Selasa, 22 Maret 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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A 'fossil seismograph' for ancient earthquakes (March 22, 2011) -- Scientists have invented a "fossil seismograph," which examines geological formations to find historical patterns of earthquakes reaching far back into the ancient past. With this information, experts can better predict where and when earthquakes may occur again -- and take measures to prevent more catastrophic damage. ... > full story

Streptococcus enzyme could compete with toothbrushes, dental floss (March 22, 2011) -- Investigators from Japan show in vitro that the bacterium Streptococcus salivarius, a non-biofilm forming, and otherwise harmless inhabitant of the human mouth, actually inhibits the formation of dental biofilms, otherwise known as plaque. Two enzymes this bacteria produces are responsible for this inhibition. ... > full story

Basking in the sun: How large mammals survive winter in the mountains (March 22, 2011) -- Sunbathing in sub-zero temperatures may not be everybody’s idea of fun but it forms an important part of the strategy of Alpine ibex for surviving the winter. ... > full story

Canadian Avalanche victims die significantly quicker than Swiss counterparts, study finds (March 22, 2011) -- Avalanche victims buried in Canada die significantly quicker than those buried in Switzerland, according to new research. ... > full story

A better test for human papillomavirus (March 22, 2011) -- A new test for human papillomavirus (HPV) is just as sensitive as the old one, but more specific for detecting cervical cancer, meaning that it has fewer false positive results, according to a new study. ... > full story

New model for studying Parkinson's: Swiss researchers develop new, working mammalian model to combat genetic causes of the disease (March 22, 2011) -- Evidence is steadily mounting that genetic factors play an important role in many cases of Parkinson's disease (PD). Researchers in Switzerland now report a new mammalian model for studying a specific gene mutation commonly found in PD sufferers, opening the door to new drugs to fight the malady. ... > full story

Spacebound bacteria inspire earthbound remedies (March 21, 2011) -- Recent research aboard the Space Shuttle is giving scientists a better understanding of how infectious disease occurs in space and could someday improve astronaut health and provide novel treatments for people on Earth. ... > full story

Fault-finding coral reefs can predict the site of coming earthquakes (March 21, 2011) -- Scientists are surveying "mass wasting," a unique geological phenomenon of the Red Sea, to identify active fault-line activity along fossil coral reefs and sediment levels. They say that their research is applicable to any coastal land areas, such as Japan and the west coast of the US. ... > full story

A dose of safflower oil each day might help keep heart disease at bay (March 21, 2011) -- A daily dose of safflower oil, a common cooking oil, for 16 weeks can improve such health measures as good cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin sensitivity and inflammation in obese postmenopausal women who have Type 2 diabetes, according to new research. This finding comes about 18 months after the same researchers discovered that safflower oil reduced abdominal fat and increased muscle tissue in this group of women after 16 weeks of daily supplementation. ... > full story

Overfertilizing corn undermines ethanol: Researchers find feeding crops too heavily bad for biofuel, environment (March 21, 2011) -- Scientists have found that when growing corn crops for ethanol, more means less. A new paper shows how farmers can save money on fertilizer while they improve their production of feedstock for ethanol and alleviate damage to the environment. ... > full story

Primordial soup gets spicier: 'Lost' samples from famous origin of life researcher shed new light on Earth's first life (March 21, 2011) -- Stanley Miller gained fame with his 1953 experiment showing the synthesis of organic compounds thought to be important in setting the origin of life in motion. Five years later, he produced samples from a similar experiment, shelved them and, as far as friends and colleagues know, never returned to them in his lifetime. More 50 years later, Jeffrey Bada, Miller's former student and now a professor of marine chemistry, discovered the samples in Miller's laboratory material and made a discovery that represents a potential breakthrough in the search for the processes that created Earth's first life forms. ... > full story

Molecular determinant of cell identity discovered (March 21, 2011) -- If a big bunch of your brain cells suddenly went rogue and decided to become fat cells, it could cloud your decision-making capacity a bit. Fortunately, early in an organism's development, cells make firm and more-or-less permanent decisions about whether they will live their lives as, say, skin cells, brain cells or, well, fat cells. ... > full story

Designing forests to protect roads below from falling rock (March 21, 2011) -- Falling rock is a natural process in the evolution of mountain slopes. Unfortunately, it also threatens urbanized areas and the many roads below. To reduce the risks involved, scientists have studied the protection function of mountain forests. By analyzing the propagation of falling rocks, they have developed robust techniques (simulation models and management practices) to assist forest managers in optimizing the capacity of forests to provide protection. ... > full story

Huge ocean 'Frisbees' spin off Brazil's coast (March 21, 2011) -- Current rings have been known to exist off northeastern coast of Brazil for decades, but knowledge of their basic properties such as size, speed, depth, and rotation velocity has been limited. Researchers now describe the basic properties of 10 rings sampled between 1998 and 2000. Overall, this research has established that the North Brazil Current rings seem to be bigger, faster, and taller than previous observations suggested. ... > full story

One hundred new species of lichenized fungi (March 21, 2011) -- One hundred newly discovered species are revealed to the world in a single article. ... > full story

