Rabu, 29 Desember 2010

ScienceDaily Top Science Headlines

for Wednesday, December 29, 2010

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Dust shatters like glass: Several times more dust particles in atmosphere than previously thought (December 29, 2010) -- Microscopic particles of dust, emitted into the atmosphere when dirt breaks apart, follow similar fragment patterns as broken glass and other brittle objects, according to new research. The research suggests there are several times more dust particles in the atmosphere than previously believed, since shattered dirt appears to produce an unexpectedly high number of large dust fragments. The finding has implications for understanding future climate change because dust plays a significant role in controlling the amount of solar energy in the atmosphere. ... > full story

Key interaction in hepatitis C virus identified (December 29, 2010) -- Scientists have identified a molecular interaction between a structural hepatitis C virus protein and a protein critical to viral replication. This new finding strongly suggests a novel method of inhibiting the production of the virus and a potential new therapeutic target for hepatitis C drug development. ... > full story

SOHO spots 2,000th comet (December 29, 2010) -- As people on Earth celebrate the holidays and prepare to ring in the New Year, an ESA/NASA spacecraft has quietly reached its own milestone: on Dec. 26, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) discovered its 2,000th comet. ... > full story

Activity of certain stem cell genes linked with worse outcomes in acute myeloid leukemia patients (December 29, 2010) -- Leukemia patients whose cancers express higher levels of genes associated with cancer stem cells have a significantly poorer prognosis than patients with lower levels of the genes, according to new research. ... > full story

Hot embossing glass -- to the nearest micrometer (December 29, 2010) -- The lens is what matters: if lens arrays could be made of glass, it would be possible to make more conveniently sized projectors. Researchers have now developed a process that allows this key component to be mass produced with extreme accuracy. ... > full story

Environmental factors limit species diversity, lizard study finds (December 29, 2010) -- New research on lizards in the Caribbean demonstrates that species diversification is limited by the environment. The finding supports and extends the MacArthur-Wilson theory of island biogeography. ... > full story

Many cancer cells found to have an 'eat me' signal (December 29, 2010) -- Researchers have discovered that many cancer cells carry the seeds of their own destruction -- a protein on the cell surface that signals circulating immune cells to engulf and digest them. On cancer cells, this "eat me" signal is counteracted by a separate "don't eat me" signal that was described in an earlier study. ... > full story

Mechanism for signaling receptor recycling discovered (December 29, 2010) -- Researchers have discovered the mechanism by which signaling receptors recycle, a critical piece in understanding signaling receptor function. Scientists describe how a signaling receptor travels back to the cell membrane after it has been activated and internalized. ... > full story

Virus previously linked to chronic fatigue syndrome was a lab contaminant, not cause of disease, new study shows (December 29, 2010) -- A virus previously thought to be associated with chronic fatigue syndrome is not the cause of the disease, a detailed study has shown. The research shows that cell samples used in previous research were contaminated with the virus identified as XMRV and that XMRV is present in the mouse genome. ... > full story

New technology improves greenhouse, plant microclimates (December 29, 2010) -- New technology improves greenhouse climates by reducing solar heat radiation and temperatures during the hot summer season. The study was the first investigation into the effects of application of the liquid foam technology as a shading method. Results showed that the technology improved greenhouse and plant microclimates and decreased air temperature more than conventional shading curtains traditionally used by greenhouse growers. ... > full story

Quitting menthol cigarettes may be harder for some smokers (December 29, 2010) -- Menthol cigarettes may be harder to quit, particularly for some teens and African-Americans, who have the highest menthol cigarette use, according to a new study. ... > full story

Finest chocolate may get better: Cacao tree genome sequenced (December 28, 2010) -- The production of high quality chocolate, and the farmers who grow it, will benefit from the recent sequencing and assembly of the chocolate tree genome. ... > full story

New clues uncover how 'starvation hormone' works (December 28, 2010) -- Researchers may solve a 17-year-old mystery about how the so-called "starvation hormone" affects multiple biological systems, including preventing insulin sensitivity and promoting cell survival. ... > full story

Malaria-infected cells stiffen, block blood flow (December 28, 2010) -- Researchers have completed the first modeling, followed by experiments, of how red blood cells are infected by a malarial parasite that attacks the brain. The researchers report that infected cells stiffen by as much as 50 times more than healthy cells. Infected cells also tend to stick along blood vessel walls, impeding the flow of blood to critical organs. ... > full story

Exposure to North Dakota road material may increase risk of lung cancer (December 28, 2010) -- New data shows that people exposed to the mineral erionite found in the gravel of road materials in North Dakota may be at significantly increased risk of developing mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer most often associated with asbestos exposure. ... > full story

Mechanisms of juvenile hormone action in insects could help fine tune pesticides (December 28, 2010) -- Just as raging hormones are part of the process of a child's maturation through the teen years to adulthood, juvenile hormones, a group of insect isoprenoids, play an important role as butterflies, fruit flies and mosquitoes transform their body structures as they molt from larva to pupa and then adults. Researchers have discovered an important step in the activation of juvenile hormone target genes. ... > full story

