Studying the Studies
Too many published studies make claims that cannot be satisfactorily reproduced or verified. A new service makes it easier for labs to double-check their results before publishing them.
Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn
What’s the Latest Development?
Every day, hundreds of articles begin with the phrase “According to a new study…” However, it appears that an alarming number of scientific studies make claims that cannot be reproduced, rendering them suspect at best and dangerous at worst. Not only are erroneous studies a potential waste of taxpayers’ money, they are also a waste of time and money for companies who depend on the accuracy of these studies for their own product development. One major company, Bayer Healthcare, “reported that its scientists could not reproduce some 75 percent of published findings in cardiovascular disease, cancer and women's health.” A Stanford University researcher, John Ioannidis, estimates that out of 1.5 million studies published in a given year, about 5 percent – 75,000 – contain inaccurate results.
What’s the Big Idea?
The California-based company Science Initiative has announced a program designed to improve the accuracy and trustworthiness of these studies by matching researchers at the original lab site with workers at a second lab that can verify their findings. “The original lab would pay the second for its work…[and] the two labs would jointly write a paper” describing the results. While it may not be obvious why a lab would pay to have its work checked and possibly discredited, the company’s co-founder Elizabeth Iorns believes that the expense would increase a lab’s reputation and make it more attractive to funders as well as to companies looking to use the lab’s data.
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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