Smoking, heavy alcohol use are associated with epigenetic signs of aging

Cigarette smoking and heavy alcohol use cause epigenetic changes to DNA that reflect accelerated biological aging in distinct, measurable ways, according to research. The researchers estimated biological age using a previously validated epigenetic “clock” , calculated the difference between biological age and chronological age, and assessed the relationship between tobacco and alcohol use and premature aging. —> Read More

Opposites don’t attract when learning how to use a prosthesis

Upper limb amputees, who typically struggle to learn how to use a new prosthesis, would be more successful if fellow amputees taught them, new research suggests. Most usually learn by watching a non-amputee demonstrate the device during physical therapy and rehabilitation sessions. A study that measured arm movements and analyzed brain patterns found that people do better when they learn from someone who looks like them. —> Read More

Why You Should Never, Ever Poke A Sleeping Sea Otter

Once upon a time, a sea otter was sleeping while floating in the ocean, peacefully unaware of a nearby boat of gawking, giggling humans.

While the otter napped, possibly dreaming of tasty sea urchins, one brazen onlooker decided to reach out and poke the poor creature. Naturally, the sea otter jolted awake in apparent terror before scurrying away into deeper waters.

A video of the incident was posted to Live Leak on Monday and quickly went viral. The Internet — particularly wildlife experts — had a lot to say about it.

While many laughed off the video for being “hilarious” or “adorable,” marine biologist David Shiffman took to Twitter to scold netizens. He also pointed out that touching a sea otter is illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

This is a clear, unequivocal case of wildlife harassment, illegal under ESA/MMPA. Don’t glorify it. @Mashable @_LLRobertson r @LanceUlanoff

— David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter) October 6, 2015

According to both acts, it is unlawful to harass, pursue, torment or annoy certain marine mammals, including sea otters, which are considered threatened under the ESA. It is actually unlawful to even attempt to do any of the aforementioned things. Violators could be fined up to $20,000 and face up to a year in jail.

Moreover, human-to-sea otter interactions can end in injury to both the animal and the human.

“If [sea otters] feel unduly threatened, they will get aggressive,” Carrie Goertz, staff veterinarian for the Alaska SeaLife Center, told The Huffington Post. “It’s also just not smart, as they have sharp teeth and claws; some refer to them as ‘chainsaws with fur.'”

Humans —> Read More

New Study Confirms Depressing Truth About Names And Racial Bias

Students with stereotypically “black”-sounding names tend to be labeled as troublemakers by teachers. Job applicants with such names are less likely than their white-sounding counterparts to get called in for interviews. When residents with “black”-sounding names contact their local government for information about schools or libraries, they are less likely to receive a response.

Adding to this troubling compendium of results is a disturbing new study, published Thursday in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. The study of mostly white participants shows that men with black-sounding names are more likely to be imagined as physically large, dangerous and violent than those with stereotypically white-sounding names.

Dr. Colin Holbrook, a research scientist at the UCLA Center for Behavior, Evolution, and Culture and lead author of the study, said that he has “never been so disgusted” by his own data.

“The participant sample, despite being slightly left of center politically, automatically attributed violence to individuals based solely on having names like Darnell or Juan; whereas names such as Connor automatically led to expectations of prestige and status,” Holbrook told The Huffington Post in an email. “This seems to clearly echo the fear of black and Latino men in our society, which is ironic and disturbing as they are often the victims of violence–precisely because people are afraid of them.”

For the study, the researchers conducted a series of experiments involving about 1,500 mostly white adults. In the first experiment, participants were asked to read one of two nearly identical stories about a main character who bumped into a man at a bar, and the man angrily responded “Watch where you’re going, a–hole!”

In one version of the story, the character’s name was either Jamal, DeShawn or Darnell. In another version, the character’s name was —> Read More

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