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The top science news articles and science news articles and current events, scientific discoveries, studies and research from the past week.
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Decoding Fat Cells: Discovery May Explain Why We Gain Weight
University of Rochester researchers believe they're on track to solve the mystery of weight gain - and it has nothing to do with indulging in holiday eggnog.

Earth's most abundant mineral finally has a name
An ancient meteorite and high-energy X-rays have helped scientists conclude a half century of effort to find, identify and characterize a mineral that makes up 38 percent of the Earth.



International team maps 'big bang' of bird evolution
The first findings of the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium are being reported nearly simultaneously in 28 papers -- eight papers in a Dec. 12 special issue of Science and 20 more in Genome Biology, GigaScience and other journals. The full set of papers in Science and other journals can be accessed at avian.genomics.cn

WPI Researchers Develop a Big Data Tool to Better Classify Tumor Cells and Guide Personalized Cancer Treatments
A new statistical model developed by a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) may enable physicians to create personalized cancer treatments for patients based on the specific genetic mutations found in their tumors.

New insights into the origins of agriculture could help shape the future of food
Agricultural decisions made by our ancestors more than 10,000 years ago could hold the key to food security in the future, according to new research by the University of Sheffield.

Dartmouth researchers create 'green' process to reduce molecular switching waste
Dartmouth researchers have found a solution using visible light to reduce waste produced in chemically activated molecular switches, opening the way for industrial applications of nanotechnology ranging from anti-cancer drug delivery to LCD displays and molecular motors.

Big Data Explain Evolution of Birds
About 95 percent of the more than 10,000 bird species known only evolved upon the extinction of dinosaurs about 66 million years ago.

Finnish study establishes connection between gut microbiota and Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease sufferers have a different microbiota in their intestines than their healthy counterparts, according to a study conducted at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUCH).

Malnutrition a Hidden Epidemic Among Elders, GSA Publication Finds
Health care systems and providers are not attuned to older adults' malnutrition risk, and ignoring malnutrition exacts a toll on hospitals, patients, and payers, according to the latest issue of the What's Hot newsletter from The Gerontological Society of America (GSA).

Training elderly in social media improves well-being and combats isolation
Training older people in the use of social media improves cognitive capacity, increases a sense of self-competence and could have a beneficial overall impact on mental health and well-being, according to a landmark study carried out in the UK.

Energy efficient homes linked to asthma
The drive for energy efficient homes could increase asthma risks, according to new research.

Surgical robot adopters use more of recommended procedure for kidney cancer, reports Medical Care
Hospitals with robotic surgical systems are more likely to perform "nephron-sparing" partial nephrectomy--a recommended alternative to removal of the entire kidney--in patients with kidney cancer, reports a study in the December issue of Medical Care. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

An important study for Parkinson's disease
Researchers in Montréal led by Jacques Drouin, D.Sc., uncovered a mechanism regulating dopamine levels in the brain by working on a mouse model of late onset Parkinson's disease.

Pitt team publishes new findings from mind-controlled robot arm project
In another demonstration that brain-computer interface technology has the potential to improve the function and quality of life of those unable to use their own arms, a woman with quadriplegia shaped the almost human hand of a robot arm with just her thoughts to pick up big and small boxes, a ball, an oddly shaped rock, and fat and skinny tubes.

A clear, molecular view of the evolution of human color vision
Many genetic mutations in visual pigments, spread over millions of years, were required for humans to evolve from a primitive mammal with a dim, shadowy view of the world into a greater ape able to see all the colors in a rainbow.

Parkinson's patients identify balance and anxiety treatments among top ten research priorities
Patients with Parkinson's, medics and carers have identified the top ten priorities for research into the management of the condition in a study by the University of East Anglia and Parkinson's UK.

Back to the future? Past global warming period echoes today's
The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, researchers have found.

Study: Invasive species can dramatically alter landscapes
Invasive plant and animal species can cause dramatic and enduring changes to the geography and ecology of landscapes, a study from Purdue University and the University of Kentucky shows.

Weighing in on the Role of Mindfulness in Slimming Down
If dieting is on your New Year agenda, it might pay to be mindful of a study suggesting there is little hard evidence that mindfulness leads to weight loss.

Researchers detect possible signal from dark matter
Could there finally be tangible evidence for the existence of dark matter in the Universe? After sifting through reams of X-ray data, scientists in EPFL's Laboratory of Particle Physics and Cosmology (LPPC) and Leiden University believe they could have identified the signal of a particle of dark matter.

Poor diet links obese mothers and stunted children
Malnutrition is a major cause of stunted growth in children, but new UCL research on mothers and children in Egypt suggests that the problem is not just about quantity of food but also quality.

Switching to vehicles powered by electricity from renewables could save lives
Driving vehicles that use electricity from renewable energy instead of gasoline could reduce the resulting deaths due to air pollution by 70 percent.

New theory suggests alternate path led to rise of the eukaryotic cell
As a fundamental unit of life, the cell is central to all of biology. Better understanding how complex cells evolved and work promises new revelations in areas as diverse as cancer research and developing new crop plants.

