Jumat, 25 Februari 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Friday, February 25, 2011

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Homoplasy: A good thread to pull to understand the evolutionary ball of yarn (February 25, 2011) -- With the genetics of so many organisms that have different traits yet to study, and with the techniques for gathering full sets of genetic information from organisms rapidly evolving, the "forest" of evolution can be easily lost to the "trees" of each individual case and detail. ... > full story

Cod fish with mini-thermometers (February 25, 2011) -- Hundreds of cod equipped with high-tech mini-thermometers have helped determine which water temperatures the fish can handle. ... > full story

Migrating cells flow like glass: Research advances understanding of wound healing, cancer metastasis, and embryonic development (February 25, 2011) -- By studying cellular movements at the level of both the individual cell and the collective group, applied physicists have discovered that migrating tissues flow very much like colloidal glass. ... > full story

Semporna area on island of Borneo, Malaysia, may have richest marine biodiversity in the world (February 25, 2011) -- Semporna may have the world's highest marine biodiversity. A recent expedition yielded a record number of 43 species of mushroom corals. Furthermore, some new species were discovered, among which at least two shrimps and possibly a number of gall crabs. The health of the reefs was judged to be relatively poor: 36 percent of transects had fair, another 36 percent had poor live coral cover. ... > full story

Catalogue of sustainable design resources developed (February 25, 2011) -- A new catalog of eco-friendly materials for use in the construction industry has been developed. ... > full story

Ancient catastrophic drought leads to question: How severe can climate change become? (February 24, 2011) -- How severe can climate change become in a warming world? Worse than anything we've seen in written history, according to results of a study. An international team of scientists has compiled four dozen paleoclimate records from sediment cores in Lake Tanganyika and other locations in Africa. The records show that one of the most widespread and intense droughts of the last 50,000 years or more struck Africa and Southern Asia 17,000 to 16,000 years ago. ... > full story

Just like cars, developmental genes have more than one way to stop (February 24, 2011) -- There's more than one way to silence gene activity, according to one researcher. Downregulating activity is how healthy genes should shift out of their development cycle. New results explain how specific repressor proteins -- which researchers have named Hairy and Knirps -- slow genes during development and how the process is comparable to slowing down a car. ... > full story

How nature's patterns form (February 24, 2011) -- When people on airplanes ask Alan Newell what he works on, he tells them "flower arrangements." He could also say "fingerprints" or "sand ripples" or "how plants grow." "Most patterns you see, including the ones on sand dunes or fish or tigers or leopards or in the laboratory – even the defects in the patterns – have many universal features," he says. ... > full story

Green chemistry offers route towards zero-waste production (February 24, 2011) -- Novel green chemical technologies will play a key role helping society move towards the elimination of waste while offering a wider range of products from biorefineries, according to one expert. ... > full story

Is dairy colostrum the key to Olympic success? (February 24, 2011) -- Scientists investigating natural ways to enhance athletic performance have found that bovine colostrum can massively reduce gut permeability -- otherwise known as "leaky gut syndrome." Their findings could have positive implications not just for athletes but also for sufferers of heatstroke. ... > full story

Discovery of oldest northern North American human remains provides new insights into Ice-Age culture (February 24, 2011) -- Scientists have discovered the cremated skeleton of a Paleoindian child in the remains of an 11,500-year-old house in central Alaska. The findings reveal a slice of domestic life that has been missing from the record of the region's early people, who were among the first to colonize the Americas. ... > full story

Probiotic identified to treat ulcers (February 24, 2011) -- Researchers have identified a strain of probiotic bacteria that may be useful in treating ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori. ... > full story

New method powerfully boosts efficiency of RNA interference (RNAi) in shutting down genes (February 24, 2011) -- Scientists have developed a powerful method that allows them to sift through thousands of candidate hairpin-shaped RNA molecules at a time and pull out only those RNAs that potently shut down the activity of a target gene. This accomplishment will now allow biologists to fully exploit RNA interference, a natural cellular mechanism that has already been co-opted by scientists for myriad purposes. ... > full story

