Kamis, 17 April 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News


Earliest ancestor of land herbivores discovered: 300-million-year-old predator showed way to modern terrestrial ecosystem

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 02:22 PM PDT

New research demonstrates how carnivores transitioned into herbivores for the first time on land. Previously unknown, the 300-million-year old fossilized juvenile skeleton of Eocasea martini is less than 20 cm long. Found in Kansas, it consists of a partial skull, most of the vertebral column, the pelvis and a hind limb. By comparing the skeletal anatomy of related animals, scientists discovered that Eocasea martini belonged to the caseid branch of the group Synapsid. This group, which includes early terrestrial herbivores and large top predators, ultimately evolved into modern living mammals. Eocasea lived nearly 80 million years before the age of dinosaurs.

For cells, internal stress leads to unique shapes

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 01:26 PM PDT

A cell's unique shape results from an internal tug-of-war: the cell needs to maintain structural integrity while also dynamically responding to the pushes and pulls of mechanical stress, researchers have discovered. The researchers studied the supportive microtubule arrangement in the tissue of pavement cells from the first leaves -- or cotyledons -- of a young Arabidopsis thaliana plant.

Red moon at night: Stargazer's delight

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 01:26 PM PDT

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical Astronomy Observatory near Tucson, Ariz., the skies offered impressive viewing.

Information storage for the next generation of plastic computers: Efficient conversion from magnetic storage to light is key

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 01:24 PM PDT

Inexpensive computers, cell phones and other systems that substitute flexible plastic for silicon chips may be one step closer to reality, thanks to new research. Scientists have made a new proposal for overcoming a major obstacle to the development of such plastic devices -- the large amount of energy required to read stored information.

How kids' brain structures grow as memory develops

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 11:33 AM PDT

Our ability to store memories improves during childhood, associated with structural changes in the hippocampus and its connections with prefrontal and parietal cortices. New research is exploring how these brain regions develop at this crucial time. Eventually, that could give insights into disorders that typically emerge in the transition into and during adolescence and affect memory, such as schizophrenia and depression.

Mars: Meteorites yield clues to Red Planet's early atmosphere

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 11:33 AM PDT

Geologists analyzed 40 meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars to understand the history of the Martian atmosphere. Their new article shows the atmospheres of Mars and Earth diverged in important ways early in the solar system's 4.6 billion year evolution.

Eavesdropping on brain cell chatter

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 11:33 AM PDT

Everything we do -- all of our movements, thoughts and feelings -- are the result of neurons talking with one another, and recent studies have suggested that some of the conversations might not be all that private. Brain cells known as astrocytes may be listening in on, or even participating in, some of those discussions. But a new mouse study suggests that astrocytes might only be tuning in part of the time -- specifically, when the neurons get really excited about something.

Theoretical biophysics: Adventurous bacteria decide how to preserve species?

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 11:33 AM PDT

To reproduce or to conquer the world? Surprisingly, bacteria also face this problem. Theoretical biophysicists have now shown how these organisms should decide how best to preserve their species.

Quantum computing? Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 10:34 AM PDT

Scientists have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. High-quality quantum switches are essential for the development of quantum computers and the quantum internet -- innovations that would offer vastly greater information processing power and speed than classical (digital) computers, as well as more secure information transmission.

Cancer drugs block dementia-linked brain inflammation, study finds

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 10:33 AM PDT

A class of drugs developed to treat immune-related conditions and cancer -- including one currently in clinical trials for glioblastoma and other tumors -- eliminates neural inflammation associated with dementia-linked diseases and brain injuries, according to researchers. In their study, the researchers discovered that the drugs, which can be delivered orally, eradicated microglia, the primary immune cells of the brain. These cells exacerbate many neural diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, as well as brain injury.

How smells stick to your memories: Your nose can be a pathfinder

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 10:33 AM PDT

Waves in your brain make smells stick to your memories and inner maps. Researchers have recently discovered the process behind this phenomenon. The brain, it turns out, connects smells to memories through an associative process where neural networks are linked through synchronized brain waves of 20-40 Hz.

Ancient shark fossil reveals new insights into jaw evolution

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 10:33 AM PDT

The skull of a newly discovered 325-million-year-old shark-like species suggests that early cartilaginous and bony fishes have more to tell us about the early evolution of jawed vertebrates -- including humans -- than do modern sharks, as was previously thought. The new study shows that living sharks are actually quite advanced in evolutionary terms, despite having retained their basic 'sharkiness' over millions of years.

Searching for dark energy with neutrons: With neutrons, scientists can now look for dark energy in the lab

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 10:33 AM PDT

It does not always take a huge accelerator to do particle physics: First results from a low energy, table top alternative takes validity of Newtonian gravity down by five orders of magnitude and narrows the potential properties of the forces and particles that may exist beyond it by more than one hundred thousand times. Gravity resonance spectroscopy is so sensitive that it can now be used to search for Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

Crucial new information about how the ice ages came about

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 10:33 AM PDT

Scientists have discovered new relationships between deep-sea temperature and ice-volume changes to provide crucial new information about how the ice ages came about. The researchers found, for the first time, that the long-term trends in cooling and continental ice-volume cycles over the past 5.3 million years were not the same. In fact, for temperature the major step toward the ice ages that have characterized the past two to three million years was a cooling event at 2.7 million years ago, but for ice-volume the crucial step was the development of the first intense ice age at around 2.15 million years ago. Before these results, these were thought to have occurred together at about 2.5 million years ago.

