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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

Single-neuron 'hub' orchestrates activity of an entire brain circuit

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 12:47 PM PDT

New research makes a major contribution to efforts to navigate the brain, offering a precise model of the organization of developing neuronal circuits. If researchers can further identify the cellular type of 'hub neurons,' it may be possible to reproduce them in vitro and transplant them into aged or damaged brain circuitries in order to recover functionality.

Glaciers in the Grand Canyon of Mars?

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 12:42 PM PDT

For decades, planetary geologists have speculated that glaciers might once have crept through Valles Marineris, the 2000-mile-long chasm that constitutes the Grand Canyon of Mars. Using satellite images, researchers have identified features that might have been carved by past glaciers as they flowed through the canyons; however, these observations have remained highly controversial and contested.

Sleep twitches light up the brain

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 12:39 PM PDT

A new study finds twitches during rapid eye movement sleep comprise a different class of movement, which researchers say is further evidence that sleep twitches activate circuits throughout the developing brain and teach newborns about their limbs and what they can do with them.

Causes of California drought linked to climate change

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 10:35 AM PDT

The extreme atmospheric conditions associated with California's crippling drought are far more likely to occur under today's global warming conditions than in the climate that existed before humans emitted large amounts of greenhouse gases, scientists say.

Cassini watches mysterious feature evolve in hydrocarbon sea on Saturn's moon Titan

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 09:32 AM PDT

NASA's Cassini spacecraft is monitoring the evolution of a mysterious feature in a large hydrocarbon sea on Saturn's moon Titan. The feature covers an area of about 100 square miles (260 square kilometers) in Ligeia Mare, one of the largest seas on Titan. It has now been observed twice by Cassini's radar experiment, but its appearance changed between the two apparitions.

DNA signature found in Ice Storm babies: Prenatal maternal stress exposure to natural disasters predicts epigenetic profile of offspring

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 07:53 AM PDT

The number of days an expectant mother was deprived of electricity during Quebec's Ice Storm in 1998 predicts the epigenetic profile of her child, a new study finds.

Ancient human genome from southern Africa throws light on our origins

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 07:53 AM PDT

The skeleton of a man who lived 2,330 years ago in the southernmost tip of Africa tells us about ourselves as humans, and throws some light on our earliest common genetic ancestry. The man's genome was sequenced and shown to be one of the 'earliest diverged' -- oldest in genetic terms -- found to-date in a region where modern humans are believed to have originated roughly 200,000 years ago.

Dolphins are attracted to magnets: Add dolphins to the list of magnetosensitive animals, French researchers say

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 07:52 AM PDT

Add dolphins to the list of magnetosensitive animals, French researchers say. Dolphins are indeed sensitive to magnetic stimuli, as they behave differently when swimming near magnetized objects.

Smart, eco-friendly new battery made of seeds and pine resin

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 06:40 AM PDT

Present-day lithium batteries are efficient but involve a range of resource and environmental problems. Using materials from alfalfa (lucerne seed) and pine resin and a clever recycling strategy, researchers have now come up with a highly interesting alternative.

Signature of aging in brain: Researchers suggest that the brain's 'immunological age' is what counts

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 06:38 AM PDT

Evidence of a unique 'signature' that may be the 'missing link' between cognitive decline and aging has been found by researchers. The scientists believe that this discovery may lead, in the future, to treatments that can slow or reverse cognitive decline in older people.

Tooth buried in bone shows prehistoric predators tangled across land, sea

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 06:06 AM PDT

Before dinosaurs, it was thought the top aquatic and terrestrial predators didn't often interact. But researchers have discovered that the smaller of the two apex predators was potentially targeting the larger animal.

Simulations reveal an unusual death for ancient stars

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 06:05 AM PDT

Certain primordial stars -- between 55,000 and 56,000 times the mass of our sun, or solar masses -- may have died unusually. In death, these objects -- among the universe's first generation of stars -- would have exploded as supernovae and burned completely, leaving no remnant black hole behind.

Greenland Ice Sheet more vulnerable to climate change than previously thought

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 06:05 AM PDT

A new study finds that the Greenland Ice Sheet, which covers 1.7 million square kilometers and contains enough ice to raise sea levels worldwide by seven meters, is less stable and more sensitive to climate change than previously thought.

Mimicking brain cells to boost computer memory power

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Researchers have brought ultra-fast, nano-scale data storage within striking reach, using technology that mimics the human brain. The researchers have built a novel nano-structure that offers a new platform for the development of highly stable and reliable nanoscale memory devices.

'Cloaking' device uses ordinary lenses to hide objects across range of angles

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 05:52 AM PDT

Inspired perhaps by Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, scientists have recently developed several ways -- some simple and some involving new technologies -- to hide objects from view. The latest effort not only overcomes some of the limitations of previous devices, but it uses inexpensive, readily available materials in a novel configuration.

Human genome was shaped by an evolutionary arms race with itself

Posted: 28 Sep 2014 12:47 PM PDT

An evolutionary arms race between rival elements within the genomes of primates drove the evolution of complex regulatory networks that orchestrate the activity of genes in every cell of our bodies, researach shows. The arms race is between mobile DNA sequences known as 'retrotransposons' (a.k.a. 'jumping genes') and the genes that have evolved to control them.

Pneumonia bacterium leaves tiny lesions in the heart, study finds

Posted: 25 Sep 2014 10:25 AM PDT

The long-observed association between pneumonia and heart failure now has more physical evidence, thanks to research. The researchers found proof that Streptococcus pneumoniae, the leading cause of community-acquired pneumonia, actually physically damages the heart. The bacterium leaves tiny lesions that researchers detected in mouse, rhesus macaque and human autopsy tissue samples.

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