Τετάρτη, 23 Απριλίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News


Mantis shrimp stronger than airplanes: Composite material inspired by shrimp stronger than standard used in airplane frames

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 10:09 AM PDT

Inspired by the fist-like club of a mantis shrimp, researchers have developed a design structure for composite materials that is more impact resistant and tougher than the standard used in airplanes. The peacock mantis shrimp, or stomatopod, is a 4- to 6-inch-long rainbow-colored crustacean with a fist-like club that accelerates underwater faster than a 22-calibur bullet.

Neuroimaging Technique: Live from inside the cell in real-time

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 10:09 AM PDT

A novel imaging technique provides insights into the role of redox signaling and reactive oxygen species in living neurons, in real time. Scientists have developed a new optical microscopy technique to unravel the role of 'oxidative stress' in healthy as well as injured nervous systems.

How cells take out the trash

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 10:08 AM PDT

As people around the world mark Earth Day (April 22) with activities that protect the planet, our cells are busy safeguarding their own environment. To keep themselves neat, tidy and above all healthy, cells rely on a variety of recycling and trash removal systems. If it weren't for these systems, cells could look like microscopic junkyards -- and worse, they might not function properly.

For an immune cell, microgravity mimics aging

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:54 AM PDT

Telling someone to "act your age" is another way of asking him or her to behave better. Age, however, does not always bring improvements. Certain cells of the immune system tend to misbehave with age, leaving the elderly more vulnerable to illness. Because these cells are known to misbehave similarly during spaceflight, researchers are studying the effects of microgravity on immune cells to better understand how our immune systems change as we age.

First size-based chromatography technique for the study of livi

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

Using nanodot technology, researchers demonstrated the first size-based form of chromatography for studying the membranes of living cells. This unique physical approach to probing cellular membrane structures reveals critical information that can't be obtained through conventional microscopy.

Neurotics don't just avoid action: They dislike it, study finds

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

Neurotics don't just avoid taking action. By their very nature they dislike it. A study of nearly 4,000 college students in 19 countries has uncovered new details about why neurotic people may avoid making decisions and moving forward with life. Turns out that when they are asked if action is positive, favorable, good, they just don't like it as much as non-neurotics. Framing communication messages that get around this roadblock is a key to success communication with neurotic folks.

Applying math to biology: Software identifies disease-causing mutations in undiagnosed illnesses

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

A computational tool has successfully identified diseases with unknown gene mutations in three separate cases. Sequencing the genomes of individuals or small families often produces false predictions of mutations that cause diseases. But this study shows that a new unique approach allows it to identify disease-causing genes more precisely than other computational tools.

Fat metabolism in animals altered to prevent most common type of heart disease

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:10 AM PDT

Working with mice and rabbits, scientists have found a way to block abnormal cholesterol production, transport and breakdown, successfully preventing the development of atherosclerosis, the main cause of heart attacks and strokes and the number-one cause of death among humans. The condition develops when fat builds inside blood vessels over time and renders them stiff, narrowed and hardened, greatly reducing their ability to feed oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle and the brain.

Surface modification of titanium dioxide for photocatalytic degradation of hazardous pollutants under ordinary visible light

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:08 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a modified photocatalyst which is economical and effective at transforming organic pollutants into harmless end products. Photocatalytic degradation is one of the highly effective applications in transforming organic pollutants to harmless end products at ambient conditions using light and a photocatalyst.

Major advances in dye sensitized solar cells

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:07 AM PDT

Two groups of researchers have recently advanced the field of solar cells with a cheaper and efficient replacement for platinum and better synthesis of zinc oxide. Working on dye-sensitized solar cells -- researchers in Malaysia have achieved an efficiency of 1.12%, at a fraction of the cost compared to those used by platinum devices.

Unlocking secrets of new solar material

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:34 AM PDT

A new solar material that has the same crystal structure as a mineral first found in the Ural Mountains in 1839 is shooting up the efficiency charts faster than almost anything researchers have seen before -- and it is generating optimism that a less expensive way of using sunlight to generate electricity may be in our planet's future.

Wildlife response to climate change is likely underestimated, experts warn

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:34 AM PDT

Analyzing thousands of breeding bird surveys sent in by citizen scientists over 35 years, wildlife researchers report that most of the 40 songbird species they studied shifted either northward or toward higher elevation in response to climate change, but did not necessarily do both. This means that most previous studies of potential climate change impacts on wildlife that looked only at one factor or the other have likely underestimated effects.

Male health linked to testosterone exposure in womb, study finds

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:34 AM PDT

Men's susceptibility to serious health conditions may be influenced by low exposure to testosterone in the womb, new research suggests. Understanding why some men have less of the hormone than others is important because testosterone is crucial for life-long health. Low levels of the hormone have been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Brain size matters when it comes to animal self-control

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:34 AM PDT

Chimpanzees may throw tantrums like toddlers, but their total brain size suggests they have more self-control than, say, a gerbil or fox squirrel, according to a new study of 36 species of mammals and birds ranging from orangutans to zebra finches.

