Τετάρτη, 18 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Latest Science News

ScienceDaily: Latest Science News


What amino acids in shells can tell us about Bronze Age people

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 02:08 PM PDT

A new study has shed new light on the use of mollusc shells as personal adornments by Bronze Age people. The research team used amino acid racemisation analysis (a technique used previously mainly for dating artefacts), light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy, to identify the raw materials used to make beads in a complex necklace discovered at an Early Bronze Age burial site at Great Cornard in Suffolk, UK.

Move over, silicon, there's a new circuit in town

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 01:43 PM PDT

When it comes to electronics, silicon will now have to share the spotlight. Scientists have now overcome a major issue in carbon nanotube technology by developing a flexible, energy-efficient hybrid circuit combining carbon nanotube thin film transistors with other thin film transistors. This hybrid could take the place of silicon as the traditional transistor material used in electronic chips, since carbon nanotubes are more transparent, flexible, and can be processed at a lower cost.

Former athletes finish first in race for top jobs

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 01:42 PM PDT

Whether you were a quarterback or point guard, past participation in competitive team sports marks you as a winner in the competition for better jobs, according to a new study. People who played a varsity high school sport are expected to be more self-confident, have more self-respect, and demonstrate more leadership than people who were part of other extracurricular activities.

Why species matter: Underlying assumptions and predictive ability of functional-group models used to study seabed communities

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 11:48 AM PDT

A doctoral candidate travels to French Polynesia often but not for vacation. She goes there to study a coral reef ecosystem influenced by human impacts such as overfishing and nutrient pollution. Her work focuses not only on biological changes but also methods scientists use to determine within-group group responses to ecological processes.

Dynamic duo: 2-D electronic-vibrational spectroscopy technique provides unprecedented look into photochemical reactions

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 11:48 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a new technique called two-dimensional electronic-vibrational spectroscopy that can be used to study the interplay between electrons and atomic nuclei during a photochemical reaction. Photochemical reactions are critical to a wide range of natural and technological phenomena, including photosynthesis, vision, nanomaterials and solar energy.

Barriers to obtaining gene expression profiling test heightened perceived value

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 11:48 AM PDT

Barriers to obtaining gene expression profiling tests heightened their perceived importance among patients with early breast cancer who were deciding whether to have chemotherapy, a new study says. Gene expression profiling tests, such as Oncotype Dx, analyze the patterns of 21 different genes within cancer cells to help predict how likely it is that a women's cancer will recur within 10 years after initial treatment and how beneficial chemotherapy will be to her.

Psychology researchers explore how engineers create: It's not so much 'eureka' moments as it's the sweat of one's brow

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 11:48 AM PDT

Simply put, engineers make things. But is finding that 'new' invention a massive mental leap from point A to point B, or are there scores of unnoticed intermediate steps in between?

Sleep education program spurs preschoolers to snooze 30 minutes longer at night

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 11:42 AM PDT

Early interventions among Head Start preschool families improve sleep behaviors for kids, parents, according to new study.

Do 'walkable' neighborhoods reduce obesity, diabetes? Yes, research suggests

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 10:08 AM PDT

People who live in neighborhoods that are conducive to walking experienced a substantially lower rate of obesity, overweight and diabetes than those who lived in more auto-dependent neighborhoods, according to a pair of studies. Specifically, the studies found that people living in neighborhoods with greater walkability saw on average a 13 percent lower development of diabetes incidence over 10 years than those that were less walkable.

Hyperthyroidism patients more likely to take extended sick leave than healthy peers

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 10:07 AM PDT

People who have hyperthyroidism are more likely to take sick leave for extended periods than their healthy colleagues, particularly in the first year after diagnosis, according to a new study. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is overactive. The thyroid, which is located in the front of the neck, secretes hormones that regulate how the body uses energy, consumes oxygen and produces heat.

Distracted minds still see blurred lines

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 09:19 AM PDT

Even as we're processing a million things at once, we are still sensitive to certain kinds of changes in our visual environment -- even while performing a difficult task. "Our study proves that, much like other simple visual features such as color and size, blur in an image doesn't seem to require mental effort to detect," one researcher says.

Growing use of complex therapies for heart rhythm abnormalities

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 09:19 AM PDT

The White Book contains data on the use of cardiovascular implantable electronic devices including pacemakers, implantable cardiac defibrillators, cardiac resynchronization therapy devices, and lead extractions procedures in Europe. Its newest version has been recently launched.

