Τετάρτη, 11 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News


Snowballs to soot: The clumping density of many things seems to be a standard

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 11:47 AM PDT

Particles of soot floating through the air and comets hurtling through space have at least one thing in common: 0.36. That, reports a research group, is the measure of how dense they will get under normal conditions, and it's a value that seems to be constant for similar aggregates across an impressively wide size range from nanometers to tens of meters.

Geologists confirm oxygen levels of ancient oceans

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 11:46 AM PDT

Geologists have discovered a new way to study oxygen levels in the Earth's oldest oceans. New research approach may have important implications for the study of marine ecology and global warming.

Earth is around 60 million years older than previously thought -- and so is the moon, new research finds

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 11:46 AM PDT

The timing of the giant impact between Earth's ancestor and a planet-sized body occurred around 40 million years after the start of solar system formation. This means that the final stage of Earth's formation is around 60 million years older than previously thought, according to new research.

New permafrost is forming around shrinking Arctic lakes, but will it last?

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 11:44 AM PDT

Researchers, more used to measuring thawing permafrost than its expansion, have made a surprising discovery. There is new permafrost forming around Twelvemile Lake in the interior of Alaska. But they have also quickly concluded that, given the current rate of climate change, it won't last beyond the end of this century.

New field guide for Africa's mammalian eden

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 11:43 AM PDT

From the kipunji -- a secretive primate species first discovered by WCS in 2003 -- to the Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin, Tanzania is known for its staggering variety of large mammals including the largest diversity of primates in mainland Africa. A new field guide documents this dazzling array of mammals.

Limiting carbs could reduce breast cancer recurrence in women with positive IGF1 receptor

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

Reducing carbohydrate intake could reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence among women whose tumor tissue is positive for the IGF-1 receptor, researchers report. Using an unusual approach, this study assessed the combined association of two factors implicated in tumor growth -- carbohydrate intake and IGF1 receptor status -- to test whether activating the insulin/insulin-like growth-factor axis can impact breast cancer.

A plan to share carbon budget burden

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

For 20 years, the international community has been unable to agree on a coordinated way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A four-step compromise toward emissions reduction that offers 'effectiveness, feasibility, and fairness has now been published.

Perennial corn crops? It could happen with new plant-breeding tool

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 09:19 AM PDT

Since the first plant genome sequence was obtained for the plant Arabidopsis in 2000, scientists have gene-sequenced everything from cannabis to castor bean. They have now unveiled a new tool that will help all plant scientists label genes far more quickly and accurately and is expected to give a big boost to traditional and nontraditional plant breeders.

Lead abatement a wise economic, public health investment

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 09:18 AM PDT

Childhood lead exposure costs Michigan residents an estimated $330 million annually, and a statewide remediation program to eliminate the source of most lead poisoning would pay for itself in three years, according to a new report.

'Onion' vesicles for drug delivery developed

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 08:27 AM PDT

A certain kind of dendrimer, a molecule that features tree-like branches, offers a simple way of creating vesicles and tailoring their diameter and thickness, researchers report. Moreover, these dendrimer-based vesicles self-assemble with concentric layers of membranes, much like an onion.

Malaria-carrying mosquitoes wiped out in lab with genetic method that creates male-only offspring

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 08:24 AM PDT

Scientists have modified mosquitoes to produce sperm that will only create males, pioneering a fresh approach to eradicating malaria. Since 2000, increased prevention and control measures have reduced global malaria mortality rates by 42 per cent, but the disease remains a prevalent killer especially in vulnerable sub-Saharan African regions. Malaria control has also been threatened by the spread of insecticide resistant mosquitoes and malaria parasites resistant to drugs.

Human stem cells used to create light-sensitive retina in a dish

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 08:23 AM PDT

Using a type of human stem cell, researchers say they have created a three-dimensional complement of human retinal tissue in the laboratory, which notably includes functioning photoreceptor cells capable of responding to light, the first step in the process of converting it into visual images.

