April 19, 2021
Panera a fast-casual food chain with over 2,000 U.S. locations, has announced that the entry window is open for the “Panera Earth Day Sweepstakes—which will award 30 lucky winners with a customized bicycle that’s equipped with an insulated bread bowl basket and bike flashlight upfront, Fox News reports.
“We’re celebrating #EarthMonth with a *limited-edition* Bread Bowl Bike!” The Panera Bread Twitter account wrote in an announcement post on Wednesday, April 14.”With the global bike shortage, now’s the time to enter for a chance to win.”
According to Panera’s sweepstake terms, entries will be accepted until the last minute of Earth Day, which is Thursday, April 22, at 11:59 (EDT). Participants can enter their contact information for a chance to win on the company’s dedicated Earth Day website.
Eligible winners must be U.S. residents and at least 18 years old. Florida residents are excluded from the sweepstakes due to scheduling conflicts with the giveaway’s pre-determined timeline, a media representative for Panera told Fox News.
“During Earth Month, there is often a call to switch to transportation like riding your bike, but due to demand for bikes from COVID shut downs (people wanting to be outside more), bike shortages will likely last until 2022,” a statement from Panera Bread reads. “Unfortunately, that means this year you might see less bikes on the road. But Panera wants help you do your part.”
Panera says the total approximate retail value of the soon-to-be awarded bikes is $33,000, which puts each bike at a retail value of $1,100.
The starting cost of a custom Vivelo bicycle is $849, according to the bike manufacturer’s website.
The bike offering comes five months after Panera introduced climate-friendly menu options, which are denoted with “Cool Food Meal” badges.
Research contact: @FoxNews
April 16, 2021
In the hours after we die, certain cells in the human brain are still active. Some cells even increase their activity and grow to gargantuan proportions, based on new research from the University of Illinois Chicago.
For the study—which has been published in the journal, Scientific Reports—the UIC researchers analyzed gene expression in fresh brain tissue (collected during routine brain surgery) multiple times after removal to simulate the post-mortem interval and death. They found that gene expression in some cells actually increased after death.
The “zombie genes”—those that increased expression after the post-mortem interval— were specific to one type of cell: inflammatory cells called glial cellsm according to a report on the study by Science Daily. The researchers observed that glial cells grow and sprout long arm-like appendages for many hours after death.
“That glial cells enlarge after death isn’t too surprising given that they are inflammatory; and their job is to clean things up after brain injuries like oxygen deprivation or stroke,” said Dr. Jeffrey Loeb, the John S. Garvin Professor and head of Neurology and Rehabilitation at the UIC College of Medicine and corresponding author on the paper.
What’s significant, Loeb said, is the implications of this discovery: Most research studies that use postmortem human brain tissues to find treatments and potential cures for disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease, do not account for the post-mortem gene expression or cell activity.
“Most studies assume that everything in the brain stops when the heart stops beating, but this is not so,” Loeb said. “Our findings will be needed to interpret research on human brain tissues. We just haven’t quantified these changes until now.”
Loeb and his team noticed that the global pattern of gene expression in fresh human brain tissue didn’t match any of the published reports of postmortem brain gene expression from people without neurological disorders or from people with a wide variety of neurological disorders, ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s.
“We decided to run a simulated death experiment by looking at the expression of all human genes, at time points from 0 to 24 hours, from a large block of recently collected brain tissues, which were allowed to sit at room temperature to replicate the postmortem interval,” Loeb said.
Loeb and colleagues are at a particular advantage when it comes to studying brain tissue. Loeb is director of the UI NeuroRepository, a bank of human brain tissues from patients with neurological disorders who have consented to having tissue collected and stored for research either after they die, or during standard of care surgery to treat disorders such as epilepsy. For example, during certain surgeries to treat epilepsy, epileptic brain tissue is removed to help eliminate seizures. Not all of the tissue is needed for pathological diagnosis, so some can be used for research. This is the tissue that Loeb and colleagues analyzed in their research.
