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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

Spider electro-combs its sticky nano-filaments

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:23 PM PST

A spider commonly found in garden centers in Britain is giving fresh insights into how to spin incredibly long and strong fibers just a few nanometers thick. The majority of spiders spin silk threads several micrometers thick but unusually the 'garden centre spider' or 'feather-legged lace weaver' can spin nano-scale filaments. Now scientists think they are closer to understanding how this is done.

Sugary drinks linked to earlier onset of menstrual periods

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:22 PM PST

Girls who frequently consume sugary drinks tend to start their menstrual periods earlier than girls who do not, according to new research. The findings are important not only because of the growing problem of childhood obesity in a number of developed countries, but also because starting periods earlier is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer later in life.

Psychopathic Violent Offenders’ Brains Can’t Understand Punishment

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:21 PM PST

Psychopathic violent offenders have abnormalities in the parts of the brain related to learning from punishment, according to an MRI study.

Researchers tune friction in ionic solids at the nanoscale

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 01:49 PM PST

New experiments have uncovered a way of controlling friction on ionic surfaces at the nanoscale using electrical stimulation and ambient water vapor.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft captures best-ever view of dwarf planet Ceres

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 11:11 AM PST

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned the sharpest images ever seen of the dwarf planet Ceres. The images were taken 147,000 miles (237,000 kilometers) from Ceres on Jan. 25, and represent a new milestone for a spacecraft that soon will become the first human-made probe to visit a dwarf planet.

Infant failure to thrive linked to lysosome dysfunction

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 11:08 AM PST

Neonatal intestinal disorders that prevent infants from getting the nutrients they need may be caused by defects in the lysosomal system -- or cell recycling center -- that occur before weaning. Scientists provide a new target for research and future therapies to help infants unable to absorb milk nutrients and gain weight.

Stomach acid-powered micromotors get their first test in a living animal

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 11:08 AM PST

Researchers have shown that a micromotor fueled by stomach acid can take a bubble-powered ride inside a mouse. These tiny motors, each about one-fifth the width of a human hair, may someday offer a safer and more efficient way to deliver drugs or diagnose tumors. The experiment is the first to show that these micromotors can operate safely in a living animal.

Early Mesoamericans affected by climate change

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 11:08 AM PST

Scientists have reconstructed the past climate for the region around Cantona, a large fortified city in highland Mexico, and found the population drastically declined in the past, at least in part because of climate change.

Dog disease in lions spread by multiple species

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 11:08 AM PST

Canine distemper, a viral disease that's been infecting the famed lions of Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, appears to be spread by multiple animal species, according to a study published by a transcontinental team of scientists.

New mechanism unlocked for evolution of green fluorescent protein

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 11:08 AM PST

A primary challenge in the biosciences is to understand the way major evolutionary changes in nature are accomplished. Sometimes the route turns out to be very simple. An example of such simplicity is provided in a new publication that shows, for the first time, that a hinge migration mechanism, driven solely by long-range dynamic motions, can be the key for evolution of a green-to-red photoconvertible phenotype in a green fluorescent protein.

Asteroid that flew past Earth has moon

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 11:06 AM PST

Scientists working with NASA's 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, have released the first radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86. The images show the asteroid, which made its closest approach on Jan. 26, 2015 at 8:19 a.m. PST (11:19 a.m. EST) at a distance of about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers, or 3.1 times the distance from Earth to the moon), has its own small moon.

Easter Island mystery: Why did the native culture die out?

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 10:11 AM PST

Long before the Europeans arrived on Easter Island in 1722, the native Polynesian culture known as Rapa Nui showed signs of demographic decline. However, the catalyst has long been debated in the scientific community. Was environmental degradation the cause, or could a political revolution or an epidemic of disease be to blame? A collaborative study suggests that the island's native culture reacted to natural environmental barriers to producing sufficient crops.

'Yellowballs' are part of the development of massive star

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 10:11 AM PST

Citizen scientists wanted to know: What are the yellow objects on these infrared images from the Spitzer Space Telescope? Astronomers now report that the "yellowballs" are part of the development of massive stars.

How creative are you? Depends where you're from

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 09:25 AM PST

With the 'creative class' on the rise, many businesses are trying to capitalize on imagination and innovation. But when it comes to creative juices, some societies have a faster flow than others. That's because, as new research suggests, creativity is tied to culture.

That's using your head: Brain regulates fat metabolism, potentially stopping disease

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 09:25 AM PST

Atherosclerosis -- hardening and narrowing of the arteries -- can be caused by fat build up that causes plaque deposits, and is one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease. Now a researcher has shown a link between how the brain can regulate fat metabolism, potentially stopping the development of this disease risk factor in obesity and diabetes.

