Is Genetics the Lead Role for Adolescent Crime Victims! Is this part of Human Nature, or Human Nature doesn’t exist?

(ScienceDaily (May 20, 2009)Genes trump environment as the primary reason that some adolescents are more likely than others to be victimized by crime, according to groundbreaking research led by distinguished criminologist Kevin M. Beaver of The Florida State University.The study is believed to be the first to probe the genetic basis of victimization.

“Victimization can appear to be a purely environmental phenomenon, in which people are randomly victimized for reasons that have nothing to do with their genes,” said Beaver, an assistant professor in FSU’s nationally top-10-ranked College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. “However, because we know that genetically influenced traits such as low self control affect delinquent behavior, and delinquents, particularly violent ones, tend to associate with antisocial peers, I had reasons to suspect that genetic factors could influence the odds of someone becoming a victim of crime, and these formed the basis of our study.”

Beaver analyzed a sample of identical and same-sex fraternal twins drawn from a large, nationally representative sample of male and female adolescents interviewed in 1994 and 1995 for the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. “Add Health” interviewers had gathered data on participants that included details on family life, social life, romantic relationships, extracurricular activities, drug and alcohol use, and personal victimization.

The data convinced Beaver that genetic factors explained a surprisingly significant 40 to 45 percent of the variance in adolescent victimization among the twins, while non-shared environments (those environments that are not the same between siblings) explained the remaining variance. But among adolescents who were victimized repeatedly, the effect of genetic factors accounted for a whopping 64 percent of the variance.

“It stands to reason that, if genetics are part of the reason why some young people are victimized in the first place, and genetics don’t change, there’s a good chance these individuals will experience repeat victimization,” Beaver said.

“It is possible that we detected this genetic effect on victimization because it is operating indirectly through behaviors,” Beaver said. “The same genetic factors that promote antisocial behavior may also promote victimization, because adolescents who engage in acts of delinquency tend to have delinquent peers who are more likely to victimize them. In turn, these victims are more likely to be repeatedly victimized, and to victimize others.”

Thus, write Beaver and his colleagues, victims of crime are not always innocent bystanders targeted at random, but instead, sometimes actively participate in the construction of their victimization experiences.

“However, we’re not suggesting that victimization occurs because a gene is saying ‘Okay, go get victimized,’ or solely because of genetic factors,” Beaver said. “All traits and behaviors result from a combination of genes and both shared and non-shared environmental factors.”

And environmental factors can make a difference, he noted. The social and family environment in an adolescent’s life may either exacerbate or blunt genetic effects — a phenomenon known in the field of behavioral genetics as a “gene X environment interaction.”

Co-authors are criminology graduate students Brian Boutwell and J.C. Barnes of Florida State and Jonathon A. Cooper of Arizona State University.

Journal reference:

  1. Beaver et al. The Biosocial Underpinnings to Adolescent Victimization: Results From a Longitudinal Sample of Twins. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 2009; DOI: 10.1177/1541204009333830
Adapted from materials provided by Florida State University.

Female brain responds more actively to food! Why?

Female brain responds more actively to food. North American study explains greater obesity among women.

The women’s brain responds more actively when exposed to food than men, why women are more obese than men, showed a U.S. study published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study, led by researchers Gene-Jack Wang, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Addiction and co-author of the discovery published by the National Academy of Sciences, says that women have the least capacity men to suppress hunger, which may explain the fact that there is more obesity among the female gender.

The researchers performed brain monitoring of the 13 women and ten men in fasting, when they found a different signal in the brain of women when exposed to their preferred food. Even using the technique of cognitive inhibition, used to suppress the thought of food and hunger, the brain responds to food of women remained active, while the man fell.

“The difference of gender is somewhat surprising and the nutritional needs may be responsible for this,” said Nora Volkow. He added: “The fact that the traditional role of women is to provide food for their children may be a stimulus in the brain of women to consume foods when available.”

Eric Stice, expert on eating disorders, described the discovery as provocative, saying that the difference may be related to the difference in estrogen and hormones between men and women. In 2006, 35.5 percent of North American women were obese, compared with 33.3 percent of men, according to data centers of control and prevention of diseases in the United States.

Data from the study

Title: Evidence of gender differences in the ability to Inhibit brain activation elicited by food stimulation

Publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online on 21 January 2009

Authors: Gene-Jack Wang, Nora D. Volkow, Frank Telang, Millard Jayne, Yeming Ma, Kith Pradhan, Wei Zhu, Christopher T. Volkow, Frank Telang, Millard Jayne, Yeming Ma, kithara Pradhan, Wei Zhu, Christopher T. Wong, Panayotis K. Wong, Panayotis K. Thanos, Allan Geliebter, Anat Biegon, Joanna S. Thanos, Allan Geliebter, Anat Biegon, Joanna S. Fowler. Fowler.

