Τετάρτη, 2 Ιουλίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News


Five-legged kangaroo? Telling the tale of a kangaroo's tail

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 04:33 PM PDT

Kangaroos may be nature's best hoppers. But when they are grazing on all fours, which is most of the time, their tail becomes a powerful fifth leg, says a new study. It turns out that kangaroo tails provide as much propulsive force as their front and hind legs combined as they eat their way across the landscape.

Nearly 80 percent of US deaths in first three decades of life are due to unintentional injury or violence

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 04:32 PM PDT

A new report on unintentional injury and violence in the United States has found that prevention strategies across society show a great deal of promise in preventing unintended deaths and injuries. In 2010 alone, the top three causes of death for those aged between one and 30 were unintentional injury, suicide, and homicide. Almost four fifths of deaths among people in this age group were due to injuries, with only one fifth due to chronic diseases and only 1% due to infectious diseases.

How do ants get around? Ultra-sensitive machines measure their every step

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 04:32 PM PDT

How do ants manage to move so nimbly whilst coordinating three pairs of legs and a behind that weighs up to 60 percent of their body mass? Scientists have recently developed a device that may reveal the answer and could even help design micro-robots in the future. Researchers used an elastic polycarbonate material to produce a miniature force plate. Springs arranged at right angles to each other enabled forces to be measured across the plate in the micro-Newton range.

More people means more plant growth, NASA data show

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 04:20 PM PDT

Ecologist Thomas Mueller uses satellite data to study how the patterns of plant growth relate to the movement of caribou and gazelle. The research sparked an idea: Would the footprint of human activity show up in the data? Mueller teamed up with university and NASA colleagues to find out. Their new analysis shows that on a global scale, the presence of people corresponds to more plant productivity, or growth.

Plants respond to leaf vibrations caused by insects' chewing

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 03:38 PM PDT

Previous studies have suggested that plant growth can be influenced by sound and that plants respond to wind and touch. Now, researchers, in a collaboration that brings together audio and chemical analysis, have determined that plants respond to the sounds that caterpillars make when eating plants and that the plants respond with more defenses.

New metamaterial gives light a one-way ticket

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 03:38 PM PDT

Researchers have built a silver, glass and chromium nanostructure that can all but stop visible light cold in one direction while giving it a pass in the other. The device could someday play a role in optical information processing and in novel biosensing schemes.

Seeing your true colors: Standards for hyperspectral imaging

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 03:38 PM PDT

After a successful non-human trial, researchers have started gathering data on how human skin looks under various wavelengths of light in order to develop badly needed standards for a diagnostic technique called hyperspectral imaging that gives doctors a noninvasive, painless way to discriminate between healthy and diseased tissue and reveal how well damaged tissue is healing over a wide area.

Fear, not data, motivates sunscreen users, research shows

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 03:37 PM PDT

We're often told that worrying can be harmful to one's health. But researchers say that when it comes to preventing skin cancer, a little fear is good for you. "This study is important because most of what we do in public health communications focuses on spreading knowledge and information. By not addressing emotions, we're potentially missing a rich influence on behavior when interventions don't address feelings," says the lead researcher.

Solar panels light the way from carbon dioxide to fuel

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 02:01 PM PDT

Researchers have devised an efficient method for harnessing sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into a potential alternative fuel known as formic acid. The transformation from carbon dioxide and water to formic acid was powered by a commercial solar panel.

Behind a marine creature's bright green fluorescent glow

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 02:01 PM PDT

Probing the mysterious glow of light produced naturally by animals, scientists have deciphered the structural components related to fluorescence brightness in the primitive sea creature known as amphioxus. The study carries implications for a variety of industries looking to maximize brightness of natural fluorescence, including applications in biotechnology such as adapting fluorescence for biomedical protein tracers and tracking gene expression in the human body.

Adults stop anti-rejection drugs after stem-cell transplant reverses sickle cell disease

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 02:01 PM PDT

Half of patients in a trial have safely stopped immunosuppressant medication following a modified blood stem-cell transplant for severe sickle cell disease, according to a new study. The transplant done in the study reversed sickle cell disease in nearly all the patients.