Malaria: Blood cells behaving badly

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 08:23 AM PDT

New insight into how malaria parasites perturb flow, turning infected cells into sticky capillary cloggers, may lead to new and better treatments. All the billions of flat, biconcave disks in our body known as red blood cells (or erythrocytes) make three basic, tumbling-treadmill-type motions when they wend their way through the body's bloodstream ferrying oxygen from our lungs to our brains and other tissues. That is, unless they are infected with malaria parasites, in which case their motions are completely different.

Seafarers brought Neolithic culture to Europe, gene study indicates

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 07:20 AM PDT

Genetic evidence in modern populations suggests that Neolithic farmers from the Levant traveled mostly by sea to reach Europe. By 7,000 B.C., they were introducing their ideas and their genes to the native Paleolithic people, who had migrated to the continent 30,000 to 40,000 years before.

Genetics reveal that reef corals, their algae live together but evolve independently

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 07:20 AM PDT

Caribbean corals and the algae that inhabit them form a remarkably stable relationship -- new knowledge that can serve as an important tool in preserving and restoring vital reef-building corals. The research could be used to decide which heat-tolerant corals to bring into nurseries, to grow, and to replant back on the reef to restore healthy coral populations.

Bacteria help explain why stress, fear trigger heart attacks

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 07:20 AM PDT

The axiom that stress, emotional shock, or overexertion may trigger heart attacks in vulnerable people may now be explainable, researchers say. Hormones released during these events appear to cause bacterial biofilms on arterial walls to disperse, allowing plaque deposits to rupture into the bloodstream, according to research.

Sopcawind, a multidisciplinary tool for designing wind farms

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 07:18 AM PDT

The SOPCAWIND tool is a piece of software that facilitates the design of wind farms, bearing in mind not only the aspects of energy productivity but also the possible impact the wind farm may have on the environment, radars or other telecommunications systems in the vicinity. It also assesses acoustic noise, the effect of shadow on nearby housing, and applies criteria for heritage protection or clearance from transport networks and certain facilities.

Anti-microbial coatings with a long-term effect for surfaces

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 07:18 AM PDT

Researchers have now produced antimicrobial abrasion-resistant coatings with both silver and copper colloids with a long-term effect that kill germs reliably and at the same time prevent germs becoming established.

Male dwarf spiders make sure offspring is their own

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 07:18 AM PDT

Chastity belts were not first thought out in mediaeval times -- members of many animal groups have evolved similar mechanical safeguards to ensure their paternity. Male dwarf spiders, for instance, use mating plugs to block off the genital tract of the female they have just mated with. The larger and older the plug, the better the chances are that other males will not make deposits in a female's sperm storage organ.

The Irish rugby team has exceptional guts: Exercise and diet impact gut microbial diversity

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Exercise and diet impact gut microbial diversity, according to recent research. The gut microbiota of athletes is more diverse than that of controls and this diversity is linked to exercise and protein consumption in athletes. Athletes also have lower inflammatory and improved metabolic markers relative to controls.

Bees can be more important than fertilizer

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Insects play a key role in the pollination of cultivated plants, and a new study suggests that they can be even more important than fertilizer. In the study, fertilization and watering only had an effect on harvest yield in combination with pollination manipulations. Results led the scientists to the conclusion that an almond tree can compensate for a lack of nutrients and water in the short term by directing stored nutrients and water to the fruits but cannot compensate for insufficient pollination.

First atlas of Inuit Arctic trails launched

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 07:13 AM PDT

A new digital resource brings together centuries of cultural knowledge for the first time, showing that networks of trails over snow and sea ice, seemingly unconnected to the untrained eye, in fact span a continent – and that the Inuit have long-occupied one of the most resource-rich and contested areas on the planet.

Complex mechanisms controlling changes in snake venom identified by scientists

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 07:13 AM PDT

Venom variation in closely related snake species has been the focus of a recent study. The research team assessed the venom composition of six related viperid snakes, examining the differences in gene and protein expression that influence venom content. The research also assessed how these changes in venom composition impacted upon venom-induced haemorrhage and coagulation pathologies, and how these changes can adversely affect antivenoms used to treat snakebite.

