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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

Biologists partner bacterium with nitrogen gas to produce more, cleaner bioethanol

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 06:21 PM PST

Biologists believe they have found a faster, cheaper and cleaner way to increase bioethanol production by using nitrogen gas, the most abundant gas in Earth's atmosphere, in place of more costly industrial fertilizers. The discovery could save the industry millions of dollars and make cellulosic ethanol -- made from wood, grasses and inedible parts of plants -- more competitive with corn ethanol and gasoline.

Rivers might constitute just 20 percent of continental water flowing into oceans

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 01:07 PM PST

The Amazon, Nile and Mississippi are mighty rivers, but they and all their worldwide brethren might be a relative trickle compared with an unseen torrent below the surface. New research shows that rivers might constitute as little as 20 percent of the water that flows yearly into the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific Oceans from the continents. The rest flows through what is termed the 'subterranean estuary,' which some researchers think supply the lion's share of terrestrial nutrients to the oceans.

Computer chips: Engineers use disorder to control light on the nanoscale

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 01:07 PM PST

A breakthrough could lead to the more precise transfer of information in computer chips, as well as new types of optical materials for light emission and lasers.

How 'spontaneous' social norms emerge

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 01:07 PM PST

A scientific explanation has been provided by researchers for how social conventions -- everything from acceptable baby names to standards of professional conduct -- can emerge suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, with no external forces driving their creation.

Smoke from fires linked to tornado intensity

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 11:10 AM PST

Researchers have found that smoke from fires can intensify tornadoes. They examined the effects of smoke -- resulting from spring agricultural land-clearing fires in Central America -- transported across the Gulf of Mexico and encountering tornado conditions already in process in the United States.

More evidence that musical training protects the brain

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 10:26 AM PST

Scientists have found some of the strongest evidence yet that musical training in younger years can prevent the decay in speech listening skills in later life. "Musical activities are an engaging form of cognitive brain training and we are now seeing robust evidence of brain plasticity from musical training not just in younger brains, but in older brains too," said the study's leader.

Friend, foe or queen? Study highlights the complexities of ant perception

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 10:26 AM PST

Researchers report that trap-jaw ants recognize the unique odor of a fertile queen only if the queen also shares the workers' own chemical cologne -- a distinctive blend of dozens of smelly, waxy compounds that coat the ants' bodies from head to tarsus. The discovery offers new insights into how social animals evolved and communicate with others in their group, the researchers say.

Dance of the nanovortices captured and recorded with help of X-ray holography

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 09:36 AM PST

It is a familiar phenomenon: If a spinning top is set in rotation on an inclined surface, it scribes a series of small arches. Researchers have now succeeded in capturing this pattern of movement in a magnetic thin film system -- in the form of small magnetic nanovortices. The researchers made a new discovery: The nanovortices possess mass.

Global warming slowdown: No systematic errors in climate models, comprehensive statistical analysis reveals

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 08:46 AM PST

Skeptics who still doubt anthropogenic climate change have now been stripped of one of their last-ditch arguments: It is true that there has been a warming hiatus and that the surface of Earth has warmed up much less rapidly since the turn of the millennium than all the relevant climate models had predicted. However, the gap between the calculated and measured warming is not due to systematic errors of the models, as the skeptics had suspected, but because there are always random fluctuations in Earth's climate, according to a comprehensive statistical analysis.

Scientists view effect of whisker tickling on mouse brains

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 08:41 AM PST

Researchers have succeeded in peering into the brains of live mice with such precision that they were able to see how the position of specific proteins changed as memories were forged.

New reset button discovered for circadian clock

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 08:41 AM PST

A team of biologists has found a way to use a laser and an optical fiber to reset an animal's master biological clock: A discovery that could in principle be used therapeutically to treat conditions like seasonal affect disorder, reduce the adverse health effects of night shift work and possibly even cure jet lag.

Bowhunting may have fostered social cohesion during the Neolithic

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 07:55 AM PST

Bowhunting during the Neolithic period may have been one of the pillars of unity as a group of primitive human societies. This is one of the main conclusions reached by a team of Spanish archaeologists that has analyzed the Neolithic bows found in the site of La Draga (Girona, Spain).

Baby's genes, not mom's, may trigger some preterm births

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 05:04 AM PST

Changes in genetic regions in infants linked with an increased risk of premature birth -- and the data change the preterm paradigm.

Picking up on the smell of evolution: Researchers discover changes that let a species drastically change its lifestyle

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 02:04 PM PST

Some of the changes in genes, physiology and behavior that enable a species to drastically change its lifestyle in the course of evolution have been discovered by researchers.

Ebola candidate vaccine has acceptable safety profile

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:43 AM PST

The first results from a trial of a candidate Ebola vaccine suggest the vaccine has an acceptable safety profile at the doses tested, and is able to generate an immune response. Larger trials in West Africa are needed to tell whether immune responses are large enough to protect against Ebola infection and disease, scientists say.

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