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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Endangered hammerhead shark found migrating into unprotected waters

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 05:58 PM PST

The precise movements of a young hammerhead shark have been tracked for the first time, scientists report. The study, which ran over a 10-month period, reveals important gaps in current efforts to protect these endangered sharks and suggests key locations that should be protected to help the survival of the species.

Geoengineering our climate is not a 'quick fix'

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 05:57 PM PST

The deliberate, large-scale intervention in the Earth's climate system is not a "quick fix" for global warming, according to new findings.

Endangered species success: Idaho salmon regaining fitness advantage

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 11:08 AM PST

Once on the brink of extinction with only a few fish remaining, Snake River sockeye salmon are regaining the fitness they need to rebuild wild populations. A new analysis shows that naturally spawned offspring of fish saved by a hatchery program are now surviving to return at increasing rate -- high enough to not only sustain the population but also to rebuild it.

'Scary' centipede's genes reveal how life evolved on our planet

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 11:08 AM PST

Centipedes, those many-legged creatures that startle us in our homes and gardens, have been genetically sequenced for the first time. An international team of over 100 scientists today reveals how this humble arthropod's DNA gave them new insight into how life developed on our planet. 

Link between DNA transcription, disease-causing expansions

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 10:19 AM PST

Researchers in human genetics have known that long nucleotide repeats in DNA lead to instability of the genome and ultimately to human hereditary diseases such Freidreich's ataxia and Huntington's disease. Scientists have believed that the lengthening of those repeats occur during DNA replication when cells divide or when the cellular DNA repair machinery gets activated. Recently, however, it became apparent that yet another process called transcription, which is copying the information from DNA into RNA, could also been involved.

Physicists bind single-atom sheets with the same force geckos use to climb walls

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 10:19 AM PST

The approach is to design synergistic materials by combining two single-atom thick sheets, for example, that act as a photovoltaic cell as well as a light-emitting diode, converting energy between electricity and radiation.

Vegetable oil ingredient key to destroying gastric disease bacteria

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 09:48 AM PST

The bacterium Helicobacter pylori is strongly associated with gastric ulcers and cancer. To combat the infection, researchers developed LipoLLA, a therapeutic nanoparticle that contains linolenic acid, a component in vegetable oils. In mice, LipoLLA was safe and more effective against H. pylori infection than standard antibiotic treatments.

Mining can damage fish habitats far downstream, study shows

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 08:18 AM PST

Anglers across the nation wondering why luck at their favorite fishing spot seems to have dried up may have a surprising culprit: a mine miles away, even in a different state. Scientists have taken a first broad look at the impacts of mines across the country and found that mining can damage fish habitats miles downstream, and even in streams not directly connected to the mines.

Trojan horse tactic gives parasites edge over immune systems

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 08:18 AM PST

Parasites use Trojan horse subterfuge to suppress the immunity of their victims when causing infection, according to a study. Scientists have shown that parasites are able to secrete tiny sealed packages of genetic material into the cells of their victims, in order to suppress the immune response to infection.

Blu-ray disc can be used to improve solar cell performance

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 08:18 AM PST

Who knew about Blu-ray discs? One of the best ways to store high-definition movies and television shows because of their high-density data storage, Blu-ray discs also improve the performance of solar cells, according to a new study. Researchers have discovered that the pattern of information written on a Blu-ray disc -- and it doesn't matter if it's Jackie Chan's 'Supercop' or the cartoon 'Family Guy' -- works very well for improving light absorption across the solar spectrum.

Vultures evolved an extreme gut to cope with disgusting dietary habits

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 08:18 AM PST

How is it that vultures can live on a diet of carrion that would at least lead to severe food-poisoning, and more likely kill most other animals?

Body size requires hormones under control

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:19 AM PST

The proper regulation of body size is of fundamental importance, but the mechanisms that stop growth are still unclear. Scientists have shed new light on how animals regulate body size. The researchers uncovered important clues about the molecular mechanisms triggered by environmental conditions that ultimately affect final body size. They show that the timing of synthesis of a steroid hormone called ecdysone is sensitive to nutrition in the fruit fly and describe the key proteins involved in this regulatory mechanism. This study explains what causes hormones to become environmentally-sensitive and provides important clues on body size regulation.

New plastic that disappears when you want it to

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:17 AM PST

Plastic populates our world through everything from electronics to packaging and vehicles. Once discarded, it resides almost permanently in landfills and oceans. A new discovery holds scientific promise that could lead to a new type of plastic that can be broken down when exposed to a specific type of light and is reduced back to molecules, which could then be used to create new plastic.

