Παρασκευή, 28 Μαρτίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Latest Science News

ScienceDaily: Latest Science News


First genome methylation mapping in fruit fly

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 11:24 AM PDT

The first mapping of genome methylation in the fruit-fly Drosophila melanogaster has been released by a team of scientists. This paper represents a major advance in the study of DNA methylation in insects. No previous study has succeeded in pinpointing the location of DNA methylation in the fly genome.

Mathematician releases 2014 Major League Baseball projections

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 11:24 AM PDT

As Opening Day rapidly approaches for most Major League Baseball teams, a professor has prepared his annual MLB projections for the upcoming season.

New way to filter light: May provide first directional selectivity for light waves

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 11:24 AM PDT

Light waves can be defined by three fundamental characteristics: their color (or wavelength), polarization, and direction. While it has long been possible to selectively filter light according to its color or polarization, selectivity based on the direction of propagation has remained elusive. But now, for the first time, researchers have produced a system that allows light of any color to pass through only if it is coming from one specific angle; the technique reflects all light coming from other directions.

Antidepressants during pregnancy linked to preterm birth

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 11:01 AM PDT

Antidepressant medications taken by pregnant women are associated with increased rates of preterm birth, research shows. This finding reinforces the notion that antidepressants should not be used by pregnant women in the absence of a clear need that cannot be met through alternative approaches, say researchers.

Cancer researchers find key protein link

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 11:00 AM PDT

A new understanding of proteins at the nexus of a cell's decision to survive or die has implications for researchers who study cancer and age-related diseases. Experiments and computer analysis of two key proteins revealed a previously unknown binding interface that could be addressed by medication.

Adult cancer drugs show promise against an aggressive childhood brain tumor

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 10:57 AM PDT

The quest to improve survival of children with a high-risk brain tumor has investigators to two drugs already used to treat adults with breast, pancreatic, lung and other cancers. Researchers demonstrated that the drugs pemetrexed and gemcitabine killed cells from mouse and human brain tumors, called group 3 medulloblastoma, growing in the laboratory. Medulloblastoma is diagnosed in about 400 children annually in the U.S., making it the most common pediatric brain tumor.

Biomarkers predict effectiveness of radiation treatments for cancer

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:37 AM PDT

The effectiveness of radiation treatments for patients with squamous cell cancer of the head and neck has been reviewed by an international team of researchers. They identified two biomarkers that were good at predicting a patient's resistance to radiation therapy. "While our findings are encouraging, and a step toward personalized medicine, we hope to do more of this research with a larger, randomized trial," the authors conclude.

Chronic stress in early life causes anxiety, aggression in adulthood, neurobiologists find

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:36 AM PDT

In experiments to assess the impacts of social stress upon adolescent mice, both at the time they are experienced and during adulthood, a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory team conducted many different kinds of stress tests and means of measuring their impacts. The research indicates that a 'hostile environment in adolescence disturbs psychoemotional state and social behaviors of animals in adult life,' the team says.

New guidance system could improve minimally invasive surgery

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:36 AM PDT

A computerized process that could make minimally invasive surgery more accurate and streamlined using equipment already common in the operating room has been developed by researchers.

Seasonal Arctic summer ice extent still hard to forecast, study says

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:36 AM PDT

Scientists analyzed 300 summer Arctic sea ice forecasts from 2008 to 2013 and found that forecasts are quite accurate when sea ice conditions are close to the downward trend that has been observed in Arctic sea ice for the last 30 years. However, forecasts are not so accurate when sea ice conditions are unusually higher or lower compared to this trend.

Controlling electron spins by light

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Topological insulators are considered a very promising material class for the development of future electronic devices. A research team has discovered, how light can be used to alter the physical properties of the electrons in these materials.

Four in 10 infants lack strong parental attachments

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:35 AM PDT

In a study of 14,000 US children, 40 percent lack strong emotional bonds -- what psychologists call 'secure attachment' -- with their parents that are crucial to success later in life, according to a new report. The researchers found that these children are more likely to face educational and behavioral problems.

