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Thursday, October 30, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

Can the wave function of an electron be divided and trapped?

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 06:41 PM PDT

Electrons are elementary particles -- indivisible, unbreakable. But new research suggests the electron's quantum state -- the electron wave function -- can be separated into many parts. That has some strange implications for the theory of quantum mechanics.

Pair bonding reinforced in the brain: Zebra finches use their specialized song system for simple communication

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 11:57 AM PDT

In addition to their song, songbirds also have an extensive repertoire of calls. While the species-specific song must be learned as a young bird, most calls are, as in the case of all other birds, innate. Researchers have now discovered that in zebra finches the song control system in the brain is also active during simple communication calls. This relationship between unlearned calls and an area of the brain responsible for learned vocalizations is important for understanding the evolution of song learning in songbirds.

Glacier song: Studying how water moves through glaciers

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 11:55 AM PDT

Mountain glaciers represent one of the largest repositories of fresh water in alpine regions. However, little is known about the processes by which water moves through these systems. Scientists used seismic recordings collected near Lake Gornersee in the Swiss Alps to look for signs of water moving through fractures near the glacier bed. Analysis of these recordings reveals, for the first time, that harmonic tremor occurs within mountain glaciers and that individual icequakes at the glacier base can exhibit harmonic properties. These observations suggest that there is a complex network of fluid-induced fracture processes at the glacier base. Because glacial lake drainage events can occur with little or no warning, there is the potential for damaging floods in valleys below the glacier. Unfortunately, because the water moves under and through the glacier, surface observations alone cannot predict lake drainage events.

Identifying 'stance taking' cues to enable sophisticated voice recognition

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 11:54 AM PDT

In the future, computers may be capable of talking to us during meetings just like a remote teleconference participant. But to help move this science-fiction-sounding goal a step closer to reality, it's first necessary to teach computers to recognize not only the words we use but also the myriad meanings, subtleties and attitudes they can convey.

Giant tortoises gain a foothold on a Galapagos island

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 11:54 AM PDT

A population of endangered giant tortoises has recovered on the Galapagos island of EspaƱola, a finding described as "a true story of success and hope in conservation."

Improving breast cancer chemo by testing patient's tumors in a dish

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:59 AM PDT

A technique that monitors the response of 3D chunks of a patient's tumor has been developed to determine how effective different anti-cancer drugs will be before starting chemotherapy. In a new article, the engineers describe applying the technique to the three major forms of breast cancer. They report that the test can detect significant drops in the metabolic activity levels of all three types of tumors within 72 hours when exposed to an effective drug whereas tumors that were resistant to a drug show no change.

Breathe easier: Get your vitamin D

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:26 AM PDT

Asthma, which inflames and narrows the airways, has become more common in recent years. While there is no known cure, asthma can be managed with medication and by avoiding allergens and other triggers. A new study points to a convenient, free way to manage acute asthmatic episodes -- catching some rays outside.

Postcards from the plasma edge: How lithium conditions the volatile edge of fusion plasmas

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:26 AM PDT

For magnetic fusion energy to fuel future power plants, scientists must find ways to control the interactions that take place between the volatile edge of the plasma and the walls that surround it in fusion facilities. Such interactions can profoundly affect conditions at the superhot core of the plasma in ways that include kicking up impurities that cool down the core and halt fusion reactions.

Laser experiments mimic cosmic explosions and planetary cores

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:26 AM PDT

Researchers are finding ways to understand some of the mysteries of space without leaving earth. Using high-intensity lasers focused on targets smaller than a pencil's eraser, they conducted experiments to create colliding jets of plasma knotted by plasma filaments and self-generated magnetic fields, reaching pressures a billion times higher than seen on earth.

Using radio waves to control the density in a fusion plasma

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:26 AM PDT

Experiments show how heating the electrons in the center of a hot fusion plasma with high power microwaves can increase turbulence, reducing the density in the inner core.

Genetic variants influence a person's response to statins found

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:26 AM PDT

A large analysis of over 40,000 individuals on statin treatment has identified two new genetic variants which influence how 'bad' cholesterol levels respond to statin therapy. Statins are widely prescribed to patients and have been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels by up to 55%, making them a highly effective method of reducing risk of heart disease. However, despite this success, patient response can vary widely.

