Members of heavy metal band Asphyx in concert (Photo: Hervegirod at en.wikipedia)

Members of heavy metal band Asphyx in concert (Photo: Hervegirod at en.wikipedia)

An ongoing study out of Australia might be of interest to all the head-banging heavy metal music fans out there.

University of Melbourne researcher Dr. Katrina McFerran finds that young people at risk of depression are more likely to listen to heavy metal music.

McFerran wanted to find out why some teenagers use heavy metal music in a negative way.

She interviewed 50 young people between the ages of 13 and 18, while also conducting a national survey of 1,000 young people.  McFerran wants to use her research to develop an early intervention model which can be integrated into schools before behavioral problems occur.

“Most young people listen to a range of music in positive ways; to block out crowds, to lift their mood or to give them energy when exercising, but young people at risk of depression are more likely to be listening to music, particularly heavy metal music, in a negative way,” says McFerran.

She says someone who listens to the same heavy metal music over and over again, without listening to anything else, is attempting to isolate themselves or escape from reality. This continued behavior might signal depression, anxiety or, at worst, suicidal tendencies.

McFerran wants parents to be aware of their children’s music listening habits so they can pick up on early warning signs and take early action.

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Ancient Chinese Mystery Solved

Oldest recorded supernova, RCW 86 (Photo: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/CXC/SAO)

Remnants of the oldest recorded supernova, RCW 86 (Photo: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/CXC/SAO)

In what sounds like a chapter from a thrilling detective book, NASA scientists say they’ve solved a 2,000-year-old mystery.

Back in 185 A.D., Chinese astronomers noted something they called a “guest star,” which mysteriously appeared in the sky and remained there for about eight months.

Scientists in the 1960’s determined that the “guest star” observed by the ancient astronomers was actually the first supernova ever recorded.

Later research allowed scientists to gather more data from this astronomical first,  now called RCW 86. They found it is a supernova remnant, which is located about 8,000 light-years away.

Now, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), scientists have learned even more of the supernova remnant’s secrets.

“It’s two to three times bigger than we would expect for a supernova that was witnessed exploding nearly 2,000 years ago. Now, we’ve been able to finally pinpoint the cause,” says Brian J. Williams, an astronomer at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and lead author of the study detailing the new findings.

What the Chinese astronomers observed so many years ago was a “Type Ia” supernova, which was created by the relatively peaceful death of a star  – much like our own sun – which then shrank into a dense star called a white dwarf. It’s thought that this white dwarf, after siphoning matter or fuel from a nearby star, later blew up in a supernova.

We’ve learned, for the first time, that a white dwarf can create a cavity around it before blowing up into a Type Ia event. A cavity would explain why the remains of RCW 86 are so big. When the explosion occurred, the ejected material would have traveled, unimpeded by gas and dust, spreading out quickly.

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Young People Have Old People’s Disease

(Image: US Health and Human Services)

(Image: US Health and Human Services)

When you think of someone who suffers from atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries, you most likely think of an older person.  But, a  study by Canada’s Heart and Stroke foundation, finds the disorder also affects a large number of young people.

“The proportion of young, apparently healthy adults who are presumably ‘the picture of health,’ who already have atherosclerosis is staggering,” says Dr. Eric Larose, an interventional cardiologist at the Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Québec

Atherosclerosis can eventually lead to serious problems including heart disease, stroke or even death.

The study included 168 young adults between 18 to 35 years of age – half male and half female – who had no known cardiovascular disease or risk factors.

The researchers found that, although a large proportion of their test subjects didn’t have the traditional risk factors for atherosclerosis, they did show discrete signs, such as a greater waist circumference, and visceral fat covering the internal organs within the chest and abdomen.

The researchers say the lesson this study teaches is that beyond simple weight and BMI, measures of fat hidden within are greater predictors of atherosclerosis. Those with a greater amount of visceral fat will have greater atherosclerosis, even if they are young and apparently healthy – and could benefit from preventative lifestyle measures.

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Carbon Nanotubes Could Help Prevent Salmonella Outbreaks

 Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells. (Photo: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH)

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells. (Photo: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH)

So far this year, salmonella outbreaks in the United States came from contaminated foods such as ground turkey, fresh papayas and alfalfa sprouts.

A promising new biosensor nanotechnology, which identifies the presence of salmonella bacteria before contaminated foods reach the marketplace, might reduce the  dangers from this food-borne disease.

Collaborative research from the University of Pennsylvania and Alabama State University reveals encouraging early results in the development of just such a tool.

The researchers are looking at carbon nanotubes as a key component in developing this salmonella sensing tool.  Carbon nanotubes – arrangements of carbon atoms in a cylindrical shape – are  known for their unique atomic architecture, which gives them extraordinary electrical, mechanical and physical properties.

When combined with biological molecules, such as antibodies, carbon nanotubes have the potential to perform a wide range of new and useful functions such as what will be required by this salmonella detection device.

Further research is needed before a carbon nanotube biosensor for salmonella is available commercially. But the research results may help bring the concept a step closer to reality, eventually playing an important role in controlling food poisoning outbreaks.

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