Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (May 2020)

Science news and science current events archive May, 2020.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from May 2020

Aphantasia clears the way for a scientific career path
People with low or no visual imagery are more likely to work in scientific and mathematical industries than creative sectors, according to new research.

To make an atom-sized machine, you need a quantum mechanic
Here's a new chapter in the story of the miniaturisation of machines: researchers in a laboratory in Singapore have shown that a single atom can function as either an engine or a fridge. Such a device could be engineered into future computers and fuel cells to control energy flows.

Solar and wind energy sites mapped globally for the first time
Researchers at the University of Southampton have mapped the global locations of major renewable energy sites, providing a valuable resource to help assess their potential environmental impact.

New evidence that higher caffeine and urate levels are protective against Parkinson's
Two purines, caffeine and urate, have been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson's disease (PD) in multiple study groups and populations. Analysis of data from the Harvard Biomarkers Study shows that lower levels of caffeine consumption and lower blood urate are inversely associated with PD, strengthening the links between caffeine intake and urate levels and PD, reports a study in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease (JPD).

What are your chances of having a second IVF baby after fertility treatment for the first?
As the restrictions on fertility clinics start to be lifted and IVF treatment resumes, research published in Human Reproduction journal offers reassuring news to women who have had to delay their treatment for a second IVF baby because of the coronavirus. The study analysed data from women in Australia and New Zealand to assess, for the first time, their chances of having a second child with the help of fertility treatment.

First simulation of a full-sized mitochondrial membrane
Scientists from the University of Groningen have developed a method that combines different resolution levels in a computer simulation of biological membranes. Their algorithm backmaps a large-scale model that includes features, such as membrane curvature, to its corresponding coarse-grained molecular model. This has allowed them to zoom in on toxin-induced membrane budding and to simulate a full-sized mitochondrial lipid membrane. Their approach opens the way to whole-cell simulations at a molecular level.

Microalgae food for honey bees
A microscopic algae ('microalgae') could provide a complete and sustainably sourced supplemental diet to boost the robustness of managed honey bees, according to research just published by Agricultural Research Service scientists in the journal Apidologie. Poor nutrition in honey bees is often an underlying factor in colony losses because malnutrition amplifies the detrimental effects of parasites, pathogens, and pesticides.

Predictive models could provide more accurate detection of early-stage Parkinson's disease
neuroscientists at York University have found five different models that use these types of non-motor clinical as well as biological variables to more accurately predict early-stage Parkinson's disease. Their five-model analysis is one of the first utilizing only non-motor clinical and biologic variables. Some models performed better than others but all distinguished early stage (preclinical) Parkinson's disease from healthy, age-matched controls, with better than 80 per cent accuracy.

Penn State and NAGP identify and reconstitute two lost Holstein lines
more than 99 percent of Holstein bulls born using artificial insemination in the last decade trace their male lineage to just two bulls born in the 1960s. Efforts to reconstitute two lost male lineages are reported in a recent article by scientists from the Pennsylvania State University Department of Animal Science and the National Animal Germplasm Program (NAGP), in the Journal of Dairy Science, published by Elsevier and FASS, Inc.

Dogs can detect traces of gasoline down to one billionth of a teaspoon
Trained dogs can detect fire accelerants such as gasoline in quantities as small as one billionth of a teaspoon, according to new research by University of Alberta chemists. The study provides the lowest estimate of the limit of sensitivity of dogs' noses and has implications for arson investigations.

A combo of fasting plus vitamin C is effective for hard-to-treat cancers, study shows
Researchers from USC and IFOM Cancer Institute found a fasting-mimicking diet could be more effective at treating some types of cancer when combined with vitamin C. In studies on mice, researchers found that the combination delayed tumor progression in multiple mouse models of colorectal cancer; in some mice, it caused disease regression. The results were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Artificial intelligence helps researchers up-cycle waste carbon
Researchers at University of Toronto Engineering and Carnegie Mellon University are using artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate progress in transforming waste carbon into a commercially valuable product with record efficiency. They leveraged AI to speed up the search for the key material in a new catalyst that converts carbon dioxide (CO2) into ethylene -- a chemical precursor to a wide range of products, from plastics to dish detergent.

Expandable foam for 3D printing large objects (video)
It's a frustrating limitation of 3D printing: Printed objects must be smaller than the machine making them. Huge machines are impractical for printing large parts because they take up too much space and require excessive time to print. Now, a new material reported in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces can be used to 3D print small objects that expand upon heating. The foam could find applications in architecture, aerospace and biomedicine.

Pitt researchers create durable, washable textile coating that can repel viruses
Research from the LAMP Lab at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering has created a textile coating that can not only repel liquids like blood and saliva but can also prevent viruses from adhering to the surface. The work was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Virus protein discovery reveals new plant-animal class of cell division disruptors
Recently, researchers from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences discovered a plant viral protein named 17K that disrupts host cell division to promote its own propagation in infected tissues. They also linked it structurally to certain animal virus proteins.