Parents' social problems affect their children -- even in birds (December 28, 2010) -- The phrase "nature versus nurture" was coined in the mid-19th century by the English scientist Francis Galton and symbolizes the debate over the relative importance of inherited factors and the environment (or upbringing) in determining the behavior of offspring. The issue has been complicated by the discovery of "epigenetic" effects, by which especially mothers can alter the genetic material they pass on to their young. A further twist to the story is provided by the finding that female birds can affect their chicks by adding varying amounts of hormones to the eggs. And a recent study has revealed that the social environment of mother quails has a direct influence on the growth and the behaviour of their young. ... > full story

When the black hole was born: Astronomers identify the epoch of the first fast growth of black holes (December 28, 2010) -- A team of astronomers has determined that the era of first fast growth of the most massive black holes occurred when the universe was only about 1.2 billion years old -- not two to four billion years old, as was previously believed -- and they're growing at a very fast rate. ... > full story

Newborns with low vitamin D levels at increased risk for respiratory infections (December 28, 2010) -- The vitamin D levels of newborn babies appear to predict their risk of respiratory infections during infancy and the occurrence of wheezing during early childhood, but not the risk of developing asthma. ... > full story

Woodland strawberry genome sequenced (December 28, 2010) -- The strawberry genome has been sequenced. The development is expected to yield tastier, hardier varieties of the berry and other crops in its family. ... > full story

High red blood cell folate levels linked to silenced tumor-suppressors (December 28, 2010) -- A study of 781 people enrolled in a colorectal cancer prevention clinical trial finds that elevated levels of red blood cell folate is associated with the deactivation of two anti-cancer genes known to be silenced in colorectal cancer. ... > full story

Major obstacles to cellulosic biofuel production overcome with new yeast strain (December 28, 2010) -- A newly engineered yeast strain can simultaneously consume two types of sugar from plants to produce ethanol, researchers report. The sugars are glucose, a six-carbon sugar that is relatively easy to ferment; and xylose, a five-carbon sugar that has been much more difficult to utilize in ethanol production. The new strain, made by combining, optimizing and adding to earlier advances, reduces or eliminates several major inefficiencies associated with current biofuel production methods. ... > full story

Psychologists find skill in recognizing faces peaks after age 30 (December 28, 2010) -- Scientists have made the surprising discovery that our ability to recognize and remember faces peaks at age 30 to 34, about a decade later than most of our other mental abilities. ... > full story

Bees one of many pollinators infected by virus implicated in colony collapse disorder (December 28, 2010) -- Researchers have found that native pollinators, like wild bees and wasps, are infected by the same viral diseases as honey bees and that these viruses are transmitted via pollen. This study provides new insights into viral infections in native pollinators, suggesting that viral diseases may be key factors impacting pollinator populations. ... > full story

Not all infant formulas are alike: Differential effects on weight gain (December 28, 2010) -- New findings reveal that weight gain of formula-fed infants is influenced by the type of formula the infant is consuming. The findings highlight the need to understand the long-term influences of infant formula composition on feeding behavior, growth and metabolic health. ... > full story

Some brain tumors mimic the genetic program of germline cells (December 28, 2010) -- Scientists have discovered that some brain tumors in larvae of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster use the genetic program of germline cells to grow. The removal of some of these genes leads to healthy brains. This finding demonstrates that these genes are crucial for tumor development. ... > full story

Features of the metabolic syndrome common in persons with psoriasis (December 28, 2010) -- Individuals with psoriasis have a high prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, according to a new study. ... > full story

Choose a movie's plot -- while you watch it (December 28, 2010) -- Turbulence, a new film, uses complicated video coding procedures that allow the viewer to change the course of a movie in mid-plot. In theory, that means each new theater audience can see its very own version of a film. ... > full story

Prayer can help people handle difficult emotions, study suggests (December 28, 2010) -- Those who choose to pray find personalized comfort during hard times, according to a sociologist. The 75 percent of Americans who pray on a weekly basis do so to manage a range of negative situations and emotions -- illness, sadness, trauma and anger -- but just how they find relief has gone unconsidered by researchers. ... > full story

Structure of key molecule in immune system provides clues for designing drugs (December 28, 2010) -- A research team has deciphered a key step in an evolutionarily old branch of the immune response. This system, called complement, comprises a network of proteins that "complement" the work of antibodies in destroying foreign invaders. Complement proteins mark both bacterial and dying host cells for elimination by the body's cellular cleanup services and have been implicated in at least 30 diseases. The findings provide a molecular scaffold for designing novel drug therapeutics. ... > full story

New study upends thinking about how liver disease develops (December 28, 2010) -- In the latest of a series of related papers, researchers present a new and more definitive explanation of how fibrotic cells form, multiply and eventually destroy the human liver, resulting in cirrhosis. In doing so, the findings upend the standing of a long-presumed marker for multiple fibrotic diseases and reveal the existence of a previously unknown kind of inflammatory white blood cell. ... > full story

