Rabu, 09 Maret 2011

ScienceDaily Top Science Headlines

for Wednesday, March 9, 2011

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Some of Mars' missing carbon dioxide may be buried (March 9, 2011) -- Rocks on Mars dug from far underground by crater-blasting impacts are providing glimpses of one possible way Mars' atmosphere has become much less dense than it used to be. At several places where cratering has exposed material from depths of about 5 kilometers (3 miles) or more beneath the surface, observations by a mineral-mapping instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate carbonate minerals. ... > full story

Chemist discovers shortcut for processing drugs (March 9, 2011) -- Highly pressurized carbon dioxide at room temperature could replace the time consuming and expensive methods currently used to manufacture certain pharmaceutical drugs, new research suggests. ... > full story

Enzymes from garden compost could favour bioethanol production (March 9, 2011) -- Today, bioethanol is primarily made from glucose. If xylose – which is found in straw, willow and other fast-growing plant species – could also be used efficiently, then ethanol production could increase significantly. A researcher in applied microbiology is well on the way to making this a reality. ... > full story

'Cross-talk' research may pave the way to understanding and controlling chronic pain (March 9, 2011) -- Researchers have discovered a "cross-talk" between two major biological pathways that involve pain -- research that may pave the way to new approaches to understanding and controlling chronic pain. ... > full story

NASA develops light microscope for International Space Station (March 9, 2011) -- NASA has begun testing a new multi-capability microscope on the International Space Station. It will help scientists study the effects of the space environment on physics and biology aboard the orbiting laboratory. The microscope is isolated from vibrations on the station, allowing it to obtain clear, high-resolution images. Using high-resolution magnification, scientists can examine microorganisms and individual cells of plants and animals, including humans. ... > full story

Intelligence analysts need not fear 'Watson,' study shows (March 9, 2011) -- A new study on the future of predictive analytics, which examined the outlook for intelligence analysis in the computerized age, shows machines not yet capable of detecting deliberately deceptive data. ... > full story

New wintering grounds for humpback whales discovered using sound (March 9, 2011) -- Researchers have made a remarkable new discovery regarding humpback whale wintering grounds. The primary breeding ground for the North Pacific was always thought to be the main Hawaiian Islands. However, a new study has shown that these grounds extend all the way throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago and into the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. ... > full story

A new stem cell enters the mix: Induced conditional self-renewing progenitor cells (March 9, 2011) -- Generated from progenitor cells, ICSP cells are easier to produce than iPS cells and show therapeutic benefit in a rodent stroke model. ... > full story

Extremely fast magnetic random access memory (MRAM) computer data storage within reach (March 9, 2011) -- Magnetic random access memory (MRAM) is the most important new module on the market of computer storage devices. Like the well known USB sticks, they store information into static memory, but MRAM offers short access times and unlimited writing properties. Commercial MRAMs have been on the market since 2005. They are, however, still slower than the competitors they have among the volatile storage media. An invention made by researchers in Germany changes this situation: A special chip connection, in association with dynamic triggering of the component, reduces the response from - so far - 2 ns to below 500 ps. This corresponds to a data rate of up to 2 GBit (instead of the approx. 400 MBit so far). ... > full story

Neurologists predict more cases of stroke, dementia, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy (March 9, 2011) -- As the population ages, neurologists will be challenged by a growing population of patients with stroke, dementia, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy. ... > full story

Graphene oxide’s solubility disappears in the wash (March 9, 2011) -- Graphene oxide has had a scrum of researchers fall upon it as it retains much of the properties of the highly valued super material pure graphene, but it is much easier, and cheaper, to make in bulk quantities; easier to process; and its significant oxygen content appears to make it soluble in water. However new research has found that that last assumption is incorrect and unfortunately graphene oxide's solubility literally comes out in the wash. ... > full story

Text messaging helps smokers break the habit: Studies demonstrate brain activity link and use a new technology to monitor smoking (March 9, 2011) -- New studies have isolated the brain regions most active in controlling urges to smoke and demonstrated the effectiveness of text-messaging to measure and intervene in those urges. ... > full story

Right-handers, but not left-handers, are biased to select their dominant hand (March 8, 2011) -- The vast majority of humans -- over 90 percent -- prefer to use their right hand for most skilled tasks. For decades, researchers have been trying to understand why this asymmetry exists. Why, with our two cerebral hemispheres and motor cortices, are we not equally skilled with both hands? ... > full story

Function of 'junk DNA' in human genes (March 8, 2011) -- Part of the answer to how and why humans differ from other primates may lie in the repetitive stretches of the genome that were once considered "junk." A new study finds that when a particular type of repetitive DNA segment, known as an Alu element, inserts into existing genes, they can alter the rate of protein production -- a mechanism that could contribute to the evolution of different biological characteristics in different species. ... > full story

For birds, the suburbs may not be an ideal place to raise a family (March 8, 2011) -- There comes a time in life for every bird to spread its wings and leave the nest, but for gray catbirds, that might be the beginning of the end. Scientists report fledgling catbirds in suburban habitats are at their most vulnerable stage of life, with almost 80 percent killed by predators before they reach adulthood. Almost half of the deaths were linked to domestic cats. ... > full story

