Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (July 2019)

Science news and science current events archive July, 2019.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from July 2019

Beat the heat
University of Utah mechanical engineering associate professor Mathieu Francoeur has discovered a way to produce more electricity from heat than thought possible by creating a silicon chip, also known as a 'device,' that converts more thermal radiation into electricity. This could lead to devices such as laptop computers and cellphones with much longer battery life and solar panels that are much more efficient at converting radiant heat to energy.

Holy crocodiles
Sebastian Brackhane of the University of Freiburg has researched the cultural status of the reptiles in East Timor.

Outcompeting cancer
Suppressing the capacity of tumors to destroy the healthy tissue that surrounds them is essential for fighting cancer-induced morbidity and mortality. Now, a new study in human-derived tumors reveals a potential way of doing just that. The study reveals a competition mechanism used by human cancer cells for killing their neighbors and demonstrates that combining substances that block this mechanism with chemotherapy results in more effective tumor elimination. These findings may lead to the development of novel cancer therapies.

Sloppy sea urchins
Marine scientists discover an important, overlooked role sea urchins play in the kelp forest ecosystem.

Species on the move
A total of 55 animal species in the UK have been displaced from their natural ranges or enabled to arrive for the first time on UK shores because of climate change over the last 10 years (2008-2018) -- as revealed in a new study published today by scientists at international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London).

Living components
Programmable structural dynamics successful for first time in self-organizing fiber structures

Drilling deeper
A new study shows Americans are drilling deeper than ever for fresh water.

Coupled proteins
Researchers from Heidelberg University and Sendai University in Japan used new biotechnological methods to study how human cells react to and further process external signals. They focussed on the interaction between so-called G-proteins -- the 'mediators' of signal transmission -- and the receptors known as GPCRs, which trigger signal processes.

Nutritional supplements and diets not always protective, WVU research suggests
Do the nutritional supplements people take or the diets they adhere to actually protect them against cardiovascular problems and death? Maybe not, suggests a new umbrella review of meta-analyses and randomized controlled trials by Safi Khan, an assistant professor in the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Saving Beethoven
An optimized version of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system prevents hearing loss with no detectable off-target effects in so-called Beethoven mice, which carry a mutation that causes profound hearing loss in humans and mice alike. Results offer proof of principle for using the same gene-editing technique for other inherited human genetic diseases.

Bacteria-killing gel heals itself while healing you
McMaster researchers have developed a novel new gel made entirely from bacteria-killing viruses. The anti-bacterial gel, which can be targeted to attack specific forms of bacteria, holds promise for numerous beneficial applications in medicine and environmental protection.

Favorable five-year survival reported for patients with advanced cancer treated with the immunotherapy
A research team led by experts at the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center reports favorable five-year survival rates from the first multidose clinical trial of the immunotherapy drug nivolumab (anti-PD-1) as a treatment for patients whose previous therapies failed to stem their advanced melanoma, renal cell carcinoma (RCC) or non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Microbial manufacturing: Genetic engineering breakthrough for urban farming
Researchers at DiSTAP, SMART, MIT's research enterprise in Singapore, and National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a new technology that revolutionises the creation of genetic material, enabling drastically accelerated genetic engineering of microbes that can be used to manufacture chemicals used for urban farming. The new Guanine/Thymine (GT) DNA assembly technology will accelerate the creation of microbial factories, which are key to producing nutrients and natural pesticides for urban farming.

Prediction tool from Kaiser Permanente researchers may identify patients at risk for HIV
Researchers have developed a new analytical tool that identifies people at risk of contracting HIV so they may be referred for preventive medication. A study describing the tool was published July 5, 2019, in The Lancet HIV by investigators at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School.

One or the other: Why strength training might come at the expense of endurance muscles
The neurotransmitter brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) acts in the muscle, so that during strength training endurance muscle fiber number is decreased. Researchers at the University of Basel's Biozentrum have more closely investigated this factor, from the group of myokines, and demonstrated that it is produced by the muscle and acts on both muscles and synapses. The results published in PNAS also provide new insights into age-related muscle atrophy.

What is association of radioactive iodine treatment for overactive thyroid with risk of cancer death?
Radioactive iodine has been used since the 1940s to treat hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid. This study is an extension of one that has followed patients in the United States and the United Kingdom treated for hyperthyroidism for nearly 70 years. Researchers sought to determine the association of doses of radioactive iodine absorbed by organs or tissue with overall and site-specific cancer death.

HIV spreads through direct cell-to-cell contact
The spread of pathogens like the HI virus is often studied in a test tube, i.e. in two-dimensional cell cultures, even though it hardly reflects the much more complex conditions in the human body. Using novel cell culture systems, quantitative image analysis, and computer simulations, an interdisciplinary team of scientists from Heidelberg University has now explored how HIV spreads in three-dimensional tissue-like environments.