Could Nanotechnology Make An Average Candy Into Health Food?

European food companies already use nanotechnology in consumer products, but few volunteer the information to consumers, said Dutch food scientist Frans Kampers.

He is among the panelists gathered in Chicago for the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting symposium “From Donuts to Drugs: Nano-Biotechnology Evolution or Revolution.”

Kampers from Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands will take a look at food science issues in his presentation, “What Nanotechnology Can Do for Your Average Donut.”

“All of us as scientists are being impacted by nano-bioscience and there are many issues. The interdisciplinary aspect is just one of them,” said Rod Hill, a University of Idaho professor and symposium organizer.

The panel includes two graduate students, Jessica Koehne of the University of California, Davis, and Kristina Kriegel of the University of Massachusetts, are working on projects combining, nanotechnology with biology and chemistry.

“On the food side there is greater public resistance to nanomaterials and nanotechnology in food whereas on the biomedical side there is greater public acceptance or less recalcitrance,” Hill added.

His focus on applications, products and processes, and on sensors useful for in food safety and food quality monitoring and in packaging, reflects the wide range of nanotechnology’s use in the food industry, Kampers said.

“The problem I always face is that people do not understand what we are doing with nanotechnology and food,” Kampers said. “Everyone has this vision of nanotechnology being nanoparticles and nanoparticles being risky, so they are very afraid that nanoparticles in food will have an adverse effect on health.”

The promise of nanotechnology, the Dutch scientist said, is that it could allow re-engineering ingredients to bring healthy nutrients more efficiently to the body while allowing less-desirable components to pass on through.

European food scientists use nanotechnology to create structures in foods that can deliver nutrients to specific locations in the body for the most beneficial effects, Kampers said.

“We are basically creating nanostructures in food that are designed to fall apart in your body because of digestion so in the end there will not be nanoparticles,” Kampers said.

He said there are some researchers studying applications of persistent nanoparticles in food and packaging that he believes could present risks. Use of metal, usually silver, nanoparticles in packaging to slow spoilage could move from the packaging material into the food itself.

“The persistent metal or metal oxide nanoparticles could move into the bloodstream, and research has shown they can migrate into cells or in some cases even into the nucleus of cells,” Kampers said.

“These are the more controversial applications of nanotechnology,” Kampers added. “More research is necessary to understand the kinetics and dynamics of these particles before large-scale applications in food are developed. At the moment, these types of nanoparticles are rarely used in food products.”

Cientists Developed a New Way To Split Water Into Hydrogen And Oxygen

The design of efficient systems for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, driven by sunlight is among the most important challenges facing science today, underpinning the long term potential of hydrogen as a clean, sustainable fuel. But man-made systems that exist today are very inefficient and often require additional use of sacrificial chemical agents. In this context, it is important to establish new mechanisms by which water splitting can take place.


