30,511 science & technology articles
 
  • University of Houson program earns kudos for improving grades, retaining students
    To improve students’ chances of completing introductory biology courses and decrease poor grades, the University of Houston (UH) implemented a comprehensive student success program, employing various interventions for students at risk for failure.  … Read more
  • Has the puzzle of rapid climate change in the last ice age been solved?
      Over the past one hundred thousand years cold temperatures largely prevailed over the planet in what is known as the last ice age. However, the cold period was repeatedly interrupted by much warmer climate conditions. Scientists have long attempted to find out why these drastic temperature jumps of up to ten degrees took place in the far northern latitudes within just a few decades. Now, for the first time, a group of researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have been able to reconstruct these climate changes during the last ice age using a series of model simulations. The surprising finding is that minor variations in the ice sheet size can be sufficient to trigger abrupt climate changes. The new study was published online in the scientific journal Nature last week and will be appearing in the 21 August print issue. … Read more
  • Social networks not serious competition for eBay according to expert
    The internet site, which allows people to turn unwanted second-hand goods into ready cash by selling them online, has had to contend with new competition since its launch in the UK in 1999. One of the newest ways to sell online is through social networks like Facebook and Twitter which offer the opportunity to sell second-hand goods without eBay’s fees. … Read more
  • Increase in reported flooding a result of higher exposure
    A rise in the number of reported floods in the UK over the past 129 years can mainly be explained by increased exposure, resulting from urban expansion and population growth, according to new research by the University of Southampton. In one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind, scientists have discovered that although the number of reported floods has gone up during the 20th and 21st Century, this trend disappears when the figures are adjusted to reflect population growth and increased building numbers over the same period. … Read more
  • Scientists unveil new technology to better understand small clusters of atoms
    Physicists at the University of York, working with researchers at the University of Birmingham and Genoa, have developed new technology to study atomic vibration in small particles, revealing a more accurate picture of the structure of atomic clusters where surface atoms vibrate more intensively than internal atoms. … Read more
  • How steroid hormones enable plants to grow
    The photo shows just how important brassinosteroids are for the development of plants. A deficit of the plant hormone has disrupted growth in the cucumber plant on the right. (Picture: Wilfried Rozhon / TUM)   Plants can adapt extremely quickly to changes in their environment. Hormones, chemical messengers that are activated in direct response to light and temperature stimuli help them achieve this. Plant steroid hormones similar to human sex hormones play a key role here. In the current edition of Nature Communications, scientists describe a new signaling mode for the brassinosteroid class of hormones … Read more
  • Study at Deepwater Horizon spill site finds key to tracking pollutants
    A new study of the ocean circulation patterns at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill reveals the significant role small-scale ocean currents play in the spread of pollutants. The findings provide new information to help predict the movements of oil and other pollutants in the ocean. Nearly two years to the day after the Deepwater Horizon incident, scientists from the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE), based at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, conducted a drifter experiment in the northern Gulf of Mexico spill site to study small-scale ocean currents ranging from 100 meters to 100 kilometers. … Read more
  • New study finds price of wind energy in US at an all-time low; competitiveness of wind has improved
    Wind energy pricing is at an all-time low, according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Energy and prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged just $25/MWh for projects negotiating contracts in 2013, spurring demand for wind energy. … Read more
  • Graphene rubber bands could stretch limits of current healthcare
    New research published today in the journal ACS Nano identifies a new type of sensor that can monitor body movements and could help revolutionise healthcare. Although body motion sensors already exist in different forms, they have not been widely used due to their complexity and cost of production. Now researchers from the University of Surrey and Trinity College Dublin have for the first time treated common elastic bands with graphene, to create a flexible sensor that is sensitive enough for medical use and can be made cheaply. … Read more
  • Researchers reveal how ocean bacteria use light to grow
    Sunlight stimulates common ocean bacteria to use carbon dioxide for growth when high-quality organic carbon food sources are scarce, according to surprising research by an international team that includes a University of Otago researcher. The team’s new study suggests that these versatile bacteria may play a more significant role in the biogeochemistry of the oceans, and thus global climate processes, than previously thought. Their findings are published this week in the prestigious international journal PNAS. … Read more
  • Exoplanet measured with remarkable precision
    Barely 30 years ago, the only planets astronomers had found were located right here in our own solar system.  The Milky Way is chock-full of stars, millions of them similar to our own sun.  Yet the tally of known worlds in other star systems was exactly zero. What a difference a few decades can make. As 2014 unfolds, astronomers have not only found more than a thousand “exoplanets” circling distant suns, but also they’re beginning to make precise measurements of them.  The old void of ignorance about exoplanets is now being filled with data precise to the second decimal place. … Read more
  • Organic photovoltaic cells of the future: Charge formation efficiency used to screen materials
    Organic photovoltaic cells — a type of solar cell that uses polymeric materials to capture sunlight — show tremendous promise as energy conversion devices, thanks to key attributes such as flexibility and low-cost production. But one giant hurdle holding back organic photovoltaic technologies have been the complexity of their power conversion processes, which involve separate charge formation and transport processes. … Read more
  • Researchers create wind-powered mechanoluminescent lighting material
    Credit: Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01776E A team of researchers at South Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology has created an elastic-mechanoluminescent material that emits light when exposed to wind. At high wind speeds, the material has been shown able to emit light equivalent to a computer screen. … Read more
  • Secrets of how worms wriggle uncovered
    An engineer at the University of Liverpool has found how worms move around, despite not having a brain to communicate with the body. Dr Paolo Paoletti, alongside his colleague at Harvard, Professor L Mahadevan, has developed a mathematical model for earthworms and insect larvae which challenges the traditional view of how these soft bodied animals get around. … Read more
  • Evolution of marine crocodilians constrained by ocean temperatures
    The ancestors of today’s crocodiles colonised the seas during warm phases and became extinct during cold phases, according to a new Anglo-French study which establishes a link between marine crocodilian diversity and the evolution of sea temperature over a period of more than 140 million years. The research, led by Dr Jeremy Martin from the Université de Lyon, France and formerly from the University of Bristol, UK is published this week in Nature Communications. … Read more