Life stressors trigger neurological disorders, researchers find

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:34 AM PDT

When mothers are exposed to trauma, illness, alcohol or other drug abuse, these stressors may activate a single molecular trigger in brain cells that can go awry and activate conditions such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and some forms of autism. Until now, it has been unclear how much these stressors have impacted the cells of a developing brain. Past studies have shown that when an expectant mother exposes herself to alcohol or drug abuse or she experiences some trauma or illness, her baby may later develop a psychiatric disorder later in life. But the new findings identify a molecular mechanism in the prenatal brain that may help explain how cells go awry when exposed to certain environmental conditions.

Speed-reading apps may impair reading comprehension by limiting ability to backtrack

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:34 AM PDT

To address the fact that many of us are on the go and pressed for time, app developers have devised speed-reading software that eliminates the time we supposedly waste by moving our eyes as we read. But don't throw away your books, papers, and e-readers just yet -- research suggests that the eye movements we make during reading actually play a critical role in our ability to understand what we've just read.

People pay more attention to upper half of field of vision, study shows

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

People pay more attention to the upper half of their field of vision, a study shows, a finding that could have ramifications for traffic signs to software interface design. "It doesn't mean people don't pay attention to the lower field of vision, but they were demonstrably better at paying attention to the upper field," the lead researcher says.

New design for mobile phone masts could cut carbon emissions

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

A breakthrough in the design of signal amplifiers for mobile phone masts could deliver a massive 200MW cut in the load on UK power stations, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by around 0.5 million tonnes a year. Researchers have designed an amplifier that works at 50 percent efficiency compared with the 30 percent now typically achieved.

Researchers identify a new variant of Ebola virus in Guinea

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

In a new article, researchers have published their initial findings on the characteristics of the Ebola virus discovered in Guinea. Initial virological investigations enabled them to identify Zaire ebolavirus as the pathogen responsible for this epidemic.

RNA shows potential as boiling-resistant anionic polymer material for nanoarchitectures

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

Nanotechnology researchers have discovered new methods to build boiling-resistant nanostructures and arrays using a new RNA triangle scaffold. These new RNA nanoarchitechtures can be used to form arrays with a controllable repeat number of the scaffold, resembling monomer units in a polymerization reaction. Their enhanced structural stability and controllability at the nano scale offer key advantages over traditional chemical polymers.

International team sequences rainbow trout genome

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

An international team of researchers has mapped the genetic profile of the rainbow trout, a versatile salmonid whose relatively recent genetic history opens a window into how vertebrates evolve. The investigators focused on the rate at which genes have evolved since a rare genome doubling event occurred in the rainbow trout approximately 100 million years ago.

Quantum simulators developed to study inaccessible physical systems

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:33 AM PDT

Quantum simulators recreate the behavior on a microscopic scale of biological and quantum systems and even of particles moving at the speed of light. The exact knowledge of these systems will lead to applications ranging from more efficient photovoltaic cells to more specific drugs. Researchers are working on the design of several of these quantum simulators so they can study the dynamics of complex physical systems.

Vacuum ultraviolet lamp of the future created

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:32 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a solid-state lamp that emits high-energy ultraviolet (UV) light at the shortest wavelengths ever recorded for such a device, from 140 to 220 nanometers. This is within the range of vacuum-UV light -- so named because while light of that energy can propagate in a vacuum, it is quickly absorbed by oxygen in the air.

High-performance, low-cost ultracapacitors built with graphene and carbon nanotubes

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 08:32 AM PDT

By combining the powers of two single-atom-thick carbon structures, researchers have created a new ultracapacitor that is both high performance and low cost. The device capitalizes on the synergy brought by mixing graphene flakes with single-walled carbon nanotubes, two carbon nanostructures with complementary properties.

Two genes linked to inflammatory bowel disease

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 07:01 AM PDT

Scientists have done what is believed to be the first direct genetic study to document the important function for the Ron receptor, a cell surface protein often found in certain cancers, and its genetic growth factor, responsible for stimulating cell growth, in the development and progression of inflammatory bowel disease.

iPad users explore data with their fingers: Kinetica converts tabular data into touch-friendly format

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 07:01 AM PDT

Spreadsheets may have been the original killer app for personal computers, but data tables don't play to the strengths of multi-touch devices such as tablets. So researchers have developed a visualization approach that allows people to explore complex data with their fingers. Called Kinetica, the proof-of-concept system for the Apple iPad converts tabular data, such as Excel spreadsheets, into colored spheres that respond to touch.