Chinese to rise as a global language
With the continuing rise of China as a global economic and trading power, there is no barrier to prevent Chinese from becoming a global language like English, according to Flinders University academic Dr Jeffrey Gil. Dr Gil's paper challenges arguments that suggest Chinese faces insurmountable hurdles to become a commonly used international language due to the complexity of Chinese written characters.

Cancer researchers locate drivers of tumor resistance
How do tumors change their behavior and resist anticancer therapies? Cancer biologists at the Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson, documented genetic signals that promote the conversion of cancer cells into those that resist therapy.

Six-month follow-up appropriate for BI-RADS 3 findings on mammography
Women with mammographically detected breast lesions that are probably benign should have follow-up surveillance imaging at six months due to the small but not insignificant risk that the lesions are malignant, according to a new study.

Animal study shows human brain cells repair damage in multiple sclerosis
A new study shows that when specific human brain cells are transplanted into animal models of multiple sclerosis and other white matter diseases, the cells repair damage and restore function. The study provides one of the final pieces of scientific evidence necessary to advance this treatment strategy to clinical trials.

Replacing time spent sitting with sleep or light activity may improve your mood
New research, published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that substituting prolonged sedentary time with sleep was associated with lower stress, better mood and lower body mass index (BMI), and substituting light physical activity was associated with improved mood and lower BMI across the next year.

NASA-NOAA satellite catches post-tropical storm Arthur's end
NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite passed over the western North Atlantic Ocean and provided forecasters with a visible image of Post Tropical Storm Arthur.

Chemical recycling makes useful product from waste bioplastic
A faster, more efficient way of recycling plant-based 'bioplastics' has been developed by a team of scientists at the universities of Birmingham and Bath.

Solving the space junk problem
Aging satellites and space debris crowd low-Earth orbit, and launching new satellites adds to the collision risk. The most effective way to solve the space junk problem, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is not to capture debris or deorbit old satellites: it's an international agreement to charge operators 'orbital-use fees' for every satellite put into orbit.

Exotic properties of helium-methane compounds inside giant planets
Both helium and methane are major components of icy giant planets, however, whether they can react with each other is still an open question. Recently, scientists based in China and UK investigated this question using large-scale quantum simulations. They found an unexpected phase, stable at high temperature and pressure, which combines diffusive helium and plastic methane. Their discovery is helpful in understanding giant icy planets and the chemistry of helium in general.

Studying the development of ovarian cancer with organoids
Researchers from the group of Hans Clevers at the Hubrecht Institute have modeled the development and progression of high-grade serous ovarian cancer in mini-versions, or organoids, of the female reproductive organs of the mouse. They found that the cells of the oviduct, the equivalent of fallopian tubes in humans, are more prone to develop into tumors than the ovarian surface epithelium, the outer layer of the ovaries. This may influence future changes in preventive treatment.

Structural visualizations illuminate remdesivir's mechanism of action
In a new study, researchers report the structure of remdesivir -- an antiviral drug that has shown promise against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in lab studies and early clinical trials -- bound to both a molecule of RNA and to the viral polymerase.

Pressing 'pause' on nature's crystal symmetry
From snowflakes to quartz, nature's crystalline structures form with a reliable, systemic symmetry. Researchers at Drexel University, who study the formation of crystalline materials, have shown that it's now possible to control how crystals grow - including interrupting the symmetrical growth of flat crystals and inducing them to form hollow crystal spheres. The discovery is part of a broader design effort focused on the encapsulation of medicine for targeted drug treatments.

Pacific oysters may not contain as many microplastics as previously thought
University of Washington researchers have discovered that the abundance of tiny microplastic contaminants in Pacific oysters from the Salish Sea is much lower than previously thought.

Study highlights gallium oxide's promise for next generation radiation detectors
Research finds that radiation detectors making use of single-crystal gallium oxide allow for monitoring X-ray radiation in near-real time.

Warming Midwest conditions may result in corn, soybean production moving north
If warming continues unabated in the Midwest, in 50 years we can expect the best conditions for corn and soybean production to have shifted from Iowa and Illinois to Minnesota and the Dakotas, according to Penn State researchers.

Effects of recommender systems in e-commerce vary by product attributes and review ratings
A new study sought to determine how the impact of recommender systems (also called recommenders) is affected by factors such as product type, attributes, and other sources of information about products on retailers' websites. The study found that recommenders increased the number of consumer views of product pages as well as the number of products consumers consider, but that the increase was moderated by product attributes and review ratings.

Unplanned extubations in preterm infants leads to poor outcomes, increased care costs
Unplanned extubations in adult and pediatric populations have long been associated with poor clinical outcomes and increased costs to health care systems.

How nonprofits can boost donations using the marketing mix
Nonprofits may better meet their missions by learning to effectively employ the entirety of the marketing mix to attract individuals to available donation opportunities.

