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Thursday, October 2, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

Understanding Greenland Ice Sheet's meltwater channels

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 03:59 PM PDT

Observations of moulins (vertical conduits connecting water on top of the glacier down to the bed of the ice sheet) and boreholes in Greenland show that subglacial channels ameliorate the speedup caused by water delivery to the base of the ice sheet in the short term. By mid summer, however, the channels stabilize and are unable to grow any larger.

Hypertension risk rises closer to major roadways

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 03:57 PM PDT

In a newly published analysis, the risk of high blood pressure among 5,400 post-menopausal women was higher the closer they lived to a major roadway. The result, which accounts for a wide variety of possible confounding factors, adds to concerns that traffic exposure may present public health risks.

Spiders: Survival of the fittest group

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 03:44 PM PDT

Researchers have uncovered the first-ever field-based evidence for a biological mechanism called 'group selection' contributing to local adaptation in natural populations. Evolutionary theorists have been debating the existence and power of group selection for decades. Now two scientists have observed it in the wild.

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.

Coral reef winners and losers as water temperatures rise

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:32 AM PDT

Contrary to the popular research-based assumption that the world's coral reefs are doomed, a new longitudinal study paints a brighter picture of how corals may fare in the future. A subset of present coral fauna will likely populate oceans as water temperatures continue to rise, researchers have reported.

New frontier in error-correcting codes

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:32 AM PDT

Error-correcting codes are one of the glories of the information age: They're what guarantee the flawless transmission of digital information over the airwaves or through copper wire, even in the presence of the corrupting influences that engineers call "noise."

Treatment of substance abuse can lessen risk of future violence in mentally ill

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:31 AM PDT

If a person is dually diagnosed with a severe mental illness and a substance abuse problem, are improvements in their mental health or in their substance abuse most likely to reduce the risk of future violence? A new study suggests that reducing substance abuse has a greater influence in reducing violent acts by patients with severe mental illness.

Predicting impact of climate change on species that can't get out of the way

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:31 AM PDT

When scientists talk about the consequences of climate change, it can mean more than how we human beings will be impacted by higher temperatures, rising seas and serious storms. Plants and trees are also feeling the change, but they can't move out of the way. Researchers have developed a new tool to overcome a major challenge of predicting how organisms may respond to climate change.

Hide and seek: Sterile neutrinos remain elusive

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:31 AM PDT

Scientists studying the subtle transformations of subatomic particles called neutrinos, is publishing its first results on the search for a so-called sterile neutrino, a possible new type of neutrino beyond the three known neutrino 'flavors,' or types. The existence of this elusive particle, if proven, would have a profound impact on our understanding of the universe, and could impact the design of future neutrino experiments.

What happens in our brain when we unlock a door? Research sheds light on Aprixia condition

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:31 AM PDT

People who are unable to button up their jacket or who find it difficult to insert a key in lock suffer from a condition known as apraxia. This means that their motor skills have been impaired -- as a result of a stroke, for instance. Scientists have now discovered that there is a specific network in the brain for using tools.

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.

Genetic secrets of the monarch butterfly revealed

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Sequencing the genomes of monarch butterflies from around the world, a team of scientists has made surprising new insights into the monarch's genetics. They identified a single gene that appears central to migration -- a behavior generally regarded as complex -- and another that controls pigmentation. The researchers also shed light on the evolutionary origins of the monarch.

Giving botox a safer facelift: Structures of botulinum neurotoxins studied

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 10:30 AM PDT

New insights into botulinum neurotoxins and their interactions with cells are moving scientists ever closer to safer forms of Botox and a better understanding of the dangerous disease known as botulism. By comparing all known structures of botulinum neurotoxins, researchers suggest new ways to improve the safety and efficacy of Botox injections.

Support for controversial Darwin theory of 'jump dispersal'

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:27 AM PDT

More than one hundred and fifty years ago, Charles Darwin hypothesized that species could cross oceans and other vast distances on vegetation rafts, icebergs, or in the case of plant seeds, in the plumage of birds. Though many were skeptical of Darwin's 'jump dispersal' idea, a new study suggests that Darwin might have been correct.

FDG-PET/CT shows promise for breast cancer patients younger than 40

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:27 AM PDT

PET/CT imaging of patients younger than 40 who were initially diagnosed with stage I–III breast cancer resulted in change of diagnosis, a study shows. While guidelines recommend FDG-PET/CT imaging only for women with stage III breast cancer, it can also help physicians more accurately diagnose young breast cancer patients initially diagnosed with earlier stages of the disease.