Ancient human trash heaps gave rise to Everglades tree islands, research suggests (March 21, 2011) -- Garbage mounds left by prehistoric humans might have driven the formation of many of the Florida Everglades' tree islands, distinctive havens of exceptional ecological richness in the sprawling marsh that are today threatened by human development. ... > full story

Newer antimalarials more effective than quinine against severe malaria (March 21, 2011) -- Quinine should no longer be the drug of choice for treating severe malaria, according to an updated systematic review. It is now evident that the antimalarial drug artesunate, which is derived from herbs used in Chinese medicine, is more effective at preventing death in patients with severe malaria. ... > full story

North Atlantic oceanic currents play greater role in absorption of carbon than previously thought (March 21, 2011) -- The ocean traps carbon through two principal mechanisms: a biological pump and a physical pump linked to oceanic currents. Scientists have managed to quantify the role of these two pumps in an area of the North Atlantic. Contrary to expectations, the physical pump in this region could be nearly 100 times more powerful on average than the biological pump. By pulling down masses of water cooled and enriched with carbon, ocean circulation thus plays a crucial role in deep carbon sequestration in the North Atlantic. ... > full story

Gut bacteria can control organ functions (March 21, 2011) -- Bacteria in the human gut may not just be helping digest food but also could be exerting some level of control over the metabolic functions of other organs, like the liver, according to new research. These findings offer new understanding of the symbiotic relationship between humans and their gut microbes and how changes to the microbiota can impact overall health. ... > full story

Rock-paper-scissors tournaments explain ecological diversity (March 21, 2011) -- The mystery of biodiversity -- how thousands of similar species can co-exist in a single ecosystem -- might best be understood as the result of a massive rock-paper-scissors tournament, a new study has revealed. ... > full story

Making viruses pass for 'safe' (March 21, 2011) -- Viruses can penetrate every part of the body, making them potentially good tools for gene therapy or drug delivery. But with our immune system primed to seek and destroy these foreign invaders, delivering therapies with viruses is currently inefficient and can pose a significant danger to patients. ... > full story

The case for a neoproterozoic oxygenation event (March 21, 2011) -- The Cambrian "explosion" of multicellular animal life is one of the most significant evolutionary events in Earth's history. But what was it that jolted the Earth system enough to prompt the evolution of animals? While we take the presence of oxygen in our atmosphere for granted, it was not always this way. ... > full story

Can bees color maps better than ants? (March 21, 2011) -- In mathematics, you need at most only four different colors to produce a map in which no two adjacent regions have the same color. Utah and Arizona are considered adjacent, but Utah and New Mexico, which only share a point, are not. The four-color theorem proves this conjecture for generic maps of countries, but actually of more use in solving scheduling problems, scheduling, register allocation in computing and frequency assignment in mobile communications and broadcasting. ... > full story

Mutant prions help cells foil harmful protein misfolding (March 21, 2011) -- Misfolded proteins are implicated in many incurable neurological diseases. A new and improved understanding of how naturally occurring variants keep proteins from bunching up and spreading provides more options for developing a treatment than scientists had realized. ... > full story

Natural clay as a potential host rock for nuclear waste repositories (March 21, 2011) -- Nuclear chemists in Germany have studied natural claystone in the laboratory for more than four years in order to determine how the radioactive elements plutonium and neptunium react with this rock. ... > full story

Important structure in the transmission of light signals deciphered (March 21, 2011) -- Scientists have made a new discovery in the basics of signal transduction research. They were able to clarify for the first time, in an important information carrier in the human body, the receptor protein rhodopsin, how such a protein must be designed to accommodate a light signal. ... > full story

Surprising results in the first genome sequencing of a crustacean (March 21, 2011) -- There are many different kinds of crustaceans, ranging from edible shellfish to their tiny relatives found in the millions in both freshwater and saltwater. One of the latter, Daphnia pulex, is the first crustacean to have its genome sequenced. ... > full story

Economics and evolution help scientists identify new strategy to control antibiotic resistance (March 20, 2011) -- Scientists have taken lessons from Adam Smith and Charles Darwin to devise a new strategy that could one day slow, possibly even prevent, the spread of drug-resistant bacteria. The scientists show that bacterial gene mutations that lead to drug resistance come at a biological cost not borne by nonresistant strains. ... > full story

Fairy wrens are accountants of the animal kingdom, not altruistic as previously thought (March 20, 2011) -- A puzzling example of altruism in nature has been debunked with researchers showing that purple-crowned fairy wrens are in reality cunningly planning for their own future when they assist in raising other birds' young by balancing the amount of assistance they give with the benefits they expect to receive in the future. ... > full story

Tests on century-old equipment show how far X-rays have come (March 20, 2011) -- Researchers recently tested first-generation x-ray equipment from 1896 and found that it produced radiation doses and exposure times that were vastly higher than those of today's systems, according a new study. ... > full story