Foraging bats can warn each other away from their dinners

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:35 AM PDT

A new call that some bats use to tell other foraging bats to 'back off' from bugs they've claimed for themselves has been identified by scientists. This sound, called a 'frequency-modulated bout,' warns other bats away from prey. The researchers are first to report this ultrasonic social call produced exclusively by flying, foraging male big brown bats, in a new article.

Inspiration linked to bipolar disorder risk

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:33 AM PDT

Inspiration has been linked with people at risk of developing bipolar disorder for the first time in a study. For generations, artists, musicians, poets and writers have described personal experiences of mania and depression, highlighting the unique association between creativity and bipolar disorder -- experiences which are backed up by recent research. But, until now, the specific links between inspiration -- the generation of ideas that form the basis of creative work -- and bipolar disorder has received little attention.

To grow or not to grow: A step forward in adult vertebrate tissue regeneration

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:33 AM PDT

The reason why some animals can regenerate tissues after severe organ loss or amputation while others, such as humans, cannot renew some structures has always intrigued scientists. In a study, a research group provided new clues to solve this central question by investigating regeneration in an adult vertebrate model: the zebrafish.

A Tale of Two Species: How woodrats keep to two species

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:31 AM PDT

A pair of new studies look at the surprising variety of factors that prevent two closely related species of woodrats from becoming a single hybrid species despite the existence of hybrid individuals where the two species come into contact. After finding that two closely related species could interbreed and produce hybrid offspring, scientists set out to determine why only 14 percent of the population in a "contact zone" had genetic signatures from both species.

'Mini heart' invented to help return venous blood

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:31 AM PDT

A new organ to help return blood flow from veins lacking functional valves has been invented in an American lab.

Potential Target for Treating Mitochondrial Disorders

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 09:31 AM PDT

Mitochondria are essential for proper cellular functions. Mitochondrial defects are often observed in a variety of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease, and are the hallmarks of a number of untreatable genetic mitochondrial disorders whose manifestations range from muscle weakness to organ failure. Scientists have identified a protein whose inhibition could hold the key to alleviating suffering caused by such disorders.

New function for important player in immune response uncovered

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:17 AM PDT

A new function of AID, a crucial enzyme for the immune response has been uncovered by researchers. The discovery helps explain a rare genetic disorder that causes an immunodeficiency syndrome. AID initiates a mechanism whereby a break occurs in the DNA, within the antibody genes, and a segment is removed. The free ends on either side of the removed fragment must be rejoined to repair the DNA strand and, thus, produce a new class of antibody.

Dynamics behind Arctic ecosystems revealed

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:17 AM PDT

Species such as the musk ox, Arctic fox and lemming live in the harsh, cold and deserted tundra environment. However, they have often been in the spotlight when researchers have studied the impact of a warmer climate on the countryside in the north. Until now, the focus has been concentrated on individual species, but an international team of biologists has now published an important study of entire food-web dynamics.

A more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, methane emissions will leap as Earth warms

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:17 AM PDT

New research indicates that for each degree that the Earth's temperature rises, the amount of methane entering the atmosphere from microorganisms dwelling in lake sediment and freshwater wetlands -- the primary sources of the gas -- will increase several times.

The first insects were not yet able to smell well: Odorant receptors evolved long after insects migrated from water to land

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:16 AM PDT

An insect's sense of smell is vital to its survival. Only if it can trace even tiny amounts of odor molecules is it is able to find food sources or avoid enemies. According to scientists, many proteins involved in the highly sensitive odor perception of insects emerged rather late in the evolutionary process.

Scientists watch nanoparticles grow: Analysis allows tailoring materials for switchable windows and solar cells

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:16 AM PDT

With DESY's X-ray light source PETRA III, scientists have observed the growth of nanoparticles live. The study shows how tungsten oxide nanoparticles are forming from solution. These particles are used for example for smart windows, which become opaque at the flick of a switch, and they are also used in particular solar cells.

Students on field course bag new spider species

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:16 AM PDT

As a spin-off of their Tropical Biodiversity course in Malaysian Borneo, a team of biology students discover a new spider species, build a makeshift taxonomy lab, write a joint publication and send it off to a major taxonomic journal. The new species Crassignatha danaugirangensis was named after the field center's idyllic setting at the Danau Girang oxbow lake.