New pathway to valleytronics: Femtosecond laser used to manipulate valley excitons

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 09:24 AM PST

Researchers have uncovered a promising new pathway to valleytronics, a potential quantum computing technology in which information is coded based on the wavelike motion of electrons moving through certain 2-D semiconductors.

Things smell good for a reason

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 09:24 AM PST

Antioxidants are natural food ingredients that protect cells from harmful influences. Their main task is to neutralize so-called 'free radicals' which are produced in the process of oxidation and which are responsible for cell degeneration. Scientists now show that vinegar flies are able to detect these protective substances by using olfactory cues.

Fish catch break on world stage at global conference

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 09:24 AM PST

Freshwater fish provide the food, sport and economic power across the globe. Inland fishing is often about individuals, families and small cooperatives. More than 60 million people in low-income nations are estimated to rely on inland fisheries for their livelihood. Its small-but-many base has in modern times across the globe been shy of strong data to document its impact. That has left the inland fishery industry a poor competitor for water against agriculture, energy, commercial development and industry.

The world's oldest known snake fossils: Rolling back the clock by nearly 70 million years

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 09:24 AM PST

Fossilized remains of four ancient snakes have been dated between 140 and 167 million years old -- nearly 70 million years older than the previous record of ancient snake fossils -- and are changing the way we think about the origins of snakes.

Targeted MRI/ultrasound beats standard biopsy to detect high-risk prostate cancer

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 09:12 AM PST

Targeted biopsy using new fusion technology that combines magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with ultrasound is more effective than standard biopsy in detecting high-risk prostate cancer, according to a large-scale study.

Brain region vulnerable to aging is larger in those with longevity gene variant

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 09:11 AM PST

People who carry a variant of a gene that is associated with longevity also have larger volumes in a front part of the brain involved in planning and decision-making, according to researchers.

Bubbles from the galactic center: A key to understanding dark matter and our galaxy's past?

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:14 AM PST

The astrophysicists who discovered two enormous radiation bubbles in the center of our galaxy discuss what they may tell us about the Milky Way and how they could help in the search for dark matter.

Inherited gene variation helps explain drug toxicity in patients of East Asian ancestry

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:14 AM PST

About 10 percent of young leukemia patients of East Asian ancestry inherit a gene variation that is associated with reduced tolerance of a drug that is indispensable for curing acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer, scientists report.

Unlocking the kidney riddle in newborns

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:14 AM PST

Researchers are closer to understanding why babies born with smaller kidneys have a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Currently, renal disorders at birth affect about one in 500 babies. Many of these babies go on to lead healthy normal lives, however 20-40 per cent will develop chronic kidney disease and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, these conditions are the main cause of end-stage kidney disease and the need for dialysis in children.

Negative patient-doctor communication could worsen symptoms

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:14 AM PST

A type of 'nocebo' response -- where patients perceive a lack of understanding or acceptance from their doctor -- could create anger and distress, physiological conditions that could worsen illness, a new research shows.

Ancient star system reveals Earth-sized planets forming near start of universe

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:14 AM PST

A Sun-like star with orbiting planets, dating back to the dawn of the Galaxy, has been discovered by an international team of astronomers. At 11.2 billion years old, it is the oldest star with Earth-sized planets ever found and proves that such planets have formed throughout the history of the Universe.

Salivary biomarkers predict oral feeding readiness in preterm newborns

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:14 AM PST

Results from a new study hold the potential to substantially improve clinical decision-making to determine when a premature newborn is ready for oral feeding. The study describes developmental salivary biomarkers associated with feeding success in newborns, markers that could lead to development of objective assessment tools for caregivers.

The origin of life: Labyrinths as crucibles of life

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:11 AM PST

Water-filled micropores in hot rock may have acted as the nurseries in which life on Earth began. A team has now shown that temperature gradients in pore systems promote the cyclical replication and emergence of nucleic acids.

Carbon accumulation by Southeastern U.S. forests may slow

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:11 AM PST

Carbon accumulation levels in the Southeastern US may be slowing due to forest dynamics and land use changes, according to findings of a new study. The research is the first to isolate the impacts of forest disturbances, such as fire, disease, and cutting, as well as the impacts of land use change using permanent monitoring locations across the Southeast making it one of the most thorough carbon studies completed.

Neuroscience researchers believe in quitting smoking gradually

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:11 AM PST

The immediate reaction in the brain after quitting smoking has been the focus of a recent study. At just 12 hours after kicking the habit, the oxygen uptake and blood flow in the brain decrease significantly compared to never-smokers. This could explain why it is so difficult to say goodbye to nicotine once and for all, the researchers say.

Smoking may increase risks for patients being treated for prostate cancer

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:10 AM PST

Among patients with prostate cancer, those who smoke have increased risks of experiencing side effects from treatment and of developing future cancer recurrences, or even dying from prostate cancer.