Study examines neurological outcomes for TBI treatments

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 01:52 PM PDT

In patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), neither the administration of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) or maintaining a higher hemoglobin concentration through blood transfusion resulted in improved neurological outcome at 6 months, according to a study. Transfusing at higher hemoglobin concentrations was associated with a higher risk of adverse events.

Drug everolimus does not improve overall survival in patients with advanced liver cancer

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 01:52 PM PDT

Despite strong preclinical data, the drug everolimus failed to improve overall survival in patients with advanced liver cancer, compared to placebo, according to a study. Patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC; a type of liver cancer) have a median overall survival of less than l year, largely because of the absence of effective therapies.

Kudzu can release soil carbon, accelerate global warming

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:57 AM PDT

Scientists are shedding new light on how invasion by exotic plant species affects the ability of soil to store greenhouse gases. The research could have far-reaching implications for how we manage agricultural land and native ecosystems. Since soil stores more carbon than both the atmosphere and terrestrial vegetation combined, the repercussions for how we manage agricultural land and ecosystems to facilitate the storage of carbon could be dramatic.

Blind lead the way in brave new world of tactile technology

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:57 AM PDT

Imagine feeling a slimy jellyfish, a prickly cactus or map directions on your iPad Mini retina display, because that's where tactile technology is headed. But you'll need more than just an index finger to feel your way around. New research has found that people are better and faster at navigating tactile technology when using both hands and several fingers. Moreover, blind people outmaneuvered their sighted counterparts.

New compound blocks 'gatekeeper' enzyme to kill malaria

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:57 AM PDT

Researchers are homing in on a new target for malaria treatment, after developing a compound that blocks the action of a key 'gatekeeper' enzyme essential for malaria parasite survival. The compound, called WEHI-916, is the first step toward a new class of antimalarial drugs that could cure and prevent malaria infections caused by all species of the parasite, including those resistant to existing drugs.

Cellular gates for sodium, calcium controlled by common element of ancient origin

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:55 AM PDT

Researchers have spotted a strong family trait in two distant relatives: The channels that permit entry of sodium and calcium ions into cells share similar means for regulating ion intake. The new evidence is likely to aid development of drugs for channel-linked diseases ranging from epilepsy to heart ailments to muscle weakness.

Two Kuiper Belt objects found: Hubble to proceed with full search for New Horizons targets

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:55 AM PDT

Planetary scientists have successfully used the Hubble Space Telescope to find two Kuiper Belt objects for NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. After the marathon probe zooms past Pluto in July 2015, it will travel across the Kuiper Belt -- a vast rim of primitive ice bodies left over from the birth of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago. If NASA approves, the probe could be redirected to fly to a Kuiper Belt object and photograph it up close.

Video games could provide venue for exploring sustainability concepts

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:29 AM PDT

Video games have the potential to educate the public and encourage development of creative solutions to social, economic and environmental problems related to global sustainability issues such as pollution, drought or climate change. "Video games encourage creative and strategic thinking, which could help people make sense of complex problems," said one author.

New bridge design improves earthquake resistance, reduces damage and speeds construction

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:29 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a new design for the framework of columns and beams that support bridges, called 'bents,' to improve performance for better resistance to earthquakes, less damage and faster on-site construction.

Addiction starts with an overcorrection in brain, study shows

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:29 AM PDT

A trio of new studies show how the brain overcorrects to drugs and alcohol in a way that suppresses dopamine long-term, leading to withdrawal symptoms. "Addiction is a brain disease that could be treated like any other disease," one researcher said. "I wouldn't be as motivated to do this research, or as passionate about the work, if I didn't think a cure was possible."

Bolstering batteries with nanotubes

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:29 AM PDT

Researchers are turning to extremely tiny tubes and rods to boost power and durability in lithium-ion batteries, the energy sources for cell phones, laptops, and electric vehicles. If successful, the batteries will last longer and perform better, leading to a cost advantage for electric vehicles.

Muscle-powered bio-bots walk on command

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:28 AM PDT

A new generation of miniature biological robots is flexing its muscle. Engineers have demonstrated a class of walking 'bio-bots' powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical pulses, giving researchers unprecedented command over their function.