Scientists use light to move molecules within living cells (March 20, 2011) -- Using a light-triggered chemical tool, scientists report that they have refined a means of moving individual molecules around inside living cells and sending them to exact locations at precise times. This new tool, they say, gives scientists greater command than ever in manipulating single molecules, allowing them to see how molecules in certain cell locations can influence cell behavior and to determine whether cells will grow, die, move or divide. ... > full story

New process cleanly extracts oil from tar sands and fouled beaches (March 20, 2011) -- An environmentally friendlier method of separating oil from tar sands has now been developed. The method, which utilizes ionic liquids to separate the heavy viscous oil from sand, is also capable of cleaning oil spills from beaches and separating oil from drill cuttings, the solid particles that must be removed from drilling fluids in oil and gas wells. ... > full story

Secrets of plague revealed through super-resolution microscopy technique (March 19, 2011) -- In work that is pushing the "diffraction barrier" associated with microscopic imaging of living cells, researchers have demonstrated the power of a new super-resolution microscopy technique called Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (STORM), which can simultaneously image multiple molecules in living immune cells. ... > full story

Chemical-free pest management cuts rice waste (March 19, 2011) -- A novel way of bringing sustainable, pesticide-free processes to protect stored rice and other crops from insects and fungi can drastically cut losses of stored crops and help increase food security for up to 3 billion daily rice consumers. ... > full story

Allergies? Pollen also appears outside flowering season (March 19, 2011) -- Researchers have shown that the pollen levels of certain plants, such as grasses and cupressaceae, can appear before or after the peak moment of flowering. This phenomenon is caused by the "resuspension" of pollen, and its dispersal over large distances, and this is of great use in predicting allergies. ... > full story

World record for DNA analysis (March 19, 2011) -- Until recently, researchers have been limited to running just a few DNA samples at a time, at a cost of about ,000 U.S. per run. Now researchers have hit upon a new method that allows 5,000 samples to be run at the same time and at the same price. This cuts the cost per sample result considerably and constitutes a world record for the number of tests run in a single DNA sequencing analysis. ... > full story

Wide variety in nutritional content found in 'senior' dog foods (March 19, 2011) -- The nutritional content of dog foods marketed for old dogs varies as widely as owner's perceptions about them, according to a new study. ... > full story

Human prejudice has ancient evolutionary roots (March 18, 2011) -- The tendency to perceive others as "us versus them" isn't exclusively human but appears to be shared by our primate cousins, a new study has found. ... > full story

Human gender roles influence research on animals, Swedish biologists argue (March 18, 2011) -- Biologists have shown that animals' and plants' traits and behavior in sexual conflicts are colored by a human viewpoint. They want to raise awareness of the issue and provoke discussion among their colleagues in order to promote objectivity and broaden the research field. ... > full story

Ecologists use 70-year-old pressed plants to chart city's vanishing native flora (March 18, 2011) -- More than half of the world's population now lives in cities, yet we know little about how urbanization affects biodiversity. In one the first studies of its kind, ecologists in Indianapolis, USA have used 70-year-old dried plant specimens to track the impact of increasing urbanization on plants. ... > full story

Hospital infections: Unique antibody from llamas provide weapon against Clostridium difficile (March 18, 2011) -- Researchers say they are gaining a deeper understanding of virulent hospital infection and are closer to developing a novel treatment using antibodies from llamas. ... > full story

Record-breaking 2010 Eastern European/Russian heatwave (March 18, 2011) -- Scientists have compared the hot summers of 2003 and 2010 in detail for the first time. Last year’s heatwave across Eastern Europe and Russia was unprecedented in every respect: Europe has never experienced so large summer temperature anomalies in the last 500 years. ... > full story

Scientists take a look at systems biology and cellular networking (March 18, 2011) -- Systems biology holds promise for advances in such important areas as pharmaceuticals, environmental remediation and sustainable energy, but, according to two leading authorities, its most profound impact is that it might one day provide an answer to the central question: What is life? ... > full story

Japanese tsunami underscores need for elder disaster preparedness (March 18, 2011) -- The oldest segment of Japan's population will likely be the hardest hit as a result of the recent earthquake and subsequent tsunami, based on data from previous catastrophic events. Approximately 23 percent of Japanese citizens currently are age 65 and above. ... > full story

Dine or dash? Genes help worm decide when to look for new food (March 18, 2011) -- Researchers have identified a genetic circuit that helps worms decide whether to dine or dash. For worms, choosing when to search for a new dinner spot depends on many factors, both internal and external: how hungry they are, for example, how much oxygen is in the air, and how many other worms are around. A new study demonstrates this all-important decision is also influenced by the worm's genetic make-up. ... > full story

Insight into parasite 'family planning' could help target malaria (March 18, 2011) -- Fresh insight into the way the parasite that causes malaria reproduces could lead to new treatments to help curb the spread of the disease. ... > full story

New technologies to crack down on counterfeit whisky (March 18, 2011) -- Experts are working to create a handheld device which will detect fake whisky and wine – through the bottle. ... > full story

Flowering plant study 'catches evolution in the act' (March 18, 2011) -- A new study shows when two flowering plants are crossed to produce a new hybrid, the new species' genes are reset, allowing for greater genetic variation. ... > full story

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