Now, a unique approach developed by Prof. David Milstein and colleagues of the Weizmann Institute’s Organic Chemistry Department, provides important steps in overcoming this challenge. During this work, the team demonstrated a new mode of bond generation between oxygen atoms and even defined the mechanism by which it takes place. In fact, it is the generation of oxygen gas by the formation of a bond between two oxygen atoms originating from water molecules that proves to be the bottleneck in the water splitting process. Their results have recently been published in Science. Nature, by taking a different path, has evolved a very efficient process: photosynthesis – carried out by plants – the source of all oxygen on Earth. Although there has been significant progress towards the understanding of photosynthesis, just how this system functions remains unclear; vast worldwide efforts have been devoted to the development of artificial photosynthetic systems based on metal complexes that serve as catalysts, with little success. (A catalyst is a substance that is able to increase the rate of a chemical reaction without getting used up.) The new approach that the Weizmann team has recently devised is divided into a sequence of reactions, which leads to the liberation of hydrogen and oxygen in consecutive thermal- and light-driven steps, mediated by a unique ingredient – a special metal complex that Milstein’s team designed in previous studies. Moreover, the one that they designed – a metal complex of the element ruthenium – is a ‘smart’ complex in which the metal center and the organic part attached to it cooperate in the cleavage of the water molecule. The team found that upon mixing this complex with water the bonds between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms break, with one hydrogen atom ending up binding to its organic part, while the remaining hydrogen and oxygen atoms (OH group) bind to its metal center. This modified version of the complex provides the basis for the next stage of the process: the ‘heat stage.’ When the water solution is heated to 100 degrees C, hydrogen gas is released from the complex – a potential source of clean fuel – and another OH group is added to the metal center. ‘But the most interesting part is the third ‘light stage,’’ says Milstein. ‘When we exposed this third complex to light at room temperature, not only was oxygen gas produced, but the metal complex also reverted back to its original state, which could be recycled for use in further reactions.’ These results are even more remarkable considering that the generation of a bond between two oxygen atoms promoted by a man-made metal complex is a very rare event, and it has been unclear how it can take place. Yet Milstein and his team have also succeeded in identifying an unprecedented mechanism for such a process. Additional experiments have indicated that during the third stage, light provides the energy required to cause the two OH groups to get together to form hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which quickly breaks up into oxygen and water. ‘Because hydrogen peroxide is considered a relatively unstable molecule, scientists have always disregarded this step, deeming it implausible; but we have shown otherwise,’ says Milstein. Moreover, the team has provided evidence showing that the bond between the two oxygen atoms is generated within a single molecule – not between oxygen atoms residing on separate molecules, as commonly believed – and it comes from a single metal center. Discovery of an efficient artificial catalyst for the sunlight-driven splitting of water into oxygen and hydrogen is a major goal of renewable clean energy research. So far, Milstein’s team has demonstrated a mechanism for the formation of hydrogen and oxygen from water, without the need for sacrificial chemical agents, through individual steps, using light. For their next study, they plan to combine these stages to create an efficient catalytic system, bringing those in the field of alternative energy an important step closer to realizing this goal.

Journal reference:

  1. Stephan W. Kohl, Lev Weiner, Leonid Schwartsburd, Leonid Konstantinovski, Linda J. W. Shimon, Yehoshoa Ben-David, Mark A. Iron, and David Milstein. Consecutive Thermal H2 and Light-Induced O2 Evolution from Water Promoted by a Metal Complex. Science, 2009; 324 (5923): 74 DOI: 10.1126/science.1168600

Gold particles deliver more than just glitter

Nanoparticles could carry drugs to treat cancer, or other disease?

Anne Trafton, News Office
December 30, 2008

Using tiny gold particles and infrared light, MIT researchers have developed a drug-delivery system that allows multiple drugs to be released in a controlled fashion. Such a system could one day be used to provide more control when battling diseases commonly treated with more than one drug, according to the researchers. “With a lot of diseases, especially cancer and AIDS, you get a synergistic effect with more than one drug,” said Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli, assistant professor of biological and mechanical engineering and senior author of a paper on the work that recently appeared in the journal ACS Nano. Delivery devices already exist that can release two drugs, but the timing of the release must be built into the device — it cannot be controlled from outside the body. The new system is controlled externally and theoretically could deliver up to three or four drugs. The new technique takes advantage of the fact that when gold nanoparticles are exposed to infrared light, they melt and release drug payloads attached to their surfaces. Nanoparticles of different shapes respond to different infrared wavelengths, so “just by controlling the infrared wavelength, we can choose the release time” for each drug, said Andy Wijaya, graduate student in chemical engineering and lead author of the paper. The team built two different shapes of nanoparticles, which they call “nanobones” and “nanocapsules.” Nanobones melt at light wavelengths of 1,100 nanometers, and nanocapsules at 800 nanometers. In the ACS Nano study, the researchers tested the particles with a payload of DNA. Each nanoparticle can carry hundreds of strands of DNA, and could also be engineered to transport other types of drugs. In theory, up to four different-shaped particles could be developed, each releasing its payload at different wavelengths.

nanoparticles of gold

The top image shows a mixture of gold nanoparticles. The longer particles are called nanobones, and the smaller are nanocapsules. Bottom left: After the nanoparticles are hit with 800 nanometer wavelength infrared light, the nanocapsules melt and release their payload. Nanobones remain intact. Right: After the nanoparticles are hit with 1100 nanometer wavelength infrared light, the nanobones melt and release their payload. Nanocapsules remain intact. Image / Andy Wijaya

Pakistan to battle fundamentalism with science

Science is something we can use to fight fundamentalism across the world. Especially in the United States Bible Belt…

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Life Science Visualization Producers

#Follow this link to get to the more complete and detailed page#

Here is the global distribution of all the producers I have found of state-of-the-art animations and illustrations using computer graphics such as Take the Wind, Hybrid, Nucleus, Digizyme, etc.

Here are some of their logos and respective showreels (please double click video to open in youtube in case the embedded version does not play). Click more to view:

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