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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Earth's magnetic field could flip within a human lifetime

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 02:08 PM PDT

Earth's last magnetic reversal took place 786,000 years ago and happened very quickly, in less than 100 years -- roughly a human lifetime. The rapid flip, much faster than the thousands of years most geologists thought, comes as new measurements show the planet's magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than normal and could drop to zero in a few thousand years.

Genetic history of tomatoes revealed by new sequencing

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 02:08 PM PDT

The sequencing of 360 tomato varieties has yielded a 'genetic history' of the popular food crop. An important finding is that specific regions of the tomato genome were unintentionally depleted in genetic variation: for example, in DNA around genes conferring larger fruit size or genes for resistance to diseases afflicting tomato plants.

Dinosaur breathing study shows that noses enhanced smelling and cooled brain

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 02:08 PM PDT

It's been millions of years since T. rex took its last breath, but a team led by Ohio University scientists is breathing life back into dinosaurs using high-powered computer simulations to model airflow through dinosaur snouts. The research has important implications for how dinosaurs used their noses to not only breathe but to enhance the sense of smell and cool their brains.

Study warns swift action needed to curb exponential climb in Ebola outbreak

Posted: 22 Sep 2014 08:11 AM PDT

Unless Ebola control measures in west Africa are enhanced quickly, experts from the WHO and Imperial College, London, predict numbers will continue to climb exponentially, and more than 20,000 people will have been infected by early November, according to a new article in the New England Journal of Medicine released 6 months after WHO was first notified of the outbreak in west Africa.

Fish oil supplements have little effect on irregular heartbeat

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 01:04 PM PDT

High doses of fish oil supplements, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, do not reduce atrial fibrillation, a common type of irregular heartbeat in which the heart can beat as fast as 150 beats a minute, results from a clinical trial indicate.

New 'tree of life' traces evolution of a mysterious cotinga birds

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 12:26 PM PDT

They are some of the brightest, loudest, oddest-looking, least-understood birds on the planet, and thanks to a comprehensive new evolutionary 'tree of life' generated for the tropical cotinga family of South America, the door is now open to new discoveries about the more than 60 species in this amazingly diverse group of birds.

NASA study finds 1934 had worst North American drought of last thousand years

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 12:07 PM PDT

A new study using a reconstruction of North American drought history over the last 1,000 years found that the drought of 1934 was the driest and most widespread of the last millennium. Using a tree-ring-based drought record from the years 1000 to 2005 and modern records, scientists found the 1934 drought was 30 percent more severe than the runner-up drought (in 1580) and extended across 71.6 percent of western North America.

Meteorite fragments discovered 20 years after bolide event in Czech Republic

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 11:27 AM PDT

Scientists have discovered meteorite fragments 20 years after the corresponding bolide was seen in the skies of the Czech Republic. This discovery was made possible by reanalyzing the trajectory, which moved the impact line by 330 meters. Interestingly, the meteorites found on the ground are of different types, pointing to a parent asteroid of heterogeneous composition.

Helping outdoor workers reduce skin cancer risk

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 10:04 AM PDT

Skin cancer is one of the biggest fears for one in two outdoor workers, and when the boss and staff work together the sun safe message gets through, a study has found.

Defective gene renders diarrhea vaccine ineffective

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 10:04 AM PDT

Every year rotavirus causes half a million diarrhea-related deaths amongst children in developing countries. Existing vaccines provide poor protection. The reason could be a widespread genetic resistance amongst children, according to virologists.

Taking infestation with a grain of salt: Salinity plays role in insect grazing

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:43 AM PDT

Salinity plays a major role in salt marsh grass's response to insect grazing, new research shows. Plants are always trying to deal with infestation by overcompensating and growing more, researchers say. "But when the plant gets too stressed by the salt, it doesn't care about the insects anymore."

New discovery will enhance yield and quality of cereal and bioenergy crops

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:43 AM PDT

A team of scientists have developed a new way of identifying genes that are important for photosynthesis in maize, and in rice. Their research helps to prioritize candidate genes that can be used for crop improvement and revealed new pathways and information about how plants fix carbon.

Earliest-known lamprey larva fossils unearthed in Inner Mongolia

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:40 AM PDT

Few people devote time to pondering the ancient origins of the eel-like lamprey, yet the evolutionary saga of the bloodsucker holds essential clues to the biological roots of humanity. Scientists now have a description of fossilized lamprey larvae that date back to the Lower Cretaceous -- at least 125 million years ago. They're the oldest identified fossils displaying the creature in stages of pre-metamorphosis and metamorphosis.

Discovery of cellular snooze button advances cancer, biofuel research

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:40 AM PDT

The discovery of a cellular snooze button has allowed a team of scientists to potentially improve biofuel production and offer insight on the early stages of cancer.

Grapes of wrath: Stomping out grape disease one vineyard at a time

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:39 AM PDT

Cracking the genetic code of a common disease affecting grape production could improve vineyard management and help protect the multibillion-dollar grape and wine industry. Scientists are close to completing the genetic blueprint, or microbiome, of grape crown gall tumor disease -- the bane of vineyards worldwide.

Scientists create new protein-based material with some nerve

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:39 AM PDT

Scientists have taken proteins from nerve cells and used them to create a 'smart' material that is extremely sensitive to its environment. The work could lead to new types of biological sensors, flow valves and controlled drug release systems, they report.

