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Saturday, November 1, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

Himalayan Viagra fuels caterpillar fungus gold rush

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 01:50 PM PDT

Overwhelmed by speculators trying to cash-in on a prized medicinal fungus known as Himalayan Viagra, two isolated Tibetan communities have managed to do at the local level what world leaders often fail to do on a global scale -- implement a successful system for the sustainable harvest of a precious natural resource, suggests new research.

They know the drill: Leading the league in boring through ice sheets

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 01:30 PM PDT

Hollow coring drills are used to extract ice cores that can analyze the past atmosphere. Scientists have now documented carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 23,000 and 9,000 years ago, based on data from an 11,000-foot hole in Antarctica.

Lord of the microrings

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 12:08 PM PDT

Researchers report a significant breakthrough in laser technology with the development of a unique microring laser cavity that can produce single-mode lasing on demand. This advance holds ramifications for a wide range of optoelectronic applications including metrology and interferometry, data storage and communications, and high-resolution spectroscopy.

Heart's own immune cells can help it heal

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 12:06 PM PDT

The heart holds its own pool of immune cells capable of helping it heal after injury, according to new research. In a mouse model of heart failure, the researchers showed that blocking the bone marrow's macrophages from entering the heart protects the organ's beneficial pool of macrophages, allowing them to remain in the heart, where they promote regeneration and recovery. The findings may have implications for treating heart failure in humans.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders prevalence in U.S. revealed by study

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 12:06 PM PDT

Nearly 5 percent of U.S. children may be affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), according to a new study. FASD are a group of conditions that can occur in the children of mothers who drank alcohol during pregnancy. Characteristics are both physical and cognitive and can include abnormal facial features, smaller-than-average physical growth, poor coordination, learning disabilities and vision and hearing problems.

Biology meets geometry: Geometry of a common cellular structure explored

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Architecture imitates life, at least when it comes to those spiral ramps in multistory parking garages. Stacked and connecting parallel levels, the ramps are replications of helical structures found in a ubiquitous membrane structure in the cells of the body.

Harnessing error-prone chips

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

As transistors get smaller, they also grow less reliable. Increasing their operating voltage can help, but that means a corresponding increase in power consumption. With information technology consuming a steadily growing fraction of the world's energy supplies, some researchers and hardware manufacturers are exploring the possibility of simply letting chips botch the occasional computation. In many popular applications -- video rendering, for instance -- users probably wouldn't notice the difference, and it could significantly improve energy efficiency.

Bats will hang out with their friends this Halloween

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

New research has shown that despite moving house frequently, bats choose to roost with the same social groups of 'friends.' The study found that different social groups roost in separate, though adjacent, parts of woodland. The findings have important implications for conservation.

Oceans arrived early to Earth; Primitive meteorites were a likely source of water, study finds

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Earth is known as the Blue Planet because of its oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of the planet's surface and are home to the world's greatest diversity of life. While water is essential for life on the planet, the answers to two key questions have eluded us: Where did Earth's water come from and when? While some hypothesize that water came late to Earth, well after the planet had formed, findings from a new study significantly move back the clock for the first evidence of water on Earth and in the inner solar system.

Hygienic funerals, better protection for health workers offer best chance to stop Ebola

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Hygienic funeral practices, case isolation, contact tracing with quarantines, and better protection for health care workers are the keys to stopping the Ebola epidemic that continues to expand in West Africa, researchers said in a new report. They said broad implementation of aggressive measures they recommend could lead to its control in Liberia, the focal point, by mid-March.

Science casts light on sex in the orchard

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Persimmons are among the small club of plants with separate sexes -- individual trees are either male or female. Now scientists have discovered how sex is determined in a species of persimmon, potentially opening up new possibilities in plant breeding.

Genetic factors behind surviving or dying from Ebola shown in mouse study

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

A newly developed mouse model suggests that genetic factors are behind the mild-to-deadly range of responses to the Ebola virus. The frequency of different manifestations of the disease across the lines of these mice are similar in variety and proportion to the spectrum of clinical disease observed in the 2014 West African outbreak. The new mouse model might be useful in testing candidate therapeutics and vaccines for Ebola, and in finding genetic markers for susceptibility and resistance to the disease.

