Παρασκευή, 13 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News


Grit better than GRE for predicting grad student success

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 06:53 PM PDT

Selecting graduate students in the fields of science and engineering based on an assessment of their character instead of relying almost entirely on their scores on a standardized test would significantly improve the quality of the students that are admitted students and, at the same time, boost the participation of women and minorities in these key disciplines, experts say.

Identifying cyst-laden meat: Sarcocystis thermostable PCR detection kit developed

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 06:24 PM PDT

Consumption of undercooked cyst-laden meat from cattle, sheep and goats may cause infection in humans. Researchers have successfully invented a PCR kit which provides a suitable and feasible means of screening, detection and identification with high sensitivity and specificity of the parasite.

Creating a water layer for a clearer view

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 06:24 PM PDT

Scientists have invented a new permanent surface coating that attracts water instead of repelling it, for a better, clearer view. The patented technology simplifies the coating process, making it more cost-effective for manufacturers.

Lower vitamin D level in blood linked to higher premature death rate

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 02:46 PM PDT

Researchers have found that people with lower blood levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to die prematurely as people with higher blood levels of vitamin D. The finding was based on a systematic review of 32 previous studies that included analyses of vitamin D, blood levels and human mortality rates. The specific variant of vitamin D assessed was 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the primary form found in blood.

Processed red meat linked to higher risk of heart failure, death in men

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 02:46 PM PDT

Men who regularly eat moderate amounts of processed red meat such as cold cuts (ham/salami) and sausage may have an increased risk of heart failure incidence and a greater risk of death from heart failure. Researchers recommend avoiding processed red meat and limiting the amount of unprocessed red meat to one to two servings a week or less.

New test detects toxic prions in blood

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 02:46 PM PDT

The first cases of mad cow disease in humans occurred in the late 1990s and are thought to be the consequence of eating contaminated beef products. Several cases of secondary infections caused by transfusions with blood from donors who developed vCJD have been reported, raising concerns about the safety of blood products. A new article describes an assay that can detect prions in blood samples from humans with vCJD and in animals at early stages of the incubation phase.

Forging new ground in oil forensics: Deepwater Horizon Oil on shore even years later, after most has degraded

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 12:30 PM PDT

Years after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, oil continues to wash ashore as oil-soaked 'sand patties,' persists in salt marshes abutting the Gulf of Mexico, and questions remain about how much oil has been deposited on the seafloor. Scientists have developed a unique way to fingerprint oil, and have successfully identified Macondo Well oil, even after most of it has degraded.

New computer program aims to teach itself everything about anything

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 12:27 PM PDT

In today's digitally driven world, access to information appears limitless. But when you have something specific in mind that you don't know, like the name of that niche kitchen tool you saw at a friend's house, it can be surprisingly hard to sift through the volume of information online and know how to search for it. Or, the opposite problem can occur -- we can look up anything on the Internet, but how can we be sure we are finding everything about the topic without spending hours in front of the computer? Computer scientists have created the first fully automated computer program that teaches everything there is to know about any visual concept.

Findings point toward one of first therapies for Lou Gehrig's disease

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Researchers have determined that a copper compound known for decades may form the basis for a therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. In humans, prior to this, no therapy for ALS has ever been discovered that could extend lifespan more than a few additional months.

With the right rehabilitation, paralyzed rats learn to grip again

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 11:23 AM PDT

After a large stroke, motor skills barely improve, even with rehabilitation. An experiment conducted on rats demonstrates that a course of therapy combining the stimulation of nerve fiber growth with drugs and motor training can be successful. The key, however, is the correct sequence: Paralyzed animals only make an almost complete recovery if the training is delayed until after the growth promoting drugs have been administered.

Scientists discover link between climate change and ocean currents over 6 million years

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Scientists have discovered a relationship between climate change and ocean currents over the past six million years after analyzing an area of the Atlantic near the Strait of Gibraltar, according to new research.

Habitat fragmentation increases vulnerability to disease in wild plants

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Proximity to other meadows increases disease resistance in wild meadow plants, according to a new study. The study analyzed the epidemiological dynamics of a fungal pathogen in the archipelago of Finland. The study surveyed more than 4,000 Plantago lanceolata meadows and their infection status by a powdery mildew fungus in the Åland archipelago of Finland.

Unexpected origin for important parts of the nervous system

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 11:23 AM PDT

A new study shows that a part of the nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, is formed in a way that is different from what researchers previously believed. In this study a new phenomenon is investigated within the field of developmental biology, and the findings may lead to new medical treatments for congenital disorders of the nervous system.