Exposure to common chemicals in plastics linked to childhood obesity
Exposure to common chemicals in plastics and canned foods may play a role in childhood obesity, according to a study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

UC San Diego cancer scientists identify new drug target for multiple tumor types
A dysfunctional enzyme involved in building cancer cell membranes helps fuel tumor growth; when it's disabled or depleted in mouse models, tumors shrank significantly.

Multiple dosing of long-acting rilpivirine in a model of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis
A long-acting antiretroviral agent such as rilpivirine could further improve pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), already shown to be safe and effective at preventing AIDS in high risk populations, as it could overcome problems with poor medication adherence.

Springer Nature publishes study for a CERN next generation circular collider
Back in January, CERN released a conceptual report outlining preliminary designs for a Future Circular Collider (FCC), which if built, would have the potential to be the most powerful particle collider the world over. Earlier this month attendees of the 2019 FCC week in Brussels got the first look at what this could look like with the release of the four volume FCC study conceptual design report (CDR).

NASA finds one burst of energy in weakening Depression Dalila
Infrared imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite found just a small area of cold clouds in thunderstorms within weakening Tropical Depression Dalila, enough to maintain it as a tropical cyclone.

Virginia Tech researchers lead breakthrough in quantum computing
A team of Virginia Tech chemistry and physics researchers have advanced quantum simulation by devising an algorithm that can more efficiently calculate the properties of molecules on a noisy quantum computer.

Corals in Singapore likely to survive sea-level rise: NUS study
Marine scientists from the National University of Singapore found that coral species in Singapore's sedimented and turbid waters are unlikely to be impacted by accelerating sea-level rise

High-performance flow batteries offer path to grid-level renewable energy storage
A low-cost, high-performance battery chemistry developed by University of Colorado Boulder researchers could one day lead to scalable grid-level storage for wind and solar energy that could help electrical utilities reduce their dependency on fossil fuels.

Gene test picks out prostate cancers that could respond to 'search-and-destroy' medicine
Testing for genetic weaknesses in repairing DNA could pick out men who may benefit from a new type of targeted nuclear medicine, a new study reports. An emerging class of drugs are made up of a radioactive particle that kills cells attached to a 'homing device' to seek out cancers by detecting the presence of a target molecule on their surface. These new 'search-and-destroy' treatments are starting to show promise -- but not all patients respond.

Study: Reducing greenhouse gas in rocky mountain region has health, financial benefits
Research by Drexel University and the University of Colorado at Boulder suggests that imposing fees on energy producers that emit greenhouse gas could improve the health and financial well-being of the Rocky Mountain region.

Preclinical study of therapeutic strategy for Lafora disease shows promise
A team of scientists have designed and tested in mice a novel and promising therapeutic strategy for treating Lafora Disease (LD), a fatal form of childhood epilepsy. This new type of drug is a first-in-class therapy for LD and an example of precision medicine that has potential for treating other types of aggregate-based neurological diseases.

Einstein's general relativity theory is questioned but still stands for now, team reports
More than 100 years after Albert Einstein published his iconic theory of general relativity, it's beginning to fray at the edges, said Andrea Ghez, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy. Now, in the most comprehensive test of general relativity near the monstrous black hole at the center of our galaxy, Ghez and her research team report July 25 in the journal Science that Einstein's theory of general relativity holds up, at least for now.

More can be done to prevent children from having in-flight medical emergencies
Resources are limited on an airplane during an in-flight emergency and access to care is not always immediate. A new study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine reveals that 15.5 percent of in-flight emergencies involve children and that one in six cases require additional care.

Worm pheromones protect major crops
Protecting crops from pests and pathogens without using toxic pesticides has been a longtime goal of farmers. Researchers at Boyce Thompson Institute have found that compounds from an unlikely source - microscopic soil roundworms - could achieve this aim. As described in research published in Journal of Phytopathology, these compounds helped protect major crops from various pathogens, and thus have potential to save billions of dollars and increase agricultural sustainability around the world.

Slowing metabolic rate can prevent detrimental effects of genetic mutations
In a new Northwestern University study, researchers slowed mutant fruit flies' metabolic rates by 50%, and the expected detrimental effects of many mutations never manifested. After experimentally testing fruit flies' many different genetic mutations, the researchers found the same result each time.

What happens when you overdose? (video)
Your body is a delicately balanced chemical system, and if you take too much of a drug you destroy that balance. That's what happens when you overdose. This week on Reactions, learn how to spot an overdose and the ways different types of drugs wreak havoc in your brain: https://youtu.be/xLSz3wEgwJ8.

