Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (January 2018)

Science news and science current events archive January, 2018.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from January 2018

AI 'scientist' finds that toothpaste ingredient may help fight drug-resistant malaria
An ingredient commonly found in toothpaste could be employed as an anti-malarial drug against strains of malaria parasite that have grown resistant to one of the currently used drugs. This discovery, led by researchers at the University of Cambridge, was aided by Eve, an artificially intelligent 'robot scientist.'

Study uncovers healthcare disparities among octogenarians and nonagenarians with advanced lung cancer
A new study reveals that, among patients of advanced age with stage III lung cancer, African Americans and individuals who live in lower income areas are more likely to not receive any treatment.

New epidemiological study finds no connection between cases of cancer and use of plant protection products containing glyphosate
BfR Communication No. 036/2017 from 22 December 2017 Epidemiological studies are a central element of public discussion in the debate surrounding the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate. A publication that appeared in the USA in November examined whether there is a possible connection between the use of glyphosate containing plant protection products and cases of cancer among people who work in agriculture using a significantly broader data base.

Poor dental health increases risks of frailty in older men
Over a three-year period, researchers from the United Kingdom examined the relationship between poor oral health and older adults' risks for becoming frail. They published their findings in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Study uncovers key to preventing back pain in runners
Low back pain is a common complaint among both elite and recreational runners, but the true cause of it remains a mystery. So researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center used motion capture technology to observe how a runner's muscles work while they're in motion.

Are vitamin supplements used before or during pregnancy associated with risk of autism spectrum disorder?
The use of folic acid and multivitamin supplements by women before and during pregnancy was associated with a lower likelihood of autism spectrum disorder in children but this finding  needs to be interpreted with caution because other factors could explain it.

X chromosome reactivation could treat Rett syndrome, other X-linked disorders
A study from a team of Massachusetts General Hospital investigators points toward a potential strategy for treating X-linked disorders -- those caused by mutations in the X chromosome -- in females.

Physicists build muscle for shape-changing, cell-sized robots
A Cornell University team has made a robot exoskeleton that can rapidly change its shape upon sensing chemical or thermal changes in its environment. And, they claim, these microscale machines -- equipped with electronic, photonic and chemical payloads -- could become a powerful platform for robotics at the size scale of biological microorganisms.

Pediatricians screen more kids for mental health issues if they receive hands-on support
The study, led by Children's National, is called an important first step toward earlier identification of children who live with serious mental health concerns. Currently, few providers conduct the screenings, citing a lack of time, resources and other factors. Mental health screenings at the annual well visit could go a long way toward treating mental health issues earlier in a child's life.

Scientists uncover why sauna bathing is good for your health
Scientists at the University of Eastern Finland have shown that sauna bathing is associated with a variety of health benefits. Using an experimental setting this time, the research group now investigated the physiological mechanisms through which the heat exposure of sauna may influence a person's health. Their latest study with 100 test subjects shows that taking a sauna bath of 30 minutes reduces blood pressure and increases vascular compliance, while also increasing heart rate similarly to medium-intensity exercise.

Family Medicine and Community Health Journal Volume 5, Issue Number 4 publishes
The December 2017 issue includes an editorial, five original research articles, one case study, one systematic review and two China Focus articles addressing various topics in family medicine in both China and internationally.

Science for a resilient EU power grid
The Joint Research Centre, the European Commission's science and knowledge service, have analysed 16 earthquakes, 15 space weather events and 20 floods, presenting recommendations on how to improve the resilience of the power grid against these natural hazards.

NASA looks at rainfall intensity in Tropical Depression Bolaven
The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite gathered data on rainfall rates occurring in Tropical Depression Bolaven as it moved toward Vietnam. Bolaven's final warning was issued early today, Jan. 4.

Semiconductor breakthrough may be game-changer for organic solar cells
In an advance that could push cheap, ubiquitous solar power closer to reality, University of Michigan researchers have found a way to coax electrons to travel much further than was previously thought possible in the materials often used for organic solar cells and other organic semiconductors.

A look into the fourth dimension
In our daily experience space has three dimensions. Recently, however, a physical phenomenon that only occurs in four spatial dimensions could be observed in two experiments. The theoretical groundwork for those experiments was laid by an ETH researcher.

Harnessing the potential of blockchain to transform education
Blockchain technology can help improve old models of data management and bring benefits to learners and educational institutions in the EU -- if policymakers are well prepared to embrace the change.

Predicting the effect of climate change on crop yields
Scientists now have a new tool to predict the future effects of climate change on crop yields. Researchers from University of Illinois are attempting to bridge two types of computational crop models to become more reliable predictors of crop production in the U.S. Corn Belt.

Children with chronic illness often show signs of mental health problems
Researchers from the University of Waterloo surveyed children between the ages of six and 16, and all within a month of their diagnosis with asthma, food allergy, epilepsy, diabetes or juvenile arthritis.