Sperm meets egg: Protein essential for fertilization discovered

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 10:32 AM PDT

Interacting proteins on the surface of the sperm and the egg have been discovered by researchers. These are essential to begin mammalian life. These proteins, which allow the sperm and egg to recognize one another, offer new paths towards improved fertility treatments and the development of new contraceptives.

Scientists capture ultrafast snapshots of light-driven superconductivity

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 10:32 AM PDT

A new study pins down a major factor behind the appearance of superconductivity -- the ability to conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency -- in a promising copper-oxide material. Scientists used carefully timed pairs of laser pulses to trigger superconductivity in the material and immediately take x-ray snapshots of its atomic and electronic structure as superconductivity emerged.

Scientists re-define what's healthy in newest analysis for human microbiome project

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 10:31 AM PDT

A new look at the Human Microbiome Project shows wide variation in the types of bacteria found in healthy people. Based on their findings, there is no single healthy microbiome. Rather each person harbors a unique and varied collection of bacteria that's the result of life history as well their interactions with the environment, diet and medication use.

HIV-positive women respond well to HPV vaccine, study shows

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 09:56 AM PDT

A vaccine can safely help the vast majority of HIV-positive women produce antibodies against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus, even if their immune system is weak and even if they've had some prior HPV exposure, a three-nation clinical trial found. HPV causes cervical and other cancers. The commonly used HPV vaccine Gardasil had not been tested in seriously immune-suppressed women with HIV. In addition, vaccines are often less effective in HIV-positive people.

Synapses: stability in transformation

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 09:56 AM PDT

Synapses are the points of contact at which information is transmitted between neurons. Without them, we would not be able to form thoughts or remember things. For memories to endure, synapses sometimes have to remain stable for very long periods. But how can a synapse last if its components have to be replaced regularly? New research shows that synapses remain stable if their components grow in coordination with each other.

Shade grown coffee shrinking as a proportion of global coffee production

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 09:54 AM PDT

Over the past couple of decades, global coffee production has been shifting towards a more intensive, less environmentally friendly style, a new study has found. That's pretty surprising if you live in the U.S. and you've gone to the grocery store or Starbucks, where sales of environmentally and socially conscious coffees have risen sharply and now account for half of all U.S. coffee sales by economic value.

DNA looping damage tied to HPV cancer, researcher discovers

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 08:30 AM PDT

Certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) are known to cause about five percent of all cancer cases, yet all the mechanisms aren't completely understood. Now, researchers have leveraged Ohio Supercomputer Center resources and whole-genome sequencing to identify a new way that HPV might spark cancer development -- by disrupting the human DNA sequence with repeating loops when HPV is inserted into host-cell DNA as it replicates.

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis: New design for enhanced safety, easier siting and centralized construction

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 08:29 AM PDT

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects -- specifically, the lack of cooling for the reactor cores, due to a shutdown of all power at the station -- that caused most of the harm. A new design for nuclear plants built on floating platforms, modeled after those used for offshore oil drilling, could help avoid such consequences in the future.

Trials of the Cherokee were reflected in their skulls

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 08:29 AM PDT

Researchers have found that environmental stressors -- from the Trail of Tears to the Civil War -- led to significant changes in the shape of skulls in the eastern and western bands of the Cherokee people. The findings highlight the role of environmental factors in shaping our physical characteristics.

Expect changes in appetite, taste of food after weight loss surgery

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 08:28 AM PDT

Changes in appetite, taste and smell are par for the course for people who have undergone Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery during which one's stomach is made smaller and small intestines shortened. These sensory changes are not all negative, and could lead to more weight loss among patients. Their findings showed that after gastric bypass surgery, patients frequently report sensory changes.

Pressure relief valve in cellular membrane identified

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 08:28 AM PDT

Regulation of cell volume is critical for the body's cells, for example during cellular exposure to fluids of varying salt concentrations, in cell division and cell growth, but also in diseases such as cancer, stroke and myocardial infarction. A certain chloride channel, a membrane protein that allows the passage of the chloride ion, is of crucial importance in volume regulation.

Making new materials an atomic layer at a time

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 08:27 AM PDT

Researchers have shown the ability to grow high quality, single-layer materials one on top of the other using chemical vapor deposition. This highly scalable technique, often used in the semiconductor industry, can produce new materials with unique properties that could be applied to solar cells, ultracapacitors for energy storage, or advanced transistors for energy efficient electronics, among many other applications.

Using video surveillance to measure peoples' hand washing habits

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 07:16 AM PDT

Use of video surveillance to better understand essential hygiene behavior has been pioneered by researchers. Still, despite years of global public awareness campaigns, hand washing rates remain low. Caregivers of young children in low-income, developing world settings are found to wash their hands only 17 percent of the time after using the toilet. A new study finds that video surveillance can provide insights into hand washing behavior. Study findings could inform the design, monitoring and evaluation of hygiene campaigns.

