Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (July 2018)

Science news and science current events archive July, 2018.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from July 2018

NIST chip lights up optical neural network demo
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have made a silicon chip that distributes optical signals precisely across a miniature brain-like grid, showcasing a potential new design for neural networks.

Sound waves could provide 'liquid biopsies'
Using sound waves, researchers have developed a gentle, contact-free method for separating circulating tumor cells from blood samples that is fast and efficient enough for clinical use. The ability to quickly and efficiently harvest and grow these cells from a blood sample would enable 'liquid biopsies' capable of providing individualized diagnosis, prognosis and suggestions for treatment strategies.

X-ray technology reveals never-before-seen matter around black hole
In an international collaboration between Japan and Sweden, scientists clarified how gravity affects the shape of matter near the black hole in binary system Cygnus X-1. Their findings, which were published in Nature Astronomy this month, may help scientists further understand the physics of strong gravity and the evolution of black holes and galaxies.

New study shows video games can improve health in children with obesity
A new study from LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center showed for the first time that video games, in combination with fitness coaching and a step tracker, helped overweight children lose weight, lower their blood pressure and cholesterol and increase their physical activity.

Youth report improved wellbeing as result of tailored mental health services
In a new study, researchers in London, Ontario, partnered with youth receiving care at the First Episode Mood and Anxiety Program at London Health Sciences Centre to better understand personal perspectives on care and treatment outcomes. The study found that patients experienced lasting improvements in managing their symptoms and improvements in academics, work performance and relationships, and they reported that these benefits involved being empowered by feelings of self-acceptance.

Writing the future of rewritable memory
Scientists at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada have created the most dense, solid-state memory in history that could soon exceed the capabilities of current hard drives by 1,000 times. New technique leads to the densest solid-state memory ever created.

Game changing game changes
Using stochastic games to analyze evolution of cooperation, leads to a surprising discovery. The tragedy of the commons is resolved if the environment deteriorates in response to defection. The new approach offers invaluable insight into how cooperation plays a role in social issues ranging from sustainability to curbing climate change. It can also help policy makers to design systems which empower cooperation among the public.

Experts address ways to support latest science education standards
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are K-12 science content standards, with three dimensions that are integrated in instruction at all levels: core ideas, science and engineering practices, and cross-cutting concepts. A new article in the Journal of Research Science in Teaching focuses on how to support enactment of the NGSS in diverse educational systems, including the challenges faced when some of those systems are fragmented and resource-poor.

Optical fibers that can 'feel' the materials around them
EPFL researchers have developed an optical fiber capable of detecting what sort of material or liquid they have come into contact with. Their research has been published in Nature Communications.

Drug now in clinical trials for Parkinson's strengthens heart contractions in animals
A drug currently in clinical trials for treating symptoms of Parkinson's disease may someday have value for treating heart failure, according to results of early animal studies by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers.

Parents who had severe trauma, stresses in childhood more likely to have kids with behavioral health problems
A new study finds that severe childhood trauma and stresses early in parents' lives are linked to higher rates of behavioral health problems in their own children.

IBM-EPFL-NJIT team demonstrates novel synaptic architecture for brain inspired computing
Two New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) researchers, working with collaborators from the IBM Research Zurich Laboratory and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, have demonstrated a novel synaptic architecture that could lead to a new class of information processing systems inspired by the brain.

Texas A&M AgriLife study shows BPA risk factor for inflammatory bowel disease
A recent study in a preclinical model of inflammatory bowel disease shows dietary exposure to bisphenol-A, or BPA, found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, can increase mortality and worsen its symptoms.

From pollutants to human health: Key questions for a better environmental future in Europe
A new study, published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, wants to shape a new guideline --with a more global and coordinated perspective-- for several social and economic sectors in the field of chemical products and management of environmental risks in Europe.

Database analysis more reliable than animal testing for toxic chemicals
Advanced algorithms working from large chemical databases can predict a new chemical's toxicity better than standard animal tests, suggests a study led by scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Motivating gamers with personalized game design
A team of multidisciplinary researchers at the University of Waterloo has identified three basic video game player traits that will help to make game design more personalized and more effectively motivate gamers in both entertainment and work applications.

Traumatic brain injury biomarker shows promise to support rapid damage evaluation and predict outcomes
A new study in The American Journal of Pathology found that a brain lipid molecule, lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), was significantly increased after traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a preclinical animal model. They also found that it was elevated in areas associated with cell death and axonal injury, both major hallmarks of moderate and severe TBI. This strengthens the evidence that LPA could be used as a biomarker of TBI through blood testing, potentially providing a prognostic indicator of injury and outcome.

Genome editing reduces cholesterol in large animal model, laying human trial groundwork
Using genome editing to inactivate a protein called PCSK9 effectively reduced cholesterol levels in rhesus macaques. This is the first demonstration of a clinically relevant reduction of gene expression in a large animal model using genome editing. The study describes a possible new approach for treating heart disease patients who do not tolerate PCSK9 inhibitors -- drugs that are commonly used to combat high cholesterol.

