Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (June 2017)

Science news and science current events archive June, 2017.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from June 2017

Cut US commercial building energy use 29 percent with widespread controls
The US could slash its energy use by the equivalent of what is currently used by 12 to 15 million Americans if commercial buildings fully used energy-efficiency controls nationwide.

Taking diabetes medications as prescribed, exercising and managing weight
People with diabetes who took their medications at least 80 percent of the time and people who exercised four or more times per week were at lower risk for poorly controlled blood sugar, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits.

Cellular stress increases the probability of developing autoimmune diseases
Researchers found that cellular stress enhances the activation of certain type of immune cells with implications in many chronic inflammatory conditions.

Do anti-wrinkle creams work? (video)
Skin can stay firm and stretchy thanks to protein fibers in the tissue beneath the surface. But smoking or ultraviolet rays from the sun can produce damage the body's ability to keep skin supported. Anti-wrinkle treatments claim they rejuvenate the cells, so we dive into the science to see if they work. To find out whether an over-the-counter jar of cream could make 40 the new 20, we dive into the science.

Wildebeest feast: Mass drownings fuel the Mara River ecosystem
Each year, more than a million wildebeest migrate through Africa's Serengeti Mara Ecosystem. While crossing the Kenyan reach of the Mara River, thousands perish. A new study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to reveal how wildebeest drownings impact the ecology of the iconic river.

Secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmoking adult cancer survivors has declined
From 1999/2000 to 2011/2012, exposure to secondhand smoke among nonsmoking adult cancer survivors declined from 39.6 percent to 15.7 percent, but rates of exposure were higher among those with a history of a smoking-related cancer and those living below the federal poverty level compared with those with other types of cancer and those with the highest incomes, respectively.

Could therapy animal visitation pose health risks at patient facilities?
A survey of United States hospitals, eldercare facilities and therapy animal organizations revealed their health and safety policies for therapy animal visits varied widely, with many not following recommended guidelines for animal visitation. The research from investigators at Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction at Tufts University appears online on June 19, 2017, in advance of print in the American Journal of Infection Control.

VST captures three-in-one
Two of the sky's more famous residents share the stage with a lesser-known neighbour in this enormous new three gigapixel image from ESO's VLT Survey Telescope (VST). On the right lies Sharpless 2-54, the iconic Eagle Nebula is in the centre, and the Omega Nebula to the left. This cosmic trio makes up just a portion of a vast complex of gas and dust within which new stars are springing to life and illuminating their surroundings.

Climate change risk for animals living in prime conditions
The study examined whether birds might be able to evolve to adapt to changes to the natural environment within their range -- the geographical area where the birds nest, feed, migrate and hibernate over the course of their lifetimes.

Changing the color of laser light on the femtosecond time scale
Using femtosecond visible and terahertz (THz) pulses as external perturbations, scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology and Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) have investigated the second harmonic generation effect in photoexcited BiCoO3. Driven by the THz pulse, this research highlights the importance of orbital excitation in the Co3+ ion and provides clues for improving the performance of nonlinear optical phenomena in nonlinear crystals on the femtosecond time scale.

Domestication genetics: The career of the cosmopolitan cat
A new study shows that modern domestic cats are ultimately derived from the African wildcat, which was domesticated in two centers -- Egypt and the Middle East. Moreover, both lineages contributed to the genomes of European cats.

Atomic imperfections move quantum communication network closer to reality
An international team led by the University of Chicago's Institute for Molecular Engineering has discovered how to manipulate a weird quantum interface between light and matter in silicon carbide along wavelengths used in telecommunications.

Small rodent species may become endangered
A small rodent called the hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) is a European Protected Species and is monitored by volunteers at sites in England and Wales for the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme.

Short duration of breastfeeding and maternal obesity linked to fatty liver in adolescents
Infants who were breastfed for less than six months before starting infant formula milk and infants who had mothers who were obese at the start of pregnancy, were much more likely to develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as adolescents, according to a novel study in the Journal of Hepatology.

Systems pharmacology modelers accelerate drug discovery in Alzheimer's
InSysBio scientific group led by Tatiana Karelina developed a quantitative system pharmacology model of Alzheimer's disease. First part published in CPT Pharmacometrics & Systems Pharmacology shows how to design initial phases of clinical trials of new drugs and to interpret the data obtained.

Healthy diet? That depends on your genes
A recently published Cornell University study describes how shifts in the diets of Europeans after the introduction of farming 10,000 years ago led to genetic adaptations that favored the dietary trends of the time. The study has implications for the growing field of nutritional genomics, called nutrigenomics. Based on one's ancestry, clinicians may one day tailor each person's diet to her or his genome to improve health and prevent disease.