  • Bubbling down: Discovery suggests surprising uses for common bubbles
    Anyone who has ever had a glass of fizzy soda knows that bubbles can throw tiny particles into the air. But in a finding with wide industrial applications, Princeton researchers have demonstrated that the bursting bubbles push some particles down into the liquid as well. “It is well known that bursting bubbles produce aerosol droplets, so we were surprised, and fascinated, to discover that when we covered the water with oil, the same process injected tiny oil droplets into the water,” said Howard Stone, the Donald R. Dixon ’69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton and the lead researcher for the project. … Read more
  • New non-metallic metamaterial enables team to ‘compress’ and contain light
    The invention of fibre optics revolutionized the way we share information, allowing us to transmit data at volumes and speeds we’d only previously dreamed of. Now, electrical engineering researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada are breaking another barrier, designing nano-optical cables small enough to replace the copper wiring on computer chips. … Read more
  • Moving single cells around—accurately and cheaply
    Scientists at the Houston Methodist Research Institute have figured out how to pick up and transfer single cells using a pipette — a common laboratory tool that’s been tweaked slightly. They describe this engineering feat and preliminary test results in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. … Read more
  • Study finds SCID previously underdiagnosed in infants with fatal infections
    Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a potentially life-threatening, but treatable, disorder affecting infants, is twice as common as previously believed, according to a new study that is the first to examine the national impact of this newborn screening test. The study is the first combined analysis of more than 3 million infants screened for SCID in 10 states and the Navajo Nation. Infants from participating programs born from the start of the first pilot program in January 2008 through July 2013 were included. … Read more
  • Biomarker in aggressive breast cancer identified
    Two Northwestern University scientists have identified a biomarker strongly associated with basal-like breast cancer, a highly aggressive carcinoma that is resistant to many types of chemotherapy. The biomarker, a protein called STAT3, provides a smart target for new therapeutics designed to treat this often deadly cancer. Using breast cancer patient data taken from The Cancer Genome Atlas, molecular biologists Curt M. Horvath and Robert W. Tell used powerful computational and bioinformatics techniques to detect patterns of gene expression in two cancer subtypes. They found that a small number of genes are activated by STAT3 protein signaling in basal-like breast cancers but not in luminal breast cancers. … Read more
  • Laser ‘Lightning rods’ channel electricity through thin air
    Miniature lightning: The team used a femtosecond laser to create a thin column of plasma – a special charged state of matter – in the air between two electrodes. (Photo by Pavel Polynkin)   By zapping the air with a pair of powerful laser bursts, researchers at the University of Arizona have created highly focused pathways that can channel electricity through the atmosphere. The new technique can potentially direct an electrical discharge up to 10 meters (33 feet) away or more, shattering previous distance records for transmitting electricity through air. It also raises the intriguing possibility of one day channeling lightning with laser power. … Read more
  • Mutant poliovirus caused Republic of Congo outbreak in 2010
    Schematic model of poliovirus, serotype 1 (Mahoney) binding CD155 (extracellular domain shown in purple). Credit: public domain In 2010, a polio outbreak in the Republic of Congo (ROC) resulted in 445 confirmed cases, of which 47% were fatal. Originally, researchers thought low levels of immunization were responsible for the severity of the outbreak. However, Christian Drosten of the University of Bonn Medical Center and colleagues have discovered that a vaccine-resistant mutation of poliovirus caused the outbreak in ROC. The research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.   … Read more
  • Love makes sex better for most women
    Love and commitment can make sex physically more satisfying for many women, according to a Penn State Abington sociologist. In a series of interviews, heterosexual women between the ages of 20 and 68 and from a range of backgrounds said that they believed love was necessary for maximum satisfaction in both sexual relationships and marriage. The benefits of being in love with a sexual partner are more than just emotional. Most of the women in the study said that love made sex physically more pleasurable. … Read more
  • Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles
    Mitochondrial Derived Vesicles. Credit: ottawaheart.ca As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The international Society for Extracellular Vesicles, or its prestigious journal, for confirmation of their broad power. While cell biologists now have a good handle on the gross observables of vesicles—their size, composition, and contents—little is understood about their social character. In other words if you are a cellular-scale entity and someone sends you a mysterious 50nm spherical package, should you open it, ignore it, or fuse it with a detoxifying peroxisome as fast as you can?   … Read more
  • Asian inventions dominate energy storage systems
    Scientists at TUM research new ways to produce lithium-ion-batteries. (Photo: Heddergott / TUM)   In recent years, the number of patent applications for electrochemical energy storage technologies has soared. According to a study by the Technische Universität München (TUM), the largest volume of applications by far is submitted by developers of lithium batteries. The study offers a first differentiated analysis of which energy storage technologies will be viable in the exit from fossil-fuel energy. In this area, European and US companies are falling behind economically, as Asian companies apply for a substantially higher number of patents. … Read more
  • New type of solar concentrator desn’t block the view
    A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface. And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering, the key word is “transparent.” … Read more
  • ‘Tickling’ your ear could be good for your heart
    Stimulating nerves in your ear could improve the health of your heart, researchers have discovered. A team at the University of Leeds used a standard TENS machine like those designed to relieve labour pains to apply electrical pulses to the tragus, the small raised flap at the front of the ear immediately in front of the ear canal. The stimulation changed the influence of the nervous system on the heart by reducing the nervous signals that can drive failing hearts too hard. … Read more
  • Why global warming is taking a break
    The average temperature on Earth has barely risen over the past 16 years. ETH researchers have now found out why. And they believe that global warming is likely to continue again soon. The number of sunspots (white area here) varies in multi-year cycles. As a result, solar irradiance, which influences the Earth’s climate, also fluctuates. The photo shows a UV image of the sun. (Image: Trace Project / NASA) Global warming is currently taking a break: whereas global temperatures rose drastically into the late 1990s, the global average temperature has risen only slightly since 1998 – surprising, considering scientific climate models predicted considerable warming due to rising greenhouse gas emissions. Climate sceptics used this apparent contradiction to question climate change per se – or at least the harm potential caused by greenhouse gases – as well as the validity of the climate models. Meanwhile, the majority of climate researchers continued to emphasise that the short-term ‘warming hiatus’ could largely be explained on the basis of current scientific understanding and did not contradict longer term warming. … Read more
