Kamis, 10 Maret 2011

ScienceDaily Top Science Headlines

for Thursday, March 10, 2011

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Foundations of empathy in chickens? Avian maternal response to chick distress studied (March 10, 2011) -- Researchers in the UK have gained new insight into the minds of domestic hens, discovering, for the first time, that domestic hens show a clear physiological and behavioral response when their chicks are mildly distressed. ... > full story

New form of muscular dystrophy identified: Mutation in important muscle protein causes muscle disease and cognitive impairment (March 10, 2011) -- An international collaboration and a single patient with mild muscle disease and severe cognitive impairment have allowed researchers to identify a new gene mutation that causes muscular dystrophy. Furthermore, by engineering the human gene mutation into mice, the researchers have created a new mouse model that could help screen potential drugs to treat this type of muscular dystrophy. ... > full story

Toward real time observation of electron dynamics in atoms and molecules (March 10, 2011) -- Another step has been taken in matter imaging. By using very short flashes of light, researchers have obtained groundbreaking information on the electronic structure of atoms and molecules by observing for the first time ever electronic correlations using the method of high harmonic generation. ... > full story

New mouse models generated for MYH9 genetic disorders (March 10, 2011) -- Researchers have created the first mouse models of human MYH9 genetic disorders, which cause several problems -- including enlarged platelets and sometimes fatal kidney disease. ... > full story

Model organisms? Broadening the biological lexicon to bolster translational research (March 10, 2011) -- So-called model organisms have long been at the core of biomedical research, allowing scientists to study the ins and outs of human disorders in non-human subjects. In the ideal, such models accurately recapitulate a human disorder so that, for example, the Parkinson's disease observed in a rat model would be virtually indistinguishable from that in a human patient. The reality, of course, is that rats aren't human, and few models actually faithfully reflect the phenotype of the disease in question. Thus, in the strictest sense of the word, many "models" aren't truly models at all. To developmental biologist, this is no small matter. ... > full story

Epilepsy-linked memory losss worries more patients than doctors (March 10, 2011) -- Patients with epilepsy worry more than their physicians do about the patients' potential memory loss accompanying their seizure disorder, according to a recent study. In a survey, patients with epilepsy as a group ranked memory loss as their second-most important concern on a list of 20 potential medical or social concerns. ... > full story

High-volume portable music players may impair ability to clearly discriminate sounds (March 10, 2011) -- Listening to loud music through earphones for extended periods in noisy surroundings can cause neurophysiological changes related to clear discrimination of sounds, even if the hearing threshold is normal, new research shows. ... > full story

Novel method could improve the performance of proteins used therapeutically (March 10, 2011) -- Scientists have created a method that site-specifically modifies proteins to exert control over their properties when administered therapeutically. The technique should be useful to increase potency, slow metabolism, and improve thermal stability of therapeutically useful proteins, such as interferon alpha 2 (IFN-alpha 2), which is used to treat variety of diseases, including leukemia, melanoma, and chronic hepatitis C. ... > full story

Intelligent microscopy: Software runs experiments on its own (March 10, 2011) -- Scientists in Germany have created new software that rapidly learns what researchers are looking for and automatically performs complex microscopy experiments. ... > full story

Novel role found for calcium channels in pacemaker cell function (March 10, 2011) -- Pacemaker cells in the sinoatrial node control heart rate, but what controls the ticking of these pacemaker cells? New research reveals, for the first time, a critical functional interaction between Cav1.3 calcium ion (Ca2+) channels and ryanodine-receptor (RyR) mediated Ca2+ signaling. ... > full story

Open-source software is actually more secure for health care IT, study suggests (March 10, 2011) -- Globally the sale of health-care information systems is a multibillion dollar industry. The vast costs and frequent failed systems regularly attract media comment. However policy makers still shy away from a class of software, open source, that could address many of these problems, because of worries about the safety and security. Now new research finds that open-source software may actually be more secure than its often more expensive alternatives. ... > full story

