Eco-friendly habits viewed as “un-manly,” study reports

Researchers have found that many men will try to avoid eco-friendly actions because they do not want to be viewed as feminine.

Some men try to avoid eco-friendly actions because they do not want to be seen as “unmanly,” according to new research published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

This finding comes from a team of researchers from various U.S. universities, who found that that those who engage in green behaviors are often stereotyped by others as more “girly” or “feminine.”

To find out why, the group analyzed over 2,000 American and Chinese participants. That revealed a psychological link between eco-friendliness and perceptions of femininity. The so-called “green-feminine stereotype” often causes both men and women to perceive eco-friendly products, behaviors, and consumers as more feminine than their non-green counterparts, Yahoo News reports.

For instance, participants viewed themselves as more feminine when they did something good for the environment versus when they did something bad. They also viewed a person who chose a reusable canvas grocery bag over a plastic bag as feminine.

This is a strange issue, and solving it could help more people aid the environment. Though there is not one solution, the team believes different marketing of eco-friendly products could help reverse the trend. For example, when BMW in China marketed its new hydro car with a masculine term to identify the model, men were more interested in purchasing the car than normal.

“Previous research shows that men tend to be more concerned about maintaining a masculine identity than women are with their feminine identity,” said study co-author James Wilkie, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Notre Dame, in a statement. “We therefore thought that men might be more open to environmental products if we made them feel secure in their masculinity, so they are less threatened by adopting a green product.”

The marketing plan could work well, but, before such changes are made, it is also important to remind men that there is nothing inherently wrong with being eco-friendly. Helping the planet is not gender specific. 

More women are using marijuana during pregnancy

A new study shows that the number of pregnant women using marijuana has sharply increased over the last eight years.

The number of California women who used marijuana during pregnancy greatly increased between 2009 and 2016, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports.

The data — which comes from researchers working with Kaiser Permanente — revealed that, while nearly all of the 280,000 participants looked at in the research did not use marijuana while pregnant, a small number of them did. And that number appears to be growing.

Researchers studied more than 30,000 women a year over an eight year period. All of them were roughly eight weeks pregnant at the time. During the trial, the team surveyed the women with questionnaires and analyzed them with urine toxicology tests. In the first year in the study, researchers found that 1,547 pregnant women had ingested marijuana. Last year, the number went up to 2,588.

Little is known about how marijuana affects pregnant women, fetuses, and newborns. However, some studies have found that it is linked to lower birth weights, and guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology recommend that pregnant women do not use the drug.

“The reason that this becomes worrisome to me as an OB/GYN is that there are no studies that have ever reassured me that it would be safe to use during pregnancy,” said study co-author Nancy Goler, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente, according to Sfgate.

The team also discovered that younger women used marijuana more than older women while pregnant. While many studies have looked at this trend in the past, this one is different because it includes results from toxicology tests — an objective, universal standard.

Scientists are not yet sure why more women are choosing to use marijuana during pregnancy, but further study into the topic could help provide answers. Some women are likely using it for  vomiting and nausea, but there could be other factors in play as well. The team plans to expand on their research, especially considering that the drug will become legal for recreational use in California on January 1st. 

“Continued monitoring of trends, exposure timing, and offspring outcomes is important as marijuana potency rises in an increasingly permissive legal landscape,” the authors wrote, according to The Los Angeles Times

Gene editing could help cure hearing loss, study reports

A new gene-editing technique could one day be used to reverse or cure deafness.

A new gene-editing technique may be able to prevent at least one form of inherited deafness, according to new research published in the journal Nature.

In the study, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University conducted a series of experiments on Beethoven mice, which carry a defect that causes them to lose their hearing early in life.

To combat that hearing loss, the scientists in the study used the gene-editing technique CRISPR Cas-9 in the ears of the mice one day after they were born. Once inside the ear, the editor targeted the mutant gene responsible for the deafness and cut the DNA in a way that prevented it from poisoning and killing ear hair cells. As the mice still have a second, healthy version of the gene, the team believed eliminating the defective one would lead to better hearing.

