Τρίτη, 29 Απριλίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News


The thin-crusted US Sierra Nevada Mountains: Where did the Earth go?

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 12:58 PM PDT

Scientist have examined the seismological study of the entire extent of the Sierra Nevada range using seismograms collected in the Sierra Nevada EarthScope field experiment from 2005 to 2007. The southern Sierra Nevada is known to have unusually thin crust for mountains with such high elevations (peaks higher than 4 km/14,000 ft, and average elevations near 3 km/10,000 ft). Scientists have used measurements of the arrival times of seismic waves (called P-waves) from earthquakes around the globe to image the earth under the Sierra Nevada and neighboring locations.

Scientists create circuit board modeled on the human brain

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 10:40 AM PDT

Scientists have developed faster, more energy-efficient microchips based on the human brain -- 9,000 times faster and using significantly less power than a typical PC. This offers greater possibilities for advances in robotics and a new way of understanding the brain. For instance, a chip as fast and efficient as the human brain could drive prosthetic limbs with the speed and complexity of our own actions.

Genetic mutations involved in human blood diseases identified

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 10:40 AM PDT

Mutations that could have a major impact on the future diagnosis and treatment of many human diseases have been revealed through new research. Through an international collaboration, researchers were able to identify a dozen mutations in the human genome that are involved in significant changes in complete blood counts and that explain the onset of sometimes severe biological disorders.

One cell type may quash tumor vaccines

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 10:37 AM PDT

Many cancer vaccines fail because the immune cells that would destroy the tumor are actively suppressed, researchers believe. Now they have found that a single cell type may be to blame for the suppression, paving the way to better cancer vaccine design. "The conventional wisdom is that the body knocks out all of the cells that can mount an immune response to the cancer," says the study's first author. "In fact, our work shows that it's only one cell type that is affected. But that cell, the T-helper cell, acts as the lynchpin."

Estimating baby's size gets more precise

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:14 AM PDT

New research aims to help doctors estimate the size of newborns with a new set of birth weight measurements based on birth records from across the country. Since birth size is often used as one indicator of a baby's health, these new thresholds may be useful for clinicians in making health care decisions. Researchers also may benefit from more precise estimates of birth size when investigating health outcomes at birth and later on in life.

Rare-earth-like magnetic properties in iron

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:14 AM PDT

Scientists have observed magnetic properties typically associated with those observed in rare-earth elements in iron. These properties are observed in a new iron based compound that does not contain rare earth elements, when the iron atom is positioned between two nitrogen atoms. The discovery opens the possibility of using iron to provide both the magnetism and permanence in high-strength permanent magnets, like those used in direct-drive wind turbines or electric motors in hybrid cars.

Smartphone sensors leave trackable fingerprints

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:14 AM PDT

Research has demonstrated that smartphone sensors -- not just the ones meant to track your location -- can leave real-time fingerprints unique to each individual device.

Wetlands likely to blame for atmospheric methane increases: Study

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:13 AM PDT

A surprising recent rise in atmospheric methane likely stems from wetland emissions, suggesting that much more of the potent greenhouse gas will be pumped into the atmosphere as northern wetlands continue to thaw and tropical ones to warm, according to a new international study. The study supports calls for improved monitoring of wetlands and human changes to those ecosystems.

Breast cancer patients place huge emphasis on gene expression profiling test

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:13 AM PDT

Gene expression profiling tests play a critical role when women with early-stage breast cancer decide whether to have chemotherapy, but many of them do not fully understand what some of the test results mean, new research suggests. Current guidelines for treating early-stage breast cancer result in thousands of women receiving chemotherapy without benefitting from it. A gene expression profiling test can help differentiate women who might benefit from chemotherapy versus those that might not.

Flexible battery, no lithium required: Lab creates thin-film battery for portable, wearable electronics

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:13 AM PDT

Scientists have created a thin, flexible film that combines the best qualities of batteries and supercapacitors. Chemists developed a flexible material with nanoporous nickel-fluoride electrodes layered around a solid electrolyte to deliver battery-like supercapacitor performance that combines the best qualities of a high-energy battery and a high-powered supercapacitor without the lithium found in commercial batteries today.