Tags reveal Chilean devil rays are among ocean's deepest divers

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:28 AM PDT

Thought to dwell mostly near the ocean's surface, Chilean devil rays (Mobula tarapacana) are most often seen gliding through shallow, warm waters. But a new study reveals that these large and majestic creatures are actually among the deepest-diving ocean animals.

Smartphone app may revolutionize mental health treatment

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:28 AM PDT

A new technology is poised to transform the way in which patients with mental illnesses are monitored and treated by clinicians. Their new smartphone-based system detects changes in patients' behavioral patterns, and then transmits them to professionals in real time. It has the potential to greatly improve the response time and efficacy of clinical psychiatrists.

Treasure trove of genes key to kidney cancer revealed by research

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:28 AM PDT

A genomic analysis of clear cell renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer, from 72 patients has uncovered 31 genes that are key to development, growth and spread of the cancer, say researchers. This study is the most extensive analysis to date of gene expression's role in ccRCC tumor growth and metastasis. The ccRCC subtype accounts for 80 percent of all kidney cancer cases.

Separating finely mixed oil and water: Membrane can separate even highly mixed fine oil-spill residues

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:28 AM PDT

Whenever there is a major spill of oil into water, the two tend to mix into a suspension of tiny droplets, called an emulsion, that is extremely hard to separate -- and that can cause severe damage to ecosystems. But researchers have discovered a new, inexpensive way of getting the two fluids apart again. Their newly developed membrane could be manufactured at industrial scale, and could process large quantities of the finely mixed materials back into pure oil and water.

Chinese herbal extract may help kill off pancreatic cancer cells

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:26 AM PDT

The herbal extract triptolide has been used on human pancreatic cancer cells and tissue in culture by researchers. Administration of the herb decreased GRP78 protein in the cells, thereby reducing cancer cell survival and facilitating cell death. A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer—the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the U.S.—can be devastating. Due in part to aggressive cell replication and tumor growth, pancreatic cancer progresses quickly and has a low five-year survival rate (less than 5 percent).

Bringing the bling to antibacterials: New way to combat bacterial biofilm formation with titanium encrusted with gold nanoparticles

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:01 AM PDT

Bacteria love to colonize surfaces inside your body, but they have a hard time getting past your skin. Surgeries to implant medical devices give such bacteria the opportunity needed to gain entry into the body cavity, allowing the implants themselves to act then as an ideal growing surface for biofilms. Researchers are looking to combat these dangerous sub-dermal infections by upgrading your new hip or kneecap in a fashion appreciated since ancient times – adding gold.

Insect diet helped early humans build bigger brains: Quest for elusive bugs spurred primate tool use, problem-solving skills

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:01 AM PDT

Figuring out how to survive on a lean-season diet of hard-to-reach ants, slugs and other bugs may have spurred the development of bigger brains and higher-level cognitive functions in the ancestors of humans and other primates, suggests new research.

Reducing deer populations may reduce risk of Lyme disease

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 08:15 AM PDT

Reduced deer populations can lead to a reduction in Lyme disease cases, researchers in Connecticut have found that after a 13-year study was conducted. White-tailed deer serve as the primary host for the adult blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) -- the vector for Lyme disease. The study found that the number of resident-reported cases of Lyme disease per 100 households was strongly correlated to deer density in the community.

Up in flames: Evidence confirms combustion theory

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Researchers have uncovered the first step in the process that transforms gas-phase molecules into solid particles like soot and other carbon-based compounds. The finding could help combustion chemists make more-efficient, less-polluting fuels and help materials scientists fine-tune their carbon nanotubes and graphene sheets for faster, smaller electronics. In addition, the results could have implications for the burgeoning field of astrochemistry, potentially establishing the chemical process for how gaseous outflows from stars turn into carbon-based matter in space.

Key to adaptation limits of ocean dwellers: Simpler organisms better suited for climate change

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 07:15 AM PDT

The simpler a marine organism is structured, the better it is suited for survival during climate change, researchers have discovered this in a new meta-study. For the first time biologists studied the relationship between the complexity of life forms and the ultimate limits of their adaptation to a warmer climate.