Sustaining Brazilian tourism

Posted: 10 Jun 2014 07:13 AM PDT

As football teams and their hoards of fans head for Brazil, sustainability, the environmental buzzword of the day, is perhaps not at the top of their thoughts. But, sustainability is an important paradigm that does not apply only to conservation and preservation but also applies to the concept of sustainable tourism. Without becoming sustainable, many tourist destinations fail to thrive and often perish, according to a new research article.

Viewing plant cells in 3-D (no glasses required)

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 05:57 PM PDT

Focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) has been used in both materials science and in the study of animal tissue, but has not previously been used in plant imaging. Researchers now have modified existing FIB-SEM protocols and optimized these for plant tissue and cellular studies, shedding new light on plant cell architecture.

'Tomato pill' improves function of blood vessels in patients with cardiovascular disease

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 05:56 PM PDT

A daily supplement of an extract found in tomatoes may improve the function of blood vessels in patients with cardiovascular disease, according to new research. The incidence of cardiovascular is notably where a 'Mediterranean diet' consisting of a larger consumption of fruit, vegetables and olive oil predominates. Recent dietary studies suggest that this diet reduces the incidence of events related to the disease, including heart attack and stroke, in patients at high cardiovascular risk, or those who have previously had the disease.

How 'living roofs' help build better cities

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 05:50 PM PDT

With more people moving into cities, architects need tools to make good decisions about green roofs. An architectural researcher said with weather extremes becoming unpredictable, vegetated roofs build resilience into a changing world.

Grain legume crops sustainable, nutritious

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 05:50 PM PDT

The mineral micronutrient content of four types of grain legumes has been examined in a new study. Grain legumes are often overlooked as valuable sources of micronutrients, such as zinc and potassium. Diets that do not provide adequate amounts of micronutrients lead to a variety of diseases that affect most parts of the human body. One researcher notes, "Iron deficiency is the most common, followed by zinc, carotenoids, and folate."

Protein could put antibiotic-resistant bugs in handcuffs

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 01:18 PM PDT

The structure of a key protein that drives DNA copying in the plasmids that make staphylococcus bacteria antibiotic resistant has been identified by scientists. Knowing how this protein works may now help researchers devise new ways to stop the plasmids from spreading antibiotic resistance in staph by preventing the plasmids from copying themselves.

Coral, human cells linked in death

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 01:17 PM PDT

Humans and corals are about as different from one another as living creatures get, but a new finding reveals that in one important way, they are more similar than anyone ever realized. A biologist has discovered they share the same biomechanical pathway responsible for triggering cellular self-destruction. The finding has implications for biologists, conservationists and medical researchers.

How much fertilizer is too much for the climate?

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 12:35 PM PDT

Helping farmers around the globe apply more-precise amounts of nitrogen-based fertilizer can help combat climate change. In a new study, researchers provide an improved prediction of nitrogen fertilizer's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural fields. The study uses data from around the world to show that emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas produced in the soil following nitrogen addition, rise faster than previously expected when fertilizer rates exceed crop needs.

Mosquito control pesticide use in coastal areas poses low risk to juvenile oysters, hard clams

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 12:35 PM PDT

Four of the most common mosquito pesticides used along the east and Gulf coasts show little risk to juvenile hard clams and oysters, according to a study. However, the study also determined that lower oxygen levels in the water, known as hypoxia, and increased acidification actually increased how toxic some of the pesticides were. Such climate variables should be considered when using these pesticides in the coastal zone, the study concluded.

Land quality, deforestation in Mato Grosso, Brazil

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 12:35 PM PDT

In the last decade, Brazil's skyrocketing agricultural production worried some observers who were concerned about the loss of forestland. Land-use policies appeared to slow that process, but other factors may have been at work. New research suggests that land best suited for agricultural production may already have been converted to cropland.

Water found to provide blueprints for root architecture

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 12:34 PM PDT

Soil is a microscopic maze of nooks and crannies that hosts a wide array of life. Plants explore this environment by developing a complex branched network of roots that tap into scarce resources such as water and nutrients. How roots sense which regions of soil contain water and what effect this moisture has on the architecture of the root system has been unclear until now.