NASA adds up Tropical Storm Cindy's rainfall
Tropical storm Cindy was downgraded to a tropical depression after moving onshore near the Texas and Louisiana Border on Thursday June 22, 2017 and bringing a lot of rain with it. That rainfall was measured by NASA using satellite data.

Researchers create a 'Rosetta Stone' to decode immune recognition
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have developed an algorithm that predicts T cell recognition of antigens and sets the stage to more effectively harness the immune system

Making waves with the hot electrons within Earth's radiation belts
An international team of scientists recently discovered the role that hot electrons may play in the waves and fluctuations detected by satellites. The research team reports its findings this week in Physics of Plasmas. Their results are based on data collected by the Van Allen Probes, twin robotic spacecraft launched by NASA in 2012 to help scientists better understand these belt regions.

Researchers developed nanoparticle based contrast agent for dual modal imaging of cancer
Dual modal imaging which shares the advantages of two imaging modalities such as magnetic resonance imaging and optical imaging, has the ability to produce images with higher spatial resolution and higher sensitivity. Contrast agents having both magnetic and optical properties identifies the cancer cells efficiently. Europium doped gadolinium oxide nanorods were synthesized and subsequently coated with silica to improve the biocompatibility.

Diets rich in polyunsaturated fats may alter appetite hormones among millennials
New published research shows millennials (ages 18-35) who regularly consume foods that contain polyunsaturated fats, such as walnuts, salmon and canola oil, may experience favorable changes in appetite hormones associated with hunger and satiety.

Brazilian carnivorous mammal-like reptile fossil may be new Aleodon species
Some Late Triassic Brazilian fossils of mammal-like reptiles, previously identified as Chiniquodon, may in fact be the first Aleodon specimens found outside Africa, according to a study published June 14, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Agustín Martinelli from the Universidade Federal of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and colleagues.

Muscle fibers alone can't explain sex differences in bird song
Male birds tend to be better singers than females -- but does the basis for this difference lie in the brain or in the syrinx, their equivalent of our larynx? The researchers behind a new study from The Auk analyzed the muscle fibers in the syrinxes of male and female birds from a range of species and found, to their surprise, that the amount of 'superfast' muscle didn't explain differences in vocal ability between the sexes.

Spouses' daily responses to partners' pain linked with later functioning
The dynamics of spouses' daily interactions may influence whether an ill partner's physical functioning improves over time, according to new findings published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

How the Nazis invented nerve agents like sarin (video)
Nerve agents are arguably the most brutal chemical weapons. These infamous compounds, which include sarin gas and VX, originated in Nazi Germany when a chemist was trying to develop a more effective insecticide. Marrying the element phosphorus with cyanide derivatives resulted in a poison so deadly it was named 'Tabun,' derived from the German word for 'taboo.' Learn more about the history of nerve agents in the latest Speaking of Chemistry.

Fixation of powder catalysts on electrodes
Chemists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have developed a new method to tightly fix catalyst powders on electrode surfaces. Currently, the high physical stress induced on catalyst films by gas evolving reactions hampers the application of powder based catalysts. The developed technique is potentially interesting for hydrogen production by water electrolysis. A team from the Center for Electrochemical Sciences reports on this in the international edition of Angewandte Chemie.

Mouse study suggests how hearing a warning sound turns into fearing it over time
An adult mouse model reveals that changes in lattice-like structures in the brain known as perineuronal nets are necessary to 'capture' an auditory fear association and 'haul' it in as a longer-term memory.

150-year records gap on Sulawesi ends with 5 new species in the world's largest tree genus
Coming 150 years after the last description from Sulawesi, five new species from the world's largest genus of trees, Syzygium, highlight the extent of unexplored botanical diversity on the Indonesian island. The study was published in the open access journal PhytoKeys.

Ebola vaccine developed in Canada shows promising results
A phase 1 randomized controlled trial has found an Ebola virus disease vaccine, developed in Canada, was well-tolerated with no safety concerns, and high antibodies were present in participants six months after immunization. The study, led by Canadian researchers, is published in Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Boston Medical Center, Head Start partner to prevent maternal depression
Boston Medical Center, in partnership with Action for Boston Community Development's Head Start program, has helped mothers experience a 40 percent reduction in the emergence of clinically significant depressive symptom episodes.

Genetic differences across species guide vocal learning in juvenile songbirds
Juvenile birds discriminate and selectively learn their own species' songs even when primarily exposed to the songs of other species, but the underlying mechanism has remained unknown. A new study, by researchers at Uppsala University, shows that song discrimination arises due to genetic differences between species, rather than early learning or other mechanisms. The results are published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

A unique amino acid for brain cancer therapy
Researchers discover potential application of amino acid taurine in photodynamic therapy for brain cancer.