3-D printing technique for making cuddly stuff: Printer uses needle to turn layers of wool yarn into loose felt

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:13 AM PDT

A new type of 3D printer can turn wool and wool blend yarns into fabric objects that people enjoy touching. The device looks something like a cross between a 3D printer and a sewing machine and produces 3D objects made of a form of loose felt.

Kidney, liver transplantation from those with cancer history: Studies provide insight on quality of donations

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:13 AM PDT

The quality of kidney and liver donations is fundamentally important for the longevity of transplants and the health of recipients. "The findings of our research indicate that the perceived risk of certain organ donors to their recipients is likely to have been over-estimated. Organ donors with a history of certain types of cancers who are excluded from transplantation in fact pose very little risk of cancer transmission to their recipients," said a researcher. "These organs can be transplanted with very little risk to their recipients, resulting in significant improvement in the survival and health of the recipients."

Mechanism of cancer caused by loss of BRCA1, BRCA2 gene function identified

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 tumor suppressor genes are by far the most frequent contributors of hereditary cancer risk in the human population, often causing breast or ovarian cancer in young women of child-bearing age. Now investigators report a new mechanism by which BRCA gene loss may accelerate cancer-promoting chromosome rearrangements.

Urbanization, higher temperatures can influence butterfly emergence patterns

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

Researchers have found that a subset of common butterfly species are emerging later than usual in urban areas located in warmer regions, raising questions about how the insects respond to significant increases in temperature.

Beyond graphene: Controlling properties of 2-D materials

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

Researchers have shown how they can control the properties of stacks of two-dimensional materials, opening up opportunities for new, previously-unimagined electronic devices. The next step is to combine several of these crystals in a 3D stack. This way, one can create 'heterostructures' with novel functionalities -- capable of delivering applications as yet beyond the imagination of scientists and commercial partners.

Extremes in wet, dry spells increasing for South Asian monsoons, scholars say

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

Climate scientists and statisticians have found changing patterns in South Asian monsoons since 1980: more extreme wet and dry spells. In particular, the researchers observed increases in the intensity of wet spells and in the frequency of dry spells. The discoveries are the result of a new collaboration between climate scientists and statisticians that focused on utilizing statistical methods for analyzing rare geophysical events.

Loss of Y chromosome can explain shorter life expectancy, higher cancer risk for men

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

It is generally well known that men have an overall shorter life expectancy compared to women. A recent study shows a correlation between a loss of the Y chromosome in blood cells and both a shorter life span and higher mortality from cancer in other organs.

First disease-specific human embryonic stem cell line by nuclear transfer

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:11 AM PDT

Using somatic cell nuclear transfer, a team of scientists has created the first disease-specific embryonic stem cell line with two sets of chromosomes. "From the start, the goal of this work has been to make patient-specific stem cells from an adult human subject with type 1 diabetes that can give rise to the cells lost in the disease," said the leader of the research. "By reprograming cells to a pluripotent state and making beta cells, we are now one step closer to being able to treat diabetic patients with their own insulin-producing cells."

Egyptologists identify tomb of royal children

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:08 AM PDT

Who had the privilege to spend eternal life next to the pharaoh?  Close to the royal tombs in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings, excavations by Egyptologists have identified the burial place of several children as well as other family members of two pharaohs.

'Gaydar': Are women better at spotting one of their own?

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:08 AM PDT

Previous research has proven the 'gaydar' to be a real phenomenon. Reliable predictions of sexual orientation have been made simply by hearing a voice or seeing a face. A new article asks who has better gaydar? Lesbian women or straight?  The expectation was that lesbians due to their experience of choosing partners would be more tuned in to others orientation.  The authors conducted a study which revealed some thought-provoking insights into who has greater interpersonal sensitivity.

Potential new strategy to treat ovarian cancer discovered

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:08 AM PDT

A potential new strategy to treat ovarian cancer has been identified by researchers. Recently developed drugs have increased patient survival rates by targeting a tumor's blood vessels that supply essential nutrients and oxygen to cancer cells. However, many patients go on to develop resistance to these therapies and grow new blood vessels that spread the cancer again. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynaecological cancers, and since the majority of patients are diagnosed when the disease is at an advanced stage, prognosis is generally poor.

