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Toxins produced by three different species of fungus growing indoors on wallpaper may become aerosolized, and easily inhaled. The findings likely have implications for 'sick building syndrome.
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Researchers are getting more out of the sweat they've put into their work on a wearable diagnostic tool that measures three diabetes-related compounds in microscopic amounts of perspiration. In a study, the team describes their wearable diagnostic biosensor that can detect three interconnected compounds - cortisol, glucose and interleukin-6 - in perspired sweat for up to a week without loss of signal integrity.
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An anti-epileptic drug has been tested for its potential impact on the brain activity of patients with mild Alzheimer's disease. The team documented changes in patients' EEGs that suggest the drug could have a beneficial effect.
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Magnetic materials can be functionalized through a thoroughly unlikely method, report researchers: by adding amounts of the virtually non-magnetic element scandium to a gadolinium-germanium alloy.

Genes, ozone, and autism

Jun. 23rd, 2017 03:55 pm
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Exposure to ozone in the environment puts individuals with high levels of genetic variation at an even higher risk for developing autism than would be expected just by adding the two risk factors together, a new analysis shows. The study is the first to look at the combined effects of genome-wide genetic change and environmental risk factors for autism.
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Your cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your smartphone is within reach — even if it’s off — suggests new research.
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Posted by Iain Sharpe

This weekend sees the start of the seventh Imagine Watford festival, consisting of free outdoor dance and theatre performances by an impressive array of British and international artistes and groups.

The festiva is part of a long-term vision of Mayor Dorothy Thornhill and Liberal Democrat councillors to use arts and culture to promote the regeneration of Watford town centre and make it a more enjoyable place to visit.

This has centred on an area of the High Street that had become primarily for the evening economy (a euphemism for bars and nightclubs). While successful enough of itself, the area had gained an unwanted reputation for late-night anti-social behaviour, while struggling to find a daytime role.

That is why Dorothy promoted the idea of a family-friendly town centre – as somewhere not just for shopping at one end and clubbing at the other, but as a place for cultural and social activity. We carried out a major environmental improvement scheme, which included creating a space where arts and community events can take place. As television retail guru Mary Portas, who grew up in Watford, commented at an event to mark the completion of the scheme:

High streets aren’t just about shopping, they’re about encouraging us to engage in where we live. We can never underestimate what the high street means to us.

Alongside that, we launched our Big Events programme of which Imagine Watford is part. It includes an urban beach and outdoor film screenings during the summer holidays, ice skating over the Christmas period. Other events, including a variety of music performances, are held at nearby Cassiobury Park, itself subject of a major lottery-funded restoration scheme, These events are enjoyed by thousands of local people, helping to create a sense of pride and wellbeing as well as offering people access new cultural experiences, and providing a chance for people from Watford’s diverse communities to come together. 

It is always great to see people of all ages to watch world-class street theatre in Watford town centre. But there is a wider purpose to all this in creating a greater sense of wellbeing and pride in the town, promoting community cohesion, and improving the local economy.

It complements other steps we have taken to keep our town successful. By working with partner organisations, Watford’s Liberal Democrat administration has been instrumental in establishing a Business Improvement District in the town centre, which enhanced the town centre’s appearance through activities from extra street cleaning to floral displays. Watford has also repeatedly achieved the national ‘Purple Flag’ status for a well-managed evening economy.

In these straightened times for local government, it is tempting to cut back on activities that are not statutory services. But councils do have a role also in promoting economic health, fostering a sense of community and making sure that the places we represent are ones that people want to live and work in and visit. Watford’s Liberal Democrat administration shows how this can be done.

Do come and see events at the Imagine Watford Festival which runs from 24–25 June and 30 June–2 July. Details are available here. Check out especially next Friday evening’s spectacular circus show by French company Deus ex Machina.

* Cllr Iain Sharpe is Cabinet member for Regeneration and Development at Watford Borough Council

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Going for a walk outside, reading, listening to music — these and other enjoyable activities can reduce blood pressure for elderly caregivers of spouses with Alzheimer’s disease, suggests a study.
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A new research project starts this July after receiving a grant of over £450,000 from the Leverhulme Trust to explore the migrations of humans out of Africa.
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Posted by Catherine Bearder MEP

A lot can change in a year.