  • First indirect evidence of so-far undetected strange baryons
    Brookhaven theoretical physicist Swagato Mukherjee New supercomputing calculations provide the first evidence that particles predicted by the theory of quark-gluon interactions but never before observed are being produced in heavy-ion collisions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a facility that is dedicated to studying nuclear physics. These heavy strange baryons, containing at least one strange quark, still cannot be observed directly, but instead make their presence known by lowering the temperature at which other strange baryons “freeze out” from the quark-gluon plasma (QGP) discovered and created at RHIC, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science user facility located at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory. … Read more
  • Targeted brain training may help you multitask better
    The area of the brain involved in multitasking and ways to train it have been identified by a research team at the IUGM Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal and the University of Montreal. The research includes a model to better predict the effectiveness of this training. Cooking while having a conversation, watching a movie while browsing the Web, or driving while listening to a radio show – multitasking is an essential skill in our daily lives. Unfortunately, it decreases with age, which makes it harder for seniors to keep up, causes them stress, and decreases their confidence. Many commercial software applications promise to improve this ability through exercises. But are these exercises truly effective, and how do they work on the brain? The team addresses these issues in two papers published in AGE and PLOS ONE. … Read more
  • The ABC’s of animal speech: Not so random after all
    The calls of many animals, from whales to wolves, might contain more language-like structure than previously thought, according to study that raises new questions about the evolutionary origins of human language. The study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, analyzed the vocal sequences of seven different species of birds and mammals and found that the vocal sequences produced by the animals appear to be generated by complex statistical processes, more akin to human language. … Read more
  • Highly conductive organic metal looks promising for disposable electronic devices
    (b-d) Images of the organic metal, TATA, are shown with different imaging techniques. (e) X-ray scattering of a thin film of TATA. (f) Side view (i) and top view (ii) of the proposed stacking structure of TATA. Credit: Armao, et al. ©2014 American Chemical Society Although organic materials are often used as semiconductors, such as in organic LEDs and organic transistors, organic materials that have an electrical conductivity as high as that of metals are still very scarce. One problem with developing organic metals is that there is a tradeoff in terms of their crystalline structure: a high crystallinity is required for high conductivity, but is detrimental to the materials’ processability. … Read more
  • New research reveals clock ticking for fruit flies
    Male fruit fly The army of pesky Queensland fruit flies that annually inflict many millions of dollars-worth of damage on the nations horticultural industry may be about to see their numbers take a significant dive thanks to research by scientists from the University of Western Sydney and the University of New South Wales. … Read more
  • Mobile wind turbine
    AirEnergy3D is a small 3D printed wind turbine that can be moved and assembled anywhere without using a powertools. It can generate up to 300W of electrical power. You could use the electricity directly, store it in a battery, or plug it into your wall circuit to use around the house. 300W is enough to run a few laptops or charge a couple of smartphones or power several light bulbs. … Read more
  • Analysis reveals significant land cover changes in US coastal regions
    (Credit: NOAA Coastal Services Center) A new NOAA nationwide analysis shows that between 1996 and 2011, 64,975 square miles in coastal regions — can area larger than the state of Wisconsin — experienced changes in land cover, including a decline in wetlands and forest cover with development a major contributing factor. Overall, 8.2 percent of the nation’s ocean and Great Lakes coastal regions experienced these changes. In analysis of the five year period between 2001-2006, coastal areas accounted for 43 percent of all land cover change in the continental U.S. This report identifies a wide variety of land cover changes that can intensify climate change risks, such as loss of coastal barriers to sea level rise and storm surge, and includes environmental data that can help coastal managers improve community resilience. … Read more
  • Waterloo makes public most complete Antarctic map for climate research
    The University of Waterloo has unveiled a new satellite image of Antarctica, and the imagery will help scientists all over the world gain new insight into the effects of climate change. Thanks to a partnership between the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA), the prime contractor for the RADARSAT-2 program, and the Canadian Cryospheric Information Network (CCIN) at UWaterloo, the mosaic is free and fully accessible to the academic world and the public. … Read more
  • Daughters provide as much elderly parent care as they can, sons do as little as possible
    Parents are better off having daughters if they want to be cared for in their old age suggests a new study, which finds that women appear to provide as much elderly parent care as they can, while men contribute as little as possible. “Whereas the amount of elderly parent care daughters provide is associated with constraints they face, such as employment or childcare, sons’ caregiving is associated only with the presence or absence of other helpers, such as sisters or a parent’s spouse,” said study author Angelina Grigoryeva, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Princeton University. … Read more
  • In an already stressful workplace, Great Recession’s health effects hard to find
     The Great Recession of 2007-2009 had little direct effect on the health of workers who survived the waves of job cuts that took place during that period, according to a new University of Akron study. That’s the good news. The bad news may be the reason: Increased workloads and less satisfying job duties, the highly stressful byproducts of corporate restructurings during previous economic downturns, had by 2007 become the new normal in the workplace. Because of this long-term trend, workers who remained on the job during the Great Recession were already accustomed to coping with stressful environments that posed a threat to their health. … Read more
  • Sun’s activity influences natural climate change
    Photo: NASA A new study from Lund University in Sweden has, for the first time, reconstructed solar activity during the last ice age. The study shows that the regional climate is influenced by the sun and offers opportunities to better predict future climate conditions in certain regions. For the first time, a research team has been able to reconstruct the solar activity at the end of the last ice age, around 20 000–10 000 years ago, by analysing trace elements in ice cores in Greenland and cave formations from China. During the last glacial maximum, Sweden was covered in a thick ice sheet that stretched all the way down to northern Germany and sea levels were more than 100 metres lower than they are today, because the water was frozen in the extensive ice caps. The new study shows that the sun’s variation influences the climate in a similar way regardless of whether the climate is extreme, as during the Ice Age, or as it is today. … Read more
  • Researchers study how humor matters in social movements
