The Edifying Beauty of Geysers

Old Faithful Geyser erupts on a clear winter day in Yellowstone National Park (Credit: Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service. Public domain.)

Geysers are a rare occurrence. There are only about 1,000 of them in the world, half of which are located in the United States’ Yellowstone National Park. They also take different forms, with varying frequencies, sizes, or lengths of eruption. Despite over 200 years of study, they are still poorly understood, but scientists persist in their exploration: geyser processes provide a scale model for the processes of volcanic eruptions, and they could give us clues on how to predict and prepare for such events.

In the 2017 Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Shaul Hurwitz, of the U.S. Geological Survey, and Michael Manga, of the University of California, Berkeley, discuss the current state of the science on geysers. They also delineate the questions that must yet be answered. The article, titled “The Fascinating and Complex Dynamics of Geyser Eruptions,” was highlighted by the U.S. Geological Survey.

They examine the geography and geology of geysers, their chemistry, the dynamics of their eruption. They ask why some erupt continuously and others only from time to time, why some erupt at great heights and others don’t, why some erupt regularly and other unpredictably.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society. To find out how we create our highly cited reviews and stimulate discussion about science, please watch this short video. Journalists and bloggers who require journal access, please visit our Press Center.

Board Member Sandra Faber receives 2017 Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize

Annual Reviews is fortunate to have many scientific luminaries serving on its Board of Directors. One of these is Professor and Astronomer Sandra Faber, who is the Board’s Vice-Chairperson, and Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. We are delighted to announce that today she has won the prestigious Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize for her groundbreaking studies of the structure, dynamics, and evolution of galaxies.

Computer simulation of a galaxy. Credit: Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.

Among the key accomplishments of her more than four decades of research is pioneering work on the study of dark matter and its relationship to formation of galaxies, and the demonstration that black holes reside at the heart of most large galaxies. She has also made significant contributions to innovations in telescope technology that have revolutionized modern astronomy.

Sandra, who is Professor Emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Astronomer Emerita of the University of California Observatories believes that “Astronomical knowledge is probably the most important single discipline that you need to know in order to be an informed citizen of earth.”

Please join us in congratulating Professor Sandra Faber on this award celebrating her extraordinary achievements in Astronomy.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society. To find out how we create our highly cited reviews and stimulate discussion about science, please watch this short video. Journalists and bloggers who require journal access, please visit our Press Center.

Annual Reviews appoints Rosie Mestel Deputy Editor of new digital magazine

Nonprofit publisher Annual Reviews is pleased to announce that Rosie Mestel has been appointed Deputy Editor of the new digital magazine, set to launch in Fall 2017. Editor Eva Emerson welcomed her, saying:

“I am thrilled to have Rosie on the team. She will play a leading role in the creation and development of the magazine. She brings an impressive resume as well as considerable enthusiasm to this new endeavor.”

Rosie was formerly the Chief Magazine Editor of Nature, running the journalism group. Before that, she worked at the Los Angeles Times as a reporter and then editor of science and health. She earned a PhD in genetics before switching careers and earning a certificate in science communication from UC Santa Cruz.

The new digital magazine will explore the real-world significance of research covered in Annual Reviews journals in a compelling and accessible way. Mirroring the scope of the journals themselves, the content will be freely available to anyone to read and reuse, and will attract those who wish to stay abreast of progress in research in the natural and social sciences. This initiative receives support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and benefit of society. Please visit the Annual Reviews Press Center to arrange an interview or sign up for media-only access to journal content.

 

 

The Complicated Immune Response: Annual Review of Immunology, Volume 35

Browse the Annual Review of Immunology, Volume 35 table of contents.

While proofing this volume, I was impressed again by how complicated the immune system is. It seemed so very simple in high school biology! But there are so many related actions that have to happen in precise sequences, and even systems that I thought were disconnected from immunity turn out to be quite important. For instance, see the abstract of “The Lymphatic System: Integral Roles in Immunity” by Gwendalyn Randolph et al.:IY35-lymphatic

The lymphatic vasculature is not considered a formal part of the immune system, but it is critical to immunity. One of its major roles is in the coordination of the trafficking of antigen and immune cells. However, other roles in immunity are emerging. Lymphatic endothelial cells, for example, directly present antigen or express factors that greatly influence the local environment.