New drug-delivery capsule may replace injections

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:27 AM PDT

A pill coated with tiny needles can deliver drugs directly into the lining of the digestive tract, researchers have found, suggesting that the end of injections may be near.

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.

Dog waste contaminates our waterways: A new test could reveal how big the problem is

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:26 AM PDT

Americans love their dogs, but they don't always love to pick up after them. And that's a problem. Dog feces left on the ground wash into waterways, sometimes carrying bacteria -- including antibiotic-resistant strains -- that can make people sick. Now scientists have developed a new genetic test to figure out how much dogs are contributing to this health concern.

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.

Medical discovery first step on path to new painkillers

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:26 AM PDT

A major medical discovery could lead to the development of an entirely new type of painkiller, scientists suggest. The new drug would offer new hope to sufferers of chronic pain conditions such as traumatic nerve injury, for which few effective painkillers are currently available, they say.

Acupuncture does not improve chronic knee pain, study finds

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:25 AM PDT

In patients older than 50 years with moderate or severe chronic knee pain, acupuncture did not provide any benefit, a study has concluded. Acupuncture is the most popular of alternative medical systems. Although traditionally administered with needles, laser acupuncture (low-intensity laser therapy to acupuncture points) is a non-invasive alternative with evidence of benefit in some pain conditions.

Eighty percent of bowel cancers halted with existing medicines

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:25 AM PDT

More than 80 percent of bowel cancers could be treated with existing drugs, an international team of scientists say at the conclusion of their study. The study found that medicines called 'JAK inhibitors' halted tumor growth in bowel cancers with a genetic mutation that is present in more than 80 per cent of bowel cancers. Multiple JAK inhibitors are currently used, or are in clinical trials, for diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, blood cancers and myeloproliferative disorders.

Changing Antarctic waters could trigger steep rise in sea levels, conditions 14,000 years ago suggest

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:25 AM PDT

Current changes in the ocean around Antarctica are disturbingly close to conditions 14,000 years ago that new research shows may have led to the rapid melting of Antarctic ice and an abrupt 3-4 meter rise in global sea level.

Lift weights, improve your memory, study shows

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 07:20 AM PDT

Here's another reason why it's a good idea to hit the gym: it can improve memory. A new study shows that an intense workout of as little as 20 minutes can enhance episodic memory, also known as long-term memory for previous events, by about 10 percent in healthy young adults.

Pet foods: Not all brands follow meat regulations

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Pet food mislabeling: the issue is a significant one when it comes to commercial pet foods marketed for dogs and cats. New research set out to identify meat species present as well as any instances of mislabeling. Of the 52 products tested, 31 were labeled correctly, 20 were potentially mislabeled, and one contained a non-specific meat ingredient that could not be verified.

Platinum meets its match in quantum dots from coal: New catalyst for fuel cells outperforms platinum

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Scientists combined graphene quantum dots drawn from common coal with graphene oxide, nitrogen and boron into a catalyst for fuel cells that outperforms platinum. Graphene quantum dots grab onto graphene platelets like barnacles attach themselves to the hull of a boat. But these dots enhance the properties of the mothership, making them better than platinum catalysts for certain reactions within fuel cells.

Predicting future course of psychotic illness

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Psychiatry researchers have developed a model that could help to predict a patient's likelihood of a good outcome from treatment -- from their very first psychotic episode.

Fall in monsoon rains driven by rise in air pollution, study shows

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Emissions produced by human activity have caused annual monsoon rainfall to decline over the past 50 years, a study suggests. In the second half of the 20th century, the levels of rain recorded during the Northern Hemisphere's summer monsoon fell by as much as 10 per cent, researchers say. Changes to global rainfall patterns can have serious consequences for human health and agriculture.

Keeping your eyes on the prize can help with exercise, study finds

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:03 AM PDT

The adage that encourages people to keep their 'eyes on the prize' may be on target when it comes to exercise. When walking, staying focused on a specific target ahead can make the distance to it appear shorter and help people walk there faster, psychology researchers have found.

Immunotherapy could stop resistance to radiotherapy

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:02 AM PDT

Treating cancers with immunotherapy and radiotherapy at the same time could stop them from becoming resistant to treatment, scientists report. Radiotherapy is a very successful treatment for many forms of cancer, but in cancer cells that it doesn't kill it can switch on a 'flag' on their surface, called PD-L1, that tricks the body's defences into thinking that cancerous cells pose no threat.