The laser pulse that gets shorter all by itself

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:10 AM PST

A new method of creating ultra short laser pulses has been created: Just by sending a pulse through a cleverly designed fiber, it can be compressed by a factor of 20.

Web surfing to weigh up bariatric surgery options

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:10 AM PST

Obese people considering weight-reducing surgery are only topped by pregnant women when it comes to how often they turn to the Internet for health advice. While most use it to read up on relevant procedures and experiences, some patients actually chooses a surgeon based solely on what they have gleaned from the web, a study concludes.

Economic trade-offs of owning versus leasing a solar photovoltaic system

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:10 AM PST

Two new reports examine the economic options customers face when deciding how to finance commercial or residential solar energy systems. Analysts found that businesses that use low-cost financing to purchase a photovoltaic (PV) system and homeowners who use solar-specific loans can save up to 30 percent compared with consumers who lease a PV system through a conventional third-party owner.

Researchers find hormone that increases the sex drive of mice

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:09 AM PST

Mice that receive a supplement of the 'appetite hormone' ghrelin increase their sexual activity, scientists have found. Whether the hormone has the same impact on humans is unknown -- but if it does, the researchers may have found the key to future treatments for sex addiction.

New search engine lets users look for relevant results faster

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:09 AM PST

Researchers have developed a new search engine that outperforms current ones, and helps people to do searches more efficiently.

Keeping the kraken asleep: Insight into the role of stem cells in leukemia

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:09 AM PST

Despite enormous progress in cancer therapy, many patients still relapse because their treatment addresses the symptoms of the disease rather than the cause, the so-called stem cells. New work has given a tantalizing clue to a solution. Scientists report that the cell-cycle kinase CDK6 is required for activation of the stem cells responsible for causing leukemia.

Improving indoor air quality in EU schools

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:49 AM PST

SINPHONIE, an EU-funded research project on indoor air quality in EU schools, and its impact on children's health, has recently published its conclusions. Based on the evidence gathered, the Joint Research Centre and the partners developed guidelines for maintaining good air quality. They are expected to contribute to healthier school environments in Europe. On school days, over 64 million European students and almost 4.5 million teachers are affected by the quality of the air they breathe inside their schools. Asthmatic people are particularly sensitive to poor air quality and pollutants, the authors point out.

Probiotic helps treat diabetes in rats, could lead to human remedy

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:48 AM PST

Researchers have engineered a strain of lactobacillus, a human probiotic common in the gut, to secrete a Glucagen-like peptide (GPL-1). They then administered it orally to diabetic rats for 90 days and found the rats receiving the engineered probiotic had up to 30 percent lower high blood glucose, a hallmark of diabetes.

Bad weather warnings most effective if probability included, new research suggests

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:48 AM PST

Risk researchers find that the public may respond best to severe weather warnings if they include a probability estimate, an important finding not only for the present but also for the longer-term future as climate change brings more frequent and severe threats.

Low sodium levels increases liver transplant survival benefit in the sickest patients

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:06 AM PST

Researchers report that low levels of sodium in the blood, known as hyponatremia, increase the risk of dying for patients on the liver transplant waiting list. The study showed an increase in survival benefit for patients with hyponatremia and a Model for End Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score of 12 or more. The MELD score measures the risk of death on waiting list. It is calculated using patient's serum bilirubin, creatinine, and prothrombin time and is used by national organ allocation policy to determine the priority for a patient on the transplant waitlist. Patients who are most sick, with a high MELD score, are at the top of the waitlist.

Association between parental time pressure, mental health problems among children

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:06 AM PST

Children whose parents experience time pressure are more likely to have mental health problems, a researcher has found. Children's sense of wellbeing largely reflects the circumstances in which their parents find themselves. But few scientific studies have addressed the subject head-on, the author says.

Researchers find potential anti-cancer use for anti-epilepsy drug

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:06 AM PST

A drug used widely to combat epilepsy has the potential to reduce the growth and spread of breast cancer, scientists have discovered. The team found that "repurposing" antiepileptic drugs, such as phenytoin, that effectively block the sodium channels, could provide a novel therapy for cancer.

Respiratory chain: Protein complex structure revealed

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:03 AM PST

Mitochondria produce ATP, the energy currency of the body. The driver for this process is an electrochemical membrane potential, which is created by a series of proton pumps. These complex, macromolecular machines are collectively known as the respiratory chain. The structure of the largest protein complex in the respiratory chain, that of mitochondrial complex I, has now been elucidated by scientists.

Age concern in largest ever study of heroin user deaths

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:03 AM PST

Older users of opioids such as heroin are 27 times more likely to become a victim of homicide than the general population, a study of almost 200,000 users has found. The study is the first to record age trends in opioid users' mortality and the results demonstrate that many health inequalities between users and the general population widen with age.