Baby boomers and scoliosis: Osteoporosis a risk factor

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:24 AM PDT

For many adults, the word scoliosis conjures up childhood memories of lining up in gym class for an examination by the school nurse. But scoliosis isn't just a pediatric condition. Curvature of the spine can develop in adults too, and the osteoporosis that can accompany menopause is a risk factor. An orthopedic surgeon explains how scoliosis develops, prevention and treatment options and a trend he is seeing in Baby Boomer women.

Mushroom extract, AHCC, helpful in treating HPV

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:24 AM PDT

A Japanese mushroom extract appears to be effective for the eradication of human papillomavirus (HPV), according to a pilot clinical trial. Ten HPV-positive women were treated orally with the extract, AHCC (active hexose correlated compound) once daily for up to six months. Five achieved a negative HPV test result -- three with confirmed eradication after stopping AHCC -- with the remaining two responders continuing on the study.

Compensation and punishment: 'Justice' depends on whether or not we're a victim

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:24 AM PDT

We're more likely to punish wrongdoing as a third party to a non-violent offense than when we're victimized by it, according to a new study. The findings may offer insights into how juries differ from plaintiffs in seeking to restore justice.

Lithium injections show promise for optimizing the performance of fusion plasmas

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 08:48 AM PDT

Experiments have now demonstrated the ability of lithium injections to transiently double the temperature and pressure at the edge of the plasma and delay the onset of instabilities and other transients.

Identifying the biological clock that governs female fertility

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 08:48 AM PDT

The biological clock that governs female fertility has been identified by researchers. The discovery represents a major contribution to research aimed at finding medical approaches to treating infertility in women.

Blood test may help diagnose pancreatic cancer

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 08:47 AM PDT

Cancer researchers have found that a simple blood test might help diagnose pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of the disease. They report that they have found that several microRNAs -- small RNA molecules -- circulate at high levels in the blood of pancreatic cancer patients, which may be detectable through a simple blood test.

'Reverse engineering' materials for more efficient heating and cooling

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 08:47 AM PDT

If you've gone for a spin in a luxury car and felt your back being warmed or cooled by a seat-based climate control system, then you've likely experienced the benefits of a class of materials called thermoelectrics. Thermoelectric materials convert heat into electricity, and vice versa, and have many advantages over traditional heating and cooling systems. Recently, researchers have observed that the performance of some thermoelectric materials can be improved by combining different solid phases.

Ancient auditory illusions reflected in prehistoric art?

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 08:47 AM PDT

Some of humankind's earliest and most mysterious artistic achievements -- including prehistoric cave paintings, canyon petroglyphs and megalithic structures such as Stonehenge -- may have been inspired by the behaviors of sound waves being misinterpreted as "supernatural."

Co-opting bacterial immune system to turn off specific genes

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:48 AM PDT

A technique that co-opts an immune system already present in bacteria and archaea to turn off specific genes or sets of genes -- creating a powerful tool for future research on genetics and related fields -- has been developed by researchers. "This should not only expedite scientific discovery, but help us better engineer microbial organisms to further biotechnology and medicine," says a senior author of a paper on the work. "For example, this could help us develop bacterial strains that are more efficient at converting plant biomass into liquid fuels."

Physicists' simple solution for quantum technology challenge

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:48 AM PDT

A solution to one of the key challenges in the development of quantum technologies has been proposed by physicists. Scientists show how to make a new type of flexibly-designed microscopic trap for atoms.

Don't bet on stinginess to keep stress low

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:16 AM PDT

Is generosity less stressful than being stingy? New research examined the physiological reactions of participants in a financial bargaining game and found that not only those receiving relatively low offers experienced stress but also those that make low offers, when compared to people who made more generous offers.

Replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat linked with lower risk of heart disease

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:16 AM PDT

People who swap 5 percent of the calories they consume from saturated fat sources such as red meat and butter with foods containing linoleic acid -- the main polyunsaturated fat found in vegetable oil, nuts, and seeds -- lowered their risk of coronary heart disease events by 9 percent and their risk of death from CHD by 13 percent, according to a new study.

Chimps plan ahead for a good breakfast

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:16 AM PDT

New research shows that chimpanzees plan ahead, and sometimes take dangerous risks, to get to the best breakfast buffet early.

Lights out: Urgent need to address instability of world's power supplies

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:13 AM PDT

A new study reveals the urgent need to address instabilities in the supply of electrical power to counteract an increase in the frequency and severity of urban power outages.

