8 Research Articles to Read This Month

8 Research Articles to Read This Month

If your New Year’s resolution was to read more this year, we have you covered! Check out this round-up of 8 awesome research related articles.

Should Hyping Edible Bugs Focus On The Experience Instead Of The Environment?
By Berly McCoy

Science has already proven that insects are a sustainable source of protein that could become critical as we face growing populations and climate change. However, any mention of snacking on bugs still tends to send Americans into a tizzy. This article dives into how we can reframe our approach to talking about eating insects to make it more appealing to the general public. For example, maybe we need to develop recipes that disguise insects and make them unrecognizable. Another approach is to treat insects as the next gourmet, hype food, kind of like the avocado is now, and use that approach to bring this nutritional ingredient into the public eye. Overall, this article shares some great perspectives on reducing the stigma around this protein source.

DNA Design That Anyone Can Do
Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This recently published study outlines the features of a computer program that can “translate a free-form 2-D drawing into a DNA structure.” This makes a previously complicated and often unattainable process available to a much larger group of people and will be useful in many areas including cell biology, photonics, and quantum sensing and computing. As Bathe, one of the researchers who worked on the study explains, "The fact that we can design and fabricate these in a very simple way helps to solve a major bottleneck in our field. Now the field can transition toward much broader groups of people in industry and academia being able to functionalize DNA structures and deploy them for diverse applications."

Wireless 'pacemaker for the brain' could offer new treatment for neurological disorders
Source: University of California - Berkeley

This new, proposed medical device would be able to “listen to and stimulate electric current in the brain at the same time, potentially delivering fine-tuned treatments to patients with diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson's.” This type of technology could be a major breakthrough in treating conditions that are not well managed by medication alone and can help hundreds of thousands of patients. As research continues on this device, we hope to see it become a widely available option for treatment.

How Worm Blobs Behave Like a Liquid and a Solid
By: Susan Milius

We all remember the elementary school lesson during which teachers explained that water can be a liquid at room temperature, freeze into a solid, and vaporize into a gas at high temperatures. However, what we did not learn about was a substance that could be both a liquid and a solid at the same time. This is what researchers have found while studying California blackworms. On their own, each worm is a solid, but they travel together in a blob that has qualities of both a liquid and a solid. The mass holds together like a solid, but flows through tubes like a liquid. Check out the article to read more about the science behind these unique creatures.

Why Millions Of Kids Can't Read, And What Better Teaching Can Do About It
By: Emily Hanford

The National Assessment of Educational Progress found that 32% of fourth-graders and 24% of eighth-graders aren't reading at a basic level. This study found that a major problem stems from the fact that teachers instruct students to rely heavily on context, like pictures, to learn to read. This of course leads to the question, “What happens when there aren’t any pictures?” Luckily, the article proposes a solution, a focus on reading science which highlights some of the “why” behind why kids do or do not successfully learn to read. Check out the article for more about this approach and to read about results of its implementation.

‘Little Foot’ Skeleton Reveals a Brain Much Like a Chimp’s
By: Bruce Power

This article focuses on an ancient, female skeleton that is approximately 3.67 million years old and that has become known as Little Foot. Studies of Little Foot have found that she had a brain that is very similar to that of today’s chimpanzees and an inner-ear with qualities that are both like those of apes and humans. This finding suggests a gradual evolution of traits in species that are close to humans. Check out the article for more details about this discovery and some cool photos of the skeleton.

Poison Toilet Paper Reveals How Termites Help Rainforests Resist Drought
By: Ao-hua Law

A recent study found that, “forests with more termites show more soil moisture, leaf litter decomposition and seedling survival during a drought than forests with fewer termites.” Termites are the underrated heroes of the forest, they have important impacts on the ecosystem that have often gone unnoticed. The researchers used poisoned toilet paper, an appealing snack to termites, to reduce populations in order to conduct a comparison. The article shares more interesting details about the study and its findings.

Could Exercising In Frigid Temperatures Make Us Healthier?
By: Paul Chisholm

Depending on where you live (I am writing from Boston) you too may be experiencing frigid winter temperatures, well several researchers recently examined varying claims about working out in the cold. For example, they took a look at the claim that it burns more calories and that it improves your immune system. However, all of the studies found little or no evidence that working out in the cold has more positive impacts than working out in a warm room aka it’s time for us all of us northerners to move to Florida!

We hope you enjoyed this collection of awesome articles. Have you read an interesting article about research this month? Share it with us on Twitter, @conserisapp.