Πέμπτη, 15 Μαΐου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

Novel blood test may help predict impending preterm birth

Posted: 14 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

A blood-based diagnostic test accurately predicted whether 70 percent of female study participants with threatened preterm labor would or would not give birth prematurely.

Environmental conditions may impact bird migration

Posted: 14 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

Wind conditions during spring migration may be a predictor of apparent annual survival and the timing of breeding in yellow warblers. Migratory birds play a critical role in the ecosystem, pollinating plants, dispersing seeds, and consuming insects and small mammals. Yellow warblers breed in western Canada and overwinter in Mexico, making them difficult to study during all stages of their annual cycle. Scientists found that of the climatic models tested, wind speeds on migration best predicted apparent annual adult survival, male arrival date at the breeding site, female egg laying, and annual productivity.

First diplodocid sauropod from South America found

Posted: 14 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

The discovery of a new sauropod dinosaur species, Leinkupal laticauda, found in Argentina may be the first record of a diplodocid from South America and the youngest record of Diplodocidae in the world.

Study sheds light on penguins first year far from home

Posted: 14 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

In the first study of its kind, scientists tracked penguins first year away from home and found young king penguins explored new habitat, eventually learning to find food similarly to their parents.

MAVEN solar wind ion analyzer will look at key player in Mars atmosphere loss

Posted: 14 May 2014 01:54 PM PDT

This past November, NASA launched the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission in the hope of understanding how and why the planet has been losing its atmosphere over billions of years.

Antidepressant may slow Alzheimer's disease

Posted: 14 May 2014 11:23 AM PDT

A commonly prescribed antidepressant can reduce production of the main ingredient in Alzheimer's brain plaques, according to new research. The findings, in mice and people, support preliminary studies that evaluated a variety of antidepressants. Brain plaques are tied closely to memory problems and other cognitive impairments caused by Alzheimer's disease. Stopping plaque buildup may halt the disastrous mental decline caused by the disorder.

Advance brings 'hyperbolic metamaterials' closer to reality

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:34 AM PDT

Researchers have taken a step toward practical applications for 'hyperbolic metamaterials,' ultra-thin crystalline films that could bring optical advances including powerful microscopes, quantum computers and high-performance solar cells.

New smart coating could make oil-spill cleanup faster and more efficient

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:34 AM PDT

In the wake of recent off-shore oil spills, and with the growing popularity of 'fracking' -- in which water is used to release oil and gas from shale -- there's a need for easy, quick ways to separate oil and water. Now, scientists have developed coatings that can do just that. Their research could also stop surfaces from getting foggy and dirty.

By itself, abundant shale gas unlikely to alter climate projections

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:34 AM PDT

A policy analysis finds that if natural gas is abundant and less expensive, it will encourage greater consumption of gas and less of coal, renewables and nuclear power. The net effect on the climate will depend on whether the greenhouse gas emissions from producing and consuming natural gas -- including carbon dioxide and methane – are lower or higher than emissions avoided by reducing the use of other energy sources.

California mountains rise as groundwater depleted in state's Central Valley: May trigger small earthquakes

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:34 AM PDT

The weight of water pumped from California's agricultural heartland, the Central Valley, over the past 150 years is enough to allow Earth's crust to rebound upward, raising surrounding mountain ranges, the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges, some six inches. Winter rains and summer pumping cause annual up and down movements that could affect earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault, which parallels the ranges.

Dangerous storms: Hurricanes peaking further north, typhoons further south, than in past

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:34 AM PDT

Powerful, destructive tropical cyclones are now reaching their peak intensity farther from the equator and closer to the poles, according to a new study. The results of the study show that over the last 30 years, tropical cyclones -- also known as hurricanes or typhoons -- are moving poleward at a rate of about 33 miles per decade in the Northern Hemisphere and 38 miles per decade in the Southern Hemisphere.

How gut bacteria regulate weight gain: Study provides further understanding

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Gut bacteria communicate with their host to specifically regulate weight gain and serum cholesterol levels, new research has found. The research has implications for the rational selection and design of probiotics for the control of obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. "Recent work by other groups has shown that bile acids act as signalling molecules in the host, almost like a hormonal network, with an ability to influence host metabolism. What we have done is to show that a specific mechanism exists by which bacteria in the gut can influence this process with significant consequences for the host," commented one researcher.