Building stronger health systems could help prevent the next epidemic in Madagascar
The peak epidemic season for plague in Madagascar is fast approaching and the severity of these outbreaks could be significantly reduced with improvements to their public health system, argues Matthew Bonds from Harvard Medical School and the nongovernmental health care organization, PIVOT, in a new Viewpoint publishing Jan. 4, 2018, in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Stealth virus for cancer therapy
Scientists from the University of Zurich have redesigned an adenovirus for use in cancer therapy. To achieve this they developed a new protein shield that hides the virus and protects it from being eliminated. Adapters on the surface of the virus enable the reconstructed virus to specifically infect tumor cells.

Tobacco shops associated with crime in urban communities of color
Tobacco shops, also known as smoke shops, may represent potential 'nuisance properties' in urban communities of color, a study led by a researcher at the University of California, Riverside has found. Nuisance properties are properties where unsafe activities affecting public health and safety occur repeatedly. The study focused on 2014 violent and property crime data from South Los Angeles, a large urban community whose homicide rate is nearly four times the national rate.

Morris Animal Foundation-funded study shows importance of wildlife in controlling ticks
Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, have found that a decrease in wildlife populations causes an upsurge in local tick populations, potentially increasing the threat of infectious diseases globally. The research team published their results in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Total-body PET: Maximizing sensitivity for clinical research and patient care
The new total-body PET/CT scanner could revolutionize our understanding and treatment of disease through analysis of better imaging data from the whole body. In The Journal of Nuclear Medicine featured January article, scientists at the University of California, Davis, outline the development and benefits of this innovative diagnostic tool and explain how maximizing PET sensitivity will advance clinical research and patient care.

Research reveals evidence of new population of ancient Native Americans
Genetic analysis of ancient DNA from a 6-week-old infant found at an Interior Alaska archaeological site has revealed a previously unknown population of ancient people in North America. The findings, published in the Jan. 3 edition of the journal Nature, represent a major shift in scientists' theories about how humans populated North America. The researchers have named the new group 'Ancient Beringians.'

Aerobic exercise may mildly delay, slightly improve Alzheimer's symptoms
Geriatrics experts have suggested that exercising can improve brain health in older adults. However, not all studies of exercise and older adults have proven the benefits of exercise. A team of researchers designed a study to learn whether exercise could delay or improve AD symptoms. They reviewed 19 studies that examined the effect of an exercise training program on cognitive function in older adults who were at risk for or diagnosed with AD.

Exposing hypocrisy can effectively reduce collective blame of Muslims for individual violent acts
White Americans were less likely to blame all Muslims for acts of terror committed by a Muslim when they were first asked to think about how much they were responsible for terrorist acts committed by other Whites. By highlighting the hypocrisy in a non-threatening way, the participants' prejudice toward Muslims declined, even a month after the intervention.

Curbing climate change
Humans may be the dominant cause of global temperature rise, but they may also be a crucial factor in helping to reduce it, according to a new study that for the first time builds a novel model to measure the effects of behavior on climate.

New brain mapping technique highlights relationship between connectivity and IQ
A new and relatively simple technique for mapping the wiring of the brain has shown a correlation between how well connected an individual's brain regions are and their intelligence, say researchers at the University of Cambridge.

Frequency of autism spectrum disorder in US stable in recent years
The frequency of autism spectrum disorder among US children and adolescents was stable from 2014-2016 based on data from a nationally representative annual survey.

Girls' social camouflage skills may delay or prevent autism diagnosis
On parent-reporting measures, girls with autism seem to struggle more than boys with performing routine tasks like getting up and dressed or making small talk, even when the study group is normalized to meet similar basic clinical diagnostic criteria across sexes. The findings add to the growing evidence that girls with autism may show symptoms differently than boys, and that some of the social difficulties experienced by females with autism may be masked during clinical assessments.

Pong paddles and perception: Our actions influence what we see
Most people think of vision as simply a function of information the eye gathers. For cognitive psychologist Jessica Witt, vision is a little more complicated than that. She has a new paper that faces head-on the notion that her experimental subjects have been victims of a psychological phenomenon called response bias. She employed a classic, action-specific experiment involving a video game familiar to children of the 80s: Pong.

Eating more foods with choline during pregnancy could boost baby's brain
When expectant mothers consume sufficient amounts of the nutrient choline during pregnancy, their offspring gain enduring cognitive benefits, a new Cornell University study suggests.

Exploring the realistic nature of the wave function in quantum mechanics
The wave function is central in quantum mechanics and describes the quantum state of microscopic objects. But what the wave function essentially represents is still in debate. Now researchers in Tsinghua University proposed and experimentally realized an encounter-delay-choice experiment to demonstrate the realistic interpretation for the wave function. This will be helpful to unlock the mysteries of the wave function, and deepen our understanding of quantum mechanics.