Emerging disease could wipe out American, European salamanders

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

A fungal disease from Asia wiped out salamanders in parts of Europe and will likely reach the US through the international wildlife trade in Asian newts sold as pets, say US experts. Scientists report the fungus arose in Asia 30 million years ago and is lethal to many European and American newt species. It has not yet been found in North American wild amphibians.

Magma pancakes beneath Indonesia's Lake Toba: Subsurface sources of mega-eruptions

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:20 AM PDT

The tremendous amounts of lava that are emitted during super-eruptions accumulate over millions of years prior to the event in the Earth's crust. These reservoirs consist of magma that intrudes into the crust in the form of numerous horizontally oriented sheets resting on top of each other like a pile of pancakes.

High-intensity sound waves may aid regenerative medicine

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 11:19 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a way to use sound to create cellular scaffolding for tissue engineering, a unique approach that could help overcome one of regenerative medicine's significant obstacles.

What do American babies eat? A lot depends on Mom's socioeconomic background

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:35 AM PDT

Dietary patterns of babies vary according to the racial, ethnic and educational backgrounds of their mothers, pediatrics researchers have found. For example, babies whose diet included more breastfeeding and solid foods that adhere to infant guidelines from international and pediatric organizations were associated with higher household income -- generally above $60,000 per year -- and mothers with higher educational levels ranging from some college to post-graduate education.

Making lab-grown tissues stronger

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:35 AM PDT

Lab-grown tissues could one day provide new treatments for injuries and damage to the joints, including articular cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Cartilage, for example, is a hard material that caps the ends of bones and allows joints to work smoothly. Biomedical engineers are exploring ways to toughen up engineered cartilage and keep natural tissues strong outside the body.

Toddlers copy their peers to fit in, but apes don't

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:33 AM PDT

From the playground to the board room, people often follow, or conform, to the behavior of those around them as a way of fitting in. New research shows that this behavioral conformity appears early in human children, but isn't evidenced by apes like chimpanzees and orangutans.

Planet discovered that won't stick to a schedule

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:33 AM PDT

For their latest discovery, astronomers have found a low-mass, low-density planet with a punctuality problem. The new planet, called PH3c, is located 2,300 light years from Earth and has an atmosphere loaded with hydrogen and helium. Its inconsistency kept it from being picked up by automated computer algorithms that search stellar light curves and identify regular dips caused by objects passing in front of stars.

Could daylight savings time be a risk to diabetics?

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:33 AM PDT

Many will turn back the hands of time as part of the twice-annual ritual of daylight savings time. That means remembering to change the alarm clock next to the bed, which means an extra hour of sleep before getting up in the morning. But for some diabetics who use insulin pumps, researchers suggest that remembering to change the time on this device should be the priority.

Sadness lasts longer than other emotions

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:31 AM PDT

Why is it that you can feel sad up to 240 times longer than you do feeling ashamed, surprised, irritated or even bored? It's because sadness often goes hand in hand with events of greater impact such as death or accidents. You need more time to mull over and cope with what happened to fully comprehend it, say researchers. This is the first work to provide clear evidence to explain why some emotions last a longer time than others.

Saving lonely species is important for environment

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Endemic eucalyptus in Tasmania has been the focus of recent study. Researchers discovered that these rare species have developed unique characteristics to survive, and that these characteristics may also impact the survival of its neighbors in the ecosystem.

Blocking a fork in the road to DNA replication

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:29 AM PDT

A team of scientists has discovered the surprising manner in which an enigmatic protein known as SUUR acts to control gene copy number during DNA replication. It's a finding that could shed new light on the formation of fragile genomic regions associated with chromosomal abnormalities.

Why scratching makes you itch more

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:29 AM PDT

Turns out your mom was right: scratching an itch only makes it worse. New research reveals that scratching causes the brain to release serotonin, which intensifies the itch sensation. Scientists uncovered serotonin's role in controlling pain decades ago, but this is the first time the release of the chemical messenger from the brain has been linked to itch, they say.