Stroke survivors with irregular heartbeat may have higher risk of dementia (March 8, 2011) -- Stroke survivors who have an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation may be at higher risk of developing dementia than stroke survivors who do not have the heart condition, according to new research. ... > full story

How can robots get our attention? (March 8, 2011) -- Researchers have found that they can program a robot to understand when it gains a human's attention and when it falls short. ... > full story

Cleansing the soul by hurting the flesh: The guilt-reducing effect of pain (March 8, 2011) -- Lent in the Christian tradition is a time of sacrifice and penance. It also is a period of purification and enlightenment. Pain purifies. It atones for sin and cleanses the soul. Or at least that's the idea. Theological questions aside, can self-inflicted pain really alleviate the guilt associated with immoral acts? A new study explores the psychological consequences of experiencing bodily pain. ... > full story

Melting ice sheets now largest contributor to sea level rise (March 8, 2011) -- The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, according to a new satellite study. The findings of the study -- the longest to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass -- suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice loss from Earth's mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted. ... > full story

An Alzheimer's vaccine in a nasal spray? (March 8, 2011) -- Scientists are working on a nasal vaccine that repairs vascular damage in the brain caused by stroke, restoring cognitive impairment and preventing brain tissue damage. In early pre-clinical studies, results show that it also has a prophylactic effect against many strokes associated with Alzheimer's. ... > full story

Genetic makeup and duration of abuse reduce the brain's neurons in drug addiction (March 8, 2011) -- Drug addicted individuals who have a certain genetic makeup have lower gray matter density -- and therefore fewer neurons -- in areas of the brain that are essential for decision-making, self-control, and learning and memory, a new study shows. ... > full story

Malaria’s weakest link: Class of chemotherapy drugs also kills the parasite that causes malaria (March 8, 2011) -- Researchers in Europe have discovered that a class of chemotherapy drugs originally designed to inhibit key signaling pathways in cancer cells also kills the parasite that causes malaria. The discovery could quickly open up a whole new strategy for combating this deadly disease. ... > full story

Identifying 'anonymous' email authors (March 8, 2011) -- Researchers have developed an effective new technique to determine the authorship of anonymous emails. Tests showed their method has a high level of accuracy -- and unlike many other methods of ascertaining authorship, it can provide presentable evidence in courts of law. ... > full story

Big games, close scores lead to more auto fatalities for winning fans (March 8, 2011) -- Closely contested major sporting events are followed by a significant increase in traffic fatalities for fans of the winning team, according to new research. It turns out there may be more on the line than many sports fans bargained for. ... > full story

Rare observation of cosmic explosion (March 8, 2011) -- Astronomers have discovered a new cosmic explosion: a gamma-ray burst and its associated supernova. Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most powerful blasts in the Universe, and are thought to be created in the deaths of the most massive stars. ... > full story

New weight loss discovery moves us closer to 'the Pill' for obesity (March 8, 2011) -- A discovery in mice may make a big difference in people's waistlines thanks to scientists who found that reducing the function of a transmembrane protein, called Klotho, in obese mice with high blood sugar levels produced lean mice with reduced blood sugar. This protein exists in humans, suggesting that targeting Klotho could lead to new drugs that reduce obesity and possibly type 2 diabetes. ... > full story

DNA better than eyes when counting endangered species (March 8, 2011) -- Using genetic methods to count endangered eagles, a group of scientists showed that traditional counting methods can lead to significantly incorrect totals that they believe could adversely affect conservation efforts. ... > full story

Key mechanism of childhood respiratory disease identified (March 8, 2011) -- Researchers have identified a critical part of the process by which one of the world's most common and dangerous early childhood infections, respiratory syncytial virus, causes disease. ... > full story

Student innovation transmits data and power wirelessly through submarine hulls (March 8, 2011) -- Steel walls are no match for one doctoral student. He has developed and demonstrated an innovative new system that uses ultrasound to simultaneously transmit large quantities of data and power wirelessly through thick metal walls, like the hulls of ships and submarines. ... > full story

Physician's empathy directly associated with positive clinical outcomes (March 8, 2011) -- It has been thought that the quality of the physician-patient relationship is integral to positive outcomes but until now, data to confirm such beliefs has been hard to find. Researchers have now been able to quantify a relationship between physicians' empathy and their patients' positive clinical outcomes, suggesting that a physician's empathy is an important factor associated with clinical competence. ... > full story

Stone tools influenced hand evolution in human ancestors, anthropologists say (March 8, 2011) -- Anthropologists have confirmed Charles Darwin's speculation that the evolution of unique features in the human hand was influenced by increased tool use in our ancestors. ... > full story

High levels of 'good' cholesterol may cut bowel cancer risk (March 8, 2011) -- High levels of "good" (high density lipoprotein) HDL cholesterol seem to cut the risk of bowel cancer, suggests new research. ... > full story