Child's autism risk accelerates with mother's age over 30

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 07:00 AM PDT

Older parents are more likely to have a child who develops an autism spectrum disorder than are younger parents. A recent study provides more insight into how the risk associated with parental age varies between mothers' and fathers' ages, and found that the risk of having a child with both autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability is larger for older parents.

Cloaked DNA nanodevices survive pilot mission

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 07:00 AM PDT

By mimicking a viral strategy, scientists have created the first cloaked DNA nanodevice that survives the body's immune defenses. Their success opens the door to smart DNA nanorobots that use logic to spot cancerous tissue and manufacture drugs on the spot to cripple it, as well as artificial microscopic containers called protocells that detect pathogens in food or toxic chemicals in drinking water.

Nanomaterial outsmarts ions: Novel types of electronic components made of graphene

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 07:00 AM PDT

Ions are an essential tool in chip manufacturing, but they can also be used to produce nano-sieves. A large number of electrons must be removed from the atoms for this purpose. Such ions either lose a large amount of energy or almost no energy at all as they pass through a membrane that measures one nanometer in thickness. Researchers report that this discovery is an important step towards developing novel types of electronic components made of graphene.

Like a hall of mirrors, nanostructures trap photons inside ultrathin solar cells

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 07:00 AM PDT

In the quest to make sun power more competitive, researchers are designing ultrathin solar cells that cut material costs. At the same time they're keeping these thin cells efficient by sculpting their surfaces with photovoltaic nanostructures that behave like a molecular hall of mirrors.

Bariatric surgery health benefits: Is it bile acids at work?

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 06:59 AM PDT

Bariatric surgery has positive effects not only on weight loss but also on diabetes and heart disease. Researchers have shown that the health benefits are not caused by a reduction in the stomach size but by increased levels of bile acids in the blood. These findings indicate that bile acids could be a new target for treating obesity and diabetes.

New way to enhance nerve growth following injury discovered

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:49 AM PDT

A mechanism to promote growth in damaged nerve cells as a means to restore connections after injury has been uncovered by scientists who have discovered a key molecule that directly regulates nerve cell growth in the damaged nervous system. "We made the surprising discovery that a protein called Retinoblastoma (Rb) is present in adult neurons," explains the lead researcher. "This protein appears to normally act as a brake -- preventing nerve growth."

First brain images of African infants enable research into cognitive effects of nutrition

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:49 AM PDT

Brain activity of babies in developing countries could be monitored from birth to reveal the first signs of cognitive dysfunction, researchers say. The cognitive function of infants can be visualized and tracked more quickly, more accurately and more cheaply using the method, called functional near infra-red spectroscopy (fNIRS), compared to the behavioral assessments Western regions have relied upon for decades.

How are we different and what gave us the advantage over extinct types of humans like the Neanderthals?

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:47 AM PDT

In parallel with modern man (Homo sapiens), there were other, extinct types of humans with whom we lived side by side, such as Neanderthals and the recently discovered  Denisovans of Siberia. Yet only Homo sapiens survived. What was it in our genetic makeup that gave us the advantage?

Tarantulas' personality determines whether they copulate with males or cannibalize them

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:47 AM PDT

Sexual cannibalism in spiders – the attack and consumption of males by females before or after copulation – is very widespread. A new investigation analyses the reason behind such extreme behavior, at times even before the females have ensured the sperm's fertilization of their eggs.

Red stars and big bulges: How black holes shape galaxies

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:46 AM PDT

The universe we can see is made up of thousands of millions of galaxies, each containing anywhere from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of billions of stars. Large numbers of galaxies are elliptical in shape, red and mostly made up of old stars. Another (more familiar) type is the spiral, where arms wind out in a blue thin disk from a central red bulge. On average stars in spiral galaxies tend to be much younger than those in ellipticals. Now a group of astronomers has found a (relatively) simple relationship between the color of a galaxy and the size of its bulge: the more massive the bulge, the redder the galaxy.

Solved: Mysteries of a nearby planetary system

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:46 AM PDT

Mysteries of one of the most fascinating nearby planetary systems now have been solved. A new study presents the first viable model for the planetary system orbiting one the first stars discovered to have planets - the star named 55 Cancri. Numerous studies since 2002 had failed to determine a plausible model for the masses and orbits of two giant planets located closer to 55 Cancri than Mercury is to our Sun. Astronomers had struggled to understand how these massive planets orbiting so close to their star could avoid a catastrophe such as one planet being flung into the star, or the two planets colliding with each other.

Higher solar-cell efficiency achieved with zinc-oxide coating

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 05:45 AM PDT

Researchers have achieved 14-percent efficiency in a 9-millimeter-square solar cell made of gallium arsenide. It is the highest efficiency rating for a solar cell that size and made with that material.

