclined to trust science and it has to do with what was politicized,” said Blank. “You see the resistance to science in how we should think about using coal as a resource, and the only thing that ties it to these other issues is it’s been politicized.”

For the issue of coal production, the Republican average was a 5 while the Democrat average was a 7.4.

Danny Zeng, spokesperson for UT College Republicans, says that the polling away from science illustrates that Republicans weigh multiple complex factors beyond science to make the “best policy.”

Blank points to another poll finding to show that some of the pause Republicans holds toward science may be because many don’t trust the scientists conducting the research.

Both Democrats and Republicans said that scientists and professors are liberal, with the overall percentages being 51 and 58 percent respectively. It’s an opinion that reflects reality based on the findings of other polls. But while only 28 percent and 33 percent of Democrats think that professors and scientists respectively are using their research to promote an ideological agenda, it was found that Republicans think that 86 percent of professors and 74 percent scientists are conducting ideologically influenced research. Along with ideological bias, 68 percent of Republicans reported thinking that scientists and academics are “hostile” to people of faith, compared to 25 percent of Democrats.

“Scientific evidence isn't by its nature liberal or conservative or anything. It’s an approach to answering questions using the scientific method,” said Blank. The Democratic trend to put more trust in the scientific method is clearly exhibited on the poll question on nuclear power, said Blank, with Democrats deferring to science while historically being wary of the technology.

“You would expect there to be sort of a knee-jerk reaction on the part of Democrats against something like nuclear power because of the potential environmental implications, but even there the Democrats say ‘trust science,’” said Blank.

Zeng says that he thinks Republicans' notions of ideological bias in research may not come from the actual data presented in results, but what scientists and professors choose to study.

“I don’t think people are biased because they choose to bebut I do think that in the aggregate there might be a content bias in choosing what kind of subject matters that we study which will be perceived as if there’s a bias toward the liberal agenda,” said Zeng. “I think that if you look at some of the issues I don’t think that’s an unreasonable observation.

Still, the split between parties on trusting scientific data is a troubling finding, says
Blank, because if basic facts can’t be agreed upon, it makes it almost impossible to generate policy, even when other factors like faith and ethics are not considered.

“Science is where we establish the facts and the problem is if the parties can’t even agree on what the facts are then we can’t come up with any compromise on the solutions,” said Blank. “ And I think that’s the biggest concern there.”

Zeng says that the more secular leanings of Democrats may make it easier for them to rely on scientific findings to inform government policy. But the contrasting view of Republicans should not be taken as “anti-science,” says Zeng, but a different opinion on the role of government and the worth of personal experience.

“[Democrats] are more readily wanting to hand over the entire government to scientists and whether that’s a good idea or not, I don’t think that’s how this country functions,” said Zeng. “ I think for someone who’s in their late 40s or 50s, they've lived maybe half a century on this planet, and maybe their experience is more valuable to them and seems more valid to them compared to what you’re telling them with numbers.”

The role of faith for Republicans presents another factor when analyzing policy issues, with the poll finding 61 percent of Republicans agreeing that faith is better guide than scientific evidence on most important questions. Among Democrats, only 29 percent agreed with the statement.

Andre Treiber, spokesperson for University Democrats, says that the strong influence of faith and values that Republicans use to inform policy views is what drew him to the Democratic Party.

“When the results have been proven time and time again, I can’t understand why you would not then follow these results and act accordingly,” said Treiber, extending the issue to social policy as well. “Science just doesn't mean labs and beakers. The social sciences are in place for things like abortion and birth control.”

Blank says that the skepticism toward scientific research is a good thing and no one should accept a finding simply because an expert said so. But the poll results suggest it’s not skepticism that have Republican’s questioning scientific findings as much as it is cynicism, said Blank.

“Skepticism and cynicism isn't the same thing. Skepticism says ‘let me look a little more into this and see what I think the facts are’ and cynicism says ‘no you’re wrong, you have an ulterior motive, you have an agenda,” said Blank. “Moral concerns matter. Moral implications matter as part of having a full robust debate, but moral concerns can be had and voiced along with the scientific evidence.”"

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