New evidence for oceans of water deep in the Earth: Water bound in mantle rock alters view of Earth's composition

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Researchers report evidence for potentially oceans worth of water deep beneath the United States. Though not in the familiar liquid form -- the ingredients for water are bound up in rock deep in the Earth's mantle -- the discovery may represent the planet's largest water reservoir. The researchers have found deep pockets of magma located about 400 miles beneath North America, a likely signature of the presence of water at these depths.

Father's age influences rate of evolution: 90% of new mutations from father, chimpanzee study shows

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 11:23 AM PDT

The offspring of chimpanzees inherit 90 percent of new mutations from their father, and just 10 percent from their mother, a finding which demonstrates how mutation differs between humans and our closest living relatives, and emphasizes the importance of father's age on evolution.

Cellular complexity of brain tumors charted

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Scientists have conducted a first-of-its-kind study that characterizes the cellular diversity within glioblastoma tumors from patients. The study, which looked at the expression of thousands of genes in individual cells from patient tumors, revealed that the cellular makeup of each tumor is more heterogeneous than previously suspected.

Quantum computation: Fragile yet error-free

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Physicists have experimentally encoded one quantum bit (qubit) in entangled states distributed over several particles and for the first time carried out simple computations on it. The 7-qubit quantum register could be used as the main building block for a quantum computer that corrects any type of error.

Long-range tunneling of quantum particles

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 11:22 AM PDT

One of the most remarkable consequences of the rules in quantum mechanics is the capability of a quantum particle to penetrate through a potential barrier even though its energy would not allow for the corresponding classical trajectory. This is known as the quantum tunnel effect and manifests itself in a multitude of well-known phenomena. For example, it explains nuclear radioactive decay, fusion reactions in the interior of stars, and electron transport through quantum dots. Tunneling also is at the heart of many technical applications, for instance it allows for imaging of surfaces on the atomic length scale in scanning tunneling microscopes.

Rapid-acting antidepressant for treatment-resistant depression: New insights

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 11:21 AM PDT

Researchers have generated fresh insights that could aid in the development of rapid-acting antidepressants for treatment-resistant depression. The researchers found that by blocking NMDA receptors with the drug ketamine, they could elicit rapid antidepressant effects in patients with treatment-resistant depression. Ketamine was developed as an anesthetic, but is better known publicly for its abuse as the party drug Special K. Researchers are now seeking alternatives because ketamine can produce side effects that include hallucinations and the potential for abuse -- limiting its utility as an antidepressant.

Mexican genetics study reveals huge variation in ancestry: Basis for health differences among Latinos discovered

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 11:21 AM PDT

In the most comprehensive genetic study of the Mexican population to date, researchers have identified tremendous genetic diversity, reflecting thousands of years of separation among local populations and shedding light on a range of confounding aspects of Latino health.

Brain power: New insight into how brain regulates its blood flow

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 10:23 AM PDT

Engineering professors have identified a new component of the biological mechanism that controls blood flow in the brain, demonstrating that the vascular endothelium plays a critical role in the regulation of blood flow in response to stimulation in the living brain. Understanding how and why the brain regulates its blood flow could provide important clues to understanding early brain development, disease, and aging.

Synchronized brain waves enable rapid learning

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 09:13 AM PDT

The human mind can rapidly absorb and analyze new information as it flits from thought to thought. These quickly changing brain states may be encoded by synchronization of brain waves across different brain regions, according to a new study.

Viral infections, including flu, could be inhibited by naturally occurring protein

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 09:13 AM PDT

By boosting a protein that naturally exists in our cells, an international team of researchers has found a potential way to enhance our ability to sense and inhibit viral infections. The laboratory-based discovery could lead to more effective treatments for viruses ranging from hepatitis C to the flu.

Buy lunch, pay with your hand: Vein scanning technique

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 09:04 AM PDT

Paying for a coffee or lunch by simply scanning your palm still sounds like science fiction to most of us. However, an engineering student in Sweden has made it happen -- making his the first known company in the world to install the vein scanning technique in stores and coffee shops.

Potential new treatment may protect celiac patients from gluten-induced injury

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 08:46 AM PDT

The gluten-specific enzyme ALV003 reduces a patient's exposure to gluten and its potential harm, according to a new phase 2 study. This study is the first to find that a non-dietary intervention can potentially benefit celiac disease patients.