    The New Atheist Movement has found humor to be a useful tool in building identity.   For social movements whose members believe they are maligned and misunderstood in the broader culture, marginalization is no laughing matter. But as the New Atheist Movement demonstrates, humor can be an effective tool to build a movement’s identity and develop strategies that empower members to operate in the realms of culture and politics, according to University of California, Riverside sociologist Katja Guenther. In a paper presented today at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco, Guenther and graduate students Kerry Mulligan and Natasha Radojcic analyzed the use of humor by the New Atheist Movement, which since the early 2000s has come to dominate atheist organizing in the United States. The movement is open to atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and humanists who want to promote the separation of church and state and reduce the stigma of being irreligious in America. In “How Humor Matters in Social Movements: Insights from the New Atheist Movement,” the researchers noted that the movement “represents a break from secular politics with its emphasis on coming out as atheist, generating atheist pride, and promoting activism by atheists … Read more
  • New tool makes online personal data more transparent
    The web can be an opaque black box: it leverages our personal information without our knowledge or control. When, for instance, a user sees an ad about depression online, she may not realize that she is seeing it because she recently sent an email about being sad. Roxana Geambasu and Augustin Chaintreau, both assistant professors of computer science at Columbia Engineering, are seeking to change that, and in doing so bring more transparency to the web. … Read more
  • Water scarcity and climate change through 2095
    Future water scarcity may pose a significant challenge to our ability to adapt to or mitigate climate change.Enlarge Image. What will a global water scarcity map look like in 2095? Radically different, according to scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, depending on the type and the stringency of the climate mitigation policies chosen to reduce carbon pollution. In a first of its kind comprehensive analysis, the researchers, working at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, used a unique modeling capability that links economic, energy, land-use and climate systems to show the effects of global change on water scarcity. When they incorporated water use and availability in this powerful engine and ran scenarios of possible climate mitigation policy targets, they found that without any climate policy to curb carbon emissions, half the world will be living under extreme water scarcity. Climate mitigation policies that increase growth of certain water-hungry biofuels may actually exacerbate water scarcity. … Read more
  • Electric vehicle consumers better off with electric range under 100 miles, study says
    Until battery cost is cut down to $100 per kilowatt hour, the majority of U.S. consumers for battery electric vehicles (BEV) will be better off by choosing an electric vehicle with a range below 100 miles, according to a new study in the Articles in Advance section of Transportation Science, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS;http://www.informs.org). … Read more
  • Cherry picking molecules based on their Pi electrons
    To eliminate the extreme cooling and high pressures used to separate ethylene and ethane, an international team of scientists, including researchers at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, designed a sorbent that greatly prefers ethylene. Specialized windshield glass, everyday plastic water bottles, and countless other products are based onethylene, a simple two-carbon molecule, which requires an energy-intense separation process to pluck the desired chemical away from nearly identical ethane. To eliminate the extreme cooling required in the separation, an international team including researchers at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory designed a material with a porous framework that greatly prefers ethylene. What makes this material particularly potent is that the highly selective sorbent is stable in air and water. In addition, the framework offers a high surface area that speeds the sorting. The material contains silver that binds with the electrons around ethylene’s double-bonded carbon atoms. These electrons are known as π electrons or the π cloud. … Read more
  • New survey begins mapping nearby galaxies
    A new survey called MaNGA (Mapping Nearby Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory) has been launched that will greatly expand our understanding of galaxies, including the Milky Way, by charting the internal structure and composition of an unprecedented sample of 10,000 galaxies. MaNGA is a part of the fourth generation Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-IV) and will make maps of stars and gas in galaxies to determine how they have grown and changed over billions of years, using a novel optical fiber bundle technology that can take spectra of all parts of a galaxy at the same time. … Read more
  • Artificial cells act like the real thing
    Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery, but mimicking the intricate networks and dynamic interactions that are inherent to living cells is difficult to achieve outside the cell. Now, as published in Science, Weizmann Institute scientists have created anartificial, network-like cell system that is capable of reproducing the dynamic behavior of protein synthesis. This achievement is not only likely to help gain a deeper understanding of basic biological processes, but it may, in the future, pave the way toward controlling the synthesis of both naturally-occurring and synthetic proteins for a host of uses. … Read more
  • Before they left Africa, early modern humans were ‘culturally diverse’
    Researchers have carried out the biggest ever comparative study of stone tools dating to between 130,000 and 75,000 years ago found in the region between sub-Saharan Africa and Eurasia. They have discovered there are marked differences in the way stone tools were made, reflecting a diversity of cultural traditions. The study has also identified at least four distinct populations, each relatively isolated from each other with their own different cultural characteristics. … Read more
  • Are flexible parents adaptable parents?
    The paper examined the flexibility of parental behaviours. Image courtesy Andy Young. The flexibility of parental behaviours to respond to changes in behaviour of their offspring may actually constrain the ability of parents to adapt to changes in their wider environment. This is the paradoxical conclusion of a new review article by Dr Nick Royle, Dr Andrew Russell and Dr Alastair Wilson from Biosciences at the University of Exeter, published in a special issue of Science on parenting.     … Read more
  • Dark Energy Survey kicks off second season cataloging the wonders of deep space
    This image of the NGC 1398 galaxy was taken with the Dark Energy Camera. This galaxy lives in the Fornax cluster, roughly 65 million light-years from Earth. It is 135,000 light-years in diameter, just slightly larger than our own Milky Way galaxy, and contains more than 100 billion stars. Credit: Dark Energy Survey. On Aug. 15, with its successful first season behind it, the Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration began its second year of mapping the southern sky in unprecedented detail. Using the Dark Energy Camera, a 570-megapixel imaging device built by the collaboration and mounted on the Victor M. Blanco Telescope in Chile, the survey’s five-year mission is to unravel the fundamental mystery of dark energy and its impact on our universe. … Read more
  • Study finds children as young as six are biased toward their social group when combating unfairness
