Why You Should Dispense With Antibacterial Soaps

Sarah Ades, Pennsylvania State University and Kenneth Keiler, Pennsylvania State University

An FDA ruling on Sept. 2 bans the use of triclosan, triclocarban and 17 other antiseptics from household soaps because they have not been shown to be safe or even have any benefit.

About 40 percent of soaps use at least one of these chemicals, and the chemicals are also found in toothpaste, baby pacifiers, laundry detergents and clothing. It is in some lip glosses, deodorants and pet shampoos.

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Circadian Rhythms & The Microbiome: Disrupting Daily Routine of Gut Microbes Can Be Bad News For Whole Body

Richard G. "Bugs" Stevens, University of Connecticut

We’ve known that bacteria live in our intestines as far back as the 1680s, when Leeuwenhoek first looked through his microscope. Yogurt companies use that information in the sales pitch for their product, claiming it can help keep your gut bacteria happy. The bacteria growing on our skin have also been effectively exploited to sell the underarm deodorants without which we can become, ahem, malodorous. Until fairly recently our various microbes were thought of as freeloaders without any meaningful benefit to our functioning as healthy human beings.

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Microbes: Our Tiny, Crucial Allies

David R. Montgomery, University of Washington

Most of us considered microbes little more than nasty germs before science recently began turning our view of the microbial world on its head. A “microbe” is a bacterium and any other organism too small to see with the naked eye. After decades of trying to sanitize them out of our lives, the human microbiome – the communities of microbes living on and in us – is now all the rage. And yet, some insist that we can’t really call microbes “good.” That’s nonsense.

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Before Nobels: Gifts to & From Rich Patrons Were Early Science's Currency

Vera Keller, University of Oregon

While the Nobel Prizes are 115 years old, rewards for scientific achievement have been around much longer. As early as the 17th century, at the very origins of modern experimental science, promoters of science realized the need for some system of recognition and reward that would provide incentive for advances in the field.

Before the prize, it was the gift that reigned in science. Precursors to modern scientists – the early astronomers, philosophers, physicians, alchemists and engineers – offered wonderful achievements, discoveries, inventions and works of literature or art as gifts to powerful patrons, often royalty. Authors prefaced their publications with extravagant letters of dedication; they might, or they might not, be rewarded with a gift in return. Many of these practitioners worked outside of academe; even those who enjoyed a modest academic salary lacked today’s large institutional funders, beyond the Catholic Church. Gifts from patrons offered a crucial means of support, yet they came with many strings attached.

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Fullerenes Unveil The Truth Behind Carbon's Strangeness

From C60 to the Buckminster fullerene, our world is still being mined for its secrets which lie hidden behind one of nature's most plentiful elements. The "Buckyball" or C60 is a cage molecule with a similar pattern to a soccer ball and forms an entirely new form of carbon which stands separate from diamond and graphene. Discovered not long ago in 1996 by accident, the dynamic pattern was named after Buckminster Fuller who was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, and inventor. He also developed numerous inventions, mainly architectural designs, and popularized the widely known geodesic dome.

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Gardasil Vaccine May Soon Be Pushed for Infants

Gardasil has been the subject of controversy for many years now. In fact, it has even been regarded as one of the most dangerous vaccines on the market today. Perhaps what is most alarming about this treacherous vaccine, however, is the fact that its manufacturer, Merck & Co, now wants to begin marketing their product to infants – and trials on babies have already begun. Merck recently launched a Gardasil vaccine trial on children at least one year old, and it's set to conclude in early 2017.

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Silicon Soul: The Vain Dream of Electronic Immortality

Nicolas P. Rougier, Inria

In just over 30 years, humans will be able to upload their entire minds to computers and become digitally immortal. – Ray Kurzweil, Global Futures 2045 International Congress (2013)

Without even considering the ethical, philosophical, social or legal scope of such a statement, it’s important to consider if it actually makes any sense. To try to give an educated guess, we have to move away from computer science and look at what biology and neuroscience can teach us.

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