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Saturday, January 24, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

Relationship between religion and educational attainment

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 04:03 PM PST

Researchers have long studied and documented the influence religion has on social groups; however, few have examined the role it plays in education. A new research article examines the relationship between religion and educational attainment in the US.

The latest fashion: Graphene edges can be tailor-made

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 04:02 PM PST

Theorists show it may be possible to tune graphene edges by varying heat and force as graphene is fractured. Edge configurations affect graphene's electronic and mechanical properties, which are important for applications.

Scientists slow down the speed of light travelling in free space

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 11:41 AM PST

Scientists have managed to slow photons in free space for the first time. They have demonstrated that applying a mask to an optical beam to give photons a spatial structure can reduce their speed.

Lucid dreams and metacognition: Awareness of thinking; awareness of dreaming

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 10:51 AM PST

To control one's dreams and to live 'out there' what is impossible in real life -- a truly tempting idea. Some persons -- so-called lucid dreamers -- can do this. Researchers have discovered that the brain area which enables self-reflection is larger in lucid dreamers. Thus, lucid dreamers are possibly also more self-reflecting when being awake.

Why all-nighters don't work: How sleep, memory go hand-in-hand

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 09:17 AM PST

Scientists have long known that sleep, memory and learning are deeply connected but how has remained a mystery. The question is, does the mechanism that promotes sleep also consolidate memory, or do two distinct processes work together? In other words, is memory consolidated during sleep because the brain is quiet or are memory neurons actually putting us to sleep? In a recent paper, researchers make a case for the latter.

Boston's leaky pipes release high levels of heat-trapping methane

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 08:07 AM PST

A research team estimates that each year about 15 billion cubic feet of natural gas, worth some $90 million, escapes the Boston region's delivery system. The findings have implications for other regions, especially cities that, like Boston, are older and rely on natural gas for a significant and increasing portion of their energy needs. While policymakers have focused on the production end of the natural gas supply chain--wells, off-shore drilling platforms, and processing plants--much less attention has been paid to the downstream gas delivery infrastructure.

Silver nanowires demonstrate unexpected self-healing mechanism: Potential for flexible electronics

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 08:07 AM PST

Researchers found that silver nanowires can withstand strong cyclic loads, which is a key attribute needed for flexible electronics.

Calculating the future of solar-fuel refineries

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 08:07 AM PST

A team of engineers has developed a new tool to help engineers better gauge the overall yield, efficiency and costs associated with scaling solar-fuel production processes up into large-scale refineries.

New technique helps probe performance of organic solar cell materials

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 08:07 AM PST

Researchers have developed a technique for determining the role that a material's structure has on the efficiency of organic solar cells, which are candidates for low-cost, next generation solar power. The researchers used the technique to determine that materials with a highly organized structure at the nanoscale are not more efficient at creating free electrons than poorly organized structures -- a finding which will guide future research and development efforts.

New technique for producing cheaper solar energy suggested by research

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 08:07 AM PST

Pioneering new research could pave the way for solar energy to be converted into household electricity more cheaply than ever before. The global PV market has experienced rapid growth in recent years due to renewable energy targets and CO2 emission controls.

Unusually elastic protein found by researchers; may have originated in cnidarian elastomer

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 08:07 AM PST

An unusually elastic protein has been discovered in one of the most ancient groups of animals, the over 600-million-year-old cnidarians. The protein is a part of the "weapons system" that the cnidarians use: a kind of harpoon launched from their body at extremely high speed. The discovery of the hitherto unknown protein in the freshwater polyp Hydra suggests that the molecular mechanism of elasticity could have originated in the cnidarians and evolved to discharge a deadly weapon. Due to the similarity of the protein's amino acid sequence to spidroin of spider silk, the researchers dubbed the elastic protein cnidoin.

Stalking versus cyberstalking: Effects on victims, their responses compared

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 08:07 AM PST

The devastating effects of stalking and cyberstalking – harassing or threatening communication via the Internet – are explored in a new study. Key among the findings is that victims of cyberstalking engage in more 'self-protective' behaviours -- such as changing their normal routines or getting a new email address -- than victims of stalking.

