Πέμπτη, 26 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Latest Science News

ScienceDaily: Latest Science News


'Cosmic own goal' another clue in hunt for dark matter

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

The hunt for dark matter has taken another step forward thanks to new supercomputer simulations showing the evolution of our 'local Universe' from the Big Bang to the present day. Physicists say their simulations could improve understanding of dark matter, a mysterious substance believed to make up 85 per cent of the mass of the Universe.

Ultra-stiff and lightweight: Carbon-fiber epoxy honeycombs mimic material performance of balsa wood

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 12:15 PM PDT

For centuries, the fast-growing balsa tree has been prized for its light weight and stiffness relative to density. But balsa wood is expensive and natural variations in the grain can be an impediment to achieving the increasingly precise performance requirements of turbine blades and other sophisticated applications. Materials scientists have now developed cellular composite materials of unprecedented light weight and stiffness.

Earlier snowmelt prompting earlier breeding of Arctic birds

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 12:12 PM PDT

Biologists have found that migratory birds that breed in Arctic Alaska are initiating nests earlier in the spring, and that snowmelt occurring earlier in the season is a big reason why.

Vegetarian diets produce fewer greenhouse gases and increase longevity, say new studies

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 11:55 AM PDT

Consuming a plant-based diet results in a more sustainable environment and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, while improving longevity, according to new research. Based on findings that identified food systems as a significant contributor to global warming, the study focuses on the dietary patterns of vegetarians, semi-vegetarians and non-vegetarians to quantify and compare greenhouse gas emissions, as well as assess total mortality.

Chemistry: New math technique improves atomic property predictions to historic accuracy

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 11:12 AM PDT

By combining advanced mathematics with high-performance computing, scientists have developed a tool that allowed them to calculate a fundamental property of most atoms on the periodic table to historic accuracy, reducing error by a factor of a thousand in many cases. The technique also could be used to determine a host of other atomic properties important in fields like nuclear medicine and astrophysics.

Neural sweet talk: Taste metaphors emotionally engage the brain

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 11:12 AM PDT

Researchers have found that taste-related metaphors such as 'sweet' actually engage the emotional centers of the brain more than literal words such as 'kind' that have the same meaning. If metaphors in general elicit a similar emotional response, that could mean that figurative language presents a 'rhetorical advantage' when communicating with others.

Space industry: Does 3-D printing have the right stuff?

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:33 AM PDT

3D-printed parts promise a revolution in the space industry, rapidly creating almost any object needed. But do the results really have the right stuff for flying in space? The European Space Agency is now checking if their surface finish comes up to scratch.

Shifting land won't stop your journey: Using satellites to watch for land hazards

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Subsidence, rockfalls and landslides threaten potentially devastating human and economic consequences across Europe -- but satellites can help. Traditional monitoring such as photographic mapping to measure changes in the landscape works well for specific locations but is labor intensive and costly. Now, the European Space Agency has looked at using satellites to watch for hazards across broad areas that could affect road and rail networks.

Whale of a target: Harpooning space debris

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:28 AM PDT

Faced with the challenge of capturing tumbling satellites to clear key orbits, the European Space Agency is considering turning to an ancient terrestrial technology: the harpoon.

Origin of life: Stanley Miller's forgotten experiments, analyzed

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Stanley Miller, the chemist whose landmark experiment published in 1953 showed how some of the molecules of life could have formed on a young Earth, left behind boxes of experimental samples that he never analyzed. The first-ever analysis of some of Miller's old samples has revealed another way that important molecules could have formed on early Earth.

Scientists create new battery that's cheap, clean, rechargeable ... and organic

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a rechargeable battery that is all organic and could be scaled up easily for use in power plants where it can make the energy grid more resilient and efficient by creating a large-scale means to store energy for use as needed. The batteries could pave the way for renewable energy sources to make up a greater share of the nation's energy generation.

Marriage and healthy hearts: Correlation between unhappy marital interactions, cardiovascular disease risk

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:26 AM PDT

The affairs of the heart may actually affect the affairs of the heart in ways previously not understood. "Growing evidence suggests that the quality and patterns of one's social relationships may be linked with a variety of health outcomes, including heart disease," says one researcher.

