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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Deepwater Horizon spill: Much of the oil at bottom of the sea

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:29 PM PDT

Due to its unprecedented scope, the damage assessment caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been a challenge. One unsolved puzzle is the location of 2 million barrels of submerged oil thought to be trapped in the deep ocean.

Reducing population is no environmental 'quick fix'

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:19 PM PDT

New multi-scenario modelling of world human population has concluded that even stringent fertility restrictions or a catastrophic mass mortality would not bring about large enough change this century to solve issues of global sustainability.

How culture influences violence among the Amazon's ‘fierce people'

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:19 PM PDT

When Yanomamö men in the Amazon raided villages and killed decades ago, they formed alliances with men in other villages rather than just with close kin like chimpanzees do. And the spoils of war came from marrying their allies' sisters and daughters, rather than taking their victims' land and women.

Using microscopic bugs to save the bees

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:49 AM PDT

For decades, honeybees have been battling a deadly disease that kills off their babies -- larvae -- and leads to hive collapse. It's called American Foulbrood and its effects are so devastating and infectious, it often requires infected hives to be burned to the ground. Now researchers have produced a natural way to eliminate the scourge, and it's working: Using tiny killer bugs known as phages to protect baby bees from infection.

Hot on the trail of the Asian tiger mosquito

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:48 AM PDT

The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) was spotted in Houston in 1985 but can now be found in all of the southern states and as far north as Maine. To reconstruct its spread, scientists turned to the new discipline of landscape genetics. Correlating genetic patterns with landscape patterns, they concluded that the mosquito had hitched a ride along highways. One of only a handful of landscape genetics studies to track an invasive species, this is the first to detect hitchhiking.

Penguin chick weights connected to local weather conditions

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:46 AM PDT

Oceanographers have reported a connection between local weather conditions and the weight of Adélie penguin chicks. Adélie penguins are an indigenous species of the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), one of the most rapidly warming areas on Earth. Since 1950, the average annual temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula has increased 2 degrees Celsius on average, and 6 degrees Celsius during winter.

Millions in unused medical supplies in U.S. operating rooms each year

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:45 AM PDT

Surgeons urge the salvage of syringes, sutures, gauze, towels to improve care in developing countries. A new report highlights not only an opportunity for U.S. hospitals to help relieve the global burden of surgically treatable diseases, but also a means of reducing the cost and environmental impact of medical waste disposal at home, authors say.

Citizen science network produces accurate maps of atmospheric dust

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 09:03 AM PDT

Measurements by thousands of citizen scientists in the Netherlands using their smartphones and the iSPEX add-on are delivering accurate data on dust particles in the atmosphere that add valuable information to professional measurements. The research team analyzed all measurements from three days in 2013 and combined them into unique maps of dust particles above the Netherlands. The results match and sometimes even exceed those of ground-based measurement networks and satellite instruments.

Hail storms: Automatic detection and measurement of crop damage

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 08:57 AM PDT

Using data from an instrument aboard a 3-year-old satellite, a graduate student hopes to develop a system that will automatically detect and measure crop damage caused by hail storms anywhere in the U.S.

Combating parasitic worm infections by adapting breakthrough technologies

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 08:57 AM PDT

Experts are calling for researchers to adapt new technologies to research neglected parasitic flatworms. "It took several years of work to sequence the genomes of the major species of flatworm parasites. However, now that we have this information, we can focus on genes of interest," said a co-author.

New view on how cells control what comes in and out

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 08:57 AM PDT

A common protein plays a different role than previously thought in the opening and closing of channels that let ions flow in and out of our cells, researchers report. Those channels are critical to life, as having the right concentrations of sodium and calcium ions in cells enables healthy brain communication, heart contraction and many other processes. The new study reveals that a form of calmodulin long thought to be dormant actually opens these channels wide. The finding is likely to bring new insight into disorders caused by faulty control of these channels, such as cardiac arrhythmias, epilepsy and Parkinson's disease, the researchers say.

Emergent behavior lets bubbles 'sense' environment

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:05 AM PDT

Tiny, soapy bubbles can reorganize their membranes to let material flow in and out in response to the surrounding environment, according to researchers. This behavior could be exploited in creating microbubbles that deliver drugs or other payloads inside the body -- and could help us understand how the very first living cells on Earth might have survived billions of years ago.

