Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (January 2017)

Science news and science current events archive January, 2017.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from January 2017

Certain heart fat associated with higher risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women
For the first time, researchers have pinpointed a type of heart fat, linked it to a risk factor for heart disease and shown that menopausal status and estrogen levels are critical modifying factors of its associated risk in women.

One step closer to reality: Devices that convert heat into electricity
The same researchers who pioneered the use of a quantum mechanical effect to convert heat into electricity have figured out how to make their technique work in a form more suitable to industry.

What humans and primates both know when it comes to numbers
University of Rochester researchers have found that adults and children in the US, adults from a 'low numeracy' tribe in Bolivia and rhesus monkeys ALL possessed the ability to distinguish between large and small quantities of objects, regardless of the surface area they occupy. This ability is likely a shared evolutionary trait, according to a study published in Nature Communications. The nonverbal visual tests could be used in assessing early math education in young children.

Hospitals can rapidly identify life-threatening bacteria
Soon in virtually every hospital it will be possible to identify the bacterial species responsible for an infection developing in a patient in a matter of just a few minutes. A new, easy-to-adapt and inexpensive analytical procedure has been developed by researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. The main role is played by innovative bioconjugates -- luminescent, magnetic microparticles coated with appropriately selected bacteriophages.

How long did it take to hatch a dinosaur egg? FSU research says 3-6 months
FSU researchers have set the timeline it took dinosaurs to incubate at three to six months, depending on the dinosaur.

Clean-fuel cookstoves may improve cardiovascular health in pregnant women
Replacing biomass and kerosene cookstoves used throughout the developing world with clean-burning ethanol stoves may reduce hypertension and cardiovascular risk in pregnant women, according to new research published online, ahead of print in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Antidote for partisanship? In science, curiosity seems to work
Disputes over science-related policy issues such as climate change or fracking often seem as intractable as other politically charged debates. But in science, at least, simple curiosity might help bridge that partisan divide, according to new research.

Study tallies extra calories Americans consume in their coffee, tea
More than 160 million people in the US drink coffee or tea on a regular basis, and many of them use sugar, cream, flavored syrups or other calorie-laden additives in their drinks of choice. A new analysis reveals just how much Americans are adding to their caloric intake by spicing up or sweetening their coffee or tea.

Protein build-up may trigger inflammation associated with Alzheimer's and other conditions
A recent review article published online in The FASEB Journal points to the 'trigger' for the inflammatory response, caused by the immune system, that precedes Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions.

Meal planning, timing, may impact heart health
Planning and timing meals and snacks, such as not skipping breakfast and allocating more calories earlier in the day, might help reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Large studies tracking patients' cardiovascular health over a long period are needed to show how meal timing and patterns impact disease risk.

Risk of long-term disability in older adults who visit the ED
Older adults who go to the emergency department (ED) for an illness or injury are at increased risk for disability and decline in physical abilities up to six months later, according to a study by Yale researchers.

The National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) launches Polar Data Journal
The National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR), which serves as Japan's key institution for scientific research and observation in Polar Regions, launched Polar Data Journal, a new data journal, this January.

Model assessment may predict obstructive sleep apnea in children with Down syndrome
A combination of parental questionnaires and inexpensive diagnostic procedures that can be performed as part of a primary care visit may be able to rule out the presence of obstructive sleep apnea in people with Down syndrome.

Hitting the right notes
Karla Rivera-Cáceres, a University of Miami biology graduate student, plays a harmonious duet of singing wrens from a recording she captured out in the field during a recent trip to Costa Rica. 'The song sounds like one bird but if you listen closely, it's a male and female wren singing a duet in perfect unison,' said Rivera-Cáceres.

Florida corals tell of cold spells and dust bowls past, foretell weather to come
Scientists seeking an oceanic counterpart to tree rings that record past weather on land found one in Dry Tortugas National Park, where corals contain chemical signals of past water temperatures. USGS and other researchers found coral core evidence that the 60- to 85-year-long cycle called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) has taken place since the 1730s, influencing mainland rainfall, droughts, hurricanes and Gulf Stream flows.

NASA moon data provides more accurate 2017 eclipse path
Thanks to elevation data of the moon from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, coupled with detailed NASA topography data of Earth, we have the most accurate maps of the path of totality for any eclipse to date.

New in the Hastings Center Report
What happens when physicians and surrogate decision-makers disagree about what is best for a patient? Two articles and four commentaries explore this question in the January-February 2017 issue.

Gene that enables memories, sense of direction produces schizophrenia-like symptoms when mutated
Mutations in a gene that should enable memories and a sense of direction instead can result in imprecise communication between neurons that contributes to symptoms of schizophrenia, scientists report.