Data showed that nearly all of the mice with gene-editing ears could hear better a month later. In fact, the treated ears could hear noises as low as quiet conversations. In contrast, un-injected ears in the same mice could not hear anything quieter than a garbage disposal.

This study follows past experiments that used a different gene-editing technique to alter the same inherited form of deafness in mice. Such methods could one day be used to prevent hearing loss in babies born with similar defects, and it could also combat other inherited mutations that cause hearing loss. Such methods may also potentially restore hearing to people who lost it from loud noise or infections.

“Hitherto incurable and often even untreatable diseases are now within the scope of gene therapy,” said Simon Waddington, a reader in gene transfer technology at University College London who was not involved in the research, according to The Guardian.

While more research is needed before any human trials can be run, there is no doubt the technique has potential. Gene editing is a new field that will only grow with time. Research next plan to see how safe the new technique is over extended periods of time, and they also plan to see if it will work in humans.

“We’re hopeful that our results will help guide the development of such strategies,” said study co-author David Liu, a genetic engineer at the the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to NPR.

Matt Damon’s father passes away after long battle with cancer

Grammy Award winning actor Matt Damon has lost his father, Kent after a long battle with cancer that affected his blood.

Matt Damon’s father, Kent Damon has died after a long battle with a cancer in Massachusetts. He passed on Dec. 14 from a rare blood disease called multiple myeloma, confirmed Damon’s publicist. He was 74 years old.

In 2011, it was revealed that Damon was in remission from the cancer, but in recent months his health had gotten worse. This possibly explains why Damon was absent at the Dec. 19 screening of his new movie Downsizing, which opens in U.S. theaters this weekend.

The Grammy-award-winning actor had recently canceled many appearances promoting his new movie, in order to be by his father’s side. In October, Damon, 47, missed the 2017 Britannia Awards in England, where he was the recipient of the Stanley Kubric Award for Excellence in Film, to go home to Boston.

When his father was first diagnosed with the disease in 2010, Damon was an advocate for raising awareness and money for cancer research. The Good Will Hunting star hosted and attended private fundraisers in Los Angeles and benefits for the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.

“It’s been a slow unfolding. My dad’s sick, so that’s a process we’re going through,” the actor said in an interview with Extra on Dec. 11. “We’ll take any prayers you got, so throw ’em up there.”

Jordan Feldstein, manager to Maroon 5 and Jonah Hill’s brother, dies at 40

Maroon 5 manager and brother to Jonah Hill, Jordan Feldstein passed away unexpectedly Friday night from a heart attack.

Jordan Feldstein, music talent manager and brother to actors Jonah Hill and Beanie Feldstein, died unexpectedly last night at the age of 40. Cause of death was a heart attack according to the Feldstein family. His death was confirmed by the Los Angeles County coroner.

A statement from the family read:

Unfortunately, last night Jordan called 911 for shortness of breath, when paramedics arrived it was determined he went into full cardiac arrest and passed away shortly thereafter.

His family asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time.

In lieu of food and flowers, the family will announce a charity in the coming weeks where memorial donations can be made in Jordan’s name.

Feldstein was the founder and CEO of Career Artist Management in Beverly Hills, California, managing music acts like Elle King, Miguel, Robin Thicke, Grouplove, and OneRepublic.

CAM was recognized for being a proactive and energetic force in the entertainment industry. Feldstein managed Maroon 5 since the group was created back in 2002. He guided them to superstardom as one of music’s most successful and universally popular acts with three Grammy Awards and 20 million albums sold worldwide.

He is survived by his two brothers, a sister, parents, and his two children. He was previously married twice, once to Clint Eastwood’s daughter Francesca Eastwood but the marriage was annulled in 2013 after one week.

“Massive RIP to Jordy Feldstein,” OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder tweeted on Saturday, “longterm comrade in this crazy music business.. Maroon 5 mgr among many others, thoughts and prayers to his family, his kids, & The (Maroon 5) family. So sad today”

Massive lava flow discovered beneath New England

Researchers have uncovered a gigantic lava mass underneath several parts of New England.

Scientists from Rutgers University have discovered a massive body of magma underneath New England, according to new research published in the journal Geology.