New tattoos discovered on iceman Oetzi: All of the skin marks on the mummy mapped

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:02 AM PST

With the aid of a non-invasive photographic technique, researchers at the EURAC-Institute for Mummies and the Iceman have been able to show up all the tattoos on the man who was found preserved in a glacier, and in the process have stumbled upon a previously unknown tattoo on his ribcage. This tattoo is very difficult to make out with the naked eye because his skin has darkened so much over time. The latest sophisticated photographic technology has now enabled tattoos in deeper skin layers to be identified as well.

How do small birds survive cold winters?

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:01 AM PST

Norway's small birds face many challenges during the winter, including short days and long energy-intensive nights, tough weather conditions and food shortages, along with the risk of becoming a meal for hungry predators. Many at a tiny size, how do they survive?

Carbon nanoballs can greatly contribute to sustainable energy supply

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:01 AM PST

Researchers have discovered that the insulation plastic used in high-voltage cables can withstand a 26 per cent higher voltage if nanometer-sized carbon balls are added. This could result in enormous efficiency gains in the power grids of the future, which are needed to achieve a sustainable energy system. The renewable energy sources of tomorrow will often be found far away from the end user. Wind turbines, for example, are most effective when placed out at sea. Solar energy will have the greatest impact on the European energy system if focus is on transport of solar power from North Africa and Southern Europe to Northern Europe.

Decisions on Future Childbearing in Women Diagnosed with a Meningioma

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:00 AM PST

43% of surveyed female meningioma survivors aged 25–44 yrs stated they were warned that pregnancy was a risk factor for meningioma recurrence. Nevertheless, these women were more likely to want a baby (70% vs 54%) and intend to have a baby (27% vs 12%) than same-age women in the general population.

MRIs link impaired brain activity to inability to regulate emotions in autism

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:00 AM PST

When it comes to the ability to regulate emotions, brain activity in autistic people is significantly different than brain activity in people without autism. Researchers showed that symptoms including tantrums, irritability, and anxiety have a biological, mechanistic basis.

Analysis rejects linkage between testosterone therapy, cardiovascular risk

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:00 AM PST

Fears of a link between testosterone replacement therapy and cardiovascular risk are misplaced, according to a review. The therapy has come under widespread scrutiny in recent months, including by a federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel convened last fall.

Blood transfusions during heart surgery increase risk of pneumonia

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:00 AM PST

Patients who receive red blood cell transfusions during coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery are at an increased risk of developing pneumonia, researchers report. "Patients should receive red blood cell transfusions based on clinical need," an investigator noted. "Surgical teams may have opportunities to reduce the need for transfusions among patients, thereby reducing the risk of secondary complications."

Novel simulation model improves training experience for cardiothoracic surgeons

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:00 AM PST

A new surgical training model that simulates patient bleeding is providing cardiothoracic surgery residents with "real-life" experience without compromising patient safety, researchers report.

Unique aortic aneurysm repair shows promise

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:59 AM PST

A novel, minimally invasive approach appears safe for treating life-threatening aneurysms that occur in the deepest part of the aorta, making it easier for surgeons to repair the aorta without opening the chest and easier for patients to recover, experts report.

Drug candidates can block pathway associated with cell death in Parkinson's disease

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:59 AM PST

Two drug candidates can target biological pathways involved in the destruction of brain cells in Parkinson's disease, scientists have reported. The studies suggest that it is possible to design highly effective and highly selective (targeted) drug candidates that can protect the function of mitochondria, which provide the cell with energy, ultimately preventing brain cell death.

Researchers pinpoint two genes that trigger severest form of ovarian cancer

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:59 AM PST

Researchers create first mouse model of ovarian clear cell carcinoma using data from human cancer genome atlas. They show how when the genes ARID1A and PIK2CA are mutated in specific ways, the result is ovarian cancer 100 percent of the time. They show that a known drug can suppress tumor growth.

'Bulletproof' Battery: Kevlar Membrane for Safer, Thinner Lithium Rechargeables

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:59 AM PST

New battery technology should be able to prevent the kind of fires that grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliners in 2013. The innovation is an advanced barrier between the electrodes in a lithium-ion battery.

Using stem cells to grow new hair

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:59 AM PST

Researchers have used human pluripotent stem cells to generate new hair. The study represents the first step toward the development of a cell-based treatment for people with hair loss. In the United States alone, more than 40 million men and 21 million women are affected by hair loss.

Making a tiny rainbow: 300 colors about as wide as a human hair

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:58 AM PST

By varying the size and spacing of aluminum nanodisks, researchers generate images that contain over 300 colors and are not much wider than a human hair.

Protein-based therapy shows promise against resistant leukemia

Posted: 26 Jan 2015 05:19 PM PST

The efficacy and safety of the new fusion protein has been demonstrated in mouse models of aggressive human leukemia using leukemia cells taken directly from patients with ALL. Resistance of leukemia cells to contemporary chemotherapy is one of the most formidable obstacles to treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer.

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