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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

ScienceDaily: Top Science News


Mantis shrimp stronger than airplanes: Composite material inspired by shrimp stronger than standard used in airplane frames

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 10:09 AM PDT

Inspired by the fist-like club of a mantis shrimp, researchers have developed a design structure for composite materials that is more impact resistant and tougher than the standard used in airplanes. The peacock mantis shrimp, or stomatopod, is a 4- to 6-inch-long rainbow-colored crustacean with a fist-like club that accelerates underwater faster than a 22-calibur bullet.

Fat metabolism in animals altered to prevent most common type of heart disease

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:10 AM PDT

Working with mice and rabbits, scientists have found a way to block abnormal cholesterol production, transport and breakdown, successfully preventing the development of atherosclerosis, the main cause of heart attacks and strokes and the number-one cause of death among humans. The condition develops when fat builds inside blood vessels over time and renders them stiff, narrowed and hardened, greatly reducing their ability to feed oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle and the brain.

Male health linked to testosterone exposure in womb, study finds

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:34 AM PDT

Men's susceptibility to serious health conditions may be influenced by low exposure to testosterone in the womb, new research suggests. Understanding why some men have less of the hormone than others is important because testosterone is crucial for life-long health. Low levels of the hormone have been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Brain size matters when it comes to animal self-control

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:34 AM PDT

Chimpanzees may throw tantrums like toddlers, but their total brain size suggests they have more self-control than, say, a gerbil or fox squirrel, according to a new study of 36 species of mammals and birds ranging from orangutans to zebra finches.

Life stressors trigger neurological disorders, researchers find

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:34 AM PDT

When mothers are exposed to trauma, illness, alcohol or other drug abuse, these stressors may activate a single molecular trigger in brain cells that can go awry and activate conditions such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and some forms of autism. Until now, it has been unclear how much these stressors have impacted the cells of a developing brain. Past studies have shown that when an expectant mother exposes herself to alcohol or drug abuse or she experiences some trauma or illness, her baby may later develop a psychiatric disorder later in life. But the new findings identify a molecular mechanism in the prenatal brain that may help explain how cells go awry when exposed to certain environmental conditions.

Speed-reading apps may impair reading comprehension by limiting ability to backtrack

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:34 AM PDT

To address the fact that many of us are on the go and pressed for time, app developers have devised speed-reading software that eliminates the time we supposedly waste by moving our eyes as we read. But don't throw away your books, papers, and e-readers just yet -- research suggests that the eye movements we make during reading actually play a critical role in our ability to understand what we've just read.

People pay more attention to upper half of field of vision, study shows

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

People pay more attention to the upper half of their field of vision, a study shows, a finding that could have ramifications for traffic signs to software interface design. "It doesn't mean people don't pay attention to the lower field of vision, but they were demonstrably better at paying attention to the upper field," the lead researcher says.

Researchers identify a new variant of Ebola virus in Guinea

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

In a new article, researchers have published their initial findings on the characteristics of the Ebola virus discovered in Guinea. Initial virological investigations enabled them to identify Zaire ebolavirus as the pathogen responsible for this epidemic.

International team sequences rainbow trout genome

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

An international team of researchers has mapped the genetic profile of the rainbow trout, a versatile salmonid whose relatively recent genetic history opens a window into how vertebrates evolve. The investigators focused on the rate at which genes have evolved since a rare genome doubling event occurred in the rainbow trout approximately 100 million years ago.

Cloaked DNA nanodevices survive pilot mission

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 07:00 AM PDT

By mimicking a viral strategy, scientists have created the first cloaked DNA nanodevice that survives the body's immune defenses. Their success opens the door to smart DNA nanorobots that use logic to spot cancerous tissue and manufacture drugs on the spot to cripple it, as well as artificial microscopic containers called protocells that detect pathogens in food or toxic chemicals in drinking water.

How are we different and what gave us the advantage over extinct types of humans like the Neanderthals?