In the study, the group detected the large mass when analyzing the ground beneath different parts of New England. This showed the lava is under numerous states, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

“The upwelling we detected is like a hot air balloon, and we infer that something is rising up through the deeper part of our planet under New England,” said lead author Vadim Levin, a professor at Rutgers’ Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, according to Tech Times.

The researchers used the EarthScope program of the National Science Foundation to make this new discovery. The program has placed thousands of seismic measurement devices across the United States in the last two years, giving researchers better access to information about different geological processes. The goal of the program is to analyze the changes in the continent of North America and to track the activities that result in volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. However, the large gathering of magma shows there is still a lot to learn about what is happening beneath the Earth.

While the new discovery may seem concerning, researchers state there is no need for residents in the region to panic. The rising magma may result in volcanic eruptions one day, but it will likely take millions of years before it gets to that point. For now, the new data serves as an observation more than anything else.

Even so, the team reports the study gives new insight into geological processes in the region. Further study of the magma could help geologists get a better idea of the area, as well as help them re-evaluate previous beliefs.

“Our study challenges the established notion of how the continents on which we live behave,” added Levin, according to Newsweek. “It challenges the textbook concepts taught in introductory geology classes.”

Human touch can tell the difference between molecules, study reports

A new study shows that human touch is sensitive enough to detect surface changes at a molecular level.

The human touch is sensitive enough to feel the difference between surfaces that vary by just a single layer of molecules, according to a new study published in the journal Materials Horizons

Humans are easily able to tell the difference between many surfaces, including glass, metal, wood, and plastic. The reason for that is those surfaces either have different textures or draw heat away from our fingers at different rates. However, in the new research, a group of scientists from the University of California, San Diego also discovered human touch can tell the differences in molecular changes as well.

In the study, the group tested subjects to see if they could distinguish between smooth silicon wafers that differed only in their single topmost layer of molecules. They had the participants drag or tap their finger on either a single oxidized layer made mostly of oxygen atoms, or a single Teflon-like layer made of fluorine and carbon atoms. Both surfaces looked identical and felt almost exactly the same.

However, in the test, 15 participants that were asked to feel three surfaces and identify one that differed from the other two could correctly tell the difference 71 percent of the time. In another test, subjects were given three different strips of silicon wafer that each had a different sequence of 8 patches of oxidized and Teflon-like surfaces that represented an 8-digit string of 0’s and 1’s. Almost all of the subjects — 10 out of 11 — managed to decode the bits more than 50 percent of the time.

“Receptors processing sensations from our skin are phylogenetically the most ancient, but far from being primitive they have had time to evolve extraordinarily subtle strategies for discerning surfaces,” explained Vilayanur Ramachandran, a researcher from the University of California, San Diego, according to Business Standard“This study is one of the first to demonstrate the range of sophistication and exquisite sensitivity of tactile sensations. It paves the way, perhaps, for a whole new approach to tactile psychophysics.”

This research into human touch is important because it could one day be useful for developing electronic skin and creating prosthetics that are able to feel. It could have applications in virtual reality as well.

“A human may be slower than a nanobit per second in terms of reading digital information, but this experiment shows a potentially neat way to do chemical communications using our sense of touch instead of sight,” said study co-author Darren Lipomi, a professor of nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego, in a statement.

Glowing plants could be a future alternative to electrical lights

Researchers have developed glowing plants they hope could one day replace outdoor lighting.

A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have used the enzyme that gives fireflies their telltale glow to create plants that glow in the dark, according to new research in Nano Letters.

The scientists developed the unique plants as a part of a plan that could one day lead to future energy savings. However, there is a long way before that point. Though the team tested the process on many species, they can only currently get it to work on arugula, kale, spinach, and watercress. Even so, they hope further study will one day allow them to use it on trees or other large plants in order to create a new source of outdoor light.

“The vision is to make a plant that will function as a desk lamp — a lamp that you don’t have to plug in,” said study co-author Michael Strano, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to Tech Crunch. “The light is ultimately powered by the energy metabolism of the plant itself.”