New cell biological mechanism that regulates protein stability in cells uncovered (December 28, 2010) -- The cell signaling pathway known as Wnt, commonly activated in cancers, causes internal membranes within a healthy cell to imprison an enzyme that is vital in degrading proteins, preventing the enzyme from doing its job and affecting the stability of many proteins within the cell, researchers have found. ... > full story

Outcomes after recurrence of oral cancer vary by timing, site (December 28, 2010) -- Patients who have recurrence of oral squamous cell carcinoma tend to do worse if the new cancer appears at the same site early or if it appears in the lymph nodes six months or longer after initial treatment, according to a new study. ... > full story

Sardine Run: Headlong race for survival of the species (December 28, 2010) -- Every year between May and July, enormous shoals of the sardine Sardinops sagax give a splendid show as they migrate off the coasts of South Africa, performing their Sardine Run. They are subjected to relentless attack by predators of all kinds -- sharks, dolphins, sea lions, whales, birds, fishermen. Although well known to the general public, this wholesale migration is still not well understood scientifically. Researchers have now examined the different hypotheses put forward to explain the event. ... > full story

Bonding with newborn baby: Once upon a time in the Intensive Care Unit ... (December 28, 2010) -- The first few days after birth is an important time when babies learn to recognize the sound of their parents' voice and the parents in turn bond with their children. However, the separation between parents and newborns admitted to the NICU can disrupt the early development of this relationship. Innovative research suggests reading to newborns in the NICU allows parents to feel closer to their babies during this difficult period. ... > full story

How often do giant black holes become hyperactive? (December 27, 2010) -- A new study from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory tells scientists how often the biggest black holes have been active over the last few billion years. This discovery clarifies how supermassive black holes grow and could have implications for how the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way will behave in the future. ... > full story

Human immune system has emergency backup plan (December 27, 2010) -- New research reveals that the immune system has an effective backup plan to protect the body from infection when the "master regulator" of the body's innate immune system fails. ... > full story

Platinum and blue light combine to combat cancer (December 27, 2010) -- When it comes to health care blue lights, are usually most useful on the top of ambulances but now new research has found a way to use blue light to activate what could be a highly potent platinum-based cancer treatment. ... > full story

A new surgical tool -- the IKEA pencil (December 27, 2010) -- IKEA pencils are better at marking out cuts in the bone for facial and head surgery than traditional felt tipped pens, say two surgeons. ... > full story

New kind of blast-resistant glass (December 27, 2010) -- Engineers are working to develop a blast-resistant glass that is lighter, thinner, and colorless, yet tough enough to withstand the force of an explosion, earthquake or hurricane winds. Today's blast-resistant windows are made of pure polymer layers. This new design is a plastic composite with an interlayer of polymer reinforced with glass fibers. It's only a quarter-inch thick. ... > full story

In the evolutionary mating game, brawn and stealth rule, scientists find (December 27, 2010) -- When prowling for a hook up, it's not always the good-looker who gets the girl. In fact, in a certain species of South American fish, brawn and stealth beat out colorful and refined almost every time. ... > full story

Genetic variant that can lead to severe impulsivity identified (December 27, 2010) -- Scientists have found that a genetic variant of a brain receptor molecule may contribute to violently impulsive behavior when people who carry it are under the influence of alcohol. ... > full story

Compound that prevents the growth of prostate cancer cells identified (December 27, 2010) -- Researchers have demonstrated that an antibiotic called "monensin" prevents the growth of prostate cancer cells. Monensin is used in the meat and dairy industry, for example. ... > full story

Supercomputing research opens doors for drug discovery (December 27, 2010) -- A quicker and cheaper technique to scan molecular databases could put scientists on the fast track to developing new drug treatments. ... > full story

Study identifies genetic mutations associated with tumor of adrenal gland (December 27, 2010) -- Analysis has identified variations of a gene that are associated with a type of tumor that forms within the adrenal gland, according a new study. The age group in which these variations were found are frequently excluded from genetic screening models for this type of tumor. ... > full story

Decline of West Coast fog brought higher coastal temperatures last 60 years (December 27, 2010) -- Summertime fog, a common feature along the West Coast, has decline since 1950 while coastal temperatures have increased slightly, new research shows. ... > full story

Electronic medical records not always linked to better care in hospitals, study finds (December 27, 2010) -- Use of electronic health records by hospitals across the United States has had only a limited effect on improving the quality of medical care, according to a new study. ... > full story

Learning to read the genome: Most detailed annotation of fruit-fly genome points way to understanding all organisms' genomes (December 27, 2010) -- Scientists have recently made major advances in understanding the complex relationships between the Drosophila genome, as recorded by DNA and RNA base pairs, and the patterns and physical organization of its chromosomes. These insights into reading the genome will apply to many organisms, including human beings. ... > full story

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