Astronomy: Wild ducks take flight in open cluster

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:02 AM PDT

The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile has taken this beautiful image, dappled with blue stars, of one of the most star-rich open clusters currently known -- Messier 11, also known as NGC 6705 or the Wild Duck Cluster.

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.

Novel approach to magnetic measurements atom-by-atom

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:01 AM PDT

Having the possibility to measure magnetic properties of materials at atomic precision is one of the important goals of today's experimental physics. Such measurement technique would give engineers and physicists an ultimate handle over magnetic properties of nano-structures for future applications. Researchers now propose a new method, utilizing properties of the quantum world – the phase of the electron beam – to detect magnetism with atom-by-atom precision.

Omega-3 fatty acids may prevent some forms of depression

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 06:01 AM PDT

Patients with increased inflammation, including those receiving cytokines for medical treatment, have a greatly increased risk of depression. For example, a 6-month treatment course of interferon-alpha therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus infection causes depression in approximately 30% of patients. Omega-3 fatty acids have a long list of health benefits, including lowering the risk of heart disease and reducing triglyceride levels. These nutritional compounds are also known to have anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory properties.

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.

Ethical filament: Can fair trade plastic save people and the planet?

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 05:59 AM PDT

It's old news that open-source 3-D printing is cheaper than conventional manufacturing, not to mention greener and incredibly useful for making everything from lab equipment to chess pieces. Now it's time add another star to the 3-D printing constellation. It may help lift some of the world's most destitute people from poverty while cleaning up a major blight on the earth and its oceans: plastic trash.

Non-traditional donor lungs appear safe for transplant

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 05:59 AM PDT

Patients receiving lungs from donors whose cause of death was asphyxiation or drowning have similar outcomes and long-term survival as patients receiving lungs from traditional donors, researchers report.

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.

Gene interacts with stress, leads to heart disease in some people

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 05:59 AM PDT

Some people who are prone to hostility, anxiety and depression might also be hard-wired to gain weight when exposed to chronic stress, leading to diabetes and heart disease, a new genetic finding suggests. An estimated 13 percent of people, all of whom are Caucasian, might carry the genetic susceptibility, and knowing this could help them reduce heart disease with simple interventions such as a healthy diet, exercise and stress management.

Geneticists solve 40-year-old dilemma to explain why duplicate genes remain in the genome

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:22 PM PDT

After 40 years of wondering why, scientists have discovered that duplicate genes confer 'mutational robustness' in individuals, which allows them to adapt to novel, potentially dangerous environments.

Genetic study casts further doubt that vitamin D prevents the development of type 2 diabetes

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:20 PM PDT

There is no evidence of a causal link between a person's vitamin D levels, and whether they develop type 2 diabetes, a large study has concluded. The findings of this study challenge evidence from earlier observational studies which suggest that higher concentrations of circulating vitamin D might prevent type 2 diabetes.

EEG's potential to reveal depolarizations following TBI

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 02:15 PM PDT

The potential for doctors to measure damaging 'brain tsunamis' in injured patients without opening the skull has moved a step closer to reality, thanks to new pioneering research. The discovery has the potential to revolutionize bedside neuro-monitoring by enabling doctors to measure spreading depolarizations, which lead to worse outcomes, in patients who do not require surgery.

New genetic 'operating system' facilitated evolution of 'bilateral' animals

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 02:15 PM PDT

The evolution of worms, insects, vertebrates and other 'bilateral' animals -- those with distinct left and right sides -- from less complex creatures like jellyfish and sea anemones with 'radial' symmetry may have been facilitated by the emergence of a completely new 'operating system' for controlling genetic instructions in the cell.

Improving babies' language skills before they're even old enough to speak

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 02:14 PM PDT

In the first months of life, when babies begin to distinguish sounds that make up language from all the other sounds in the world, they can be trained to more effectively recognize which sounds "might" be language, accelerating the development of the brain maps which are critical to language acquisition and processing, according to new research.

'Virtual breast' could improve cancer detection

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 01:07 PM PDT

A 'virtual breast' has been developed to help train clinicians in the use of ultrasound elastography. The advanced imaging technique holds promise for improving cancer detection, but only if the results are interpreted properly.

Tongue size, fat may predict sleep apnea risk in obese adults

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 01:07 PM PDT

A new study of obese adults is the first to show that those who have obstructive sleep apnea have a significantly larger tongue with a higher percentage of fat than obese controls. This may provide a mechanistic explanation for the relationship between obesity and sleep apnea.

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