Earth's breathable atmosphere a result of continents taking control of the carbon cycle

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 12:34 PM PDT

Scientists investigating one of the greatest riddles of the Earth's past may have discovered a mechanism to help determine how oxygen levels in the atmosphere expanded to allow life to evolve.

New Irish selective badger cull risks spreading bovine TB, scientists warn

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 12:34 PM PDT

A new bovine TB control strategy to be piloted in Northern Ireland risks spreading the disease rather than supressing it, scientists warn. Researchers predict that culling badgers that test positive for TB could increase the movement of remaining badgers, potentially infecting more cattle with the disease.

Major West Antarctic glacier melting from geothermal sources

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 12:34 PM PDT

New research on the Thwaits Glacier will help ice sheet modeling efforts needed to determine when the collapse of the glacier will begin in earnest and at what rate the sea level will increase as it proceeds.

Impact of road salt on butterflies examined

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 12:34 PM PDT

The availability of the micronutrient could alter selection on foraging behavior for butterflies and other roadside developing invertebrates, research shows. Living things require micronutrients such as sodium and iron in sparing amounts, but they can play a big role in development. While a moderate rise in sodium can have some seeming benefits, too much of a good thing is toxic; for instance, the researchers saw markedly higher mortality rate in some subjects.

Mechanism that helps viruses spread explained

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 11:09 AM PDT

Researchers explain how RNA molecules found in certain viruses mimic the shape of other molecules as part of a strategy to 'hijack' the cell and make more viruses. Viruses are worldwide threats to health and agriculture. To multiply, viruses infect a cell and take over that cell's biochemical machinery. Thus, understanding the fundamental molecular processes used by viruses to conquer cells is important.

Radioluminescence tells story of single cells

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 11:08 AM PDT

With a new molecular imaging system powerful enough to peer down to 20-micrometer resolution, researchers can now use radioluminescence to examine the characteristics of single, unconnected cells. The result is a fascinating picture of diversity among cells previously assumed to behave the same, revealed researchers.

Restoring grasslands: Ant diversity indicates restored grasslands

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 11:05 AM PDT

When it comes to restoring grasslands, ecologists may have another way to evaluate their progress -— ants. The more diverse the ant population, the closer a restored section of grassland is to its original state, according to one expert. When it comes to native grasslands, ants are "ecosystem engineers."

Microbial forensics sector not yet prepared for fulsome response to global biological outbreaks

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

Much as human DNA can be used as evidence in criminal trials, genetic information about microorganisms can be analyzed to identify pathogens or other biological agents in the event of a suspicious disease outbreak. Biological outbreaks can include natural occurences, accidental or negligent releases from laboratories, biocrimes aimed at individuals or small groups, or acts of bioterrorism and biowarfare intended to affect large populations.

Stem cells a soft touch for nano-engineered biomaterials

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

Stem cell behavior can be modified by manipulating the nanoscale properties of the material they are grown on -- improving the potential of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering as a result, researchers report. In this study, the researchers used tiny material patches known as nanopatches to alter the surface of the substrate and mimic the properties of a softer material.

How solar wind can break through Earth's magnetic field

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

Space is not empty. A wind of charged particles blows outwards from the Sun, carrying a magnetic field with it. Sometimes this solar wind can break through the Earth's magnetic field. Researchers now have an answer to one of the questions about how this actually occurs. When two areas with plasma (electrically charged gas) and magnetic fields with different orientations collide, the magnetic fields can be "clipped off" and "reconnected" so that the topology of the magnetic field is changed, they explain.

Echoes of ancient Earth identified by scientists?

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 08:33 AM PDT

A previously unexplained isotopic ratio may represent the echoes of the ancient Earth, which existed prior to the proposed Theia collision 4.5 billion years ago. A research team has analyzed the ratios of noble gas isotopes from deep within Earth's mantle, and has compared these results to isotope ratios closer to the surface. The found that 3He to 22Ne ratio from the shallow mantle is significantly higher than the equivalent ratio in the deep mantle.

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