Livestock gut microbes contributing to greenhouse gas emissions

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 09:19 AM PDT

One-fifth of methane emissions has been attributed by researchers to livestock such as cattle, sheep and other ruminants, but the amount of methane produced varies substantially among animals in the same species. Researchers aimed to explore role the microbes living in the rumen play in this process.

Bats make social alliances that affect roosting behavior

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:22 AM PDT

Depending on habitat availability, the endangered Indiana bat may be able to use its social connections to survive a certain amount of roost destruction, according to research. Indiana bats form maternity colonies in summer beneath the bark of live trees or standing dead trees known as snags. "Social dynamics are important to bat roosting behavior," said one investigator. "And now, looking at results of a study of roosting and foraging activity in a new light, we have evidence that Indiana bats make social contacts during foraging."

Gut bacteria predict survival after stem cell transplant, study shows

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:22 AM PDT

The diversity of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of patients receiving stem cell transplants may be an important predictor of their post-transplant survival, researchers report. Researchers found a strong connection between post-transplant gut microbiota diversity and outcomes, observing overall survival rates of 36 percent, 60 percent, and 67 percent among the low, intermediate, and high diversity groups, respectively.

Crowdsourcing the phase problem

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:22 AM PDT

Compared with humans, computers have the capacity to solve problems at much greater speed. There are many problems, however, where computational speed alone is insufficient to find a correct or optimal solution.

Sub-wavelength images to be made at radio frequencies

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:22 AM PDT

Imaging and mapping of electric fields at radio frequencies currently requires structures about the same size as the wavelength of the RF fields to be mapped. New theoretical and experimental work suggests an innovative method to overcome this limit. The new technique uses a pair of highly stable lasers and rubidium atoms as tunable resonators to map and potentially image electric fields at resolutions far below their RF wavelengths.

Surfing the Web in class? Bad idea

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:22 AM PDT

Even the smartest college students suffer academically when they use the Internet in class for non-academic purposes, finds new research. All students, regardless of intellectual ability, had lower exam scores the more they used the Internet for non-academic purposes such as reading the news, sending emails and posting Facebook updates, researcher report.

Unique greenhouse gas meter developed

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:20 AM PDT

Scientists have come up with a high-resolution meter to gauge the concentration of gases in the atmosphere with unparalleled precision. Tracking down carbon dioxide, methane and other gases with simultaneous determination of their concentrations at different altitudes is necessary, in particular, for research into global warming.

Scientists predict fermionic matter in a previously unknown state

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:20 AM PDT

Scientists have presented theoretical calculations which indicate the possible existence of fermionic matter in a previously unknown state -- in the form of a one-dimensional liquid, which cannot be described within the framework of existing models.

Climate change deflecting attention from biodiversity loss

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:20 AM PDT

Recent high levels of media coverage for climate change may have deflected attention and funding from biodiversity loss, researchers suggest. the team conducted a content analysis of newspaper coverage in four US broadsheets and four UK broadsheets. Academic peer-reviewed coverage and project funding by the World Bank and National Science Foundation were also examined.

Conditions linked to deadly bird flu revealed: High risk areas identified

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:20 AM PDT

A dangerous strain of avian influenza, H7N9, that's causing severe illness and deaths in China may be inhabiting a small fraction of its potential range and appears at risk of spreading to other suitable areas of India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to a new study.

Gene differences in yellow fever, malaria mosquitoes mapped

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:18 AM PDT

Entomologists have developed a chromosome map for about half of the genome of the mosquito Aedes agypti, the major carrier of dengue fever and yellow fever. With the map, researchers can compare the chromosome organization and evolution between this mosquito and the major carrier of malaria, and chart ways to prevent diseases.

Novel nanoparticle production method could lead to better lights, lenses, solar cells

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:18 AM PDT

Researchers have come up with a way to make titanium-dioxide nanoparticles, which have a variety of uses in everything from solar cells to LEDs. Titanium-dioxide nanoparticles show great promise, but industry has largely shunned them in the past because they've been difficult and expensive to make.

'Vital signs' of teaching captured by quick, reliable in-class evaluation

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:18 AM PDT

A 20-minute classroom assessment that is less subjective than traditional in-class evaluations by principals can reliably measure classroom instruction and predict student standardized test scores, a team of researchers reported. The assessment also provides immediate and meaningful feedback making it an important new tool for understanding and improving instructional quality.

Ultra-thin wires for quantum computing

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:18 AM PDT

Take a fine strand of silica fiber, attach it at each end to a slow-turning motor, torture it over a flame until it nearly reaches its melting point and then pull it apart. The middle will thin out like taffy until it is less than half a micron across, and that, according to researchers, is how you fabricate ultrahigh transmission optical nanofibers, a potential component for future quantum information devices.

