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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

Abundance of microplastics in the world's deep seas

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 06:22 PM PST

Around four billion minute fibers could be littering each square kilometer of some of the world's deep seas, according to a new study.

Thumbs-up for mind-controlled robotic arm

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 06:20 PM PST

A paralyzed woman who controlled a robotic arm using just her thoughts has taken another step towards restoring her natural movements by controlling the arm with a range of complex hand movements.

When you lose weight, where does the fat go? Most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide, study shows

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 06:20 PM PST

Despite a worldwide obsession with diets and fitness regimes, many health professionals cannot correctly answer the question of where body fat goes when people lose weight, a new study shows. The most common misconception among doctors, dieticians and personal trainers is that the missing mass has been converted into energy or heat. The correct answer is that most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide and goes into thin air.

NASA data underscore severity of California drought

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 03:41 PM PST

It will take about 11 trillion gallons of water (42 cubic kilometers) -- around 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest U.S. reservoir -- to recover from California's continuing drought, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data.

MESSENGER data suggest recurring meteor shower on Mercury

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 03:37 PM PST

The closest planet to the sun appears to get hit by a periodic meteor shower, possibly associated with a comet that produces multiple events annually on Earth. The clues pointing to Mercury's shower were discovered in the very thin halo of gases that make up the planet's exosphere, which is under study by NASA's MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft.

Biologist reveals how whales may 'sing' for their supper

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 02:57 PM PST

Humpback whales have a trick or two, when it comes to finding a quick snack at the bottom of the ocean. Even in the dark. Biologists have been studying these unique feeding behaviors. Her research emphasizes the importance of specific auditory cues that these mammoth creatures emit, as they search the deep ocean for their prey.

Big-data analysis reveals gene sharing in mice

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 02:57 PM PST

Scientists have detected at least three potential hybridization events that likely shaped the evolutionary paths of 'old world' mice, two in recent times and one in the ancient past. The researchers think these instances of introgressive hybridization -- a way for genetic material and, potentially, traits to be passed from one species to another through interspecific mating -- are only the first of many needles waiting to be found in a very large genetic haystack. While introgressive hybridization is thought to be common among plants, the finding suggests that hybridization in mammals may not be the evolutionary dead end biologists once commonly thought.

NASA Goddard instrument makes first detection of organic matter on Mars

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 11:41 AM PST

Scientists have made the first definitive detection of organic molecules at Mars. The surface of Mars is currently inhospitable to life as we know it, but there is evidence that the Red Planet once had a climate that could have supported life billions of years ago.

DNA sheds light on why largest lemurs disappeared: Giant lemurs' demise linked to size, low numbers

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 11:41 AM PST

DNA from giant lemurs that lived thousands of years ago in Madagascar may help explain why the animals went extinct, and what makes some lemurs more at risk today. Scientists have little doubt that humans played a role in the giant lemurs' demise. By comparing the species that died out to those that survived, scientists hope to better predict which lemurs are most in need of protection in the future.

A lot or a little? Wolves discriminate quantities better than dogs

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 07:05 AM PST

Being able to mentally consider quantities makes sense for any social species. Scientists studied how well dogs can discriminate between different quantities and discovered that wolves perform better than dogs at such tasks. Possibly dogs lost this skill, or a predisposition for it, during domestication.

How brain can distinguish good from bad smells

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 07:05 AM PST

In fruit flies, the quality and intensity of odors can be mapped in the so-called lateral horn, scientists have found. They have created a spatial map of this part of the olfactory processing system in the fly brain and showed that the lateral horn can be segregated into three activity domains, each of which represents an odor category.

Feeling younger than actual age meant lower early death rate for older people, study finds

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 03:53 PM PST

Turns out, feeling younger than your actual age might be good for you. Older people who felt three or more years younger than their chronological age had a lower death rate compared with those who felt their age or who felt more than one year older than their actual age, researchers found.

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