Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (March 2019)

Science news and science current events archive March, 2019.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from March 2019

Eating the flu
Given the importance and wide distribution of Influenza A viruses, it is surprising how little is known about infections of wild mammals. A new study led by Alex D. Greenwood and Gábor Á. Czirják of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in Berlin sheds light on which species are commonly infected and why.

Insect food webs
Biological diversity stabilizes species interactions.

One among many
Anyone moving in a large crowd, absorbed in their phone and yet avoiding collisions, follows certain laws that they themselves create. The movement of individuals as a condition for the movement of masses is the subject of a recent study by Dr. Andrey Korbut from the Higher School of Economics.

Sources and sinks
For the entire history of our species, humans have lived on a planet capped by a chunk of ice at each pole. But Earth has been ice-free for about 75 percent of the time since complex life first appeared. This variation in background climate, between partly glaciated and ice-free, has puzzled geologists for decades.

Sensing shakes
Every year earthquakes worldwide claim hundreds or even thousands of lives. Forewarning allows people to head for safety and a matter of seconds could spell the difference between life and death. UTokyo researchers demonstrate a new earthquake detection method -- their technique exploits subtle telltale gravitational signals traveling ahead of the tremors. Future research could boost early warning systems.

Copying made easy
Whether revealing a perpetrator with DNA evidence, diagnosing a pathogen, classifying a paleontological discovery, or determining paternity, the duplication of nucleic acids (amplification) is indispensable. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, scientists have now introduced a new, very simple, yet highly sensitive and reliable method that avoids the usual heating and cooling steps, as well as complicated instruments. The reagents can be freeze-dried, allowing this universal method to be used outside of the laboratory.

BJC press notice
Please contact the BJC press office for the full paper or with any other questions on 0203 469 8300, out of hours, 07050 264 059 or bjcpress@cancer.org.uk. Scientists can be directly contacted regarding media interviews using the contact details provided.

Robotic 'gray goo'
Researchers at Columbia Engineering and MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), demonstrate for the first time a way to make a robot composed of many loosely coupled components, or 'particles.' Unlike swarm or modular robots, each component is simple, and has no individual address or identity. In their system, which the researchers call a 'particle robot,' each particle can perform only uniform volumetric oscillations (slightly expanding and contracting), but cannot move independently.

A varied menu
Freiburg biologists have analyzed in detail for the first time which animals are captured by the carnivorous waterwheel plant

Nature hits rewind
The study of evolution is revealing new complexities, showing how the traits most beneficial to the fitness of individual plants and animals are not always the ones we see in nature. Instead, new research by McMaster behavioural scientists shows that in certain cases evolution works in the opposite direction, reversing individual improvements to benefit related members of the same group.

Discovery of a crucial immune reaction when solid food is introduced that prevents inflammatory disorders
In newborn infants, gut microbiota is first conditioned by breast milk components. When solid food is introduced, gut microbiota develops and bacteria proliferate. Scientists have discovered that a key immune response is generated in mice when solid food is introduced and microbiota expands. But, above all, they have shown that this immune reaction is essential as it is involved in educating the immune system and leads to low susceptibility to inflammatory disorders in adulthood.

A laser technique proves effective to recover material designed to protect industrial products
The system has been validated for non-stick and anticorrosive coatings used in the manufacturing of a wide range of objects from car engines to kitchen utensils.

Number and timing of pregnancies influence breast cancer risk for women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation
Researchers confirm the lower risk of breast cancer from multiple pregnancies and from breast feeding seen in average risk women extends to those at the highest risk of breast cancer, according to the largest prospective study of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations carriers to date. Women with BRCA1 mutations who had two, three or four or more full-term pregnancies were at 21 percent, 30 percent, and 50 percent decrease risk of breast cancer compared to women with a single full-term pregnancy.

Mowing for monarchs
You might think that mowing fields wouldn't benefit monarch butterfly populations. New research from Michigan State University, however, shows that disturbances like mowing -- at key times -- might help boost the iconic butterfly's numbers.