Hubble sees 'ghost light' from dead galaxies

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 10:29 AM PDT

The universe is an infinite sea of galaxies, which are majestic star-cities. When galaxies group together in massive clusters, some of them can be ripped apart by the gravitational tug of other galaxies. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope to probe the massive galaxy cluster Abell 2744 — nicknamed Pandora's Cluster — have found forensic evidence of galaxies torn apart long ago. It's in the form of a phantom-like faint glow filling the space between the galaxies. This glow comes from stars scattered into intergalactic space as a result of a galaxy's disintegration.

Identifying the source of stem cells

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:49 AM PDT

When most animals begin life, cells immediately begin accepting assignments to become a head, tail or a vital organ. However, mammals, including humans, are special. The cells of mammalian embryos get to make a different first choice -- to become the protective placenta or to commit to forming the baby.

Clock gene dysregulation may explain overactive bladder

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:49 AM PDT

If you think sleep problems and bladder problems are a fact of life in old age, you may be right. A new report shows that our sleep-wake cycles are genetically connected to our bladder, and disruptions to one may cause problems with the other.

New molecule sneaks medicines across blood/brain barrier

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:49 AM PDT

Delivering life-saving drugs across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) might become a little easier thanks to a new study. In the new report, scientists describe an antibody, called 'FC5,' is one-tenth the size of a traditional antibody and able to cross the BBB.

Size matters: Baby's size at birth may predict risk for disease later in life

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:49 AM PDT

Being overweight might be better in the long term than being underweight, at least when it comes to infants. "These findings support the hypothesis that common long-term variation in the activity of genes established in the womb may underpin links between size at birth and risk for adult disease," said one of the authors.

BPA exposure by infants may increase later risk of food intolerance

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:49 AM PDT

Scientists show, for the first time, that there is a link between perinatal exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) at low doses and the risk to develop food intolerance in later life. "We may look back one day and see BPA exposure as one of the more important public health problems of our time," said one expert. "We know that too much exposure is bad, but exactly how much exposure is too much is still up for debate."

Female frogs modify offspring development depending on reproduction date

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:48 AM PDT

Global warming is altering the reproduction of plants and animals, notably accelerating the date when reproduction and other life processes occur. A new study has discovered that some amphibians are capable of making their offspring grow at a faster rate if they have been born later due to the climate.

Adapative 'nowcasting' key to accurate flu data trends using Google search terms

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:48 AM PDT

Google search data really can provide a more accurate real time picture of current flu infections, researchers have found. Official reports of influenza infection rates are produced with a delay of at least one week. Yet researchers from Google and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that data on searches for influenza related terms could be used to provide a real time estimate of the number of people with flu infections, with almost no delay.

Device developed for running shoes that prevents injuries

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:48 AM PDT

A prototype running shoe has been designed with an integrated device that improves training management and prevents injuries. The device consists of a microelectronic measuring system capable of gathering biomechanical parameters that characterize the runner's technique during a race. This information is wirelessly transmitted to the runner's mobile phone and a mobile phone application provides real-time feedback, including level of performance and suggestions to change the running pattern or to stop running in case of detecting a high risk of injury.

Can parents make their kids smarter?

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:47 AM PDT

Reading bedtime stories, engaging in conversation and eating nightly dinners together are all positive ways in which parents interact with their children, but according to new research, none of these actions have any detectable influence on children's intelligence later in life. A criminology professor examined a nationally representative sample of youth alongside a sample of adopted children and found evidence to support the argument that IQ is not the result of parental socialization.

Peripheral clocks don't need the brain's master clock to function correctly

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:28 AM PDT

New research further adds to our understanding of the circadian rhythm by suggesting that the suprachiasmaticus nucleus clock, a tiny region of the hypothalamus considered to be the body's 'master' timekeeper, is not necessary to align body rhythms with the light-dark cycle.

