Τετάρτη, 26 Μαρτίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Robotic arm probes chemistry of 3-D objects by mass spectrometry

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 01:44 PM PDT

A new robotic system could soon let scientists better simulate and analyze the chemical reactions of early Earth on the surface of real rocks to further test the theory that catalytic minerals on a meteorite's surface could have jump-started life's first chemical reactions.

Biologists use sound to identify breeding grounds of endangered whales

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 12:42 PM PDT

Biologists have confirmed what many conservationists fear -- that Roseway Basin, a heavily traveled shipping lane, off the coast of Nova Scotia, is a vital habitat area for the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Sensing gravity with acid: Scientists discover role for protons in neurotransmission

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 12:42 PM PDT

While probing how organisms sense gravity and acceleration, scientists uncovered evidence that acid (proton concentration) plays a key role in communication between neurons. Scientists discovered that sensory cells in the inner ear continuously transmit information on orientation of the head relative to gravity and low-frequency motion to the brain using protons as the key means of synaptic signal transmission.

New video-based teaching tool helps students learn animal-based lab work

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 11:31 AM PDT

For those beginning animal-based lab work, seeing a research procedure is by far the most effective method of learning. In "Model Organisms II," the Journal of Visualized Experiments, uses video to revolutionize the teaching of fundamental information and protocols on three common vertebrate model organisms—the mouse, the chick and the zebrafish.

Stink bug traps may increase damage to tomato fruits

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 09:15 AM PDT

Entomologists suggest that stink bug traps in the garden may actually increase stink bug damage to tomatoes. The researchers asked 15 gardeners to place stink bug traps at the ends of rows of tomatoes, while another group of 14 placed no traps in their gardens. Both groups experienced nearly the same amount of stink bugs on the tomato plants themselves, but the the abundance of stink bugs on the tomato fruits was marginally greater in the gardens with traps, and the fruits sustained significantly more injury than tomato fruits grown in gardens without traps.

Fewer children at risk for deficient vitamin D

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 08:33 AM PDT

Under new guidelines from the Institute of Medicine, the estimated number of children who are at risk for having insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D is drastically reduced from previous estimates, according to a study. The study found that under the new guidelines, 10.3 percent of children ages 6 to 18 are at risk of inadequate or deficient vitamin D levels, which translates to an estimated 5.5 million children.

MRI reveals genetic activity: Deciphering genes' roles in learning and memory

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 08:33 AM PDT

Doctors commonly use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose tumors, damage from stroke, and many other medical conditions. Neuroscientists also rely on it as a research tool for identifying parts of the brain that carry out different cognitive functions. Now, biological engineers are trying to adapt MRI to a much smaller scale, allowing researchers to visualize gene activity inside the brains of living animals.

Kids' books featuring animals with human traits lead to less learning of natural world

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 08:32 AM PDT

A new study has found that kids' books featuring animals with human characteristics not only lead to less factual learning but also influence children's reasoning about animals. Researchers also found that young readers are more likely to attribute human behaviors and emotions to animals when exposed to books with anthropomorphized animals than books depicting animals realistically.

Number of patients admitted with antibiotic-resistant infections is rising

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 08:32 AM PDT

The emergence of community-acquired infections, such as urinary tract infections, due to strains resistant to common antibiotics are on the rise, according researchers. This creates a challenge in a community or outpatient setting where oral antibiotics are used. Urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection in the body, accounting for about 8.1 million visits to healthcare providers each year.

Pesticides make the life of earthworms miserable

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 08:32 AM PDT

Pesticides are sprayed on crops to help them grow, but the effect on earthworms living in the soil under the plants is devastating, new research reveals. The worms only grow to half their normal weight and they do not reproduce as well as worms in fields that are not sprayed, a research team reports after having studied earthworms that were exposed to pesticides over generations.

Mars-mimicking chamber explores habitability of other planets

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 08:29 AM PDT

A research team in Spain has the enviable job of testing out new electromechanical gear for potential use in future missions to the Red Planet. They do it within their Mars environmental simulation chamber, which is specially designed to mimic conditions on the fourth planet from the sun -- right down to its infamous Martian dust.

Catheter innovation destroys dangerous biofilms

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 07:27 AM PDT

A new design that could help eliminate the threat of infection from millions of urinary catheters has been developed by engineers. The dual-channel design uses a mechanical method to uproot biofilms from their moorings so that they can easily be flushed away. About half of the time, the interior of long-term urinary catheters become plagued by biofilms -- structures formed by colonies of bacteria that are extremely difficult to kill. Once established, it is only a matter of time before the biofilm becomes a welcoming host for other, more dangerous bacteria or begins to choke urine drainage, causing leakage -- or even trauma to the patient's body.

Predicting climate: Researchers test seasonal-to-decadal prediction

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 07:20 AM PDT

Researchers are exploring the potential for seasonal to decadal climate prediction. Seasonal-to-decadal prediction is now being tested with an advanced initialization method that has proven successful in weather forecasting and operational oceanography.