They found that about 80% of the genes analyzed remained relatively stable for 24 hours. Their expression didn’t change much. These included genes often referred to as housekeeping genes that provide basic cellular functions and are commonly used in research studies to show the quality of the tissue. Another group of genes, known to be present in neurons and shown to be intricately involved in human brain activity such as memory, thinking,and seizure activity, rapidly degraded in the hours after death. These genes are important to researchers studying disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, Loeb said.
A third group of genes—the “zombie genes”—increased their activity at the same time the neuronal genes were ramping down. The pattern of post-mortem changes peaked at about 12 hours.
“Our findings don’t mean that we should throw away human tissue research programs, it just means that researchers need to take into account these genetic and cellular changes, and reduce the post-mortem interval as much as possible to reduce the magnitude of these changes,” Loeb said. “The good news from our findings is that we now know which genes and cell types are stable, which degrade, and which increase over time so that results from postmortem brain studies can be better understood.”
Research contact: @ScienceDaily
April 15, 2021
The Bachelor’s Colton Underwood—who was a contestant on the 14th season of The Bachelorette and was the lead on the 23rd season of The Bachelor—has come out as gay during a high-profile television interview, Bustle reports.
On Wednesday, April 14, the Season 23 lead spoke openly about his sexuality on Good Morning America, explaining to Robin Roberts that the challenges of this past year helped him figure out who he is.
“Obviously this year has been a lot for a lot of people and it’s probably made a lot of people look themselves in the mirror and figure out who they are and what they’ve been running from or what they’ve been putting off in their lives,” the 29-year-old former professional football player said. “For me, I’ve run from myself for a long time and I’ve hated myself for a long time. I’m
The former Bachelor explained that he finally “came to terms” with his sexuality earlier this year and has been taking time to process it. “The next step in all of this has been letting people know,” he said. “I’m still nervous.” However, despite feeling anxious about telling the world, Underwood is looking forward to embracing who he really is rather than hiding it. “I’m emotional, but I’m emotional in such a good, happy, positive way,” he continued. “I’m like the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my life and that means the world to me.”
In true Bachelor fashion, Underwood described coming out as “a journey,” and certainly not an easy one. “I would have rather died than said, ‘I’m gay,’ and I think that was my wake-up call,” he explained. The Season 23 star also said that, at one point, he struggled with suicidal thoughts. “There was a moment in L.A. that I woke up and I didn’t think I was going to wake up. I didn’t have the intentions of waking up. And I did,” he said. “And for me, I think that was my wake-up call of, ‘This is your life. Take back control. I don’t feel that anymore.”
In response to his interview, executive producers from The Bachelor franchise issued a supportive statement, Bustle says: “We are so inspired by Colton Underwood’s courage to embrace and pursue his authentic self,” they wrote. “As firm believers in the power of love, we celebrate Colton’s journey in the LGBTQIA+ community every step of the way.”
Even with the support from the franchise, however, the athlete acknowledged that he had a few apologies to make, particularly to the women on his season. “Do I regret being the Bachelor and do I regret handling it the way I did? I do,” he admitted. “I do think I could have handled it better. I just wish I wouldn’t have dragged people into my own mess of figuring out who I was, I genuinely mean that.”
In his coming out interview, Underwood also issued a direct apology to 25-year-old Cassie Randolph,with whom he ended The Bachelor season “in a committed relationship.” After admitting that he “messed up” and “made a lot of bad choices,” the reality star said that he truly loved his ex. “I loved everything about her. And that only made it harder and more confusing for me,” he said. “I’m sorry for the pain and emotional stress I caused. I wish it wouldn’t have happened the way it did. I wish that I would have been courageous enough to fix myself before I broke anybody else.”