Alamo impact crater: New study could double its size

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:25 AM PST

Carbonate rock deposits found within the mountain ranges of south-central Nevada, USA, record evidence of a catastrophic impact event known as the Alamo impact. This event occurred roughly 382 million years ago when the ancient seafloor was struck and a submarine crater was formed. The crater was filled-in with fragmented rock, and later with more typical ocean deposits, as the energy from the impact lessened and the environment returned to normal.

Telomere extension turns back aging clock in cultured human cells, study finds

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:25 AM PST

A new procedure can quickly and efficiently increase the length of human telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that are linked to aging and disease, according to scientists.

Climate affects development of human speech

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:25 AM PST

A correlation between climate and the evolution of language has been uncovered by researchers. To find a relationship between the climate and the evolution of language, one needs to discover an association between the environment and vocal sounds that is consistent throughout the world and present in different languages. And that is precisely what a group of researchers has done.

Live broadcast from inside the nerve cell

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:22 AM PST

Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's are caused by defect and aggregated proteins accumulating in brain nerve cells that are thereby paralyzed or even killed. In healthy cells this process is prevented by the proteasome, which removes the defective proteins. Recently, for the first time, researchers observed and structurally characterized proteasomes at work inside healthy brain cells.

How does the universe creates reason, morality?

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:22 AM PST

Recent developments in science are beginning to suggest that the universe naturally produces complexity. The emergence of life in general and perhaps even rational life, with its associated technological culture, may be extremely common, argues a scientist.

Yes, black holes exist in gravitational theories with unbounded speeds of propagation

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:22 AM PST

Gravitational theories with broken Lorentz invariance have attracted a great deal of interest as they provide a test-bed of LI and offer a mechanism to improve their ultraviolet behavior, so that the theories may be renormalizable. However in such theories, particles can travel with arbitrary velocities and black holes may not exist at all. In contrast to this expectation, it has been shown that an absolute horizon exists, which traps signals despite infinitely large velocities.

Warming seas decrease sea turtle basking

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:22 AM PST

Green sea turtles may stop basking on beaches around the world within a century due to rising sea temperatures, a new study suggests. Basking helps the turtles regulate body temperature and may aid their immune system and digestion. By analyzing six years of turtle surveys and 24 years of satellite data, researchers have found the turtles bask more often when sea surface temperatures are lower. This vital behavior may cease globally by 2102 if global warming trends continue.

H.E.S.S. finds three extremely luminous gamma-ray sources

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:22 AM PST

The High Energy Stereoscopic System telescopes have again demonstrated their excellent capabilities in searching for high-energy gamma rays.

Lucky charms: When are superstitions used most?

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:22 AM PST

People are more likely to turn to superstitions to achieve a performance goal versus a learning goal, researchers have found.

Mothers don't speak so clearly to their babies

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:20 AM PST

People have a distinctive way of talking to babies and small children: We speak more slowly, using a sing-song voice, and tend to use cutesy words like "tummy". While we might be inclined to think that we talk this way because it is easier for children to understand, new research suggests that, surprisingly, mothers may actually speak less clearly to their infants than they do to adults.

Ocean could hold key to predicting recurring extreme winters

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:20 AM PST

New reserch may help to predict extreme winters across Europe by identifying the set of environmental conditions that are associated with pairs of severe winters across consecutive years. Pairs of extreme winters in Europe have been found to coincide with high pressure over the Arctic and a band of low pressure immediately to the south, a set of atmospheric conditions known as a negative Arctic Oscillation, scientists have observed.

New breast exam nearly quadruples detection of invasive breast cancers in women with dense breast tissue

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:16 AM PST

Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) is a supplemental imaging technology designed to find tumors that would otherwise be obscured by surrounding dense breast tissue on a mammogram. The new breast imaging technique nearly quadruples detection rates of invasive breast cancers in women with dense breast tissue, according to the results of a major study.

What to do in a flu epidemic? Stay at home and watch TV

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:19 AM PST

Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) include actions individuals can take to reduce disease spread, such as hand washing and minimizing contacts with sick people. These can play a key role in reducing the spread of infectious diseases such as influenza, according to research.

New brain pathway offers hope for treating hypogylcemia

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:19 AM PST

A novel pathway buried deep within a region of the brain produces a brain hormone that acts as a crucial sensor of blood glucose levels. Learning how the hormone helps orchestrate responses around the body when levels drop too low offers hope for treating hypoglycemia.