Water test for the world: Simple pill brings lab to water to test for contamination

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:07 AM PDT

The problem of cumbersome, painfully slow water-testing has been solved by researchers who have turned the process upside-down by creating a way to take the lab to the water, putting potentially life-saving technology into a tiny pill. The team has reduced the sophisticated chemistry required for testing water safety to a simple pill, by adapting technology found in a dissolving breath strip. Want to know if a well is contaminated? Drop a pill in a vial of water and shake vigorously. If the color changes, there's the answer.

Origin of Huntington's disease found in brain; insights to help deliver therapy

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:06 AM PDT

The gene mutation that causes Huntington's disease appears in every cell in the body, yet kills only two types of brain cells. Why? Scientists used a unique approach to switch the gene off in individual brain regions and zero in on those that play a role in causing the disease in mice. Their findings shed light on where Huntington's starts in the brain. It also suggests new targets and routes for therapeutic drugs to slow the devastating disease, which strikes an estimated 35,000 Americans.

The scent of a man: Gender of experimenter has big impact on rats' stress levels, explains lack of replication of some findings

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:06 AM PDT

Scientists' inability to replicate research findings using mice and rats has contributed to mounting concern over the reliability of such studies. Pain researchers have now found that the gender of experimenters has a big impact on the stress levels of rodents used in research. The presence of male experimenters produced a stress response in mice and rats equivalent to that caused by restraining the rodents for 15 minutes in a tube or forcing them to swim for three minutes. This stress-induced reaction made mice and rats of both sexes less sensitive to pain.

Paper-thin tablets and TV screens? How to create nanowires only three atoms wide with an electron beam

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 09:06 AM PDT

Scientists have used a focused beam of electrons to create some of the smallest nanowires ever made. The discovery gives a boost to efforts aimed at creating electrical circuits on mono-layered materials, raising the possibility of flexible, paper-thin tablets and television displays.

Crabs killing Northeast saltmarshes, study confirms

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:43 AM PDT

Ample new evidence has been provided that the reason coastal saltmarshes are dying from Long Island to Cape Cod is that hungry crabs, left unchecked by a lack of predators, are eating the cordgrass. Long-held beliefs that physical forces, rather than disrupted food webs, are killing the marshes just aren't true, experts say. It's a problem that, properly understood, must now be managed.

Determining biocontainers' carbon footprint

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:43 AM PDT

A study assessed material and energy inputs required to produce a petunia plant from propagation to delivery. Impacts were expressed in terms of the contribution to the carbon footprint (global warming potential) of a single finished plant. Although traditional plastic containers were 'significant contributors' to global warming potential, electrical consumption for supplemental lighting and irrigation during plug production was found to be the leading source of CO2e emissions in the model.

Strategic thinking strengthens intellectual capacity

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:42 AM PDT

Strategy-based cognitive training has the potential to enhance cognitive performance and spill over to real-life benefit according to a data-driven perspective article. The research-based perspective highlights cognitive, neural and real-life changes measured in randomized clinical trials that compared a gist-reasoning strategy-training program to memory training in populations ranging from teenagers to healthy older adults, individuals with brain injury to those at-risk for Alzheimer's disease.

Complications from kidney stone treatments are common, costly

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:42 AM PDT

Despite their overall low risk, procedures to treat kidney stones lead to complications that require hospitalization or emergency care for one in seven patients, according to researchers. These complications are costly. When complications occurred, they were least common following shock wave lithotripsy. Those treated with ureteroscopy, the second most common procedure, had slightly more unplanned visits, with 15 percent of patients.

18 new species of molluscs identified

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:42 AM PDT

A researcher has reviewed, from a molecular and morphological point of view, a family of marine gastropod molluscs, the Aeolidiidae nudibranch, and discovered eighteen new species. Molluscs are invertebrates that make up one of the most numerous groups in the animal kingdom. They are everywhere, from great heights of over 3,000 meters above sea level to ocean profundities of over 5,000 meters deep, in polar and tropical waters and they tend to be common elements on coastlines around the world.

