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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

Satellite measurements reveal gravity dip from ice loss in West Antarctica

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 04:54 PM PDT

Although not designed to map changes in Earth's gravity over time, ESA's GOCE satellite has shown that the ice lost from West Antarctica over the last few years has left its signature. More than doubling its planned life in orbit, GOCE spent four years measuring Earth's gravity in unprecedented detail. Researchers have found that the decrease in the mass of ice during this period was mirrored in GOCE's measurements.

Cold Atom Laboratory chills atoms to new lows

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 04:45 PM PDT

NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) mission has succeeded in producing a state of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, a key breakthrough for the instrument leading up to its debut on the International Space Station in late 2016.

Aral Sea loses its eastern lobe -- first time in modern history, NASA's Terra satellite shows

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 04:33 PM PDT

Summer 2014 marked another milestone for the Aral Sea, the once-extensive lake in Central Asia that has been shrinking markedly since the 1960s. For the first time in modern history, the eastern basin of the South Aral Sea has completely dried.

CDC and Texas Health Department confirm first Ebola case diagnosed in the U.S.

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 04:09 PM PDT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed today, through laboratory tests, the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States in a person who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia. The patient did not have symptoms when leaving West Africa, but developed symptoms approximately four days after arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20.

NASA's Swift mission observes mega flares from nearby red dwarf star

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 02:15 PM PDT

On April 23, NASA's Swift satellite detected the strongest, hottest, and longest-lasting sequence of stellar flares ever seen from a nearby red dwarf star. The initial blast from this record-setting series of explosions was as much as 10,000 times more powerful than the largest solar flare ever recorded.

Blades of grass inspire advance in organic solar cells

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 11:42 AM PDT

Using a bio-mimicking analog of one of nature's most efficient light-harvesting structures, blades of grass, an international research team has taken a major step in developing long-sought polymer architecture to boost power-conversion efficiency of light to electricity for use in electronic devices.

Study uncovers important process for immune system development

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 11:42 AM PDT

Immunologists reveals new information about how our immune system functions, shedding light on a vital process that determines how the body's ability to fight infection develops.

Disease decoded: Gene mutation may lead to development of new cancer drugs

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 11:42 AM PDT

The discovery of a gene mutation that causes a rare premature aging disease could lead to the development of drugs that block the rapid, unstoppable cell division that makes cancer so deadly, researchers report.

New dimension for integrated circuits: 3-D nanomagnetic logic

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 11:42 AM PDT

Electrical engineers have demonstrated a new kind of building block for digital integrated circuits. Their experiments show that future computer chips could be based on three-dimensional arrangements of nanometer-scale magnets instead of transistors. As CMOS, the main enabling technology of the semiconductor industry, approaches fundamental limits, researchers are exploring 'magnetic computing' as an alternative.

Study shows how chimpanzees share skills: Evidence of new behavior being transmitted socially

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 11:41 AM PDT

Biologists have found evidence of new behavior being adopted and transmitted socially from one individual to another within a wild chimpanzee community. This is the first instance of social learning recorded in the wild.

How dinosaur arms turned into bird wings

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 11:41 AM PDT

Although we now appreciate that birds evolved from a branch of the dinosaur family tree, a crucial adaptation for flight has continued to puzzle evolutionary biologists. During the millions of years that elapsed, wrists went from straight to bent and hyperflexible, allowing birds to fold their wings neatly against their bodies when not flying. A resolution to this impasse is now provided by an exciting new study.

Novel method for making electrical cellulose fibers

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 11:34 AM PDT

By using liquid salts during formation instead of harsh chemicals, fibers that conduct electricity can be strengthened, according to new research.

Memory loss associated with Alzheimer's reversed: Small trial succeeds using systems approach to memory disorders

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 11:34 AM PDT

In the first, small study of a novel, personalized and comprehensive program to reverse memory loss, nine of 10 participants displayed subjective or objective improvement in their memories beginning within three to six months after the program's start.

