Παρασκευή, 27 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News


Bloodsucking mite threatens UK honeybees

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 02:27 PM PDT

Scientists have discovered how a bloodsucking parasite has transformed Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) into one of the biggest threats facing UK honeybees. Honeybees are a key pollinating insect, adding around $40B globally to crop value. Over recent years the spread of parasites and the viruses they transmit has resulted in high overwintering colony losses. New and emerging threats to insect pollinators are putting increasing pressure on the agricultural sector to meet the demands of a growing population.

Let there be light: Chemists develop magnetically responsive liquid crystals for writing tablets, billboards and more

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 12:09 PM PDT

Chemists have constructed liquid crystals with optical properties that can be instantly and reversibly controlled by an external magnetic field. The research opens the door to display applications relying on the instantaneous and contactless nature of magnetic manipulation -- such as signage, posters, writing tablets, and billboards. Requiring no electrodes, the liquid crystals have applications in anti-counterfeit technology and optical communication devices for controlling the amplitude, phase, polarization, propagation direction of light.

Not much force: Researchers detect smallest force ever measured

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 12:09 PM PDT

Researchers have detected the smallest force ever measured -- approximately 42 yoctonewtons -- using a unique optical trapping system that provides ultracold atoms. A yoctonewton is one septillionth of a newton.

Water-cleanup catalysts tackle biomass upgrading

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:18 AM PDT

A chemical engineer has spent a decade amassing evidence that palladium-gold nanoparticles are excellent catalysts for cleaning polluted water, but even he was surprised at how well the particles converted biodiesel waste into valuable chemicals.

Team develops a geothermometer for methane formation

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

A team of scientists has developed a new technique that can, for the first time, determine the temperature at which a natural methane sample formed. This determination can aid in figuring out how and where the gas formed.

Animals built reefs 550 million years ago, fossil study finds

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

It is a remarkable survivor of an ancient aquatic world -- now a new study sheds light on how one of Earth's oldest reefs was formed. Researchers have discovered that one of these reefs -- now located on dry land in Namibia -- was built almost 550 million years ago, by the first animals to have hard shells.

Ancient ocean currents may have changed pacing and intensity of ice ages: Slowing of currents may have flipped switch

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

Researchers have found that the deep ocean currents that move heat around the globe stalled or even stopped about 950,000 years ago, possibly due to expanding ice cover in the north. The slowing currents increased carbon dioxide storage in the ocean, leaving less in the atmosphere, which kept temperatures cold and kicked the climate system into a new phase of colder but less frequent ice ages, they hypothesize.

The shocking truth about electric fish: Genomic basis for the convergent evolution of electric organs

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

Scientists have found how the electric fish's jolt evolved. Biologists identified the regulatory molecules involved in the genetic and developmental pathways that electric fish have used to convert a simple muscle into an organ capable of generating a potent electrical field.

A simple solution for big data: New algorithm simplifies the categorization of data

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

Categorizing and representing huge amounts of data -- we're talking about peta- or even exabytes of information -- synthetically is a challenge of the future. A research paper proposes an efficient procedure to face up to this challenge.

Fighting parasitic infection inadvertently unleashes dormant virus

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:10 AM PDT

Signals from the immune system that help repel a common parasite inadvertently can cause a dormant viral infection to become active again, a new study shows. Further research is necessary to understand the clinical significance of the finding, but researchers said the study helps illustrate how complex interactions between infectious agents and the immune system have the potential to affect illness.

Foul exhaust fumes derail dinner for hungry moths

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:10 AM PDT

In new research on how pollinators find flowers when background odors are strong, researchers have found that both natural plant odors and human sources of pollution can conceal the scent of sought-after flowers. Car and truck exhaust fumes that foul the air for humans also cause problems for pollinators.