The sea anemone, an animal that hides its complexity well
Despite its apparent simplicity -- a tube-like body topped with tentacles -- the sea anemone is actually a highly complex creature. Scientists from the Institut Pasteur, in collaboration with the CNRS, have just discovered over a hundred different cell types in this small marine invertebrate as well as incredible neuronal diversity. This surprising complexity was revealed when the researchers built a real cell atlas of the animal.

Age and education affect job changes, study finds
New research reveals that people are more likely to change jobs when they are younger and well educated, though not necessarily because they are more open to a new experience. Researchers found that both individual characteristics and the labor market are factors in career mobility. The results, published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, show that people were more likely to change their organizations, industries, and occupations when they were younger, with the age effect being strongest.

World's first animals caused global warming
The evolution of Earth's first animals more than 500 million years ago caused global warming, new research shows.

Army researchers teaching robots to be more reliable teammates for soldiers
Researchers at the US Army Research Laboratory and the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University developed a new technique to quickly teach robots novel traversal behaviors with minimal human oversight.

Researchers turn exercise into a game and see encouraging results
A team of University of Iowa researchers built a web-based app called MapTrek. When synced with a Fitbit, MapTrek allows users to go on virtual walking tours of locations such as the Grand Canyon or Appalachian trail while competing against other users. A study showed MapTrek and Fitbit users averaged 2,200 more steps per day than a control group that used only Fitbits.

A step closer to quantum computers: NUS researchers show how to directly observe quantum spin effects
A team led by Associate Professor Yang Hyunsoo from the National University of Singapore Faculty of Engineering has found a practical way to observe and examine the quantum effects of electrons in topological insulators and heavy metals. This could later pave the way for the development of advanced quantum computing components and devices.

Fern-tastic! Crowdfunded fern genomes published in Nature Plants
With crowdfunded support, researchers have sequenced the first two fern genomes ever. Their results, including the discovery of an ancient gene transfer and novel symbiosis mechanisms, appear this month in Nature Plants.

Which strategies help cut consumption of sugary beverages in young children?
An Obesity Reviews analysis of published studies reveals strategies that can successfully reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in young children.

Artificial intelligence accurately predicts distribution of radioactive fallout
Researchers at the University of Tokyo Institute of Industrial Science created a machine-learning-based tool that can predict where radioactive emissions from nuclear power plants will disperse. After training using extensive data on previous weather patterns, the tool consistently achieved over 85 percent predictive accuracy, and up to 95 percent in winter when large and predictable weather systems dominate. This tool can aid immediate evacuation in the aftermath of disasters like those at Fukushima and Chernobyl.

Science fiction enthusiasts have a positive attitude to the digitizing of the brain
The goal of a technology known as mind upload is to make it possible to create functional copies of the human brain on computers. The development of this technology, which involves scanning of the brain and detailed cell-specific emulation, is currently receiving billions in funding. Science fiction enthusiasts express a more positive attitude towards the technology compared to others.

Single-celled architects inspire new nanotechnology
ASU professor Hao Yan and his colleagues have designed a range of nanostructures resembling marine diatoms -- tiny unicellular creatures. To achieve this, they borrow techniques used by naturally-occurring diatoms to deposit layers of silica -- the primary constituent in glass -- in order to grow their intricate shells. Using a technique known as DNA origami, the group designed nanoscale platforms of various shapes to which particles of silica, drawn by electrical charge, could stick.

Study reveals new geometric shape used by nature to pack cells efficiently
A multinational team of scientists have uncovered a previously undescribed shape -- they call the 'scutoid' -- adopted by epithelial cells during embryonic development that enables the cells to minimize energy use and maximize packing stability. The team's results will be published in a paper in Nature Communications.

Novel approach to making therapeutic proteins at point of care
A novel approach to making therapeutic proteins allows medicine to be developed in a suitcase-size system.

Footwear habits influence child and adolescent motor skill development
Researchers show that children and adolescents who spend most of their time barefoot develop motor skills differently from those who habitually wear shoes. Published in Frontiers in Pediatrics, this is the first study to assess the relevance of growing up shod vs. barefoot on jumping, balancing and sprinting motor performance during different stages of childhood and adolescence. Results suggest that regular physical activity without shoes may improve children's and adolescents' balancing and jumping skills.

Researchers links coastal nuisance flooding to special type of slow-moving oce
A team of international researchers has found a link between seasonal fluctuations in sea level to a long-time phenomenon -- Rossby Waves. And this connection may lead to a new tool to help

Multivitamins do not promote cardiovascular health
Multivitamins and mineral supplements do not prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death. Data pooled from multiple studies show no health benefit of multivitamins.