Depression increasing across the United States

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 10:28 AM PDT

Americans are more depressed now than they have been in decades, a recent study shows. Analyzing data from 6.9 million adolescents and adults from all over the country, researchers found that Americans now report more psychosomatic symptoms of depression, such as trouble sleeping and trouble concentrating, than their counterparts in the 1980s.

High-speed drug screen developed

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 10:27 AM PDT

Engineers have devised a way to rapidly test hundreds of different drug-delivery vehicles in living animals, making it easier to discover promising new ways to deliver a class of drugs called biologics, which includes antibodies, peptides, RNA, and DNA, to human patients.

How to predict who will suffer the most from stress

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 10:27 AM PDT

New research has found a way to identify those most susceptible to stress. That's a huge help for health-care professionals working to stop stress before it gets out of control. "By pinpointing those in the general population who are most vulnerable to stress, we can intervene before they hit the breaking point -- and hopefully prevent the negative consequences of stress by doing so. That's why it's important to have an objective diagnostic tool like this one," a researcher says.

Medications are main culprit of allergic deaths in U.S., comprehensive study finds

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 10:25 AM PDT

Medications are the leading cause of allergy-related sudden deaths in the U.S., according to an analysis of death certificates from 1999 to 2010. The study also found that the risk of fatal drug-induced allergic reactions was particularly high among older people and African-Americans and that such deaths increased significantly in the U.S. in recent years.

Revisiting Stokes drift: Waves of the future

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 10:25 AM PDT

The 19th-century 'Stokes drift' concept that a tiny sphere on a small wave would trace a spiral, not a closed circle, was assumed to be unlikely to occur in nature. But using 21st-century technologies, scientists found that not only do the particles move, they move predictably, and can even be planned.

A heartbeat away? Hybrid 'patch' could replace transplants

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:34 AM PDT

Because heart cells cannot multiply and cardiac muscles contain few stem cells, heart tissue is unable to repair itself after a heart attack. Now researchers are literally setting a new gold standard in cardiac tissue engineering, using gold particles to increase the conductivity of biomaterials.

Potential biomarker to detect SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency)

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:33 AM PDT

A genetic disease called SCID -- short for severe combined immunodeficiency -- forces patients to breathe filtered air and avoid human contact because their bodies cannot fight germs. Now, using a mouse model, researchers describe a potential biomarker to detect SCID.

Pollution linked to lethal sea turtle tumors

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:33 AM PDT

Polluted urban and farm runoff in Hawaii has been linked to lethal tumors in endangered sea turtles. A new study finds that excess nitrogen in the runoff accumulates in algae that the turtles eat and can cause the disease Fibropapillomatosis which is the leading known cause of death in endangered green sea turtles. The disease causes the formation of tumors on the animals' eyes, flippers, and internal organs.

How to make a 'perfect' solar absorber

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:32 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a solar cell that can tap the sun's full radiation spectrum. The material is a two-dimensional metallic dielectric photonic crystal, and has the additional benefits of absorbing sunlight from a wide range of angles and withstanding extremely high temperatures. Perhaps most importantly, the material can also be made cheaply at large scales.

How to beat monk parakeets at their own game: Scientists prevent nests on utility poles

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:32 AM PDT

Researchers have announced they have found a way to prevent Monk Parakeets from building huge nests on utility poles by blocking access to the electric lines that are the gateway to their nesting sites.

New material steals oxygen from the air: One spoonful absorbs all the oxygen in a room

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:32 AM PDT

Researchers have synthesized crystalline materials that can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations. Just one spoon of the substance is enough to absorb all the oxygen in a room. The stored oxygen can be released again when and where it is needed.

Synthetic sperm protein raises the chance for successful in vitro fertilization

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:32 AM PDT

Having trouble getting pregnant -- even with in vitro fertilization? Here's some hope: A new research report explains how scientists developed a synthetic version of a sperm-originated protein which induced embryo development in human and mouse eggs similar to the natural triggering of embryo development by the sperm cell during fertilization.