New analysis of 'swine flu' pandemic conflicts with accepted views on how diseases spread

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 07:15 AM PDT

New analysis of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in the US shows that the pandemic wave was surprisingly slow, and that its spread was likely accelerated by school-age children.

Unsuspected aspect of immune regulation revealed: Role of 'B cells'

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 07:14 AM PDT

Until now, the immune cells known as 'B cells' have been thought to specialize only in the production of antibodies. A discovery by immunologists shows they also have a role to play in regulating another important aspect of the immune system. This finding may benefit research into autoimmunity and transplantation.

Drink walkers do it because their friends think it's OK

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 07:14 AM PDT

Friends may be the key to stopping their mates drink walking, a risky behaviour that kills on average two Australians every week, a new study has found.

Orgasms and alcohol influence pillow talk

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 07:13 AM PDT

Orgasms aren't just good for your sexual relationship; they may also promote good communication. Results of a new study reveal that in the aftermath of having experienced an orgasm, people are more likely to share important information with their partners. And, that communication is likely to be positive.

Alcohol use disorders linked to decreased 'work trajectory'

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 07:13 AM PDT

Workers with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are more likely to have a flat or declining "work trajectory," reports a study. Based on factors such as drinking more than intended or unsuccessful attempts to cut down on drinking, AUDs were initially present in about 15 percent of men and 7.5 percent of women. Lower work trajectory was linked to a higher rate of AUDs—both initially and during follow-up.

Rosetta's comet target 'releases' plentiful water

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:30 AM PDT

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is releasing the Earthly equivalent of two glasses of water into space every second. The observations were made by the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft on June 6, 2014. The detection of water vapor has implications not only for cometary science, but also for mission planning, as the Rosetta team prepares the spacecraft to become the first ever to orbit a comet (planned for August), and the first to deploy a lander to its surface (planned for November 11).

Weave a cell phone into your shirt? Engineers envision an electronic switch just three atoms thick

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:20 AM PDT

Researchers believe they've discovered a crystal that can form a monolayer three atoms thick. Computer simulations show that this crystal, molybdenum ditelluride, can act like a switch: its crystal lattice can be mechanically pulled and pushed, back and forth, between two different atomic structures -- one that conducts electricity well, the other that does not. The team hopes experimental scientists will make this semiconductor crystal and use it to fashion flexible electronics.

Scientists discover how 'plastic' solar panels work

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:20 AM PDT

Scientists don't fully understand how 'plastic' solar panels work, which complicates the improvement of their cost efficiency, thereby blocking the wider use of the technology. However, researchers have determined how light beams excite the chemicals in solar panels, enabling them to produce charge.

The less older adults sleep, the faster their brains age, new study suggests

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:14 AM PDT

Researchers have found evidence that the less older adults sleep, the faster their brains age. These findings, relevant in the context of a rapidly ageing society, pave the way for future work on sleep loss and its contribution to cognitive decline, including dementia.

Foodborne bacteria can cause disease in some breeds of chickens after all

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:14 AM PDT

Contrary to popular belief, the foodborne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is not a harmless commensal in chickens but can cause disease in some breeds of poultry according to research. Campylobacter jejuni is the most frequent cause of foodborne bacterial gastroenteritis in the world and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate it affects approximately 1.3 million people per year in the United States. Chicken is the most common source of infections.

Freeze-storage egg banking for egg donation treatment

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:14 AM PDT

The rapid freezing technique of vitrification is set to revolutionize egg donation as a fertility treatment by enabling freeze-storage egg-banking. The cryopreservation of eggs was one of IVF's continuing challenges until the widespread introduction of vitrification; the older slow freezing methods induced the formation of ice crystals, which could cause damage to several structures of the egg.

Future reproductive lifespan may be lessened in oral contraceptive users: Lower measures of ovarian reserve

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:14 AM PDT

A project in Denmark whose aim is to assess the reliability of preconceptional lifestyle and biological factors as predictors of fertility has found a pronounced effect of the contraceptive pill on markers used to assess 'ovarian reserve,' a predictor of future reproductive lifespan.

