Scientific News

Vitamin D unrelated to low blood pressure according to a new study

According to a study conducted by researchers at Trinity College in Dublin, vitamin D would not be associated with low blood pressure when standing, a condition also known as orthostatic hypotension in the elderly.

Orthostatic hypotension affects approximately 30% of older people and sees a definable drop in blood pressure when standing. This low pressure is then connected to falls and to everything that follows, fractures or even death.

According to some research carried out in recent years, vitamin D could help with this pathology as it is essential for bone metabolism. It is also believed that it can be very positive also as regards muscle strength.

However, according to this new study, which appeared in Hypertension, a cohort study that examines the association between the prevalence of orthostatic hypotension and the intake of vitamin D supplements, this link would not exist.

Eamon Laird, the lead author of the study and researcher at the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA) of the aforementioned Dublin institute, clearly specifies this:

“This is the largest study ever conducted that explores vitamin D and orthostatic hypotension. We see no association in the elderly Irish population. This is important as it is essential to know what is and is not associated with vitamin D when trying to devise and recommend recruitment for the population based on health outcomes. Recently vitamin D has been seen as the healthy panacea for everything; however, it makes perfect sense on a biological level that it cannot be associated with everything.”

Scientific News

Trees exchange information when beetles attack

A new study published in Science of the Total Environment shows once again how trees and plants in general are interconnected when it comes to survival. It is one of those studies that show that trees can literally communicate with each other even to counter “predators.”

The study, conducted by a scientist at the University of Alberta, focused on the pines of Lodgepole, a species widespread especially in North America but which over time has been “introduced” into Scandinavian countries as well Sweden and Norway.

The researcher found that when attacked by pine beetles, these trees release particular volatile chemical compounds to warn nearby trees about the threat. These “messages” can only be decoded by trees of the same species, as reported by the scientist Altaf Hussain who led the study.

It is not the first study that shows a communication system between trees, but past research has mostly focused on the mechanisms based on networks of roots under the ground. This is the first study that shows a form of communication that takes place via volatile chemicals.

These substances are transferred from trees attached to trees not yet attached within 30 meters distance via a mushroom associated with the same beetle. This study could help to implement a possible form of contrast against the dwarf pine beetles which are one of the most serious threats with regard to North American forests, particularly Canadians.

Scientific News

Frogs create small artificial ponds to protect tadpoles from predators

A group of researchers has discovered a particular behavior in goliath frogs that they define as the “first example of a construction of a nest in an African amphibian.”

According to the researchers, who published their work in the Journal of Natural History, these frogs can build real little ponds for their little ones, environments that they then guard and care for.

To “build” these ponds they manage to move rocks weighing up to one pound, a good effort even considering that they are huge frogs that can weigh up to 5 pounds and can reach a length of 34 cm. They create these small ponds at the edges of the rivers using the flow of the latter. By blocking the flow of water, they create a sort of safe haven from the numerous predators that can live in such an aquatic environment.

The very fact that they move such large rocks to block the flow of water would also explain the gigantism that developed during their evolution, as explained by Marvin Schäfer of the Natural History Museum in Berlin, one of the authors of the study.

The researchers noted this behavior in various specimens on the Mpoula River in Cameroon.

Initially they wanted to know more about the reproduction of this particular species of frog but then discovered strange small pools of water created thanks to the accumulation of large stones as well as other elements such as leaves and gravel that were meant to be said for real “nests” that parents created for their children.

They also discovered that the frogs themselves could also spend all night to protect these sites from predators by ending their wake only at dawn.

Scientific News

Melting ice will allow more scientific expeditions to the Arctic

There seems to be at least one positive aspect, even if it’s very small compared to the harmful consequences, concerning the melting of the Arctic ice.

According to a new study, due to the melting of ice in the Arctic, an increasing number of research ships will be able to cross it to solve the main scientific mysteries of this area of ​​the world. From this point of view, an era of new discoveries will open that will allow us to really know this frozen continent never really beaten.

Already commercial navigation, for example, has increased a lot in recent years. For example, it has been calculated that American ships in the Arctic seas increased by 128% between 2008, when there were 120 boats crossing the Arctic, and 2018, when instead 300 have passed.

According to the most plausible scenario that the researchers calculated, the activity of ships in the Arctic seas will increase at a rate of 2.3% a year, a rate that should see 377 ships navigate these waters in only 2030.