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:47 AM PDT

In parallel with modern man (Homo sapiens), there were other, extinct types of humans with whom we lived side by side, such as Neanderthals and the recently discovered  Denisovans of Siberia. Yet only Homo sapiens survived. What was it in our genetic makeup that gave us the advantage?

Tarantulas' personality determines whether they copulate with males or cannibalize them

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:47 AM PDT

Sexual cannibalism in spiders – the attack and consumption of males by females before or after copulation – is very widespread. A new investigation analyses the reason behind such extreme behavior, at times even before the females have ensured the sperm's fertilization of their eggs.

Red stars and big bulges: How black holes shape galaxies

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:46 AM PDT

The universe we can see is made up of thousands of millions of galaxies, each containing anywhere from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of billions of stars. Large numbers of galaxies are elliptical in shape, red and mostly made up of old stars. Another (more familiar) type is the spiral, where arms wind out in a blue thin disk from a central red bulge. On average stars in spiral galaxies tend to be much younger than those in ellipticals. Now a group of astronomers has found a (relatively) simple relationship between the color of a galaxy and the size of its bulge: the more massive the bulge, the redder the galaxy.

Solved: Mysteries of a nearby planetary system

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:46 AM PDT

Mysteries of one of the most fascinating nearby planetary systems now have been solved. A new study presents the first viable model for the planetary system orbiting one the first stars discovered to have planets - the star named 55 Cancri. Numerous studies since 2002 had failed to determine a plausible model for the masses and orbits of two giant planets located closer to 55 Cancri than Mercury is to our Sun. Astronomers had struggled to understand how these massive planets orbiting so close to their star could avoid a catastrophe such as one planet being flung into the star, or the two planets colliding with each other.

Sleep behavior disorder linked to brain disease

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:45 AM PDT

A sleep disorder that causes people to act out their dreams is the best current predictor of brain diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, research suggests. In this disorder, the disturbance occurs during the rapid-eye-movement (REM) stage of sleep and causes people to act out their dreams, often resulting in injury to themselves and/or bed partner. In healthy brains, muscles are temporarily paralyzed during sleep to prevent this from happening.

'Upside-down planet' reveals new method for studying binary star systems

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 06:13 PM PDT

What looked at first like a sort of upside-down planet has instead revealed a new method for studying binary star systems. Astronomers confirmed the first "self-lensing" binary star system -- one in which the mass of the closer star can be measured by how powerfully it magnifies light from its more distant companion star. Though our sun stands alone, about 40 percent of similar stars are in binary (two-star) or multi-star systems, orbiting their companions in a gravitational dance.

Sleeping away infection: Researchers find link between sleep, immune function in fruitflies

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 06:13 PM PDT

When we get sick it feels natural to try to hasten our recovery by getting some extra shuteye. Researchers found that this response has a definite purpose, in fruitflies: enhancing immune system response and recovery to infection. "These studies provide new evidence of the direct and functional effects of sleep on immune response and of the underlying mechanisms at work. The take-home message from these papers is that when you get sick, you should sleep as much as you can -- we now have the data that supports this idea," researchers conclude.

Today's Antarctic region once as hot as California, Florida

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 01:43 PM PDT

Parts of ancient Antarctica were as warm as today's California coast, and polar regions of the southern Pacific Ocean registered 21st-century Florida heat, according to scientists using a new way to measure past temperatures.

First Eurasians left Africa up to 130,000 years ago

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 01:42 PM PDT

Scientists have shown that anatomically modern humans spread from Africa to Asia and Europe in several migratory movements. The first ancestors of today's non-African peoples probably took a southern route through the Arabian Peninsula as early as 130,000 years ago, the researchers found.

Krypton used to accurately date ancient Antarctic ice

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 12:19 PM PDT

Scientists have successfully identified the age of 120,000-year-old Antarctic ice using radiometric krypton dating -- a new technique that may allow them to locate and date ice that is more than a million years old. This will allow them to reconstruct the climate much farther back into Earth's history and potentially understand the mechanisms that have triggered the planet to shift into and out of ice ages.