Breast cancer diagnosis, mammography improved by considering patient risk

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 07:29 AM PDT

A new approach to examining mammograms that takes into account a woman's health risk profile would reduce the number of cancer instances missed and also cut the number of false positives, according to a paper. Providing radiologists with the patient's risk profile information for breast cancer at the most advantageous time when examining the mammogram , together with statistical weighting based on profile risk, reduces false negatives by 3.7%, thus alerting women whose cancer would have gone undiagnosed at an early stage, when treatment is most effective, research shows.

Boost for dopamine packaging protects brain in Parkinson's model

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 07:29 AM PDT

An increase in the protein that helps store dopamine, a critical brain chemical, led to enhanced dopamine neurotransmission and protection from a Parkinson's disease-related neurotoxin in mice in a recent study. Dopamine and related neurotransmitters are stored in small storage packages called vesicles by the vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT2). When released from these packages dopamine can help regulate movement, pleasure, and emotional response.

Strange physics turns off laser

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 07:29 AM PDT

Inspired by anomalies that arise in certain mathematical equations, researchers have demonstrated a laser system that paradoxically turns off when more power is added rather than becoming continuously brighter. The findings could lead to new ways to manipulate the interaction of electronics and light, an important tool in modern communications networks and high-speed information processing.

Promising T cell therapy to protect from infections after transplant

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 07:29 AM PDT

When patients have to undergo a bone marrow transplant, the procedure weakens their immune system. Viruses that are usually kept in check in a healthy immune system may then cause potentially fatal infections. Scientists have now developed a method that could offer patients conservative protection against such infections after a transplant. The method has already been used to treat several patients successfully.

Family violence leaves genetic imprint on children

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 07:25 AM PDT

Children in homes affected by violence, suicide, or the incarceration of a family member have significantly shorter telomeres -— a cellular marker of aging -- than those in stable households. The study suggests that the home environment is an important intervention target to reduce the biological impacts of adversity in the lives of young children.

Early elementary school start times tougher on economically advantaged children

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 07:25 AM PDT

Middle- and upper-class elementary school students demonstrated worse academic performance when they were required to start classes early, compared to peers whose school day started later, according to new research.

Single dose of century-old drug approved for sleeping sickness reverses autism-like symptoms in mice

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 07:24 AM PDT

In a further test of a novel theory that suggests autism is the consequence of abnormal cell communication, researchers report that an almost century-old drug approved for treating sleeping sickness also restores normal cellular signaling in a mouse model of autism, reversing symptoms of the neurological disorder in animals that were the human biological age equivalent of 30 years old.

Solar photons drive water off the moon

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:40 AM PDT

New research indicates that ultraviolet photons emitted by the sun likely cause water molecules on the lunar surface to either quickly desorb or break apart. The fragments of water may remain on the lunar surface, but the presence of useful amounts of water on the sunward side is not likely.

Soft-drink tax worth its weight in lost kilos

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:40 AM PDT

A tax on sweetened soft drinks could be an effective weapon in the war against obesity, generating weight losses of up to 3.64 kilograms as individuals reduce their consumption. "Taxes on unhealthy foods are attractive because they not only generate tax revenue that can be used for public health care, they also promise health benefits for individuals," researchers say.

Gene 'switch' reverses cancer in common childhood leukemia

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:40 AM PDT

A type of leukaemia can be successfully 'reversed' by coaxing the cancer cells back into normal development, researchers have demonstrated. The discovery was made using a model of B-progenitor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the most common cancer affecting children. Researchers showed that switching off a gene called Pax5 could cause cancer in a model of B-ALL, while restoring its function could 'cure' the disease.

Nanoshell shields foreign enzymes used to starve cancer cells from immune system

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:40 AM PDT

A nanoshell to protect foreign enzymes used to starve cancer cells as part of chemotherapy has been developed by nanoengineers. Enzymes are naturally smart machines that are responsible for many complex functions and chemical reactions in biology. However, despite their huge potential, their use in medicine has been limited by the immune system, which is designed to attack foreign intruders.

Does the moon affect our sleep? Research says no

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:40 AM PDT

No correlation between moon phases and human sleep has been found by researchers studying the topic. For centuries, people have believed that the moon cycle influences human health, behavior and physiology. Folklore mainly links the full moon with sleeplessness. "We could not observe a statistical relevant correlation between human sleep and the lunar phases," remarked researchers after a large study completed.