The social psychology of nerve cells

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 10:22 AM PDT

Cholinergic amacrine cells create a 'personal space' in much the same way that people distance themselves from one another in an elevator, researchers have discovered. In addition, the study shows that this feature is heritable and identifies a genetic contributor to it, pituitary tumor-transforming gene 1.

New species of small mammal: Round-eared elephant-shrew found in Namibia

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 10:22 AM PDT

Scientists have discovered a new species of round-eared sengi, or elephant-shrew, in the remote deserts of southwestern Africa. This is the third new species of sengi to be discovered in the wild in the past decade. It is also the smallest known member of the 19 sengis in the order Macroscelidea.

You can't teach speed: Sprinters break 10-year rule

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 10:22 AM PDT

Exceptional speed prior to formal training is a prerequisite for becoming a world-class sprinter, researchers have found. The authors noted that because speed is crucial for many sports, the new results imply that talent is important for many sports besides track and field. The authors also pointed out that their behavioral data complement many genetic and physiological studies indicating individual variation in athletic talent.

App focused on making obese adults less sedentary

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 10:22 AM PDT

More sedentary time, regardless of physical activity levels, is associated with greater risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease and mortality. However, a smartphone-based intervention can produce short-term reductions in sedentary behavior that may be effective in improving health.

Ask the crowd: Robots learn faster, better with online helpers

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 10:20 AM PDT

Sometimes it takes a village to teach a robot. Computer scientists have shown that crowdsourcing can be a quick and effective way to teach a robot how to complete tasks. Instead of learning from just one human, robots could one day query the larger online community, asking for instructions or input on the best way to set the table or water the garden.

Controlling body movement with light: Neuroscientists inhibit muscle contractions by shining light on spinal cord neurons

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

Neuroscientists report that they can inhibit muscle contractions by shining light on spinal cord neurons. The researchers studied mice in which a light-sensitive protein that promotes neural activity was inserted into a subset of spinal neurons. When the researchers shone blue light on the animals' spinal cords, their hind legs were completely but reversibly immobilized. The findings offer a new approach to studying the complex spinal circuits that coordinate movement and sensory processing, the researchers say.

Blocking key enzyme minimizes stroke injury, research finds

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

A drug that blocks the action of the enzyme Cdk5 could substantially reduce brain damage if administered shortly after a stroke, research suggests. The development of a Cdk5 inhibitor as an acute neuroprotective therapy has the potential to reduce stroke injury, researchers report.

Packing hundreds of sensors into a single optical fiber for use in harsh environments

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

By fusing together the concepts of active fiber sensors and high-temperature fiber sensors, a team of researchers has created an all-optical high-temperature sensor for gas flow measurements that operates at record-setting temperatures above 800 degrees Celsius. It's expected to find industrial sensing applications in harsh environments, such as deep geothermal drill cores or space missions.

Genetics and environment work together to help people become accomplished musicians, study finds

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:19 AM PDT

Mom or dad may have driven you to cello rehearsal all those years, but you can also thank your genes for pushing you to practice, according to new research. Genetics and environment work together to help people become accomplished musicians, finds the study of 850 sets of twins. It's another arrow in the quiver of the argument that both nature and nurture play a role in developing expertise.

Organic agriculture boosts biodiversity on farmlands

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:18 AM PDT

Organic farming fosters biodiversity. At least that's the theory. In practice, however, the number of habitats on the land plays an important role alongside the type and intensity of farming practices. These are the findings of an international study that looked at 10 regions in Europe and two in Africa. The study shows that even organic farms have to actively support biodiversity by, for example, conserving different habitats on their holdings.

Decoding characteristic food odors

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:18 AM PDT

How are we able to recognize foodstuffs like strawberries, coffee, barbecued meat or boiled potatoes by smell alone? Foodstuffs contain more than 10,000 different volatile substances. But only around 230 of these determine the odor of food. Narrowing it down further, between just three and 40 of these key odors are responsible for encoding the typical smell of an individual foodstuff. These compounds are then decoded by around 400 olfactory receptors in the nose.