Ant colonies help evacuees in disaster zones

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 07:16 AM PDT

An escape route mapping system based on the behavior of ant colonies could give evacuees a better chance of reaching safe harbor after a natural disaster or terrorist attack by building a map showing the shortest routes to shelters and providing regular updates of current situations such as fires, blocked roads or other damage via the smart phones of emergency workers and those caught up in the disaster.

Multiple births don't have to be an inevitable result of fertility treatments

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 07:16 AM PDT

While fertility treatments have helped many people become parents, they commonly result in multiple births, increasing the risk of prematurity, and leading to lifelong complications. But this doesn't have to be the case, according researchers, who recommend sweeping changes to policy and clinical practice.

How toddlers learn verbs: New insight

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 07:16 AM PDT

Parents can help toddlers' language skills by showing them a variety of examples of different actions, according to new research. Previous research has shown that verbs pose particular difficulties to toddlers as they refer to actions rather than objects, and actions are often different each time a child sees them.

Global scientific team 'visualizes' a new crystallization process

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 07:16 AM PDT

By combining a synchrotron's bright X-ray beam with high speed X-ray cameras, scientists shot a 'movie' showing how organic molecules form into crystals. This is a first. Their new techniques will improve our understanding of crystal packing and should help lead to better electronic devices as well as pharmaceuticals -- indeed any product whose properties depend on precisely controlling crystallization.

Augmented reality: Bringing history and the future to life

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 07:14 AM PDT

Have you ever wished you had a virtual time machine that could show you how your street looked last century? Or have you wanted to see how your new furniture might look, before you've even bought it? Thanks to new research you can now do just that.

Progress in understanding immune response in severe schistosomiasis

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 07:13 AM PDT

A mechanism that may help explain the severe forms of schistosomiasis, or snail fever, has been discovered by researchers. Schistosomiasis is one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases in the world. The study in mice may also offer targets for intervention and amelioration of the disease. Although schistosomiasis is not contracted in the United States or Europe, the World Health Organization reports that this neglected tropical disease is endemic primarily in Africa, but is also found in South America, the Middle East, and Asia.

Fighting neuroblastomas by blocking DNA replication, repair

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 07:13 AM PDT

PCNA is a protein essential to DNA repair and replication, and researchers are targeting it in neuroblastoma cells in order to halt tumor growth and induce cell death. Neuroblastoma is one of the deadliest childhood cancers, accounting for 15 percent of pediatric cancer deaths. For patients with high-risk neuroblastomas, the five-year survival rate is 40 to 50 percent even with the most rigorous treatments available today.

Relieving electric vehicle range anxiety with improved batteries

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 07:13 AM PDT

A new nanomaterial called a metal organic framework could extend the lifespan of lithium-sulfur batteries, which could be used to increase the driving range of electric vehicles. Researchers added the powder, a kind of nanomaterial called a metal organic framework, to the battery's cathode to capture problematic polysulfides that usually cause lithium-sulfur batteries to fail after a few charges. During lab tests, a lithium-sulfur battery with the new MOF cathode maintained 89 percent of its initial power capacity after 100 charge-and discharge cycles.

Computer software analyzing facial expressions accurately predicts student test performance

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 07:13 AM PDT

Real-time engagement detection technology that processes facial expressions can perform with accuracy comparable to that of human observers, according to new research. The study used automatic expression recognition technology to analyze students' facial expressions on a frame-by-frame basis and estimate their engagement level. The study also revealed that engagement levels were a better predictor of students' post-test performance than the students' pre-test scores.

Diverse gene pool critical for tigers' survival, say experts

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 06:08 AM PDT

Increasing tigers' genetic diversity -- via interbreeding and other methods -- and not just their population numbers may be the best solution to saving this endangered species, according to research. Iconic symbols of power and beauty, wild tigers may roam only in stories someday soon. Their historical range has been reduced by more than 90 percent. But conservation plans that focus only on increasing numbers and preserving distinct subspecies ignore genetic diversity, according to the study. In fact, under that approach, the tiger could vanish entirely.

Body mass index associated with breast cancer, regardless of body shape

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 06:08 AM PDT

A larger waist circumference is associated with higher risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, but not beyond its contribution to BMI, a new study of predominantly white women finds. The study fails to confirm previous findings that body shape itself is an independent risk factor for breast cancer.

Scientists achieve first direct observations of excitons in motion

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 06:08 AM PDT

A quasiparticle called an exciton -- responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits -- has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within materials has never been directly observed. Now scientists have achieved that feat, imaging excitons' motions directly. This could enable research leading to significant advances in electronics, they say, as well as a better understanding of natural energy-transfer processes, such as photosynthesis.

Fish exposed to antidepressants exhibit altered behavioral changes

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 06:05 AM PDT

Fish exposed to the antidepressant Fluoxetine, an active ingredient in prescription drugs such as Prozac, exhibited a range of altered mating behaviours, repetitive behaviour and aggression towards female fish, according to new research. "With increased aggression, in the highest level of concentration, female survivorship was only 33% compared to the other exposures that had a survivorship of 77-87.5%. The females that died had visible bruising and tissue damage," according to the lead author.