Study reveals that people may inherit 'gut' bacteria that cause Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
A new study by an international team of researchers shows for the first time that people may inherit some of the intestinal bacteria that cause Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively know as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Birds of a feather? NSU researcher working to unlock the genome of birds
We all know that ducks, crows, falcons and egrets are birds. A group of scientists, however, wanted to dig deeper and unlock more about how these animals are related genetically.

Medicaid is a very good investment even if it does not lower cholesterol or blood pressure
Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health analyzed the results of the Oregon Health Experiment, where eligible uninsured individuals were randomly assigned Medicaid or to stay with their current care.

The story of a bizarre deep-sea bone worm takes an unexpected twist
The saga of the Osedax "bone-eating" worms began 12 years ago, with the first discovery of these deep-sea creatures that feast on the bones of dead animals.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus unlikely to reach epidemic status
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is an emerging virus, with the first case reported in 2012.

Scientists reveal new family tree for birds, clear back to dinosaur parents
A large international group of scientists, including an Oregon Health & Science University neuroscientist, is publishing this week the results of a first-ever look at the genome of dozens of common birds.

'Big bang' of bird evolution mapped by international research team
The genomes of modern birds tell a story: Today's winged rulers of the skies emerged and evolved after the mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs and almost everything else 66 million years ago.

Tourism poses a threat to dolphins in the Balearic Islands
The rise in tourism, fishing and sea transport between the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands is compromising the wellbeing of a small population of common bottlenose dolphins living in coastal waters off the Pityusic Islands.

Mapping the tree of life
An international team of scientists has completed the largest whole genome study of a single class of animals to date.

Mutations Need Help From Aging Tissue to Cause Leukemia
Why are older people at higher risk for developing cancer? Prevailing opinion holds that, over time, your body's cells accumulate DNA damage and that eventually this damage catches up with the body in a way that causes cancer.

Genomic analysis, key to understanding bird evolution
66 million years ago, the dinosaurs, as we think about them, became extinct, but certain reptiles and birds survived this mass extinction.

How fast you age depends on your parents
In the hunt for better knowledge on the aging process, researchers from Lund University have now enlisted the help of small birds. A new study investigates various factors which affect whether chicks are born with long or short chromosome ends, called telomeres.

Rapid bird evolution after the age of dinosaurs unprecedented, study confirms
The most ambitious genetic study ever undertaken on bird evolution has found that almost all modern birds diversified after the dinosaurs became extinct 66 million years ago.

Slow rate of croc mutation revealed in major Science study
Crocodilians, including the Australian saltwater crocodile, mutate at about a quarter of the rate of birds, new research has revealed.

Baby cells learn to communicate using the lsd1 gene
We would not expect a baby to join a team or participate in social situations that require sophisticated communication. Yet, most developmental biologists have assumed that young cells, only recently born from stem cells and known as "progenitors," are already competent at inter-communication with other cells.

Hepatitis C ruled out as cause of mental impairment in HIV patients
Advances in treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have made it possible for people with HIV to survive much longer.

Researchers use real data rather than theory to measure the cosmos
For the first time researchers have measured large distances in the Universe using data, rather than calculations related to general relativity.

Microbiome may have shaped early human populations
We humans have an exceptional age structure compared to other animals: Our children remain dependent on their parents for an unusually long period and our elderly live an extremely long time after they have stopped procreating.

Scientists identify new and beneficial function of endogenous retroviruses in immune response
Retroviruses are best known for causing contagious scourges such as AIDS, or more sporadically, cancer.

NASA Goddard Instrument Makes First Detection of Organic Matter on Mars
The team responsible for the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite on NASA's Curiosity rover has made the first definitive detection of organic molecules at Mars.

Viral 'fossils' study on birds finds fewer infections than in mammals
In a contribution to an extraordinary international scientific collaboration the University of Sydney found that genomic 'fossils' of past viral infections are up to thirteen times less common in birds than mammals.

Fat cells reprogrammed to increase fat burning
White adipose tissue stores excess calories as fat that can be released for use in other organs during fasting.

Study identifies 53 approved drugs that may block Ebola infection
Researchers found 53 existing drugs that may keep the Ebola virus from entering human cells, a key step in the process of infection, according to a study led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and published today in the Nature Press journal Emerging Microbes and Infections.

'Perfect Storm' Quenching Star Formation around a Supermassive Black Hole
High-energy jets powered by supermassive black holes can blast away a galaxy's star-forming fuel, resulting in so-called "red and dead" galaxies: those brimming with ancient red stars yet containing little or no hydrogen gas to create new ones.

Geospatial study identifies hotspots in deaths from HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in Massachusetts
A new study from epidemiologists at Tufts University School of Medicine helps to identify communities with the greatest public health need in Massachusetts for resources relating to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

Future batteries: Lithium-sulfur with a graphene wrapper
What do you get when you wrap a thin sheet of the "wonder material" graphene around a novel multifunctional sulfur electrode that combines an energy storage unit and electron/ion transfer networks?

550 Million Year Old Fossils Provide New Clues about Fossil Formation
A new study from University of Missouri and Virginia Tech researchers is challenging accepted ideas about how ancient soft-bodied organisms become part of the fossil record.

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