Jumat, 04 Februari 2011

ScienceDaily Top Science Headlines

for Friday, February 4, 2011

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Northern Mars landscape actively changing (February 4, 2011) -- Sand dunes in a vast area of northern Mars long thought to be frozen in time are changing with both sudden and gradual motions, as revealed by images from a high-resolution camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO. The new findings help scientists to better understand what features and landscapes on Mars can be explained by current processes and which require environmental conditions no longer present on the planet. ... > full story

Destined for disease: Breast cancer mutation regulates cell fate (February 4, 2011) -- Breast tissue cells from certain individuals make abnormal cell-fate decisions even before cancer develops. This provides exciting new insights into the mechanisms behind one of the most lethal types of breast cancer. ... > full story

Microbiologists aim to optimize bio-ethanol production (February 4, 2011) -- Researchers are working to resolve an emerging "food versus fuel" rivalry: they are investigating how to most effectively utilize residual field crop material for industrial production of bio-ethanol. Getting a handle on the full "toolbox" that soil bacteria use to transform cellulose into sugar could help to optimize combinations of enzymes for industrial use, potentially leading to development of a specialized degradation tool for every kind of plant waste containing cellulose. ... > full story

The 'death switch' in sepsis also promotes survival (February 4, 2011) -- Researchers have identified a protein that plays a dual role in the liver during sepsis. The protein, known as RIP1, acts both as a "death switch" and as a pro-survival mechanism. The ability to identify the triggers for these functions may play a key role in treating sepsis in the future. ... > full story

Underwater ridges impact ocean's flow of warm water; Findings to improve climate models (February 4, 2011) -- New discoveries on how underwater ridges impact the ocean's circulation system will help improve climate projections. An underwater ridge can trap the flow of cold, dense water at the bottom of the ocean. Without the ridge, deepwater can flow freely and speed up the ocean circulation pattern, which generally increases the flow of warm surface water. Warm water on the ocean's surface makes the formation of sea ice difficult. With less ice present to reflect the sun, surface water will absorb more sunlight and continue to warm. ... > full story

Childhood obesity linked to health habits, not heredity, study finds (February 4, 2011) -- Are some children genetically tuned to be overweight, or is lifestyle to blame for childhood obesity? Check-ups of 1,003 Michigan sixth graders showed obese children tend to have the same habits, such as eating school lunch and spending two hours or more watching TV or video games. ... > full story

Rare insect fossil reveals 100 million years of evolutionary stasis (February 4, 2011) -- Researchers have discovered the 100 million-year-old ancestor of a group of large, carnivorous, cricket-like insects that still live today in southern Asia, northern Indochina and Africa. The new find corrects the mistaken classification of another fossil of this type and reveals that the genus has undergone very little evolutionary change since the Early Cretaceous Period, a time of dinosaurs just before the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana. ... > full story

A stem cell origin of skin cancer and the genetic roots of malignancy unmasked (February 4, 2011) -- Researchers have unmasked a long sought stem cell origin of carcinoma and identified the genetic lesions occurring within these cells that spur them on to malignancy. The scientists have found that increased activity of a powerful oncogene called Ras combined with overly exuberant activity of a protein called ”Np63±, stimulates the population of skin stem cells that produce keratin 15 -- one of many keratin proteins found in the skin -- promoting carcinoma development. ... > full story

Same rules apply to some experimental systems regardless of scale (February 4, 2011) -- New experiments show that common scientific rules can apply to significantly different phenomena operating on vastly different scales. The results raise the possibility of making discoveries pertaining to phenomena that would be too large or impractical to recreate in the laboratory. ... > full story

New undertsanding of gut hormones and gut function sheds light on obesity (February 4, 2011) -- Gastric function, as well the activities of the autonomic nervous system are impaired in obese individuals in both fasting and fed states, which could lead to over-eating, according to a new study. In a separate study of 35 patients undergoing Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, the rate of weight loss was correlated with only one circulating hormone, obestatin, a peptide produced in the gut which may have a role in appetite suppression. ... > full story