Genetic sequencing points to endemic origin of monkeypox virus outbreak in Nigeria
Scientists working to control a human outbreak of monkeypox virus (MXPV) in Nigeria performed genetic sequencing of patient samples, revealing that the outbreak likely originated from a source within the country. Their results emphasize the value of local surveillance for the early detection of viral spillovers and the need for advanced genetic characterization to help determine the origins of outbreaks.

Laser evaporation technology to create new solar materials
Researchers use lasers to blast solutions containing delicate organic compounds to grow new types of crystals for solar cells, light-emitting diodes and photodetectors.

Music really is a universal language
Songs serve many different purposes: accompanying a dance, soothing an infant, or expressing love. Now, after analyzing recordings from all around the world, researchers reporting in Current Biology show that vocal songs sharing one of those many functions tend to sound similar to one another, no matter which culture they come from. As a result, people listening to those songs could make accurate inferences about them, even after hearing only a quick 14-second sampling.

Researchers offer new evidence on 4-year-old children's knowledge about ecology
What do young children from diverse cultural communities think about the natural world? How does a child's existing knowledge and beliefs influence their subsequent learning? Questions like these have remained unanswered, largely because research in this area has focused almost exclusively on urban and suburban children living in majority-culture communities. The study reveals ecological knowledge in 4-year-old children from urban Native American, rural Native American and urban non-Native American communities.

NASA catches Tropical Cyclone Ava's landfall on Madagascar's coast
NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite passed over Tropical Cyclone Ava as it made landfall along the coast of northeastern Madagascar.

Earth's core and mantle separated in a disorderly fashion
Plumes of hot rock surging upward from the Earth's mantle at volcanic hotspots contain evidence that the Earth's formative years may have been even more chaotic than previously thought, according to new work from a team of Carnegie and Smithsonian scientists published in Nature.

NASA study: First direct proof of ozone hole recovery due to chemicals ban
For the first time, scientists have shown through direct satellite observations of the ozone hole that levels of ozone-destroying chlorine are declining, resulting in less ozone depletion.

Multiple sclerosis: Cholesterol crystals prevent regeneration in central nervous system
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system, in which the immune cells attack myelin sheaths. Regeneration of myelin sheaths is necessary for patients to recover from MS relapses. Nevertheless, the ability to regenerate decreases with age. A team from Technical University Munich has published an explanation in

Simple breathing training with a physiotherapist before surgery prevents postoperative pneumonia
Pneumonia, and other serious lung complications, after major abdominal surgery were halved when patients were seen by a physiotherapist before surgery and taught breathing exercises that the patient needed to start performing immediately on waking from the operation, finds a trial published by The BMJ today.

Exploring electrolysis for energy storage
A research team at Kyushu University's International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER) developed a flow-type polymer electrolyte cell for power storage. The cell reduces oxalic acid (OX) to glycolic acid, which has a higher volumetric energy-storage capacity than hydrogen gas. Newly fabricated TiO2 cathode enhanced the speed and efficiency of OX reduction. This competitive energy-storage device could be used to balance out the fluctuations in renewable power supplies.

Migraine surgery produces 'dramatic improvements' in functioning, study finds
In addition to reducing headache frequency and severity, surgical treatment for migraine leads to significant improvements in everyday functioning and coping ability, according to a study in the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Tuberculosis drugs work better with vitamin C
Studies in mice and in tissue cultures suggest that giving vitamin C with tuberculosis drugs could reduce the unusually long time it takes these drugs to eradicate this pathogen. The research is published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Zebrafish study provides new insights into autism spectrum disorder research
Exposure to a compound used to treat migraines and seizures causes characteristics associated with autism, groundbreaking research with zebrafish has demonstrated.

First discover the disorder and then find the patients
Biochemists of Bielefeld University have confirmed the cause of initially unclear symptoms of patients in Israel. Their studies reveal that the patients suffer from a disorder called 'MPS III-E'. It was discovered by the Bielefeld researchers in 2012. However, until now there were no known patients.

Study says some nursing homes gaming the system to improve their Medicare star ratings
A new study of nursing homes in California, the nation's largest system, by faculty at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Connecticut, found that some nursing homes inflate their self-assessment reporting to improve their score in the Five-Star Quality Rating System employed by Medicare to help consumers.

Alfalfa loss? Annual ryegrass is a win
In the U.S., alfalfa is grown mainly in western and northern states. The cold winters and other factors can lead to losses for farmers and forage shortages. Researchers have identified annual forage crops that can be cultivated in fields with winter-killed or terminated alfalfa.

Impact of inactivity on muscles more severe for older people
According to a recent study published in The Journal of Physiology, researchers have been able to document for the first time how the same period of inactivity has a greater and more severe impact on the muscle power of the lower limbs of the elderly than young people, which is essential for movements like climbing the stairs.

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