On 23rd June 2016, I was left heartbroken after a tough and exhausting referendum campaign saw a victory for an insular nationalist vision of Britain.

The vote to Leave has divided our country in a way even ‘Project Fear’ could never have imagined.

After the referendum, we were told that the populist right was on an unstoppable rise. Geert Wilders, Netherland’s answer to Donald Trump, would storm to victory in the Dutch general election; Marine Le Pen would triumph over the established political consensus in the French Presidential election; and the Liberal Democrats’ fight to keep Britain in Europe was laughed off.

But a lot can change in a year.

Our ALDE sister Party, VVD, secured victory in the Netherlands with a lead of over 8 points. Voters in France chose a pro-European liberal vision of hope as Emmanuel Macron overwhelmingly won the Presidency and obtained an absolute majority in the French Parliament.

And in the UK, it’s still all to fight for. Theresa May called a general election to ask the electorate to force through her destructive Brexit and the public refused to give her the mandate.

The latest polling on Brexit shows big movement – 53 per cent of people now back the Lib Dem position for a final say on the Brexit deal.

Opposition to hard Brexit is increasing as the lies of the Leave campaign unravel and the reality of Brexit begins to bite.

This opposition to Brexit is being led by the Liberal Democrats and there is still all to fight for.

Together, we must fight to keep Britain in the Single Market and Customs Union. We must fight to give European citizens the right to stay. We must fight to protect our science, research and education programmes, such as ERASMUS, and we absolutely must remain a full member of the Euratom Treaty.

And when all the deal making has been done, before the signatures go on the paper, we must give the people the final say over the deal in another referendum vote.

A lot can change in a year. Let’s make sure it’s for the better

* Catherine Bearder is the Liberal Democrat MEP for the South East

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The recent measles outbreak in Minnesota has been a sobering reminder of how highly concentrated populations of vaccination skeptics can elevate an entire community's risk of infection. Around the edges of every headline-grabbing outbreak, there's a vast range of opinions being circulated about the risks and benefits of early childhood immunization. The vaccination debate maintains a constant presence on social media platforms. These varied viewpoints caught the attention of scientists who are conducting a three-year study on the ways online interactions influence our beliefs.
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When performed in tandem, two molecular biology laboratory tests distinguish, with near certainty, pancreatic lesions that mimic early signs of cancer but are completely benign. The lesions almost never progress to cancer, so patients may be spared unnecessary pancreatic cancer screenings or operations. The two-test combination is the only one to date that can accurately and specifically identify these benign pancreatic lesions.
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Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks. The guidelines are based on a scientific review by an international team of experts.
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Water bottles replicated in the traditional method used by Native Californian Indians reveal that the manufacturing process may have been detrimental to the health of these people.
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Some flowering crops, such as beans and cotton, carefully manage the amount and sweetness of nectar produced on their flowers and leaves, to recruit colonizing ants which deter herbivores. This strategy balances their needs for defense and reproduction.
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More than half the cattle in the world live in hot and humid environments, including about 40 percent of beef cows in the United States. By using genomic tools, researchers aim to produce an animal with superior ability to adapt to hot living conditions and produce top-quality beef.

Dune ecosystem modelling

Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:06 am
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Acacia longifolia, which is native to Australia, is a species which was cultivated in Portugal primarily to stabilize dunes and as an ornamental plant; now it has spread out uncontrollably in Portugal and into many ecosystems around the world. Using the acacia as an example, researchers show that the location has an effect on interaction with other species.
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A new theory predicts how dark matter may be annihilating much more rapidly in the Milky Way, than in smaller or larger galaxies and the early Universe.
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A subgroup of patients with osteosarcoma -- a form of bone cancer -- could be helped by an existing drug, suggest scientists. In the largest genetic sequencing study of osteosarcoma to date, scientists discovered that 10 percent of patients with a genetic mutation in particular growth factor signalling genes may benefit from existing drugs, known as IGF1R inhibitors.


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