Rare bush frog breeds in bamboo, researchers discover

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:12 AM PDT

Researchers have discovered a new reproductive mode in frogs and toads -- breeding and laying direct developing eggs in live bamboo with narrow openings -- which was observed in the white spotted bush frog (Raorchestes chalazodes). This critically endangered frog is currently only one of two species known to adopt this novel reproductive strategy.

Tomosynthesis improves cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:12 AM PDT

As of October 2014, 19 states have enacted laws requiring women to be directly informed if they have dense breasts and would benefit from supplemental screening. However, the recommended type of supplemental screening for women with dense breasts remains unclear. With 15 additional states considering similar laws and federal legislation introduced, physician scientists investigated the potential impact of supplemental screening for women with dense breast tissue.

Tracking heat-driven decay in leading electric vehicle batteries

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:12 AM PDT

In a new study, scientists reveal the atomic-scale structural and electronic degradations that plague some rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and make them vulnerable during high-temperature operations.

How did complex life evolve? The answer could be inside out

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:26 AM PDT

A new idea about the origin of complex life turns current theories inside out. Scientists explain their 'inside-out' theory of how eukaryotic cells, which all multicellular life -- including us -- are formed of, might have evolved.

Variation in antibiotic bacteria in tropical forest soils may play a role in diversity

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:26 AM PDT

Variation in antibiotic-producing microbes in tropical forest soils has been discovered by scientists, who not that this research represents a step toward better understanding of the role they play in diversity.

Women play dangerous waiting game with heart symptoms

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:26 AM PDT

When heart symptoms strike, men and women go through similar stages of pain but women are more likely to delay seeking care and can put their health at risk, researchers say. Angina is the pain that occurs when your heart doesn't get as much blood and oxygen as it needs because of a blockage of one or more of the heart's arteries. This pain is often described as a pressure, tightness or burning feeling.

Robotically assisted bypass surgery reduces complications after surgery, cuts recovery

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:26 AM PDT

Robotically assisted coronary artery bypass grafting surgery is a rapidly evolving technology that shortens hospital stays and reduces the need for blood products, while decreasing recovery times, making the procedure safer and less risky, experts say.

What's in a name? Everything, if you're a fruit fly

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:26 AM PDT

This study confirms that four of the world's most destructive agricultural pests, the Oriental, Philippine, Invasive and Asian Papaya fruit flies, are actually one and the same. The study took a multidisciplinary and integrated approach involving over 40 researchers from more than 20 countries and has major implications for global plant biosecurity, including reduced barriers to international trade, improved fundamental research and enhanced food security for some of the world's poorest nations.

World losing 2,000 hectares of farm soil daily to salt damage

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:26 AM PDT

Every day for more than 20 years, an average of 2,000 hectares of irrigated land in arid and semi-arid areas across 75 countries have been degraded by salt, according to a study. Today an area the size of France is affected -- about 62 million hectares (20 percent) of the world's irrigated lands, up from 45 million hectares in the early 1990s.

Self-reported sleep disturbances linked to higher risk for Alzheimer's disease in men

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:25 AM PDT

Elderly men with self-reported sleep disturbances run a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than men without self-reported sleep disturbances, studies show. The researchers followed more than 1,000 men, who were initially 50 year old, between the years 1970 and 2010. The results of the study show that self-reported sleep disturbances were linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease during the 40-year follow-up period, particularly if they occurred late in life.

Epigenome of cardiac muscle cell mapped

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:25 AM PDT

Pharmacologists have succeeded in mapping the epigenome of cardiac muscle cells. They hope the findings will lead to new insights into the development of congenital heart defects and chronic heart failure. The epigenome is the totality of epigenetic mechanisms that decide which genes are active in a cell and which are not. Changes in internal or environmental conditions, such as nutrition, stress, or drugs, can leave behind epigenetic patterns. Such mechanisms play an important role in the development of cancer, but their significance for heart disease is as yet largely unknown.

Tea, citrus products could lower ovarian cancer risk, new research finds

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:25 AM PDT

Tea and citrus fruits and juices are associated with a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer, according to new research. The research reveals that women who consume foods containing flavonols and flavanones (both subclasses of dietary flavonoids) significantly decrease their risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer, the fifth-leading cause of cancer death among women.

Accuracy of mobile phone population mapping demonstrated

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:24 AM PDT

Population maps based on anonymous mobile phone call record data can be as accurate as those based on censuses, an international team of researcher has demonstrated. Their findings show maps made using mobile records are detailed, reliable and flexible enough to help inform infrastructure and emergency planners; particularly in low income countries, where recent population density information is often scarce.

