Rabu, 23 Maret 2011

ScienceDaily Top Science Headlines

for Wednesday, March 23, 2011

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Scientists grow personalized collections of intestinal microbes (March 23, 2011) -- Scientists have shown they can grow and manipulate personalized collections of human intestinal microbes in the laboratory and pluck out particular microbes of interest. The research sets the stage for identifying new probiotics and evaluating in preclinical trials whether microbe transplants can restore the natural balance of intestinal bacteria in "sick" microbial communities. ... > full story

Pre-eclampsia: Genetic errors linked to life-threatening pregnancy disorder (March 23, 2011) -- Scientists have identified genetic errors in women with autoimmune diseases that increase the risk of pre-eclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs in 10 percent of all pregnancies. ... > full story

Scientists crack molecular code regulating neuronal excitability (March 23, 2011) -- A key question in protein biochemistry is how proteins recognize "correct" interaction partners in a sea of cellular factors. Nowhere is that more critical to know than in the brain, where interactions governing channel protein activity can alter an organism's behavior. A team of biologists has recently deciphered a molecular code that regulates availability of a brain channel that modulates neuronal excitability, a discovery that might aid efforts to treat drug addiction and mental disorders. ... > full story

Periocular treatment improves eye comfort and quality of life for patients with facial paralysis (March 23, 2011) -- Patients with facial paralysis who underwent surgical treatment for a condition that leaves them unable to completely close their eyes reported improvement in comfort around the eyes and overall quality of life, according to a new study. ... > full story

The killer within: A novel bacterial suicide mechanism (March 23, 2011) -- The zeta toxins are a family of proteins that are normally present within various pathogenic bacteria and can mysteriously trigger suicide when the cells undergo stress. Researchers in Germany have now found the mechanism underlying this programmed bacterial cell death. ... > full story

The importance of clarifying language in mathematics education (March 23, 2011) -- The way in which teachers and textbooks use language and different metaphors in mathematics education determines how pupils develop their number sense, according to new research from Sweden. ... > full story

Webb Telescope sunshield is like an umbrella on the shores of the universe (March 23, 2011) -- The James Webb Space Telescope has a unique shield to protect its sensitive instruments from the heat and light of the sun. The sunshield is like an umbrella popping open on the shores of the cosmos that allows the instruments beneath it to see far into the universe. ... > full story

Hippocampal volume and resilience in posttramatic stress disorder (March 23, 2011) -- The hippocampus, a brain region implicated in memory and interpreting environmental contexts, has been the focus of a controversy in post-traumatic stress disorder. A new study has found that larger hippocampal volume is associated with recovery of PTSD. ... > full story

The Mekong: Record of the Vietnam War (March 23, 2011) -- During the second half of the 20th Century, South-East Asia was the arena of a series of armed conflicts, direct consequences of the Second World War, decolonization and the Cold War, followed by political instability which continued up to the 1990s. The region's history has left its scars: extensive forests erased from the map by bombing, populations displaced or forced to emigrate, entire areas abandoned although vegetation is steadily taking over again. Research scientists recently showed the discharge rate of the Mekong has oscillated in close correlation with the major events that had taken place. Runoff increased by over 50% in southern Laos between 1972 and 1975, at the height of the Vietnam War. Conversely, the north of the country saw it decrease by 30% between 1995 and 2004, following people's exodus from the area to escape from the communist forces' advance. Only the extensive changes in land-use and vegetation pattern can explain such variations in discharge of the Mekong. ... > full story

Chikungunya: The key role of 'innate immunity' (March 23, 2011) -- Chikungunya is transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes. The disease is spreading in the world and periodically sparks new outbreaks. Blood analyses conducted during the 2007 Gabonese epidemic recently showed the key role of innate immunity, the organism's first line of defense, in the clinical course of the infection. Control of the disease thus closely depends on the underlying configuration of each patient's immune system. ... > full story

Carbon capture and storage: Carbon dioxide pressure dissipates in underground reservoirs (March 23, 2011) -- The debate surrounding carbon capture and storage intensifies as scientists examine the capacity for storing carbon dioxide underground, in a new study. ... > full story

'New' welfare reforms in UK hark back to Victorians, historian argues (March 23, 2011) -- A historian draws parallels between past and present medical negligence in the UK. ... > full story

Only the weak survive? Self-healing materials strengthened by adding more 'give' (March 22, 2011) -- Scientists have developed a new model of how self-repairing materials function and show that materials with a certain number of easily breakable bonds can absorb more stress, a natural trick found in the resilient abalone shell. The team's findings reveal the previously unknown mechanics and ideal structure of self-healing materials. ... > full story

Tahoe native fish population declines sharply, invasives on the rise (March 22, 2011) -- In a lakewide study, scientists have found a considerable decline in native fish species density at Lake Tahoe since 1951. They are recommending establishing and implementing a management plan to protect the nearshore zone habitat, which is critical to native fish. ... > full story

Hydrocortisone therapy for trauma patients associated with reduced hospital-acquired pneumonia risk (March 22, 2011) -- Patients admitted to a hospital with major trauma and treated with the steroid hydrocortisone were less likely to be diagnosed with hospital-acquired pneumonia than patients who received placebo, according to a new study. ... > full story

