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Thursday, January 15, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

Does screening asymptomatic adults for major disease save lives? It seems not

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 05:56 PM PST

Screening for disease is a key component of modern healthcare. Yet, new surprising new research shows that few currently available screening tests for major diseases where death is a common outcome have documented reductions in disease-specific mortality. Evidence was evaluated on 16 screening tests for 9 major diseases where mortality is a common outcome. The researchers found 45 randomized controlled trials and 98 meta-analyses that evaluated disease-specific or all-cause mortality. Reductions in disease-specific mortality were uncommon and reductions in all-cause mortality were very uncommon.

Combat veterans' brains reveal hidden damage from IED blasts

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 11:06 AM PST

The brains of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans who survived blasts from improvised explosive devices and died later of other causes show a honeycomb of broken and swollen nerve fibers in critical brain regions, including those that control executive function. The pattern is different from brain damage caused by car crashes, drug overdoses or collision sports, and may be the never-before-reported signature of 'shell shock' suffered by World War I soldiers.

A twist on planetary origins: Meteorites were byproducts of planetary formation, not building blocks

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 11:05 AM PST

Meteors that have crashed to Earth have long been regarded as relics of the early solar system. These craggy chunks of metal and rock are studded with chondrules -- tiny, glassy, spherical grains that were once molten droplets. Scientists have thought that chondrules represent early kernels of terrestrial planets: As the solar system started to coalesce, these molten droplets collided with bits of gas and dust to form larger planetary precursors. However, researchers have now found that chondrules may have played less of a fundamental role. Based on computer simulations, the group concludes that chondrules were not building blocks, but rather byproducts of a violent and messy planetary process.

Correcting estimates of sea level rise

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 11:05 AM PST

The acceleration in global sea level from the 20th century to the last two decades has been significantly larger than scientists previously thought, according to a new study. Previous estimates of global sea-level rise from 1900-1990 had been over-estimated by as much as 30 percent, researchers suggest.

Renewable resources reach their limits

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 11:04 AM PST

Landscape ecologists and plant ecologists analyzed the production and extraction rates of 27 global renewable and non-renewable resources together with economists and sustainability scholars. They examined 20 renewable resources, such as maize, rice, wheat or soya, which represent around 45% of the global calorie intake according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, as well as animal products, such as fish, meat, milk and egg. For 18 of these renewable resources the annual growth rate (for example the increase in meat production or in fish catch) reached its peak -- the peak-rate year -- around 2006 a few years ago.

Advanced 3-D facial imaging may aid in early detection of autism

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 08:56 AM PST

Autism is a spectrum of closely related disorders diagnosed in patients who exhibit a shared core of symptoms, including delays in learning to communicate and interact socially. Early detection of autism in children is the key for treatment. Using advanced 3-D imaging and statistical analysis techniques, researchers have identified facial measurements in children with autism that may lead to screening tools for young children and provide clues to genetic causes.

Chemical analysis of ancient rocks reveals earliest record yet of Earth's atmosphere: Isotopic memory of atmospheric persistence

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 08:52 AM PST

Chemical analysis of some of the world's oldest rocks has provided the earliest record yet of Earth's atmosphere. The results show that the air 4 billion years ago was very similar to that more than a billion years later, when the atmosphere -- though it likely would have been lethal to oxygen-dependent humans -- supported a thriving microbial biosphere that ultimately gave rise to the diversity of life on Earth today.

Jaw mechanics of a shell-crushing Jurassic fish revealed

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 07:17 AM PST

The feeding habits of an unusual 200-million-year-old fish have been uncovered by an undergraduate in a groundbreaking study. The Jurassic fish, Dapedium, known from the Lower Lias rocks of the Dorset coast around Lyme Regis, was one of many new groups of fishes that came on the scene 200 million years ago. These included ancestors of the modern teleost fishes -- the group of 30,000 species of salmon, cod, seahorses, and perch -- that dominate the waters today.

Stone Age humans weren't necessarily more advanced than Neanderthals

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 07:15 AM PST

A multi-purpose bone tool dating from the Neanderthal era has been discovered by researchers, throwing into question our current understanding of the evolution of human behavior. It was found at an archaeological site in France.

Electrical stimulation 'tunes' visual attention

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 06:08 AM PST

Picking a needle out of a haystack might seem like the stuff of fairytales, but our brains can be electrically "tuned" to enable us to do a much better job of finding what we're looking for, even in a crowded and distracting scene, new research indicates.

Cone snail venom holds promise for medical treatments for cancer, addiction

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 06:08 AM PST

While considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, snails have found a more intriguing use to scientists and the medical profession offering a plethora of research possibilities. Cone snails are marine mollusks, just as conch, octopi and squid, but they capture their prey using venom. The venom of these marine critters provides leads for detection and possible treatment of some cancers and addictions.

Possible treatments identified for highly contagious stomach virus

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 06:08 AM PST

Antibiotics aren't supposed to be effective against viruses. But new evidence in mice suggests antibiotics may help fight norovirus, a highly contagious gastrointestinal virus, report scientists. Outbreaks of norovirus are notoriously difficult to contain and can spread quickly on cruise ships and in schools, nursing homes and other closed spaces.

Long working hours linked to increased risky alcohol use

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 05:43 PM PST

Employees who work more than 48 hours per week are more likely to engage in risky alcohol consumption than those who work standard weeks, finds a new study. Risky alcohol consumption is considered as more than 14 drinks per week for women and more than 21 drinks per week for men. It is believed to increase risk of adverse health problems, including liver diseases, cancer, stroke, coronary heart disease and mental disorders.

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