The study of immunology has progressed in recent years and is producing huge amounts of data—as I discovered in Arup K. Chakraborty’s article, “A Perspective on the Role of Computational Models in Immunology.” To make use of that data, because the processes are so complex, researchers are using computational models:

Computational or theoretical studies of the model can keep track of every possible event that can occur consistent with a hypothesis and reveal whether a particular hypothesis is plausible. Hypotheses that appear feasible at first glance can be incorrect because of the complexity of the underlying phenomena. Computational biophysics–based models not only can screen out these hypotheses prior to fruitless experimental tests, but also can shed light on the reason a hypothesis is unlikely to be right and thus guide the choice of other feasible hypotheses. Such computational studies are not exercises in fitting parameters to quantitate known mechanistic models. Rather they offer ways to obtain mechanistic insights and guide the choice of meaningful hypotheses underlying puzzling observations and the design of realistic experiments that can test the hypotheses.

Another article that caught my interest was Kole T. Roybal &Wendell A. Lim’s “Synthetic Immunology: Hacking Immune Cells to Expand Their Therapeutic Capabilities.” I was intrigued by the title’s use of “hacking” in a biomedical context and the article itself proved to be fascinating!

[I]mmune cells are relatively easy to remove, modify, and transfer back into a patient. Given these unique properties, immune cells provide a remarkable platform for interfacing with and treating disease. There are many complex diseases, such as cancer and autoimmunity, that our natural immune systems either cannot handle or pathologically contribute to. Thus, there is a strong rationale to engineer new disease sensing and response behaviors in immune cells, especially given recent powerful advances in synthetic biology and genome editing, which give us unprecedented ability to modify and engineer cellular functions.

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

 

The NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing goes to Daniel S. Nagin!

Yesterday, Daniel S. Nagin, the Teresa and H. John Heinz III University Professor of Public Policy and Statistics at Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University, USA, and a Committee Member of the Annual Review of Criminology (which will publish in 2018), was awarded the 2017 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Award for Scientific Reviewing sponsored by us! Eva Emerson, Senior Editor (forthcoming digital magazine), and Samuel Gubins, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, attended the ceremony in Washington D.C, USA.

Daniel S. Nagin with his award, flanked by NAS leaders.

Dr. Nagin was honored for exemplary reviews of the scientific literature on the crime-prevention effects of criminal and civil sanctions. These reviews have altered the course of criminological theory and empirical research, and have greatly informed analysis of public policy.

During his acceptance speech, Dr. Nagin reminded the audience of the importance of scientific reviews to the progress of science. He also said that the reporting of new results and the “synthesis of extant knowledge are both creative acts in their own right.”

His work appears in many leading publications, including Annual Reviews, which is publishing an article and response from him in the 2017 volume of the Annual Review of Law and Social Science.

new_logoAnnual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society. To find out how we create our highly cited reviews and stimulate discussion about science, please watch this short video.

The NAS is a private, nonprofit society of distinguished scholars. Established by an Act of Congress, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. The NAS is committed to furthering science in America, and its members are active contributors to the international scientific community.

ACA, Violence, and Social Networks: Annual Review of Public Health Volume 38

We are pleased to remind everyone that the 2017 volume of the Annual Review of Public Health, now online, is published open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license. This influential content is now freely available to read, reuse, and share. Additionally, all 37 back volumes (1980-2016) are now free to read. Support for this initiative to increase openness and transparency in research is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Here are a few content highlights for your reading pleasure:

There is still a lot of debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and I recommend the article “The Affordable Care Act’s Impacts on Access to Insurance and Health Care for Low-Income Populations” by Kominski, Nonzee, and Sorensen as interesting background reading.  I was particularly interested in the discussion about the people who are still uninsured, and struck by the geographical implications:

Almost 90% of all adults in the coverage gap live in the South, half in either Texas or Florida, which aligns with this region’s high uninsurance rates, limited Medicaid eligibility, and low uptake of Medicaid expansion (37). Consistent with demographic characteristics and policies excluding nondisabled adults in states that did not expand Medicaid, African Americans and childless adults also account for a disproportionate share of individuals in the coverage gap.