Cities are responsible for roughly 20 percent of the world’s energy consumption. Glow-in-the dark plants could lower than use and give regions other ways to light the area after nightfall. However, that goal, while reasonable, is a long way off. The team in the study can get plants to glow for roughly three-and-a-half hours, but the light they create is a mere one-thousandth of the light required to read by. In order to improve on the process, they will need to figure out how to better concentrate the enzymes used in the process and improve how such enzymes get released.

This is not the first time scientists have attempted to use these enzymes to light up plants, but it is more efficient than past methods. Not only can the team get plants to light up, they also can use a luciferase inhibitor to turn them back off. This enables them much more control over the process.

“Our target is to perform one treatment when the plant is a seedling or a mature plant, and have it last for the lifetime of the plant,” added Strano, in a statement. “Our work very seriously opens up the doorway to streetlamps that are nothing but treated trees, and to indirect lighting around homes.”

Russia banned from 2018 Winter Olympics

The IOC ruling means there will be no Russian presence at the 2018 games to be held in Pyeonchang, South Korea, in February 2018, including no Russian officials, flags, or anthems.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned Russia from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics as punishment for widespread doping.

The ruling means there will be no Russian presence at the 2018 games to be held in Pyeonchang, South Korea, in February 2018 — including no Russian officials, flags, or anthems.

The ban left open the possibility for athletes to compete as individuals, under the Olympic flag.

“The question now is to participate using this status or not,” said Aleksai Durnovo, a sports commentator on a Moscow radio station, as reported by The New York Times. “Some people think it’s a humiliation to participate like this, other that we should, to allow the athletes an opportunity to compete.”

While the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Alexander Zhukov, apologized for violations of anti-doping rules, he denied that the Russian government sanctioned the misconduct.

The IOC has retroactively banned 25 Russian athletes who competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, Russia, for doping violations, stripping them of 11 medals.

Some Russian sports enthusiasts encouraged athletes to participate in the Olympics.

“We have to prove to everyone that we’re the best,” Alexander Tikhonov, a former champion biathlete, told Championat.com, a sports website. “Competing without the anthem and the flag is not a treachery. We have to go and to give hell to everyone: to the Americans, to the whole world.”

Other commentators blamed the ban on politics.

“We understand why this happened — this is an echo of political differences,” said Dmitry Svishchev, a member of Parliament’s sports committee and president of the Russian Curling Federation.

Cheese may be good for you after all, study reports

A new study shows that eating a lit bit of cheese each day could come with health benefits.

While cheese is not typically considered to be a healthy food, a team of researchers from China and the Netherlands have discovered that it could be better for you than previously believed.

Cheese has high levels of saturated fat, which has been linked to issues such as, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and an increased risk of heart disease. That has led many people to believe it only causes health problems. However, in the new study, researchers found that it also contains potentially beneficial ingredients, including calcium, protein, and probiotics.

In fact, the team discovered that people who ate a little bit of cheese every day were less likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke, compared to those who rarely or never ate cheese.

To better understand the health effects of long-term cheese consumption, the team analyzed data from 15 observational studies that included more than 200,000 people. All but one of the studies excluded people with existing heart disease, and all but two tracked people for 10 years or more.

This showed that people who consumed high levels of cheese had a 14 percent lower risk of developing coronary heart disease and were 10 percent less likely to have a stroke than those who rarely or never ate cheese. However, that correlation was U-shaped, meaning that higher quantities of cheese did not necessarily lead to better health. 

“This is not the same as eating a big slice of cheesy pizza every day,” said Allan Stewart, director of aortic surgery at Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center who was not involved in the study, according to TIME.

While the research brings up some interesting points, it only found an association between cheese consumption and decreased risk of heart disease, rather than a cause-and-effect relationship. As a result, more trials need to be done before any definitive claims can be made about overall health and cheese consumption.

There is a chance that people who eat cheese each day have healthier habits overall, but there is also a possibility that the food does come with beneficial qualities.

“There is some evidence that cheese—as a substitute for milk, for example—may actually have a protective effect on the heart,” said Stewart, according to New York Daily News. “No one’s saying you should definitely go out and eat 40 grams of cheese a day. But on the upside, a bit of cheese on a cracker doesn’t sound unreasonable.”

The new findings are published in the European Journal of Nutrition.