Cheap and enviromentally friendly: Tofu ingredient could revolutionize solar panel manufacture

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:18 AM PDT

The chemical used to make tofu and bath salts could also replace a highly toxic and expensive substance used to make solar cells, a new study has revealed. Cadmium chloride is currently a key ingredient in solar cell technology used in millions of solar panels around the world. This soluble compound is highly toxic and expensive to produce, requiring elaborate safety measures to protect workers during manufacture and then specialist disposal when panels are no longer needed.

Brain circuits involved in stress-induced fevers identified

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:18 AM PDT

When we feel mentally stressed, we often also feel physiological changes, including an increase in body temperature. This increase in body temperature is known as psychological stress-induced hyperthermia. Stress for people in today's society can last a long time and cause a chronic increase in body temperature, a condition called psychogenic fever. Researchers now have identified a key neural circuit connection in the brain that's responsible for the development of psychological stress-induced hyperthermia.

LEGO bricks turned into scientific tool to study plant growth

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:17 AM PDT

Engineers are using LEGO bricks to build controlled environments to study how variations in climate and soil affect plant growth. They say LEGO bricks "are highly convenient and versatile building blocks" for the studies. While looking for a way to study plant and root growth that was simple, inexpensive and flexible -- something that allowed experiments to be reproduced all over the world, even in labs without the latest technologies or the infrastructure required for plant science or agronomy research -- researchers thought of LEGO bricks. And it worked.

Physicists' findings improve quality of flexible, conductive, transparent glass

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:17 AM PDT

A new technique will improve the quality of flexible, conductive, transparent glass. Companies such as Sharp and LG already use a-IGZO in some high-end displays. It's also found in Apple's new iPad Air. But it has been difficult to maintain transparency and conductivity: In some samples, experts said, the material took on a brown or yellow tinge that would harm the display's performance. New research addresses the problem.

Chimps like listening to music with a different beat

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:16 AM PDT

While preferring silence to music from the West, chimpanzees apparently like to listen to the different rhythms of music from Africa and India, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Researchers hone in on way to predict aggressiveness of oral cancer

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:16 AM PDT

Studying mouth cancer in mice, researchers have found a way to predict the aggressiveness of similar tumors in people, an early step toward a diagnostic test that could guide treatment, according to researchers. The investigators found a consistent pattern of gene expression associated with tumor spreading in mice. Analyzing genetic data from human oral cancer samples, they also found this gene signature in people with aggressive metastatic tumors.

Space-tested robot inspires medicine and manufacturing uses

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:13 AM PDT

Humans doing difficult, repetitive tasks or those who need assistance with movement may soon get a helping hand -- literally -- thanks to robotic technology developed to serve astronauts in space. Robonaut, a human-like robot designed by NASA and General Motors (GM), has been on the International Space Station since February 2011. Researchers have been testing the robot's ability to perform certain tasks to free up human crew time and energy.

New NASA images highlight U.S. air quality improvement

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 08:59 AM PDT

Anyone living in a major U.S. city for the past decade may have noticed a change in the air. The change is apparent in new NASA satellite images unveiled this week that demonstrate the reduction of air pollution across the country.

Managing specialized microbes to clean stubborn chemicals from environment

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 07:19 AM PDT

Unique groups of microorganisms capable of converting hazardous chlorinated chemicals like trichloroetheene into ethene, a benign end product of microbial biodegradation, have been examined by scientists. The studies explore the metabolic activities of a group of microbes known as Dehalococcoides and propose strategies to improve their effectiveness for environmental cleanup projects involving chlorinated chemicals.

Fruit flies help scientists uncover genes responsible for human communication

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 07:18 AM PDT

Toddlers acquire communication skills by babbling until what they utter is rewarded; however, the genes involved in learning language skills are far from completely understood. Now, using a gene identified in fruit flies, scientists have discovered a crucial component of the origin of language in humans.