'Upside-down planet' reveals new method for studying binary star systems

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 06:13 PM PDT

What looked at first like a sort of upside-down planet has instead revealed a new method for studying binary star systems. Astronomers confirmed the first "self-lensing" binary star system -- one in which the mass of the closer star can be measured by how powerfully it magnifies light from its more distant companion star. Though our sun stands alone, about 40 percent of similar stars are in binary (two-star) or multi-star systems, orbiting their companions in a gravitational dance.

Today's Antarctic region once as hot as California, Florida

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 01:43 PM PDT

Parts of ancient Antarctica were as warm as today's California coast, and polar regions of the southern Pacific Ocean registered 21st-century Florida heat, according to scientists using a new way to measure past temperatures.

Earth Week: Bark beetles change Rocky Mountain stream flows, affect water quality

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 01:43 PM PDT

On Earth Week -- and in fact, every week now -- trees in mountains across the western United States are dying, thanks to an infestation of bark beetles that reproduce in the trees' inner bark. In Colorado alone, the mountain pine beetle has caused the deaths of more than 3.4 million acres of pine trees. What effect do all these dead trees have on stream flow and water quality? Plenty, according to new research findings reported this week.

Increased prevalence of celiac disease in children with irritable bowel syndrome

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 01:43 PM PDT

There appears to be an increased prevalence of celiac disease among children with irritable bowel syndrome. Recurrent abdominal pain affects 10 percent to 15 percent of school-aged children. The prevalence of celiac disease is as high as 1 percent in European countries and patients can present with a wide spectrum of symptoms, including abdominal pain, although the disease is often asymptomatic.

First Eurasians left Africa up to 130,000 years ago

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 01:42 PM PDT

Scientists have shown that anatomically modern humans spread from Africa to Asia and Europe in several migratory movements. The first ancestors of today's non-African peoples probably took a southern route through the Arabian Peninsula as early as 130,000 years ago, the researchers found.

Krypton used to accurately date ancient Antarctic ice

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 12:19 PM PDT

Scientists have successfully identified the age of 120,000-year-old Antarctic ice using radiometric krypton dating -- a new technique that may allow them to locate and date ice that is more than a million years old. This will allow them to reconstruct the climate much farther back into Earth's history and potentially understand the mechanisms that have triggered the planet to shift into and out of ice ages.

'Dustman' protein helps kill cancer cells

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 12:19 PM PDT

Cancer researchers have discovered a new 'dustman' role for a molecule that helps a drug kill cancer cells according to a study. The new findings point to a possible test that could identify patients who would be most responsive to a new class of cancer drugs and also those who might develop resistance, as well as suggesting new approaches to discovering more effective drugs.

Progress made in developing nanoscale electronics: New research directs charges through single molecules

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 11:54 AM PDT

Scientists are facing a number of barriers as they try to develop circuits that are microscopic in size, including how to reliably control the current that flows through a circuit that is the width of a single molecule. Chemical engineers have now figured out how to reliably control the current that flows through a circuit that is the width of a single molecule.

Taking the pulse of mountain formation in the Andes

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 10:59 AM PDT

Carmala Garzione, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester, explains that the Altiplano plateau in the central Andes -- and most likely the entire mountain range -- was formed through a series of rapid growth spurts. "This study provides increasing evidence that the plateau formed through periodic rapid pulses, not through a continuous, gradual uplift of the surface, as was traditionally thought," said one researcher. "In geologic terms, rapid means rising one kilometer or more over several millions of years, which is very impressive."

Lack of breeding threatens blue-footed boobies' survival

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 10:59 AM PDT

Blue-footed Boobies are on the decline in the Galápagos. A new study indicates numbers of the iconic birds, known for their bright blue feet and propensity to burst into dance to attract mates, have fallen more than 50 percent in less than 20 years. Scientists started noticing a strange trend at the Galápagos' 10 or so blue-footed booby breeding colonies in 1997. The colonies were simply empty. The researchers suspect a lack of sardines, a highly nutritious and easy to find source of food, is the culprit behind the birds' nose-diving population for a number of reasons.

Physicists push new Parkinson's treatment toward clinical trials

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 10:59 AM PDT

The most effective way to tackle debilitating diseases is to punch them at the start and keep them from growing. Research shows that a small 'molecular tweezer' keeps proteins from clumping, or aggregating, the first step of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease.

Computer-assisted accelerator design

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 07:23 AM PDT

Accelerator physicists are using custom designed software to create a 3-D virtual model of the electron accelerator physicists hope to build inside the tunnel currently housing the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Birthplace of the domesticated chili pepper identified in Mexico

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 06:39 AM PDT

Combining historical language and ecological information, as well as genetic and archaeological data, scientists have identified Central-east Mexico as the likely birthplace of the domesticated chili pepper.

More questions than answers as mystery of domestication deepens

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 06:37 AM PDT

New research on domestication raises more questions than it has answered. Scientists have outlined some of the key questions that have been raised about this pivotal event in human history.

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