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Thursday, December 18, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

Life expectancy increases globally as death toll falls from major diseases

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 05:15 PM PST

People are living much longer worldwide than they were two decades ago, as death rates from infectious diseases and cardiovascular disease have fallen, according to a new, first-ever journal publication of country-specific cause-of-death data for 188 countries.

Switching to spintronics: Electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temperature

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 01:16 PM PST

Researchers have used an electric field to reverse the magnetization direction in a multiferroic spintronic device at room temperature, a demonstration that points a new way towards spintronics and smaller, faster and cheaper ways of storing and processing data.

Lens-free microscope can detect cancer at cellular level

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 12:40 PM PST

A lens-free microscope that can be used to detect the presence of cancer or other cell-level abnormalities with the same accuracy as larger and more expensive optical microscopes, has been developed by researchers. The invention could lead to less expensive and more portable technology for performing common examinations of tissue, blood and other biomedical specimens. It may prove especially useful in remote areas and in cases where large numbers of samples need to be examined quickly.

Surprising theorists, stars within middle-aged clusters are of similar age

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 12:40 PM PST

An examination of middle-aged star clusters reveals an unexpectedly narrow age range among their stars, suggesting that large groups of stars evolve differently than previously understood.

Ancient, hydrogen-rich waters deep underground around the world: Waters could support isolated life

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 11:11 AM PST

A team of scientists has mapped the location of hydrogen-rich waters found trapped kilometers beneath Earth's surface in rock fractures in Canada, South Africa and Scandinavia. Common in Precambrian Shield rocks -- the oldest rocks on Earth -- the ancient waters have a chemistry similar to that found near deep sea vents, suggesting these waters can support microbes living in isolation from the surface.

Multiple allergic reactions traced to single protein

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 11:10 AM PST

A single protein has been identified as the root of painful and dangerous allergic reactions to a range of medications and other substances. If a new drug can be found that targets the problematic protein, researchers say, it could help smooth treatment for patients with conditions ranging from prostate cancer to diabetes to HIV.

'Perfect storm' quenching star formation around a supermassive black hole

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 11:10 AM PST

Astronomers have discovered that modest black holes can shut down star formation by producing turbulence. High-energy jets powered by supermassive black holes can blast away a galaxy's star-forming fuel, resulting in so-called "red and dead" galaxies: those brimming with ancient red stars yet containing little or no hydrogen gas to create new ones.

Scientists open new frontier of vast chemical 'space': As proof-of-principle, the team makes dozens of new chemical entities

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 10:15 AM PST

Chemists have invented a powerful method for joining complex organic molecules that is extraordinarily robust and can be used to make pharmaceuticals, fabrics, dyes, plastics and other materials previously inaccessible to chemists.

New class of synthetic molecules mimics antibodies

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 08:36 AM PST

The first synthetic molecules that have both the targeting and response functions of antibodies have been crafted by scientists. The new molecules -- synthetic antibody mimics -- attach themselves simultaneously to disease cells and disease-fighting cells. The result is a highly targeted immune response, similar to the action of natural human antibodies.

Amputee makes history controlling two modular prosthetic limbs

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 08:35 AM PST

A Colorado man made history this summer when he became the first bilateral shoulder-level amputee to wear and simultaneously control two modular prosthetic limbs. Most importantly, the patient, who lost both arms in an electrical accident 40 years ago, was able to operate the system by simply thinking about moving his limbs, performing a variety of tasks during a short training period.

Hugs help protect against stress, infection, say researchers

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 07:13 AM PST

Researchers tested whether hugs act as a form of social support, protecting stressed people from getting sick. They found that greater social support and more frequent hugs protected people from the increased susceptibility to infection associated with being stressed and resulted in less severe illness symptoms.

Asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs may have nearly knocked off mammals, too

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 07:13 AM PST

The classic story is that mammals rose to dominance after the dinosaurs went extinct, but a new study shows that some of the most common mammals living alongside dinosaurs, the metatherians, extinct relatives of living marsupials, were also nearly wiped out when an asteroid hit the planet 66 million years ago.

Ancient Earth may have made its own water: Rock circulating in mantle feeds world's oceans even today, evidence suggests

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 06:05 AM PST

In a finding that meshes well with recent discoveries from the Rosetta mission, researchers have discovered a geochemical pathway by which Earth makes it own water through plate tectonics. This finding extends the planet's water cycle to billions of years—and suggests that enough water is buried in the deep earth right now to fill the Pacific Ocean.

Unraveling the light of fireflies

Posted: 17 Dec 2014 04:45 AM PST

How do fireflies produce those mesmerizing light flashes? Using cutting-edge imaging techniques, scientists have unraveled the firefly's intricate light-producing system for the first time.

Fat cells reprogrammed to increase fat burning

Posted: 13 Dec 2014 04:44 AM PST

White adipose tissue stores excess calories as fat that can be released for use in other organs during fasting. Mammals also have small amounts of brown adipose tissue, which primarily acts as an effective fat burner for the production of heat. Now researchers have uncovered the mechanism by which white fat cells from humans gets reprogrammed to become browner.

Many U.S. workers are sacrificing sleep for work

Posted: 11 Dec 2014 08:55 AM PST

An analysis of 124,000 responses to a survey shows that paid work time is the primary waking activity exchanged for sleep. The study also suggests that chronic sleep loss potentially could be prevented by strategies that make work start times more flexible. 'The evidence that time spent working was the most prominent sleep thief was overwhelming,' said the study's lead author.

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