Ionization by strong laser fields: Understanding the 'Ionization Surprise' (February 4, 2011) -- In 2009 researchers found an "ionization surprise" that defied explanation. Until that time, it had been commonly thought that the ionization of atoms by strong laser fields was well-understood, but novel experiments where rare gas atoms were ionized using relatively long (few-micrometers) wavelength laser light suddenly revealed an unexpected and universal low-energy feature that defied explanation. Now, scientists have provided an explanation. ... > full story

Effective search terms yield the right information (February 4, 2011) -- It does not matter how good a search engine is if the person doing a search does not ask for the desired information in the right way. So far, a great deal of the research on information retrieval has aimed to develop search algorithms and powerful search engines. Yet, a new doctoral thesis on natural language processing shows that it is also important to look at the terms people type into the search box. ... > full story

Missing link between young, old galaxies? Gas jet galaxy could explain how starforming galaxies become red and dead (February 3, 2011) -- Astronomers may have found the missing link between young, gas-filled, star-forming galaxies and older, gas-depleted galaxies typically characterized as "red and dead." New research finds that a long-known "early-type" galaxy, NGC 1266, is expelling molecular gas, mostly hydrogen, from its core. The unusual galaxy may help explain how gas-filled galaxies rid themselves of their molecular gas. ... > full story

Duchenne muscular dystrophy: Scientists closer to finding treatment for life-threatening hereditary disease (February 3, 2011) -- Scientists have reported encouraging results in a new gene-based therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which at present has no known cure and affects one in 3,000 young boys. ... > full story

Communication pathways within proteins may yield new drug targets to stop superbugs (February 3, 2011) -- A biophysicist has developed a new method to identify communication pathways connecting distant regions within proteins. With this tool, the researcher has identified a mechanism for cooperative behavior within an entire molecule, a finding that suggests that in the future it may be possible to design drugs that target anywhere along the length of a molecule's communication pathway rather than only in a single location as they do today. ... > full story

Deaths reduced with cardiac resynchronization therapy (February 3, 2011) -- Cardiac resynchronization therapy shows major benefit in reducing mortality in people with heart failure when combined with optimal medical therapy or implantable cardioverter defibrillator, according to a new study. ... > full story

Energy-efficient intelligent house can monitor health, prototype shows (February 3, 2011) -- A prototype of an energy-efficient house which can send alerts if its residents are ill has been developed. ... > full story

Why do our emotions get in the way of rational decisions about safety products? (February 3, 2011) -- A new study explores why people reject things that can make them safer. ... > full story

Surprise hidden in Titan's smog: Cirrus-like clouds (February 3, 2011) -- Every day is a bad-air day on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Blanketed by haze far worse than any smog belched out in Los Angeles, Beijing or even Sherlock Holmes's London, the moon looks like a dirty orange ball. Described once as crude oil without the sulfur, the haze is made of tiny droplets of hydrocarbons with other, more noxious chemicals mixed in. Gunk. Now thin, wispy clouds of ice particles, similar to Earth's cirrus clouds have also been discovered. ... > full story

Assisted reproductive technologies: Uterine health more important than egg quality, study shows (February 3, 2011) -- For women seeking pregnancy by assisted reproductive technologies, such as in-vitro fertilization, a new study shows that the health of the uterus is more relevant than egg quality for a newborn to achieve normal birth weight and full gestation. The study offers new information for women with infertility diagnoses considering options for conceiving. ... > full story

Wolverine population threatened by climate change (February 3, 2011) -- Wolverine habitat in the northwestern United States is likely to warm dramatically if society continues to emit large amounts of greenhouse gases, according to new computer model simulations. The study found that climate change is likely to imperil the wolverine in two ways: reducing or eliminating the springtime snow cover that wolverines rely on to protect and shelter newborn kits, and increasing August temperatures well beyond what the species may be able to tolerate. ... > full story

Sideline test accurately detects athletes' concussions in minutes, study shows (February 3, 2011) -- A simple test performed at the sideline of sporting events can accurately detect concussions in athletes, according to a new study. Current sideline tests can leave a wide amount a brain function untested following concussion. Researchers showed that this simple test was superior to current methods and accurately and reliably identified athletes with head trauma. ... > full story