    Just about every parent is familiar with the signs: the crying, the stomping feet and pouting lips, followed by the collapse to the floor and the wailed protest that “It’s not fair!” While most people see such tantrums merely as part of growing up, a new study conducted by Harvard scientists suggests that even at a relatively young age, children have advanced ideas about fairness, and are willing to pay a personal price to intervene in what they believe are unfair situations, even when they have not been disadvantaged personally. And their reactions to unfairness are influenced by in-group favoritism. … Read more
  • Older coral species more hardy, biologists say
    New research indicates older species of coral have more of what it takes to survive a warming and increasingly polluted climate, according to biologists from the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez. The researchers examined 140 samples of 14 species of Caribbean corals for a study published by the open-access journal PLOS ONEon Aug. 18. … Read more
  • White blood cell research shows how causing and conquering inflammation are inextricably linked
    Scanning electron micrograph of macrophage. Image courtesy of National Cancer Institute. Hugely popular non-steroidal anti-inflammation drugs like aspirin, naproxen (marketed as Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) all work by inhibiting or killing an enzyme called cyclooxygenase – a key catalyst in production of hormone-like lipid compounds called prostaglandins that are linked to a variety of ailments, from headaches and arthritis to menstrual cramps and wound sepsis. … Read more
  • Pygmy phenotype developed many times, adaptive to rainforest
    A Batwa woman and her child in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda. Image: Photo courtesy of George Perry/Penn State The small body size associated with the pygmy phenotype is probably a selective adaptation for rainforest hunter-gatherers, according to an international team of researchers, but all African pygmy phenotypes do not have the same genetic underpinning, suggesting a more recent adaptation than previously thought. “I’m interested in how rainforest hunter-gatherers have adapted to their very challenging environments,” said George H. Perry, assistant professor of anthropology and biology, Penn State. “Tropical rainforests are difficult for humans to live in. It is extremely hot and humid with limited food, especially when fruit is not in season.” … Read more
  • Team finds proteins critical to wound healing
    Mice missing two important proteins of the vascular system develop normally and appear healthy in adulthood, as long as they don’t become injured. If they do, their wounds don’t heal properly, a new study shows. The research, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, may have implications for treating diseases involving abnormal blood vessel growth, such as the impaired wound healing often seen in diabetes and the loss of vision caused by macular degeneration. … Read more
  • StopInfo for OneBusAway app makes buses more usable for blind riders
    It’s a daily routine for many transit riders in the Seattle area: Pull out your smartphone, check the OneBusAway app, then decide whether you need to sprint to the bus stop or can afford that last sip of coffee. The application, developed at the University of Washington, uses real-time data to track when your bus is actually going to arrive. … Read more
  • Scientists win race to find structure of rare nematode virus
    Rice University researchers have determined the crystal structure of the Orsay virus known to infect at least one type of nematode. The structure of the viral shell known as a capsid, seen in a computer model, will help scientists understand how such viruses infect their targets. Courtesy of the Tao Laboratory Rice University scientists have won a race to find the crystal structure of the first virus known to infect the most abundant animal on Earth. The Rice labs of structural biologist Yizhi Jane Tao and geneticist Weiwei Zhong, with help from researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Washington University, analyzed the Orsay virus that naturally infects a certain type of nematode, the worms that make up 80 percent of the living animal population. Rice researchers, from left, Professors Weiwei Zhong and Yizhi Jane Tao and graduate student Yusong Guo, have won a race to determine the structure of the first virus known to naturally infect nematodes. Photo by Jeff Fitlow The research reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences will help scientists study how viruses interact with their nematode hosts. It may also allow them to customize the virus to attack parasitic or pathogenic worms. The … Read more
  • Zombie ant fungi manipulate hosts to die on the ‘doorstep’ of the colony
    After killing its host, the so-called zombie ant fungus grows from the cadaver and produces spores, which rain down on the forest floor to infect new hosts. Image: Penn State A parasitic fungus that must kill its ant hosts outside their nest to reproduce and transmit its infection, manipulates its victims to die in the vicinity of the colony, ensuring a constant supply of potential new hosts, according to researchers at Penn State and colleagues at Brazil’s Federal University of Vicosa. Previous research shows that Ophiocordyceps camponoti-rufipedis, known as the “zombie ant fungus,” controls the behavior of carpenter ant workers — Camponotus rufipes – to die with precision attached to leaves in the understory of tropical forests, noted study lead author Raquel Loreto,doctoral candidate in entomology, Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. … Read more
  • Toothless ‘dragon’ pterosaurs dominated the Late Cretaceous skies
    A new study provides an exciting insight into the Late Cretaceous and the diversity and distribution of the toothless ‘dragon’ pterosaurs from the Azhdarchidae family. The research was published in the open access journal ZooKeys. The Azhdarchidan pterosaurs derive their name from the Persian word for dragon – Aždarha. Interestingly, this derived and rather successful group of pterosaurs included some of the largest known flying animals of all times, with a wingspan reaching between 10 and 12 m. … Read more
  • Researchers obtain key insights into how the internal body clock is tuned
    Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found a new way that internal body clocks are regulated by a type of molecule known as long non-coding RNA. Dr. Yi Liu The internal body clocks, called circadian clocks, regulate the daily “rhythms” of many bodily functions, from waking and sleeping to body temperature and hunger. They are largely “tuned” to a 24-hour cycle that is influenced by external cues such as light and temperature. … Read more
  • New study reveals vulnerability in photo-ID security checks
    Passport issuing officers are no better at identifying if someone is holding a fake passport photo than the average person, new research has revealed Passport issuing officers are no better at identifying if someone is holding a fake passport photo than the average person, new research has revealed. A pioneering study of Australian passport office staff by a team of psychologists from Aberdeen, York and Sydney, revealed a 15% error rate in matching the person to the passport photo they were displaying. In real life this degree of inaccuracy would correspond to the admittance of several thousand travellers bearing fake passports. … Read more
  • Climate change will threaten fish by drying out Southwest US streams, research predicts
    Fish species native to a major Arizona watershed may lose access to important segments of their habitat by 2050 as surface water flow is reduced by the effects of climate warming, new research suggests. Most of these fish species, found in the Verde River Basin, are already threatened or endangered. Their survival relies on easy access to various resources throughout the river and its tributary streams. The species include the speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus), roundtail chub (Gila robusta) and Sonora sucker (Catostomus insignis). … Read more
  • Promising ferroelectric materials suffer from unexpected electric polarizations
