SciCombinator

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

838

The biology of the blue whale has long fascinated physiologists because of the animal’s extreme size. Despite high energetic demands from a large body, low mass-specific metabolic rates are likely powered by low heart rates. Diving bradycardia should slow blood oxygen depletion and enhance dive time available for foraging at depth. However, blue whales exhibit a high-cost feeding mechanism, lunge feeding, whereby large volumes of prey-laden water are intermittently engulfed and filtered during dives. This paradox of such a large, slowly beating heart and the high cost of lunge feeding represents a unique test of our understanding of cardiac function, hemodynamics, and physiological limits to body size. Here, we used an electrocardiogram (ECG)-depth recorder tag to measure blue whale heart rates during foraging dives as deep as 184 m and as long as 16.5 min. Heart rates during dives were typically 4 to 8 beats min-1 (bpm) and as low as 2 bpm, while after-dive surface heart rates were 25 to 37 bpm, near the estimated maximum heart rate possible. Despite extreme bradycardia, we recorded a 2.5-fold increase above diving heart rate minima during the powered ascent phase of feeding lunges followed by a gradual decrease of heart rate during the prolonged glide as engulfed water is filtered. These heart rate dynamics explain the unique hemodynamic design in rorqual whales consisting of a large-diameter, highly compliant, elastic aortic arch that allows the aorta to accommodate blood ejected by the heart and maintain blood flow during the long and variable pauses between heartbeats.

636

Since 2010 the People’s Republic of China has been engaged in an effort to reform its system of organ transplantation by developing a voluntary organ donation and allocation infrastructure. This has required a shift in the procurement of organs sourced from China’s prison and security apparatus to hospital-based voluntary donors declared dead by neurological and/or circulatory criteria. Chinese officials announced that from January 1, 2015, hospital-based donors would be the sole source of organs. This paper examines the availability, transparency, integrity, and consistency of China’s official transplant data.

544

Maladaptive reward memories (MRMs) are involved in the development and maintenance of acquired overconsumption disorders, such as harmful alcohol and drug use. The process of memory reconsolidation - where stored memories become briefly labile upon retrieval - may offer a means to disrupt MRMs and prevent relapse. However, reliable means for pharmacologically weakening MRMs in humans remain elusive. Here we demonstrate that the N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist ketamine is able to disrupt MRMs in hazardous drinkers when administered immediately after their retrieval. MRM retrieval + ketamine (RET + KET) effectively reduced the reinforcing effects of alcohol and long-term drinking levels, compared to ketamine or retrieval alone. Blood concentrations of ketamine and its metabolites during the critical ‘reconsolidation window’ predicted beneficial changes only following MRM reactivation. Pharmacological reconsolidation interference may provide a means to rapidly rewrite maladaptive memory and should be further pursued in alcohol and drug use disorders.

543

The legendary river Saraswati of Indian mythology has often been hypothesized to be an ancient perennial channel of the seasonal river Ghaggar that flowed through the heartland of the Bronze Age Harappan civilization in north-western India. Despite the discovery of abundant settlements along a major paleo-channel of the Ghaggar, many believed that the Harappans depended solely on monsoonal rains, because no proof existed for the river’s uninterrupted flow during the zenith of the civilization. Here, we present unequivocal evidence for the Ghaggar’s perennial past by studying temporal changes of sediment provenance along a 300 km stretch of the river basin. This is achieved using 40Ar/39Ar ages of detrital muscovite and Sr-Nd isotopic ratios of siliciclastic sediment in fluvial sequences, dated by radiocarbon and luminescence methods. We establish that during 80-20 ka and 9-4.5 ka the river was perennial and was receiving sediments from the Higher and Lesser Himalayas. The latter phase can be attributed to the reactivation of the river by the distributaries of the Sutlej. This revived perennial condition of the Ghaggar, which can be correlated with the Saraswati, likely facilitated development of the early Harappan settlements along its banks. The timing of the eventual decline of the river, which led to the collapse of the civilization, approximately coincides with the commencement of the Meghalayan Stage.