Cell membranes self-assemble

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:04 AM PDT

A self-driven reaction can assemble phospholipid membranes like those that enclose cells. The new process is specific and non-toxic, and can be used in the presence of biomolecules one might want to study within artificial cells. The technique could also be used to assemble packets for drug delivery.

Vaccine candidate highly efficacious against bacterial diarrhea, clinical results indicate

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:04 AM PDT

A live attenuated enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli vaccine candidate, given in combination with a novel adjuvant, provided significant protection against disease, new results from a safety and immunogenicity study, which included a challenge phase to test efficacy, indicate.

A GPS from the chemistry set

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:03 AM PDT

You don't always need GPS, a map or a compass to find the right way. What demands a tremendous amount of computational power from today's navigation computers can also be achieved by taking advantage of the laws of physical chemistry and practicing so-called "chemical computing". The trick works as follows: A gel mixed with acid is applied at the exit of a labyrinth – i.e. the destination – filled with alkaline liquid. Within a shorttime, the acid spreads through the alkaline maze, although the majority of it remains together with the gel at the exit. When an alkaline solution mixed with dyes is now added to the other end of the maze, i.e. the entrance, it automatically seeks the way to the exit – the point with the highest acidity. 

How staph infections elude the immune system

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:02 AM PDT

By tricking the immune system into generating antibodies specific for only one bacterial protein, Staphylococcus aureus dodges the production of antibodies that might otherwise protect against infection. Vaccine approaches must be designed to side-step this bacterial subterfuge, experts say.

The Ebola epidemic: Is there a way out?

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:54 AM PDT

Although no licensed vaccines against Ebola exist on the market, 'significant progress' has been made in the last few months, according to immunology experts.

Feathers in flight inspire anti-turbulence technology

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:52 AM PDT

Inspired by nature's own anti-turbulence devices – feathers – researchers have developed an innovative system that could spell the end of turbulence on flights.

How cells know which way to go

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:50 AM PDT

Amoebas aren't the only cells that crawl: Movement is crucial to development, wound healing and immune response in animals, not to mention cancer metastasis. In two new studies, researchers answer long-standing questions about how complex cells sense the chemical trails that show them where to go — and the role of cells' internal "skeleton" in responding to those cues.

Heart drug may help treat ALS, mouse study shows

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:54 PM PDT

Digoxin, a medication used in the treatment of heart failure, may be adaptable for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive, paralyzing disease, suggests new research.

A switch to dampen malignancy

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:53 PM PDT

A key mechanism has been found that governs how cells of the epithelia, the soft lining of inner body cavities, shift between a rigid, highly structured and immobile state and a flexible and motile form.

Right place, right time: Cellular transportation compartments

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:53 PM PDT

Proteins are the machinery that accomplishes almost every task in every cell in every living organism. The instructions for how to build each protein are written into a cell's DNA. But once the proteins are constructed, they must be shipped off to the proper place to perform their jobs. New work describes a potentially new pathway for targeting newly manufactured proteins to the correct location.

Breakthrough in molecular electronics paves way for new generation of DNA-based computer circuits

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:52 PM PDT

Scientists have announced a significant breakthrough toward developing DNA-based electrical circuits. Molecular electronics, which uses molecules as building blocks for the fabrication of electronic components, has been seen as the ultimate solution to the miniaturization challenge. However, to date, no one has actually been able to make complex electrical circuits using molecules. Now scientists report reproducible and quantitative measurements of electricity flow through long molecules made of four DNA strands, signaling a significant breakthrough towards the development of DNA-based electrical circuits.

Earthworms, ants, termites: The real engineers of the ecosystem

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 12:49 PM PDT

New the research has focused on the study of soil invertebrates because they are indicators of its quality, scientists say. "These organisms fulfill various functions,like allowing the soil to absorb processed organic matter such as leaves, wood, trunks and branches and with this nourishing crops; they also maintain an ecological balance capable of preventing the invasion of pests and provide greater fertility without using chemicals. This happens when growing different types of plants, allowing the existence of a wide variety of soil invertebrates" researchers explain.

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