    Brookhaven Lab scientists find surprising locked charge polarizations that impede performance in next-gen materials that could otherwise revolutionize data-driven devices Scientists and study coauthors from Brookhaven Lab’s Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department stand beside a transmission electron microscope (TEM) capable of capturing nanoscale structures. From left: Myung-Geun Han, Yimei Zhu, and Lijun Wu. Electronic devices with unprecedented efficiency and data storage may someday run on ferroelectrics—remarkable materials that use built-in electric polarizations to read and write digital information, outperforming the magnets inside most popular data-driven technology. But ferroelectrics must first overcome a few key stumbling blocks, including a curious habit of “forgetting” stored data.  … Read more
  • Trees and shrubs invading critical grasslands, diminish cattle production
    Half of the Earth’s land mass is made up of rangelands, which include grasslands and savannas, yet they are being transformed at an alarming rate. Woody plants, such as trees and shrubs are taking over, leading to a loss of critical habitat and causing a drastic change in the ability of ecosystems to produce food – specifically meat. Photo by: Osvaldo Sala Half of the Earth’s land mass is made up of rangelands, which include grasslands and savannas, yet they are being transformed at an alarming rate. Woody plants, such as trees and shrubs are moving in and taking over, leading to a loss of critical habitat and causing a drastic change in the ability of ecosystems to produce food – specifically meat. Researchers with Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences led an investigation that quantified this loss in both the United States and Argentina. The study’s results are published in today’s online issue of the scientific journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “While the phenomenon of woody plant invasion has been occurring for decades, for the first time, we have quantified the losses in ecosystem services,” said Osvaldo Sala, Julie A. Wrigley Chair and Foundation Professor with ASU’s School of Life … Read more
  • No one-size-fits-all approach in a changing climate, changing land
    Researchers say they looked at the combined effects of land use decisions and climate change because, while there are many studies of each, the two factors need to be examined together. Photo: iStock As climate change alters habitats for birds and bees and everything in between, so too does the way humans decide to use land. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Aarhus University in Denmark have, for the first time, found a way to determine the potential combined impacts of both climate and land-use change on plants, animals and ecosystems across the country. … Read more
  • Study finds possible link between Arctic change and extreme mid-latitude weather
    Mosaic of images of the Arctic by MODIS. Credit: NASA A team of researchers with members from Europe and the U.S. has found a possible link between Arctic amplification and severe weather in the northern mid-latitude parts of the planet. In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers describe how they conducted a review of the findings of other researchers looking for a connection between Arctic warming and extreme weather events and what they found as a result.   … Read more
  • Children’s drawings indicate later intelligence, study reports
    How 4-year old children draw pictures of a child is an indicator of intelligence at age 14, according to a study by the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, published today in Psychological Science. The researchers studied 7,752 pairs of identical and non-identical twins (a total of 15,504 children) from the Medical Research Council (MRC) funded Twins Early Development Study (TEDS), and found that the link between drawing and later intelligence was influenced by genes. … Read more
  • Study finds crucial step in DNA repair
     Scientists at Washington State University have identified a crucial step in DNA repair that could lead to targeted gene therapy for hereditary diseases such as “children of the moon” and a common form of colon cancer. Such disorders are caused by faulty DNA repair systems that increase the risk for cancer and other conditions. … Read more
  • Guidelines for enhancing solar cells using surface plasmon polaritons
    Researchers from the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) have established guidelines for using surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) to improve absorption in both photovoltaic or photoelectrochemical cells used for energy conversion.* In both types of photocells, SPPs (electromagnetic waves that travel along a metal-semiconductor interface) have the potential to increase the amount of light absorbed in the active material layer, improving the overall efficiency of light collection in solar energy devices. … Read more
  • Researchers inspired by marine life to design camouflage systems
    It could be a fun party trick – put your cell phone down on a table and watch it fade into the woodwork – or part of a lifesaving technology used by industry or the military. Researchers have developed a technology that allows a material to automatically read its environment and adapt to mimic its surroundings. The technology is described in a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. … Read more
  • SentiBotics Mobile Robotics Development Kit
    SentiBotics enables the rapid development and testing of mobile robots and comes with software, sample programs, a tracked platform and grasping robotic arm, 3D vision, object recognition and autonomous navigation capabilities. … Read more
  • Sustainable green alternatives to fertilisers could boost food and energy security
    Lancaster University scientists are leading research looking at formulating sustainable fertilisers from renewable energy waste. This new area of research aims to produce a sustainable, environmentally-friendlier source of soil conditioner and crop fertiliser that could also reduce costs to farmers and potentially, with wide-spread take-up, help to slow down rising food prices. The collaborative project, which also includes Stopford Energy and Environment Limited, the James Hutton Institute and Aqua Enviro Limited, builds upon research originally conducted by Stopford looking at using a mixture of digestates, derived from anaerobic digestion, and ash, from burnt biomass, as an alternative to existing crop fertilisers. … Read more
  • Most temporary workers from Mexico no better off than undocumented workers
    Many politicians see the temporary worker program in the U.S. as a solution to undocumented immigration from Mexico. But an Indiana University study finds that these legal workers earn no more than undocumented immigrants, who unlike their legal counterparts can improve their situation by changing jobs or negotiating for better pay. “Just because temporary workers are legally present in the country does not mean that they will have better jobs or wages than undocumented workers,” said Lauren Apgar, lead researcher of the study “Temporary Worker Advantages? A Comparison of Mexican Immigrants’ Work Outcomes.” … Read more
  • Study finds range of skills students taught in school linked to race and class size
    Pressure to meet national education standards may be the reason states with significant populations of African-American students and those with larger class sizes often require children to learn fewer skills, finds a University of Kansas researcher. “The skills students are expected to learn in schools are not necessarily universal,” said Argun Saatcioglu, a KU associate professor of education and courtesy professor of sociology. … Read more
  • Bigger government makes for more satisfied people, international study finds
    People living in countries with governments that spend more on social services report being more contented, according to a Baylor University study. “The effect of state intervention into the economy equals or exceeds marriage or employment status — two traditional predictors of happiness — when it comes to satisfaction,” said Patrick Flavin, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. … Read more
  • Human races: biological reality or cultural delusion?