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491

CDC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and multiple public health and clinical partners are investigating a national outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI). Based on data collected as of October 15, 2019, 86% of 867 EVALI patients reported using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products in the 3 months preceding symptom onset (1). Analyses of THC-containing product samples by FDA and state public health laboratories have identified potentially harmful constituents in these products, such as vitamin E acetate, medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil), and other lipids (2,3) (personal communication, D.T. Heitkemper, FDA Forensic Chemistry Center, November 2019). Vitamin E acetate, in particular, might be used as an additive in the production of e-cigarette, or vaping, products; it also can be used as a thickening agent in THC products (4). Inhalation of vitamin E acetate might impair lung function (5-7).

466

We examined the long-term impact of coauthorship with established, highly-cited scientists on the careers of junior researchers in four scientific disciplines. Here, using matched pair analysis, we find that junior researchers who coauthor work with top scientists enjoy a persistent competitive advantage throughout the rest of their careers, compared to peers with similar early career profiles but without top coauthors. Such early coauthorship predicts a higher probability of repeatedly coauthoring work with top-cited scientists, and, ultimately, a higher probability of becoming one. Junior researchers affiliated with less prestigious institutions show the most benefits from coauthorship with a top scientist. As a consequence, we argue that such institutions may hold vast amounts of untapped potential, which may be realised by improving access to top scientists.

429

Intact tropical forests, free from substantial anthropogenic influence, store and sequester large amounts of atmospheric carbon but are currently neglected in international climate policy. We show that between 2000 and 2013, direct clearance of intact tropical forest areas accounted for 3.2% of gross carbon emissions from all deforestation across the pantropics. However, full carbon accounting requires the consideration of forgone carbon sequestration, selective logging, edge effects, and defaunation. When these factors were considered, the net carbon impact resulting from intact tropical forest loss between 2000 and 2013 increased by a factor of 6 (626%), from 0.34 (0.37 to 0.21) to 2.12 (2.85 to 1.00) petagrams of carbon (equivalent to approximately 2 years of global land use change emissions). The climate mitigation value of conserving the 549 million ha of tropical forest that remains intact is therefore significant but will soon dwindle if their rate of loss continues to accelerate.

427

The human brain undergoes significant functional and structural changes in the first decades of life, as the foundations for human cognition are laid down. However, non-invasive imaging techniques to investigate brain function throughout neurodevelopment are limited due to growth in head-size with age and substantial head movement in young participants. Experimental designs to probe brain function are also limited by the unnatural environment typical brain imaging systems impose. However, developments in quantum technology allowed fabrication of a new generation of wearable magnetoencephalography (MEG) technology with the potential to revolutionise electrophysiological measures of brain activity. Here we demonstrate a lifespan-compliant MEG system, showing recordings of high fidelity data in toddlers, young children, teenagers and adults. We show how this system can support new types of experimental paradigm involving naturalistic learning. This work reveals a new approach to functional imaging, providing a robust platform for investigation of neurodevelopment in health and disease.

345

There is widespread concern that Russia and other countries have launched social-media campaigns designed to increase political divisions in the United States. Though a growing number of studies analyze the strategy of such campaigns, it is not yet known how these efforts shaped the political attitudes and behaviors of Americans. We study this question using longitudinal data that describe the attitudes and online behaviors of 1,239 Republican and Democratic Twitter users from late 2017 merged with nonpublic data about the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) from Twitter. Using Bayesian regression tree models, we find no evidence that interaction with IRA accounts substantially impacted 6 distinctive measures of political attitudes and behaviors over a 1-mo period. We also find that interaction with IRA accounts were most common among respondents with strong ideological homophily within their Twitter network, high interest in politics, and high frequency of Twitter usage. Together, these findings suggest that Russian trolls might have failed to sow discord because they mostly interacted with those who were already highly polarized. We conclude by discussing several important limitations of our study-especially our inability to determine whether IRA accounts influenced the 2016 presidential election-as well as its implications for future research on social media influence campaigns, political polarization, and computational social science.