Hope for normal heart function in children with fatal heart disease

Posted: 14 May 2014 10:29 AM PDT

After two decades of arduous research, an investigator has published a new study showing that many children with an often fatal type of heart disease can recover "normal size and function" of damaged sections of their hearts. The finding clearly demonstrates that nearly one-fourth of children treated for "idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy," or DCM, when these children with DCM become symptomatic by developing congestive heart failure) can be expected to fully recover normal size and function of left-ventricular (LV) heart muscle fibers within about two years of diagnosis.

New approach to treating peanut and other food allergies

Posted: 14 May 2014 08:17 AM PDT

These days, more and more people seem to have food allergies, which can sometimes have life-threatening consequences. Scientists now report the development of a new type of flour that someday could be used in food-based therapies to help people better tolerate their allergy triggers, including peanuts.

To wilt or not to wilt: Plant hormone abscisic acid underlies plant-water relations

Posted: 14 May 2014 08:17 AM PDT

Plant stomata play a role in water loss and carbon dioxide uptake from leaves. A researcher has found that the plant hormone abscisic acid underlies the differences in certain critical features of plant-water relations. These plant-water relations include control of water loss through the stomata and aspects of restoration of water uptake after the plant has been dehydrated -- in other words, whether the plant will wilt or not.

Widely used drug no more effective than FDA approved medication in treating epileptic seizures

Posted: 14 May 2014 08:17 AM PDT

Lorazepam -- a widely used but not yet Food and Drug Administration approved drug for children -- is no more effective than an approved benzodiazepine, diazepam, for treating pediatric status epilepticus, a study shows. Status epilepticus is a state in which the brain is in a persistent state of seizure. By the age of 15, 4 to 8 percent of children experience a seizure episode, which can be life threatening if they aren't stopped immediately.

Over 100 new species discovered by team in drive to document biodiversity

Posted: 14 May 2014 08:16 AM PDT

A 5-million-year-old saber-toothed cat, the world's oldest grape and a bizarre hermit crab were among more than 100 new species discovered by a team of scientists last year. Driven in part by the urgency to document new species as natural habitats and fossil sites decline due to human influences, researchers described 16 new genera and 103 new species of plants and animals in 2013, with some research divisions anticipating higher numbers for 2014.

Quantum tunneling and the Aharonov-Bohm effect

Posted: 14 May 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Although quantum tunneling has been observed on large scales, no one has yet actually measured the tunneling of a single particle until now. Physicists report using an ion trap system to observe the Aharonov-Bohm effect with quantum tunneling. The AB effect demonstrates that a magnetic field inside a confined region can have a measureable impact on a charged particle which never traveled inside the region.

Caribbean clingfish: Tiny, tenacious and tentatively toxic

Posted: 14 May 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Sometimes we think we know everything about something only to find out we really don't, said a biologist studying tiny fish. Scientists comparing a new clingfish to known ones discovered a new species, and made an important finding about a group of well-studied fish at the same time. They discovered a venom gland that had been missed until now.

Simplifying an ultrafast laser offers better control

Posted: 14 May 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a new concept offering a simpler laser design, control over new parameters, and excellent performance potential. Called 'frequency domain optical parametric amplification,' the concept supersedes traditional time domain amplification schemes that have been the linchpin of ultrafast laser science for 20 years.

New Zealand sea lion is a relative newcomer

Posted: 14 May 2014 07:03 AM PDT

The modern New Zealand sea lion is a relative newcomer to the mainland, replacing a now-extinct, unique prehistoric New Zealand sea-lion that once lived here, according to a new study. A team of biologists estimates that this prehistoric mainland sea-lion population became extinct as recently as 600 years ago, and was then replaced by a lineage previously limited to the waters of the cold subantarctic.