New blood test determines whether you have or are likely to get cancer

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:32 AM PDT

Early detection and the risk assessment of cancer as easy as a simple blood test, a new study suggests. "A blood test to detect cancer and determine one's risk for cancer is a game-changer," said one expert. "A test like this -- which is sophisticated in design and simple to perform -- could make effective cancer screening available in places where traditional medical technology might not be available."

Scientists identify which genes are active in muscles of men, women

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:31 AM PDT

If you want your doctor to know what goes wrong with your muscles because of age, disease or injury, it's a good idea to know what 'normal' actually is. That's where a new research report comes in, authors explain.

Adolescent exposure to THC may cause immune systems to go up in smoke

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:31 AM PDT

When it comes to using marijuana, new research involving mice suggests that just because you can do it, doesn't mean that you should. That's because a team of scientists have found that using marijuana in adolescence may do serious long-term damage to the immune system.

High metabolic rates and low temperatures were associated with high risk-taking behavior in birds

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:31 AM PDT

A long-term study on different populations of great tits has shown that risk-taking behavior correlates with both metabolic rate and ambient temperature. High metabolic rates and low temperatures were associated with high risk-taking behavior, as in these scenarios birds were more likely to approach potential predators.

Entanglement made tangible

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:31 AM PDT

Scientists have designed a first-ever experiment for demonstrating quantum entanglement in the macroscopic realm. Unlike other such proposals, the experiment is relatively easy to set up and run with existing semiconductor devices.

Bacteria may have ability to reduce impact of diazepam on UK river environments

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:31 AM PDT

A reaction pathway that could reduce the potentially harmful impact of diazepam and similar chemicals on the UK's freshwater environment has been discovered by researchers. Diazepam -- used to treat anxiety and other similar conditions -- has been detected in rivers across the UK and Europe, having been released from waste water treatment plants. At the levels recorded, it has the potential to produce harmful ecological effects in surface waters, including changing the behavior of fish shoals and their ability to sense danger from predators.

Breakthrough study discovers six changing faces of 'global killer' bacteria

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:19 AM PDT

Every ten seconds a human being dies from pneumococcus infection, making it the leading cause of serious illness across the globe. New research discovers six unique states of pneumococcus, which may help in the development of tailored vaccines.

Fuel cell-powered mobile lights tested, proven, ready for commercial use

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:16 AM PDT

Mobile lighting systems powered by hydrogen fuel cells are cleaner, quieter and now have a proven track record in applications such as nighttime construction, sports and entertainment events and airport operations, making them ready for commercialization and broader use, developers say.

Florida's climate boosts soil-carbon storage, cuts greenhouse emissions

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:16 AM PDT

Sequestration helps mitigate carbon-based gases from getting into the atmosphere. A new study shows Florida's warm, wet climate helps keep carbon in the soil. Soil-stored carbon can slow the build-up of carbon-based gases in the atmosphere, a phenomenon believed to be a cause of global climate change.

Ebola: New therapies to combat virus

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:14 AM PDT

New human antibody therapies have been developed for people exposed to the deadly Ebola and Marburg viruses, researchers report. Researchers are using a high-efficiency method to isolate and generate large quantities of human antibodies from the blood of people who have survived Ebola and Marburg infections and who are now healthy. No live virus is used, they say.

Unexpected new mechanism reveals how molecules become trapped in ice

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:14 AM PDT

Expanding our knowledge of the way molecules interact with ice surfaces is a key goal not only for climate change but also a much wider range of other environmental, scientific and defense-related issues. Now, a team of researchers has discovered a new mechanism they call "stable energetic embedding" of atoms and molecules within ice.

