OSU Scientists Figure Out What Really Makes Up the Black Pigment

OSU scientists have unraveled what makes black pigment—the same pigment that colors our skin and gives bananas their spots as they ripen. They used eumelanin, which creates brown and black colors. While scientists have long known what melanin does for the body (protecting DNA from sun damage, destroying free radicals in the body, etc) they didn’t know one of the most basic things about it. What gives it its color?

Scientists, basically, unmixed the color black to reveal its underlying colors. Understanding the melanin on this level could lead to all kinds of discoveries in both medical and material science.

Like DNA’s double helix, scientists needed to know that is how DNA was structured before they could know much else about it, melanin is the same.

Like a kid playing with paints combining a few colors at a time will result in secondary colors. Mix them all and the child would end up with a deep, muddy, black color. Scientists needed to know all the molecules of color that are in it.

They found that the molecules that make up eumelanin are like radio stations. Each station broadcasts over a limited frequency in the spectrum. Each molecule that makes up the eumelanin are like a radio station, absorbing light from just a part of the spectrum. So how many stations are out there, they wondered? Are there a bunch of them all absorbing just a tiny part of the light spectrum or just a few that absorb a larger portion each?

Understanding the structure of “black” in this way will allow scientists to know on a deeper level how the eumelanin works in the body for medical purposes and how they might use these “radio station” molecules in manufacturing new materials.

Keep Your Diet and Exercise Resolutions by Involving Your Dog

If you resolved to start a diet and exercise plan, don’t look at the success statistics as most experts agree they are rather low. Instead, perhaps take some advice from both the animal and human health experts at the Ohio State University who say that if you partner with your pet to diet and exercise it might increase your chances for success.

Both humans and animals benefit from a healthy life style that includes exercise and a good diet. OSU experts acknowledge there are all kinds of programs to get you and your pet involved—everything from dog yoga and dog Pilates to couch-to-5k programs. They warn though that it is best for both you and your pet to start slow with the exercise. They suggest they following:

Schedule workouts. Make grocery lists. Plan daily practices. Make small, manageable changes. It will lead to big results given time. Try different things and figure out activities both you and your pet enjoy. Wellness checkups are important. Make one for yourself when you make one for your pet. Don’t be afraid to celebrate your success.



Public Health Experts Against Vaping Bans

According to a group of experts, including the lead author of a paper published in “Science” Amy Fairchild (dean of Public Health at OSU), knee-jerk bans on e-cigarette sales could do more harm than good. They fear such bans will take away an important tool that does help adults quit smoking.

In their paper the authors point out that the recent illnesses and deaths appear to be linked to vaping black market THC oils and this should concern us along with the rise of young people vaping nicotine. But these problems cannot all be lumped together.

Limiting access and appeal among the less harmful vaping products and leaving deadly, traditional tobacco products on the market does nothing to protect public health, according to the authors. Doing so could threaten a trend that might be leading to the demise of cigarettes.

In the wake of injuries and deaths related to vaping policymakers including the American Medical Association have favored blanket bans—either banning all vaping products or those with flavors. The authors believe policy should be shaped using all available data and that there are important distinctions to be made between nicotine and THC products as well as commercial and black-market products.


Do Our Own Minds Create the Worst Kind of Political Bias?

With all the sources of misinformation out there in the murky sea of information would it surprise you to learn one of the big sources might be your own mind? New research at the OSU has found that when people are given accurate statistics on hot button issues they tend to misremember those numbers in a way that reinforces their beliefs.

One example could be numbers of new Mexican immigrants into the US. This number has declined recently, however true it goes against what many people believe, and they tend to remember the opposite. The real problem begins as misinformation is passed from person to person—this is when it tends to stretch even further from the truth.

In one study the researchers at OSU gave 110 participants with four descriptions of social issues and all of them involved numeric information.

Researchers chose two issues where the factually accurate number relationship fit many people’s beliefs. Most Americans believe that their peers to generally be in favor of same-sex marriage rather than oppose it. This is consistent with public opinion polls.
With the other two issues, researchers chose in the opposite—where most people’s beliefs did not match the factually accurate data.

Most people think that the number of Mexican immigrants to the US increased between 2007-2014. The data tells us the numbers dropped between those years from 12.8 million Mexican immigrants to 11.7 million.

After reading four such descriptions the participants came across a task they were not warned about. The material instructed them to right down the numbers associated with the four issues.

When the factually accurate data met most people’s beliefs about the topic participants got the number relationship correct. Here meaning that most people wrote down that a larger percentage of people agreed than disagreed with same-sex marriage: and this is the factually accurate relationship.

When the factually accurate numbers did not support what most people believe, ss it is in the case of the number of Mexican immigrants having gone up or down, people’s minds ended to play with the numbers. They would remember them in a way that agreed with their probable biases rather than correctly. As an example some participants got the numbers exactly correct, 12.8 and 11.7, but they would reverse the numbers (up from 11.7 to 12.8, instead of the other way around which is factually accurate).

Did You Know About the Ohio State’s Veterinary Medicine Program?

Contemplating end-of-life choices for your pet or grieving the loss of a pet is something that pet owners don’t want to think about. At the Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center, they recognize the importance of these human-animal relationships and provides support for grieving pet owners facing these kinds of tough decisions or situations with their animals.

It is one of only 30 programs in the US that focuses on this kind of care and features a full-time social worker to supporter animal owners when faced with the death of a loved animal family member.

Ohio State’s Veterinary Center treats more than 40,000 pets every year. Their services include standard to emergency care and even oncology. The social worker helps pet owners navigate medical terminology, offers support to those in unexpected emergency situations and helps those processing end-of-life decisions; they also help guide family discussions with children about their ailing pets and provides assistance in finding resources outside the center.

The center recognizes that all families have different needs in different situations and does their best to serve the community of Ohio.