Reef-builders with a sense of harmony

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:28 AM PDT

Cold-water corals of the species Lophelia pertusa are able to fuse skeletons of genetically distinct individuals. Scientists have made the first-ever discovery of branches of different colors that had flawlessly merged. The ability to fuse supports the reef stability and thus contributes to the success of corals as reef-builders of the deep sea.

Ion adsorption matter in biology

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:28 AM PDT

Biological membranes are mainly composed of lipid bilayers. Gaining a better understanding of adsorption of solution ions onto lipid membranes helps clarify functional processes in biological cells. A new study provides a quantitative description of the equilibria between lipid membranes and surrounding solution ions. In addition to shedding some light on biological processes, these results could also have implications for, among other things, the future development of medical diagnostics.

Breakdown in gut barriers to bacteria may promote inflammation and craving in alcoholics

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:28 AM PDT

Bacteria in the GI tract fulfill many vital functions and are critical for digestion. Yet, these same bacteria can induce strong inflammatory responses by the immune system if they penetrate the gut and enter the bloodstream. Prior research has established the involvement of inflammatory processes in the development of psychiatric disorders, including major depression and alcohol dependence, but the origins of such inflammation have remained unclear. Now, researchers have found that inflammatory pathways are stimulated in alcohol-dependent patients by bacteria that escape the gut barrier, which correlated with alcohol craving.

Pterostilbene, a molecule similar to resveratrol, as a potential treatment for obesity

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:28 AM PDT

Pterostilbene is a phenolic compound in the same family as resveratrol and is present in small amounts in a large variety of foods and beverages like blueberries or red wine. Researchers have observed in animal models that its administration reduces the build-up of body fat, which could reduce the risk of developing other diseases like diabetes.

Even mild depressive symptoms result in poorer lumbar spinal stenosis surgery outcome

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:28 AM PDT

Even mild depressive symptoms can weaken the outcome of lumbar spinal stenosis surgery, according to a recent study. Patients with depressive symptoms had a weaker functional capacity post-surgery even five years after surgery. "The results indicate that attention should be paid to even mild depressive symptoms both before and after the surgery. This would allow health care professionals to recognize patients who might benefit from enhanced psychosocial support as part of their surgery-related treatment and rehabilitation process," says the first author.

'Nanomotor lithography' answers call for affordable, simpler device manufacturing

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:16 AM PDT

What does it take to fabricate electronic and medical devices tinier than a fraction of a human hair? Nanoengineers recently invented a new method of lithography in which nanoscale robots swim over the surface of light-sensitive material to create complex surface patterns that form the sensors and electronics components on nanoscale devices.

Scientists propose existence and interaction of parallel worlds: Many Interacting Worlds theory challenges foundations of quantum science

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:16 AM PDT

Academics are challenging the foundations of quantum science with a radical new theory on parallel universes. Scientists now propose that parallel universes really exist, and that they interact. They show that such an interaction could explain everything that is bizarre about quantum mechanics.

Model explains why HIV prevention dosing differs by sex

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:15 AM PDT

A mathematical model predicts that women must take the antiretroviral medication Truvada daily to prevent HIV infection via vaginal sex, whereas just two doses per week can protect men from HIV infection via anal sex. This finding helps explain why two large clinical trials testing HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, in women failed to show efficacy.

High air pollution levels near unconventional oil and gas production sites

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Research suggests air pollutants released by unconventional oil and gas production are well over recommended levels in the US. High levels of benzene, hydrogen sulfide and formaldehyde were found. The study is the first to be based on community sampling by people who live near production sites and could be used to supplement official air-quality monitoring programs.

Populations of rare songbird found in surprising new habitat

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:15 AM PDT

With only 90,000 breeding individuals sparsely distributed across 15 US states, the Swainson's warbler is a species of high conservation concern that, for decades, has left conservationists with little confidence that its populations would ever be fully secure. New research reveals that populations of Swainson's warbler are increasing in a surprising new habitat found mostly on private lands -- pine plantations on nearly 16 million hectares on the coastal plain from eastern Texas to southeastern Virginia.

Could copper prevent spread of Ebola?