Could 'fragile Y hypothesis' explain chromosome loss?

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:40 AM PDT

A new study suggests a 'fragile Y hypothesis' to explain why some species lose their Y chromosome and others, such as humans, keep it. They believe the size of an area where X and Y genetic information mingle or recombine can serve as a strong clue that a species is at risk of losing the Y chromosome during sperm production.

Minimizing belief in free will may lessen support for criminal punishment

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:38 AM PDT

Exposure to information that diminishes free will, including brain-based accounts of behavior, seems to decrease people's support for retributive punishment, according to research. People who learned about neuroscientific research, either by reading a magazine article or through undergraduate coursework, proposed less severe punishment for a hypothetical criminal than did their peers. The findings suggest that they did so because they saw the criminal as less blameworthy.

New compound to treat depression identified

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:38 AM PDT

A compound, hydroxynorketamine (HNK), has been identified by researchers that may treat symptoms of depression just as effectively and rapidly as ketamine, without the unwanted side effects associated with the psychoactive drug, according to a study. Interestingly, use of HNK may also serve as a future therapeutic approach for treating neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, the authors note.

References resources find their place among open access and Google, study finds

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:38 AM PDT

How do open access sources, tightened budgets, and competition from popular technologies affect how librarians perceive and employ reference resources? How do librarians expect to utilize reference in the future? A new article finds that though the definition of reference is changing, this is in part because reference resources now look and feel like other information sources and because other information resources perform the traditional purpose of reference -- answering research questions.

Fecal transplants restore healthy bacteria and gut functions

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:38 AM PDT

Fecal microbiota transplantation -- the process of delivering stool bacteria from a healthy donor to a patient suffering from intestinal infection with the bacterium Clostridium difficile -- works by restoring healthy bacteria and functioning to the recipient's gut, according to a new study.

MRI technique may help prevent ADHD misdiagnosis

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:38 AM PDT

Brain iron levels offer a potential biomarker in the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and may help physicians and parents make better informed treatment decisions, according to new research. ADHD is a common disorder in children and adolescents that can continue into adulthood. Symptoms include hyperactivity and difficulty staying focused, paying attention and controlling behavior, and affects 3 to 7 percent of school-age children.

Geothermal: Hunting for heat energy, deep within Earth

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:37 AM PDT

Capturing green energy from deep in the Earth will bring competitive electricity and district heating – with help from Norway. Ever since Jules Verne's 1864 novel " A Journey to the Centre of the Earth", people have dreamt of capturing the heat of planet Earth. It exists in huge amounts, is completely renewable and emits no CO2.

Systemic lupus erythematosus: Quest for safer treatment

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:37 AM PDT

The treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus has traditionally been based on glucocorticoids administered orally. Nevertheless, these drugs were known to cause serious side effects. In order to determine whether a safety threshold exists in corticoid dose, researchers have conducted a study that has produced enlightening results. On the basis of these results and previous studies, the treatment currently being recommended for patients in the hospital limits the administering of glucocorticoids and favours the use of anti-malarial drugs as background treatment.

Higher prison sentences unlikely to deter ‘death by driving’ offenses, academic says

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:37 AM PDT

An English academic suggests new government laws could fail as a deterrent against crimes committed while driving. In the wake of the Government's recent announcement of a comprehensive review of driving offenses and penalties, an academic has argued that higher prison sentences could fail to act as a deterrent against 'death by driving' offenses -- and that it is the punishment for underlying offenses that should instead be revised.

Eye's optical quality deteriorates after alcohol consumption

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

Ethanol in the tear-film is one of the causes: it covers the surface of the eye, disturbs the outer layer and favours evaporation of the aqueous content of the tear, deteriorating the optical quality of the image we see. The deterioration in vision is significantly greater in subjects with breath alcohol content over 0.25mg/liter, the legal limit for driving recommended by the World Health Organization.

Social inequality intensifies among low-scoring pupils

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

In Spain, one of the countries with the highest rates of school dropout in the EU, class differences adversely affect students with lower achievement levels. A study concludes that the probability that a student with poor marks continues with their studies after the age of 16 is 56% if they come from a privileged background, compared to 20% if the main breadwinner is an unskilled worker.

With light echoes, the invisible becomes visible

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a novel camera system which can see around the corner without using a mirror. Using diffusely reflected light, it reconstructs the shape of objects outside of the field of view. A laser shines on the wall; a camera watches the scene. Nothing more than white ingrain wallpaper with a bright spot of light can be seen through the lens. A computer records these initially unremarkable images and as the data is processed further, little by little, the outlines of an object appear on a screen.

