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Friday, January 16, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

ScienceDaily: Top Science 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.

Planets outside our solar system may be more hospitable to life than thought, research suggests

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 01:35 PM PST

Astrophysicists suggest that exoplanets are more likely to have liquid water and be more habitable than once thought. If correct, there would be no permanent, cold night side on exoplanets causing water to remain trapped in a gigantic ice sheet. Whether this new understanding of exoplanets' climate increases the ability of these planets to develop life, however, remains an open question.

Rice-sized laser, powered one electron at a time, bodes well for quantum computing

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:23 AM PST

Researchers have built a rice grain-sized microwave laser, or 'maser,' powered by single electrons that demonstrates the fundamental interactions between light and moving electrons. It is a major step toward building quantum-computing systems out of semiconductor materials.

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.'

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.

Huge 3-D displays without 3-D glasses

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:28 AM PST

A new kind of display uses laser beams to send out different pictures into different directions. Each pixel contains lasers and a moving mirror, which directs the laser light. Different pictures can be sent to the right and the left eye of each viewer, so that 3-D effects become possible without the need for special glasses. A prototype has successfully been built, the technology is expected to become widely available in 2016.

People can be convinced they committed a crime that never happened

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:28 AM PST

Innocent adult participants can be convinced, over the course of a few hours, that they had perpetrated crimes as serious as assault with a weapon in their teenage years. This research indicates that the participants came to internalize the stories they were told, providing rich and detailed descriptions of events that never actually took place. fictitious

No more neuronal gibberish: How 100 billion nerve cells produce a clear thought or an action

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:27 AM PST

We have approximately 100 billion nerve cells in our brains, all of which communicate with one another. Why do they lead to clear thoughts or purposeful actions instead of mere gibberish? The reason lies, among other things, in a small group of inhibitory nerve cells that can use the messenger GABA to curb the activity of other nerve cells, scientists say.

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.

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).

Trans-Neptunian objects suggest that there are more dwarf planets in our solar system

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 05:30 AM PST

There could be at least two unknown dwarf planets hidden well beyond Pluto, whose gravitational influence determines the orbits and strange distribution of objects observed beyond Neptune. This has been revealed by numerical calculations. If confirmed, this hypothesis would revolutionize solar system models. Astronomers have spent decades debating whether some dark trans-Plutonian planet remains to be discovered within the solar system. According to scientists not only one, but at least two planets must exist to explain the orbital behavior of extreme trans-Neptunian objects.

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