While this interview marks the first time that Underwood has openly identified as gay, it’s not the first time that he has discussed his sexuality publicly. While promoting his memoir, First Time: Finding Myself and Looking for Love on Reality TV, in March 2020, he told Us Weekly that the hardest thing to write about was “getting called gay” in school. “The reason I say that is because it came back up when I was the Bachelor,” he added, explaining that people jumped to that conclusion because he was a virgin. “I understand why people might think that, but it was also a challenge of mine in grade school and in high school. I think I moved past it now.”
Research contact: @bustle
April 14, 2021
Half a million high school students learned a hard lesson about the ins and outs of college acceptance earlier this year.
As the story goes, a month ago, the University of Kentucky emailed acceptance letters to 500,000 high-school seniors, only to quickly dash their dreams of becoming a Wildcat. As a follow-up email explained, the vast majority of the messages were sent in error, New York Magazine’s Intelligencer reports.
The students originally received an email on March 15 that read, “We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the selective Clinical and Management program in the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences for the Fall 2021,” according to LEX 18, Lexington’s local NBC network affiliate.
Within 24 hours, the students had an apology email from the university that cited a “technical issue” as the cause of the mix-up.
“Only a handful of those on the prospect list had been admitted to UK. The vast majority had not—nor had the vast majority of these students expressed an interest in the program,” University of Kentucky spokesman Jay Blanton said in an interview with LEX 18. “Nevertheless, we regret the communication error and have sent correspondence to all those who were contacted, offering our apologies.”
As for why people received acceptance emails for a program they never applied to, Blanton said, “The student could have indicated [that he or she was] interested in UK at some point or they may have sent an application. There are a number of ways we would have their contact information.”
Research contact: @intelligencer
April 13, 2021
The return of the Hawaiian shirt has been celebrated in the style press, as celebrities—among them, Bill Murray, Rihanna, and Sophie Turner—have been sporting them recently, The Guardian reports.
“They are the fashion equivalent of a plantation wedding,” Anishanslin told The Guardian, adding, “They could be seen as fashionable embodiments of the history of American colonization, imperialism and racism against Hawaii’s indigenous inhabitants. People might want to think twice about whether the look is worth the weight of its associative past.”
What’s more, Hawaiian shirts have also been co-opted by the “Boogaloo” movement—white supremacists who advocate war against the federal government.
Initially made from leftover cloth intended for kimonos, the shirts were popularized by American veterans of the second world war. Soon Japanese motifs were replaced by Hawaiian ones and a cultural touchstone was born.
About five years ago, Hawaiian shirts became part of the “dadcore” trend. Then the “Boogaloo” movement chose to combine them with camouflage trousers, body armor and weapons.
Last year, Reece Jones of the University of Hawaii wrote about how the brightly colored shirts came to represent something much darker.
“I know this seems like a joke and easy to dismiss,” he wrote, “but that is part of [the Boogaloo Bois’] strategy, to lure in young men and downplay what they are talking about. It is deadly serious. These men are preparing for a civil war.”
Anishanslin thinks the fashion industry needs to think about how such shirts have been co-opted.
“I do think fashion houses and individual designers and sellers should speak out about people using fashion for politics that encourage violence or racism,” she said.
Research contact: @guardian
April 12, 2021
If you could choose your doctor, would you prefer youth or experience? You might pick the fresh-faced physician, if you consider that patients in hospital settings are more likely to die when treated by doctors who are at least 60 years old, according to a recent study.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School wanted to know how well physicians perform as they age. They looked at the records of 730,000 Medicare patients treated between 2011 and 2014 by more than 18,800 hospital-based internists (hospitalists), Study Finds reports.
Perhaps all that experience isn’t so great after all. Patient deaths rose gradually as physicians aged, but the biggest gap—1.3 percentage points—showed up between hospitalists 40 and younger, and those 60 and older. This means one additional death for every 77 patients admitted by a doctor who is 60 or older versus a doctor who is 40 or younger.
Study senior investigator Anupam Jena, an associate professor of Health Care Policy at the university and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, says this outcome raises some serious concerns.
“It is comparable to the difference in death rates observed between patients at high risk for heart disease who are treated with proper heart medications and those who receive none,” she explains in a Harvard Medical School release.