Negative classroom environment adversely affects children's mental health (March 10, 2011) -- Children in classrooms with inadequate material resources and children whose teachers feel they are not respected by colleagues exhibit more mental health problems than students in classrooms without these issues, finds a new study. ... > full story

'Singing' mice: The ongoing debate of nature vs. Nurture (March 9, 2011) -- What happened to being "quiet as a mouse"? Researchers have recently shown that, rather than being the silent creatures of popular belief, mice emit ultrasonic calls in a variety of social contexts, and these calls have song-like characteristics. So if mice sing, where do they get their music? ... > full story

New biomarker for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease identified (March 9, 2011) -- Researchers have identified the first disease-specific biomarker for sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD), a universally fatal, degenerative brain disease for which there is no cure. sCJD is one of the causes of dementia and typically leads to death within a year of disease onset. ... > full story

Synthetic biology: Novel kind of fluorescent protein developed (March 9, 2011) -- Since the 1990s a green fluorescent protein known as GFP has been used in research labs worldwide. Protein designers have now taken it a step further: They have managed to incorporate a synthetic amino acid into the natural GFP and thus to create a new kind of chimeric fluorescent bio-molecule by means of synthetic biology. By exploiting a special physical effect, the fluorescent protein glows in turquoise and displays unmatched properties. ... > full story

Gene fusion mechanisms offer new clues to origin of pediatric brain tumors (March 9, 2011) -- A detailed analysis of gene fusions present at high frequency in the most common pediatric brain tumors has been performed for the first time in a study that sheds new light on how these genomic rearrangements form in the early stages of cancer. ... > full story

NASA's Jupiter-bound spacecraft taking shape in Denver (March 9, 2011) -- NASA's Juno spacecraft is currently undergoing environmental testing at Lockheed Martin Space Systems near Denver. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft will orbit Jupiter's poles 33 times to find out more about the gas giant's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere. The launch window for Juno from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida opens Aug. 5, 2011. ... > full story

Giving children the power to be scientists (March 9, 2011) -- Children who are taught how to think and act like scientists develop a clearer understanding of the subject, a study has shown. ... > full story

Scientists discover anti-anxiety circuit in brain region considered the seat of fear (March 9, 2011) -- Stimulation of a distinct brain circuit that lies within a brain structure typically associated with fearfulness produces the opposite effect: Its activity, instead of triggering or increasing anxiety, counters it. ... > full story

Curbing cholesterol could help combat infections, study shows (March 9, 2011) -- Lowering cholesterol could help the body's immune system fight viral infections, researchers have found. Scientists have shown a direct link between the workings of the immune system and cholesterol levels. ... > full story

Deforestation's impact on Mount Kilimanjaro calculated (March 9, 2011) -- The impact that local deforestation might have on the snowcap and glaciers atop Mount Kilimanjaro are being calculated using regional climate models and data from NASA satellites. ... > full story

New type of secretory cell in the intestine (March 9, 2011) -- The intestinal epithelium consists of four main specialized cell lineages: absorptive enterocytes and three secretory cell types known as enteroendocrine, Paneth, and goblet cells. But a rare, fifth type of intestinal cell called tuft cells also exists. Defined by the thick brush of long microvilli that project from their apical surface, tuft cells are seen in several epithelial tissues, yet little is known about their function due to a lack of tuft cell-specific markers. ... > full story

New molecular robot can be programmed to follow instructions (March 9, 2011) -- Scientists have developed a programmable "molecular robot" -- a sub-microscopic molecular machine made of synthetic DNA that moves between track locations separated by 6nm. The robot, a short strand of DNA, follows instructions programmed into a set of fuel molecules determining its destination, for example, to turn left or right at a junction in the track. The report represents a step toward futuristic nanomachines and nanofactories. ... > full story