Using math to analyze movement of cells, organisms, disease

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:25 AM PDT

Math has been used by researchers to analyze movement of organisms and cells and transmission of disease in populations. Three recent articles have been published that focus on these issues.

Spintronic technologies: Advanced light source provides new look at skyrmions

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:25 AM PDT

Researchers for the first time have used x-rays to observe and study skyrmions, subatomic quasiparticles that could play a key role in future spintronic technologies.

New study quantifies the effects of climate change in Europe

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:25 AM PDT

If no further action is taken and global temperature increases by 3.5°C, climate damages in the EU could amount to at least €190 billion, a net welfare loss of 1.8 percent of its current GDP. Several weather-related extremes could roughly double their average frequency. As a consequence, heat-related deaths could reach about 200,000.

Mathematical models explain how a wrinkle becomes a crease

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:25 AM PDT

Wrinkles, creases and folds are everywhere in nature, from the surface of human skin to the buckled crust of the Earth. They can also be useful structures for engineers. Wrinkles in thin films, for example, can help make durable circuit boards for flexible electronics. A new mathematical model developed by researchers from Brown University could help engineers control the formation of wrinkle, crease, and fold structures in a wide variety of materials. It may also help scientists understand how these structures form in nature.

Carbon monoxide hazards on houseboats highlighted by study

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

Boaters and marina workers should exercise caution this summer before taking to the seas. A study outlines hazards posed by carbon monoxide levels on houseboats that use gasoline-powered generators without emission controls, along with controls that are available to reduce exposure to carbon monoxide from the generators.

Prototype of unmanned spaceplane retrieved

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

On June 23, 2014, the ship and crew aiming to recover Europe's unmanned IXV spacecraft in November had a practice run off the coast of Tuscany, Italy. They retrieved a prototype of the suborbital IXV Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, the same model flown last year in a splashdown test off the east coast of Sardinia.

Collaborative learning -- for robots: New algorithm

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

Machine learning, in which computers learn new skills by looking for patterns in training data, is the basis of most recent advances in artificial intelligence, from voice-recognition systems to self-parking cars. It's also the technique that autonomous robots typically use to build models of their environments. A new algorithm lets independent agents collectively produce a machine-learning model without aggregating data.

Black hole trio holds promise for gravity wave hunt

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

The discovery of three closely orbiting supermassive black holes in a galaxy more than four billion light years away could help astronomers in the search for gravitational waves: the 'ripples in spacetime' predicted by Einstein.

A farewell to arms? Scientists developing a novel technique that could facilitate nuclear disarmament

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

A proven system for verifying that apparent nuclear weapons slated to be dismantled contained true warheads could provide a key step toward the further reduction of nuclear arms. The system would achieve this verification while safeguarding classified information that could lead to nuclear proliferation. Scientists are developing the prototype for such a system. Their novel approach, called a "zero-knowledge protocol," would verify the presence of warheads without collecting any classified information at all.

Scientists unearth what may be secret weapon against antibiotic resistance

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:23 AM PDT

A fungus living in the soils of Nova Scotia could offer new hope in the pressing battle against drug-resistant germs that kill tens of thousands of people every year, including one considered a serious global threat. Seeking an answer to the riddle of resistance in the natural environment is a far more promising approach than trying to discover new antibiotics, a challenge which has perplexed scientists for decades. No new classes of antibiotics have been discovered since the late 1980s, leaving physicians with very few tools to fight life-threatening infections.

For the next generation: Democracy ensures we don't take it all with us

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:23 AM PDT

Given the chance to vote, people will leave behind a legacy of resources that ensures the survival of the next generation, a series of experiments by psychologists show. However, when people are left to their own devices, the next generation isn't so lucky.

Study links Greenland ice sheet collapse, sea level rise 400,000 years ago

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:19 AM PDT

A new study suggests that a warming period more than 400,000 years ago pushed the Greenland ice sheet past its stability threshold, resulting in a nearly complete deglaciation of southern Greenland and raising global sea levels some 4-6 meters.

Fracking flowback could pollute groundwater with heavy metals

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:18 AM PDT

The chemical makeup of wastewater generated by "hydrofracking" could cause the release of tiny particles in soils that often strongly bind heavy metals and pollutants, exacerbating the environmental risks during accidental spills, Cornell University researchers have found.