Critical heart drug too pricey for some Medicare patients
An effective drug to treat chronic heart failure may cost too much for senior citizens with a standard Medicare Part D drug plan, said a study co-authored by a John A. Burns School of Medicine researcher at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The therapy is a combination of sacubitril/valsartan called Entresto®. Researchers found that, even with insurance, the cost to Medicare patients may be more than $1,600 a year.

Supervisors driven by bottom line fail to get top performance from employees: Baylor study
Supervisors driven by profits could actually be hurting their coveted bottom lines by losing the respect of their employees, who counter by withholding performance, according to a new study led by Baylor University.

Shark hotspots under worldwide threat from overfishing
In a groundbreaking new study published in the journal Nature, an international team of over 150 scientists from 26 countries combined movement data from nearly 2,000 sharks tracked with satellite tags. Using this tracking information, researchers identified areas of the ocean that were important for multiple species, shark 'hot spots', that were located in ocean frontal zones, boundaries in the sea between different water masses that are highly productive and food-rich.

Ten-state program increases healthy eating and physical activity at child care facilities
Nearly 1,200 child care programs in 10 states have improved their healthy eating and physical activity standards after participating in Nemours Children's Health System's National Early Care and Education Learning Collaboratives (NECELC) project, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Missile strike false alarm most stressful for less anxious Hawaiians, study finds
After learning that a warning of a missile headed to Hawaii was a false alarm, the most anxious local Twitter users calmed down more quickly than less anxious users, according to a study of tweets before, during and after the event, published by the American Psychological Association.

Preventing people from abandoning exotic pets that threatened biodiversity
Abandoning exotic pets is an ethical problem that can lead to biological invasions that threaten conservation of biodiversity in the environment. An article published in the journal Biological Invasions, whose first author is the researcher Alberto Maceda Veiga, from the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBio), reveals that the release of invasive species in the environment has not been reduced despite the regulation that prohibits the possession of these species since 2011.

Generic mobile phone chargers escalate risk of burn, electrocution
Electric currents generated by mobile phone chargers, particularly from lower-cost generic manufacturers, are causing serious injuries. Generic mobile phone chargers are less likely to meet established safety and quality tests than the brand counterparts, according to analysis and case studies in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Preschool teachers ask children too many simple questions
When preschool teachers read books in their classrooms, the questions they ask play a key role in how much children learn, research has shown. But a new study that involved observing teachers during class story times found that they asked few questions -- and those that they did ask were usually too simple.

Terahertz imaging technique reveals subsurface insect damage in wood
Insect infestation is becoming an increasingly costly problem to the forestry industry, especially in areas experiencing increased droughts and hot spells related to climate change. A new terahertz imaging technique could help slow the spread of these infestations by detecting insect damage inside wood before it becomes visible on the outside.

The origin and future of spam and other online intrusions
What does the future of digital spam look like, what risks could it pose to our personal security and privacy, and what can we do to fight it?

NASA's terra satellite finds tropical storm 07W's strength on the side
Wind shear can push clouds and thunderstorms away from the center of a tropical cyclone and that's exactly what infrared imagery from NASA's Terra satellite shows is happening in newly formed Tropical Storm 07W.

Tidewater glaciers: Melting underwater far faster than previously estimated?
A tidewater glacier in Alaska is melting underwater at rates upwards of two orders of magnitude greater than what is currently estimated, sonar surveys reveal.

Molecular traffic jam may underlie rare kidney disease, other protein misfolding disorders
Researchers have discovered that some protein-misfolding disorders may arise from a single, previously unrecognized cause: a jam at a specific step in a cellular shipping network called the secretory pathway, which delivers proteins either to the cell surface or one of the cell's protein-disposal systems. They have also found a compound that corrects for this in lab and animal models.

How the pufferfish got its wacky spines
Pufferfish are known for their strange and extreme skin ornaments, but how they came to possess the spiky skin structures known as spines has largely remained a mystery. Now, researchers have identified the genes responsible for the evolution and development of pufferfish spines in a study publishing July 25 in the journal iScience. Turns out, the process is pretty similar to how other vertebrates get their hair or feathers.

Why companies should not give their customers discounts after service failures
A new study finds that price-based recovery incentives after service failures are negatively associated with the likelihood that subscribers renew their service contracts.

A tree stump that should be dead is still alive; here's why
Within a shrouded New Zealand forest, a tree stump keeps itself alive by holding onto the roots of its neighboring trees, exchanging water and resources through the grafted root system. New research, publishing July 25 in iScience, details how surrounding trees keep tree stumps alive, possibly in exchange for access to larger root systems. The findings suggest a shift from the perception of trees as individuals towards understanding forest ecosystems as 'superorganisms.'

Current guides for starting infants on solid food may lead to overfeeding
Starting 6-month-old infants on solid food in the amounts recommended by standard feeding guides may lead to overfeeding, according to a study by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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