Scientists climb Mt. Everest to explain how hearts adapt and recover from low oxygen (February 3, 2011) -- From the highest mountaintop comes a new research report that gets to the bottom of what happens to the hearts of people when exposed to low-levels of oxygen, such as those on Mount Everest or in the intensive care unit of a hospital. ... > full story

Poor work ability may predict faster deterioration of health (February 3, 2011) -- Poor work ability in midlife may be associated with an accelerated deterioration of health and functioning in old age, according to a new study. ... > full story

'Tall order' sunlight-to-hydrogen system works, neutron analysis confirms (February 3, 2011) -- Researchers have developed a biohybrid photoconversion system -- based on the interaction of photosynthetic plant proteins with synthetic polymers -- that can convert visible light into hydrogen fuel. ... > full story

New clue to lupus: Failed autoimmune suppression mechanism (February 3, 2011) -- Researchers have identified a regulatory defect that drives lupus. Correcting the defect may represent an effective therapeutic approach to systemic lupus erythematosus-like autoimmune disease, researchers suggest. ... > full story

Future surgeons may use robotic nurse, 'gesture recognition' (February 3, 2011) -- Surgeons of the future might use a system that recognizes hand gestures as commands to control a robotic scrub nurse or tell a computer to display medical images of the patient during an operation. ... > full story

Simple interventions reduce newborn deaths in Africa (February 3, 2011) -- Training community birth attendants in rural Zambia in a simple newborn resuscitation protocol reduced neonatal deaths by nearly 50 percent -- a finding that shows high potential to save lives in similar remote settings. ... > full story

Two severe Amazon droughts in five years alarms scientists (February 3, 2011) -- New research shows that the 2010 Amazon drought may have been even more devastating to the region's rainforests than the unusual 2005 drought, which was previously billed as a one-in-100 year event. ... > full story

Coffee, energy drinkers beware: Many mega-sized drinks loaded with sugar, nutrition expert says (February 3, 2011) -- Americans should be wary of extra calories and sugar in the quest for bigger, bolder drinks, according to a nutrition expert. ... > full story

Water flea: First crustacean genome is sequenced (February 3, 2011) -- The ubiquitous freshwater "water flea," Daphnia pulex, is a valuable "sentinel species" for the presence of toxins and pollutants in the environment. ... > full story

Learning causes structural changes in affected neurons (February 3, 2011) -- When a laboratory rat learns how to reach for and grab a food pellet -- a pretty complex and unnatural act for a rodent -- the acquired knowledge significantly alters the structure of the specific brain cells involved, which sprout a whopping 22 percent more dendritic spines connecting them to other motor neurons. ... > full story

Lampreys give clues to evolution of immune system (February 3, 2011) -- Biologists have discovered that primitive, predatory lampreys have structures within their gills that play the same role as the thymus, the organ where immune cells called T cells develop in mammals, birds and fish. The finding suggests that in vertebrate evolution, having two separate organs for immune cell development -- the bone marrow for B cells and the thymus for T cells -- may have preceded the appearance of the particular features that mark those cells, such as antibodies and T cell receptors. ... > full story

Early infusion of donor T cells prevents graft versus host disease in blood cancer patients, study suggests (February 3, 2011) -- Scientists have developed a potential new strategy for preventing graft-versus-host disease and promoting the patient's immune system recovery after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. ... > full story

New drought record from long-lived Mexican trees may illuminate fates of past civilizations (February 3, 2011) -- A new, detailed record of rainfall fluctuations in ancient Mexico that spans more than twelve centuries promises to improve our understanding of the role drought played in the rise and fall of pre-Hispanic civilizations. ... > full story

Drug-abusers have difficulty to recognize negative emotions as wrath, fear and sadness, study finds (February 3, 2011) -- Scientists in Spain have analyzed the relation between drug abuse and recognition of basic emotions (happiness, surprise, wrath, fear, sadness and disgust). This study was carried out with a sample including 123 polysubstance abusers and 67 no-drug users. ... > full story