Fruits, vegetables: Good for health, not necessarily a weight loss method

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:18 AM PDT

People trying to lose weight are often told to eat more fruits and vegetables, but new research shows this bit of advice may not be true. "Across the board, all studies we reviewed showed a near-zero effect on weight loss," the lead author said. "So I don't think eating more alone is necessarily an effective approach for weight loss because just adding them on top of whatever foods a person may be eating is not likely to cause weight change."

New device allows brain to bypass spinal cord, move paralyzed limbs

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:01 AM PDT

For the first time ever, a paralyzed man can move his fingers and hand with his own thoughts thanks to a new device. A 23-year-old quadriplegic is the first patient to use Neurobridge, an electronic neural bypass for spinal cord injuries that reconnects the brain directly to muscles, allowing voluntary and functional control of a paralyzed limb.

A new view: NASA/NOAA water vapor animations over oceans

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 09:31 AM PDT

Knowing where water vapor is in the atmosphere is one of many factors forecasters use to identify weather features. The NASA/NOAA GOES Project has now created two new types of animations based on satellite data that indicate where water vapor is moving over the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific oceans.

NASA's STEREO maps much larger solar atmosphere than previously observed

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 09:23 AM PDT

Surrounding the sun is a vast atmosphere of solar particles, through which magnetic fields swarm, solar flares erupt, and gigantic columns of material rise, fall and jostle each other around. Now, using NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, scientists have found that this atmosphere, called the corona, is even larger than thought, extending out some 5 million miles above the sun's surface -- the equivalent of 12 solar radii.

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover marks first Martian year

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 09:21 AM PDT

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover completed a Martian year -- 687 Earth days -- on June 24, having accomplished the mission's main goal of determining whether Mars once offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

Aluminum-bearing site on Mars draws NASA visitor

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 09:18 AM PDT

With its solar panels their cleanest in years, NASA's decade-old Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is inspecting a section of crater-rim ridgeline chosen as a priority target due to evidence of a water-related mineral.

New method increases targeted bone volume by 30 percent

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 08:48 AM PDT

In an important development for the health of elderly people, researchers have developed a new method to target bone growth. As people age their bones lose density and, especially in women after the menopause, become more brittle. The new method developed offers the possibility of more effective treatment than currently available.

Adaptive potential of hybridization in mosquito species

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 08:48 AM PDT

A natural experiment created by insecticidal pressure to determine how the most important malaria vectors -- A. gambiae s.s. and A. coluzzii -- respond rapidly to environmental change has been conducted by researchers. Researchers sequenced the genomes of individual wild mosquitoes of each species from southern Ghana. The results reveal that transfer of a major insecticide resistance mutation resulted in replacement of over 3 million surrounding DNA bases of one to the other. This is especially significant because the two species are very closely related and the region replaced is one of relatively few areas of their genomes that are substantially different.

Global manufacturer shows the dark heart of nearshoring

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 08:47 AM PDT

Nearshoring - the hottest new trend in global manufacturing - is based on the use of low-paid labor which can be exploited because it lacks unions to fight for it, an exhaustive study into working practices suggests.

Adding element to standard treatment in post-gemcitabine metastatic pancreatic cancer improves survival

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 08:47 AM PDT

Adding the novel MM-398 to standard treatment for metastatic pancreatic cancer patients who have already received gemcitabine improves survival, researchers have said. "One of the biggest challenges in pancreatic cancer is drug delivery. "MM-398 (nal-IRI) is a nanoliposomal irinotecan: this delivery system allows longer drug exposure in the circulation and more accumulation of the drug and its active metabolite SN38 at the tumor site," said one author.

Diet or exercise? 'Energy balance' real key to disease prevention

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 08:46 AM PDT

A majority of Americans are overweight or obese, a factor in the rapid rise in common diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and more. According to research, energy balance is a viable public health solution to address the obesity epidemic. A new paper outlines steps to incorporate energy balance principles into public health outreach in the U.S.

Deploying midwives in poorest nations could avert millions of maternal, newborn deaths

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 08:46 AM PDT

A modest increase in the number of skilled midwives in the world's poorest nations could save the lives of a substantial number of women and their babies, according to new analyses. Maternal mortality is a leading cause of death for women in many developing countries and public health efforts to avert it have only made headway in a few countries.

