See on Scoop.it - The future of medicine and health
Corrinne Burns: With purported activity against cardiac disease, cancer and even ageing, the pressure on resveratrol to deliver is enormous
In an increasingly chemophobic world, one chemical – resveratrol – is doing rather well for itself. This polyphenolic stilbenoid is a natural product found in peanuts, cocoa powder and the roots of Japanese knotweed, but it only came to public prominence as the health-promoting component of red wine, in which it is present at levels of up to 14 milligrams per litre, depending on the grape variety.
As molecules go, it is certainly a multitasker, with purported activity against cardiac disease, obesity, cancer, vascular dementia and ageing. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one molecule. Can resveratrol live up to our expectations?
Many of these claims centre upon its ability to reduce oxidation in cells: its fabled antioxidant activity. All molecules, including biological ones, carry around their own cloud of electrons. These are most stable when they exist in pairs. Sometimes, though, electron pairs split. Then you’re left with an unpaired electron – and unpaired electrons like nothing more than to mess with other biological molecules.
Left unchecked, molecules carrying unpaired electrons can trigger cascades of damage to other molecules in our cells. Resveratrol is thought to interrupt those destructive cascades by transferring electrons and hydrogen atoms between itself and troublesome, lone-electron-carrying molecules.
Resveratrol can do much more than that, though. It encourages the production of endothelial nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels. Researchers have demonstrated that this ability to open up blood vessels means resveratrol can protect against hypertension – at least in rats and mice. It is also an anti-inflammatory, disrupting the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which is crucial to the production of inflammatory prostaglandins.
See on theguardian.com
The novelist William Golding suggested to James Lovelock that he name his now-famous hypothesis after the Greek goddess of the Earth, Gaia. It was a good fit: Lovelock believed that the living and inanimate parts of the Earth formed a single, interacting, and self-regulating system. Lovelock’s work grew, in part, out of research he had done for NASA, and published in a 1965 Nature paper, about the signs of life we might look for on other planets. Forty-six years later, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope discovered the planet Kepler-22b. It was one of the first planets outside of our solar system confirmed orbiting a sun-like star at a distance that would allow for liquid water to exist on its surface. The availability of liquid water, which is essential to every form of life that we know of, would raise the chances that the planet harbors life. Also, Kepler-22b’s estimated density suggests that it may be composed of rock, which means it might be able to reproduce conditions similar to those found on Earth. Now, scientists are beginning to understand the importance of another characteristic of any planet likely to support life, and it is one that fits squarely into Lovelock’s view of Earth as a dynamic participant rather than a passive backdrop: an active system of drifting continents, otherwise known as plate tectonics. On the face of it, the connection between life, with its relatively brief cycles and dizzying complexity, and plate tectonics, with its much slower cycles and ostensibly simpler interactions, appears tenuous. But on Earth, at least, that connection is direct and deep.
Losing, not violent content, triggers video game rage
University of Rochester -> Original Study
Hostile behavior on the part of video gamers may be due to feelings of failure and frustration during play, rather than a game’s violent content. A new study is the first to look at the player’s psychological experience with video games instead of focusing solely on the game’s content. Failure to master a game and its controls can lead to frustration and aggression, regardless of whether the game is violent or not, researchers say. “Any player who has thrown down a remote control after losing an electronic game can relate to the intense feelings or anger failure can cause,” says lead author Andrew Przybylski, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University. That frustration is commonly known among gamers as “rage-quitting.” The experience is not unique to gaming, says coauthor Richard Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the University of Rochester. For example, in sports, players may lose a game as a result of a bad call. “When people feel they have no control over the outcome of a game, that leads to aggression,” he says. “We saw that in our experiments. If you press someone’s competencies, they’ll become more aggressive, and our effects held up whether the games were violent or not.” To tease out which aspects of the gaming experience lead to aggressive feelings, the researchers manipulated the interface, controls, and degree of difficulty in custom-designed video games across six lab experiments. Nearly 600 college-aged participants were tasked with playing the games—many of which included violent and nonviolent variations—and then were tested for aggressive thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. (via Losing, not violent content, triggers video game rage | Futurity)