Cancer mutations identified as targets of effective melanoma immunotherapy

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:14 AM PDT

A new approach demonstrated that the recognition of unique cancer mutations appeared to be responsible for complete cancer regressions in two metastatic melanoma patients treated with a type of immunotherapy called adoptive T-cell therapy. This new approach may help develop more effective cancer immunotherapies, according to a study published in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Biology of addiction risk looks like addiction

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 05:53 AM PDT

Research suggests that people at increased risk for developing addiction share many of the same neurobiological signatures of people who have already developed addiction. This similarity is to be expected, as individuals with family members who have struggled with addiction are over-represented in the population of addicted people.

Cancer risk: Aspirin and smoking affect aging of genes

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 05:53 AM PDT

The risk of developing cancer increases with age. Outside factors can affect that risk, like smoking, which increases cancer risk, and regular aspirin use, which has been shown to decrease it. Now researchers have demonstrated the change in risk connected to colorectal cancer with regard to aspirin use. Numerous studies have confirmed the protective effect of the drug against different types of cancer, including reducing the risk to develop colorectal cancer by an average of 40%. However, it is unknown how exactly the drug influences the cancer risk.

Traffic noise is dangerous for your health: Solutions exist for dense cities

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 05:53 AM PDT

Traffic noise is the second biggest environmental problem in the EU, according to WHO. After air pollution, noise is affecting health the most. But legislation regarding noise pollution is insufficient. A new report shows how negative health effects of noise can be reduced. Several means are easiest to apply in dense cities.

Research on inflammasomes opens new therapeutic avenues for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 05:53 AM PDT

Patients with varying severity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may have the same painful symptoms, but does this mean that the cause of their illness is the same and that they should all receive the same treatment? Scientists have demonstrated with their research into inflammasomes that RA should be considered as a syndrome rather than a single disease.

Deployment-related respiratory symptoms in returning veterans

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 05:50 AM PDT

In a new study of the causes underlying respiratory symptoms in military personnel returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, a large percentage of veterans had non-specific symptoms that did not lead to a specific clinical diagnosis.

Climate change could stop fish finding their friends

Posted: 30 Jun 2014 04:34 PM PDT

Like humans, fish prefer to group with individuals with whom they are familiar, rather than strangers. This gives numerous benefits including higher growth and survival rates, greater defense against predators and faster social learning. However, high carbon dioxide levels, such as those anticipated by climate change models, may hinder the ability of fish to recognize one another and form groups with familiar individuals.

Gas-charged fluids creating seismicity associated with a Louisiana sinkhole

Posted: 30 Jun 2014 04:34 PM PDT

In August 2012, the emergence of a very large sinkhole at the Napoleonville Salt Dome in Louisiana offered scientists the opportunity to detect, locate and analyze a rich sequence of 62 seismic events that occurred one day prior to its discovery.

ACP recommends against pelvic exam in asymptomatic, average risk, non-pregnant women

Posted: 30 Jun 2014 04:34 PM PDT

ACP's new evidence-based guideline finds that harms of screening pelvic examination outweigh any demonstrated benefits. ACP's guideline is based on a systematic review of the published literature on human subjects in the English language from 1946 through January 2014.

Alzheimer's linked to brain hyperactivity

Posted: 30 Jun 2014 01:45 PM PDT

The precise molecular mechanism that may trigger elevated neuronal activity in Alzheimer's patients has been pinpointed by researchers. This mechanism subsequently damages memory and learning functions. With the understanding of this, the potential for restoring memory and protecting the brain is greatly increased.

Adults can undo heart disease risk by changing lifestyle

Posted: 30 Jun 2014 01:45 PM PDT

The heart is more forgiving than you may think -- especially to adults who try to take charge of their health, a new study has found. When adults in their 30s and 40s decide to drop unhealthy habits that are harmful to their heart and embrace healthy lifestyle changes, they can control and potentially even reverse the natural progression of coronary artery disease, scientists found.

With climate change, heat more than natural disasters will drive people away

Posted: 30 Jun 2014 01:45 PM PDT

Increases in the average yearly temperature took a detrimental toll on people's economic well-being and resulted in permanent migrations, whereas natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes had a much smaller to nonexistent impact on permanent relocations. The results suggest that the consequences of climate change will likely be more subtle and permanent than is popularly believed.

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