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Friday, January 16, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Century-old drug reverses autism-like symptoms in fragile X mouse model

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 01:35 PM PST

Researchers previously reported that a drug used for almost a century to treat trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, reversed environmental autism-like symptoms in mice. Now, a new study suggests that a genetic form of autism-like symptoms in mice are also corrected with the drug, even when treatment was started in young adult mice.

Nearly half the systems crucial to stability of planet compromised

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 01:35 PM PST

Almost half of the processes that are crucial to maintaining the stability of the planet have become dangerously compromised by human activity. That is the view of an international team of 18 researchers who provide new evidence of significant changes in four of the nine systems which regulate the resilience of the Earth.

Space station worms’ research potential is anything but flat

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 01:31 PM PST

For years, it was assumed the world was flat. Now, we have a laboratory that orbits our big, blue marble. So, it's funny to think of returning to flatness aboard the International Space Station, but this outpost currently houses flatworms for research. The study of these creatures has the potential to be rather robust in implications for regenerative medicine, an area of treatment for repairing or replacing human cells, tissues or organs on Earth to restore normal function. A new study launched aboard SpaceX's fifth commercial resupply services (CRS) mission to the space station examines the reparative processes of flatworms in microgravity.

Wildlife loss in the global ocean not as dire as on land

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:22 AM PST

Over the past 500 years, approximately 500 land-based animal species have gone the way of the dodo, becoming extinct as a result of human activity. In the ocean, where scientists count only 15 or so such losses, the numbers currently aren't nearly as dire.

Tiny plant fossils a window into Earth's landscape millions of years ago

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:22 AM PST

Scientists have discovered a way to determine the tree cover and density of trees, shrubs and bushes in locations over time based on clues in the cells of plant fossils preserved in rocks and soil. Quantifying vegetation structure throughout time could shed light on how the Earth's ecosystems changed over millions of years.

Roller coaster geese: Insights into high altitude bird flight physiology and biomechanics

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:22 AM PST

A study of the migratory biology of bar-headed geese, during their high altitude flights across the Tibetan plateau and Himalayan Mountains, has revealed how these birds cope with flying in the relatively low-density mountain atmosphere. The study shows that the geese perform a 'roller coaster' ride through the mountains, tracking the underlying terrain even if this means repeatedly shedding hard-won altitude only to have to regain height later in the same or subsequent flight.

New planetary dashboard shows 'great acceleration' in human activity since 1950

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:22 AM PST

Human activity, predominantly the global economic system, is now the prime driver of change in the Earth System (the sum of our planet's interacting physical, chemical, biological and human processes), according to a set of 24 global indicators, or 'planetary dashboard.'

In the Mood to Trade? Weather May Influence Institutional Investors' Stock Decisions

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:16 AM PST

Weather changes may affect how institutional investors decide on stock plays, according to a new study. Their findings suggest sunny skies put professional investors more in a mood to buy, while cloudy conditions tend to discourage stock purchases.

Environment, not genes, dictates human immune variation, study finds

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 10:47 AM PST

A study of twins shows that our environment, more than our heredity, plays the starring role in determining the state of our immune system, the body's primary defense against disease. This is especially true as we age, the study indicates.

For sea turtles, there's no place like magnetic home

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 10:47 AM PST

Adult sea turtles find their way back to the beaches where they hatched by seeking out unique magnetic signatures along the coast, according to new evidence.

Prolonging lifespan: Researchers create 'Methuselah fly' by selecting best cells

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 10:46 AM PST

Scientists have managed to considerably prolong the lifespan of flies by activating a gene which destroys unhealthy cells. The results could also open new possibilities in human anti-aging research.

Long-acting drug effectively prevents HIV-like infection in monkeys

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 09:21 AM PST

HIV infection can be prevented with regimens of antiretroviral drugs, however, their effectiveness depends on a patient's ability to take the pills as prescribed. HIV researchers hope cabotegravir would make compliance easier for some by requiring only one injection every three months.

The secret of empathy: Stress from the presence of strangers prevents empathy, in both mice and humans

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 09:20 AM PST

The ability to express empathy -- the capacity to share and feel another's emotions -- is limited by the stress of being around strangers, according to a new study. Empathy is increasingly being studied by scientists because of its known role in psychological disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and psychopathy.

Yak dung burning pollutes indoor air of Tibetan households

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 08:15 AM PST

Tibet, the highest region on Earth and one of the most remote, is associated with vivid blue skies and the crystal clear air of the Himalayas. During the long cold season, however, the traditional nomadic people spend much of their time in snug dwellings where they cook and stay warm by burning yak dung. Their indoor air can be filled with dangerous levels of fine particulate matter, including black carbon, a new study finds.

Smart farming technique to boost yields, cut fertilizer pollution

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 08:13 AM PST

Researchers are using X-rays to help farmers increase yields and cut water pollution following an unexpected discovery in a pea and bean crop. Scientists hope to combine two new technologies to provide a rapid "same day" measurement of soil phosphorus availability, enabling farmers and growers to make more informed decisions about fertilizer application.

Harnessing bacteria to move microscopic gears and ratchets

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:31 AM PST

Computer simulations suggest new applications in industry by harnessing active microscopic particles in fluids. Previous research has already demonstrated that substantial quantities of self-motile or active agents such as bacteria in a fluid environment can be harnessed to do mechanical work like moving microscopic gears and ratchets. Bacteria as well as algae can also be used to transport or displace matter in fluidic environments.

Emerald ash borer confirmed as threat to white fringetree

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:28 AM PST

The emerald ash borer, an invasive insect pest from Asia that has killed millions of ash trees in the United States and Canada, is also attacking the white fringetree according to a new study.

New sulfate-breathing species discovered beneath ocean crust: Third of Earth's biomass in largely uncharted environment

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 06:19 AM PST

Two miles below the surface of the ocean, researchers have discovered new microbes that "breathe" sulfate. The microbes, which have yet to be classified and named, exist in massive undersea aquifers -- networks of channels in porous rock beneath the ocean where water continually churns. About one-third of the Earth's biomass is thought to exist in this largely uncharted environment.

Lassa fever controls need to consider human-human transmission and role of super spreaders

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 06:19 AM PST

One in five cases of Lassa fever -- a disease that kills around 5,000 people a year in West Africa -- could be due to human-to-human transmission, with a large proportion of these cases caused by 'super-spreaders,' according to new research.

Out of the pouch: Ancient DNA extracted from extinct giant kangaroos

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 06:18 AM PST

Scientists have finally managed to extract DNA from Australia's extinct giant kangaroos, the mysterious marsupial megafauna that roamed Australia over 40,000 years ago. They have extracted DNA sequences from two species: a giant short-faced kangaroo (Simosthenurus occidentalis) and a giant wallaby (Protemnodon anak).

Did the Anthropocene begin with the nuclear age?

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 05:30 AM PST

Humans are having such a marked impact on the Earth that they are changing its geology, creating new and distinctive strata that will persist far into the future. This is the idea behind the Anthropocene, a new epoch in Earth history. But if the Anthropocene is to be a geological epoch -- when should it begin? Scientists have now identified July 16, 1945 as key time boundary in Earth history.

Entrepreneurs succeed in transforming used PET plastic bottles into mineral paper

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 05:30 AM PST

In order to cut down fewer trees and avoid wasting water, researchers have designed a system that converts used PET bottles into mineral paper or peta paper, which is biodegradable and meets quality standards required to print books, boxes general stationery.

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