Small snack for Milky Way: Astrophysicists find new remnants of neighboring galaxy in our own (February 3, 2011) -- An international team of astronomers has discovered a new stream of stars in our Milky Way: the "Aquarius Stream", named after the constellation of Aquarius. The stream of stars is a remnant of a smaller galaxy in our cosmic neighborhood, which has been pulled apart by the gravitational pull of the Milky Way about 700 million years ago. The discovery is a result of the measurement of the velocities of 250,000 stars with the RAVE Survey based at the Australian Astronomical Observatory's UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory, NSW, Australia. ... > full story

Molecular predictor of metastatic prostate cancer found (February 3, 2011) -- Prostate tumors that carry a "signature" of four molecular markers have the potential to become dangerously metastatic if not treated aggressively, researchers now report. The discovery lays the groundwork for the first gene-based test for determining whether a man's prostate cancer is likely to remain dormant within the prostate gland, or spread lethally to other parts of the body. ... > full story

Cell reprogramming leaves a 'footprint' behind (February 3, 2011) -- Reprogramming adult cells to recapture their youthful "can-do-it-all" attitude appears to leave an indelible mark, researchers found. When researchers scoured the epigenomes of so-called induced pluripotent stem cells base by base, they found a consistent pattern of reprogramming errors. ... > full story

Why folic acid may prevent a first heart attack, but not a second (February 3, 2011) -- A perplexing medical paradox now has an explanation according to new research. The paradox is that taking folic acid, a B vitamin, lowers homocysteine in the blood which, epidemiological evidence indicates, should lower the risk of heart attack, but clinical trials of folic acid have not shown the expected benefit. ... > full story

'Red mud' disaster's main threat to crops is not toxic metals, but instead high alkalinity (February 3, 2011) -- As farmers in Hungary ponder spring planting on hundreds of acres of farmland affected by last October's red mud disaster, scientists are reporting that high alkalinity is the main threat to a bountiful harvest, not toxic metals. In a new study, they also describe an inexpensive decontamination strategy using the mineral gypsum, an ingredient in plaster. ... > full story

Children's genes influence how well they take advantage of education, twin study shows (February 3, 2011) -- New research on twins shows that measures used to judge the effectiveness of schools are partly influenced by genetic factors in students. ... > full story

Electric thinking cap? Flash of fresh insight by electrical brain stimulation (February 3, 2011) -- Are we on the verge of being able to stimulate the brain to see the world anew -- an electric thinking cap? Researchers suggests that this could be the case. ... > full story

Potential vaccine to prevent gastritis, ulcer disease, gastric cancer (February 3, 2011) -- A new study has identified a potential vaccine capable of reducing colonization of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) -- a known cause of gastritis, ulcer disease and cancer. ... > full story

Roasting coffee beans a dark brown produces valued antioxidants, scientists find (February 3, 2011) -- Food scientists have been able to pinpoint more of the complex chemistry behind coffee's much touted antioxidant benefits, tracing valuable compounds to the roasting process. ... > full story

First new C. difficile drug in a generation superior to existing treatments (February 3, 2011) -- Clostridium difficile infection is a significant problem in hospitals, but no new drugs to treat the condition have been developed in several decades. However, a large-scale, Phase 3 trial shows that the new antibiotic Fidaxomicin is superior to existing treatments, demonstrating a 45 percent reduction in recurrences vs. the existing licensed treatment. ... > full story

Internet out of space? Development of the next generation of Internet addresses needs to speed up, academic warns (February 3, 2011) -- As the original Internet address system reaches its end, an academic warns that deployment of the next generation of addresses needs to speed up to maintain Internet services. With the Internet likely to reach a major milestone this Thursday at 3 pm, when the very last Internet addresses using the original Internet protocol, called IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) are allocated to Regional Registries and ISPs, computer scientists say that careful planning by developers and engineers, dating back to the mid-1990s, has provided the capability for the Internet to continue to grow beyond the depletion of the original addressing system. ... > full story

Taking unpleasant surprises out of cosmetic surgery (February 3, 2011) -- New software aims to improve the outcome of cosmetic surgery. Scientists have built a tool that generates a far more anatomically accurate after-surgery image than ever before. The research will permit surgeons to avoid unexpected results and determine the most favorable outcome for their patients. ... > full story

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