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:12 AM PDT

Copper could help to prevent the spread of Ebola, researchers have found. While hand washing, disinfectants and quarantine procedures alone have been found to be insufficient to contain the spread of the virus, research has offered promising evidence that antimicrobial copper - engineering materials with intrinsic hygiene benefits - could be a valuable addition to these existing measures.

When did galaxies settle down?

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:12 AM PDT

Astronomers have long sought to understand exactly how the universe evolved from its earliest history to the cosmos we see around us in the present day. In particular, the way that galaxies form and develop is still a matter for debate. Now a group of researchers have used the collective efforts of the hundreds of thousands of people that volunteer for the Galaxy Zoo project to shed some light on this problem. They find that galaxies may have settled into their current form some two billion years earlier than previously thought.

Physicists pave the way for quantum interfaces

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:12 AM PDT

Researchers have controlled interplay of light and matter at the level of individual photons emitted by rubidium.

Game technology can make emergency robots easier to control

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:07 AM PDT

A method borrowed from video gaming can make remote-controlled emergency response robots easier to use -- enabling the operator to focus more on the dangerous situations they face.

Economical process for micro energy harvesting

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:07 AM PDT

The trend toward energy self-sufficient probes and ever smaller mobile electronics systems continues unabated. They are used, for example, to monitor the status of the engines on airplanes, or for medical implants. They gather the energy they need for this from their immediate environment - from vibrations, for instance. Researchers have now developed a process for the economical production of piezoelectric materials.

Line camera makes magnetic field lines visible in 3-D and real time

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:07 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a high-resolution magnetic line camera to measure magnetic fields in real time. Field lines in magnetic systems such as generators or motors, which are invisible to the human eye, can be made visible using this camera. It is especially suitable for industrial applications, for example in quality assurance during the manufacture of magnets.

Seeing dinosaur feathers in a new light

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:07 AM PDT

Why were dinosaurs covered in a cloak of feathers long before the early bird species Archaeopteryx first attempted flight? Researchers postulate that these ancient reptiles had a highly developed ability to discern color. Their hypothesis: The evolution of feathers made dinosaurs more colorful, which in turn had a profoundly positive impact on communication, the selection of mates and on dinosaurs' procreation.

Frailty increases kidney transplant recipients' risk of dying prematurely

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:07 AM PDT

Regardless of age, frailty is a strong risk factor for dying prematurely after a kidney transplant. This finding suggests that patients should be screened for frailty prior to kidney transplantation, and that those who are identified as frail should be closely monitored after the procedure.

Possible cause of common dementia found, opening avenues for treatment

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:05 AM PDT

A major cause of dementia has been potentially discovered, scientists report. In the type of dementia studied, there is damage to the white matter (nerve fibres) of the brain apparent on computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of older individuals.

3-D printing incorporates quasicrystals for stronger manufacturing products

Posted: 30 Oct 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Researchers say that quasicrystals, a type of complex metal alloy with crystal-like properties, can be useful in the design of new composite materials.

Researchers aim to simplify life saving drug Heparin

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 05:44 PM PDT

Heparin, the life saving blood thinner used in major surgeries and treatment of heart diseases, is a complicated drug but a research team has set out to make its use a lot safer by developing a universal antidote.

'Treasure in saliva' may reveal deadly diseases early enough to treat them

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 05:44 PM PDT

Research could lead to a simple saliva test capable of diagnosing -- at an early stage -- diabetes and cancer, and perhaps neurological disorders and autoimmune diseases. The study, the most comprehensive analysis ever conducted of RNA molecules in human saliva, reveals that saliva contains many of the same disease-revealing molecules that are contained in blood.

Survival rates in pediatric umbilical cord transplants may indicate a new standard of care

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 05:43 PM PDT

A new standard of care for children facing acute myeloid leukemia may be clear, following a multi-year study. Umbilical cord blood, a rich source of blood-forming stem cells, has previously been shown to benefit many patients with leukemia and myelodysplasia and other diseases, including bone marrow failure syndromes, hemoglobinopathies, inherited immune deficiencies and certain metabolic diseases.

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