Effect of thyroid disorders on reproductive health

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:19 AM PST

Thyroid disease can have significant effects on a woman's reproductive health and screening for women presenting with fertility problems and recurrent early pregnancy loss should be considered, suggests a new review.

Bad reputation of crows demystified

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:18 AM PST

In literature, crows and ravens are a bad omen and are associated with witches. Most people believe they steal, eat other birds' eggs and reduce the populations of other birds. But a new study, which has brought together over 326 interactions between corvids and their prey, demonstrates that their notoriety is not entirely merited. The study analyzed the impact of six species of corvid on a total of 67 species of bird susceptible to being their prey, among which are game birds and passerine birds.

Hidden infection shortens life in birds

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:17 AM PST

Mild infections without symptoms of illness can still lead to serious consequences by reducing the lifespan of the infected individuals, research shows. A new study has been carried out on malaria-infected migratory birds. The infection is thought to speed up the aging process by shortening the telomeres (i.e., the chromosomes ends) at a faster rate and thereby accelerating senescence. 

Massive chip design savings to be realized

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:17 AM PST

IT researchers have developed a programming language making the massive costs associated with designing hardware more manageable. Chip manufacturers have been using the same chip design techniques for twenty years now. The current process calls for extensive testing after each design step - a massively expensive state of affairs. The newly developed, so-called  functional  programming language makes it possible to prove, in advance, that a design transformation is a hundred percent error-free.

Arctic ice cap slides into the ocean

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:17 AM PST

Satellite images have revealed that a remote Arctic ice cap has thinned by more than 50 metres since 2012 -- about one sixth of its original thickness -- and that it is now flowing 25 times faster. The findings show that over the last two decades, ice loss from the south-east region of Austfonna, located in the Svalbard archipelago, has increased significantly. In this time, ice flow has accelerated to speeds of several kilometres per year, and ice thinning has spread more than 50km inland -- to within 10km of the summit.

The language of T lymphocytes deciphered, the 'Rosetta Stone' of the immune system

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:17 AM PST

How can our immune system defend us against aggressors so diverse such as viruses, parasites, fungi and tumors? The secret lies in the large number of clones of T and B lymphocytes, each of which expresses a particular specific receptor. Until a few years ago, deciphering the complexity of this vast repertoire was considered impossible. A "Rosetta stone", or a key for decoding, was missing in order to "translate" and understand this "language" in all its complexity.

The brain's electrical alphabet: Timing, rate underlie neural information, study shows

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:17 AM PST

The brain's alphabet is a mix of rate and precise timing of electrical pulses, researchers have revealed. The study shows that the nervous system features a "multichannel" language that makes up the neural code, or the alphabet that processes information in the brain.

Sexually-transmitted diseases: Do multiple partners mean more immunity?

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:17 AM PST

It has been assumed that the increased transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases in the case of mating promiscuity is influential in shaping the immune system of mammals. Results of a new study demonstrate that this simple idea does not apply to rodents, and that living circumstances and the environment can be a key factor in determining variation in immune investment among mammals.

Sisters act together: Cichlid sisters swim together in order to reach the goal

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:17 AM PST

The manner and routes of dispersal vary with the species and the ecological conditions. Many fish form shoals to avoid predation. Shoaling with familiar conspecifics affords the fish an even greater advantage by increasing the benefit for relatives. This promotes the continuation and future spread of an individual's own genetic information, scientists report.

Scientists map brains of the blind to solve mysteries of human brain specialization

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:17 AM PST

Studying the brain activity of blind people, scientists are challenging the standard view of how the human brain specializes to perform different kinds of tasks, and shedding new light on how our brains can adapt to the rapid cultural and technological changes of the 21st Century.

New 'systems genetics' study identifies possible target for epilepsy treatment

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:17 AM PST

A single gene that coordinates a network of about 400 genes involved in epilepsy could be a target for new treatments, according to research. Epilepsy is a common and serious disease that affects around 50 million people worldwide. The mortality rate among people with epilepsy is two to three times higher than the general population. It is known that epilepsy has a strong genetic component, but the risk is related to multiple factors that are 'spread' over hundreds of genes.

