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Friday, January 30, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

Privacy challenges: Just four vague pieces of info can identify you, and your credit card

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 01:08 PM PST

Just four fairly vague pieces of information -- the dates and locations of four purchases -- are enough to identify 90 percent of the people in a data set recording three months of credit-card transactions by 1.1 million users. If someone had copies of just three of your recent receipts -- or one receipt, one Instagram photo of you having coffee with friends, and one tweet about the phone you just bought -- would have a 94 percent chance of extracting your credit card records from those of a million other people. This is true, the researchers say, even in cases where no one in the data set is identified by name, address, credit card number, or anything else that we typically think of as personal information.

New technique for growing high-efficiency perovskite solar cells

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 12:16 PM PST

Researchers have revealed a new solution-based hot-casting technique that allows growth of highly efficient and reproducible solar cells from large-area perovskite crystals. The researchers fabricated planar solar cells from pervoskite materials with large crystalline grains that had efficiencies approaching 18%.

Where did the missing oil go? New study says some is sitting on the Gulf floor

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 12:15 PM PST

Some 6 million to 10 million gallons of oil from the BP oil spill are buried in the sediment on the Gulf floor, about 62 miles southeast of the Mississippi Delta, researchers have discovered.

CAT scan of nearby supernova remnant reveals frothy interior

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

Cassiopeia A, or Cas A for short, is one of the most well studied supernova remnants in our galaxy. But it still holds major surprises. Astronomers have now generated a new 3-D map of its interior using the astronomical equivalent of a CAT scan. They found that the Cas A supernova remnant is composed of a collection of about a half dozen massive cavities -- or 'bubbles.'

Global warming won't mean more storms: Big storms to get bigger, small storms to shrink, experts predict

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

Atmospheric physicists predict that global warming will not lead to an overall increasingly stormy atmosphere, a topic debated by scientists for decades. Instead, strong storms will become stronger while weak storms become weaker, and the cumulative result of the number of storms will remain unchanged.

Baleen whales hear through their bones

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

Understanding how baleen whales hear has posed a great mystery to marine mammal researchers. Biologists reveal that the skulls of at least some baleen whales, specifically fin whales in their study, have acoustic properties that capture the energy of low frequencies and direct it to their ear bones.

Public and scientists express strikingly different views about science-related issues

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

Despite similar views about the overall place of science in America, the general public and scientists often see science-related issues through a different lens, according to a new pair of surveys.

Added fructose is a principal driver of type 2 diabetes, experts argue

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 10:29 AM PST

Recent studies have shown that added sugars, particularly those containing fructose, are a principal driver of diabetes and pre-diabetes, even more so than other carbohydrates. Clinical experts challenge current dietary guidelines that allow up to 25 percent of total daily calories as added sugars, and propose drastic reductions in the amount of added sugar, and especially added fructose, people consume.

Walking on ice takes more than brains: 'Mini-brain' in spinal cord aids in balance

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 10:28 AM PST

Scientists have discovered how a "mini-brain" in the spinal cord aids in balance. Much of the balancing act that our bodies perform when faced with a task such as walking on an icy surface happens unconsciously, thanks to a cluster of neurons in our spinal cord that function as a "mini-brain" to integrate sensory information and make the necessary adjustments to our muscles so that we don't slip and fall, researchers report.

Infants create new knowledge while sleeping

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:55 AM PST

There is no rest for a baby's brain -- not even in sleep. While infants sleep they are reprocessing what they have learned. Researchers have discovered that babies of the age from nine to 16 months remember the names of objects better if they had a short nap.

Ancient 'genomic parasites' spurred evolution of pregnancy in mammals

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:55 AM PST

Large-scale genetic changes that marked the evolution of pregnancy in mammals have been identified by an international team of scientists. They found thousands of genes that evolved to be expressed in the uterus in early mammals. Surprisingly, these genes appear to have been recruited from other tissue types by transposons -- ancient mobile genetic elements sometimes thought of as genomic parasites. The study sheds light on how organisms evolve new morphological structures and functions.

Functioning brain tissue grown in 3-D structure

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:54 AM PST

Researchers have induced human embryonic stem cells to self-organize into a three-dimensional structure similar to the cerebellum, providing tantalizing clues in the quest to recreate neural structures in the laboratory. One of the primary goals of stem-cell research is to be able to replace damaged body parts with tissues grown from undifferentiated stem cells. For the nervous system, this is a particular challenge because not only do specific neurons need to be generated, but they must also be coaxed into connecting to each other in very specific ways.

Iceland rises as its glaciers melt from climate change

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 08:37 AM PST

Earth's crust under Iceland is rebounding as global warming melts the island's great ice caps. In south-central Iceland some sites are moving upward as much as 1.4 inches (35 mm) per year. A new paper is the first to show the current fast uplift of the Icelandic crust is a result of accelerated melting of the island's glaciers and coincides with the onset of warming that began about 30 years ago, the researchers said.

Ancient skull shows modern humans colonized Eurasia 60-70,000 years ago

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 08:37 AM PST

A skull provides direct anatomical evidence that fills a problematic time gap of modern human migration into Europe. It is also the first proof that anatomically modern humans existed at the same time as Neanderthals in the same geographical area.

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