Double trouble for the Mediterranean Sea: Acidification and warming threaten iconic species

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 08:45 AM PDT

Scientist have finalized their findings about the threat of Mediterranean Sea warming and acidification on key species and ecosystems after a 3.5 year study. They have found that this sea is warming and acidifying at unprecedented rates – the main reason is emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. This increases the CO2 in the atmosphere causing warming of the atmosphere and the ocean as well as acidification of its waters due to uptake of CO2 by surface waters.

When good people do bad things: Being in a group makes some people lose touch with their personal moral beliefs

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 07:49 AM PDT

Researchers find that being in a group makes some people lose touch with their personal moral beliefs. When people get together in groups, unusual things can happen -- both good and bad. Groups create important social institutions that an individual could not achieve alone, but there can be a darker side to such alliances: Belonging to a group makes people more likely to harm others outside the group.

Rise and fall of prehistoric penguin populations charted

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 06:51 AM PDT

A study of how penguin populations have changed over the last 30,000 years has shown that between the last ice age and up to around 1,000 years ago penguin populations benefitted from climate warming and retreating ice.

David and Goliath: How a tiny spider catches much larger prey

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 06:50 AM PDT

In nature, it is very rare to find a proverbial much smaller David able to overpower and kill a Goliath for supper. This is exactly the modus operandi of a solitary tiny spider from the Negev desert in Israel that routinely kills ants up to almost four times its own size.

Alcohol abuse damage in neurons at a molecular scale identified for first time

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 06:50 AM PDT

New research has identified, for the first time, the structural damage caused at a molecular level to the brain by the chronic excessive abuse of alcohol. In concrete, the research team has determined the alterations produced in the neurons of the prefrontal zone of the brain (the most advanced zone in terms of evolution and that which controls executive functions such as planning, designing strategies, working memory, selective attention or control of behavior. This research opens up pathways for generating new pharmaceutical drugs and therapies that enhance the life of alcoholic persons and reduce the morbimortality due to alcoholism.

White sharks in northwest Atlantic offers optimistic outlook for recovery

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 05:59 AM PDT

White sharks are among the largest, most widespread apex predators in the ocean, but are also among the most vulnerable. A new study, the most comprehensive ever on seasonal distribution patterns and historic trends in abundance of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in the western North Atlantic Ocean, used records compiled over more than 200 years to update knowledge and fill in gaps in information about this species.

Going inside an ant raft: Researchers look to CT scan to visualize connectivity phenomenon

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 05:59 AM PDT

Researchers froze ant rafts and scanned them with a miniature CT scan machine to look at the strongest part of the structure -- the inside -- to discover how opaque ants connect, arrange and orient themselves with each other.

Energy demands of raising a pup push sea otter moms to the limit

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 05:59 AM PDT

By the time a sea otter pup is weaned, its mother may be so depleted physiologically that she is unable to survive the stress of a minor wound or infection. To understand why this happens, biologists quantified the energy demands of a growing sea otter pup, revealing just how much it costs a sea otter mom to raise her pup.

The 'microbial garden' taking the shine off glaciers

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 05:59 AM PDT

The first ecological study of an entire glacier has found that microbes drastically reduce surface reflectivity and have a non-negligible impact on the amount of sunlight that is reflected into space. Observing how life thrives at extreme cold temperatures also has important implications for the search for life on distant worlds, such as Jupiter's icy moon Europa.

Regular exercise beneficial in suppressing inflammation in rheumatic disease

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 05:53 AM PDT

Research findings suggest that exercise transiently suppresses local and systemic inflammation, reinforcing the beneficial effects of exercise and the need for this to be regular in order to achieve clinical efficacy in rheumatic disease.

Chimpanzees spontaneously initiate and maintain cooperative behavior

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 05:53 AM PDT

Without any pre-training or restrictions in partner choice among chimpanzees, researchers found for the first time that chimpanzees housed in a socially complex, contained setting spontaneously cooperate with multiple partners of their choosing. This finding addresses long-standing doubt about the level of cooperation chimpanzees are able to spontaneously achieve or understand.

Tiny plants ride on the coattails of migratory birds: Migrant birds may be virtual dispersal highways for plants

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 05:53 AM PDT

Since the days of Darwin, biologists have questioned why certain plants occur in widely separated places, the farthest reaches of North American and the Southern tip of South America but nowhere in between. How did they get there? Researchers have now found an important piece of the puzzle: migratory birds about to fly to South America from the Arctic harbor small plant parts in their feathers.

