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Friday, February 6, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

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

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 02:49 PM PST

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

Organic food reduces pesticide exposure

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 02:48 PM PST

A new study is among the first to predict a person's pesticide exposure based on information about their usual diet.

Another breastfeeding benefit: Preparing baby's belly for solid food

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 02:46 PM PST

Researchers found that a baby's diet during the first few months of life has a profound influence on the composition, diversity, and stability of the gut microbiome. These factors influence the baby's ability to transition from milk to solid foods and may have long-term health effects.

Depth and rate of chest compressions during CPR impact survival in cardiac arrest

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 12:56 PM PST

The depth of chest compressions and the rate at which they were applied make a significant impact on survival and recovery of patients, a review of research by physicians shows.

Increasing individualism in US linked with rise of white-collar jobs

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

Rising individualism in the United States over the last 150 years is mainly associated with a societal shift toward more white-collar occupations, according to new research. The study, which looked at various cultural indicators -- including word usage in books, trends in baby names, and shifts in family structure -- suggests that a shift toward greater individualism is systematically correlated with socioeconomic trends, but not with trends in urbanization or environmental demands such as frequency of diseases or disasters.

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

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

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

Novel method projects growth potential of new firms: Which tech businesses will thrive?

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

New businesses spring up all the time in the U.S. But which ones have the greatest ability to become big? A new method based on an empirical study, projects the growth potential of high-tech firms with new precision -- and could help local or regional policymakers assess their growth prospects.

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

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

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

How oxygen is like kryptonite to titanium

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

Scientists have found the mechanism by which titanium, prized for its high strength-to-weight ratio and natural resistance to corrosion, becomes brittle with just a few extra atoms of oxygen. The discovery could potentially lead to more practical, cost-effective use of titanium in a broader range of applications, including vehicles, buildings and bridges.

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

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

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

Brain cells' role in navigating environment

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

A new study sheds light on the brain cells that function in establishing one's location and direction. The findings contribute to our understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying our abilities to successfully navigate our environment, which may be crucial to dealing with brain damage due to trauma or a stroke and the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Carnivorous mushroom reveals human immune trick: How we punch our way into cancer cells

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

Edible oyster mushrooms have an intriguing secret: They eat spiders and roundworms. And they do so using proteins that can punch their way into cells, leaving tidy but deadly holes. It's a trick that our immune cells also use to protect us, destroying infected cells, cancerous cells, and bacteria.

Fine-tuned supramolecular polymerization

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

Researchers have demonstrated a new method for artificially building and dismantling supramolecular polymers in a tightly controlled and selective way, following the methods of traditional polymer chemistry by taking advantage of the monomer elements' own tendency to self-organize. This opens the way to the creation, though precision supramolecular engineering, or polymers with a wide range of properties that could be exploited for new applications.

Why do new strains of HIV spread slowly?

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:29 AM PST

Most HIV epidemics are still dominated by the first strain that entered a particular population. New research offers an explanation of why the global mixing of HIV variants is so slow.

Acoustic tweezers device expands the range of x-ray crystallography

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:28 AM PST

A device for precisely positioning small objects using acoustic waves has now been used to position fragile protein crystals a few micrometers or less in size in the path of a crystallography X-ray beam.

Why did people evolve to be cooperative? And why in a principled way?

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:12 AM PST

Researchers have developed a first-of-its-kind model, dubbed the 'envelope game,' that can help researchers understand not only not only why people evolved to be cooperative but why people evolved to cooperate in a principled way.

Cesium atoms shaken, not stirred, to create elusive excitation in superfluid

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:12 AM PST

In 1941, future Nobel laureate Lev Landau predicted that superfluid helium-4 should contain an exotic, particle-like excitation called a roton. Roton structure has been a matter of debate ever since. Physicists have now created roton structure in the laboratory.

Genetics lab unravels mystery whale killing at sea

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:12 AM PST

Fisheries scientists happened onto a killer whale attack too late to tell what species had been the target. So they recovered all that was left -- a whale lung -- and probed its DNA to for clues to where it came from. It turned out to be the first documentation of killer whales attacking a rarely seen pygmy sperm whale.

Improving genome editing with drugs

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:12 AM PST

Scientists have discovered a way to enhance the efficiency of CRISPR genome editing with the introduction of a few key chemical compounds. This has important potential implications for correcting disease-causing genetic mutations.

Prototype of a robotic system with emotion and memory

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 11:11 AM PST

Researchers have developed a prototype of a social robot which supports independent living for the elderly, working in partnership with their relatives or carers. 