Does having children make us any happier?

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:24 AM PDT

The birth of a first and a second child briefly increases the level of their parents' happiness, but a third does not, according to new research. Those who have children at an older age or who are more educated have a particularly positive response to a first birth. Older parents, between the ages of 35 -- 49, have the strongest happiness gains around the time of birth and stay at a higher level of happiness after becoming parents, the research indicates.

Fish 'personality' linked to vulnerability to angling

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:23 AM PDT

Individual differences in moving activity in a novel environment are linked to individual differences in vulnerability to angling, according to an experimental study. The study used novel, long-term observations of individual behavior in groups and authentic angling trials to analyze if behaviors predict the vulnerability to fishing in brown trout reared in traditional and enriched hatchery rearing environments. Based on the results, it can be predicted that fishing modifies the heritable behavioral traits of fish by favoring cautious fish.

Preventative action prior to brain surgery: Ultra-high-field MRI reveals language centers in brain in much more detail

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:23 AM PDT

It is now possible, for the first time, to demonstrate that the areas of the brain that are important for understanding language can be pinpointed much more accurately using ultra-high-field MRI (7 Tesla) than with conventional clinical MRI scanners. This research helps to protect these areas more effectively during brain surgery and avoid accidentally damaging it.

Meditation makes you more creative, study suggests

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:23 AM PDT

Certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking, even if you have never meditated before. The study is a clear indication that you don't need to be an experienced meditator to profit more from meditation. The findings support the belief that meditation can have a long-lasting influence on human cognition, including how we conceive new ideas.

Evolutionary biologists observe parallel, repeated evolution of cichlid fish in Nicaragua

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:23 AM PDT

If one would rewind the tape of life, would evolution result in the same outcome? An evolutionary biologist came up with this famous question. He suggested that evolution would not repeat itself: the role of random processes in the origin of biodiversity was too important and hence evolution was not predictable. Evolutionary biologists have now described parallel evolution of two closely related, but geographically isolated populations of cichlid fish in Nicaraguan crater lakes.

New clinical trial data: Multiple sclerosis drug candidate also shows promise for ulcerative colitis

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:21 AM PDT

Positive new clinical data have been released on a drug candidate for ulcerative colitis. In the study, 199 patients with active, moderate to severe disease, the drug candidate RPC1063 has potential to significantly improve the treatment paradigm for ulcerative colitis patients. The latest results show that, after eight weeks of treatment with a 1 mg dose of RPC1063, 16.4 percent of patents were in clinical remission, as compared to 6.2 percent of patients on placebo.

Radiation exposure linked to aggressive thyroid cancers, researchers confirm for the first time

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:21 AM PDT

Exposure to radioactive iodine is associated with more aggressive forms of thyroid cancer, according to a careful study of nearly 12,000 people in Belarus who were exposed when they were children or adolescents to fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident.

Prostate cancer risk reduced by sleeping with many women, but increased with many men, study finds

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:21 AM PDT

Compared to men who have had only one partner during their lifetime, having sex with more than 20 women is associated with a 28% lower risk of one day being diagnosed with prostate cancer. However, having more than 20 male partners in one's lifetime is associated with a twofold higher risk of getting prostate cancer compared to those who have never slept with a man.

Viral switches share a shape, research finds

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:27 PM PDT

A hinge in the RNA genome of the virus that causes hepatitis C works like a switch that can be flipped to prevent it from replicating in infected cells. Scientists have discovered that this shape is shared by several other viruses -- among them one that kills cancer cells.

Lesion-healing mechanism in psoriasis discovered

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:27 PM PDT

The underlying genetic factors that help repair skin lesions caused by psoriasis has been discovered by researchers, which could engender new methods of controlling the lingering condition. "Our research suggests that targeting this mechanism of healing may lead to pharmaceutical products that limit the itchy, painful lesions all psoriasis sufferers must endure," the lead researcher said.

Prompt isolation of symptomatic patients is key to eliminating Ebola, study suggests

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:51 AM PDT

Currently, West Africa is in the midst of the largest and deadliest Ebola epidemic ever recorded. Researchers have developed a random transmission model to determine how disease progression and case fatality affect transmission and how patient isolation could achieve disease elimination. They found that the risk for transmitting Ebola depends on the magnitude of viral load in an infected individual and the number of people with which the infected individual interacts.

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