Discover COVID Treatments with Your Own Computer

The World Community Grid is an effort to create the world’s largest public computing grid to tackle scientific research projects that benefit humanity. Juan Hindo leads IBM’s World Community Grid team, and she sat down with us to talk about this incredible project. Join us for Ms. Hindo’s talk on October 21st and read our interview with her below:

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Some Like It Hot: Temperature Signals Across the Tree of Life

Temperature has a fascinating and complex relationship with biological systems. Intuitively, extreme temperatures can be harmful to living organisms. Anyone who has gotten a sunburn or frostbite before knows what we’re talking about. Because of this, when scientists study how temperature interacts with organisms, they often classify temperature as a potential “stress.”

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The Discovery of Cytokines: A Revolution in Our Understanding of the Human Body

Getting stranded in a violent storm can be extremely dangerous. Often, all you can do is hope the storm will abate before streets flood and buildings collapse. The same is true of a cytokine storm, a squall that rages inside your own body as an overreaction to infection, injury or other stimuli.  Here, we will take a look at these cytokines, the story of how they were discovered and how physicians can control cytokine storms to treat health conditions ranging from arthritis to COVID-19.

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Here’s Why Everyone’s Afraid of GMOs

This year has served as a new inflection point in the challenge of gaining broad public acceptance of science. We’re seeing Americans resist guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious disease. But the truth is, this kind of apprehension did not start with COVID-19. Well before anyone had heard of the virus, there was already a growing fear and distrust surrounding the guidance of scientific experts. According to a 2019 poll of 2,000 American adults, for example, 45% reported that they doubt vaccine safety, despite the lack of scientific evidence to support that feeling.

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Why We Shouldn’t Rush Science for COVID-19

COVID-19 is ravaging the world and upending our economy. While politicians scramble to find solutions and everyday people fear for their lives, everyone, whether they know it or not, is looking to one group for answers: the scientific community.

We’re seeing an unprecedented effort among scientists to solve this crisis. They’re working as fast as they can to produce more accurate tests, effective treatments, and a reliable vaccine. But as their accelerated pace has led to some incredible progress, it has also exposed the public to additional risk. 

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The History of the Internet: From ARPANET to 5G

In 1957, after the Soviets’ launched Sputnik 1, the US Congress responded by creating the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA; now DARPA), whose mission it was to build satellites and develop other advanced technologies that would show up the Russians. NASA took over the space projects a year later, and ARPA used their resources on a new project: creating the first computer network.

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There is No Biological Meaning for ‘Race’

Science has had a complicated history with the word “race.” In the 19th century, Dr. Samuel Morton believed humans could be divided into five races following a specific hierarchy of intelligence. He assumed he could measure their intelligence based on measurements of their skull capacity, which is a line of thought now seen as the origin of scientific racism.

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What Makes the Great Lakes So Great?

Sitting on the shores of Lake Michigan, with the Chicago skyline to my left and endless blue ahead of me, I find myself glad to be alive in this moment. The Great Lakes are sources of beauty and inspiration and part of what defines home. For me, they are also a source of questions and a reminder of the incredible, slow moving, natural processes that shape our world.

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Chemotherapy is Poison. No, Literally.

In 2018, an estimated 1.7 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer, and most of these patients, at some point, will likely receive chemotherapy as part of their treatment plan. This anti-cancer therapy is not one drug, but a category of drugs: All of them work by entering cells and stopping them from dividing into new cells, with the hope that they will stop tumors from growing until they fall apart and go away. Chemotherapy drugs cause considerable damage to any cells that are actively dividing in the body, leading to severe side effects including nausea, hair loss, and immunosuppression.

For that reason, we often call these drugs poisons. But there’s more truth to this designation than you might think: the oldest class of chemotherapy drugs actually derived from mustard gas, a poison the Germans used as a chemical weapon during World War I.

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Drug Discovery: Behind the Molecules in Our Medicine Cabinet

We’ve all come in contact with pharmaceutical drugs in some form or another.  Maybe you take a prescription drug every day to manage a certain health condition.  Perhaps you keep a bottle of Tylenol in your desk for when you feel a headache coming on at work.  Or maybe you’ve seen advertisements on TV for commercial drugs, featuring people relaxing in bathtubs in an open field or a drug’s name sung to the tune of the Jackson 5’s “ABC.”  But have you ever wondered how scientists discovered the exact molecule in the little orange bottle, in your desk drawer or on your TV screen, that does just what it’s supposed to?  To understand the process of drug discovery, let’s follow one drug’s journey from the lab to the pharmacy shelf.   

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Should I Eat MSG?

Sometimes I hate grocery shopping. Every time I wander down one of the aisles, I am visually assaulted with a barrage of various claims: Low Sodium! Heart Healthy! No fat! After a point, foods are laying claim to any appealing phrase they can use to convince you that their food should be purchased, and the most confusing and misleading of all is the claim ‘MSG Free!’ because so few of us actually know what MSG is. If the companies proclaim they don’t have it, it must be bad, right? Right?

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The History of the American Eugenics Movement

Conservationists. Nobel Peace Prize winners. College professors. All these roles have a distinctive honorable, humanistic atmosphere around them. When you consider this group, you probably don’t think of “racial purists.” But the truth is, many who held these titles were also supporters of the American Eugenics movement, a social and political movement that focused on advancing the human race through selective reproduction.

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Smile! You’re on Camera: How Repairing a Smile Can Save a Life

You smile 30 times a day, and normally, you don’t even think about doing it. It happens involuntarily when you hear a funny joke. While it is easy for many to smile, I saw firsthand that for children around the world who suffer from cleft lip and palate deformities, including one-year-old Matias, smiling is almost impossible, and other vital functions like eating and breathing can be just as hard.

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Queen of The Dark: Vera Rubin’s Voyage Through the Cosmos

Vera Rubin sent ripples throughout the scientific community, as her work proposed a novel recipe for our universe. While we once believed our universe to be full of matter, Rubin led us to see a universe dominated by dark matter and dark energy. Today, we understand the universe to be made up of nearly 95% dark energy and dark matter, leaving only 5% of baryonic matter (protons, neutrons, tables, chairs, humans, dogs, etc.). Despite its dominating presence, dark matter properties remain mysterious! For example, dark matter does not emit light or energy. Though difficult to detect, Vera Rubin guided the field of cosmology to determine this mysterious source of matter must dominate in our universe. This is the story of Dr. Rubin’s journey from astronomer to queen of the cosmos. 

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Mindfulness Meditation: The Path to a Better Headspace

Now more than ever, we’re bombarded with messaging like “7 Tips to Calm Your Mind During a Pandemic,” but that messaging– to calm down, to be present, has been around for a while. Being present is marketed as the solution for a troubled mind, to decrease distressing, negative thoughts that pop into our minds and increase happiness. But being present can be so elusive!  What does science say about being present, and how to silence negative  thoughts and refocus your mindset?

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If You’re on Medication, Beware of the Grapefruit Effect

What do the drugs Percocet, Lipitor, and Wellbutrin have in common? It’s not what they do for you – one’s a pain med, another treats heart disease, and the third helps with depression. They’re not made by the same drug company, nor are they regulated the same way by the government. These drugs couldn’t be more different in the way they work, why they work, and how they’ve impacted our healthcare system. So what is it that they all have in common?

They, like many other drugs, can turn on you and cause you harm if you take them with grapefruit juice.

This is called the grapefruit effect.

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