Gate for bacterial toxins found in cells

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 06:05 AM PDT

A molecule that smuggles toxins from intestinal pathogens into human cells has been discovered by scientists. "In order to prevent the toxin from entering the cell, it is necessary to find the receptor that serves as the gatekeeper. But the search for this key molecule remained unsuccessful for a long time," one researcher. The team has now identified a receptor for a clostridial toxin of this type for the first time ever.

EU must take urgent action on invasive species, experts urge

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 06:05 AM PDT

The EU must take urgent action to halt the spread of invasive species that are threatening native plants and animals across Europe, according to scientists. The threats posed by these species cost an estimated €12 billion each year across Europe.

At the origin of cell division: The features of living matter emerge from inanimate matter in simulation

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 06:04 AM PDT

Droplets of filamentous material enclosed in a lipid membrane: these are the models of a "simplified" cell used by physicists who simulated the spontaneous emergence of cell motility and division - that is, features of living material - in inanimate "objects".

Potential use of Google Glass in surgical settings

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 06:04 AM PDT

A new article shows the potential applications for Google Glass in the surgical setting, particularly in relation to training. Personal portable information technology is advancing at a breathtaking speed. Google has recently introduced Glass, a device that is worn like conventional glasses, but that combines a computerized central processing unit, touchpad, display screen, high-definition camera, microphone, bone-conduction transducer, and wireless connectivity.

A study in scarlet: Hot newborn stars formed out of the clouds

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 06:04 AM PDT

An area of the southern sky, in the constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur), is home to many bright nebulae, each associated with hot newborn stars that formed out of the clouds of hydrogen gas. The intense radiation from the stellar newborns excites the remaining hydrogen around them, making the gas glow in the distinctive shade of red typical of star-forming regions.

Warm U.S. West, cold East: 4,000-year pattern; Global warming may bring more curvy jet streams during winter

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A new study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, and suggests it may worsen as Earth's climate warms.

Lemurs match scent of a friend to sound of her voice

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:38 PM PDT

Scientists report that ring-tailed lemurs respond more strongly to the scents and sounds of female lemurs when the scent they smell and the voice they hear belong to the same female -- even when she's nowhere in sight. Linking a particular female's call with her unique aroma gives the lemurs a way to figure out if she is nearby, since the scents tend to linger.

Thyroid disease risk varies among blacks, Asians, whites

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 01:17 PM PDT

An analysis that included active military personnel finds that the rate of the thyroid disorder Graves disease is more common among blacks and Asian/Pacific Islanders compared with whites. The authors write that the differences in incidence by race/ethnicity found in this study may be due to different environmental exposures, genetics, or a combination of both.

Mothers with higher BMI have increased risk of stillbirth, infant death

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 01:17 PM PDT

Higher maternal body mass index (BMI) before or in early pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of fetal death, stillbirth, and infant death, with women who are severely obese having the greatest risk of these outcomes from their pregnancy, according to a study. The authors suggest that several biological mechanisms could explain the association found in this study, including that being overweight or obese has been associated with increased risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational hypertension, and congenital anomalies, conditions that have been strongly associated with risk of fetal and infant death.
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ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News


Functional brain imaging reliably predicts which vegetative patients have potential to recover consciousness

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:37 PM PDT

A functional brain imaging technique known as positron emission tomography is a promising tool for determining which severely brain damaged individuals in vegetative states have the potential to recover consciousness, according to new research.

Antibiotics improve growth in children in developing countries

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:36 PM PDT

Antibiotics improve growth in children at risk of undernourishment in low and middle income countries, according to researchers who have just conducted a research literature review on the subject. Their results suggest that the youngest children from the most vulnerable populations benefit most and show significant improvements toward expected growth for their age and sex, particularly for weight.

Prolonged, heavy bleeding during menopause is common

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:36 PM PDT

Women going through menopause most likely think of it as the time for an end to predictable monthly periods. Researchers say it's normal, however, for the majority of them to experience an increase in the amount and duration of bleeding episodes, which may occur at various times throughout the menopausal transition.

New study outlines 'water world' theory of life's origins

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 04:57 PM PDT

Life took root more than four billion years ago on our nascent Earth, a wetter and harsher place than now, bathed in sizzling ultraviolet rays. What started out as simple cells ultimately transformed into slime molds, frogs, elephants, humans and the rest of our planet's living kingdoms. How did it all begin?

Repeated self-healing now possible in composite materials

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 03:14 PM PDT

Internal damage in fiber-reinforced composites, materials used in structures of modern airplanes and automobiles, is difficult to detect and nearly impossible to repair by conventional methods. A small, internal crack can quickly develop into irreversible damage from delamination, a process in which the layers separate. This remains one of the most significant factors limiting more widespread use of composite materials. Scientists have now created fiber-composite materials that can heal autonomously through a new self-healing system.

New technique will accelerate genetic characterization of photosynthesis

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 03:13 PM PDT

Photosynthesis provides fixed carbon and energy for nearly all life on Earth, yet many aspects of this fascinating process remain mysterious. We do not know the full list of the parts of the molecular machines that perform photosynthesis in any organism. A team developed a highly sophisticated tool that will transform the work of plant geneticists on this subject.