Chemical pollution of European waters is worse than anticipated

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

Substantial improvements in freshwater quality by 2015 have been a declared objective of the EU member states, manifesting itself by the requirements of the Water Framework Directive. A recent study shows that this target is unlikely to be met due to the high levels of toxicants in the water bodies. One of the reasons: current measures for the improvement of water quality do not account for the effects of toxic chemicals. The study demonstrates for the first time on a pan-European scale that the ecological risks posed by toxic chemicals are considerably greater than has generally been assumed.

The hidden history of rain: Plant waxes reveal rainfall changes during the last 24,000 years

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:29 AM PDT

Across the edges of the Indian Ocean, the amount of rainfall differs greatly. If it rains particularly hard in the Sumatran rain forest, the already arid region of East Africa is onset with drought. Researchers have found that this cyclic, bipolar climate phenomenon has likely been around for 10,000 years. The pilot study sheds light on the climate system of a region whose rainfall patterns have a major impact on global climate.

Three parents and a baby: Scientists advise caution with regard to artificial insemination method

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:29 AM PDT

The approval of a new treatment method by which three parents will be able to beget a child is being discussed since a few years in Great Britain and will possibly become a reality in two years. The method is supposed to help in eliminating the mother's genetic defects already in the test tube. The defect lies in so-called mitochondria, the "power houses" of cells. To get rid of defective mitochondria the nucleus of one egg cell has to be transferred to another egg cell bearing intact mitochondria. Scientists now show for the first time that even a few defective mitochondria dragged along in the transfer could cause diseases.

Fuel cells utilized to produce electricity from process industry by-product hydrogen

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:28 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a pilot-scale power plant based on fuel cells that utilizes by-product hydrogen from the process industry. The system produces electricity from hydrogen generated as a by-product of a sodium chlorate process at a high electric efficiency and is the first of its kind in the Nordic Countries.

E-cigs heavily marketed on Twitter, study finds

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:20 AM PDT

One third of commercial tweets offer coupons or discounts to purchase electronic-cigarette (e-cigs) products, a study has found. While advertising for conventional cigarettes has long been prohibited, e-cigarettes are advertised routinely in traditional media (print, television and radio) and social media. The researchers collected tweets and metadata related to e-cigarettes during a two month period in 2012. Using novel statistical methodology and carefully chosen keywords, they captured more than 70,000 tweets related to e-cigs.

Combining Treatments Boosts Some Smokers' Ability to Quit

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:20 AM PDT

Combining two smoking cessation therapies is more effective than using just one for male and highly nicotine-dependent smokers who weren't initially helped by the nicotine patch, according to researchers. The findings also support using an adaptive treatment model to determine which smokers are likely to succeed in quitting with nicotine replacement alone before trying additional therapies.

How experimental regenerative medicine therapies can regrow damaged heart muscle

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:20 AM PDT

Stem cell therapy for cardiovascular disease isn't a medical pipe dream – it's a reality today, although patients need to better understand the complex science behind these experimental treatments, according to a Chief of Cardiology. Most people today "get our information from sound bites," and the issues surrounding stem cells are too complex to be fully explained in a single catchy phrase, he said, adding, "We have far too much controversy about stem cells and far too much hype."

Surgical patients more likely to follow medication instructions when provided simple instruction sheet

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:17 AM PDT

Patients who receive a simple, multicolor, standardized medication instruction sheet before surgery are more likely to comply with their physician's instructions and experience a significantly shorter post-op stay in recovery. These findings are important because surgical patients often fail to follow their doctor's medication instructions for preexisting conditions such as diabetes and hypertension on the day they are having surgery – a costly mistake that can lead to surgery cancellation, complications and longer hospital stays.

Liver dangers from herbal supplements, OTC and RX drugs, new guidelines warn

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:17 AM PDT

New clinical guidelines on the diagnosis and management of idiosyncratic drug-induced liver injury (DILI) have now been released. DILI is a rare adverse drug reaction, challenging to diagnose, and can lead to jaundice, liver failure and even death. The frequency of DILI incidence is increasing, as the use of herbal and dietary supplements has drastically increased over the last 10 years.

Genetic pathway can slow spread of ovarian cancer

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:17 AM PDT

Research into the origins of ovarian cancer has led to the discovery of a genetic pathway that could slow the spread of the cancer. The discovery is in part due to research into the genetics of humans' most distant mammalian relative, the platypus.

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