Mindfulness Program Shown to Be as Effective as Antidepressant Drug for Treating Anxiety Disorders:
By Darius Bashar
A guided mindfulness-based stress reduction program was as effective as using ‘the gold-standard’ antidepressant drug escitalopram for patients with anxiety disorders, according to a first-of-its-kind, randomized clinical trial from Georgetown University Medical Center. Standardized mindfulness-based interventions, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), can decrease anxiety, but prior to this study, the interventions had not been studied in comparison to effective anti-anxiety drugs. The clinicians recruited 276 patients between June 2018 and February 2020 from three hospitals in Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C., and randomly assigned people to either MBSR or the common antidepressant drug escitalopram. MBSR was offered weekly for eight weeks via 2 1/2-hour in-person classes, plus a daylong retreat weekend class during the 5th or 6th week, and 45-minute daily home practice exercises. At the end of the trial, 102 patients had completed MBSR and 106 had completed their medication course. Both groups saw a reduction in their anxiety symptoms (a 1.35 point average reduction for MBSR and 1.43 point reduction for the drug, which is a statistically equivalent outcome), dropping from a mean of about 4.5 for both, which translates to a significant 30% drop in the severity of peoples’ anxiety.
An early universe analog built in a lab in Germany:
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain
A team of researchers at Universität Heidelberg has built an early universe analog in their laboratory using chilled potassium atoms. Understanding what occurred during the first few moments after the Big Bang is difficult due to the lack of evidence left behind. Many theories have been developed by astrophysicists, but most of them agree that the conditions were very cold and near absolute zero. So in order to understand the event better, scientists at the Universität Heidelberg created a simulated universe with supercooled potassium atoms that were cooled to a temperature just above absolute zero and then slowed with lasers. This turned the atoms into a superfluid called Bose-Einstein condensate which would be pushed with light from a specialized projector to mimic wave propagation, a process similar to the production of particles after the Big Bang. This model when first tested was able to produce similar results to what was previously predicted to have happened during the early expansion of the universe. While nothing is certain regarding our world’s creation, this is one step forward to understanding the universe and how it came to be and develop.
Sharks face rising odds of extinction even as other big fish populations recover:
Large, predatory, open ocean fish — a group that includes Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) like this one — have benefitted from successful fisheries management and conservation efforts in recent decades.
Credit: IÑIGO ONANDIA
After decades of population decline, the future is looking brighter for several tuna and billfish species thanks to years of successful fisheries management and conservation actions. However new research suggests some sharks that live in these fishes’ open water habitats are still in trouble. According to their research, these sharks are often caught by accident within tuna and billfish fisheries and a lack of dedicated management of these species has meant their chances of extinction continue to rise. These findings were compiled from an analysis evaluating the extinction risk of 18 species of large ocean fish over nearly seven decades. The team found that the extinction risk for tunas and billfishes increased throughout the last half of the 20th century, with the trend reversing for tunas starting in the 1990s and billfishes in the 2010s. However, three of the seven tunas and three of the six billfishes that the researchers looked at are still considered near threatened, vulnerable, or endangered. The shark species studied are also floundering in the very same waters where tuna and billfish are fished, where the sharks are often caught as bycatch. Some solutions going forward include catch limits for some species and establishing sustainability goals within tuna and billfish fisheries beyond just the targeted species, addressing the issue of sharks that are incidentally caught. While this solution among others may allow the shark species and other fishes to recover, they must be closely monitored in order to truly tell if they are helpful to these populations.