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Science In 140 characters

Swedish researchers have estimate that by 2050, the weight of all the plastic in the ocean will be around 850-900 million tonnes.

Ocean’s junk food


Bethany Brookshire, Science writer

Plastic, for long one of the most abundant household materials on earth, is now set to take over the ocean, according to an article tweeted by science writer Bethany Brookshire. Swedish researchers have estimate that by 2050, the weight of all the plastic in the ocean will be around 850-900 million tonnes, which will have overtaken the weight of all the fish. The article warns that the enormous addition of plastic is severely damaging ecosystems inside the ocean. The European perch, a yellow-greyish fish, is one of several species suffering from the abundance of plastic, marine biologists said. European perch larvae, which devour anything they come across, have been eating a lot of plastic now. Scientists said the effects of this rapid ingestion are like teenagers eating only junk food. All the “junk food” replaces the actual nutrients the fishes need for growing, and as a result, the growth of these fish has been deficient.

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Facial databases


Vaughan Bell, Neuroscientist

It is common practice by police in many countries to prepare a “line-up” of people as a witness tries to identify a criminal among them. According to a study tweeted by neuroscientist Vaughan Bell, the time will come soon when the entire world be a perpetual, virtual line-up. The study, by Georgetown’s Center on Privacy & Technology, says nearly half of American adults are in the government’s face-recognition database. Which means the faces of half the American populace can be scanned for identification of criminals if they are all put in a central database. The report, titled “The Perpetual Line-up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America”, says most US law enforcement agencies have their own facial database that they can use virtually unregulated. “Innocent people don’t belong in criminal databases,” the study’s co-author Alvaro Bedoya was quoted in the article. There are an estimated 420 million photographs of faces in the FBI’s database, according to the study, whose authors expect that number to grow.

Gut feeling in the head


Jonathan Eisen, Biologist

The evening’s migraine attack may have been caused by the morning’s breakfast. Scientists at University of California have found that people who suffer from regular migraines have a certain mix of bacteria in their gut, which make them susceptible to attacks based on what foods they eat, according to an article tweeted by biologist Jonathan Eisen. Chocolate, wine, meats and bread, which contain high amounts of nitrates, are usually the culprits, the study found. It suggested migraine attacks are triggered when nitrates in food are broken down more efficiently, causing vessels in the brain and scalp to dilate. When these nitrates are broken down by bacteria in the mouth or gut, they are introduced as nitrate oxides in the bloodstream, which triggers an attack. The researchers added that in the future, scientists may develop a “magical probiotic mouthwash” that could alter the balance of bacteria responsible for breaking down nitrates.

First published on: 24-10-2016 at 04:25 IST
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