UK health workers 'inadequately' trained to treat minority ethnic groups

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:15 AM PDT

UK health professionals are suffering from severe professional anxiety because they are being inadequately trained to treat minority ethnic groups – with their treatment often based on cultural stereotypes, research has found. Researchers have urged an overhaul of the system so health visitors are taught about different cultures. They have warned the current system could result in patients being treated incorrectly and increase the likelihood of inequality within society because of the lack of dialogue or understanding of different cultures.

Military men more distressed by sexual harassment than military women

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:15 AM PDT

Military men who are targets of frightening and threatening sexual harassment may experience more distress and work performance problems than military women who face the same treatment, according to research. "Men may be less likely to think they'll be sexually harassed, so it's a particularly strong violation of their expectations and that could result in stronger negative reactions," an author said of the situation.

Online gaming augments players' social lives, study shows

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:15 AM PDT

Online social behavior isn't replacing offline social behavior in the gaming community, new research shows. Instead, online gaming is expanding players' social lives. "Gamers aren't the antisocial basement-dwellers we see in pop culture stereotypes, they're highly social people," says the lead author of a paper. "This won't be a surprise to the gaming community, but it's worth telling everyone else. Loners are the outliers in gaming, not the norm."

People unwilling to swallow soda tax, size restrictions

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:15 AM PDT

Those hoping to dilute Americans' taste for soda, energy drinks, sweetened tea, and other sugary beverages should take their quest to school lunchrooms rather than legislative chambers, according to a recent study by media and health policy experts. Soda taxes and beverage portion size restrictions were unpalatable to the 1,319 U.S. adults questioned in a fall 2012 survey as part of a study.

Hubble sees Mars-bound comet sprout multiple jets

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:15 AM PDT

A new image of a comet at 353 million miles from Earth shows two jets of dust coming off the comet's nucleus in opposite directions.

Dying cells in fruit fly alert neighboring cells to protect themselves: As a result, neighbors become harder to kill

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:12 AM PDT

Cells usually self-destruct when irreparable glitches occur in their DNA. Programmed cell death, or apoptosis, helps insure that cells with damaged DNA do not grow and replicate to produce more mutated cells. Apoptosis thereby helps protect and insure the survival of the organism. Scientists now report that a dying Drosophila melanogaster larvae cell alerts neighboring cells that they are in danger of suffering a similar fate.

Natural plant compounds may assist chemotherapy

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Plant compounds present in carrots and parsley may one day support more effective delivery of chemotherapy treatments, new research has found. Specific plant compounds are able to inhibit transport mechanisms in the body that select what compounds are absorbed into the body, and eventually into cells. These same transport mechanisms are known to interfere with cancer chemotherapy treatment.

Dentist shortage bites California as more choose to practice out of state

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:15 AM PDT

A lingering recession, the elimination of Medicaid dental reimbursements and a glut of established dentists in wealthier, populated areas may be why more new dentists are practicing outside California, according to a new policy brief.

Immunotherapy approach to Alzheimer's studied in fly models

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:15 AM PDT

The results of using fly models to investigate passive immunotherapy to block amyloid-²42 peptides of amyloid plaques that damage the brain cells of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) are now presented by researchers. The scientists are investigating passive immunotherapy, one of the most promising approaches to blocking the amyloid-β42 (Aβ42) peptide, the main component of the amyloid plaques that damage the brain cells of patients with AD.

Gene mutations in flies, humans produce similar epilepsy syndromes

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:14 AM PDT

New findings that build on and expand a previous discovery that mutations in the 'prickle' gene in Drosophila were responsible for much more than merely altering the bristles on the fly's body to point them in the wrong direction are now presented by researchers.

Caffeinated fruit flies help identify potential genes affecting insecticide resistance

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:14 AM PDT

To understand genetic mechanisms underlying insecticide resistance, scientists employed fruit flies and caffeine, a stimulant surrogate for xenobiotics in lab studies on resistance. Crop pests are capable of outwitting the chemical compounds known as xenobiotics that are devised to kill them. This development of resistance to insecticides is a serious problem because it threatens crop production and thereby can influence the availability and costs of many foods as well as the economy.