Extinct relative helps to reclassify the world's remaining two species of monk seal

Posted: 14 May 2014 07:03 AM PDT

The recently extinct Caribbean monk seal was one of three species of monk seal in the world. Its relationship to the Mediterranean and Hawaiian monk seals, both living but endangered, has never been fully understood. Through DNA analysis and skull comparisons scientists have now clarified the Caribbean species' place on the seal family tree and created a completely new genus.

Microchip-like technology allows single-cell analysis

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:46 AM PDT

A system similar to random access memory chips that allows the fast, efficient control and separation of individual cells has been developed by engineers. Once scaled up, the technology promises to sort and store hundreds of thousands of cells in a matter of minutes, enabling biologists to study vast arrays of single cells.

Early menopause increases heart failure risk, especially for smokers

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:46 AM PDT

Women who go through menopause early -- at ages 40 to 45 -- have a higher rate of heart failure, according to a new study. Smoking, current or past, raises the rate even more. The authors' analysis of the data showed that women who went through menopause naturally at this early age had a rate of heart failure some 40% higher than women who went through menopause the usual age between 50 and 54. (The average is 51.) And for every one-year increase in age at menopause, the rate of heart failure was 2% lower.

Mobile phone data helps combat malaria

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:45 AM PDT

Mobile phone data has been used in a study in Namibia to help combat malaria more effectively. The study used anonymized mobile records to measure population movements within Namibia in Africa over the period of a year (2010-11). By combining this data with information about diagnosed cases of malaria, topography and climate, the researchers have been able to identify geographical 'hotspots' of the disease and design targeted plans for its elimination.

Unified superconductors: Single theoretical model of superconductivity for many materials

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:45 AM PDT

Superconductors are promising materials, with applications ranging from medicine to transport. Unfortunately, though, their use is for the time being limited to the very low temperatures (close to absolute zero) necessary for superconductivity to occur. Some materials, however, could be improved so as to obtain higher and energetically less "costly" critical temperatures. Scientists have now investigated a class of conductors at high critical temperature, adding insight into the physics of these phenomena.

Turtle migration directly influenced by drift experiences with ocean currents as hatchlings

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:45 AM PDT

New research has found that adult sea-turtle migrations and their selection of feeding sites are directly influenced by their past experiences as little hatchlings adrift in ocean currents. When they breed, adult sea turtles return to the beach where they were born. After breeding, adult sea turtles typically migrate several hundreds to thousands of kilometres to their feeding habitats. However, there has been little information about how turtles chose their feeding sites.

How orchid bees find their personal scent, attract mates

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:45 AM PDT

A fragrant perfume has brought many a man and many a woman together. Orchid bees, too, appear to rely on scent when it comes to choosing a partner. In the course of their lives, the males compile a species-specific bouquet that they store in the pockets on their hind legs. One day, they release it in order to attract the female, assumes a biologist who studies the flying perfume aficionados' collecting behavior.

Magnetar formation mystery solved? Supernova explosions and dizzying spins in a binary system

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:45 AM PDT

Magnetars are the bizarre super-dense remnants of supernova explosions. They are the strongest magnets known in the universe — millions of times more powerful than the strongest magnets on Earth. Astronomers now believe they've found the partner star of a magnetar for the first time. This discovery helps to explain how magnetars form — a conundrum dating back 35 years — and why this particular star didn't collapse into a black hole as astronomers would expect.

Strongly interacting electrons in wacky oxide synchronize to compute like the brain

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:43 AM PDT

A new type of computing architecture that stores information in the frequencies and phases of periodic signals could work more like the human brain to do computing using a fraction of the energy of today's computers.

Primates and patience: Evolutionary roots of self control

Posted: 13 May 2014 05:46 PM PDT

Some primate species will wait more than two minutes if they know they will get a larger serving of food -- while others are unable to wait more than a few seconds. A new study probes the evolutionary reasons for the difference.

Ancient giant sperm from tiny shrimps discovered at Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil Site

Posted: 13 May 2014 05:46 PM PDT

Preserved giant sperm from tiny shrimps that lived about 17 million years ago have been discovered in Queensland, Australia. They are the oldest fossilized sperm ever found in the geological record. The shrimps lived in a pool in an ancient cave inhabited by thousands of bats, and the presence of bat droppings in the water could help explain the almost perfect preservation of the fossil crustaceans.

