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Thursday, October 2, 2014

ScienceDaily: Strange Science News

ScienceDaily: Strange Science News

Decreased ability to identify odors can predict death: Olfactory dysfunction is a harbinger of mortality

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 12:55 PM PDT

The inability of older adults to identify scents is a strong predictor of death within five years. Almost 40% of those who failed a smelling test died during that period, compared to 10% of those with a healthy sense of smell. Olfactory dysfunction predicted mortality better than a diagnosis of heart failure or cancer.

Swirling cloud at Titan's pole is cold and toxic

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 11:00 AM PDT

Scientists analyzing data from NASA's Cassini mission have discovered that a giant, toxic cloud is hovering over the south pole of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, after the atmosphere there cooled dramatically. The scientists found that this giant polar vortex contains frozen particles of the toxic compound hydrogen cyanide, or HCN.

Why wet feels wet: Understanding the illusion of wetness

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:34 AM PDT

Though it seems simple, feeling that something is wet is quite a feat because our skin does not have receptors that sense wetness. UK researchers propose that wetness perception is intertwined with our ability to sense cold temperature and tactile sensations such as pressure and texture.

Gut bacteria are protected by host during illness

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:34 AM PDT

To protect their gut microbes during illness, sick mice produce specialized sugars in the gut that feed their microbiota and maintain a healthy microbial balance. This protective mechanism also appears to help resist or tolerate additional harmful pathogens, and its disruption may play a role in human diseases such as Crohn's disease.

Solving the mystery of the 'Man in the Moon': Volcanic plume, not an asteroid, likely created the moon's largest basin

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:30 AM PDT

New data obtained by NASA's GRAIL mission reveals that the Procellarum region on the near side of the moon -- a giant basin often referred to as the "man in the moon" -- likely arose not from a massive asteroid strike, but from a large plume of magma deep within the moon's interior.

Nature collides with James Bond: Newly discovered ant species hides in plain sight

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:26 AM PDT

A new species of ant has been discovered that uses social parasitism to access host ant species' food sources and foraging trails: Cephalotes specularis, commonly known as the mirror turtle ant. Mirror turtle ants are the first-known ant species to use visual mimicry to parasitize another ant species. They have mastered the movements of C. ampla and are careful to dodge the host ants to avoid them detecting C. specularis' scent. By mimicking C. ampla, the mirror turtle ants can access their food and follow their foraging trails to food sources. In spy terms, this new form of social parasitism allows ants to steal food from an enemy.

Paint on 'smart' bandage emits phosphorescent glow for healing below

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:26 AM PDT

Inspired by a desire to help wounded soldiers, a team of researchers has created a paint-on, see-through, 'smart' bandage that glows to indicate a wound's tissue oxygenation concentration. Because oxygen plays a critical role in healing, mapping these levels in severe wounds and burns can help significantly improve the success of surgeries to restore limbs and physical functions.

Robot researcher combines nature to nurture 'superhuman' navigation

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:25 AM PDT

Researchers are investigating realistic navigation for robots using computer modeling of the human eye and the brain of a rat.

Semen secrets: How a previous sexual partner can influence another male's offspring

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:02 AM PDT

Scientists have discovered a new form of non-genetic inheritance, showing for the first time that offspring can resemble a mother's previous sexual partner -- in flies at least. Researchers manipulated the size of male flies and studied their offspring. They found that the size of the young was determined by the size of the first male the mother mated with, rather than the second male that sired the offspring.

Students astonished by stuttering star

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:00 AM PDT

Secondary school students in Australia have helped reveal weird, jittery behavior in a pulsar called PSR J1717-4054. Pulsars are super-dense, highly magnetized balls of 'neutron matter' the size of a small city. They form when stars with more than 10 times the mass of our Sun explode as supernovae, leaving behind a compact remnant made of material far denser than ordinary matter. The name pulsar is given to these objects because they spin and emit pulses of radio waves.

Microbes in Central Park soil: If they can make it there, they can make it anywhere

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 05:59 AM PDT

Researchers have uncovered more than 167,000 kinds of bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes in the soil beneath one of the nation's iconic urban environments. That's 260 times as many species of birds, plants and invertebrates that live in New York City's Central Park -- combined.

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