Cheap catalyst made easy (March 22, 2011) -- Catalysts made of carbon nanotubes dipped in a polymer solution equal the energy output and otherwise outperform platinum catalysts in fuel cells, a team of engineers has found. ... > full story

Elderly victims of abuse often use alcohol or drugs, study says (March 22, 2011) -- Victims of severe traumatic elder abuse are more likely to be female, suffer from a neurological or mental disorder, and to abuse drugs or alcohol, according to new research. ... > full story

Simulating tomorrow's accelerators at near the speed of light (March 22, 2011) -- Borrowing a page from Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, scientists have perfected a way to accelerate modeling of laser-plasma wakefield accelerators up to a million times faster. While "tabletop" laser-plasma accelerators promise high energies in short spaces, 3-D simulation of electron acceleration by a laser beam moving through a plasma has presented a computational challenge that until now has been beyond practical solution by supercomputers. ... > full story

Stress affects the balance of bacteria in the gut and immune response (March 22, 2011) -- Stress can change the balance of bacteria that naturally live in the gut, according to new research. ... > full story

Unknown animals nearly invisible yet there (March 22, 2011) -- Bryozoans (moss animals) are a group of aquatic invertebrates that are found in great variety throughout the world, with well over 100 species in Sweden alone. Yet little is known about them. Researchers have now studied Swedish bryozoan species using DNA techniques. ... > full story

Protein associated with allergic response causes airway changes in asthma patients (March 22, 2011) -- Changes that occur in the airways of asthma patients are in part caused by the naturally occurring protein interleukin-13 (IL-13) which stimulates invasion of airway cells called fibroblasts, according to a new study. The study is the latest effort by researchers to better understand the processes that are involved in airway remodeling that can cause breathing difficulties in patients with asthma. ... > full story

Golf courses that reuse water irrigate too much, study suggests (March 22, 2011) -- Irrigation is one of the most controversial aspects in the sustainable management of golf courses. Researchers from the Canary Islands have spent 25 years analyzing the practices relating to reclaimed water at one of the oldest golf courses in Spain. The results show that plants on the course receive 83 percent more water than they need. ... > full story

Feeling angry? Say a prayer and the wrath fades away, study suggests (March 22, 2011) -- Saying a prayer may help many people feel less angry and behave less aggressively after someone has left them fuming, new research suggests. A series of studies showed that people who were provoked by insulting comments from a stranger showed less anger and aggression soon afterwards if they prayed for another person in the meantime. ... > full story

Forensics: Overweight people really are big-boned (March 22, 2011) -- One of the blind spots in forensic science, particularly in identifying unknown remains, is the inability of experts to determine how much an individual weighed based on his or her skeleton. New research moves us closer to solving this problem by giving forensic experts valuable insight into what the shape of the femur can tell us about the weight of an individual. ... > full story

Newly discovered virus implicated in deadly Chinese outbreaks (March 22, 2011) -- Outbreaks of a mysterious and deadly disease in central China have been linked to a previously unknown virus. Five years ago, large numbers of farmers in central China began falling victim to an mysterious disease marked by high fever, gastrointestinal disorder and an appalling mortality rate -- as high as 30 percent in initial reports. ... > full story

Conservationists develop coral 'stress test' to identify reefs more likely to survive climate change (March 22, 2011) -- Researchers have developed a "stress test" for coral reefs as a means of identifying and prioritizing areas that are most likely to survive bleaching events and other climate change factors. The scientists say that these "reefs of hope" are priorities for national and international management and conservation action. ... > full story

Protein could be used to treat alcohol effects on pancreas (March 22, 2011) -- A protein provides protection against the effects of alcohol in the pancreas. The findings could lead to the development of new treatments to reduce the chances of people developing pancreatic cancer. ... > full story

Dawn opens its eyes, checks its instruments (March 22, 2011) -- After a hibernation of about six months, the framing cameras on board NASA's Dawn spacecraft have again ventured a look into the stars. The spacecraft also powered up its visible and infrared mapping spectrometer, which investigates surface mineralogy, and the gamma ray and neutron detector, which detects elemental composition. The reactivation prepares the instruments for the May approach and July arrival at Vesta, Dawn's first port of call in the asteroid belt. ... > full story

Is that 911 call a real emergency? Emotion detector made for call centers (March 22, 2011) -- A system for emergency call centers that can assess a caller's stress levels or emotional state, and hence the urgency of the call, could reduce the impact of any given crisis and improve the emergency response. Scientists have now just developed one. ... > full story

Engineers make breakthrough in ultra-sensitive sensor technology (March 22, 2011) -- Researchers have invented an extremely sensitive sensor that opens up new ways to detect a wide range of substances, from tell-tale signs of cancer to hidden explosives. ... > full story

Metabolite levels may be able to improve diabetes risk prediction (March 22, 2011) -- Measuring the levels of small molecules in the blood may be able to identify individuals at elevated risk of developing Type 2 diabetes as much as a decade before symptoms of the disorder appear. ... > full story