Repeat bowel cancer surgery: First trial restored under new initiative casts doubt

Posted: 13 May 2014 04:05 PM PDT

A trial that remained unpublished for 20 years casts doubt on the survival benefit of repeat -- 'second look' -- surgery for bowel cancer. Experts say the new evidence "should fuel uncertainty about present day second look surgery for colorectal cancer in its various forms and hope that it will give some encouragement to undertake the randomized trials that are needed."

Patients most in need of the vaccine against shingles don't get it 

Posted: 13 May 2014 04:05 PM PDT

People at the highest risk of shingles are those with immunosuppressive conditions -- such as HIV -- but they are not entitled to vaccination due to safety concerns, suggests research. Researchers say alternative strategies are needed to reduce the risk of shingles among these patient groups. Shingles is a common disease among older individuals which causes an acute painful rash and can lead to a complication resulting in pain lasting from months to years that can significantly impair a person's quality of life.

Role of calcium in familial Alzheimer's disease clarified, pointing to new therapeutics

Posted: 13 May 2014 02:52 PM PDT

Mutations in two presenilin proteins associated with familial Alzheimer's disease disrupt the flow of calcium ions within neurons. Researchers have found that suppressing the hyperactivity of the calcium channels alleviated FAD-like symptoms in mice models of the disease. These new observations suggest that approaches based on modulating calcium signaling could be explored for new AD therapies.

Pretreatment snack improves uptake of schistosomiasis treatment in schoolchildren

Posted: 13 May 2014 02:52 PM PDT

Provision of a snack before mass treatment of schistosomiasis with praziquantel leads to increased uptake of treatment in school-aged children in Uganda, according to a new study. Scientists found that 93.9 percent of children reported taking praziquantel in schools that offered a snack before treatment compared with 78.7 percent of children in schools that did not offer a snack.

Sustaining northern hardwood forests: Are we doing what we think we're doing?

Posted: 13 May 2014 02:50 PM PDT

There's an established, accepted and effective system for sustainable management of northern hardwood forests. The only thing is, although they give lip service, almost no one is using it. The researchers spoke with forest managers, almost all of whom claimed that production of high quality timber and revenue was their primary management objective. Yet the way they were managing their forests did not reflect the recommended guideline.

Large increase seen in emergency departments visits for traumatic brain injury

Posted: 13 May 2014 01:17 PM PDT

Between 2006 and 2010, there was a nearly 30 percent increase in the rate of visits to an emergency department for traumatic brain injury, which may be attributable to a number of factors, including increased awareness and diagnoses, according to a study. In the last decade, traumatic brain injury (TBI) garnered increased attention, including public campaigns and legislation to increase awareness and prevent head injuries.

Football: Concussions, years of play related to brain differences, especially in areas linked to memory

Posted: 13 May 2014 01:17 PM PDT

College football players with and without a history of concussions have less volume in the hippocampal region of the brain that relates to memory and emotion, according to a new study. Moreover, the number of years of playing experience was inversely related to hippocampal volume and reaction time.

Effectiveness of medications to treat alcohol use disorders examined

Posted: 13 May 2014 01:17 PM PDT

An analysis of more than 120 studies that examined the effectiveness of medications to treat alcohol use disorders reports that acamprosate and oral naltrexone show the strongest evidence for decreasing alcohol consumption, according to a study. Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are common, cause substantial illness, and result in 3-fold increased rates of early death. Treating AUDs is difficult, but may be aided by medications, although only a small percentage (<10 percent) of patients with AUDs receive medications to assist in reducing alcohol consumption.

Complex interplay between alcohol, social behavior illuminated by fish study

Posted: 13 May 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Research is helping unravel the complex interplay between alcohol and social behavior. In what may be the first experiment to allow ethanol-exposed and untreated zebrafish to swim freely together, those exposed to certain alcohol concentrations nearly doubled their swimming speeds when in a group --suggesting that the presence of peers substantially impacts social behavior. Most remarkably, unexposed fish modulated their behavior in the presence of a shoalmate exposed to alcohol.

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