Puzzling X-rays point to dark matter

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 08:38 AM PDT

Astronomers using ESA and NASA high-energy observatories have discovered a tantalizing clue that hints at an elusive ingredient of our Universe: dark matter. Astronomers believe that dark matter is the dominant type of matter in the Universe -- yet it remains obscure. Now a hint may have been found by studying galaxy clusters, the largest cosmic assemblies of matter bound together by gravity.

Master regulator of key cancer gene found, offers new drug target

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:17 AM PDT

A key cancer-causing gene, responsible for up to 20 percent of cancers, may have a weak spot in its armor, according to new research. The partnership of MYC, a gene long linked to cancer, and a non-coding RNA, PVT1, could be the key to understanding how MYC fuels cancer cells.

Reproduction later in life is a marker for longevity in women

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:17 AM PDT

Women who are able to naturally have children later in life tend to live longer and the genetic variants that allow them to do so might also facilitate exceptionally long life spans, according to a new study.

First year university students struggle to remember basic concepts learned the year before

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:16 AM PDT

University freshers struggle to remember basic concepts from their A-level studies according to new U.K. research. A new report shows that even grade-A students could only remember 40 percent of their A-Level syllabus by the first week of term at university.

Link unlikely between insomnia symptoms, high blood pressure, study concludes

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:16 AM PDT

Insomnia does not put people at increased risk of developing high blood pressure, a new study has concluded. The study is believed to be the first to examine for hypertension among individuals who self-reported various frequencies of insomnia symptoms. "By showing there is no link between this very common sleep disorder and high blood pressure, physicians can be more selective when prescribing sleeping pills and refrain from prescribing these medications from a cardio-protective perspective," said the author.

Alternative energy evaluation: Net energy analysis should become a standard policy tool, scientists say

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:16 AM PDT

To be viable, wind farms, power plants and other energy technologies should deliver more energy than they consume. Net energy analysis allows researchers to evaluate the long-term sustainability of a technology by comparing how much energy it produces over its lifetime with the energy required to build and maintain it, say scientists.

First comprehensive pediatric concussion guidelines available now

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:16 AM PDT

Evidence-based recommendations to standardize the diagnosis and management of concussion in children have just been published. These new guidelines provide healthcare providers with evidence-based recommendations to standardize the diagnosis and management of concussion in children aged 5 to 18 years old, from the initial assessment through to the period of recovery (which might last months.)

Deep brain stimulation improves non motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease as well as motor symptoms

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has become a well-recognized non-pharmacologic treatment that improves motor symptoms of patients with early and advanced Parkinson's disease. Evidence now indicates that DBS can decrease the number and severity of non motor symptoms of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) as well, according to a review.

New device could improve biomarker analyses

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:15 AM PDT

A new devise could offer a more reliable alternative for detecting biomarkers in patients facing such illnesses as cancer or malaria. Whether to extract circulating tumor cells from the blood of a cancer patient, or to measure the elasticity of red blood cells due to malaria infection, the physical attributes of cells are important biomarkers in medicine.

Curiosity travels through ancient glaciers on Mars

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Some 3,500 million years ago, the Martian crater Gale -- through which the NASA rover Curiosity is currently traversing -- was covered with glaciers, mainly over its central mound. Very cold liquid water also flowed through its rivers and lakes on the lower-lying areas, forming landscapes similar to those which can be found in Iceland or Alaska.

Nanoscale ruler reveals organization of cell membrane

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:15 AM PDT

After a ten-year effort, biologists have developed a method to investigate the cell surface's organization on a nanometer scale. This allows them to monitor how the antigen receptor, which B cells of the immune system use to recognize foreign substances, changes after activation. This study shows that the receptor components dissociate from each other- rather than assemble, as previously assumed.

Eco-friendly versatile nanocapsules developed

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:14 AM PDT

This new technology suggests a possible application of eco-friendly solvents that can address environmental, safety and economic issues all at once. Since various kinds of metal nanoparticles can be employed on the surface of polymer nanocapsules, it is also potentially useful for other applications in the field of nano-medicine and bioimaging.