Taking thin films to the extreme

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:14 AM PDT

Applying a well-known optical phenomenon called thin-film interference, a group of researchers has demonstrated the ability to "paint" ultra-thin coatings onto a rough surface -- work that holds promise for making future, flexible electronic devices, creating advanced solar cells and detailing the sides of next-gen rocket ships and spacecraft with extremely lightweight decorative logos.

Laser-guided herds of sea monkeys show how zooplankton migrations may affect global ocean currents

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:14 AM PDT

Sea monkeys have captured the popular attention of both children and aquarium hobbyists because of their easily observable life cycle. Physicists are interested in a shorter-term pattern: Like other zooplankton, brine shrimp vertically migrate in large groups throughout the day in response to changing light conditions. New research suggests that the collective movement of small marine organisms could affect global ocean circulation patterns on a level comparable to the wind and the tides.

Genomic data could help doctors know whether to prescribe statins

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:06 AM PDT

Genomic data could predict whether statins will benefit a patient or not, according to a new article. The research suggests that genomic data alone can explain around 15 percent of patients' responses to a cholesterol-lowering statin, and further studies could increase the accuracy of these predictions.

Gene doubling shapes the world: Instant speciation, biodiversity, and the root of our existence

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:06 AM PDT

Researchers emphasize that polyploidy and the important role it has played, especially in plant evolution, would not have gained the recognition it deserves would it not have been for its staunch proponent, G. L. Stebbins. In the mid-20th century Stebbins synthesized what was known at that time about polyploidy, classifying different types of ploidy, discussing ancient polyploidy events, and investigating hybridizing species and polyploid derivatives.

Alcohol makes smiles more 'contagious,' but only for men

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:06 AM PDT

Consuming an alcoholic beverage may make men more responsive to the smiles of others in their social group, according to new research. The findings suggest that, for men, alcohol increases sensitivity to rewarding social behaviors like smiling, and may shed light on risk factors that contribute to problem drinking among men.

Endoscopists recommend frequent colonoscopies, leading to its overuse, study finds

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:06 AM PDT

An overuse of colonoscopies for colorectal cancer screening and surveillance has been identified by a retrospective study. The study demonstrated that endoscopists commonly recommended shorter follow-up intervals than established guidelines support, and these recommendations were strongly correlated with subsequent colonoscopy overuse.

High-dose vitamin D for ICU patients who are vitamin D deficient does not improve outcomes

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:06 AM PDT

Administration of high-dose vitamin D3 compared with placebo did not reduce hospital length of stay, intensive care unit length of stay, hospital mortality, or the risk of death at 6 months among patients with vitamin D deficiency who were critically ill, according to a study.

Gut bacteria promote obesity in mice

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:06 AM PDT

A species of gut bacteria called Clostridium ramosum, coupled with a high-fat diet, may cause animals to gain weight, researchers report. They observed that mice harboring human gut bacteria including C. ramosum gained weight when fed a high-fat diet. Mice that did not have C. ramosum were less obese even when consuming a high-fat diet, and mice that had C. ramosum but consumed a low-fat diet also stayed lean.

Coral's best defender against an army of sea stars: Crabs

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:06 AM PDT

Coral reefs face a suite of perilous threats in today's ocean. From overfishing and pollution to coastal development and climate change, fragile coral ecosystems are disappearing at unprecedented rates. Despite this trend, some species of corals surrounding the island of Moorea in French Polynesia have a natural protector in their tropical environment: coral guard-crabs. New research has helped unravel the complex symbiotic relationship between these crabs and the coral reefs they live in and defend.

New learning mechanism for individual nerve cells

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:05 AM PDT

Learning is based on the strengthening or weakening of the contacts between the nerve cells in the brain -- this has been the traditional understanding. However, this has been challenged by new research findings. These indicate that there is also a third mechanism -- a kind of clock function that gives individual nerve cells the ability to time their reactions.

Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids linked to reduced risk of coronary heart disease

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, a recent study has found. The sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids include fish, vegetable oils, and nuts. The present study shows, in line with earlier research, that the risk of cardiovascular diseases can be reduced by replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats.

Cancer therapy: Driving cancer cells to suicide

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

A new class of chemical compounds makes cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapeutic drugs, researchers report. They have also pinpointed the relevant target enzyme, thus identifying a new target for anti-tumor agents.

Space debris expert warns of increasing small satellite collision risk

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

The increasing number of small 'CubeSat' satellites being launched combined with a relaxed attitude to debris mitigation could lead to hazards for all space users unless preventative measures are taken, warns a leading space debris expert.

Fish need time to adjust to new environmental conditions

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

Fish can live in almost any aquatic environment on Earth, but when the climate changes and temperatures go up many species are pushed to the limit. The amount of time needed to adjust to new conditions could prove critical for how different species cope in the future, reveals a new study.

First evidence that reptiles can learn through imitation

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

New research has for the first time provided evidence that reptiles could be capable of social learning through imitation. The ability to acquire new skills through the 'true imitation' of others' behavior is thought to be unique to humans and advanced primates, such as chimpanzees.  

Biodiversity does not always improve resistance of forest ecosystems to drought

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

The resistance of forests to drought has been studied, with a focus on the diversity of tree species. This study shows that mixed species forests are more resistant to drought stress than monocultures in some regions only: tree diversity may afford resistance to drought stress only in drought-prone areas, i.e. in regions where the frequency and severity of drought during the growing season is high.

Astronomers find 'cousin' planets around twin stars

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

Astronomers have found two new Jupiter-sized extra-solar planets, each orbiting one star of a binary-star system.  Most known extra-solar planets orbit stars that are alone, like our Sun. Yet many stars are part of binary systems, twin stars formed from the same gas cloud. Now, for the first time, two stars of a binary system are both found to host a "hot Jupiter'' exoplanet.

Safer than silver: Antibacterial material made with algae

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Consumers concerned about safety of silver ions in antibacterial and odor-free clothing will soon have a proven safe alternative thanks to ultra-thin thread and a substance found naturally in red algae.

Genetic test would help cut bowel cancer spread, research suggests

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Screening families of patients with bowel cancer for a genetic condition would cut their risk of developing bowel, womb, and ovarian cancers, new research has found. "It's critical that more lives are saved by ensuring people gain access to the screening surveillance they need, so that bowel cancer can be ruled out first, not last, in younger patients," researchers note.

Development models put to the test: Low birth weight children are particularly vulnerable to environmental influences

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Low birth weight children are more vulnerable to environmental influences than infants born with normal weight. When brought up with a great deal of sensitivity, they will be able to catch up in school, but on average they will not become better students than normal birth weight children. This result, provided by an international psychologist team, has confirmed the so-called diathesis-stress model of development for low birth weight populations.

Selectively rewiring brain's circuitry to treat depression

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:03 AM PDT

On Star Trek, it is easy to take for granted the incredible ability of futuristic doctors to wave small devices over the heads of both humans and aliens, diagnose their problems through evaluating changes in brain activity or chemistry, and then treat behavior problems by selectively stimulating relevant brain circuits. While that day is a long way off, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex does treat symptoms of depression in humans by placing a relatively small device on a person's scalp and stimulating brain circuits.

Asthma symptoms kicking up? Check your exposure to air pollution

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:01 AM PDT

A woman who suffers from asthma has been the subject of a recent case study. She, along with her doctor, realized that by changing her bike route to and from work every day, she can cut down on the pollution to which she's exposed, thereby improving her asthma symptoms.

New discovery approach accelerates identification of potential cancer treatments

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:01 AM PDT

A new approach to discovering potential cancer treatments has been described by researchers that requires a fraction of the time needed for more traditional methods. The researchers have used their method to identify an antibody that stops breast cancer tumor growth in animal models, and they are investigating the antibody as a potential treatment in humans.

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