There is a bright spot, however, in all this aging gloom and doom, according to Study Finds: When physicians carry heavy caseloads, physician age is not a factor in patient mortality. Researchers believe that caring for large numbers of patients keeps a doctor’s skill set strong.
Older doctors may have knowledge that can only be gained by experience, but they cannot just rest on their laurels. They have to keep up with the rapid changes that come with new research and technology.
“The results of our study suggest the critical importance of continuing medical education throughout a doctor’s entire career, regardless of age and experience,” Jena says.
Researchers say this study is too limited to draw any final conclusions about how older physicians perform on the job. They would like to look into what else might be influencing the higher mortality rates in patients cared for by older doctors.
Research contact: @StudyFinds
April 9, 2021
While infants may seem out of the loop until they starting speaking, researchers at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland say that babies are capable of recognizing word combinations and phrases long before they ever utter their first word.
Indeed, according to Study Finds, their recent research—conducted with some support from academics at Hebrew University of Jerusalem— has revealed that 11- to 12-month-old infants, who are on the verge of speaking, already are processing and understanding various “multi-word phrases” such as “clap your hands.”
This is a breakthrough—representing the first time that investigators have demonstrated that young infants are capable of recognizing and understanding conversations before they begin speaking, themselves. Moreover, this work disputes the long-held belief that babies generally learn languages by first understanding individual words and moving on to sentences. This new study suggests babies learn words and phrases simultaneously.
“Previous research has shown that young infants recognize many common words. But this is the first study that shows that infants extract and store more than just single words from everyday speech. This suggests that when children learn language, they build on linguistic units of varying sizes, including multiword sequences, and not just single words as we often assume,” says Dr. Barbara Skarabela from the School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Languages Sciences, in a university release.
What’s more, Study Finds reports, the researchers also say these findings may provide an explanation as to why adults have so much trouble becoming bilingual.
“This may explain why adults learning a second language, who tend to rely on individual words, often fall short of reaching native-like proficiency in the way they string words together into phrases and sentences,” Dr. Skarabela adds.
Researchers studied 36 babies during this project, via a series of “attention tests” featuring recorded audio from adults. Study authors watched closely as the babies listened to the recordings and looked out for any signs of understanding or acknowledgment. All of the recorded phrases only featured three words and many were consistent with a typical “conversation” between infants and adults.
The team then assessed infant responses and compared them using a method called central fixation. This approach allowed researchers to measure the babies’ looks and eye glances in response to the recordings. Using this strategy, they successfully determined when a baby recognized a familiar phrase like “clap your hands” in comparison to a sentence they had likely never heard before—such as “take your hands.”
Research contact: StudyFinds
April 8, 2021
Britain’s dogs have put on an average of seven pounds each since the start of the pandemic, reports SWNS Digital—and a survey of 1,500 owners revealed the obvious: They are to blame.
The survey found that 33% believe their pets’ lockdown lard is due to them dipping into the treat tin more often while home working. It’s a problem that both owner and pet(s) share, with nearly half (49%) of home workers admitting that their own snacking has increased during the pandemic.
Reasons for giving extra pet treats include trying to keep pets quiet during important conferencing calls (12%) and to curb incessant barking when home deliveries arrive (11%).
Nearly a quarter put extra snacking down the fact they are spending more time with their dogs (23%), whereas one in five (20%) just can’t resist those puppy eyes
The research—commissioned by Guide Dogs ahead of its annual Walk Your Socks Off fundraising challenge—shows that, when it comes to doggy exercise, 24% aren’t totally sure of how much exercise their fur baby needs each day.
A full 25% also admit to taking their dogs on fewer walks, thanks to longer working hours and a lack of routine at home. What’s more, another 8% say they used to rely on a professional dog walker to get the mileage in when they were working from the office; and 25% blamed a fear of their dog being stolen for taking their pet out less during COVID.