Replacing insulin through stem cell-derived pancreatic cells under the skin

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 07:03 AM PDT

A newly created method of placing stem cell-derived pancreatic cells in capsules under the skin to replace insulin is tested in diabetic disease models. The method is successful without producing likely complications. The study confirms the viability of combining stem cells and 'encapsulation' technology to treat insulin-dependent diabetes.

'Glue' holding together skin cells, other epithelial tissue more active than realized

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 07:02 AM PDT

Researchers report the first evidence in living organisms that adherens junctions, the 'glue' between cells, actively respond to mechanical cues by remodeling their position and intensity, which in turn restructures the cells. These junctions are responsible for maintaining the shape and integrity of the sheets of epithelial cells that line such body cavities as the digestive tract, as well as the surfaces of structures such as the heart.

Missing hybrid incompatibility gene may help unlock Darwin's 'mystery of mysteries'

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 07:02 AM PDT

To unlock the 'mystery of mysteries,' seven scientists at four institutions have collaborated to uncover the missing gene responsible for the best-studied case of hybrid incompatibility, the cross between the fruit flies Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans.

Small peptides as potential antibiotics

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 06:58 AM PDT

Small peptides attack bacteria in many different ways and may well become a new generation of antibiotics. Biologists have been researching how such peptides kill bacterial cells.

Paleontologists assemble giant turtle bone from fossil discoveries made centuries apart

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 06:58 AM PDT

A broken fossil turtle bone discovered by an amateur paleontologist in 2012 turned out to be the missing half of a bone first described in 1849. The surprising puzzle discovery has led paleontologists to revise conventional wisdom of how long fossils can survive exposed to surface conditions. It also provides insight into one of the largest turtle species ever known.

Inbreeding in woolly mammoths: Neck rib provide clues about decline and eventual extinction

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 06:58 AM PDT

Researchers recently noticed that the remains of woolly mammoths from the North Sea often possess a 'cervical' (neck) rib -- in fact, 10 times more frequently than in modern elephants (33.3 percent versus 3.3 percent). In modern animals, these cervical ribs are often associated with inbreeding and adverse environmental conditions during pregnancy. If the same factors were behind the anomalies in mammoths, this reproductive stress could have further pushed declining mammoth populations towards ultimate extinction.

Technofossils: Unprecedented legacy left behind by humans

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 06:48 AM PDT

Scientists suggest that the fossil impact humans have made on the planet is vast and unprecedented in nature -- and that there's been nothing remotely like it since the Earth formed, over four and half billion years ago. The researchers argue that, like dinosaurs, who left their bones and footprints behind for future generations to discover, humans will also leave a footprint behind -- one made up of material goods unique to humankind that are so different from anything else produced by animals in the history of Earth that they deserve their own name: technofossils.

Causes and consequences of global climate warming 56 million years ago

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 06:48 AM PDT

Scientists have ruled out the hypothesis that the fall in sea level was responsible for unleashing global warming 56 million years ago. he growing and justified concern about the current global warming process has kindled the interest of the scientific community in geological records as an archive of crucial information to understand the physical and ecological effects of ancient climate changes.

Missing hormone in birds: Leptin found in mallard duck, peregrine falcon and zebra finch

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 03:42 PM PDT

How does the Arctic tern (a sea bird) fly more than 80,000 miles in its roundtrip North Pole-to-South Pole migration? How does the Emperor penguin incubate eggs for months during the Antarctic winter without eating? These physiological gymnastics would usually be influenced by leptin, the hormone that regulates body fat storage, metabolism and appetite. However, leptin has gone missing in birds -- until now.

Shock-absorbing 'goo' discovered in bone

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 12:40 PM PDT

New findings show that much of the mineral from which bone is made consists of 'goo' trapped between tiny crystals, allowing movement between them. It is this flexibility that stops bones from shattering. Latest research shows that the chemical citrate -- a by-product of natural cell metabolism -- is mixed with water to create a viscous fluid that is trapped between the nano-scale crystals that form our bones. This fluid allows enough movement, or 'slip', between these crystals so that bones are flexible, and don't shatter under pressure. It is the inbuilt shock absorber in bone that, until now, was unknown.

Molecular clue to complex mystery of auxin signaling in plants

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 12:39 PM PDT

Plants fine-tune the response of their cells to the potent plant hormone auxin by means of large families of proteins that either step on the gas or put on the brake in auxin's presence. Scientists have learned that one of these proteins, a transcription factor, has an interaction region that, like a button magnet, has a positive and negative face. Because of this domain, the protein can bind two other proteins or even chains of proteins arranged back-to-front.

Identifying gene-enhancers: New technique

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 11:54 AM PDT

A new technique for identifying gene enhancers -- sequences of DNA that act to amplify the expression of a specific gene -- in the genomes of humans and other mammals has been developed. Called SIF-seq, this new technique complements existing genomic tools, such as ChIP-seq, and offers additional benefits.

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