Saving one of the world's most endangered birds (March 22, 2011) -- The entire population of the Tuamotu Kingfisher -- less than 125 -- lives on one tiny island in the south Pacific, and without serious intervention, these birds will no longer exist. One researcher is trying to stop the birds' extinction by working with farmers and residents on the island inhabited by the kingfishers. ... > full story

Key protein suppresses prostate cancer growth in the laboratory (March 22, 2011) -- Cancer researchers have discovered an important protein, produced naturally inside cells, that appears to suppress the growth of prostate cancer cells in the laboratory. The findings offer promising leads for research towards new treatments. ... > full story

Native Americans modified American landscape years prior to arrival of Europeans (March 22, 2011) -- A new study shows that Native Americans' land use nearly a century ago produced a widespread impact on the eastern North American landscape and floodplain development several hundred years prior to the arrival of major European settlements. ... > full story

Children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy at increased risk of becoming smokers, mouse study suggests (March 22, 2011) -- New research has revealed that prenatal exposure to nicotine increases the vulnerability to nicotine self-administration in adolescent mice. The results support the hypothesis that adolescents with prenatal nicotine exposure are more likely to start smoking earlier than their peers and that they are also more susceptible to the addictive effects of nicotine, especially as a result of stress and peer pressure. ... > full story

Fish know to avoid the spear (March 22, 2011) -- Fish are not as dumb as people sometimes think. Marine scientists have found that fish that are regularly hunted with spearguns are much more wary and keep their distance from fishers. In investigating the effects of marine areas closed to fishing by customary laws, an international team of researchers working in the Pacific found that fish exposed to speargun fishing take flight much earlier when a diver approaches compared with those living in protected zones. ... > full story

New treatment may desensitize kids with milk allergies, study suggests (March 22, 2011) -- Milk allergy is the most common, affecting 2.5 percent of children under age 3. In a small clinical study, scientists report effectively desensitizing milk-allergic patients by increasing their exposure to milk in tandem with an allergy drug called omalizumab, allowing children to build up resistance quickly with limited allergic reactions. ... > full story

How the lily blooms: Ruffling at the edge of each petal drives the delicate flower to open (March 22, 2011) -- The "lily white" has inspired centuries' worth of rich poetry and art, but when it comes to the science of how and why those delicately curved petals burst from the bud, surprisingly little is known. Mathematics has now revealed that differential growth and ruffling at the edges of each petal -- not in the midrib, as commonly suggested -- provide the driving force behind the blooming of the lily. The research contradicts earlier theories regarding growth within the flower bud. The findings explain the blooming process both theoretically and experimentally. ... > full story

How different strains of parasite infection affect behavior differently (March 22, 2011) -- Toxoplasma gondii infects approximately 25 percent of the human population. The protozoan parasite is noted for altering the behavior of infected hosts. Researchers have found clear differences in the manipulation of host gene expression among the three clonal lineages that predominate in Europe and North America, despite the high level of genetic similarity among them. ... > full story

Channeling powerful Kansas wind to keep electricity running (March 22, 2011) -- Engineers are researching ways to use Kansas wind and other distributed energy sources to avoid cascading failures and prevent major power outrages. ... > full story

Resolved to quit smoking? Brain scans predict likely success (March 22, 2011) -- Brain scans can predict if you'll stop smoking more accurately than you can yourself. ... > full story

Seeing in stereo: Engineers invent lens for 3-D microscope (March 22, 2011) -- Engineers have invented a lens that enables microscopic objects to be seen from nine different angles at once to create a 3-D image. Other 3-D microscopes use multiple lenses or cameras that move around an object; the new lens is the first single, stationary lens to create microscopic 3-D images by itself. ... > full story

Changes in taste function related to obesity and chronic ear inflammation (March 22, 2011) -- Children with chronic inflammation of the middle ear can experience changes in their sense of taste, and these changes may be related to childhood obesity, according to a new study. ... > full story

Fewer bats carry rabies than thought (March 22, 2011) -- Bats are not as disease-ridden as the stigma suggests, according to new research. Previous studies have suggested that typically about 10 percent of bats taken by the public to be tested have rabies but new research says the number is closer to one per cent regardless of species or where the bats roost. ... > full story

Compound from Chinese medicine blocks biofilm formation on medical implant materials (March 22, 2011) -- A compound that is an active ingredient in plants commonly used in Chinese medicine prevents biofilm formation on polystyrene and polycarbonate surfaces by Staphylococcus aureus. The research suggests that this compound, 1,2,3,4,6-Penta-O-galloyl-beta-D-glucopyranose (PGG) is highly promising for clinical use in preventing biofilm formation by S. aureus. ... > full story

Biodiversity leads to higher productivity (March 22, 2011) -- Ecosystems containing several species are more productive than individual species on their own. Using data from more than 400 published experiments, an international research team has found overwhelming evidence that biodiversity in the plant kingdom is very efficient in assimilating nutrients and solar energy, resulting in greater production of biomass. ... > full story

Neuroscientists find memory storage, reactivation process more complex than previously thought (March 22, 2011) -- The process we use to store memories is more complex than previously thought, neuroscientists have found. New research underscores the challenges in addressing memory-related ailments, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. ... > full story

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

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