Brain anatomy differences between deaf, hearing depend on first language learned

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 03:13 PM PDT

In the first known study of its kind, researchers have shown that the language we learn as children affects brain structure, as does hearing status. 'What we've learned to date about differences in brain anatomy in hearing and deaf populations hasn't taken into account the diverse language experiences among people who are deaf,' says one of the authors.

Mouse model would have predicted toxicity of drug that killed 5 in 1993 clinical trial

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 03:13 PM PDT

Over 20 years after the fatal fialuridine trial, a new study demonstrates that mice with humanized livers recapitulate the drug's toxicity. The work suggests that this mouse model should be added to the repertoire of tools used in preclinical screening of drugs for liver toxicity before they are given to human participants in clinical trials.

Neuroscientists disprove important idea about brain-eye coordination

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 03:12 PM PDT

By predicting our eye movements, our brain creates a stable world for us. Researchers used to think that those predictions had so much influence that they could cause us to make errors in estimating the position of objects. Neuroscientists have now shown this to be incorrect. These new findings challenge fundamental knowledge regarding coordination between brain and eyes.

Chrono, the last piece of the circadian clock puzzle?

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 03:11 PM PDT

All organisms, from mammals to fungi, have daily cycles controlled by a tightly regulated internal clock, called the circadian clock. The whole-body circadian clock, influenced by the exposure to light, dictates the wake-sleep cycle. At the cellular level, the clock is controlled by a complex network of genes and proteins that switch each other on and off based on cues from their environment.

Brain changes associated with casual marijuana use in young adults: More 'joints' equal more damage

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 03:11 PM PDT

The size and shape of two brain regions involved in emotion and motivation may differ in young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week, according to a new study. The findings suggest that recreational marijuana use may lead to previously unidentified brain changes, and highlight the importance of research aimed at understanding the long-term effects of low to moderate marijuana use on the brain. 

Long-term predictions for Miami sea level rise could be available relatively soon

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 12:38 PM PDT

Miami could know as early as 2020 how high sea levels will rise into the next century, according to a team of researchers. Scientists conclude that sea level rise is one of the most certain consequences of climate change. But the speed and long-term height of that rise are unknown. Some researchers believe that sea level rise is accelerating, some suggest the rate is holding steady, while others say it's decelerating.

Potent, puzzling and (now less) toxic: Team discovers how antifungal drug works

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 12:38 PM PDT

Scientists have solved a decades-old medical mystery -- and in the process have found a potentially less toxic way to fight invasive fungal infections, which kill about 1.5 million people a year. The researchers say they now understand the mechanism of action of amphotericin, an antifungal drug that has been in use for more than 50 years -- even though it is nearly as toxic to human cells as it is to the microbes it attacks.

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 12:37 PM PDT

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research. In fact, sometimes it may help. That's because such "tilt-a-worlds," as astronomers sometimes call them -- turned from their orbital plane by the influence of companion planets -- are less likely than fixed-spin planets to freeze over, as heat from their host star is more evenly distributed.

Pre-diabetes, diabetes nearly double over the past two decades

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 12:37 PM PDT

Cases of diabetes and pre-diabetes in the United States have nearly doubled since 1988, suggests new research, with obesity apparently to blame for the surge. The researchers also found that the burden of the disease has not hit all groups equally, with alarming increases in diabetes in blacks, Hispanics and the elderly.

SSRI use during pregnancy linked to autism and developmental delays in boys

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 12:37 PM PDT

In a study of nearly 1,000 mother-child pairs, researchers found that prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a frequently prescribed treatment for depression, anxiety and other disorders, was associated with autism spectrum disorder and developmental delays in boys.

Real-time audio of corporal punishment shows kids misbehave within 10 minutes of spanking

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 11:40 AM PDT

Real-time audio recordings of children being spanked showed parents responded impulsively or emotionally, rather than being intentional with their discipline, says a psychologist and parenting expert. Researchers discovered that spanking was more common than parents admit, that children were hit for trivial misdeeds, and that children misbehaved within 10 minutes of punishment.

Breaking bad mitochondria: How hepatitis C survives for so long

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 11:39 AM PDT

A mechanism has been discovered that explains why people with the hepatitis C virus get liver disease and why the virus is able to persist in the body for so long. The hard-to-kill pathogen, which infects an estimated 200 million people worldwide, attacks the liver cells' energy centers -- the mitochondria -- dismantling the cell's innate ability to fight infection. It does this by altering cells mitochondrial dynamics.

Kids' earliest memories might be earlier than they think

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 11:27 AM PDT

The very earliest childhood memories might begin even earlier than anyone realized -- including the one remembering, his or her parents and memory researchers. Four- to 13-year-olds in upstate New York and Newfoundland, Canada, probed their memories when researchers asked: "You know, some kids can remember things that happened to them when they were very little. What is the first thing you can remember? How old were you at that time?" The researchers then returned a year or two later to ask again about earliest memories -- and at what age the children were when the events occurred.