Brazil's soy moratorium still needed to preserve Amazon

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:13 AM PST

In a new study to evaluate the Brazilian Soy Moratorium, researchers across the U.S. and Brazil show that the moratorium helped to drastically reduce the amount of deforestation linked to soy production in the region and was much better at curbing it than governmental policy alone.

Parents' Belief That a Child Will Attend College Plays Big Role in Early Academic Success

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:13 AM PST

The factors influencing children's readiness for kindergarten include not only whether they attend preschool, but also their families' behaviors, attitudes and values, research indicates. In addition, parents' expectations go a long way toward predicting children's success throughout their schooling, the researchers found.

Gene may open door for improved keloid, scar treatment

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:13 AM PST

A gene that may offer a better understanding of how keloid scars develop has been discovered, potentially opening the door to improved treatment for the often painful, itchy and tender scars. The study is the first to demonstrate that an altered AHNAK gene may have a significant biological role in keloid development.

Improvements in transistors will make flexible plastic computers a reality

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:12 AM PST

Researchers revealed that improvements should soon be expected in the manufacture of transistors that can be used, for example, to make flexible, paper-thin computer screens.

Revolutionary device found to lower blood pressure

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 04:39 PM PST

A revolutionary device has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure among patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure, compared to those treated with usual drug measures. "High blood pressure is very dangerous and leads to hospital treatment, stroke, heart attack and chronic kidney disease. We must find better means of treating high blood pressure as drugs do not work for everyone and the Coupler is a big step forward in our search for alternative treatment," said the lead investigator.

Celiac disease rate among young children has almost tripled in past 20 years

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 04:39 PM PST

The number of young children diagnosed with celiac disease in the UK has almost tripled over the past 20 years, but kids from poorer families are only half as likely to be diagnosed with the condition, reveals research.

Checklist devised to spot elderly patients most at risk of death

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 04:39 PM PST

A checklist has been designed to spot elderly hospital patients likely to die within the next three months, a new article outlines. The researchers emphasize that the checklist is not intended to substitute healthcare for the elderly who are terminally ill. Instead, it is meant to "provide an objective assessment and definition of the dying patient as a starting point for honest communication with patients and families about recognizing that dying is part of the life cycle."

Falls in blood pressure, cholesterol have saved 20,000+ lives in England

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 04:39 PM PST

Falls in blood pressure and total cholesterol staved off more than 20,000 deaths from coronary heart disease in England between 2000 and 2007, shows a mathematical analysis. The impact of statins was greatest among the most affluent in the population, suggesting that these drugs have helped maintain health inequalities between rich and poor, say the researchers.

Scientists search for new ways to deal with U. S. uranium ore processing legacy

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 01:59 PM PST

Researchers are trying to find out why uranium persists in groundwater at former uranium ore processing sites despite remediation of contaminated surface materials two decades ago. They think buried organic material may be at fault, storing toxic uranium at levels that continue to pose risks to human health and the environment, and hope their study will pave the way for better long-term site management and protection of the public and environment.

Risk of HIV infection in studies of African women using hormonal contraceptives

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 11:54 AM PST

Use of the injectable progestin contraceptive depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) is linked to an increased risk for HIV infection, according to a new article. The researchers did not find a significantly increased risk for HIV infection in women who used a different injectable progestin, norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN), nor in those who used combined oral contraceptives (COC).

Rosetta data reveals more surprises about comet 67P

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 11:54 AM PST

As the Rosetta spacecraft orbits comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, an international team of scientists have discovered that the comet's atmosphere, or coma, is much less homogenous than expected and comet outgassing varies significantly over time.

Rosetta data give closest-ever look at a comet

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 11:54 AM PST

On Nov. 12, 2014, the Rosetta mission's Philae lander touched down on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. While this achievement gained lots of headlines, it was only the beginning for researchers back on Earth. New data provides the closest and most detailed look at a comet that scientists have ever seen.

Gas variations are suggestive of seasons on comet Chury

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 11:18 AM PST

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko continues to reveal more of its secrets: Researchers have detected considerable variations in the gas escaping from the comet. This could amount to seasonal changes on the tiny celestial body. Meanwhile, the camera OSIRIS on board the Rosetta comet probe is revealing new details of the surface of Chury.

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