System detects global trends in social networks two months in advance

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 06:42 AM PDT

A new method of monitoring identifies what information will be relevant on social networks up to two months in advance. This may help predict social movements, consumer reactions or possible outbreaks of epidemics, according to a study. The system works using just 50,000 Twitter accounts, predicting what will "go viral" across the entire Internet. It can be used in real time, about different topics, in different languages and geographical areas, thus allowing for different contexts to be covered.

Dipping blood sugars cause surprisingly irregular heart rhythms in diabetics

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:46 AM PDT

Dangerous overnight blood sugar levels often go undetected and cause prolonged periods of heart rhythm disturbances in older patients with Type 2 diabetes and associated heart problems, new research reveals. The findings could offer vital clues to the mechanism by which low blood sugar levels could contribute to life-threatening changes in heart rhythm, a major risk for patients with diabetes.

Collagen for the knee: Gel-like implant invented

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:46 AM PDT

Millions of people suffer cartilage damage to the knee every year. Cartilage injuries are not only painful; they can lead to osteoarthritis decades later. In the course of the disease, the protective shock absorbing cartilage that covers the bone within the joint slowly is removed until the bone is finally exposed, typically requiring an artificial joint replacement. A biotechnology company has developed a one-step minimally-invasive surgical procedure for the treatment of cartilage defects: a gel-like implant.

Whitefly confused by cacophony of smells

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:46 AM PDT

Bombarding pests with smells from many different plants temporarily confuses them and hinders their ability to feed, new research has shown. Exposing the whitefly to a heady aroma of cucumber, courgette, watercress, watermelon, cabbage and bean, the team found the insects became temporarily disorientated. Weaving their way between the plant cells to reach the sap is technically challenging and the team found the whiteflies failed to feed while they were being bombarded with the different plant chemicals.

Green clouds on the horizon for computing

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:46 AM PDT

Small businesses could save up to 62% of energy costs by switching to a cloud computing system for their invoicing, according to research. The approach of integrating cloud computing and a more environmentally-aware approach to information technology also cuts carbon emissions, the team reports, and could work with many other services.

Development in the womb: New insight on epigenetic influence on baby

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:46 AM PDT

Scientists have performed an analysis of epigenetic marks on DNA to measure how much a baby's development in the womb is determined by the genes inherited from the parents, as compared with the mother's nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. The baby's epigenetic profile was determined using infinium array technology and a million potential inherited genetic polymorphisms were measured. Epigenetics refers to the complex set of reactions that control the development and maintenance of plants and animals by switching parts of the DNA on and off at strategic times and locations.

Variable gene expression in zebrafish

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:44 AM PDT

Early embryonic development of vertebrates is controlled by the genes and their "grammar." Decoding this grammar might help understand the formation of abnormalities or cancer or develop new medical drugs. For the first time, it is now found by a study that various mechanisms of transcribing DNA into RNA exist during gene expression in the different development phases of zebrafish.

The Moroccan flic-flac spider: A gymnast among the arachnids

Posted: 28 Apr 2014 04:44 AM PDT

A spider expert has described a new species: Cebrennus rechenbergi. It is the only spider that is able to move by means of flic-flac jumps. The flic-flac spider uses its legs to create a rolling motion. Like a gymnast, it propels itself off the ground, followed by a series of rapid flic-flac movements of its legs.

Sexual conflict affects females more than males, says new research on beetles

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 04:13 PM PDT

Sexual conflict over mating impacts the parental care behavior and reproductive productivity of burying beetles, new research shows. These beetles have surprisingly complex parental care, similar in form to that provided by birds such as robins or blackbirds, with offspring begging to be fed by touching parents, who respond by regurgitating partially digested food. Both males and females provide parental care, but females are the primary care givers, as in humans. So anything that affects the ability of females to provide parental care, such as costly mating, is likely to reduce overall reproductive productivity.