Cultivating happiness often misunderstood

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 10:39 AM PDT

The concept of maximizing happiness has been explored by researchers, who have found that pursuing concrete 'giving' goals rather than abstract ones leads to greater satisfaction. One path to happiness is through concrete, specific goals of benevolence -- like making someone smile or increasing recycling -- instead of following similar but more abstract goals -- like making someone happy or saving the environment.

Lifestyle determines gut microbes: Study with modern hunter-gatherers tells tale of bacteria co-evolution

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 10:39 AM PDT

The intestinal bacteria of present-day hunter-gatherers has for the first time been deciphered by an international team of researchers. Bacterial populations have co-evolved with humans over millions of years, and have the potential to help us adapt to new environments and foods. Studies of the Hadza offer an especially rare opportunity for scientists to learn how humans survive by hunting and gathering, in the same environment and using similar foods as our ancestors did.

How mothers help children explore right and wrong

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 10:39 AM PDT

Moms want their kids to grow up to be good people -- but how do they actually help their offspring sort out different types of moral issues? A new study shows many moms talk to their kids in ways that help them understand moral missteps. The study also shows that the nature of the maternal role develops along with the children, as parents evolve from gentle teachers for youngsters to sounding boards for teenagers.

Lens turns any smartphone into a portable microscope

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 10:38 AM PDT

The Micro Phone Lens can turn any smartphone or tablet computer into a hand-held microscope. The soft, pliable lens sticks to a device's camera without any adhesive or glue and makes it possible to see things magnified dozens of times on the screen.

Biologists develop nanosensors to visualize movements and distribution of plant stress hormone

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 10:38 AM PDT

Biologists have succeeded in visualizing the movement within plants of a key hormone responsible for growth and resistance to drought. The achievement will allow researchers to conduct further studies to determine how the hormone helps plants respond to drought and other environmental stresses driven by the continuing increase in the atmosphere's carbon dioxide, or CO2, concentration.

Gut capacity limits bird's ability to adapt to rapid climate change

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 10:38 AM PDT

An ornithologist has found that the capacity of a bird's gut to change with environmental conditions is a primary limiting factor in their ability to adapt to the rapidly changing climate. And he believes that most other animals are also limited in a similar way.

Tiger beetle's chase highlights mechanical law

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 10:38 AM PDT

If an insect drew a line as it chased its next meal, the resulting pattern would be a tangled mess. But there's method to that mess: It turns out the tiger beetle, known for its speed and agility, does an optimal reorientation dance as it chases its prey at blinding speeds.

Osteoporosis risk heightened among sleep apnea patients

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 10:38 AM PDT

A diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea may raise the risk of osteoporosis, particularly among women or older individuals, according to a new study. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes brief interruptions in breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form, occurs when a person's airway becomes blocked during sleep. If sleep apnea goes untreated, it can raise the risk for stroke, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.

Genetic pre-disposition toward exercise, mental development may be linked

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 09:56 AM PDT

A potential link between the genetic pre-disposition for high levels of exercise motivation and the speed at which mental maturation occurs has been found by researchers. These scientists studied the brains of the rats and found much higher levels of neural maturation in the brains of the active rats than in the brains of the lazy rats.

New method of screening children for autism spectrum disorders works at 9 months old

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 09:55 AM PDT

Researchers have identified head circumference and head tilting reflex as two reliable biomarkers in the identification of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children that are between 9 and 12 months of age. ASD is identifiable as early as two years old, although most children are not identified until after the age of four. While a number of studies have reported that parents of children with ASD notice developmental problems in children before their first birthday, there has yet to be a screening tool to identify those children.

Targeting cancer with a triple threat: New nanoparticles can deliver three drugs at once

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 09:55 AM PDT

Chemists have designed nanoparticles that can deliver three cancer drugs at a time. Such particles could be designed to carry even more drugs, allowing researchers to develop new treatment regimens that could better kill cancer cells while avoiding the side effects of traditional chemotherapy. "We think it's the first example of a nanoparticle that carries a precise ratio of three drugs and can release those drugs in response to three distinct triggering mechanisms," says the lead researcher and author.

New method isolates immune cells to study how they ward off oral diseases

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 09:53 AM PDT

Dental researchers have found a less invasive way to extract single rare immune cells from the mouth to study how the mouth's natural defenses ward off infection and inflammation. By isolating some specialized immune cells (white blood cells known as "leukocytes") to study how they fight diseases in the mouth -- or reject foreign tissues, such as in failed organ transplants -- researchers hope to learn more about treating and preventing such health issues as oral cancers, cardiovascular disease, AIDS and other infectious diseases.

Bioarchaeologists link climate instability to human mobility in ancient Sahara

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 09:53 AM PDT

Researchers have uncovered clues to how past peoples moved across their landscape as the once lush environment deteriorated. Scientists sampled bone and teeth enamel, and used their chemical signatures to determine individuals' origins, as well as where they resided during the course of their lives. The results suggest that individuals chose different mobility strategies but that near the end of the lake area's occupation, as their environment dried out, Saharan peoples became more mobile.

Key to easy asthma diagnosis is in the blood

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 09:53 AM PDT

Using just a single drop of blood, a team of researchers has developed a faster, cheaper and more accurate tool for diagnosing even mild cases of asthma. This handheld technology — which takes advantage of a previously unknown correlation between asthmatic patients and the most abundant type of white blood cells in the body — means doctors could diagnose asthma even if their patients are not experiencing symptoms during their visit to the clinic.