Virus infection supports organ acceptance

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 07:18 AM PDT

Chronic hepatitis C virus infections are among the most common reasons for liver transplants. Because existing viruses also infect the new liver, the immune system is highly active there. Despite this, the new organ is not rejected, as scientists have now discovered. The long-term stimulation of the innate immune system by the virus actually increases the probability of tolerance.

Australia: Victoria's volcano count rises

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 07:18 AM PDT

Geologists have discovered three previously unrecorded volcanoes in volcanically active southeast Australia. The new research gives a detailed picture of an area of volcanic centers already known to geologists in the region.

Continued use of low-dose aspirin may lower pancreatic cancer risk

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 07:17 AM PDT

The longer a person took low-dose aspirin, the lower his or her risk for developing pancreatic cancer, according to a study recently published. Men and women who took low-dose aspirin regularly had 48 percent reduction in their risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Protection against pancreatic cancer ranged from 39 percent reduction in risk for those who took low-dose aspirin for six years or less, to 60 percent reduction in risk for those who took low-dose aspirin for more than 10 years.

We speak as we feel, we feel as we speak

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:57 AM PDT

Ground-breaking experiments have been conduced to uncover the links between language and emotions. Researchers were able to demonstrate that the articulation of vowels systematically influences our feelings and vice versa. The authors concluded that it would seem that language users learn that the articulation of 'i' sounds is associated with positive feelings and thus make use of corresponding words to describe positive circumstances. The opposite applies to the use of 'o' sounds.

Resistance to antibiotics: New rapid diagnosis

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:57 AM PDT

A rapid diagnostic test for multi-resistance to broad-spectrum antibiotics has just been developed by researchers. This new test allows the identification, in less than two hours, of multidrug-resistant strains of Acinetobacter baumannii, an important hospital pathogen. The large-scale application of this test will mean better control of the spread of certain traits of antibiotic resistance.

Oldest biodiversity found in Gabonese marine ecosystem

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:55 AM PDT

Researchers have discovered, in clay sediments from Gabon, fossils of the oldest multicellular organisms ever found. In total, more than 400 fossils dating back 2.1 billion years have been collected, including dozens of new types. The detailed analysis of these finds reveals a broad biodiversity composed of micro and macroscopic organisms of highly varied size and shape that evolved in a marine ecosystem.

Climate control for the burns unit

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:46 AM PDT

Individualized climate control for burns victims in hospitals might not only improve comfort for such patients, but improve working conditions for those taking care of them, research suggests. In addition, it could cut energy requirements by three quarters where cooling is needed and by up to a quarter where heating is used.

Mothers are more altruistic than fathers but only if they are acting alone

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:46 AM PDT

The assumption that mothers are more driven by altruism with regard to their children than fathers is more complex than once thought. The results add qualifications to an important evolutionary theory.

Janus capsules, miniature hollow structures, produced easily at low cost

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:46 AM PDT

Everything depends on how you look at them. Looking from one side you will see one face; and when looking from the opposite side – you will see a different one. So appear Janus capsules, miniature, hollow structures, in different fragments composed of different micro- and nanoparticles. Theoreticians were able to design models of such capsules, but a real challenge was to produce them. Now, Janus capsules can be produced easily and at low cost.

A breakthrough for organic reactions in water

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:29 AM PDT

Green-chemistry researchers have discovered a way to use water as a solvent in one of the reactions most widely used to synthesize chemical products and pharmaceuticals. The findings mark a potential milestone in efforts to develop organic reactions in water.

To avoid interbreeding, monkeys have undergone evolution in facial appearance

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:29 AM PDT

Old World monkeys have undergone a remarkable evolution in facial appearance as a way of avoiding interbreeding with closely related and geographically proximate species, researchers have found. Their research provides the best evidence to date for the role of visual cues as a barrier to breeding across species.