Proofs of parallel evolution between cognition, tool development, and social complexity
A study led by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has used eye-tracking techniques to analyse the processes of selective attention that determine the way in which we explore and interact with our environment. Researchers studied the movements of the eyes when observing different decorative patterns represented in prehistoric ceramic objects. The results indicate that there is a parallel evolution between the cognitive processes, the development of material culture, and social complexity.

Seafood mislabeling rate less than 1 percent for products with MSC ecolabel vs. global average of 30 percent
DNA barcoding of more than 1,400 Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) labelled products has shown that less than 1 percent were mislabeled, compared with a reported average global seafood mislabeling rate of 30 percent. These results published in the journal Current Biology suggests that the MSC's ecolabeling and Chain of Custody program is an effective deterrent for systematic and deliberate species substitution and fraud.

Health insurance associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease among aging immigrants
Aging immigrants' risk for cardiovascular disease may be heightened by their lack of health insurance, particularly among those who recently arrived in the United States, finds a study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. The findings are published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship.

A Georgia State cybersecurity study of the dark web exposes vulnerability to machine identities
A thriving marketplace for SSL and TLS certificates -- small data files used to facilitate confidential communication between organizations' servers and their clients' computers -- exists on a hidden part of the Internet, according to new research by Georgia State University's Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group (EBCS) and the University of Surrey.

Child's elevated mental ill-health risk if mother treated for infection during pregnancy
Risks for autism and depression are higher if one's mother was in hospital with an infection during pregnancy. This is shown by a major Swedish observational study of nearly 1.8 million children.

Academic performance of urban children with asthma worse than peers without asthma
A new study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows urban children with poorly controlled asthma, particularly those who are ethnic minorities, also suffer academically. Kids who were kept home due to asthma symptoms weren't able to do as well in the classroom.

India's stubble burning air pollution causes USD 30 billion economic losses, health risks
India's air pollution made headlines around the globe last year. IFPRI researchers estimate the economic and health cost of air pollution caused due to stubble burning at USD 30 billion per year in a new research -- the first to arrive at these estimates.

MD Anderson study may explain why immunotherapy not effective for some patients with metastatic melanoma and kidney cancer
White blood cells known as B cells have been shown to be effective for predicting which cancer patients will respond to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy, according to a study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Study results will be presented April 2 at the AACR Annual Meeting 2019 in Atlanta.

The moiré patterns of three layers change the electronic properties of graphene
Combining an atomically thin graphene and a boron nitride layer at a slightly rotated angle changes their electrical properties. Physicists at the University of Basel have now shown for the first time the combination with a third layer can result in new material properties also in a three-layer sandwich of carbon and boron nitride. This significantly increases the number of potential synthetic materials, report the researchers in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Study in mice examines impact of reused cooking oil on breast cancer progression
New study in mice by University of Illinois researchers finds that the compounds in thermally abused cooking oils may trigger genetic, biochemical changes that hasten the progression of late-stage breast cancer, promoting tumor cells' growth and proliferation.

Alzheimer's: How does the brain change over the course of the disease?
What changes in the brain are caused by Alzheimer's disease? How do these changes differ from those observed in the normal ageing process? Researchers explored these questions by analyzing over 4,000 MRI scans of healthy and diseased brains using the 'volBrain' platform. Their models, published in the March 8, 2019, edition of Scientific Reports, reveal an early atrophy of the amygdala and hippocampus at age 40 in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Gene identified that increases risk of antibiotic reaction
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and colleagues have identified a gene that increases the risk for a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to the commonly prescribed antibiotic vancomycin.

Artificial intelligence speeds up!
A group at Politecnico di Milano has developed an electronic circuit able to solve a system of linear equations in a single operation in the timescale of few tens of ns.