More than a third of heater-cooler devices used in open heart surgery may be contaminated with deadly bacteria
Thirty-three of 89 (37 percent) heater-cooler units assessed between July 2015 and December 2016 tested positive for Mycobacterium chimaera (M. chimaera), a bacterium associated with fatal infections in open-heart surgery patients, according to new research presented at the 44th Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

Genetic variants linked to higher BMI may be protective against Parkinson disease
Genetic variants linked to higher body mass index (BMI) are associated with lower risk of Parkinson disease, according to a study published by Nicholas Wood and colleagues from the University College London, UK, in PLOS Medicine.

Magnets, all the way down!
If you can't move electrons around to study how factors like symmetry impact the larger-scale magnetic effects, what can you do instead? It turns out that assemblies of metallic nanoparticles, which can be carefully arranged at multiple length scales, behave like bulk magnets and display intriguing, shape-dependent behavior. The effects, reported this week in the Journal of Applied Physics, could help improve high-density information storage and spintronics technologies.

What drives hacktivism? Weighing the payoffs against the risks
A new study examining factors that contribute to the likelihood of a hacktivist carrying out an attack showed, unexpectedly, that the payoffs are the main predictor, not the risks involved.

Peatlands, already dwindling, could face further losses
Tropical peatlands have been disappearing fast due to clear-cutting and drainage projects. Now, new research from MIT shows peatlands face another threat, as climate change alters rainfall patterns, potentially destroying much of what remains and turning these carbon sinks into net carbon sources.

Promiscuous salamander found to use genes from three partners equally
A study shows that a unique all-female lineage of salamander equally balances genes from the males of three other salamander species. The findings highlight the bizarre ways some animals reproduce in order to preserve their species. The results were published in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution.

Alzheimer's disease patients with psychosis more likely to be misdiagnosed, study suggests
People with Alzheimer's disease who experience psychosis -- including delusions and hallucinations -- are five times more likely to be misdiagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies compared to patients who do not, new research suggests.

First pan-European field study shows neonicotinoid pesticides harm honeybees and wild bees
Researchers from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) publish results of a large-scale, field-realistic experiment to assess neonicotinoid impacts on honeybees and wild bees across Europe, in the peer-review journal Science on June 29, 2017. The experiment -- undertaken in the UK, Germany and Hungary -- exposed three bee species to winter oilseed rape crops treated with seed coatings containing neonicotinoid clothianidin, from Bayer CropScience, or Syngenta's thiamethoxam.

A bioplastic derived from soya protein which can absorb up to forty times its own weight
This new product, which is organic and biodegradable, is environmentally friendly. For that reason, the experts are exploring its use in the area of horticulture, specifically as a raw material from which to make agricultural nutrient dispensers.

Could humans ever regenerate a heart? A new study suggests the answer is 'yes'
A new study's findings point to potential for tweaking communication between human genes and advancing our ability to treat heart conditions and stimulate regenerative healing.

Sea sponges stay put with anchors that bend but don't break
The anchors that hold Venus' flower basket sea sponges to the ocean floor have an internal architecture that increases their ability to bend, according to a new study. Understanding that natural architecture could inform future human-made materials.

The curious case of the warped Kuiper Belt
The plane of the solar system is warped in the belt's outer reaches, signaling the presence of an unknown Mars-to-Earth-mass planetary object far beyond Pluto, according to UA research. 

How did bird babysitting co-ops evolve?
It's easy to make up a story to explain an evolved trait; proving that's what happened is much harder. Here scientists test ideas about cooperative breeding in birds and find a solution that resolves earlier disagreements.

A rusty and sweet side of sepsis
A research team led by Miguel Soares at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC) in Portugal discovered an unsuspected mechanism that is protective against sepsis. This study that provides new avenues for therapeutic approaches against sepsis appears in the June 15 issue of the scientific journal Cell.

Low-dose CT scanning improves assessment of ankylosing spondylitis patients
The results of a study presented today at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology 2017 showed that low dose computed tomography is more sensitive than conventional radiographs (X-rays) in the monitoring of disease progression in patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS).

Sex-specific cardiovascular drug dosages needed to reduce adverse reactions in women
Sex-specific cardiovascular drug dosages are needed to reduce adverse reactions in women, according to a position paper from the European Society of Cardiology published today in the June issue of European Heart Journal - Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy.

Beetles spark development of color-changing nanoparticles for commercial use
Inspired by the varying colors that gleam off of beetle shells, scientists have developed color-shifting nanoparticles that can change hue even after being embedded into a material. A report on the new, inexpensive technique, which could lead to the production of easier-to-read sensors and anti-tampering tags, appears in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

A&A special issue: The VLA-COSMOS 3 GHz large project
Astronomy & Astrophysics is publishing a series of articles on the results of the VLA-COSMOS 3 GHz Large Project. The international team, led by researchers from the University of Zagreb, observed a two square degree patch of the sky at radio wavelengths and obtained one of the best-quality radio images ever produced over such a large region of the sky.

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