Cosmology: First stars were born much later than thought

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 10:12 AM PST

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

Similar statistics play role in decision-making and World War II code breaking

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 10:12 AM PST

"The brain reaches a decision by combining samples of evidence in much the way a good statistician would," says a researcher. He demonstrates this theory by monitoring the decision-making process in rhesus monkeys to determine how much and what information they need to confidently choose a correct answer.

In a crisis, the bigger your social network, the better

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:31 AM PST

Researchers examined social networks in the late pre-Hispanic Southwest and found that communities that were more connected with their neighbors had a better chance of being able to successfully manage a crisis than did communities with fewer outside connections.

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

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:31 AM PST

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

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

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:30 AM PST

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

Spontaneous cure of rare immune disease

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:30 AM PST

A genetic phenomenon called chromothripsis, or 'chromosome shattering,' may have spontaneously cured the first person to be documented with WHIM syndrome. The patient was the subject of a 1964 study that first described the disorder, a syndrome of recurrent infections, warts and cancer caused by the inability of immune cells, particularly infection-fighting neutrophils, to leave the bone marrow and enter the bloodstream.

Link between inflammation and type 2 diabetes identified

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:30 AM PST

Scientists have identified the molecular mechanism by which insulin normally inhibits production of glucose by the liver and why this process stops working in patients with type 2 diabetes, leading to hyperglycemia.

After merger, chimpanzees learned new grunt for 'apple'

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:30 AM PST

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

Human stem cells repair damage caused by radiation therapy for brain cancer in rats

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:30 AM PST

For patients with brain cancer, radiation is a potentially life-saving treatment, but it can also cause considerable and even permanent injury to the brain. Now, through preclinical experiments conducted in rats, researchers have developed a method to turn human stem cells into cells that are instructed to repair damage in the brain. Rats treated with the human cells regained cognitive and motor functions that were lost after brain irradiation.

Malaria-in-a-dish paves the way for better treatments

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:30 AM PST

Researchers have engineered a way to use human liver cells, derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, to screen potential antimalarial drugs and vaccines for their ability to treat the liver stage of malaria infection. The approach may offer new opportunities for personalized antimalarial drug testing and the development of more effective individually tailored drugs to combat the disease, which causes more than 500,000 deaths worldwide each year.

Satellite science improves storm surge forecasting around the world

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:28 AM PST

A new online resource which will help coastguards, meteorological organisations and scientific communities predict future storm surge patterns has been created. The freely-accessible database of storm surge data has been compiled through the multi-partner, international eSurge project, which was launched in 2011 with the aim of making available observational data to improve the modelling and forecasting of storm surges around the world using advanced techniques and instruments. 

Tracking glaciers with accelerators

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:27 AM PST

Geologists once thought that, until about 18,000 years ago, a mammoth glacier covered the top two-thirds of Ireland. Recently, however, they found evidence that it wasn't just the top two-thirds: The Irish glacier was much larger, completely engulfing the country and extending far offshore.

Medical marijuana for children with developmental and behavioral disorders?

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:27 AM PST

As medical marijuana becomes increasingly accepted, there is growing interest in its use for children and adolescents with developmental and behavioral problems such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new review.

Circadian clock linked to Angelman syndrome

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 09:27 AM PST

Biologists have found a direct link between the biological clock and Angelman syndrome, a neurogenetic disorder that occurs in more than one in every 15,000 live births. The link may provide a valuable way to judge the effectiveness of the first experimental drugs under development for treating the syndrome.

Using solar energy to improve desalination process

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 08:15 AM PST

 A new process to decompose waste desalination brine using solar energy, which neutralizes ocean acidity and reduces environmental impact, has been proposed.

Accuracy of NIFTY prenatal test tracked

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 07:21 AM PST

BGI has published a study tracking the clinical performance of its whole genome sequencing-based non-invasive prenatal test (the NIFTY test) in nearly 147,000 pregnancies, the largest such study to date. The results showed high sensitivity and specificity and no significant difference between high-risk and low-risk pregnant women.

Methane seepage from Arctic seabed occurring for millions of years

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 07:19 AM PST

Natural seepage of methane offshore the Arctic archipelago Svalbard has been occurring periodically for at least 2.7 million years. Major events of methane emissions happened at least twice during this period, according to a new study.

Simple ultrasound measure can diagnose postoperative urinary retention

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 07:19 AM PST

In patients who don't resume normal urination after surgery, a simple ultrasound test can accurately diagnose the common problem of postoperative urinary retention (POUR), reports a new study.