Flaw in 'secure' cloud storage could put privacy at risk

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 09:52 AM PDT

Computer scientists have found a flaw in the way that secure cloud storage companies protect their customers' data. The scientists say this weakness jeopardizes the privacy protection these digital warehouses claim to offer. Whenever customers share their confidential files with a trusted friend or colleague, the researchers say, the storage provider could exploit the security flaw to secretly view this private data.

Regenerated esophagus transplanted in rats

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 08:23 AM PDT

Tissue engineering has been used to construct natural esophagi, which in combination with bone marrow stem cells have been safely and effectively transplanted in rats. The study shows that the transplanted organs remain patent and display regeneration of nerves, muscles, epithelial cells and blood vessels.

Sibling cooperation in earwig families provides clues to the early evolution of social behavior

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 08:22 AM PDT

Looking at the question of how social behavior has developed over the course of evolution, scientists have gained new insights from the study of earwigs. "Young earwig offspring don't simply compete for food. Rather the siblings share what is available amongst themselves, especially when the mother is absent," explained one of the researchers.

New insight into SIDS deaths points to lack of oxygen

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 08:13 AM PDT

Researchers have shed new light onto the possible causes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which could help to prevent future loss of children's lives. In a world-first study, researchers have found that telltale signs in the brains of babies that have died of SIDS are remarkably similar to those of children who died of accidental asphyxiation.

Vitamin D deficiency, cognition appear to be linked in older adults

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 08:13 AM PDT

A study that looks at Vitamin D deficiency and cognition relationship in older adults adds to the existing literature on the subject. "This study provides increasing evidence that suggests there is an association between low vitamin D levels and cognitive decline over time," said the lead author. "Although this study cannot establish a direct cause and effect relationship, it would have a huge public health implication if vitamin D supplementation could be shown to improve cognitive performance over time because deficiency is so common in the population."

Hair from infants gives clues about life in womb

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 08:13 AM PDT

Like rings of a tree, hair can reveal a lot of information about the past. And, as a team of researchers show in a study of rhesus monkeys, it can also reveal the womb environment in which an infant formed. It's the first time researchers have used infant hair to examine the hormonal environment to which the fetus was exposed during development and it promises to yield a wealth of new information. The findings have significant implications for several fields, from neonatology to psychology, social science to neurology.

Sensitive detection method may help impede illicit nuclear trafficking

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 08:13 AM PDT

According to a new study, coupling commercially available spectral X-ray detectors with a specialized algorithm can improve the detection of uranium and plutonium in small, layered objects such as baggage. This approach may provide a new tool to impede nuclear trafficking.

Whooping cough bacterium evolving in Australia, research shows

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 06:44 AM PDT

The bacterium that causes whooping cough, Bordetella pertussis, has changed in Australia -- most likely in response to the vaccine used to prevent the disease -- with a possible reduced effectiveness of the vaccine as a result. A team of researchers analyzed strains of Bordetella pertussis from across Australia and found that many strains no longer produce a key surface protein called pertactin.

Engineers develop new materials for hydrogen storage

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 06:44 AM PDT

Engineers have created new ceramic materials that could be used to store hydrogen safely and efficiently. The researchers have created for the first time compounds made from mixtures of calcium hexaboride, strontium and barium hexaboride. They also have demonstrated that the compounds could be manufactured using a simple, low-cost manufacturing method known as combustion synthesis.

Bizarre parasite may provide cuttlefish clues

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 06:40 AM PDT

New research into parasites of cuttlefish, squid and octopus has uncovered details of the parasites' astonishing life cycles, and shown how they may help in investigating populations of their hosts.

Outgoing behavior makes for happier humans: Across cultures, extroverts have more fun

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:45 AM PDT

Happy is as happy does, apparently -- for human beings all over the world. Not only does acting extroverted lead to more positive feelings across several cultures, but people also report more upbeat behavior when they feel free to be themselves.

MRI pinpoints region of brain injury in some concussion patients

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:45 AM PDT

Researchers using information provided by a magnetic resonance imaging technique have identified regional white matter damage in the brains of people who experience chronic dizziness and other symptoms after concussion. The findings suggest that information provided by MRI can speed the onset of effective treatments for concussion patients.

European climate at the 2 degrees Celsius global warming threshold

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:44 AM PDT

A global warming of 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial climate has been considered as a threshold which society should endeavor to remain below, in order to limit the dangerous effects of anthropogenic climate change.

New therapy helps to improve stereoscopic vision in stroke patients

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:44 AM PDT

Humans view the world through two eyes, but it is our brain that combines the images from each eye to form a single composite picture. If this function becomes damaged, impaired sight can be the result. Such loss of visual function can be observed in patients who have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury or when the oxygen supply to the brain has been reduced (cerebral hypoxia). Those affected by this condition experience blurred vision or can start to see double after only a short period of visual effort.

