Science News

Discrimination of children and adolescents linked to their mothers poor health

When a child suffers discrimination, the mother can suffer harm not only on a psychological level but also on a health level. Indeed, a new study analyzes the link that exists between unfair social treatment by young adults and the decline in the health of their mothers during middle age.

“Our study suggests that when a child experiences discrimination, these cases of unfair treatment are likely to harm the health of the mother as well as their own,” says Cynthia Colen, a sociology professor at Ohio State University and lead author.

This is the first study that finds a link in the “opposite” direction between discrimination and unfair treatment of children and young people and the health of their mothers. Previously, links had been found between unfair treatment of pregnant women and the health of their children.

To carry out the study, the results of which were published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, the researchers analyzed two generations of families using data from a survey started in 1979 that followed the subjects for more than forty years. The database consisted of data concerning 3,004 mothers and 6,562 children.

Discrimination levels and unfair treatment were assessed through responses to specific surveys while mothers’ health was self-assessed. All mothers were between 40 and 50 years old. The researchers also discovered racial disparities in the results: African American adolescents and young adults reported most of the experiences of discrimination and 31% of black mothers reported having poor health compared to 17% of white mothers and 26% of mothers Hispanic.

“We now know that these negative health effects are not limited to the person experiencing firsthand discrimination – instead they are intergenerational and will likely contribute to racial health disparities which means that black people can expect to die younger and live a lesser life,” reports Colen.

Science News

Study explains why during ice ages there was less carbon dioxide in the air

Scientists have long since discovered that during the ice ages on Earth the carbon dioxide contained in the atmosphere was regularly lower, by about a third, compared to the warmer phases. There is no complete explanation about this effect and various theories have been created over time to explain their causes.

One of the most popular theories goes back to the oceans: during the cold ages and the ice ages, the seas cooled, more or less at the same rate (their temperature decreased by approximately 2.5 °C) and this caused a greater release of carbon dioxide in the air since the water, when it is colder, shows a greater degree of solubility of the CO2.

However, the models that refer to this theory show that the cooling of the seas was responsible for only a few percentage points with respect to the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The mystery seems to have been solved by a new study published in Science Advances.

According to Andreas Schmittner, climatologist of the State University of Oregon, in reality the oceans, during the ice ages, would have cooled to a level much higher than previously theorized. The cooling of the water was such that it represented at least 50% of the causes that led to the decrease of CO 2 in the air.

Another third is represented by the increase in iron-laden dust in the seas, which led to an increase in the presence of phytoplankton which absorbed more carbon making it deposit on the seabed.
The seas increased the presence of iron as this, in the form of very fine dust, came from the continents and from the increase in ice in various regions of the world which in turn caused the release of iron from rocks and soil.

Adding together the two factors relating to the seas (cooling and increase in iron dust), we therefore explained, according to this study, at least three-quarters of the causes that led to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Science News

Mysterious Majoran quasiparticle identified with new system

The mysterious Majoran quasiparticle, also called Majorana fermion, is one of the strangest hypothetical particles ever conceived. It was hypothesized by the Italian physicist Ettore Majorana in 1937 and boasts strange properties including the fact that it is at the same time a particle and its antiparticle so that in certain contexts matter and antimatter can not annihilate themselves and appear as relatively stable couples that can interact even with your environment.

For this reason, in recent years the hypothetical Majorana particle has risen to prominence because it could be used in the context of quantum computing. In a quantum computer based on the Majorana quasiparticles, information would be stored in pairs of particles and the calculations would be determined by the annihilation of the quasi particles with each other depending on how they intertwine. Already in recent years some physicists have declared that they have identified it in some materials. This is the case, for example, of the so-called neutralino, another hypothetical particle of the supersymmetry model that could be a Majorana fermion.

The problem is that it is not possible to manipulate them and create an environment in which to carry out experiments to show their existence with a scientific method.

Now a new study, published this week in Science, proposes a new method for identifying Majorana quasiparticles in materials, as reported by Ali Yazdani, professor of physics at Princeton University and senior author of the study. With this method, according to the physicists who carried out this study, one can “verify their existence by imagining them and we can characterize their expected properties.”

Specifically, physicists have recreated another context in which the Majorana quasiparticle could be identified, that is, in the channel that can be created on the margins of a topological insulator when the latter is put in contact with a superconductor. Since the Majorana particles are formed at the two ends of the wires, it may be possible to visualize them by cutting the wire.

Performing the experiments, the researchers realized that the Majorana quasiparticles appear only when small magnets are magnetized parallel to the direction of electron flow along the channel. The quasi Majorana particle formed with this system is also quite robust according to the researchers, so much so that it resists even the interruption and can be activated and deactivated. The discovery can therefore be an important step forward for the possible use of this particle in the field of quantum computers.