Mediterranean diet, olive oil and nuts can help reverse metabolic syndrome

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:39 AM PDT

For people with metabolic syndrome, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts may help reverse the condition, indicate findings from a clinical trial.

Teachable moments about climate change

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 07:31 AM PDT

Mapping first-hand experience of extreme weather conditions helps to target climate education efforts. First-hand experience of extreme weather often makes people change their minds about the realities of climate change. That's because people are simply more aware of an extreme weather event the closer they are to its core, and the more intense the incidence is.

Charged graphene gives DNA a stage to perform molecular gymnastics

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:53 AM PDT

When researchers investigated a method to control how DNA moves through a tiny sequencing device, they did not know they were about to witness a display of molecular gymnastics. The researchers found that a positive charge applied to a graphene nanopore speeds up DNA movement, while a negative charge stops the DNA in its tracks. However, the DNA seemed to dance across the graphene surface, pirouetting into sequence-specific shapes they had never seen.

Rising sea levels of 1.8 meters in worst-case scenario, researchers calculate

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:59 AM PDT

The climate is getting warmer, the ice sheets are melting and sea levels are rising -- but how much? The report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013 was based on the best available estimates of future sea levels, but the panel was not able to come up with an upper limit for sea level rise within this century. Now researchers have calculated the risk for a worst-case scenario. The results indicate that at worst, the sea level would rise a maximum of 1.8 meters.

Fly genome could help improve health, environment

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:51 AM PDT

The house fly might be a worldwide pest, but its genome will provide information that could improve our lives. From insights into pathogen immunity, to pest control and decomposing waste, the 691 Mb genome has been sequenced and analyzed by a global consortium of scientists.

New forecasting method: Predicting extreme floods in the Andes mountains

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:51 AM PDT

Predicting floods following extreme rainfall in the central Andes is enabled by a new method. Climate change has made these events more frequent and more severe in recent decades. Now complex networks analysis of satellite weather data makes it possible to produce a robust warning system for the first time.

Archaeologists discover bronze remains of Iron Age chariot in the UK

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:50 AM PDT

Archaeologists in the UK have discovered the decorated bronze remains of an Iron Age chariot. The rare set of decorated chariot fittings appear to have been buried as a religious offering. The archaeologists found the remains during their ongoing excavation of the Burrough Hill Iron Age hillfort, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

Autophagy helps fast track stem cell activation

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:49 AM PDT

A link between a protective mechanism used by cells and the activation of muscle stem cells has been discovered by researchers. Cells use autophagy to recycle cellular "building blocks" and generate energy during times of nutrient deprivation. The scientists report that when this protective mechanism is operational it also seems to assist in the activation of stem cells.

A new innovative way to fertilize through leaves

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:49 AM PDT

A new study suggests that foliar fertilization could be used as a tool to produce plants for high quality reforestation.

Fossilized bird egg offers clues to Brazil's prehistoric past

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:49 AM PDT

Brazilian scientists have discovered a near-intact fossilized bird egg -- the country's first -- in Sao Paulo State. Compared to the abundance of eggs from non-avian dinosaurs, finds of complete eggs from Mezosoic birds are relatively scarce.

Are there enough fish to go around?

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:49 AM PDT

The gap between declining wild fish supplies and healthy eating advice recommending more seafood has been addressed in a new report. Today, domestic fish supplies fall far below consumption levels recommended by experts, supplying just one fifth of the two portions per week advice. The shortfall has been masked in part by increased imports and aquaculture, which together raise the figure to four fifths.

Solar activity impacts polar ozone

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:38 AM PDT

The increase in greenhouse gases explains, to a large extent, the rise in the average temperature of the Earth. According to a new research study, the Sun affects middle atmosphere ozone with potential implications on smaller scale to regional, but not global, climate.

Extreme weather events raise awareness of adaptation needs

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:38 AM PDT

Adapting to climate change has reached the political agenda in most European countries, according to the most comprehensive analysis of adaptation in Europe published to date. Extreme weather events and EU policies were the most common reasons for beginning to address adaptation.

Some sections of the San Andreas Fault system in San Francisco Bay Area are locked, overdue

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 04:06 PM PDT

Four urban sections of the San Andreas Fault system in Northern California have stored enough energy to produce major earthquakes, according to a new study that measures fault creep. Three fault sections -- Hayward, Rodgers Creek and Green Valley -- are nearing or past their average recurrence interval, according to the new study.

How deadly MERS virus enters human cells

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 04:03 PM PDT

Details of how the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) enters host cells have been uncovered by researchers. These findings offer possible new avenues for treatment.

Treating cancer: Biologists find gene that could stop tumors in their tracks

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 09:30 AM PDT

A gene in a soil amoeba that can overcompensate for the specific mutations of a similar gene has been found by researchers. In humans, those genetic mutations can often lead to tumor growth. Researchers are now looking for a separate human gene that could overcompensate for mutations in the same way.

Methods will reverse arsenic danger in Bangladesh water supply

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 06:02 AM PDT

Arsenic poisoning is widespread in Bangladesh, where ground water is contaminated by runoff from the Himalayas. Now researchers have developed two simple and cheap methods that well drillers can use to tap arsenic-safe drinking water.

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