Another article that demanded my attention is “Climate Change and Collective Violence” by Levy, Sidel, and Patz.  When people talk about the effects of climate change they mostly focus on sea levels and food harvests, but take things a couple of steps further and one of the things you can see is increased violence.  Some of the conclusions addressed in this article are quite startling:

Studying conflict in sub-Saharan Africa between 1981 and 2002, Burke and colleagues found a significant association between warmer temperature and civil war. On the basis of their findings, they projected an approximately 54% increase in armed conflict in Africa by 2030, with an additional 393,000 battle-related deaths, assuming wars in the future are as deadly as recent wars.

It’s a complicated and well written article that also addresses some ways of preventing this violence.  It’s on the top of my reading list.

pu38-social networksAnother article on my famed reading list is Valente and Pitts’ article, “An Appraisal of Social Network Theory and Analysis as Applied to Public Health: Challenges and Opportunities.”  What drew my interest here was the section about research being done around social media and the Internet’s effect on health:

The evidence suggests that mediated communications can influence individual behaviors but they do so at a rate much lower than face-to-face communications do (37). Still, people can have hundreds, even thousands or more, of online contacts, which increases the potential for much influence. Moreover, some forms of mediated communications may be particularly influential. For example, specialty communities that emerge in forums such as PatientsLikeMe may be very influential because they offer a place where people can share information about extremely important and relevant topics among members of a specific community.

Of course anytime someone is doing research in social media it raises ethics and privacy concerns which the article also addresses as a problem that needs close review.  For instance this troubling case:

In a similarly publicized study, Kramer and others (48) used Facebook as a social psychology laboratory and manipulated users’ Facebook News Feeds to induce negative or positive affect to study the social contagion of emotions. Facebook users did not provide overt consent to participate in the study, and many felt that their rights were violated (35). Furthermore, participants of in-person experimental studies are often debriefed when their study participation has concluded to reduce the likelihood that the study’s manipulations and procedures caused harm, yet no such debriefing was performed in this study.

So as usual Public Health provides much food for thought and interesting weekend reading!

Treasure trove of expert Public Health content now publicly available – what’s inside?

Today (and every day!) we want to encourage those in the Public Health community and beyond to freely explore the expert content published in the Annual Review of Public Health over the last 37 years. No matter who you are, what you do or where you work, if you have access to the internet then you can now freely read all the articles and read, share and re-use those from the 2017 volume. Support for this initiative to increase openness and transparency in research is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Let’s start our journey by picking a newsworthy and important topic. Take Gun Violence, which is of particular significance within the USA. An initial search reveals that the Annual Review of Public Health has published 35 articles of relevance to this topic.

A first observation is the sheer breadth of topics that are covered: from measures to deter gun violence and keep firearms away from high risk individuals to the effects of pervasive media violence and the emerging practice of legal epidemiology. It’s also immediately clear that the authors are thought leaders in their fields working at leading institutions such as Carnegie Mellon; John Hopkins; UCLA; University of Glasgow; McGill University; the Norwegian Institute of Public Health; Utrecht University and more.

From this starting point, it’s possible to explore the content in greater depth. For example, the article entitled “Cure Violence: a public health model to reduce gun violence” from the Annual Review of Public Health (March 2015) sounds intriguing and it is. Here’s an excerpt:

Cureviolence.org, @CureViolence

“Cure Violence (formerly known as Chicago CeaseFire) seeks to create individual-level and community-level change in communities where it is a norm for young people to carry a gun and—for some—to use a gun to settle various forms of conflict. The Cure Violence (CV) model attempts to stop the transmission of violence in a manner similar to that of public health interventions designed to curtail epidemics or to reduce the impact of harmful behavior such as smoking and overeating. The CV model identifies the individuals most at risk of spreading gun violence, and it intervenes to change their behavior and attitudes. Next, it tries to demonstrate to those individuals, and to the broader community, that there are more acceptable and less harmful ways to resolve personal conflicts and disputes. The CV model does not involve the use of force or the threat of punishment. It presumes that violent behavior—like all behavior—responds to structures, incentives, and norms”.

From this article, we took a detour beyond Annual Reviews and paused for a while to watch this video:

Returning to Annual Reviews, in addition to in-depth writing, multi-media options are available to help visual learners gain a deeper understanding, for example this animated video about patterns of gun violence in the United States.

Many articles also feature clear diagrams, figures, and illustrations that help explain key concepts and all contain links to other Annual Reviews articles that can be initially explored.

We hope this short tour encourages everyone to explore their access to the Annual Review of Public Health. We welcome feedback via Twitter, Facebook or as a comment to this post. Enjoy!