Another spring of major flooding likely in North Central United States, NOAA predicts (February 24, 2011) -- A large swath of the country is at risk of moderate to major flooding this spring, from northeastern Montana through western Wisconsin following the Mississippi River south to St. Louis, National Weather Service flood experts are forecasting. The agency has released an initial spring flood outlook for this high risk region and will release a national spring flood outlook on March 17. ... > full story

New stretchable solar cells will power artificial electronic 'super skin' (February 24, 2011) -- "Super skin" is what one researcher wants to create. She's already developed a flexible sensor that is so sensitive to pressure it can feel a fly touch down. Now she's working to add the ability to detect chemicals and sense various kinds of biological molecules. She's also making the skin self-powering, using polymer solar cells to generate electricity. And the new solar cells are not just flexible, but stretchable -- they can be stretched up to 30 percent beyond their original length and snap back without any damage or loss of power. ... > full story

Oscillating 'plug' of magma causes tremors that forecast volcanic eruptions (February 24, 2011) -- Geophysicists are offering a new explanation for seismic tremors accompanying volcanic eruptions that could advance forecasting of explosive eruptions such as recent events at Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, Chaiten Volcano in Chile, and Mount St. Helens in Washington State. ... > full story

Gaze-following abilities in wolves (February 24, 2011) -- Following others' gaze direction is an important source of information that helps to detect prey or predators, to notice important social events within one's social group and to predict the next actions of others. As such, it is considered a key step towards an understanding of mental states, such as attention and intention. Researchers have now observed this behavior in wolves, a behavior previously only observed in birds and primates. ... > full story

New finding in ribosome signaling may lead to improved antibiotics (February 24, 2011) -- Researchers have discovered a signaling mechanism in the bacterial ribosome that detects proteins that activate genes for antibiotic resistance. ... > full story

New transmission concept for wind turbines: Higher energy yield with torque vectoring gears (February 24, 2011) -- Wind turbines have a problem: Depending on the wind's force, the rotational speed of the turbine and thus of the generator changes. However, alternating current must be fed into the grid with precisely 50 (or 60) hertz. Typically the generated alternating current is first rectified and then transformed back to alternating current of the required frequency. Scientists have now developed an active transmission that makes this double transformation superfluous. ... > full story

New high-performance lithium-ion battery 'top candidate' for electric cars (February 24, 2011) -- Scientists are reporting development of an advanced lithium-ion battery that is ideal for powering the electric vehicles now making their way into dealer showrooms. The new battery can store large amounts of energy in a small space and has a high rate capacity, meaning it can provide current even in extreme temperatures. ... > full story

Launching balloons in Antarctica (February 24, 2011) -- They nicknamed it the "Little Balloon That Could." Launched in December of 2010 from McMurdo Station in Antarctica, the research balloon was a test run and it bobbed lower every day like it had some kind of leak. But every day for five days it rose back up in the sky to some 112,000 feet in the air. Down on Earth, physicist Robyn Millan was cheering it on, hoping the test launch would bode well for the success of her grand idea: launches in 2013 and 2014 of 20 such balloons to float in the circular wind patterns above the South Pole. Each balloon will help track electrons from space that get swept up in Earth's magnetic field and slide down into our atmosphere. Such electrons are an integral part of the turbulent magnetic space weather system that extends from the sun to Earth. ... > full story

Virus-mimicking nanoparticles can stimulate long-lasting immunity (February 24, 2011) -- Scientists have designed tiny nanoparticles that resemble viruses in size and immunological composition and that induce lifelong immunity in mice. They designed the particles to mimic the immune-stimulating effects of one of the most successful vaccines ever developed -- the yellow fever vaccine. The particles, made of biodegradable polymers, have components that activate two different parts of the innate immune system and can be used interchangeably with material from many different bacteria or viruses. ... > full story

New vaccine technology protects mice from hepatitis C virus (February 24, 2011) -- HCV mutates so strongly that traditional vaccines are useless. However, researchers have now developed a vaccine, which provides future hope for medical protection from the hepatitis C virus. ... > full story

