Airline pilots have an increased risk of nuclear cataracts [common type of cataract, associated with aging] compared with non-pilots, and that risk is associated with cumulative exposure to cosmic radiation, according to a study in the August issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Commercial airline pilots are reported to be at an increased risk for some cancers, but studies on the biological effects of their exposure to cosmic radiation have been limited, according to background information in the article. Previous studies have shown that cataracts can be caused by exposure to radiation, including a recent study of astronauts showing an association of incidence of cataracts with space radiation at exposure levels comparable to those of commercial airline pilots.
Vilhjalmur Rafnsson, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Iceland, Reykjavik, and colleagues conducted a case control study involved 445 men to determine whether employment as a pilot is associated with lens opacification. The cases included 71 men with nuclear cataract, and the controls (n = 374) were those men with different types of lens opacification or without lens opacification. Among the 445 men, 79 were commercial pilots and 366 had never been pilots. All participants in the study were 50 years or older and other factors that contribute to cataract risk, including smoking, age and sunbathing, were controlled for in the statistical analysis. Exposure to cosmic radiation was assessed based on employment time as pilots, annual number of hours flown on each aircraft type, time tables, flight profiles and individual cumulative radiation doses calculated by computer.
Vilhjalmur Rafnsson | EurekAlert!
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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