August 9, 2013
An Effective Vaccine For Malaria – The Daily Orbit
The making of a malaria vaccine.
Where did the Magellanic Stream come from? Hint it’s Magellanic.
Researchers feeling fishy about fish and pain.
And thumbs up for today’s Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
Well, I’m 100% happy about this one! A team of scientists has for the first time developed a vaccine for malaria that was 100% effective in a small clinical trial. The vaccine is called PfSPZ and is composed of a weakened species of the deadliest of malaria-borne parasites. By injecting these weak parasites into the body, patients can build up immunity to malaria without the risk of disease. Researchers say the next step is to perform a larger clinical trial in Africa. They hope to have the vaccine ready for the market in four years. I still have hard time of thinking about a living bug going into my system willfully.
And the origins of the Magellanic Stream have puzzled astronomers for decades. This ribbon of gas connects the two dwarf galaxies that orbit our Milky Way—the small and large Magellanic Clouds. Using Hubble’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, astronomers were able to match the chemical composition of the stream with the Small Magellanic Cloud—suggesting it was ripped from this galaxy billions of years ago, which is what they had predicted. In a twist, they also found heavier elements in the stream, which are present only in the Large Magellanic Cloud, so part of the stream must have been ripped from that galaxy as well. Scientists attribute it to a gravitational tug-of-war between the two galaxies. They say studying the Magellanic Stream is important because it may eventually fall onto our own galaxy and spark new star formation.
Do fish feel pain? If they do I’m going to feel really bad because they’re so delicious. The answer—not really, or not in the way humans do anyway. A new study was spawned in response to Germany’s revised animal protection act that says that fish are sentient vertebrates who must be protected from cruel acts performed by humans. Consequences for cruel acts include stiff fines or prison. Researchers now believe that fish do not feel pain in the same way as humans, due to the fact that they do not have a neocortex—the part of the brain that consciously processes pain. And most fish possess little to none of the receptors needed to send pain signals to the brain. They do say that bony fish possess simple receptors that show a reaction to injuries but they don’t know if this is perceived as pain. Safe bet, just be gentle with the fish.
Tend to jump on the bandwagon? Don’t feel bad. New research shows that the majority of us do and that’s why you can’t necessarily trust online ratings. It’s called the “herd effect” and researchers say it skews the online rating system. It’s where people end up liking something that is already well liked by others. On the flip side, negative ratings don’t follow the same trend. So the take away? Don’t be fooled by high ratings.
Ok, I’m not sure about this one. A new study says that there is no link between cell phone use while driving and an increase in accidents. A research team took data from a major cell phone company and accident reports during a period when users had free calling after 9:00 pm. They said that increased phone use during that time did not correspond to crash rates. Obviously, this contradicts a string of studies including one that found that cell phone use while driving increased crash risk by a factor of 4.3—equivalent to drunk driving. But the team with the new study said they feel that drivers may compensate for the distraction of cell phone use by picking the best time to make a call or driving more cautiously. Yeah… I’m pretty sure I should stay off my phone while driving.
And that’s it for the Daily Orbit! Have a great weekend!