Football training may preserve bone health in prostate cancer patients
Androgen deprivation therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer can lead to loss of muscle and bone mass. In a recent Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sport study of elderly patients undergoing the treatment, playing football -- or what's known as soccer in the United States -- over a 5-year period was linked with preserved bone mineral density (BMD) in the neck of the leg's femur.

Artificial intelligence helps Stanford researchers predict drug combinations' side effects
Millions of people take upwards of five medications a day, but testing the side effects of such combinations is impractical. Now, Stanford computer scientists have figured out how to predict side effects using artificial intelligence.

New study pinpoints ways to improve quality of food & nutrition research
In a study published today in PLOS ONE, experts analyzed reams of past food and nutrition research to help identify and spur action in areas where meaningful improvements can be made in the design and execution of future food and nutrition studies. This is one of the first studies to use 'Risk of Bias (ROB) domains,' as defined by Cochrane, in this way. Researchers typically use ROB domains to evaluate the relative strengths of individual studies when conducting systematic reviews.

Effect of twice-weekly calorie restriction diet for glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes
A diet with calorie restriction two days per week was comparable to a diet with daily calorie restriction for glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

New system can identify drugs to target 'undruggable' enzymes critical in many diseases
A new drug discovery system allows scientists to specifically target members of an important family of enzymes, called phosphatases, which were previously considered mostly 'undruggable'. The study, published in Cell, demonstrated the capabilities of the new system by identifying a molecule that could successfully target a phosphatase to reduce the accumulation of Huntington's disease-associated proteins in the brains of mice.

nTIDE June 2018 jobs report: downturn in jobs ends trend for americans with disabilities
A modest downturn for June indicated the end of 26 consecutive months of job gains for American with disabilities, according to today's National Trends in Disability Employment -- Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD).

Houseplants could one day monitor home health
In a perspective published in the July 20 issue of Science, a team of University of Tennessee faculty and a student from two unrelated disciplines -- plant sciences and architectural design -- explore the future of houseplants as aesthetically pleasing and functional sirens of home health. Their idea is to genetically engineer house plants to serve as subtle alarms that something is amiss in our home and office environments.

Enabling technology in cell-based therapies: Scale-up, scale-out or program in-place
Technologies that are reducing costs and changing the ways in which researchers and clinicians process and use therapeutic cells are showcased in the August 2018 special issue of SLAS Technology.

Training artificial intelligence with artificial X-rays
AI holds real potential for improving both the speed and accuracy of medical diagnostics -- but before clinicians can harness the power of AI to identify conditions in images such as X-rays, they have to 'teach' the algorithms what to look for. Now, U of T Engineering have designed a new approach: using machine learning to create computer generated X-rays to augment AI training sets.

Experimental drug reverses hair loss and skin damage linked to fatty diet, shows new study in mice
In a series of experiments with mice, Johns Hopkins investigators have used an experimental compound to successfully reverse hair loss, hair whitening and skin inflammation linked by previous studies to human diets heavy in fat and cholesterol.

Experimental drug stops Parkinson's disease progression in mice
Johns Hopkins researchers say they have developed an experimental drug, similar to compounds used to treat diabetes, that slows the progression of Parkinson's disease itself -- as well as its symptoms -- in mice.

What psychological science can offer to reducing climate change
The consequences of climate change are immense, and believed by many experts to be largely irreversible (and exponential), causing threats coming from heat waves, flooding, declines in agriculture, and decreasing biodiversity, to name a few. Given that climate change, at least in part, is rooted in human behavior, an obvious question to ask is: Can psychological science offer evidence-based solutions to climate change?

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
Scientists from the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute have developed a new bone engineering technique called Segmental Additive Tissue Engineering (SATE). The technique, described in a paper published online today in Scientific Reports, allows researchers to combine segments of bone engineered from stem cells to create large scale, personalized grafts that will enhance treatment for those suffering from bone disease or injury through regenerative medicine.

Cooking oil coating prevents bacteria from growing on food processing equipment
Many foods produced on an industrial scale include raw ingredients mixed together in enormous stainless steel machines that can be difficult to clean. The University of Toronto research team proposes a simple new solution: trapping a thin layer of cooking oil at the metal surface to fill in microscopic scrapes, cracks and fissures and create a barrier to bacterial attachment. This solution resulted in a 1,000x reduction in bacterial levels inside the industrial machines tested.

Senolytics improve health, extend life: Preclinical research findings
The presence of senescent or dysfunctional cells can make young mice age faster. And using senolytic drugs in elderly mice to remove these rogue cells can improve health and extend life. These findings from Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators provide a foundation on which to move forward in this area of aging research. The results appear in Nature Medicine.

Change health messaging to focus on potential impact to help stop the next pandemic
Changing public health messaging to focus on the impact of our actions -- for example the potentially harmful impact of infecting a colleague with a cold, rather than whether we will infect them if we go into work in the first place -- could have significant implications for how we deal with global threats, according to a new study from City University of London, the Oxford Martin School (University of Oxford), and Yale University.

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