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OpenLearn Live: 8th June 2016

Updated Wednesday 8th June 2016

Why antibiotics in cow dung might be even more worrying than you'd guess, and the sinking value of Coca-Cola. Free learning from through the day.

OpenLearn Live dips into the world of learning and research, and offers you a range of interesting items.

Yesterday, we discovered that babies smell cute, learned how you can prepare for penalties and caught up with All In The Mind

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live


Today's posts


BBC One, 9pm: The Big C And Me

Tonight on BBC One, you can see the second episode of our series following the lives of people following their cancer diagnosis. Here's a taste of this evening's installment:

See more about tonight's programme

Order your Big C and Me booklet exploring the support networks on offer

How should we talk about cancer?


BBC Radio 4, 4pm: Thinking Allowed

Today's installment of fresh social sciences thinking focuses on the similarities between right wing and Islamist extremists - and why you hear so often of a Jihadist engineer; and the story behind the orange prison jumpsuit.

Discover more about this programme

Listen online


Coca-Cola goes a bit flat

Bad news for the planet's leading bottler of sugary drinks - while Coca-Cola's best-known products are getting attacked for being unhealthy, the company's valuable brand has now been dented. Millward Brown’s BrandZ valuation of the company has concluded that the equity in the brand has fallen for the first time, and that's pushed Coca-Cola out the planet's top 10 brands. As Campaign notes, this is unlikely to be down to health concerns alone:

This year the value of the Coca-Cola brand fell for the first time in the survey's history, by 4% to $80.3bn, amid growing public awareness of the risks to health from the sugar content of soft drinks and despite respectable growth in the Coca-Cola Company's share price.

It has sunk to 13th place in the 2016 rankings, which, in an irony which Coca-Cola executives will not appreciate, is one below tobacco brand Marlboro.

Other brands which have climbed above Coke in the past year include Facebook, Amazon, McDonald's and Chinese tech company Tencent.

Does it matter? What is the importance of brands?

Try our free course Products, services and branding


EU Referendum: The registration surge

Last night, as the midnight deadline for registering to vote in this month's EU Referendum, the online system bucked under the pressure of a literal eleventh-hour rush. BBC News reports:

According to the government's data website, 525,000 people applied to register to vote during the day - 170,000 were aged 25 to 34, 132,000 under the age of 25 and 100,000 aged 35 to 44.

It also shows that the peak users came at 22:15 BST when 50,711 people were using the service at the same time. There were 26,000 people on the site at 23:55 BST and 20,416 people using the site at 12:01 BST, just after the deadline.

The government's data site does not record whether these users were successful or not in attempting to register to vote. It is also not clear whether these figures include those who got an error message.

But, Queen Mary politicals professor Philip Cowley has reminded the world that all these applications might not be "new" voters entering the electorate:

Registered, but undecided? Explore our guide to the issues behind the EU referendum


37 Days In May: Bad news from cow dung

We took May (and a few days either side) off from duty, and so to start up this week we're exploring some of the stories that emerged during our hiatus. Yesterday, it was the new evidence that one of Elizabeth I's dresses might be a church in Herefordshire. Today, we're looking at cow dung.

A cow looks at the camera Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Didgeman

You'll already be aware, of course, that over-prescribing antibiotics in farming is a problem. Not least in the growing presence of antibiotic resistant "superbugs". In May, a new study was published which gathered research into some of the effects dosing cattle with antibiotics was having on the environment. The researchers discovered that it's not just the microbes in the cow's belly which gets affected by the medicine. The cow poops; beetles interact with the dung - and they get changed, too:

 We found that antibiotic treatment restructured microbiota in dung beetles, which harboured a microbial community distinct from those in the dung they were consuming. The antibiotic effect on beetle microbiota was not associated with smaller size or lower numbers.

And while you're thinking about that, there's something else disturbing happening down on the ground:

Unexpectedly, antibiotic treatment raised methane fluxes from dung, possibly by altering the interactions between methanogenic archaea and bacteria in rumen and dung environments. Our findings that antibiotics restructure dung beetle microbiota and modify greenhouse gas emissions from dung indicate that antibiotic treatment may have unintended, cascading ecological effects that extend beyond the target animal.

Yes, if you thought that the only potentially catastrophic effect of farmyard antiobiotics was the development of bacteria that are immune to those antibiotics, there's bad news. It's possible that climate change could be hastened by the practice, too.

Read more about the study's findings at Science News

More from OpenLearn on Superbugs

Explore the changing climate with Creative Climate

 
 

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