'Pocket sauropod' sheds light on giant's evolution

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 05:51 AM PDT

A new study presents a detailed description of the skull bones of a dwarf sauropod, together with an updated reconstruction of an adult Europasaurus skull. At 40 meters long and 100 tons in weight, and with an exceptionally long neck and small head, the herbivorous sauropod dinosaurs were the largest animals ever to have walked the Earth.

Immune response affects sleep and memory

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 05:51 AM PDT

Sickness-induced insomnia is common because of the link between the brain and the immune system. Fighting off illness- rather than the illness itself- causes sleep deprivation and affects memory, a new study has found. Biologists said a common perception is that if you are sick, you sleep more. But the study, carried out in flies, found that sickness induced insomnia is quite common.

Why Diplodocus did not put all her eggs in one basket

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 05:51 AM PDT

If you thought the largest dinosaurs to have walked the earth produced the biggest eggs, you'd be mistaken. Scientists have discovered that both individual egg size and clutch size for the sauropods – which includes Diplodocus – were a lot smaller than might be expected for such enormous creatures.

Dormant Viruses Re-Emerge in Patients with Lingering Sepsis, Signaling Immune Suppression

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 05:50 AM PDT

A provocative study links prolonged episodes of sepsis — a life-threatening infection and leading cause of death in hospitals — to the reactivation of otherwise dormant viruses in the body. In healthy people, such latent viruses are kept in check by the immune system. But a new study provides strong evidence that when sepsis lingers for more than a few days, which is common, viruses re-emerge and enter the bloodstream, signaling that the immune system has become suppressed.

Circuits capable of functioning at temperatures greater than 350 degrees Celsius

Posted: 12 Jun 2014 05:50 AM PDT

Engineering researchers have designed integrated circuits that can survive at temperatures greater than 350 degrees Celsius – or roughly 660 degrees Fahrenheit. Their work will improve the functioning of processors, drivers, controllers and other analog and digital circuits used in power electronics, automobiles and aerospace equipment -- all of which must perform at high and often extreme temperatures.

Manipulating and detecting ultrahigh frequency sound waves: 1,000 times higher resolution ultrasound images possible

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 02:10 PM PDT

Researchers have demonstrated a technique for detecting and controlling ultrahigh frequency sound waves at the nanometer scale. This represents an advance towards next generation ultrasonic imaging with potentially 1,000 times higher resolution than today's medical ultrasounds.

MRI brain scans detect people with early Parkinson's

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 02:09 PM PDT

A simple and quick MRI technique that offers promise for early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease has been developed by researchers. The team demonstrated that their new MRI approach can detect people who have early-stage Parkinson's disease with 85 percent accuracy. Parkinson's disease is characterized by tremor, slow movement, and stiff and inflexible muscles. It's thought to affect around 1 in 500 people.

Poor cardiovascular health linked to memory, learning deficits

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 02:09 PM PDT

People with poor cardiovascular health have a substantially higher incidence of cognitive impairment. Better cardiovascular health was more common in men and among people with higher education and higher income. The incidence of mental impairment was found more commonly in those with a lower income, who lived in the 'stroke belt' or had cardiovascular disease.

Famine fear won't sway minds on GM crops

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 02:09 PM PDT

Stories of how genetically modified (GM) crops could have prevented the Irish Potato Famine were no more likely to boost support for disease-resistant genetically modified crops than were generic crop-disease descriptions. "If you think genetically modified crops are dangerous 'frankenfoods' and/or that crop disease is best controlled with chemicals, plaintive tales of historical famines won't change your mind about genetic modification for disease resistance," one researcher said.

Findings may advance iron-rich, cadmium-free crops

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 02:07 PM PDT

With reports of toxic, cadmium-tainted rice in China, a new study describes a protein that transports metals in certain plants and holds promise for developing iron-rich but cadmium-free crops. Iron and cadmium are both found in soil and are interchangeably taken up by iron transporters in plants. Pollution and heavy fertilizer use have increased soil cadmium levels in China, for example. In humans, cadmium can damage internal organs and cause cancer. At the same time, iron is an essential nutrient for plants and humans. Iron deficiency affects 30 percent of the world's population.

Diet higher in protein may be linked to lower risk of stroke

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 02:07 PM PDT

People with diets higher in protein, especially from fish, may be less likely to have a stroke than those with diets lower in protein, according to a meta-analysis. The meta-analysis looked at all of the available research on the relationship between protein in the diet and the risk of stroke. Seven studies with a total of 254,489 participants who were followed for an average of 14 years were included in the analysis.

