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Saturday, December 13, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Global warming's influence on extreme weather

Posted: 12 Dec 2014 04:02 PM PST

Understanding the cause-and-effect relationship between global warming and record-breaking weather requires asking precisely the right questions. Extreme climate and weather events such as record high temperatures, intense downpours and severe storm surges are becoming more common in many parts of the world. But because high-quality weather records go back only about 100 years, most scientists have been reluctant to say if global warming affected particular extreme events.

How bird eggs get their bling

Posted: 12 Dec 2014 04:02 PM PST

Splashy blue and green hues pop from under the glassy finish of the Tinamou species' (bird relatives of ostriches, rheas and emus) eggs. Pigments covered by a thin, smooth cuticle reveal the mystery behind these curious shells, researchers discovered. The finding could lead to the development of glossy new coatings for ceramics and floors, potentially enhancing their aesthetic qualities and durability.

Oil-dwelling bacteria are social creatures in Earth's deep biosphere

Posted: 12 Dec 2014 12:03 PM PST

Oil reservoirs are scattered deep inside the Earth like far-flung islands in the ocean, so their inhabitants might be expected to be very different, but a new study shows these underground microbes are social creatures that have exchanged genes for eons.

Earth's most abundant mineral finally has a name

Posted: 12 Dec 2014 12:01 PM PST

An ancient meteorite and high-energy X-rays have helped scientists conclude a half century of effort to find, identify and characterize a mineral that makes up 38 percent of the Earth.

A new trout species described from the Alakır Stream in Antalya, Turkey

Posted: 12 Dec 2014 08:16 AM PST

A new fish species, Salmo kottelati, has been described from the Alak1r Stream draining to Mediterranean Sea in Anatolia. The new species is currently only known from this specific locality. It belongs to the Salmonidae family, which includes salmons, trouts, chars, graylings and whitefishes.

Bacterial biofilms are associated with colon cancer, imaging technique reveals

Posted: 12 Dec 2014 08:16 AM PST

An imaging technology reveals that bacterial biofilms are associated with colon cancer, researchers report. The discovery draws on a novel way to "see" microbial community structure. Called combinatorial imaging, it could potentially be used to clinically diagnose pre-cancerous and cancerous conditions in the ascending colon.

Willow trees are cost-efficient cleaners of contaminated soil

Posted: 12 Dec 2014 05:49 AM PST

Using broad-leaved trees such as willow trees in the phytoremediation of contaminated soils constitutes a cost-efficient method for restoring mining areas and landfills, according to new research. The project studied willow tree growth in contaminated soils in Finland and Russia.

Mitochondrial research: New studies build on 60 years of work

Posted: 11 Dec 2014 01:25 PM PST

New research was built on a mission to determine, bit by bit, how mitochondria -- the power plants of cells -- generate the energy required to sustain life. What these researchers found, a compound called coenzyme Q, was a missing piece of the puzzle and became a major part of a legacy of sixty years worth of mitochondrial research.

New insights into origins of agriculture could help shape future of food

Posted: 11 Dec 2014 01:24 PM PST

Agricultural decisions made by our ancestors more than 10,000 years ago could hold the key to food security in the future, according to new research. Scientists, looking at why the first arable farmers chose to domesticate some cereal crops and not others, studied those that originated in the Fertile Crescent, an arc of land in western Asia from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf.

Reasons for malaria's drug resistance discovered

Posted: 11 Dec 2014 11:20 AM PST

Scientists have discovered, in a breakthrough study, exactly how the malaria parasite is developing resistance towards the most important front-line drugs used to treat the disease. Malaria is a mosquito-borne parasite which affects over 60 million people worldwide and in serious cases, can be fatal. There is currently no viable vaccine for malaria while antimalarial drugs and prophylaxis are losing its efficacy with increasing drug resistance.

3-D maps of folded genome: Catalog of 10,000 loops reveals new form of genetic regulation

Posted: 11 Dec 2014 09:44 AM PST

 In a triumph for cell biology, researchers have assembled the first high-resolution, 3-D maps of entire folded genomes and found a structural basis for gene regulation -- a kind of "genomic origami" that allows the same genome to produce different types of cells.

Air pollution down thanks to California's regulation of diesel trucks

Posted: 11 Dec 2014 07:18 AM PST

Ever wonder what's in the black cloud that emits from some semi trucks that you pass on the freeway? Scientists knows very precisely what's in there, having conducted detailed measurements of thousands of heavy-duty trucks over months at a time at two San Francisco Bay Area locations.

Gut microbiota and Parkinson’s disease: Connection made

Posted: 11 Dec 2014 05:11 AM PST

Parkinson's disease sufferers have a different microbiota in their intestines than their healthy counterparts, according to a study.  Researchers are now trying to determine what the connection between intestinal microbes and Parkinson's disease is.

Father-son research team discovers cheatgrass seeds survive wash cycle

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 05:43 PM PST

Not many sixth-graders can say they have been published in an academic journal, but Caleb Lefcort can cross that distinction off his list. Caleb got into a discussion with his father, Hugh Lefcort, professor of biology at Gonzaga University, as to whether the seed burrs from cheatgrass would survive the laundry cycle. Hugh believed the seeds would not survive. Instead of simply taking his father's word for it, Caleb – who was in fourth grade at the time – suggested the scientific method: an experiment. What the researchers discovered surprised them.

More holistic approach needed when studying diets of our ancestors

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 02:17 PM PST

Researchers have long debated how and what our ancestors ate. Charles Darwin hypothesized that the hunting of game animals was a defining feature of early hominids, one that was linked with both upright walking and advanced tool use and that isolated these species from their closest relatives. Other scholars insist that while our ancestors' diets did include meat, it was predominantly scavenged and not hunted. Still others argue that particular plant foods such as roots and tubers were of greater importance than meat in the diets of these species. Now researchers suggest that current studies modeling the diets of early hominids are too narrow.

Worms' mental GPS helps them find food

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 01:21 PM PST

A theory to explain how animals gather information and switch attention has been devised by scientists who have developed a mathematical theory -- based on roundworm foraging -- that predicts how animals decide to switch from localized to very broad searching. This new theory could begin to explain animal behavior in a more unified way, laying the groundwork for general rules of behavior that could help us understand complex or erratic attention-related behaviors, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and even let us predict how extraterrestrials might behave.

Sharing that crowded holiday flight with countless hitchhiking dust mites

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 11:08 AM PST

As if holiday travel isn't stressful enough. Now researchers say we're likely sharing that already overcrowded airline cabin with countless tiny creatures including house dust mites.

No lead pollution in the oil sands region of Alberta, study says

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 10:13 AM PST

Contrary to current scientific knowledge, there's no atmospheric lead pollution in Alberta's oil sands region, researchers say. A soil and water scientist who specializes in heavy metal pollution, examined sphagnum moss from 21 separate peat bogs in three locations around the oil sands area, near open pit mines and processing facilities.

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