High vitamin-D bread could help solve widespread insufficiency problem (February 24, 2011) -- With most people unable to get enough vitamin D from sunlight or foods, scientists are suggesting that a new vitamin D-fortified food -- bread made with high-vitamin D yeast -- could fill that gap. The new study confirms that the approach works in laboratory tests. ... > full story

A semantic sommelier: Wine application highlights the power of Web 3.0 (February 24, 2011) -- In the restaurant of the future, you will always enjoy the perfect meal with that full-bodied 2006 cabernet sauvignon, you will always know your dinner companions' favorite merlot, and you will be able to check if the sommelier's cellar contains your favorite pinot grigio before you even check your coat. These feats of classic cuisine will come to the modern dinner through the power of Semantic Web technology. ... > full story

Microbes help children breathe easily? Bacteria and fungi may offer protection against asthma, study suggests (February 24, 2011) -- Children who grow up on farms are less likely to suffer from asthma than other rural children. A large-scale study indicates that this may be due to differences in the spectrum of microbes the two groups are likely to encounter. This findings suggest that certain microorganisms may protect against the disease. ... > full story

New England, Mid-Atlantic beaches eroding, losing 1. 6 feet per year on average (February 23, 2011) -- An assessment of coastal change over the past 150 years has found 68 percent of beaches in the New England and Mid-Atlantic region are eroding, according to a new report. Scientists studied 650 miles of the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts and found the average rate of coastal change was negative 1.6 feet per year. Of those beaches eroding, the most extreme case exceeded 60 feet per year. ... > full story

Polygamy hurt 19th century Mormon wives' evolutionary fitness, scientists say (February 23, 2011) -- Polygamy practiced by some 19th century Mormon men had the curious effect of suppressing the overall offspring numbers of Mormon women in plural marriages, say scientists in a new article. Simply put, the more sister-wives a Mormon woman had, the fewer children she was likely to produce. ... > full story

3-D structure required for function of some vital cell transporters resolved (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers have completed the 3-D structural sequence adopted by several essential proteins in the exchange of substances between the extra and intracellular milieu. This finding provides a global perspective of the structural changes that occur in these relevant proteins during basic cell processes, such as protein synthesis, the regulation of metabolism and cell volume, and nerve transmission, and will contribute to understanding some of the functional disruptions caused by human diseases. ... > full story

Bacteria living on old-growth trees (February 23, 2011) -- By collecting mosses on the forest floor and then at 15 and 30 meters up into the forest canopy, researchers were able to show both that the cyanobacteria are more abundant in mosses high above the ground, and that they "fix" twice as much nitrogen as those associated with mosses on the forest floor. ... > full story

Paper archives reveal pollution's history (February 23, 2011) -- A new source of climate records is as close as the nearest university library: Back issues of magazines reveal the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. ... > full story

Pump that bacteria use to resist drugs described (February 23, 2011) -- Scientists have identified the structure of pumps that allow bacteria to resist toxins. ... > full story

'Thunder-thighs' dinosaur discovered: Brontomerus may have used powerful thigh muscles to kick predators (February 23, 2011) -- A new dinosaur named Brontomerus mcintoshi, or "thunder-thighs" after its enormously powerful thigh muscles, has been discovered in Utah. Brontomerus may have used its powerful thighs as a weapon to kick predators, or to help travel over rough, hilly terrain. Brontomerus lived about 110 million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous Period, and probably had to contend with fierce "raptors" such as Deinonychus and Utahraptor. ... > full story

Vaccine made with synthetic gene protects against deadly pneumonia (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers have developed an experimental vaccine with a synthetic gene that appears to protect against an increasingly common and particularly deadly form of pneumococcal pneumonia. ... > full story

6,000-year climate record suggests longer droughts, drier climate for Pacific Northwest (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers extracted a 6,000-year climate record from a Washington state lake showing that the American Pacific Northwest could not only be in for longer dry seasons, but also is unlikely to see a period as wet as the 20th century any time soon and will likely suffer severe water shortages. ... > full story

Organic vs. conventional farming: No clear answers from nitrogen fixing bacteria counts (February 23, 2011) -- The population and diversity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in agricultural soils varies more according to what crop was previously farmed than with whether those soils are organically or conventionally farmed, according to new research. ... > full story