Mining data archives yields haul of 'red nuggets' galaxies

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 12:11 PM PDT

The world of astronomy has changed. An astronomer used to have to travel to a remote location and endure long, cold nights, patiently guiding a telescope to collect precious photons of light. Now, a proliferation of online archives allows astronomers to make discoveries from the comfort of their own offices. By mining such archives, a team of astronomers has found a treasure trove of 'red nugget' galaxies.

Key step toward a safer strep vaccine

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 11:37 AM PDT

The genes encoding a molecule that famously defines Group A Streptococcus (strep), a pathogenic bacterial species responsible for more than 700 million infections worldwide each year, has been identified by an international team of scientists. Efforts to develop such a vaccine have been significantly hindered by complexities in how the human immune system reacts to the bacterial pathogen. Specifically, some patients with strep infections produce antibodies that cross-react with their own heart valve tissue, leading to rheumatic fever and heart damage.

'Master' protein identified in pulmonary fibrosis

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 11:37 AM PDT

The key role played by an ancient protein in the course of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis has been uncovered by scientists. The research offers more than an unprecedentedly detailed explanation of the disease's tragic course. It also points toward a new therapeutic strategy. The authors implicate it as the "master regulator" of what appears to be a tragically errant repair response to the mysterious lung injuries that give rise to the disease.

How Earth avoided global warming, last time around

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 11:37 AM PDT

Geochemists have calculated a huge rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide was only avoided by the formation of a vast mountain range in the middle of the ancient supercontinent, Pangea. A new model explains some of the events in the 80 million years following the start of the Carboniferous period.

Zebrafish model helps identify drug compound that reverses lethal form of cardiomyopathy

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 11:36 AM PDT

Investigators have identified a drug compound that appears to reverse arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy using a zebrafish model. This condition is a hereditary disease and leading cause of sudden death in young people. It damages the muscle of the heart's ventricles (the pumping chambers) so that, over time, muscle cells or myocytes, become replaced by fatty deposits and fibrosis, leaving patients especially susceptible to arrhythmias.

Migrating north may trigger immediate health declines among Mexicans

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 10:20 AM PDT

Mexican immigrants who relocate to the United States are more likely to experience declines in health within a short time period compared with other Mexicans, according to a study. Barriers faced by immigrants -- like poorly paying jobs, crowded housing and family separation, as well as the migration process itself -- may be cause of such health declines.

Gum disease bacteria selectively disarm immune system, study finds

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 10:20 AM PDT

Bacteria responsible for many cases of periodontitis cause an imbalance in the microbial community in the gums, with a sophisticated, two-prong manipulation of the human immune system, research shows. Not only does the team's discovery open up new targets for periodontitis treatment, it also suggests a bacterial strategy that could be at play in other diseases involving dysbiosis.

Leukemia drug found to stimulate immunity against many cancer types

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 10:20 AM PDT

A class of drug currently being used to treat leukemia has the unexpected side-effect of boosting immune responses against many different cancers, reports a new study. The drugs, called p110´ inhibitors, have shown such remarkable efficacy against certain leukemias in recent clinical trials that patients on the placebo were switched to the real drug. Until now, however, they have not been tested in other types of cancer.

More than just food for koalas: Scientists sequence genome of eucalyptus -- a global tree for fuel and fiber

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 10:19 AM PDT

Researchers seek to harness and improve upon Eucalyptus' potential for enhancing sustainable biofuels and biomaterials production. It can be harvested from tropical and temperate zones and has over 700 species that are rich in genetic variation. The international effort to sequence and analyze the genome of Eucalyptus grandis engaged more than 80 researchers from 30 institutions, representing 18 countries.

Weird 'magic' ingredient for quantum computing: Contextuality

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 10:18 AM PDT

A form of quantum weirdness is a key ingredient for building quantum computers according to new research. Researchers have shown that a weird aspect of quantum theory called contextuality is a necessary resource to achieve the so-called magic required for universal quantum computation.

Gigantic explosions buried in dust: Probing environment around dark gamma-ray bursts

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 10:17 AM PDT

Astronomers have for the first time directly mapped out the molecular gas and dust in the host galaxies of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) — the biggest explosions in the universe. In a complete surprise, less gas was observed than expected, and correspondingly much more dust, making some GRBs appear as "dark GRBs".

New fossil find pinpoints the origin of jaws in vertebrates

Posted: 11 Jun 2014 10:17 AM PDT

A major fossil discovery in Canada sheds new light on the development of the earliest vertebrates, including the origin of jaws, the first time this feature has been seen so early in the fossil record.

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