Parental obesity linked to delays in child development, NIH study suggests
Children of obese parents may be at risk for developmental delays, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. Children of obese mothers were more likely to fail tests of fine motor skill. Children of obese fathers were more likely to fail measures of social competence, and those born to extremely obese couples also were more likely to fail tests of problem solving ability.

Researchers create mosquito resistant to dengue virus
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have genetically modified mosquitoes to resist infection from dengue virus, a virus that sickens an estimated 96 million people globally each year and kills more than 20,000, mostly children.

Infant's prolonged infection reveals mutation that helps bacteria tolerate antibiotics
A life-threatening infection in an infant with leukemia led to a St. Jude Children's Research Hospital discovery of how prolonged infection sets the stage for bacterial persistence despite antibiotic susceptibility.

Medicare bundled-payments model cut joint replacement costs by more than 20 percent
Bundled payment models can push Medicare and health system costs down considerably without sacrificing quality of care, according to new research. The study evaluated costs and care quality at for hip and knee replacements performed from 2008-2015 at the five-hospital Baptist Health System network in San Antonio, Texas. Results show that the average cost dropped 20.8 percent while the effect on quality of care was unchanged or improved.

A role for mutated blood cells in heart disease?
A new study provides some of the first links between relatively common mutations in the blood cells of elderly humans and atherosclerosis.

How China is poised for marine fisheries reform
China has introduced an unprecedented policy platform for stewarding its fisheries and other marine resources; in order to achieve a true paradigm shift a team of international scientists from within and outside of China recommend major institutional reform.

Movin' on up? Views on social mobility shape Americans' faith in the status quo
Psychologists at Princeton University and Memorial University of Newfoundland have found that how Americans view social mobility affects their willingness to defend the basic underpinnings of American society -- such as social and economic policies, laws, and institutions.

Hormone can enhance brain activity associated with love and sex
The hormone kisspeptin can enhance activity in brain regions associated with sexual arousal and romantic love, according to new research.

Improving longevity of functionally integrated stem cells in regenerative vision therapy
One of the challenges in developing stem cell therapies is ensuring that transplanted cells can survive long enough to work. Buck Institute researchers report one of the first demonstrations of long-term vision restoration in blind mice by transplanting photoreceptors derived from human stem cells and blocking the immune response that causes transplanted cells to be rejected. The findings support a path to improving clinical applications in restoring human vision lost to degenerative eye diseases.

Malaria elimination: Vaccines should be tested on larger groups of volunteers
To find an effective vaccine against malaria it is crucial to test candidate vaccines on larger groups of people than previously thought -- according to a new study published in PLOS Computational Biology. The researchers from Erasmus MC Rotterdam and Radboud University Medical Center Nijmegen developed a mathematical model to determine the minimum number of people required for a good vaccine trial.

New organ culture system reveals effects of BPA exposure on fetal mammary glands
A new laboratory model enables tests of how developing fetal mammary tissue is affected by exposure to estrogen and estrogen-like chemicals such as BPA. Previous animal model research has suggested changes in fetal mammary tissue may be linked to higher risk of breast cancer in adulthood.

Short bowel syndrome results in changes to gene expression
Investigators at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, led by Tracy C. Grikscheit, M.D., have mapped the genetic changes resulting from short bowel syndrome using a novel zebrafish model and by performing intensive gene sequencing.

Asthma not found in high percentage of adults who were previously diagnosed
Among adults with a previous physician diagnosis of asthma, a current diagnosis could not be established in about one-third who were not using daily asthma medications or had medications weaned, according to a study appearing in the Jan. 17 issue of JAMA. The researchers speculate that the failure to confirm the diagnosis could be because of spontaneous remission or misdiagnosis.

Research shows driving factors behind changes between local and global carbon cycles
Pioneering new research has provided a fascinating new insight in the quest to determine whether temperature or water availability is the most influential factor in determining the success of global, land-based carbon sinks. The research, carried out by an international team of climate scientists including Professors Pierre Friedlingstein and Stephen Sitch from the University of Exeter, has revealed new clues on how land carbon sinks are regulated on both local and global scales.

Food is medicine for HIV-positive and Type 2 diabetes patients
HIV-positive people who received healthy food and snacks for six months were more likely to adhere to their medication regimens, and they, as well as people with type 2 diabetes, were less depressed and less likely to make trade-offs between food and healthcare, according to a new study led by researchers at UC San Francisco.

Common viruses prove dangerous in long-term care facility
A widespread outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus and human metapneumovirus at a long-term dementia care ward infected 73 percent of patients, demonstrating the challenges in mitigating the spread of infectious diseases in such settings. The outbreak led to improved protocols for protecting vulnerable patients during cold and flu season, according to a study published today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal for the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

A toolkit for transformable materials
Harvard researchers have developed a general framework to design reconfigurable metamaterials. The design strategy is scale independent, meaning it can be applied to everything from meter-scale architectures to reconfigurable nano-scale systems such as photonic crystals, waveguides and metamaterials to guide heat.