Research into aphasia reveals new interactions between language and thought
Knowledge of the facts is called factive knowledge. In the phrase 'He knows [that it is warm outside]', the embedded clause is assumed to be true. However, in the phrase 'It seems [that it is warm outside]', the embedded clause is presupposed to be false or counterfactive.

Mental health issues increased significantly in young adults over last decade
The percentage of young Americans experiencing certain types of mental health disorders has risen significantly over the past decade, with no corresponding increase in older adults, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

Testosterone slows prostate cancer recurrence in low-risk patients
In the largest such study so far undertaken, US researchers have shown that testosterone replacement slows the recurrence of prostate cancer in low-risk patients. This may call into question the general applicability of Nobel-Prize winning hormonal prostate treatment. The work is presented at the European Association of Urology congress in Barcelona.

Underwater surveys in Emerald Bay reveal the nature and activity of Lake Tahoe faults
Emerald Bay, California, a beautiful location on the southwestern shore of Lake Tahoe, is surrounded by rugged landscape, including rocky cliffs and remnants of mountain glaciers. Scenic as it may be, the area is also a complex structural puzzle. Understanding the history of fault movement in the Lake Tahoe basin is important to assessing earthquake hazards for regional policy planners.

New gene hunt reveals potential breast cancer treatment target
Australian and US researchers have developed a way to discover elusive cancer-promoting genes, already identifying one that appears to promote aggressive breast cancers. The University of Queensland and Albert Einstein College of Medicine team developed a statistical approach to reveal many previously hard-to-find genes that contribute to cancer. UQ Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Associate Professor Jess Mar said the majority of 'oncogenes' identified to date were in most patients with a particular cancer type.

The chemistry behind kibble (video)
Have you ever thought about how strange it is that dogs eat these dry, weird-smelling bits of food for their entire lives and never get sick of them? There are many different dog food formulas on the market, designed for such things as weight loss, long shelf life or a balanced diet. This week on Reactions, you'll learn what's behind the chemistry used to make the perfect dog food kibble: https://youtu.be/_UJWctZyguY.

New method of scoring protein interactions mines large data sets from a fresh angle
Researchers from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have created a novel way to define individual protein associations in a quick, efficient, and informative way. These findings, published in the March 8, 2019, issue of Nature Communications, show how the topological scoring (TopS) algorithm, created by Stowers researchers, can -- by combining data sets -- identify proteins that come together.

Canadians' consumption of fruit and vegetables drops 13 per cent in 11 years
Two surveys taken 11 years apart show a 13-per-cent decrease in the amount of fruit and vegetables being consumed by Canadians, new University of British Columbia research has found. And while consumption of milk and dairy products also declined during the study period between 2004 and 2015, Canadians were eating more meat and alternatives in 2015 than they were a decade earlier.

Researchers look to nature to unearth the secrets of cyclic imine cleavage
University of Tsukuba researchers have shown that enzymes can degrade cyclic imines. By isolating an enzyme able to degrade harmaline -- a β-carboline alkaloid -- from a soil microorganism, they identified the enzyme as copper amine oxidase and suggested a two-step mechanism for the process. It is hoped that the general applicability of the mechanism that was demonstrated will make this fundamental finding useful for future drug discovery.

At what age do you feel 65?
At what age do you feel 65? New study reveals wide variations in how well or poorly people age. A 30-year gap separates countries with the highest and lowest ages at which people experience the health problems of a 65-year-old, according to a new scientific study. Researchers found 76-year-olds in Japan and 46-year-olds in Papua New Guinea have the same level of age-related health problems as an ''average'' person aged 65.

Design and validation of world-class multilayered thermal emitter using machine learning
NIMS, the University of Tokyo, Niigata University and RIKEN jointly designed a multilayered metamaterial that realizes ultra-narrowband wavelength-selective thermal emission by combining the machine learning (Bayesian optimization) and thermal emission properties calculations (electromagnetic calculation). The joint team then experimentally fabricated the designed metamaterial and verified the performance. These results may facilitate the development of highly efficient energy devices.