Inherited muscle diseases: 'Sunday driver' gene headed the wrong way

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:14 AM PDT

Skeletal muscle cells with unevenly spaced nuclei, or nuclei in the wrong location, are telltale signs of inherited muscle diseases. Scientists now report on findings from research to determine what goes wrong during myogenesis, the formation and maintenance of muscle tissue, to produce these inherited muscle diseases.

DNA provides information on origins of yeast, helps evolutionaly biologists

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:14 AM PDT

A problem in evolutionary biology has been turned into a new tool to better understand phylogeny in closely related species. Resequencing ribosomal DNA in closely related yeast species has given them new information about the origins of modern yeast strains and a useful tool for evolutionary biologists.

Smoke-free air policies seem to protect the heart

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:08 AM PDT

Policies prohibiting tobacco smoking in workplaces and other public spaces may substantially improve public health by reducing heart disease and death, according to a new study on the impact of Michigan's statewide smoking ban. In their study, researchers found a statistically significant reduction in cardiovascular disease and death with related hospitalizations decreasing by 2.03 percent from 65,329 to 64,002.

Drug strengthens analgesic effect of opioids without increasing constipation

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:06 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a new drug that multiplies the analgesic effect of opioids (drugs for treating intense pain), without increasing constipation, one of the most common side-effects of these drugs, among which is morphine.

Ultra-thin light detectors: Metamaterials and quantum cascade structures combined for first time

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:06 AM PDT

A new, extremely thin kind of light detectors has been developed. Two very different technologies were combined for the first time: metamaterials and quantum cascade structures. Subtle interactions of electrons and light make them so valuable for technology: ultra-thin systems of semiconductor layers can turn electrical voltage into light. But they can also be used the other way around and serve as light detectors.

Data mining disaster: Computer technology can mine data from social media during disasters

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:06 AM PDT

Computer technology that can mine data from social media during times of natural or other disaster could provide invaluable insights for rescue workers and decision makers, according to scientists.

Record quantum entanglement of multiple dimensions: Two Schrödinger cats which could be alive, dead, or in 101 other states simultaneously

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:06 AM PDT

Scienitists have managed to create an entanglement of 103 dimensions with only two photons. The record had been established at 11 dimensions. The discovery could represent a great advance toward the construction of quantum computers with much higher processing speeds than current ones, and toward a better encryption of information.

Computing with slime: Logical circuits built using living slime molds

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:03 AM PDT

A future computer might be a lot slimier than the solid silicon devices we have today. Researchers have revealed details of logic units built using living slime molds, which might act as the building blocks for computing devices and sensors.

One gene, many tissues

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Genes are the "code" for building the biological elements that form an organism. The DNA that makes up genes contains the instructions to synthesize proteins, but it's wrong to think that, for a given gene, these instructions are always the same for all parts of the organisms. In actual fact, the gene varies depending on the tissue where it is located (cerebral cortex, cerebellum, olfactory epithelium, etc.); in particular, what varies is the point in the "string" of code at which protein synthesis starts.

Inspiring invention in primary school

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Inspiring primary school age children to think of themselves as inventors and to devise novel solutions to the problems around them was the aim of an educational experiment. In their experiment they provided teachers and pupils with the technology -- voice recorders and video equipment -- with which to record their everyday environment and to help them home in on the various problems they face in their lives. The primary school class was not only keen to seek out problems but provided several fanciful and occasionally practical solutions.

In mapping feat, scientists pinpoint neurons where select memories grow

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 07:01 AM PDT

Memories are difficult to produce, often fragile, and dependent on any number of factors -- including changes to various types of nerves. In the common fruit fly -- a scientific doppelganger used to study human memory formation—these changes take place in multiple parts of the insect brain. Scientists have now been able to pinpoint a handful of neurons where certain types of memory formation occur.

Gen X obesity a major problem for healthcare, workforce

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 06:59 AM PDT

If current trends continue, Australia's Generation X will overtake Baby Boomers for poor health, including rates of obesity and diabetes, which could have huge implications for healthcare and the workforce. Researchers compared the health status of Baby Boomers (born from 1946-1965) and Generation X (1966-1980) at the same age range of 25-44 years and found that Generation X had significantly poorer levels of self-rated health, and higher levels of obesity and diabetes compared with Boomers, with no real difference in physical activity between the two groups.

