Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Maxima and minima


Controversy exists about the maximum amount of protein that can be utilized for lean tissue-building purposes in a single meal for those involved in regimented resistance training. It has been proposed that muscle protein synthesis is maximized in young adults with an intake of ~ 20-25 g of a high-quality protein; anything above this amount is believed to be oxidized for energy or transaminated to form urea and other organic acids. However, these findings are specific to the provision of fast-digesting proteins without the addition of other macronutrients. Consumption of slower-acting protein sources, particularly when consumed in combination with other macronutrients, would delay absorption and thus conceivably enhance the utilization of the constituent amino acids. The purpose of this paper was twofold: 1) to objectively review the literature in an effort to determine an upper anabolic threshold for per-meal protein intake; 2) draw relevant conclusions based on the current data so as to elucidate guidelines for per-meal daily protein distribution to optimize lean tissue accretion. Both acute and long-term studies on the topic were evaluated and their findings placed into context with respect to per-meal utilization of protein and the associated implications to distribution of protein feedings across the course of a day. The preponderance of data indicate that while consumption of higher protein doses (> 20 g) results in greater AA oxidation, this is not the fate for all the additional ingested AAs as some are utilized for tissue-building purposes. Based on the current evidence, we conclude that to maximize anabolism one should consume protein at a target intake of 0.4 g/kg/meal across a minimum of four meals in order to reach aminimumof 1.6 g/kg/day. Using the upper daily intake of 2.2 g/kg/day reported in the literature spread out over the same four meals would necessitate a maximum of 0.55 g/kg/meal.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Acid, Metabolism, Nutrition, Nitrogen, Peptide synthesis, Maxima and minima


Human identification by fingerprints is based on the fundamental premise that ridge patterns from distinct fingers are different (uniqueness) and a fingerprint pattern does not change over time (persistence). Although the uniqueness of fingerprints has been investigated by developing statistical models to estimate the probability of error in comparing two random samples of fingerprints, the persistence of fingerprints has remained a general belief based on only a few case studies. In this study, fingerprint match (similarity) scores are analyzed by multilevel statistical models with covariates such as time interval between two fingerprints in comparison, subject’s age, and fingerprint image quality. Longitudinal fingerprint records of 15,597 subjects are sampled from an operational fingerprint database such that each individual has at least five 10-print records over a minimum time span of 5 y. In regard to the persistence of fingerprints, the longitudinal analysis on a single (right index) finger demonstrates that (i) genuine match scores tend to significantly decrease when time interval between two fingerprints in comparison increases, whereas the change in impostor match scores is negligible; and (ii) fingerprint recognition accuracy at operational settings, nevertheless, tends to be stable as the time interval increases up to 12 y, the maximum time span in the dataset. However, the uncertainty of temporal stability of fingerprint recognition accuracy becomes substantially large if either of the two fingerprints being compared is of poor quality. The conclusions drawn from 10-finger fusion analysis coincide with the conclusions from single-finger analysis.

Concepts: Comparison, Longitudinal study, Statistics, Sociology, Finger, Maxima and minima, Fingerprint, Tend


New data from the NIH reveal that the scientific return on its sponsored research reaches a maximum at around $400,000 of annual support per principal investigator. We discuss the implications of this ‘sweet spot’ for funding policy, and propose that the NIH should limit both the minimum and maximum amount of funding per researcher.

Concepts: Calculus, Maxima and minima, Finance


Joanna Moncrieff looks at the lack of long-term evidence for antipsychotic medication and considers what is needed to ensure we have the knowledge to maximize benefits and minimize harms.