Increased nearsightedness linked to higher education levels and more years spent in school

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:29 AM PDT

Researchers have found strong evidence that attaining a higher level of education and spending more years in school are two factors associated with a greater prevalence and severity of nearsightedness, or myopia. The research is the first population-based study to demonstrate that environmental factors may outweigh genetics in the development of myopia.

Researchers find portable, low-cost optical imaging tool useful in concussion evaluation

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 11:20 PM PDT

Two separate research projects, published recently, represent important steps toward demonstrating on patients the utility of portable, optical brain imaging for concussion and substantiating -- via a large-scale statistical analysis -- computerized neurocognitive testing for concussion.

'Nanosubmarine' designed that delivers complementary molecules inside cells

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

Nanoparticles that under the right conditions, self-assemble -- trapping complementary guest molecules within their structure -- have been recently created by scientists. Like tiny submarines, these versatile nanocarriers can navigate in the watery environment surrounding cells and transport their guest molecules through the membrane of living cells to sequentially deliver their cargo.

Did Neanderthals eat their vegetables? First direct evidence of plants in Neanderthal diet

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

Scientists have identified human fecal remains from El Salt, a known site of Neanderthal occupation in southern Spain that dates back 50,000 years. The researchers analyzed each sample for metabolized versions of animal-derived cholesterol, as well as phytosterol, a cholesterol-like compound found in plants. While all samples contained signs of meat consumption, two samples showed traces of plants -- the first direct evidence that Neanderthals may have enjoyed an omnivorous diet.

Potent neurotoxin found in flatworm: Neurotoxin tetrodotoxin found in terrestrial environment for first time

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

The neurotoxin tetrodotoxin has been found for the first time in two species living out of water. Tetrodotoxin is a potent paralysis-inducing neurotoxin found in a multitude of aquatic organisms, but until now has not been found in terrestrial invertebrates.

Finding elusive emperor penguins: Both surveyors and satellites needed to study remote penguin populations

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:18 PM PDT

Field surveys and satellites complement each other when studying remote penguin populations. Penguins residing on Antarctica's ice sheets must face moving, breaking, and shifting ice. Accurate monitoring of population trends is critical to understanding the ongoing rapid changes in Antarctic ecosystems. However, the remoteness and logistical complexity of operating in Antarctica, especially during winter, can make such an assessment difficult.

Causal link between vitamin D deficiency, hypertension suggested by researchers

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:17 PM PDT

New genetic research provides compelling evidence that low levels of vitamin D have a causal role in the development of high blood pressure (hypertension). The findings suggest that vitamin D supplementation could be effective in combating some cases of hypertension. "In view of the costs and side effects associated with antihypertensive drugs, the potential to prevent or reduce blood pressure and therefore the risk of hypertension with vitamin D is very attractive," explains study leader.

People with tinnitus process emotions differently from their peers, researchers report

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 03:49 PM PDT

Patients with persistent ringing in the ears -- a condition known as tinnitus -- process emotions differently in the brain from those with normal hearing, researchers report. Tinnitus afflicts 50 million people in the United States, and causes those with the condition to hear noises that aren't really there. These phantom sounds are not speech, but rather whooshing noises, train whistles, cricket noises or whines. Their severity often varies day to day.

Changes in forage fish abundance alter Atlantic cod distribution, affect fishery success

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 03:48 PM PDT

A shift in the prey available to Atlantic cod in the Gulf of Maine that began nearly a decade ago contributed to the controversy that surrounded the 2011 assessment for this stock. A recent study of how this occurred may help fishery managers, scientists, and the industry understand and resolve apparent conflicts between assessment results and the experiences of the fishing industry.

Watching too much TV may increase risk of early death: Three hours a day linked to premature death from any cause

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 03:48 PM PDT

Adults who watch TV three hours or more a day may double their risk of premature death from any cause. Researchers suggest adults should consider getting regular exercise, avoiding long sedentary periods and reducing TV viewing to one to two hours a day.

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