Smokers often misunderstand health risks of smokeless tobacco product, Rutgers study finds
American smokers mistakenly think that using snus, a type of moist snuff smokeless tobacco product, is as dangerous as smoking tobacco, according to a Rutgers study. The study provides new research on what smokers think about snus, a Swedish style product that is popular in Scandinavia, but newer to the United States.

Colorectal cancer in patients with early onset is distinct from that in older patients
New research indicates that colorectal cancer diagnosed at an early age has clinical and genetic features that are different from those seen in traditional colorectal cancer diagnosed later in life. Published early online in CANCER, the study also revealed certain unique features in especially young patients and those with predisposing conditions.

Kids' concussion recovery like snakes and ladders game
During the first 24 hours, home and leisure activities may be undertaken as long as they are only for five minutes at a time, and stopped if symptoms increase. The guidelines give pathways for three categories of concussions: for those who are symptom free within 48 hours of the injury, those who are symptom free or much decreased within one to four weeks, and those who have the symptoms for more than four weeks.

Novel sleep index, wakefulness may predict if patients able to breathe on their own
Critically ill patients are more likely to be successfully weaned from a mechanical ventilator, or breathing machine, if they have higher levels of wakefulness and both their right and left brains experience the same depth of sleep, according to new research published online in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Atmospheric scientists reveal the effect of sea-ice loss on Arctic warming
Analyses indicate that Arctic amplification would not slow down until the 22nd and 23rd centuries. The sea ice loss is causing the rapid warming in the Arctic.

Air pollution may impact fetal cardiovascular system, Rutgers study says
Microscopic particles in air pollution inhaled by pregnant women may damage fetal cardiovascular development, according to a study by Rutgers researchers. The study, published in the journal Cardiovascular Toxicology, found that early in the first trimester and late in the third trimester were critical windows during which pollutants most affect the mother's and fetus' cardiovascular systems.

Fountain of youth for heart health may lie in the gut
As our collection of resident gut bacteria changes with age, it increasingly produces harmful metabolites that damage veins and blood vessels, driving disease, a new study suggests

Steroid use during cardiac bypass surgery did not reduce risk of severe kidney injury
Using steroids during cardiopulmonary bypass surgery did not reduce the risk of acute kidney injury in people at increased risk of death, according to a study conducted in 18 countries published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

THOR wrangles complex microbiomes into a model for improving them
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin developed a community they named THOR, three species of bacteria isolated from soybean roots and grown together. The complex community of microbes developed new behaviors together that couldn't be predicted from the individual members alone -- they grew tougher structures known as biofilms, changed how they moved across their environment, and controlled the release of a novel antibiotic.

A peek into lymph nodes
The vast majority of cancer deaths occur due to the spread of cancer from one organ to another, which can happen either through the blood or the lymphatic system. However, it can be tricky to detect this early enough. Researchers at Tohoku University have developed a new method that would allow doctors to detect cancers in the lymph nodes while they are still small, before they travel to other parts of the body. This can greatly increase the chances of a successful treatment.

Two papers describe how a membrane protein can move both lipids and ions
The TMEM16 family of membrane proteins was hailed as representing the elusive calcium-activated chloride channels. However, the majority of the family members turned out to be scramblases, proteins that shuffle lipids between both sides of a lipid membrane, some also with non-selective ion conductance. A new study on proteins of the TMEM16 family, published in two back-to-back papers in the journal eLife, shows what the structures of these proteins reveal about their function.

Mental health state associated with higher death rates for prostate and urological cancers
Patients with prostate, bladder or kidney cancers are at greater risk of dying if they have had psychiatric care prior to the cancer treatment. In addition, patients with these cancers show greater suicide risk than the general population, even once the data is corrected for previous psychiatric care. These are the findings of a study presented at the European Association of Urology congress in Barcelona, highlighting the need for psychiatric care to be integrated into cancer treatment.

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