    It don’t matter if you’re black or white (or yellow, or beige, or brown). Suedehead/Flickr, CC BY-NC The issue of race has been in the news a lot lately with the canning of proposed amendments to Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act, attempts by extremists to commit genocide oncultural minorities in Iraq and a new book by US author Nicholas Wade that has scientists claiming their work was hijacked to promote an ideological agenda. The idea that races are part of our existence and daily experience, especially those of us living in multicultural societies, seems to be just taken for granted by many people. … Read more
  • Public dollars, private rules: The charter school calculus
    The phenomenal growth of charter schools nationwide has been aided by a canny legal strategy in which the schools claim to be public for the purpose of taking in tax dollars but private for the purpose of evading government oversight, according to Preston Green, John and Carla Klein Professor of Urban Education at UConn’s Neag School of Education. “They’re picking and choosing whether they’re going to be public for one purpose or private for another,” says Green, who is also a professor of educational leadership and law at UConn. … Read more
  • Personal, public costs of scientific misconduct calculated
    Much has been assumed about the private and public damage of scientific misconduct. Yet few have tried to measure the costs to perpetrators and to society. A recent study calculated some of the career impacts, as well as federal funding wasted, when biomedical research papers are retracted. The results appear in the Aug. 15 issue of the journal eLife. … Read more
  • Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics supplemented for 21st century care robots
    Isaac Asimov famously devised three laws of robotics that underpinned a number of his science fiction books and short stories, Professor Tom Sorell of the University of Warwick has helped develop a new set of rules that they believe will be needed for 21st century care robots. Following recent developments in robotics research philosopher Professor Tom Sorell of the University of Warwick has helped produced six values to be used in properly-designed care-robots. … Read more
  • Scientists fold RNA origami from a single strand
    RNA origami is a new method for organizing molecules on the nanoscale. Using just a single strand of RNA, many complicated shapes can be fabricated by this technique. Unlike existing methods for folding DNA molecules, RNA origamis are produced by enzymes and they simultaneously fold into pre-designed shapes. These features may allow designer RNA structures to be grown within living cells and used to organize cellular enzymes into biochemical factories. The method, which was developed by researchers from Aarhus University (Denmark) and California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, USA), is reported in the latest issue of Science. … Read more
  • Student’s six-foot water and solar-powered lens purifies polluted water
    Deshawn Henry working on the water lens that can heat a liter of water to between 130 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit in a little more than an hour, destroying 99.9 percent of bacteria and pathogens. “Millions of people die every year from diseases and pathogens found in unclean water, and they can’t help it because that’s all they have. Either they drink it or they die.” Water may appear to be an abundant resource, but in some parts of the world clean water is hard to come by. That could change through the work of Deshawn Henry, a University at Buffalo sophomore civil engineering major, who researched how to improve a 6-foot-tall, self-sustaining magnifying glass. … Read more
  • Autonomous robots: A self-organizing thousand-robot swarm
    Following simple programmed rules, autonomous robots arrange themselves into vast, complex shapes In this video Kilobots self-assemble in a thousand-robot swarm. The algorithm developed by Wyss Institute Core Faculty member Radhika Nagpal that enables the swarm provides a valuable platform for testing future collective Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms. The first thousand-robot flash mob has assembled at Harvard University. “Form a sea star shape,” directs a computer scientist, sending the command to 1,024 little bots simultaneously via an infrared light. The robots begin to blink at one another and then gradually arrange themselves into a five-pointed star. “Now form the letter K.” … Read more
  • Why the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle rollout may now succeed
    Joan Ogden, director of the Next Sustainable Transportation Pathways (NextSTEPS) program at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, stands beside a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, a Honda FCX Clarity. (UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies/photo) A convergence of factors is propelling a market rollout of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, according to a new study from the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. A key to hydrogen’s potential success is a new smart solution that clusters hydrogen fuel infrastructure in urban or regional networks, limiting initial costs and enabling an early market for the technology before committing to a full national deployment, suggests the study. … Read more
  • Higgs boson could also explain the earliest expansion of the Universe
    Figure 1: The influence of the Higgs boson and its field (inset) on cosmological inflation could manifest in the observation of gravitational waves by the BICEP2 telescope (background). Image courtesy of the BICEP2 Collaboration (background); © 2014 Fedor Bezrukov, RIKEN–BNL Research Center (inset) Fedor Bezrukov from the RIKEN–BNL Research Center and Mikhail Shaposhnikov from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne propose that the Higgs boson, which was recently confirmed to be the origin of mass, may also be responsible for the mode of inflation and shape of the Universe shortly after the Big Bang1. “There is an intriguing connection between the world explored in particle accelerators today and the earliest moments of the existence of the Universe,” explains Bezrukov. … Read more
  • One Codex in open beta for genomic data search
    Data, data everywhere and now as ever researchers need the best tools to make the data useful. In medicine, searching through genomic data can take some time. A startup called One Codex hopes to make difference with their genetic search platform that can process data sets quickly. A report on their work on Friday in TechCrunch noted the advantage of One Codex speed. “Currently,” wrote Julian Chokkattu, “the most commonly used tool for genome searching is by using an algorithm called BLAST, Basic Local Alignment Search Tool, which compares primary biological sequence information.” For Nick Greenfield, cofounder of One Codex, uploading a file to BLAST took two minutes and 30 seconds to process, compared with the One Codex system where the number was less than 1/20th of a second. The company defines One Codex as a search engine for genomic data. The TechCrunch piece describes what they offer as a service platform for genomics. Apart from using search technology,” said Chokkattu, the platform also acts as an indexed, curated reference. The company said that it can search the world’s largest index of bacterial, viral, and fungal genomes. A key advantage is speed. The product can, said the company, “process next-generation … Read more
  • ‘Getting-by girls’ straddle gap between academic winners and losers
    Everyone notices the academic superstars and failures, but what about the tens of millions of American teens straddling these two extremes? A new UC Berkeley study has spotlighted a high school subculture that has made an art of slacking – even with ample educational resources – and may be destined to perpetuate the nation’s struggling lower-middle class. … Read more
  • Bone chemistry reveals royal lifestyle of Richard III
    A recent study by the British Geological Survey, in association with researchers at the University of Leicester, has delved into the bone and tooth chemistry of King Richard III and uncovered fascinating new details about the life and diet of Britain’s last Plantagenet king. The study, published in Elsevier’s Journal of Archaeological Science indicates a change in diet and location in his early childhood, and in later life, a diet filled with expensive, high status food and drink. These findings feature for the first time in a Channel 4 documentary on Sunday 17th August at 9pm. … Read more
  • Stem cells reveal how illness-linked genetic variation affects neurons
    A genetic variation linked to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression wreaks havoc on connections among neurons in the developing brain, a team of researchers reports. The study, led by Guo-li Ming, M.D., Ph.D., and Hongjun Song, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and described online Aug. 17 in the journal Nature, used stem cells generated from people with and without mental illness to observe the effects of a rare and pernicious genetic variation on young brain cells. The results add to evidence that several major mental illnesses have common roots in faulty “wiring” during early brain development. … Read more