Nanoscale velcro used for molecule transport

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:13 AM PDT

Biological membranes are like a guarded border. They separate the cell from the environment and at the same time control the import and export of molecules. The nuclear membrane can be crossed via many tiny pores. Scientists have now discovered that proteins found within the nuclear pore function similar to a velcro. They report how these proteins can be used for controlled and selective transport of particles.

Invisibility cloak for immune cells keeps system healthy

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:13 AM PDT

The human immune system is very complex. A large number of different cells with various functions ensure that invading microorganisms such as viruses or bacteria can quickly be rendered innocuous and the entire organism stays healthy. Researchers have now discovered what keeps certain cells of the immune system healthy: concealing their stress with a camouflage cloak that renders them invisible to the "killer" cells.

Insects as the food of the future: Locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, silk moth pupae, and beetle and moth larvae

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:12 AM PDT

As the human population grows, it is critical that the drain on the planet's resources be lessened by decreasing consumption of animal protein. Insects are a promising, economically viable alternative source of high quality protein that leave a substantially smaller environmental footprint.

3-D computer model may help refine target for deep brain stimulation therapy for dystonia

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Using a complex set of data from records and imaging scans of patients who have undergone successful DBS implantation, researchers have created 3-D, computerized models that map the brain region involved in dystonia. The models identify an anatomical target for further study and provide information for neurologists and neurosurgeons to consider when planning surgery and making device programming decisions.

Animal testing methods for some chemicals should change, experts urge

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Challenging risk assessment methods used for decades by toxicologists, a new review of the literature suggests that oral gavage, the most widely accepted method of dosing lab animals to test chemical toxicity, does not accurately mimic how humans are exposed to chemicals in everyday life. Oral gavage refers to the way researchers give chemicals to animals by putting a tube down their throats to deliver substances directly to the stomach. It has been used for decades and is the dosing scheme preferred for assessing potential toxicity of endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Carrots as effective as sticks for slowing Amazon deforestation

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Positive incentives for farmers, counties, and states can do as much to preserve forests as public policies that call for penalties. This is the conclusion of an international team of scientists that reviewed published research. Suggestions include simplified regulatory requirements or discounts on environmental licensing procedures, better terms on pre-harvest packages from commodity suppliers, and lower interest rates or better terms on loans from banks for legally compliant landholders.

Researchers treat incarceration as a disease epidemic, discover small changes help

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:11 AM PDT

By treating incarceration as an infectious disease, researchers show that small differences in prison sentences can lead to large differences in incarceration rates. The incarceration rate has nearly quadrupled since the U.S. declared a war on drugs, researchers say. Along with that, racial disparities abound. Incarceration rates for black Americans are more than six times higher than those for white Americans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Young researcher discovers source of disco clams' light show

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 07:00 PM PDT

The disco clam was named for the rhythmic, pulsing light that ripples along the lips of its mantle. A graduate student was fascinated the first time she saw the clam, and set out to investigate the reflective material on its lips and why it flashes. She reports that the mirror is actually a highly reflective, densely packed layer of silica spheres a mere 340 nanometers across never before seen in animals.

A fifth of children visiting their doctor with a persistent cough could have whooping cough

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 07:00 PM PDT

Whooping cough has been found in a fifth of UK school age children visiting their doctor with a persistent cough, even though most have been fully vaccinated, a study finds. Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly transmissible infection which can cause symptoms such as coughing, vomiting and whooping. However, whooping cough can lead to serious complications in unvaccinated infants.

High doses of antibiotics may have potential to promote increased cross-resistance

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 07:00 PM PDT

An experimental evolution approach has been used by researchers to evolve 88 different E. coli populations against 22 antibiotics, under 'strong' and 'mild' selection conditions. Results demonstrate that the evolution of cross-resistance depends on selection strength. Overall, they found evidence for higher cross-resistance in the strongly selected strains and higher numbers of pathway-specific mutations.

Adults with Asperger syndrome at significantly higher risk of suicidal thoughts than general population

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:59 PM PDT

Adults with the autism spectrum condition known as Asperger Syndrome are nine times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts than people from the general population, according to the first large-scale clinical study of its kind. Autism spectrum conditions are a group of developmental brain conditions that cause difficulties in communication and social interaction, alongside the presence of unusually narrow interests and difficulties in adapting to change. In Asperger Syndrome, people show the key symptoms but without delayed language or intellectual disability.

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