March of the moons: Hubble captures rare triple-moon conjunction

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 07:19 AM PST

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured the rare occurrence of three of Jupiter's largest moons racing across the banded face of the gas-giant planet: Europa, Callisto, and Io on Jan. 24, 2015.

Opinions on vaccinations heavily influenced by online comments

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 06:52 AM PST

With measles and other diseases once thought eradicated making a comeback in the United States, healthcare websites are on the spot to educate consumers about important health risks. Researchers say that people may be influenced more by online comments than by credible public service announcements.

Heavy rainfall events becoming more frequent on Big Island, Hawaii

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 06:52 AM PST

A recent study determined that heavy rainfall events have become more frequent over the last 50 years on Hawai'i Island. For instance, a rare storm with daily precipitation of nearly 12 inches, occurring once every 20 years by 1960, has become a rather common storm event on the Big Island of Hawai'i -- returning every 3-5 years by 2009.

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

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 06:52 AM PST

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

Parenting and depression study: Fathers are at risk, too

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 06:52 AM PST

A national study of parents found that parents with multiple parenting roles -- such as those in blended families -- are at higher risk of depression. Specifically, parents with three roles were 57 percent more likely to be depressed than those with just a single parenting role.

New type of membrane permits cheaper and more efficient water purification

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 06:52 AM PST

New selective membranes in the form of thin hollow straws can improve water purification. The membranes make it possible to purify water in a single process step, while preliminary treatment is always required in existing water treatment plants. The most important benefits of the new membranes are that they can make the provision of drinking water easier and therefore cheaper and can improve the removal of micropollutants such as pharmaceutical residues.

Norwegian lemmings dress loudly and scream even louder to survive

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 06:51 AM PST

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

Lyme disease costs up to $1. 3 billion per year to treat, study finds

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 06:50 AM PST

New research suggests that a prolonged illness associated with Lyme disease is more widespread and serious in some patients than previously understood.

How many licks to finish a lollipop? Formula models how water currents shape and dissolve solids

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 06:50 AM PST

A team of scientists has identified the complex process by which materials are shaped and ultimately dissolved by surrounding water currents.

15-million-year-old mollusk protein found

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:37 AM PST

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

Preventing greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:37 AM PST

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

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

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:35 AM PST

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

Probing qualities at the tips of nanocones

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:30 AM PST

New understanding of electron behavior at the tips of carbon nanocones could help provide candidates for use as a novel probe in atomic force microscopy. One of the ways of improving electrons manipulation is though better control over one of their inner characteristics, called spin. This approach is the object of an entire field of study, known as spintronics.

The power of light-matter coupling

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:30 AM PST

A theoretical study shows that strong ties between light and organic matter at the nanoscale open the door to modifying these coupled systems' optical, electronic or chemical properties. Light and matter can be so strongly linked that their characteristics become indistinguishable. These light-matter couplings are referred to as polaritons. Their energy oscillates continuously between both systems, giving rise to attractive new physical phenomena. Now, scientists have explained why such polaritons can remain for an unusual long time at the lowest energy levels, in such a way that alters the microscopic and macroscopic characteristics of their constituting matter.

An 'ambulance' for the brain

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:30 AM PST

The brain is protected by a barrier of cells that tightly regulates the transport of substances into this organ in order to prevent infection. The essential protective function of this barrier is also a red light for 98% of drug candidates for the treatment of the central nervous system. Today scientists have presented a shuttle able to cross the blood-brain barrier and transport various substances into the brain. The team of chemists is now studying its application for specific medical conditions.

Octopus robot makes waves with ultra-fast propulsion

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:30 AM PST

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

Randomness of megathrust earthquakes implied by rapid stress recovery after the Japan earthquake

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:30 AM PST

Stress recovery following the 2011 M9.0 Tohoku-oki earthquake has been significantly faster than previously anticipated; specifically, the stress-state at the plate interface returned within just a few years to levels observed before the megathrust event. In addition, since there is no observable spatial difference in the stress state along the megathrust zone, it is difficult to predict the location and extent of future large ruptures.

Researchers find gene that confirms existence of psoriatic arthritis

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:30 AM PST

Researchers have identified genetic variants that are associated with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) but not with psoriasis, in the largest study of PsA ever published.

Shade coffee is for the birds

Posted: 05 Feb 2015 05:29 AM PST

The conservation value of growing coffee under trees instead of on open farms is well known, but hasn't been studied much in Africa. So biolgists studied birds in the Ethiopian home of Arabica coffee and found that "shade coffee" farms are good for birds, but some species do best in forest.

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