Circumstances are right for weed invasion to escalate, researchers say

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:17 AM PST

What some farmers grow as pasture plants others view as weeds. But with the need to cheaply feed food animals rising, circumstances are right for the weed invasion to escalate.

Scientists completed the first orchid whole genome sequencing

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 06:54 AM PST

As one of the most diverse plant family, orchid now has its first genome sequenced. All around the world, orchids are highly endangered species because of illegal collection and habitat loss. The complete genome sequence of P. equestris will provide an important resource to explore orchid diversity and evolution at the genome level.

Sialic acid shields human cells from attack by immune system

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 06:11 AM PST

Biochemists have identified molecular structures that allow the immune system to tell friend from foe. The researchers identified and crystallized a complex that forms the contact point between the healthy human cell and the complement system. Using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and X-ray structure analysis, they were able to solve the molecular structure of the complex. It is composed of a glycan containing sialic acid and two domains of the complement system regulator, factor H.

Researchers find way to turn sawdust into gasoline

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 06:11 AM PST

Researchers have successfully converted sawdust into building blocks for gasoline. Using a new chemical process, they were able to convert the cellulose in sawdust into hydrocarbon chains. These hydrocarbons can be used as an additive in gasoline, or as a component in plastics.

El Niño stunts children's growth in Peru

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:48 AM PST

Extreme weather events, such as El Niño, can have long-lasting effects on health, according to research. The study, in coastal Peru, shows that children born during and after the 1997-98 El Niño have a lower height-for-age than others born before the event.

Schistosomas: Tropical parasite uses swim stroke not shared by any other creature

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:46 AM PST

For many bacteria and parasites looking to get a load of the fresh nutritional bounty inside your body, the skin is the first and most important gatekeeper. Schistosomas, however, and burrow right on through. These waterborne blood flukes, responsible for 200 million total worldwide cases of Schistosomiasis, are driven by the powerful thrusts of their unique forked tails and chewing enzymes. The parasite's swimming patterns are crucial for its human-seeking chemotactic activity - and are the focus of researchers who ultimately seek to break the chain of infection.

Fluid dynamics explain what happens when dogs drink water

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:46 AM PST

If you've ever watched a dog drink water, you know that it can be a sloshy, spilly, splashy affair -- in other words, adorable. Behind all of the happy, wet messes, however, lies the mechanical logic of carnivorous compensation -- dogs splash when they drink because they have the cheeks of a predatory quadruped. By studying the drinking habits of various dog breeds and sizes, researchers have recently identified and modeled the fluid dynamics at play when dogs drink water.

Espresso in space: You knew it was only a matter of time before espresso made its way to the International Space Station, right?

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:46 AM PST

Espresso-loving astronauts, rejoice! You may soon be able to enjoy your beloved beverage in space, thanks to a new cup designed specifically to defy the low-gravity environments encountered aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Small modifications to tractor-trailers could save billions of gallons of gasoline each year

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:46 AM PST

Each year, the more than 2 million tractor-trailer trucks that cruise America's highways consume about 36 billion gallons of diesel fuel, representing more than 10 percent of the nation's entire petroleum use. That fuel consumption could be reduced by billions of gallons a year through the use of drag-reducing devices on trucks, according to new studies.

Climate control in termite mounds

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:46 AM PST

Researchers have found that fluctuations in outside temperature create convection currents within termite mounds to ventilate the living space.

CT scans of coral skeletons reveal ocean acidity increases reef erosion

Posted: 24 Nov 2014 03:01 PM PST

For coral reefs to persist, rates of reef construction must exceed reef breakdown. Prior research has largely focused on the negative impacts of ocean acidification on reef growth, but new research demonstrates that lower ocean pH also enhances reef breakdown: a double-whammy for coral reefs in a changing climate.

Biology trumps chemistry in open ocean: How phytoplankton assimilate limited concentrations of phosphorus

Posted: 24 Nov 2014 01:29 PM PST

Scientists laid out a new framework based on in situ observations that will allow them to describe and understand how phytoplankton assimilate limited concentrations of phosphorus, a key nutrient, in the ocean in ways that better reflect what is actually occurring in the marine environment. This is important because nutrient uptake is a property of ocean biogeochemistry, and in many regions controls carbon dioxide fixation, which ultimately can play a role in mitigating climate change.

The physics of artist Jackson Pollock

Posted: 24 Nov 2014 11:33 AM PST

Jackson Pollock, one of the greatest American artists of the 20th century, revolutionized abstract expressionist painting in the mid-20th century with his unique "drip" technique -- masterpieces of densely tangled lines of color that Pollock often created from thinned household enamel paints. Now, an experimental technique developed by fluid dynamicists may help reveal exactly how Pollock produced certain features in his paintings.

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