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News


Mantis shrimp stronger than airplanes: Composite material inspired by shrimp stronger than standard used in airplane frames

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 10:09 AM PDT

Inspired by the fist-like club of a mantis shrimp, researchers have developed a design structure for composite materials that is more impact resistant and tougher than the standard used in airplanes. The peacock mantis shrimp, or stomatopod, is a 4- to 6-inch-long rainbow-colored crustacean with a fist-like club that accelerates underwater faster than a 22-calibur bullet.

Neuroimaging Technique: Live from inside the cell in real-time

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 10:09 AM PDT

A novel imaging technique provides insights into the role of redox signaling and reactive oxygen species in living neurons, in real time. Scientists have developed a new optical microscopy technique to unravel the role of 'oxidative stress' in healthy as well as injured nervous systems.

A new 'APEX' in plant studies aboard the International Space Station

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:57 AM PDT

Growing knowledge in a given field takes time, attention, and ... water? It does when you're talking about plant studies aboard the International Space Station (ISS). All of these things and some scientific know-how come into play as astronauts find out just how green their thumbs are while assisting researchers on the ground.

For an immune cell, microgravity mimics aging

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:54 AM PDT

Telling someone to "act your age" is another way of asking him or her to behave better. Age, however, does not always bring improvements. Certain cells of the immune system tend to misbehave with age, leaving the elderly more vulnerable to illness. Because these cells are known to misbehave similarly during spaceflight, researchers are studying the effects of microgravity on immune cells to better understand how our immune systems change as we age.

First size-based chromatography technique for the study of livi

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

Using nanodot technology, researchers demonstrated the first size-based form of chromatography for studying the membranes of living cells. This unique physical approach to probing cellular membrane structures reveals critical information that can't be obtained through conventional microscopy.

Applying math to biology: Software identifies disease-causing mutations in undiagnosed illnesses

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

A computational tool has successfully identified diseases with unknown gene mutations in three separate cases. Sequencing the genomes of individuals or small families often produces false predictions of mutations that cause diseases. But this study shows that a new unique approach allows it to identify disease-causing genes more precisely than other computational tools.

Online retailers have clear advantage by not collecting sales tax

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:09 AM PDT

Two independent studies use two very different approaches to reach the same conclusion: some online retailers really do have an advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar stores. The studies find evidence from investors, analysts and consumers themselves that suggest online stores have a competitive edge when they don't have to collect sales tax from shoppers.

Traditional Malaysian musical instrument modernized: 'Rebana Ubi' computer speaker

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:08 AM PDT

Researchers are modernizing the 'Rebana Ubi', a traditional Malaysian musical instrument by infusing it with a modern computer aided technology.

Surface modification of titanium dioxide for photocatalytic degradation of hazardous pollutants under ordinary visible light

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:08 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a modified photocatalyst which is economical and effective at transforming organic pollutants into harmless end products. Photocatalytic degradation is one of the highly effective applications in transforming organic pollutants to harmless end products at ambient conditions using light and a photocatalyst.

Major advances in dye sensitized solar cells

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:07 AM PDT

Two groups of researchers have recently advanced the field of solar cells with a cheaper and efficient replacement for platinum and better synthesis of zinc oxide. Working on dye-sensitized solar cells -- researchers in Malaysia have achieved an efficiency of 1.12%, at a fraction of the cost compared to those used by platinum devices.

Unlocking secrets of new solar material

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:34 AM PDT

A new solar material that has the same crystal structure as a mineral first found in the Ural Mountains in 1839 is shooting up the efficiency charts faster than almost anything researchers have seen before -- and it is generating optimism that a less expensive way of using sunlight to generate electricity may be in our planet's future.

Speed-reading apps may impair reading comprehension by limiting ability to backtrack

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:34 AM PDT

To address the fact that many of us are on the go and pressed for time, app developers have devised speed-reading software that eliminates the time we supposedly waste by moving our eyes as we read. But don't throw away your books, papers, and e-readers just yet -- research suggests that the eye movements we make during reading actually play a critical role in our ability to understand what we've just read.

