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Friday, February 6, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

Drug-resistant bacteria lurk in subway stations, high school students discover

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 02:49 PM PST

Forget commuters and rats, New York City's subway system is crowded with microbes. After spending her vacation swabbing benches and turn styles beneath the city, high school students found bacteria impervious to two major antibiotics.

Forever young: Meditation might slow the age-related loss of gray matter in the brain

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

Building on their earlier work that suggested people who meditate have less age-related atrophy in the brain's white matter, a new study found that meditation appeared to help preserve the brain's gray matter, the tissue that contains neurons.

Seafloor volcano pulses may alter climate: Strikingly regular patterns, from weeks to eons

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

A new study shows that undersea volcanoes flare up on strikingly regular cycles, ranging from two weeks to 100,000 years -- and, that they erupt almost exclusively during the first six months of each year. The pulses -- apparently tied to short- and long-term changes in earth's orbit, and to sea levels -- may help trigger natural climate swings.

Tiny termites can hold back deserts by creating oases of plant life

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

Termite mounds can help prevent the spread of deserts into semi-arid ecosystems and agricultural lands. The results of a new study not only suggest that termite mounds could make these areas more resilient to climate change than previously thought, but could also inspire a change in how scientists determine the possible effects of climate change on ecosystems.

Cosmology: First stars were born much later than thought

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 10:12 AM PST

New maps from ESA's Planck satellite uncover the 'polarized' light from the early Universe across the entire sky, revealing that the first stars formed much later than previously thought.

Learning with all the senses: Movement, images facilitate vocabulary learning

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:31 AM PST

"Atesi" - what sounds like a word from the Elven language of Lord of the Rings is actually a Vimmish word meaning "thought". Scientists have used Vimmish, an artificial language specifically developed for scientific research, to study how people can best memorize foreign-language terms. According to the researchers, it is easier to learn vocabulary if the brain can link a given word with different sensory perceptions. The motor system in the brain appears to be especially important: When someone not only hears vocabulary in a foreign language, but expresses it using gestures, they will be more likely to remember it. Also helpful, although to a slightly lesser extent, is learning with images that correspond to the word. Learning methods that involve several senses, and in particular those that use gestures, are therefore superior to those based only on listening or reading.

Microbiome linked to type 1 diabetes: Shift in microbiome species diversity prior to disease onset

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:30 AM PST

In the largest longitudinal study of the microbiome to date, researchers have identified a connection between changes in gut microbiota and the onset of type 1 diabetes. The study, which followed infants who were genetically predisposed to the condition, found that onset for those who developed the disease was preceded by a drop in microbial diversity -- including a disproportional decrease in the number of species known to promote health in the gut.

After merger, chimpanzees learned new grunt for 'apple'

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:30 AM PST

Chimpanzees have special grunts for particular types of foods, and their fellow chimps know exactly what those calls mean. Now, by studying what happened after two separate groups of adult chimpanzees moved in together at the Edinburgh Zoo, researchers have made the surprising discovery that our primate cousins can change those referential grunts over time, to make them sound more like those of new peers.

Neurogeneticists harness immune cells to clear Alzheimer's-associated plaques

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 06:52 AM PST

New research shows that the body's immune system may be able to clear the brain of toxic plaque build-up that is the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, reversing memory loss and brain cell damage.

Norwegian lemmings dress loudly and scream even louder to survive

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 06:51 AM PST

Researcher looks at why the Norwegian lemming is so boldly colored and brave. The conspicuous, bold colors of the Norwegian lemming's fur and its loud barks serve as warnings to predators that it is not a creature to be messed with. This ferocity makes it unique among small rodents.

15-million-year-old mollusk protein found

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:37 AM PST

Scientists have found 'beautifully preserved' 15-million-year-old thin protein sheets in fossil shells from southern Maryland. The team collected samples from Calvert Cliffs, along the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay, a popular fossil collecting area. They found fossilized shells of a snail-like mollusk called Ecphora that lived in the mid-Miocene era.

Preventing greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:37 AM PST

A novel class of materials that enable a safer, cheaper, and more energy-efficient process for removing greenhouse gas from power plant emissions has been developed by a multi-institution team of researchers. The approach could be an important advance in carbon capture and sequestration.

Neanderthals disappeared from the Iberian Peninsula before than from the rest of Europe

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:35 AM PST

Until a few months ago different scientific articles dated the disappearance of the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) from Europe at around 40,000 years ago. However, a new study shows that these hominids could have disappeared before then in the Iberian Peninsula, closer to 45,000 years ago.

Octopus robot makes waves with ultra-fast propulsion

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:30 AM PST

Scientists have developed an octopus-like robot, which can zoom through water with ultra-fast propulsion and acceleration never before seen in human-made underwater vehicles. Most fast aquatic animals are sleek and slender to help them move easily through the water but cephalopods, such as the octopus, are capable of high-speed escapes by filling their bodies with water and then quickly expelling it to dart away. Inspired by this, scientists built a deformable octopus-like robot with a 3D printed skeleton with no moving parts and no energy storage device, other than a thin elastic outer hull.

Malocclusion and dental crowding arose 12,000 years ago with earliest farmers

Posted: 04 Feb 2015 11:46 AM PST

Hunter-gatherers had almost no malocclusion and dental crowding, and the condition first became common among the world's earliest farmers some 12,000 years ago in Southwest Asia.

Mapping of the canary genome

Posted: 04 Feb 2015 09:59 AM PST

Nature lovers are fascinated by the increasing number of singing birds when spring is approaching. Scientists also take advantage of this seasonal phenomenon because they are able to investigate the underlying mechanism; however the evolutionary and molecularbiological background is largely unknown. Biologists have now sequenced the genome of the canary.

Brain marker hints at depression, anxiety years later

Posted: 04 Feb 2015 09:57 AM PST

A car accident, the loss of a loved one, and financial trouble are just a few of the myriad stressors we may encounter in our lifetimes. How well will we deal with the inevitable lows of life? By looking at an area of the brain called the amygdala, scientists can predict depression or anxiety in response to stressful life events as far as four years in the future.

Lung cancer now leading cause of cancer death in females in developed countries

Posted: 04 Feb 2015 07:26 AM PST

A new analysis finds lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death in females in developed countries.

How the brain ignores distractions

Posted: 03 Feb 2015 04:02 PM PST

By scanning the brains of people engaged in selective attention to sensations, researchers have learned how the brain appears to coordinate the response needed to ignore distractors. They are now studying whether that ability can be harnessed, for instance to suppress pain.

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