Teaching robots to move like humans (March 8, 2011) -- Researchers find people can better understand robot movements when robots move in a more human way. ... > full story

Experts develop tool to predict course of Haiti's cholera outbreak, offer disease control strategies for immediate implementation (March 8, 2011) -- A new study outlines the path of the cholera outbreak in Haiti and identifies immediate strategies for controlling the epidemic. Control strategies are needed, as Haiti is in the midst of a cholera epidemic that has killed 4,000 people, and sickened at least 217,000 more in all of Haiti's ten geographical "departments." ... > full story

Researchers hunt for green catalysts (March 8, 2011) -- Scientists are looking for cleaner, greener and cheaper catalysts. They are turning to biology for some ideas. And they're developing high-throughput approaches to quickly test a reaction using up to a hundred trillion different catalysts. ... > full story

People would rather let bad things happen than cause them, especially if someone is watching (March 8, 2011) -- People are more comfortable committing sins of omission than commission -- letting bad things happen rather than actively causing something bad. A new study suggests that this is because they know other people will think worse of them if they do something bad than if they let something bad happen. ... > full story

Laboratory-grown urethras implanted in patients, scientists report (March 8, 2011) -- For the first time, medical researchers have used a patients' own cells to build tailor-made urinary tubes and successfully replaced damaged tissue. ... > full story

Body's clock may lead to increased risk for fainting during the nighttime (March 8, 2011) -- The circadian system may contribute to the daily pattern of vasovagal syncope via its influences on physiological responses to changes in body posture. ... > full story

California superstorm would be costliest US disaster (March 8, 2011) -- A hurricane-like superstorm expected to hit California once every 200 years would cause devastation to the state's businesses unheard of even in the Great Recession, an economist warns. ... > full story

Acupuncture curbs severity of menopausal hot flushes, study suggests (March 8, 2011) -- Traditional Chinese acupuncture curbs the severity of hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms, suggests a small study. ... > full story

Microbial forensics used to solve the case of the 2001 anthrax attacks (March 8, 2011) -- Researchers working with the FBI have published the first scientific paper based on their investigation into the anthrax attacks of 2001. The case was groundbreaking in its use of genomics and microbiology in a criminal investigation, a new field called microbial forensics. More than 20 people contracted anthrax from spores mailed in letters in 2001, and five people died. ... > full story

Exercise can curb marijuana use and cravings, study finds (March 8, 2011) -- Researchers are studying heavy users of marijuana to help understand what exercise does for the brain, contributing to a field of research that uses exercise as a modality for prevention and treatment. Participants saw a significant decrease in their cravings and daily use after just a few sessions of running on the treadmill, according to a new study. ... > full story

Eating apples extends lifespan of test animals by 10 percent (March 8, 2011) -- Scientists are reporting the first evidence that consumption of a healthful antioxidant substance in apples extends the average lifespan of test animals, and does so by 10 percent. The new results, obtained with fruit flies -- stand-ins for humans in hundreds of research projects each year -- bolster similar findings on apple antioxidants in other animal tests. ... > full story

Spontaneous smoking cessation may be an early symptom of lung cancer, research suggests (March 8, 2011) -- Many longtime smokers quit spontaneously with little effort shortly before their lung cancer is diagnosed, leading some researchers to speculate that sudden cessation may be a symptom of lung cancer. ... > full story

Peanut worms are annelids (March 8, 2011) -- Recent molecular phylogenetic analysis has shown that the marine animals known as peanut worms are not a separate phylum, but are definitely part of the family of annelids, also known as segmented worms. This is a classification that seemed questionable in the past in view of the fact that peanut worms -- or the Sipunculidae, to give them their scientific name -- have neither segments nor bristles. The latter are considered typical characteristics of annelids, which include more than 16,500 identified species and to which our common earthworm belongs. ... > full story

Surprising behavior of cells during blood-vessel formation (March 8, 2011) -- Biologists look at cells in bulk, taking the average behavior as the norm and assuming that identical cells behave the same. Biomedical engineers now show a surprising variation in how cells behave during formation of a blood vessel. They have now characterized, for the first time, what happens when endothelial cells move from an initial dispersed state to capillary-like structures. ... > full story

New mathematical model of information processing in the brain accurately predicts some of the peculiarities of human vision (March 8, 2011) -- The human retina -- the part of the eye that converts incoming light into electrochemical signals -- has about 100 million light-sensitive cells. So retinal images contain a huge amount of data. High-level visual-processing tasks -- like object recognition, gauging size and distance, or calculating the trajectory of a moving object -- couldn't possibly preserve all that data: The brain just doesn't have enough neurons. So vision scientists have long assumed that the brain must somehow summarize the content of retinal images, reducing their informational load before passing them on to higher-order processes. ... > full story

Brain 'network maps' reveal clue to mental decline in old age (March 8, 2011) -- The human brain operates as a highly interconnected small-world network, not as a collection of discrete regions as previously believed, with important implications for why many of us experience cognitive declines in old age, a new study shows. Australian researchers have mapped the brain's neural networks and for the first time linked them with specific cognitive functions, such as information processing and language. ... > full story

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