Concepts: Time, Antipsychotic, Maxima and minima


Critical thermal limits are thought to be correlated with the elevational distribution of species living in tropical montane regions, but with upper limits being relatively invariant compared to lower limits. To test this hypothesis, we examined the variation of thermal physiological traits in a group of terrestrial breeding frogs (Craugastoridae) distributed along a tropical elevational gradient. We measured the critical thermal maximum (CT max; n = 22 species) and critical thermal minimum (CT min; n = 14 species) of frogs captured between the Amazon floodplain (250 m asl) and the high Andes (3,800 m asl). After inferring a multilocus species tree, we conducted a phylogenetically informed test of whether body size, body mass, and elevation contributed to the observed variation in CT max and CT min along the gradient. We also tested whether CT max and CT min exhibit different rates of change given that critical thermal limits (and their plasticity) may have evolved differently in response to different temperature constraints along the gradient. Variation of critical thermal traits was significantly correlated with species' elevational midpoint, their maximum and minimum elevations, as well as the maximum air temperature and the maximum operative temperature as measured across this gradient. Both thermal limits showed substantial variation, but CT min exhibited relatively faster rates of change than CT max, as observed in other taxa. Nonetheless, our findings call for caution in assuming inflexibility of upper thermal limits and underscore the value of collecting additional empirical data on species' thermal physiology across elevational gradients.

Concepts: Scientific method, Evolution, Biology, Temperature, Heat, Hypothesis, Maxima and minima, Elevation


Dune slacks are a seasonal coastal wetland habitat, whose plant assemblages and soil properties are strongly linked to a fluctuating water table. Climate change is predicted to cause major shifts in sand dune hydrological regimes, yet we know remarkably little about the tolerance of these communities to change, and their precise hydrological requirements are poorly quantified. Dune slack vegetation and soils were sampled within five vegetation types across four west coast UK sites. Relationships between vegetation assemblages, and parameters of soil development (moisture, loss on ignition, pH, KCl extractable ions) and groundwater hydrological regime (annual maximum and minimum water levels and range, duration of flooding) were established to define the environmental tolerances of different communities. In multivariate analysis of the vegetation, the dominant gradient was hydrological: dry to wet, followed by a secondary soil development gradient: young calcareous organic-poor soils to acidic/neutral soils with greater organic matter contents. Most measured hydrological and soil variables explained a significant proportion of observed variation in species composition when tested individually, with the exception of soil nitrate and soil calcium concentrations. Maximum water level was the key hydrological variable, and soil moisture and soil pH were the key soil variables. All hydrological and soil parameters together explained 22.5% of the total species variation. There were significant differences in hydrological and soil parameters between community types, with only 40cm difference in mean annual minimum water levels (averaged over 4years) separating the wettest and the driest dune slack communities. Therefore, predicted declines in water level exceeding 100cm by 2080 are likely to have a major impact on the vegetation of these priority conservation habitats.

Concepts: Soil, Hydrology, Aquifer, Potassium, Maxima and minima, Surface runoff, Sand, Level


Objectives: A wireless, inertial sensor-based system has previously been validated for evaluation of equine lameness. However, threshold values have not been determined for the assessment of responses to flexion tests. The aim of this investigation was to evaluate a sensor-based system for objective assessment of the response to flexion. Methods: Healthy adult horses (n = 17) in work were recruited prospectively. Horses were instrumented with sensors on the head (accelerometer), pelvis (accelerometer) and right forelimb (gyroscope), before trotting in a straight line (minimum 25 strides) for 2 consecutive trials. Sensors measured 1) vertical pelvic movement asymmetry (PMA) for both right and left hindlimb strides and 2) average difference in maximum and minimum pelvic height (PDMax and PDMin) between right and left hindlimb strides in millimetres. A hindlimb was randomly selected for proximal flexion (60 s), after which the horse trotted a minimum of 10 strides. Response to flexion was blindly assessed as negative or positive by an experienced observer. Changes in PMA, PDMax and PDMin between baseline and flexion examinations were calculated for each test. Statistical analysis consisted of a Pearson’s product moment test and linear regression on baseline trials, Mann-Whitney rank sum test for effect of flexion and receiver operator curve (ROC) analysis of test parameters. Results: There was a strong correlation between trials for PMA, PDMin and PDMax measurements (P<0.001). A positive flexion test resulted in a significant increase in PMA (P = 0.021) and PDMax (P = 0.05) only. Receiver-operator curve analysis established cut-off values for change in PMA and PDMax of 0.068 and 4.47 mm, respectively (sensitivity = 0.71, specificity = 0.65) to indicate a positive response to flexion. Conclusions: A positive response to flexion resulted in significant changes to objective measurements of pelvic symmetry. Potential relevance: Findings support the use of inertial sensor systems to objectively assess response to flexion tests. Further investigation is warranted to establish cut-off values for objective assessment of other diagnostic procedures.