  • Microchip reveals how tumor cells transition to invasion
    A microscopic obstacle course of carefully spaced pillars enables researchers to observe cancer cells directly as they break away from a tumor mass and move more rapidly across the microchip. The device could be useful for testing cancer drugs and further research on the mechanics of metastasis. Using a microengineered device that acts as an obstacle course for cells, researchers have shed new light on a cellular metamorphosis thought to play a role in tumor cell invasion throughout the body. … Read more
  • FDA-approved drug restores hair in patients with Alopecia Areata
      Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have identified the immune cells responsible for destroying hair follicles in people with alopecia areata, a common autoimmune disease that causes hair loss, and have tested an FDA-approved drug that eliminated these immune cells and restored hair growth in a small number of patients. The results appear in today’s online issue of Nature Medicine. … Read more
  • New mechanism of erosion revealed: Gorges are eradicated by downstream sweep erosion
    Credit: Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres Local surface uplift can block rivers, particularly in mountainous regions. The impounded water, however, always finds its way downstream, often cutting a narrow gorge into the rocks. Subsequent erosion of the rocks can lead to a complete eradication of this initial incision, until not a trace is left of the original breakthrough. In extreme cases the whole gorge disappears, leaving behind a broad valley with a flat floodplain. Previously, the assumption was that this transition from a narrow gorge to a wide valley was driven by gorge widening and the erosion of the walls of the gorges.   … Read more
  • ‘Cavity protection effect’ helps to conserve quantum information
    The quantum system studied at TU Wien (Vienna): a black diamond (center) contains nitrogen atoms, which are coupled to a microwave resonator. Credit: TU Wien The electronics we use for our computers only knows two different states: zero or one. Quantum systems on the other hand can be in different states at once, they can store a superposition of “zero” and “one”. This phenomenon could be used to build ultrafast quantum computers, but there are several technological obstacles that have to be overcome first. The biggest problem is that quantum states are quickly destroyed due to interactions with the environment. At TU Wien (Vienna University of Technology), scientists have now succeeded in using a protection effect to enhance the stability of a particularly promising quantum system. A Quantum Computer Made of Two Systems There are various concepts for possible quantum computers. “What we use is a hybrid system of two completely different quantum technologies”, says Johannes Majer. Together with his team, he couples microwaves and atoms, investigating and building a new type of quantum memory. The theorists Dmitry Krimer and Stefan Rotter developed a theoretical model describing the complex dynamics in such hybrid quantum systems. Read more at: Phys.org … Read more
  • 8,000-year-old mutation key to human life at high altitudes
    Photo credit: Felipe Lorenzo In an environment where others struggle to survive, Tibetans thrive in the thin air on the Tibetan Plateau, with an average elevation of 14,800 feet. A University of Utah led discovery that hinged as much on strides in cultural diplomacy as on scientific advancements, is the first to identify a genetic variation, or mutation, that contributes to the adaptation, and to reveal how it works. The research appears online in the journal Nature Genetics on Aug. 17, 2014.  … Read more
  • Virginity pledges for men can lead to sexual confusion—even after the wedding day
    Bragging of sexual conquests, suggestive jokes and innuendo, and sexual one-upmanship can all be a part of demonstrating one’s manhood, especially for young men eager to exert their masculinity. But how does masculinity manifest itself among young men who have pledged sexual abstinence before marriage? How do they handle sexual temptation, and what sorts of challenges crop up once they’re married? … Read more
  • Epigenetic breakthrough bolsters understanding of Alzheimer’s disease
    A team led by researchers at the University of Exeter Medical Schooland King’s College London has uncovered some of the strongest evidence yet that epigenetic changes in the brain play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Epigenetic changes affect the expression or activity of genes without changing the underlying DNA sequence and are believed to be one mechanism by which the environment can interact with the genome. Importantly, epigenetic changes are potentially reversible and may therefore provide targets for the development of new therapies. … Read more
  • A shift in the code: New method reveals hidden genetic landscape
    The letters in the human genome carry instructions to make proteins, via a three-letter code. Each trio spells out a word, and the words are strung together in a sentence to build a specific protein. Inserting or deleting a letter (‘e’ in this example) shifts the three-letter code. Known as a frameshift, these mutations cause the remaining words to be misspelled and the protein sentence to become unintelligible. Credit: J. Jansen/ Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory With three billion letters in the human genome, it seems hard to believe that adding a DNA base here or removing a DNA base there could have much of an effect on our health. In fact, such insertions and deletions can dramatically alter biological function, leading to diseases from autism to cancer. Still, it is has been difficult to detect these mutations. Now, a team of scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has devised a new way to analyze genome sequences that pinpoints so-called insertion and deletion mutations (known as “indels”) in genomes of people with diseases such as autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette syndrome. … Read more
  • DNA methylation involved in Alzheimer’s disease
    A new study led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Rush University Medical Center, reveals how early changes in brain DNA methylation are involved in Alzheimer’s disease. DNA methylation is a biochemical alteration of the building blocks of DNA and is one of the markers that indicate whether the DNA is open and biologically active in a given region of the human genome. The study is published online August 17, 2014 in Nature Neuroscience. … Read more
  • New study sheds light on how children’s brains memorize facts
    As children shift from counting on their fingers to remembering math facts, the hippocampus and its functional circuits support the brain’s construction of adultlike ways of using memory. As children learn basic arithmetic, they gradually switch from solving problems by counting on their fingers to pulling facts from memory. The shift comes more easily for some kids than for others, but no one knows why. … Read more
  • Worm-like creature with legs and spikes finds its place in the evolutionary tree of life
     One of the most bizarre-looking fossils ever found – a worm-like creature with legs, spikes and a head difficult to distinguish from its tail – has found its place in the evolutionary Tree of Life, definitively linking it with a group of modern animals for the first time. The spines along its back were thought to be legs, its legs thought to be tentacles along its back, and its head was mistaken for its tail. The animal, known as Hallucigenia due to its otherworldly appearance, had been considered an ‘evolutionary misfit’ as it was not clear how it related to modern animal groups. Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered an important link with modern velvet worms, also known as onychophorans, a relatively small group of worm-like animals that live in tropical forests. The results are published in the advance online edition of the journal Nature. … Read more
  • Scientists uncover key clue for protecting hearts against deadly arrhythmia
    A study involving Aston University has shed new light on how carbon monoxide could be used to protect against life-threatening arrhythmias(abnormal heart rhythms) after a heart attack. Restoring blood flow to the heart following a heart attack can leave patients with ventricular fibrillation, a dangerous heart rhythm which puts people at greater risk of sudden cardiac death. … Read more
  • Amazon payment app and card reader
    Amazon Local Register, a credit-card processing device and mobile app designed to help small business owners accept payments through their smartphones and tablets. Amazon’s technology includes a card reader that attaches to a smartphone, Kindle or tablet. … Read more

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