More reasons to be nice: It's less work for everyone (March 9, 2011) -- A polite act shows respect. But a new study of a common etiquette -- holding a door for someone -- suggests that courtesy may have a more practical, though unconscious, shared motivation: to reduce the work for those involved. The new research is among the first to combine two fields of study ordinarily considered unrelated: altruism and motor control. ... > full story

Missing DNA helps make us human (March 9, 2011) -- Specific traits that distinguish humans from their closest living relatives -- chimpanzees, with whom we share 96 percent of our DNA -- can be attributed to the loss of chunks of DNA that control when and where certain genes are turned on. ... > full story

Newly identified spider toxin may help uncover novel ways of treating pain and human diseases (March 9, 2011) -- Spider venom toxins are useful tools for exploring how ion channels operate in the body. These channels control the flow of ions across cell membranes, and are key components in a wide variety of biological processes and human diseases. ... > full story

Medical microcamera the size of a grain of salt gives razor-sharp images, very inexpensively (March 9, 2011) -- There have been gloves and shavers for one-off use for a long time. In future, there will also be disposable endoscopes for minimally invasive operations on the human body. A new microcamera is what makes it possible. It is as large as a grain of salt, supplies razor-sharp pictures and can be manufactured very inexpensively. ... > full story

Blood-brain barrier damaged by Sanfilippo syndrome type B disease, mouse study suggests (March 9, 2011) -- When modeled in mice, Sanfilippo syndrome type B (MS III B), has been found to damage the blood-brain barrier, the structure responsible for protecting the brain from the entry of harmful blood-borne substances. Before this study, little was known about the integrity of the blood-brain barrier in this disease. The discovery of blood-brain barrier structural and functional impairment in MPS III B mice may have implications for disease pathogenesis and treatment. ... > full story

Report identifies priority missions for planetary science in the next decade (March 9, 2011) -- A new report from the U.S. National Research Council recommends a suite of planetary science flagship missions for the decade 2013-2022 that could provide a steady stream of important new discoveries about the solar system. However, if NASA's budget over that decade cannot support all of these missions, the agency should preserve smaller scale missions in its New Frontiers and Discovery programs first and delay some or all of the recommended large-scale missions, the report says. ... > full story

Passive news reports may lead readers to feel they can't find the truth (March 9, 2011) -- Passive news reporting that doesn't attempt to resolve factual disputes in politics may have detrimental effects on readers, new research suggests. The study found that people are more likely to doubt their own ability to determine the truth in politics after reading an article that simply lists competing claims without offering any idea of which side is right. ... > full story

Fossil bird study describes ripple effect of extinction in animal kingdom (March 9, 2011) -- A new study demonstrates extinction's ripple effect through the animal kingdom, including how the demise of large mammals 20,000 years ago led to the disappearance of one species of cowbird. ... > full story

Brain implant surgeries dramatically improve symptoms of debilitating condition (March 9, 2011) -- Implanting electrodes into a pea-sized part of the brain can dramatically improve life for people with severe cervical dystonia -- a rare but extremely debilitating condition that causes painful, twisting neck muscle spasms -- according to the results of a pilot study. ... > full story

Ultrafast laser 'scribing' technique to cut cost, hike efficiency of solar cells (March 9, 2011) -- Researchers are developing a technology that aims to help make solar cells more affordable and efficient by using a new manufacturing method that employs an ultrafast pulsing laser. ... > full story

Oral tongue cancer increasing in young, white females (March 9, 2011) -- A new study finds an increasing incidence of squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue in young white females in the United States over the last three decades. ... > full story

Real March Madness is relying on seedings to determine Final Four (March 9, 2011) -- Think picking all the top-seeded teams as the Final Four in your March Madness bracket is your best bet for winning the office pool? Think again. You're better off picking a seed combination of 1, 1, 2 and 3. A professor has integrated his statistical model into a user-friendly website to help March Madness fans evaluate their NCAA men's basketball tournament brackets and compare relative likelihood of two sets of seed combinations. ... > full story