E-waste in East and Southeast Asia jumps 63 percent in 5 years
Volumes of discarded electronics in East and Southeast Asia jumped almost two-thirds between 2010 and 2015, and e-waste generation is growing fast in both volume and per capita measures, new UN research shows. Driven by rising incomes and high demand for new gadgets and appliances, e-waste across all 12 countries and areas analyzed increased 63 percent on average and weighed 12.3 million tons, 2.4 times the weight of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Improved measurements of antiproton's magnetic moment deepen mystery of baryonic asymmetry
In work published in Nature Communications, scientists have found, using a sophisticated technique that involves trapping individual particles in a magnetic device, that the magnetic moment of the antiproton is extremely close to that of the proton, with six-fold higher accuracy than before.

Study looks at strategies used by African-American women facing intimate partner violence
African-American women in abusive relationships use a variety of strategies pulled from three general categories to survive intimate partner violence (IPV), according to a new University at Buffalo study recently published in the journal Social Work.

UTSW urges use of evidence-based medicine to avoid overtreatment of type 2 diabetes
UT Southwestern Medical Center research supports an evidence-based medicine (EBM) approach that embraces individualized care to prevent overtreatment, specifically for patients with type 2 diabetes.

New study finds postdocs don't yield positive labor market returns
A new study by Boston University and University of Kansas researchers has found that postdoc jobs don't yield a positive return in the labor market, and that these positions likely cost graduates roughly three years worth of salary in their first 15 years of their careers.

New Marcellus development boom will triple greenhouse gas emissions from PA's natural gas
Natural gas production on Pennsylvania's vast black shale deposit known as the Marcellus Shale will nearly double by 2030 to meet growing demand, tripling Pennsylvania's greenhouse gas emissions from the natural gas sector relative to 2012 levels, according to a report published today by Delaware Riverkeeper Network. The increase in greenhouse gas emissions will remain steady through 2045 with continued shale gas development, projects the report, 'Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Projected Future Marcellus Development.'

New moth in Europe: A southern hemisphere species now resident in Portugal
As travelling in the 21st century is easier than ever, so is for species to make their way to new areas, sometimes increasing their distributional range, or even establishing whole new habitats. Such is the case of a small, darkish brown moth from the southern hemisphere that is now resident in central Portugal. The discovery is published in the open access journal Nota Lepidopterologica.

Study describes new method to remove nickel from contaminated seawater
The same deposit that builds up in many tea kettles or water pipes in areas where calcium-rich water is the norm might be just the (cheap) ticket to rid contaminated seawater of toxic metals. This is according to a research group led by Charlotte Carré of the University of New Caledonia in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia and published today in Springer's journal Environmental Chemistry Letters.

Women treated for precursor of breast cancer can expect to live as long as other women
Women over 50 who have been treated for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a precursor of breast cancer, are more likely to be alive ten years later than women in the general population, according to new research presented at the European Cancer Congress 2017. Researchers say these results should provide reassurance to women who are diagnosed with the disease.

Fixating on faces
Neurons specialized for processing faces in the human brain are controlled by attention, according to a new Caltech study.

New sensor integrates inflammatory bowel disease detection into colonoscopy procedure
Researchers have developed the first sensor capable of objectively identifying inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and distinguishing between its two subtypes.

Researchers discover new mechanism for Type IV pili retraction in Vibrio cholerae
Although pathogenic bacteria often rely on a specialized molecular motor to retract their pili, a new study in PLOS Pathogens reveals that a minor pilin protein elicits pilus retraction in the cholera bacterium, Vibrio cholerae.

Seeing the quantum future... literally
Sydney scientists have demonstrated the ability to 'see' the future of quantum systems and used that knowledge to preempt their demise, in a major achievement that could help bring the strange and powerful world of quantum technology closer to reality. Although applications of quantum-enabled technologies are compelling, quantum physicists had previously been stymied by the most significant obstacle to building reliable quantum technologies -- 'decoherence' or the randomization of quantum systems by their environments.

Sound Off! The Navy, haring protection and mobile devices
The Office of Naval Research is sponsoring the development of a new app to help warfighters learn about hearing protection on their mobile Android devices -- and snap close-up selfies of themselves wearing earplugs to see if they're using them properly.

Brain cell powerhouses appear good treatment target for stroke, TBI recovery
Cell powerhouses are typically long and lean, but with brain injury such as stroke or trauma, they can quickly become bloated and dysfunctional, say scientists who documented the phenomena in real time for the first time in a living brain.

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