Scientific News

Too much coffee can increase the risk of developing headaches according to a new study

Another study, this time published in The American Journal of Medicine, addresses the issue of taking in too much coffee every day. According to the new research, drinking too much coffee every day can prove to be a “potential trigger for migraine on that day or the following day,” as reported in the study.

Elizabeth Mostofsky, a researcher at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and lead author of the study, explains the results: “According to our study, drinking one or two caffeinated drinks in one day does not seem to be linked to the development of a headache, however, three or more portions may be associated with a greater probability of developing a headache.”

The researchers used results obtained with 98 adults who suffered from episodic migraine. The same participants had to report various information including daily intake of coffee or caffeinated beverages as well as other information regarding their lifestyles and migraine episodes.

On average, five people had headaches a month. 66% of them consumed one or two servings of beverages that contained caffeine every day while 12% consumed three or more servings. During the study period examined (six weeks 2016-2017), participants reported having on average 8.4 headaches and all reported having caffeinated beverages in at least one day during the study with an average of 7.9 portions each week.

The results, according to the researchers, showed that the impact of caffeinated beverages on the risk of headaches on a given day was only evident when taking three or more portions of caffeinated beverages that day.

Scientific News

New superconducting material could be used in quantum computers

A group of researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has discovered that a particular superconducting material, the compound uranium ditelluride, or UTe2, could prove very useful in quantum computers to support the so-called quantum coherence.

The latter fails when, precisely in quantum computers, when the qubits cannot function for the time necessary to terminate the calculation. Quantum coherence, in quantum computers, is difficult to maintain due to various environmental disturbances, even the weakest.

According to researchers at the US institute, this new superconducting material could finally make it possible to build effective quantum logic circuits thanks to its resistance to magnetic fields, a rare thing among superconducting materials.

“This is potentially the silicon of the quantum information era,” reports Nick Butch, one of the designers on the research team who made the discovery.

The tiny qubits built with this material could be easily shielded and protected from the surrounding environment, especially from the rest of the computer components.

The results of the study were published in Science.

Scientific News

The Neanderthals also suffered from swimmers ear

Neanderthals also suffered from the so-called “swimmer’s ear” according to a new study published in PLOS ONE.

The researcher Erik Trinkaus of the University of Washington has discovered, with the help of his colleagues, some anomalous bone growths in the ear canal of some very well preserved ear canals found in the remains of various men of accidental Eurasian Neanderthal dating back to the middle Pleistocene late.

The researchers noted that the ear condition swimmer was exceptionally common in Neanderthals. This condition occurs when you expose yourself too often to cold water (or even cold air) even if you believe that a genetic predisposition may exist.

Of the 23 Neanderthal remains examined, about half had mild to severe forms of exostosis, at least twice the frequency observed in almost all the other populations analyzed.

The most obvious explanation is that evidently Neanderthals took longer to collect resources in aquatic environments. However, according to the researchers, there are also other factors that are probably involved in this higher frequency because there is no particular correlation with the proximity of these populations to ancient water sources or to colder climates.

It is believed that one of the causes can be represented by a genetic predisposition of this group.

Scientific News

Nuts protect the intestine from ulcerative colitis in mice

Another study has confirmed the positive properties concerning nuts. The new research, published on Nutrients and conducted by a group of researchers from the Center for Molecular Oncology of the University of Connecticut, emphasizes in particular the positive effects of walnuts on ulcerative colitis.

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that sees chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The two researchers Daniel Rosenberg Masako Nakanishi conducted some experiments on rodents and found that in a particular model of colitis, one in which there is a lesion of the colonic mucosa caused by the ulcerogenic dextran sodium sulfate agent, the nuts themselves could perform a real action of contrast.

Rodents were given a daily amount of nuts representing 14% of the entire daily diet, an amount equivalent to about 20-25 walnuts for a human being. After two weeks of this treatment, the researchers noticed fewer lesions and generally a repair of the colonic mucosa.

In general, the researchers also noted that the intestinal lesions in mice that ate these amounts of nuts were smaller than in mice that did not eat nuts (both groups had been experimentally induced by ulcerative colitis). They also noted some alterations in fecal and tissue flow as well as various changes in metabolites.

As Rosenberg himself specifies with this research, his team does not intend to suggest that it is necessary to eat 25 nuts a day to counteract ulcerative colitis but still want to find out what those phytochemical active compounds are that in nuts activate this sort of protection of the gastrointestinal tract.