People pay more attention to upper half of field of vision, study shows

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

People pay more attention to the upper half of their field of vision, a study shows, a finding that could have ramifications for traffic signs to software interface design. "It doesn't mean people don't pay attention to the lower field of vision, but they were demonstrably better at paying attention to the upper field," the lead researcher says.

New design for mobile phone masts could cut carbon emissions

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 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 tonnes a year. Researchers have designed an amplifier that works at 50 percent efficiency compared with the 30 percent now typically achieved.

RNA shows potential as boiling-resistant anionic polymer material for nanoarchitectures

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

Nanotechnology researchers have discovered new methods to build boiling-resistant nanostructures and arrays using a new RNA triangle scaffold. These new RNA nanoarchitechtures can be used to form arrays with a controllable repeat number of the scaffold, resembling monomer units in a polymerization reaction. Their enhanced structural stability and controllability at the nano scale offer key advantages over traditional chemical polymers.

Quantum simulators developed to study inaccessible physical systems

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

Quantum simulators recreate the behavior on a microscopic scale of biological and quantum systems and even of particles moving at the speed of light. The exact knowledge of these systems will lead to applications ranging from more efficient photovoltaic cells to more specific drugs. Researchers are working on the design of several of these quantum simulators so they can study the dynamics of complex physical systems.

Vacuum ultraviolet lamp of the future created

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:32 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a solid-state lamp that emits high-energy ultraviolet (UV) light at the shortest wavelengths ever recorded for such a device, from 140 to 220 nanometers. This is within the range of vacuum-UV light -- so named because while light of that energy can propagate in a vacuum, it is quickly absorbed by oxygen in the air.

High-performance, low-cost ultracapacitors built with graphene and carbon nanotubes

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:32 AM PDT

By combining the powers of two single-atom-thick carbon structures, researchers have created a new ultracapacitor that is both high performance and low cost. The device capitalizes on the synergy brought by mixing graphene flakes with single-walled carbon nanotubes, two carbon nanostructures with complementary properties.

iPad users explore data with their fingers: Kinetica converts tabular data into touch-friendly format

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 07:01 AM PDT

Spreadsheets may have been the original killer app for personal computers, but data tables don't play to the strengths of multi-touch devices such as tablets. So researchers have developed a visualization approach that allows people to explore complex data with their fingers. Called Kinetica, the proof-of-concept system for the Apple iPad converts tabular data, such as Excel spreadsheets, into colored spheres that respond to touch.

Superconducting quantum interference devices: Grasp of SQUIDs dynamics facilitates eavesdropping

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 07:00 AM PDT

A superconducting quantum interference device is a highly sensitive magnetometer used to measure extremely subtle magnetic fields. It is made of two thin regions of insulating material that separate two superconductors placed in parallel into a ring of superconducting material. Scientists have focused on finding an analytical approximation to the theoretical equations that govern the dynamics of an array of SQUIDs.

Cloaked DNA nanodevices survive pilot mission

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 07:00 AM PDT

By mimicking a viral strategy, scientists have created the first cloaked DNA nanodevice that survives the body's immune defenses. Their success opens the door to smart DNA nanorobots that use logic to spot cancerous tissue and manufacture drugs on the spot to cripple it, as well as artificial microscopic containers called protocells that detect pathogens in food or toxic chemicals in drinking water.

Nanomaterial outsmarts ions: Novel types of electronic components made of graphene

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 07:00 AM PDT

Ions are an essential tool in chip manufacturing, but they can also be used to produce nano-sieves. A large number of electrons must be removed from the atoms for this purpose. Such ions either lose a large amount of energy or almost no energy at all as they pass through a membrane that measures one nanometer in thickness. Researchers report that this discovery is an important step towards developing novel types of electronic components made of graphene.

Like a hall of mirrors, nanostructures trap photons inside ultrathin solar cells

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 07:00 AM PDT

In the quest to make sun power more competitive, researchers are designing ultrathin solar cells that cut material costs. At the same time they're keeping these thin cells efficient by sculpting their surfaces with photovoltaic nanostructures that behave like a molecular hall of mirrors.