With an estimated 10.1 million pet dog owners in the UK, this adds up to a whopping 73 million pounds of extra weight, equivalent to 100 Boeing 747 jumbo jets, across the nation, SWNS Digital reports.
Dr. Helen Whiteside, head of research at Guide Dogs, said: “Our research has shown that lockdown has had a significant impact on many dogs’ health and wellbeing.
“And while a little weight gain is not the end of the world, it is important that owners address it as soon as possible, to prevent medical issues like heart disease, diabetes, and joint problems later down the line.”
Whiteside adds, “A healthier dog is a happier dog, so owners should prioritize daily walks, consider healthy treat swaps, and check their [dog’s] weight on a regular basis.”
The Walk Your Socks Off challenge takes place throughout May. To register, visit: https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/walk-your-socks-off/.
Research contact: @SWNS
April 7, 2021
Losing a parent at any age is a devastating experience. However, when a young child experiences such a major disruption of his or her loving support system, his or her entire future may be put in jeopardy—and that has become one of the harshest realities of the coronavirus pandemic.
Indeed, researchers at Penn State estimate that nearly 40,000 American children have lost at least one parent to COVID-19, Study Finds reports. According to their statistical models, every 13th COVID death in the United States costs a child his or her parent.
And without immediate assistance, many youngsters (some now orphans) are at high risk for prolonged grief and depression, lower educational achievement, and economic insecurity. Even worse, Researcher Ashton Verdery adds that the risk of accidental death or suicide can also rise without proper parental supervision.
“When we think of COVID-19 mortality, much of the conversation focuses on the fact that older adults are the populations at greatest risk. About 81% of deaths have been among those ages 65 and older according to the CDC,” says Verdery, an associate professor of Sociology, Demography, and Social Data Analytics, in a university release.
“However, that leaves 19% of deaths among those under 65—15% of deaths are among those in their 50s and early 60s; and 3% are among those in their 40s. In these younger age groups, substantial numbers of people have children, for whom the loss of a parent is a potentially devastating challenge,” he recently told Study Finds.
The study finds parental death is especially impacting Black families. Researchers estimate that 20% of the children losing parents to COVID are African American. This comes even though Black children only make up about 14% of all youths in the U.S.
Study authors also predict that, in all, the pandemic will send the number of parental bereavement cases soaring by 18% to 20%. This will continue to strain a system the team says already has problems when it comes to connecting eligible children with proper government resources.
“I think the first thing we need to do is to proactively connect all children to the available supports they are entitled to, like Social Security child survivor benefits — research shows only about half of eligible children are connected to these programs in normal circumstances, but that those who do fare much better,” Verdery concludes. “We should also consider expanding eligibility to these resources. Second, a national effort to identify and provide counseling and related resources to all children who lose a parent is vital.”
The study appears in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Research contact: @StudyFinds
April 6, 2021
Summery corncob soup, ‘plantcakes’ made with broccoli and carrot greens, and corn husk smoked chicken with fried corn silk are just a few of the inventive recipes in Ikea’s “The Scraps Book”—a cookbook dedicated to food preparation with the little things we usually throw away, The Chicago Tribune reports.
The Swedish home design brand collaborated with ten renowned chefs to address food waste and to show how easy it is to use food scraps like kale stems, banana peels and spent coffee grounds to create show-stopping meals. The beautifully designed ebook is full of stunning food photos of the 50 easy-to-follow recipes, along with tips like how to build your own backyard compost.
According to a Food and Drug Administration report, food waste is estimated at between 30% and 40% of the food supply in the United States, and the report lists wasted food as the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills.
In 2016, the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency announced the formation of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions group and set a goal of reducing food waste by 50% by the year 2030, the Tribune notes.
.“ScrapsBook” is free for download at Apple Books, Google Play, and Ikea.com. The eBook is available to everyone, and Ikea Family members will be automatically entered to win a limited edition hardcover copy of the 214-page book. As Ikea says, “Waste is a terrible thing to waste”
Research contact: @chicagotribune