Scientists come up with method of reducing solar panel glare

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:44 AM PDT

The glare from solar farms could be a thing of the past, thanks to new research. Researchers have developed a multi-layer anti-reflection coating for glass surfaces, which reduces the sun's reflection from photovoltaic panels while at the same time improving their efficiency. It is applied using the same technology as that used for depositing anti-reflection coatings on eye glasses.

New design for mobile phone masts could cut carbon emissions

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:44 AM PDT

A breakthrough in the design of signal amplifiers for mobile phone masts could deliver a massive 200MW cut in the load on UK power stations, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by around 0.5 million tons a year. 

Obesity: Are lipids hard drugs for the brain?

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:42 AM PDT

Why can we get up for a piece of chocolate, but never because we fancy a carrot? Research has demonstrated part of the answer: triglycerides, fatty substances from food, may act in our brains directly on the reward circuit, the same circuit that is involved in drug addiction. These results show a strong link in mice between fluctuations in triglyceride concentration and brain reward development. Identifying the action of nutritional lipids on motivation and the search for pleasure in dietary intake will help us better understand the causes of some compulsive behaviors and obesity.

Deforestation could intensify climate change in Congo Basin by half

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:41 AM PDT

By 2050, deforestation could cause temperatures in the Congo Basin to increase by 0.7 °C. The increase would intensify warming caused by greenhouse gases by half, according to a new study.

Exams in cold auditoriums? Better memory at ideal temperature

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:41 AM PDT

People's working memory functions better if they are working in an ambient temperature where they feel most comfortable. The conjecture is that working in one's preferred temperature counteracts 'ego depletion': sources of energy necessary to be able to carry out mental tasks get used up less quickly.

Intelligent prosthetic liners could ease pain for lower limb amputees

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:41 AM PDT

A new device could help to relieve the pain and discomfort experienced by thousands of amputees as a result of poorly fitting replacement lower limbs. Researchers are developing a prototype of the world's first prosthetic 'intelligent' liner with integrated pressure sensors, which could be available in as little as three years. The sensors for the device measure the pressure and pulling forces at the interface between a patient's stump and socket of their prosthesis. In excess these pressures in excess can cause tissue damage, leading to painful sores.

Nanocrystalline cellulose modified into efficient viral inhibitor

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:41 AM PDT

Researchers have succeeded in creating a surface on nano-sized cellulose crystals that imitates a biological structure. The surface adsorbs viruses and disables them. The results can prove useful in the development of antiviral ointments and surfaces, for instance. 'It would be possible to provide protection against viruses, spread by mosquitoes, by applying ointment containing nanocrystalline cellulose onto the skin. Nanocrystalline cellulose applied on hospital door handles could kill viruses and prevent them from spreading. However, we first need to ascertain if the compounds will remain effective in a non-liquid form and how they work in animal tests,' one researcher suggested.

Outcome of stroke worse for people with infection

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:41 AM PDT

Infection is bad news for all of us - but it can be really serious to people who have had a stroke. Evidence is mounting that infection makes things much worse after a stroke. The researchers show that rodents with pneumonia fared worse after having a stroke than those without the bacterial infection. This study builds on previous research demonstrating that an anti-inflammatory drug, called 'interleukin-1 receptor antagonist', could dramatically limit the amount of brain damage in experimental stroke.

Medieval slave trade routes in Eastern Europe extended from Finland and the Baltic Countries to Central Asia

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:41 AM PDT

The routes of slave trade in Eastern Europe in the medieval and pre-modern period extended all the way to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. A recent study suggests that persons captured during raids into areas which today constitute parts of Finland, the Russian Karelia and the Baltic Countries ended up being sold on these remote trade routes.

Moth study suggests hidden climate change impacts

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:39 AM PDT

A 32-year study of subarctic forest moths in Finnish Lapland suggests that scientists may be underestimating the impacts of climate change on animals and plants because much of the harm is hidden from view. Researchers used advanced statistical techniques to examine the roles of different ecological forces affecting the moth populations and found that warmer temperatures and increased precipitation reduced the rates of population growth.

Experimental blood test spots recurrent breast cancers, monitors response to treatment

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:39 AM PDT

A blood test that accurately detects the presence of advanced breast cancer and also holds promise for precisely monitoring response to cancer treatment has been designed by researchers. The test, called the cMethDNA assay, accurately detected the presence of cancer DNA in the blood of patients with metastatic breast cancers up to 95 percent of the time in laboratory studies.

Fiber-optic microscope will help physicians detect cancer, diseases at early stages

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 05:39 AM PDT

An inexpensive, portable and re-usable endoscopic microscope has been developed that will help clinicians detect and diagnose early-stage disease, primarily cancer. An endoscopic microscope is a tool or technique that obtains histological images from inside the human body in real-time. Some clinicians consider it an optical biopsy.

Gene variant puts women at higher risk of Alzheimer's than it does men, study finds

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 04:14 PM PDT

Carrying a copy of a gene variant called ApoE4 confers a substantially greater risk for Alzheimer's disease on women than it does on men, according to a new study. The scientists arrived at their findings by analyzing data on large numbers of older individuals who were tracked over time and noting whether they had progressed from good health to mild cognitive impairment -- from which most move on to develop Alzheimer's disease within a few years -- or to Alzheimer's disease itself.
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