The science behind the cape: How one physiology researcher is using batman to put some POW! Into physiology studies (March 9, 2011) -- What do you have when you line up a martial artist, acrobatic gymnast, police officer, firefighter, NASCAR driver, and NFL running back? "Watson," the IBM super-computer that recently routed humanity's best on Jeopardy might have guessed the answer was "the Village People," to which host Alex Trebek could have replied, "Sorry. The answer we were looking for is 'Batman'." ... > full story

Cassini finds Saturn's moon Enceladus is a powerhouse (March 9, 2011) -- Heat output from the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus is much greater than was previously thought possible, according to a new analysis of data collected by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. ... > full story

Drug stops progression of Parkinson's disease in mice; Medication turns on critical gene, protects brain cells (March 9, 2011) -- In a major breakthrough, scientists have discovered a drug that stops progression of Parkinson's disease. ... > full story

Great tits also have age-related defects (March 9, 2011) -- The offspring of older great tit females are much less successful than those of younger mothers. Things mainly go wrong in the later stages of the upbringing, concludes an evolutionary biologist. For great tit females, it turns out to be a good idea to invest in generating offspring in the first years of life. ... > full story

New instrument for analyzing viruses: Sensitive 'PING' device (March 9, 2011) -- Scientists in Israel and California have developed an instrument for rapidly analyzing molecular interactions that take place viruses and the cells they infect. By helping to identify interactions between proteins made by viruses like HIV and hepatitis and proteins made by the human cells these viruses infect, the device may help scientists develop new ways of disrupting these interactions and find new drugs for treating those infections. ... > full story

Ultra fast photodetectors out of carbon nanotubes (March 9, 2011) -- Single-walled carbon nanotubes are promising building blocks for future optoelectronic devices. But conventional electronic measurements were not able to resolve the ultra fast optoelectronic dynamics of the nanotubes. Now scientists have found a way to directly measure the dynamics of photo-excited electrons in nanoscale photodetectors. ... > full story

It's all in a name: 'Global warming' vs. 'climate change' (March 9, 2011) -- Many Americans are skeptical about whether the world's weather is changing, but apparently the degree of skepticism varies systematically depending on what that change is called. ... > full story

Evolution drives many plants and animals to be bigger, faster (March 9, 2011) -- For the vast majority of plants and animals, the 'bigger is better' view of evolution may not be far off the mark, says a new broad-scale study of natural selection. Organisms with bigger bodies or faster growth rates tend to live longer, mate more and produce more offspring, whether they are deer or damselflies, the authors report. ... > full story

Why poor diet during pregnancy negatively affects offspring's long-term health (March 9, 2011) -- Poor diet during pregnancy increases offspring's vulnerability to the effects of aging, new research has shown for the first time. ... > full story

Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy plan for life (March 9, 2011) -- The Mediterranean diet has proven beneficial effects not only regarding metabolic syndrome, but also on its individual components including waist circumference, HDL-cholesterol levels, triglycerides levels, blood pressure levels and glucose metabolism, according to a new study. The study is a meta-analysis, including results of 50 studies on the Mediterranean diet, with an overall studied population of about half a million subjects. ... > full story

ADAM-12 gene could hold key to cancer, arthritis and cardiac treatments (March 9, 2011) -- ADAM-12 is not only the name of a 1970s television police drama -- it's also the gene that researchers believe could be an important element in the fight against cancer, arthritis, and cardiac hypertrophy, or thickening of the heart's walls. ... > full story

Engineers demonstrate use of proteins as raw material for biofuels, biorefining (March 9, 2011) -- Researchers demonstrate for the first time the feasibility of using proteins, one of the most abundant biomolecules on earth, as a significant raw material for biorefinery and biofuel production. ... > full story

Receiving work-related communication at home takes greater toll on women, study finds (March 9, 2011) -- Communication technologies that help people stay connected to the workplace are often seen as solutions to balancing work and family life. However, a new study suggests there may be a "dark side" to the use of these technologies for workers' health -- and these effects seem to differ for women and men. ... > full story

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