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Friday, October 17, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

NASA spacecraft provides new information about sun's atmosphere

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 03:54 PM PDT

NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) has provided scientists with five new findings into how the sun's atmosphere, or corona, is heated far hotter than its surface, what causes the sun's constant outflow of particles called the solar wind, and what mechanisms accelerate particles that power solar flares.

Tiny 'nanoflares' might heat the Sun's corona

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 02:06 PM PDT

Why is the Sun's million-degree corona, or outermost atmosphere, so much hotter than the Sun's surface? This question has baffled astronomers for decades. Today, a team led by Paola Testa is presenting new clues to the mystery of coronal heating. The team finds that miniature solar flares called 'nanoflares' -- and the speedy electrons they produce -- might partly be the source of that heat, at least in some of the hottest parts of the Sun's corona.

Cells' powerhouses were once energy parasites: Study upends current theories of how mitochondria began

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 01:59 PM PDT

Parasitic bacteria were the first cousins of the mitochondria that power cells in animals and plants -- and first acted as energy parasites in those cells before becoming beneficial, according to a new study.

Sugared soda consumption, cell aging associated in new study

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 01:59 PM PDT

Sugar-sweetened soda consumption might promote disease independently from its role in obesity, according to UC San Francisco researchers who found in a new study that drinking sugary drinks was associated with cell aging.

Journey to the center of the Earth: Geochemist uses helium and lead isotopes to gain insight into makeup of planet’s deep interior

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:40 AM PDT

A geochemist studying Samoan volcanoes has found evidence of the planet's early formation still trapped inside Earth. Known as hotspots, volcanic island chains such as Samoa can ancient primordial signatures from the early solar system that have somehow survived billions of years.

Scientists find 'hidden brain signatures' of consciousness in vegetative state patients

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:37 AM PDT

Scientists in Cambridge have found hidden signatures in the brains of people in a vegetative state, which point to networks that could support consciousness even when a patient appears to be unconscious and unresponsive. The study could help doctors identify patients who are aware despite being unable to communicate.

Cosmic jets of young stars formed by magnetic fields

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:37 AM PDT

Astrophysical jets are counted among our universe's most spectacular phenomena: From the centers of black holes, quasars, or protostars, these rays of matter sometimes protrude several light years into space. Now, for the first time ever, an international team of researchers has successfully tested a new model that explains how magnetic fields form these emissions in young stars.

Wobbling of a Saturn moon hints at what lies beneath

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:36 AM PDT

Using instruments aboard the Cassini spacecraft to measure the wobbles of Mimas, the closest of Saturn's regular moons, an astronomer has inferred that this small moon's icy surface cloaks either a rugby ball-shaped rocky core or a sloshing sub-surface ocean.

Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy through cosmic magnifying glass

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:08 AM PDT

Using the Hubble Space Telescope and the lensing power of giant galaxy cluster Abell 2744, astronomers may have made the most reliable distance measurement yet of an object that existed in the very early universe. The galaxy, estimated to be over 13 billion light-years away, is one of the farthest, faintest, and smallest galaxies ever seen.

That pregnant feeling makes a fly start nesting

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Across the animal kingdom, it's not uncommon for pregnancy to change an expectant mom's behavior. Even female flies have their own rudimentary way of 'nesting,' which appears to be brought on by the stretch of their egg-filled abdomens rather than the act of mating, according to a study.

Amphibian communities collapse in wake of viral outbreak

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Two closely related viruses that have been introduced to northern Spain in recent years have already led to the collapse of three different species of amphibian -- the common midwife toad, the common toad, and the alpine newt -- in the protected area of Picos de Europa National Park. In all, six amphibian species have suffered from severe disease and mass mortality and researchers say that the viruses appear to be on the move.

Jet lag can cause obesity by disrupting the daily rhythms of gut microbes

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Organisms ranging from bacteria to humans have circadian clocks to help them synchronize their biological activities to the time of day. A study now reveals that gut microbes in mice and humans have circadian rhythms that are controlled by the biological clock of the host in which they reside. Disruption of the circadian clock in the host alters the rhythms and composition of the microbial community, leading to obesity and metabolic problems.

Brain's compass relies on geometric relationships, say researchers

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 08:20 AM PDT

The brain has a complex system for keeping track of which direction you are facing as you move about; remembering how to get from one place to another would otherwise be impossible. Researchers have now shown how the brain anchors this mental compass. Their findings provide a neurological basis for something that psychologists have long observed about navigational behavior: people use geometrical relationships to orient themselves.

Evidence for huge mountains that fed early life discovered

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Scientists have found evidence for a huge mountain range that existed in the supercontinent of Gondwana some 600 million years ago. It ran from modern west Africa to northeast Brazil, and as it eroded it fed the oceans with nutrients that fueled an explosion of early life on Earth.

Magnetic mirrors enable new technologies by reflecting light in uncanny ways

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Scientists have demonstrated, for the first time, a new type of mirror that forgoes a familiar shiny metallic surface and instead reflects infrared light by using an unusual magnetic property of a non-metallic metamaterial. Using nanoscale antennas, researchers are able to capture and harness electromagnetic radiation in ways that have tantalizing potential in new classes of chemical sensors, solar cells, lasers, and other optoelectronic devices.

New way to lose weight: Scientists stimulate brown fat to burn more energy from food

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:56 AM PDT

The number of overweight persons is greatly increasing worldwide - and as a result is the risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, diabetes or Alzheimer's disease. For this reason, many people dream of an efficient method for losing weight. Scientists have now come one step closer to this goal. The scientists discovered a new way to stimulate brown fat and thus burn energy from food: The body's own adenosine activates brown fat and "browns" white fat.

Inexplicable signal from unseen universe provides tantalizing clue about one of astronomy's greatest secrets - dark matter

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:54 AM PDT

The first potential indication of direct detection of Dark Matter – something that has been a mystery in physics for over 30 years -- has been attained. Astronomers found what appears to be a signature of 'axions', predicted 'Dark Matter' particle candidates.

Follow the leader: Insects benefit from good leadership too

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 06:09 PM PDT

When insect larvae follow a leader to forage for food, both leaders and followers benefit, growing much faster than if they are in a group of only leaders or only followers, scientists have shown for the first time. The work gives new insight into why such social relationships evolve in insects, and why they are maintained.

Brain surgery, by robot, through the cheek

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 12:25 PM PDT

Engineers have developed a surgical robot designed to perform brain surgery by entering through the cheek instead of the skull that can operate on a patient in an MRI scanner. Additionally, the engineers have designed the system so that much of it can be made using 3-D printing in order to keep the price low.

Technical feasibility of proposed Mars One mission assessed

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 02:08 PM PDT

In 2012, the "Mars One" project, led by a Dutch nonprofit, announced plans to establish the first human colony on the Red Planet by 2025. The mission would initially send four astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars, where they would spend the rest of their lives building the first permanent human settlement. It's a bold vision -- particularly since Mars One claims that the entire mission can be built upon technologies that already exist.

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