Concepts: Statistics, Measurement, Type I and type II errors, Assessment, Psychometrics, Mann–Whitney U, Horse, Maxima and minima


Aquatic bryophytes, Hygrohypnum ochraceum, were deployed “in situ” at 14 sites in the Fountain Creek Watershed, spring and fall, 2007 to study selenium (Se) accumulation. Dissolved, total, and pore (sediment derived) water samples were collected and water quality parameters determined while plants were exposed to the water for 10 days. There was a trend showing plant tissue-Se uptake with distance downstream and we found a strong correlation between Se in the water with total hardness in both seasons. There was a modest association between Se-uptake in plants with hardness in the spring of 2007 but not the fall. Plants bioconcentrated Se from the water by a factor of 5.8 × 10(3) at Green Mountain Falls and 1.5 × 10(4) at Manitou Springs in the fall of 2007. Both are examples of the bioconcentration abilities of the plants, primarily in the upper reaches of the watershed where bioconcentration factors were highest. However, the mean minima and maxima of Se in the plants in each of the three watershed segments appeared similar during both seasons. We found direct relationships between the pore and dissolved Se in water in the spring (R (2) = 0.84) and fall (R (2) = 0.95) and dissolved Se and total hardness in the spring and fall (R (2) = 0.92). The data indicate that H. ochraceum was a suitable indicator of Se bioavailability and Se uptake in other trophic levels in the Fountain Creek Watershed based on a subsequent study of Se accumulation in fish tissues at all 14 sites.

Concepts: Plant, Water, Ecology, Maxima and minima, Bryophyte, Moss, Marchantiophyta, El Paso County, Colorado


The photocycloaddition reaction of benzene with ethylene has been studied at the CASSCF level, including the characterization of an extended conical intersection seam. We show that the chemical selectivity is, in part, controlled by this extended conical intersection seam and that the shape of the conical intersection seam can be understood in terms of simple VB arguments. Further, the shape and energetics of the asynchronous segment of the conical intersection seam suggest that 1,2 (ortho) and 1,3 (meta) will be the preferred chemical products with similar weight. The 1,4 (para) point on the conical intersection is higher in energy and corresponds to a local maximum on the seam. VB analysis shows that the pairs of VB structures along this asynchronous seam are the same and thus the shape will be determined mainly by steric effects. Synchronous structures on the seam are higher in energy and belong to a different branch of the seam separated by a saddle point on the seam. On S(1) we have documented three mechanistic pathways corresponding to transition states (with low barriers) between the reactants and the conical intersection seam: a mixed asynchronous/synchronous [1,2] ortho path, an asynchronous [1,3] meta path, and a synchronous [1,3] meta path.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Transition state, Metaphysics, Second derivative test, Critical point, Maxima and minima, Steric effects, Separated sets


A tragedy of the commons occurs when individuals take actions to maximize their payoffs even as their combined payoff is less than the global maximum had the players coordinated. The originating example is that of overgrazing of common pasture lands. In game-theoretic treatments of this example, there is rarely consideration of how individual behavior subsequently modifies the commons and associated payoffs. Here, we generalize evolutionary game theory by proposing a class of replicator dynamics with feedback-evolving games in which environment-dependent payoffs and strategies coevolve. We initially apply our formulation to a system in which the payoffs favor unilateral defection and cooperation, given replete and depleted environments, respectively. Using this approach, we identify and characterize a class of dynamics: an oscillatory tragedy of the commons in which the system cycles between deplete and replete environmental states and cooperation and defection behavior states. We generalize the approach to consider outcomes given all possible rational choices of individual behavior in the depleted state when defection is favored in the replete state. In so doing, we find that incentivizing cooperation when others defect in the depleted state is necessary to avert the tragedy of the commons. In closing, we propose directions for the study of control and influence in games in which individual actions exert a substantive effect on the environmental state.

Concepts: Game theory, Maxima and minima, Evolutionarily stable strategy, Evolutionary game theory, Evolution and the Theory of Games, Evolutionary dynamics, Replicator equation