New report lists 25 most endangered turtle species; Some turtle species number less than 5 individuals (February 23, 2011) -- A new report lists the 25 most endangered turtle species from around the world -- some of which currently number less than five individuals. ... > full story

New marine mollusk -- oldest in its genus -- discovered in Iberian Peninsula (February 23, 2011) -- An international research team has discovered a new species of mollusk, Polyconites hadriani, in various parts of the Iberian Peninsula. The researchers say this species, which is the oldest in its genus, adapted to the acidification of the oceans that took place while it was in existence. This process could now determine the evolution of modern marine systems. ... > full story

Texas leafcutter ants aided, but also limited, by cold-tolerant fungus crops, research shows (February 23, 2011) -- Texas leafcutter ants farm crops of fungus that evolved cold tolerance to Texas winters, just as northern farmers cultivate cold weather crops, researchers show. ... > full story

'Climategate' undermined belief in global warming among many TV meteorologists, study shows (February 23, 2011) -- 'Climategate' -- the unauthorized release in late 2009 of stolen e-mails between climate scientists in the US and United Kingdom -- undermined belief in global warming and possibly also trust in climate scientists among TV meteorologists in the United States, at least temporarily. Doubts were most pronounced among politically conservative weathercasters and those who either do not believe in global warming or do not yet know. ... > full story

Old folk remedy revived: How tansy may be a treatment for herpes (February 23, 2011) -- For centuries, tansy has been used as a folk remedy, but now scientists from Britain and Spain believe the plant may have medical benefits after all, as a treatment for herpes. The team's findings are the result of joint work between two teams to established scientific evidence for traditional medicines. ... > full story

Proteins find their way with address label and guide (February 23, 2011) -- Most newly produced proteins in a cell need to be transported to the proper place before they can be put to work. For proteins to find their way, they have a built-in signal linked to them, a kind of address label. Moreover, they are helped by a particle that guides them to the cell membrane. In a new study, researchers in Sweden show how this interaction works. ... > full story

Transitioning to organic farming (February 23, 2011) -- Scientists conducted a four-year study examining the impact of reduced-tillage and cover crops managed for hay and forage production on the agronomic and economic performance of feed grain production. ... > full story

Even in a crowd, individuals remain unique, rodent vocalization study finds (February 22, 2011) -- Paradoxically, being part of a crowd is what makes you unique, life scientists report. Researchers examined the evolution of individuality -- personal uniqueness -- by recording alarm-call vocalizations in eight species of rodents that live in social groups of various sizes. They found that the size of the groups strongly predicted the individual uniqueness in the animals' voices: The bigger the group, the more unique each animal's voice typically was and the easier it was to tell individuals apart. ... > full story

Cold winters mean more pollution, Swedish study suggests (February 22, 2011) -- Differences in air pressure over the North Atlantic have meant that the last two winters in Gothenburg, Sweden, have been extremely cold. This has led to the air in Gothenburg being more polluted with nitrogen oxides than ever before. A new study shows that there is a strong link between climate and air pollution. ... > full story

Satellite to examine how sun's brightness impacts climate change (February 22, 2011) -- A new instrument developed to study changes in the sun's brightness and its impact on Earth's climate is one of two primary payloads on NASA's Glory mission set to launch on Feb. 23. ... > full story

Researchers map out ice sheets shrinking during Ice Age (February 22, 2011) -- A set of maps has illustrated, for the first time, how the last British ice sheet shrunk during the Ice Age. Experts developed the maps to understand what effect the current shrinking of ice sheets in parts of the Antarctic and Greenland will have on the speed of sea level rise. ... > full story

Earth's core rotation faster than rest of the planet, but slower than previously believed (February 22, 2011) -- New research gives the first accurate estimate of how much faster Earth's core is rotating compared to the rest of the planet. Previous research had shown that Earth's core rotates faster than the rest of the planet. However, scientists have discovered that earlier estimates of 1 degree every year were inaccurate and that the core is actually moving much slower than previously believed -- approximately 1 degree every million years. ... > full story

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