Mite sets new record as world's fastest land animal

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 04:11 PM PDT

A Southern California mite far outpaces the Australian tiger beetle, the current record-holder for running speed as measured in body lengths per second. By this measure, the mite runs 20 times faster than a cheetah and the equivalent of a person running 1300 miles per hour. The discovery is exciting not only because it sets a new world record, but also for what it reveals about the physiology of movement and the physical limitations of living structures, the researcher says.

Discovery of novel gold-based superconductor

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 04:07 PM PDT

A novel superconductor, SrAuSi3, which contains gold as a principal constituent element has been synthesized by researchers. Up until now, research on superconductivity with broken spatial inversion symmetry has mostly focused on compounds that contain a relatively heavy element M, such as rhodium (Rh), iridium (Ir), and platinum (Pt). However, using a high-pressure synthesis method, the team successfully synthesized for the first time a compound with the same general chemical formula but using gold (Au), which is even heavier, as element M.

More speed, less interference: Computing, improving electromagnetic interference

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 04:07 PM PDT

As electronic components on electronic circuit boards continue to shrink, problems of electromagnetic compatibility are arising. Such problems include unwanted 'noise' effects due to electromagnetic interference and susceptibility. "Electromagnetic interference is a critical problem for the electronics industry," explains one researcher. A semi-analytical model recently developed can compute electromagnetic interference on an electronic circuit board ten times faster than existing commercial software, new research shows.

Zinc supplementation shows promise in reducing cell stress after blasts

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 03:51 PM PDT

Supplementation with zinc might reduce cell stress after the type of blast injury soldiers experience from IEDs, researchers say. Each year, approximately 2 million traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur in the USA, including with soldiers, with little more than ibuprofen to treat them. Results of a new study suggest that zinc supplementation reduces blast-induced cell stress.

Cartilage, made to order: Living human cartilage grown on lab chip

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 03:51 PM PDT

The first example of living human cartilage grown on a laboratory chip has been created by scientists. The researchers ultimately aim to use their innovative 3-D printing approach to create replacement cartilage for patients with osteoarthritis or soldiers with battlefield injuries. Osteoarthritis is marked by a gradual disintegration of cartilage, a flexible tissue that provides padding where bones come together in a joint. Causing severe pain and loss of mobility in joints such as knees and fingers, osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes of physical disability in the United States.

Can exercise help reduce methamphetamine use?

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 03:51 PM PDT

Exercise may help reduce methamphetamine use, researchers have concluded after a recent study. The abuse of amphetamine type psychomotor stimulants remains a critical legal and public health problem in the United States.

Novel drug cocktail may improve clinical treatment for pancreatic cancer

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 03:51 PM PDT

A potential combination therapy for pancreatic cancer that, when used in mice, is more effective than the chemotherapy drug traditionally used alone has been developed by researchers. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. and has the lowest overall survival rate of all major cancers (~6%).

Alcohol use in adolescence connected to risky behavior in adulthood

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 03:51 PM PDT

Teen drinking alters brain chemistry, suggesting early alcohol use has long-term effects on decision making, an animal study demonstrates. The findings could shed light on the development of alcohol and drug addiction. "In humans, the younger you are when you first experience alcohol, the more likely you are to experience problems with alcohol in adulthood," researchers say. The study bolsters the evidence that alcohol exposure early in life can have long-term effects on risk taking and decision making, which can increase a person's risk for substance abuse problems.

Fight memory loss with a smile (or chuckle)

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 03:51 PM PDT

The stress hormone cortisol can negatively affect memory and learning ability in the elderly. Researchers found that showing a 20-minute funny video to healthy seniors and seniors with diabetes helped them score better on memory tests and significantly reduced their cortisol levels when compared to non-video watchers.

Diet can predict cognitive decline, researchers say

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 09:10 AM PDT

Lower dietary consumption of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) might be risk factors for cognitive decline, researchers say. There is growing evidence that very long chain omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for maintaining cognitive health. "While more research is needed to determine whether intake of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and trout can help prevent against cognitive decline, our preliminary data support previous research showing that intake of these types of fish have health benefits," one researcher said.

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