Mass participation experiment reveals how to create the perfect dream

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 06:27 PM PDT

Psychologists have announced the results of a two-year study into dream control. The experiment shows that it is now possible for people to create their perfect dream, and so wake up feeling especially happy and refreshed. Researchers also discovered that people's dreams were especially bizarre around the time of a full moon.

Targeting enforcement where needed most in Africa's heart of biodiversity

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 03:22 PM PDT

Scientists seeking a more efficient way of protecting the heart of Africa's wildlife -- the Greater Virunga Landscape -- have developed a method to make the most of limited enforcement resources, according to a new study.

Function of cancer-causing gene explored by researchers

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 03:22 PM PDT

Developmental biologists are discovering new roles for a specific gene known as Max's Giant Associated protein, or MGA. A little studied protein, MGA appears to control a number of developmental processes, and also may be connected to cancer development.

Canal between ears helps alligators pinpoint sound

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 03:22 PM PDT

Alligators can accurately pinpoint the source of sounds. But it wasn't clear exactly how they did it because they lack external auditory structures. A new study shows that the alligator's ear is strongly directional because of large, air-filled channels connecting the two middle ears. This configuration is similar in birds, which have an interaural canal that increases directionality.

Core skin bacterial community in humpback whales

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 03:22 PM PDT

Bacteria are invisible to the naked eye, but they reside on nearly every surface humans encounter -- including the skin. Uncovering the role these microorganisms play in human health is a major focus of research in skin microbiology, but little is known about the identity or function of skin bacteria in other mammals. Researchers have now identified a core skin bacterial community that humpback whales share across populations, which could point to a way to assess the overall health of these endangered marine mammals.

No correlation between medical marijuana legalization, crime increase: Legalization may reduce homicide, assault rates

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 03:20 PM PDT

A professor of criminology found that legalization of medical marijuana is not an indicator of increased crime. It actually may be related to reductions in certain types of violent crime. The study tracked crime rates across all 50 states between 1990 and 2006, when 11 states legalized marijuana for medical use: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Since the time period the study covered, 20 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical use.

Crows understand water displacement at the level of a small child: Show causal understanding of a 5- to 7-year-old child

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 03:20 PM PDT

New Caledonian crows may understand how to displace water to receive a reward, with the causal understanding level of a 5- to 7-year-old child. Understanding causal relationships between actions is a key feature of human cognition. However, the extent to which non-human animals are capable of understanding causal relationships is not well understood. Scientists used the Aesop's fable riddle -- in which subjects drop stones into water to raise the water level and obtain an out-of reach-reward -- to assess New Caledonian crows' causal understanding of water displacement.

Cuvier's beaked whales set new breath-hold diving records: Whales dive to nearly two miles depth, for over two hours

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 03:20 PM PDT

Scientists monitored Cuvier's beaked whales' record-breaking dives to depths of nearly two miles below the ocean surface and some dives lasted for over two hours.

Indian rhinoceroses: Reproductive tract tumors reduce female fertility in early stages

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 03:19 PM PDT

Reproduction of the Indian rhinoceros faces greater difficulties than was previously recognized. Researchers discovered that benign vaginal and cervical tumors cause infertility even in young females. This substantially affects breeding success in zoological gardens.

Bamboo-loving giant pandas also have a sweet tooth

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 03:19 PM PDT

Despite the popular conception of giant pandas as continually chomping on bamboo, new research reveals that this highly endangered species also has a sweet tooth. Behavioral and molecular genetic studies demonstrate that the panda possesses functional sweet taste receptors and shows a strong preference for natural sweeteners.

Autism begins in pregnancy, according to study: Cortical layers disrupted during brain development in autism

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 03:19 PM PDT

Researchers have published a study that gives clear and direct new evidence that autism begins during pregnancy. The researchers analyzed 25 genes in post-mortem brain tissue of children with and without autism. These included genes that serve as biomarkers for brain cell types in different layers of the cortex, genes implicated in autism and several control genes.

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