Τετάρτη, 18 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top 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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

Mechanism could help old muscle grow

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:17 AM PDT

Researchers have identified a muscle-building mechanism that could be important in addressing sarcopenia, the significant loss of muscle mass and function that can occur as we age. Scientists are exploring different approaches to preserving and building muscle mass in older adults.

Low dose of targeted drug might improve cancer-killing virus therapy

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:45 PM PDT

Giving low doses of the targeted agent bortezomib with a cancer-killing virus might improve the effectiveness of the virus as a treatment for cancer with little added toxicity. The findings support the testing of this combination therapy in a clinical trial.

Discovery of Earth's northernmost perennial spring

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:45 PM PDT

Scientists have discovered the highest latitude perennial spring known in the world. This high-volume spring demonstrates that deep groundwater circulation through the cryosphere occurs, and can form gullies in a region of extreme low temperatures and with morphology remarkably similar to those on Mars. The 2009 discovery raises many new questions because it remains uncertain how such a high-volume spring can originate in a polar desert environment.

Many bodies prompt stem cells to change

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:45 PM PDT

How does a stem cell decide what path to take? In a way, it's up to the wisdom of the crowd. The DNA in a pluripotent stem cell is bombarded with waves of proteins whose ebb and flow nudge the cell toward becoming blood, bone, skin or organs. A new theory shows the cell's journey is neither a simple step-by-step process nor all random.

Gender-specific research improves accuracy of heart disease diagnosis in women

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:43 PM PDT

Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with dysfunctions of the smaller coronary arteries and the lining of the coronary arteries, known as non-obstructive coronary heart disease. Women previously diagnosed as having 'false positive' stress tests may have non-obstructive coronary disease, placing them at risk for heart attack. Clinicians can now be armed with the tools and knowledge necessary to more accurately detect, determine risk and treatment strategies for heart disease in women.

Sedentary behavior increases risk of certain cancers

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:43 PM PDT

Physical inactivity has been linked with diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, but it can also increase the risk of certain cancers, according to a study. When the highest levels of sedentary behavior were compared to the lowest, the researchers found a statistically significantly higher risk for three types of cancer -- colon, endometrial, and lung.

Poorly understood postural syndrome blights lives of young, well educated women

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:42 PM PDT

Postural tachycardia syndrome, or PoTS for short, is a debilitating syndrome that predominantly affects young well educated women, and blights their lives because it is so poorly understood and inconsistently treated, reveals a small study. PoTS is a by-product of orthostatic intolerance -- a disorder of the autonomic nervous system in which the circulatory and nervous system responses needed to compensate for the stress put on the body on standing upright, don't work properly.

Better methods to detect E. coli developed

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:40 PM PDT

Diagnosticians are helping the cattle industry save millions of dollars each year by developing earlier and accurate detection of E. coli. "Developing a method to detect E. coli before it can potentially contaminate the food supply benefits the beef industry by preventing costly recalls but also benefits the consumer by ensuring the safety of the beef supply," a researcher said.

Controlling ragweed pollen in Detroit: A no-mow solution for Motown?

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:39 PM PDT

When it comes to controlling hay fever-triggering ragweed plants on Detroit vacant lots, occasional mowing is worse than no mowing at all, and promoting reforestation might be the best solution. The researchers found that ragweed was significantly more likely to be present in vacant lots mowed once a year or once every two years -- a common practice in Detroit, which has one of the highest proportions of vacant lots in the United States -- than in lots mowed monthly or not at all.

Getting rid of old mitochondria: Some neurons turn to neighbors to help take out the trash

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:39 PM PDT

It's broadly assumed that cells degrade and recycle their own old or damaged organelles, but researchers have now discovered that some neurons transfer unwanted mitochondria -- the tiny power plants inside cells -- to supporting glial cells called astrocytes for disposal.

In military personnel, no difference between blast- and nonblast-related concussions

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:39 PM PDT

Explosions are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries in veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. A new study shows that military personnel with mild brain trauma related to such blasts had outcomes similar to those with mild brain injury from other causes, according to researchers.

Lower isn't necessarily better for people with high blood pressure

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:39 PM PDT

For decades, common medical wisdom has been "the lower the better" in treating the approximately one in three people who have high blood pressure. But does that approach result in reduced risk for dangerous heart events? Researchers found that lowering systolic blood pressure below 120 does not appear to provide additional benefit for patients. Systolic pressure is the top number in a standard blood pressure reading.

Great white shark population in good health along California coast

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:37 PM PDT

The great white shark is not endangered in the eastern North Pacific, and, in fact, is doing well enough that its numbers likely are growing, according to an international research team. Scientists reanalyzed 3-year-old research that indicated white shark numbers in the eastern North Pacific were alarmingly low, with only 219 counted at two sites. That study triggered petitions to list white sharks as endangered.

'Smoking gun' ancient coins are being looted from excavations

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:37 PM PDT

Millions of ancient looted coins from archaeological excavations enter the black market yearly, and a researcher who has seen plundered sites likens the thefts to stealing "smoking guns" from crime scenes. But those who collect and study coins have been far too reluctant to condemn the unregulated trade, he says.

Quantum biology: Algae evolved to switch quantum coherence on and off

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 12:15 PM PDT

Scientists have discovered how algae that survive in very low levels of light are able to switch on and off a weird quantum phenomenon that occurs during photosynthesis. The function in the algae of this quantum effect, known as coherence, remains a mystery, but it is thought it could help them harvest energy from the sun much more efficiently. Working out its role in a living organism could lead to advances such as better organic solar cells.

The games genes play: Algorithm helps explain sex in evolution

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 12:15 PM PDT

Computer theorists have identified an algorithm to describe the strategy used by genes during sexual recombination. In doing so, they address the dueling evolutionary forces of survival of the fittest and of diversity. "The key to this work is the making of a connection between three theoretical fields: algorithms, game theory and evolutionary theory," said one researcher. "This new bridge is an uncommon advance that opens up possibilities for cross-fertilization between the fields in the future."

Your genes affect your betting behavior

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 12:15 PM PDT

People playing competitive games like betting engage two main areas of the brain: the medial prefrontal cortex and the striatum. Researchers scanned 12 genes involved in dopamine regulation in these areas and found that some genetic variants affect how bettors deal with trial-and-error learning, while other variants affect belief learning, that is, how well they respond to the actions of others.

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