'Blood lab' inside a mobile phone could detect cancer

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:47 AM PDT

Scientists are in the early stages of an 'e-health technology' project aimed at developing a mobile phone app that can examine blood sample images and diagnose cancer. It would work by taking a magnified image of a blood slide via a microscopic lens attached to the smart phone, which the app would then be able to screen for evidence of leukemia -- a blood cancer.

Jacket works like a mobile phone

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:47 AM PDT

A fire is raging in a large building and the fire leader is sending a message to all firefighters at the scene. But they don't need a mobile phone -- they simply check their jacket sleeves and read the message there.

Red stars and big bulges: How black holes shape galaxies

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:46 AM PDT

The universe we can see is made up of thousands of millions of galaxies, each containing anywhere from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of billions of stars. Large numbers of galaxies are elliptical in shape, red and mostly made up of old stars. Another (more familiar) type is the spiral, where arms wind out in a blue thin disk from a central red bulge. On average stars in spiral galaxies tend to be much younger than those in ellipticals. Now a group of astronomers has found a (relatively) simple relationship between the color of a galaxy and the size of its bulge: the more massive the bulge, the redder the galaxy.

Solved: Mysteries of a nearby planetary system

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:46 AM PDT

Mysteries of one of the most fascinating nearby planetary systems now have been solved. A new study presents the first viable model for the planetary system orbiting one the first stars discovered to have planets - the star named 55 Cancri. Numerous studies since 2002 had failed to determine a plausible model for the masses and orbits of two giant planets located closer to 55 Cancri than Mercury is to our Sun. Astronomers had struggled to understand how these massive planets orbiting so close to their star could avoid a catastrophe such as one planet being flung into the star, or the two planets colliding with each other.

Higher solar-cell efficiency achieved with zinc-oxide coating

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:45 AM PDT

Researchers have achieved 14-percent efficiency in a 9-millimeter-square solar cell made of gallium arsenide. It is the highest efficiency rating for a solar cell that size and made with that material.

'Upside-down planet' reveals new method for studying binary star systems

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 06:13 PM PDT

What looked at first like a sort of upside-down planet has instead revealed a new method for studying binary star systems. Astronomers confirmed the first "self-lensing" binary star system -- one in which the mass of the closer star can be measured by how powerfully it magnifies light from its more distant companion star. Though our sun stands alone, about 40 percent of similar stars are in binary (two-star) or multi-star systems, orbiting their companions in a gravitational dance.

Progress made in developing nanoscale electronics: New research directs charges through single molecules

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 11:54 AM PDT

Scientists are facing a number of barriers as they try to develop circuits that are microscopic in size, including how to reliably control the current that flows through a circuit that is the width of a single molecule. Chemical engineers have now figured out how to reliably control the current that flows through a circuit that is the width of a single molecule.

Physicists push new Parkinson's treatment toward clinical trials

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 10:59 AM PDT

The most effective way to tackle debilitating diseases is to punch them at the start and keep them from growing. Research shows that a small 'molecular tweezer' keeps proteins from clumping, or aggregating, the first step of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease.

Information sharing between health systems reduces tests, study shows

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 10:59 AM PDT

Researchers analyzed the care of patients who were seen emergently during a six month period in 2012. The results showed that 560 potentially duplicative diagnostic procedures, such as blood work and imaging, were avoided when the providers used the health information exchange tool. The study suggests that sharing clinical information with other health systems has the potential to generate greater efficiencies in emergency departments by eliminating duplicate diagnostic testing.

Computer-assisted accelerator design

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 07:23 AM PDT

Accelerator physicists are using custom designed software to create a 3-D virtual model of the electron accelerator physicists hope to build inside the tunnel currently housing the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Collider reveals sharp change from 'quark soup' to atoms

Posted: 18 Apr 2014 11:07 AM PDT

Scientists using the atom smasher at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have observed a phase transition different than the smooth transition of the early universe from the hot "soup" of subatomic particles to the atoms, made up of neutrons, protons and electrons that are the building blocks of matter.

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