Hygiene reduces the need for antibiotics by up to 30%
A new paper published in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), finds improved everyday hygiene practices, such as hand-washing, reduces the risk of common infections by up to 50%, reducing the need for antibiotics, by up to 30%. Global experts responsible for the Paper, are now calling for home and community hygiene to become part of strategic AMR plans to reduce hundreds of thousands of deaths globally each year.

Dendrimers finally have what it takes to break into the laser scene
A team including researchers from the University of Tsukuba has produced a family of dendrimers that form single-crystals and can harvest non-polarized light and transform it into polarized emission. The dendrimer crystals are both optically and mechanically stable to optical pumping, making them the first example of a crystalline material combining dendrimer properties and laser performance. The crystals are expected to have numerous applications in the field of laser optics, for example in displays.

Forecasting urbanization
A new global simulation model offers the first long-term look at how urbanization -- the growth of cities and towns--will unfold in the coming decades. The research team projects the total amount of urban areas on Earth can grow anywhere from 1.8 to 5.9-fold by 2100, building approximately 618,000 square miles.

Use of a homozygous G608G progeria mouse model for degenerative joint diseases research
In a study published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, researchers led by Ara Nazarian, PhD, a principal investigator in the Center for Advanced Orthopaedic Studies at BIDMC, investigated the musculoskeletal phenotype of the homozygous G608G BAC-transgenic progeria mouse model, developed at Dr. Collins' lab at the National Institutes of Health, and determined the phenotypic changes of these mice after a five-arm preclinical trial of different treatment combinations with lonafarnib, pravastatin, and zoledronic acid.

Platelets exacerbate immune response
Platelets not only play a key role in blood clotting, but can also significantly intensify inflammatory processes. This is shown by a new study carried out by scientists from the University of Bonn together with colleagues from Sao Paulo (Brazil). In the medium term, the results could open up new ways to treat autoimmune diseases. They have now been published in the renowned journal Cell Reports.

Excess coffee consumption a culprit for poor health
Cappuccino, latte or short black, coffee is one of the most commonly consumed drinks in the world. But whether it's good or bad for your health can be clarified by genetics, as a world-first study from the University of South Australia's Australian Centre for Precision Health shows that excess coffee consumption can cause poor health.

T. rex's long legs were made for marathon walking
A new study by the University of Maryland's Thomas Holtz and his colleagues suggests that long legs evolved among the biggest dinosaurs to help them conserve energy as they ambled along searching for prey, rather than for speed as previously assumed.

US maternal health spending varies by state, driven by cost of childbirth
The average cost of childbirth varies widely from state to state, according to new national analysis from the Health Care Cost Institute, which also found that spending on postpartum care extended across the full year after delivery. The research drew on HCCI's database of medical claims from approximately 40 million US individuals with employer-sponsored insurance.

Washington Post's depictions of autism shift from 'cause and cure' to acceptance
The Washington Post's depiction of autism has shifted over the years from a focus on 'cause and cure' toward one of acceptance and accommodation, say the authors of a study that examined 315 articles published from 2007 to 2017.

Worldwide IOF-ISCD survey of bone densitometry units published
A landmark global study of fracture liaison services carried out at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at University of Southampton in collaboration with the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) and the International Society for Clinical Densitometry (ISCD), 25% of DXA facilities report not being accredited by professional or government organizations. The survey also found that adherence to many basic DXA quality assurance and reporting procedures was confirmed by less than 50% of services.

AJR details COVID-19 infection control, radiographer protection in CT exam areas
In an open-access article published ahead-of-print by the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR), a team of Chinese radiologists discuss modifications to the CT examination process and strict disinfection of examination rooms, while outlining personal protection measures for radiographers during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

A theoretical boost to nano-scale devices
Researchers with the School of Electrical Engineering at KAIST have developed a new approach to the underlying physics of semiconductors. They calculated the quasi-Fermi levels in molecular junctions applying an initio approach.

Not all multiple sclerosis-like diseases are alike
Scientists say some myelin-damaging disorders have a distinctive pathology that groups them into a unique disease entity.

Exercise improves memory, boosts blood flow to brain
Scientists have collected plenty of evidence linking exercise to brain health, with some research suggesting fitness may even improve memory. But what happens during exercise to trigger these benefits?

Learning about reporting in a public health emergency from Sierra Leone's Ebola outbreak
In a paper publishing May 21 in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, researchers have interviewed Sierra Leonean journalists about their experiences reporting during the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak. The experiences of these journalists may be able to help inform current efforts to communicate about COVID-19.

COVID-19 evidence and strategies for orthopaedic surgeons
How should orthopaedic surgeons respond to the COVID-19 pandemic? A review in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery analyzes evidence and strategies for managing the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus - including critical lessons from past pandemics. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

The deep ocean is warming slowly -- but dramatic changes are ahead
The world's deep oceans are warming at a slower rate than the surface, but it's still not good news for deep-sea creatures according to an international study.

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