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Science News and Current Events for February 07, 2017


Malaria control efforts can benefit from forecasting using satellites
Umeå University researcher Maquins Sewe has established links between patterns of malaria in Kenya and environmental factors (temperature, rainfall and land cover) measurable by satellite imagery.
New look at sensory 'clues' wins 2016 AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize
How does the brain register a sensory clue, such as the sound of footsteps approaching in a dark alley, and signal us to take necessary action?
NREL research pinpoints promise of polycrystalline perovskites
A team of scientists from the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) determined that surface recombination limits the performance of polycrystalline perovskite solar cells.
Lauren Sciences LLC awarded second grant for LAUR-401 from Voices Against Brain Cancer
Lauren Sciences LLC, the private New York biotechnology company developing transformative V-SmartTM Nanomedicines for brain diseases, today announced the award of its second grant from Voices Against Brain Cancer (VABC).
How life survives: UNC researchers confirm basic mechanism of DNA repair
Day in and day out, the DNA in our cells is damaged for a variety of reasons, and thus DNA-repair systems are fundamental to the maintenance of life.
A new immunologic and endocrine syndrome
The name of the gene is Armc5, for Armadillo repeat containing 5.
Exposure of the half-century old misconception removes limits on life extension
A research paper titled 'Strehler-Mildvan correlation is a degenerate manifold of Gompertz fit' by the scientific team of a biotech company Gero has been published in the new issue of Journal of Theoretical Biology.
Depressed patients with earlier and more severe symptoms have high genetic risk for major psychiatri
Clinical features of major depressive disorder (MDD) may help identify specific subgroups of depressed patients based on associations with genetic risk for major psychiatric disorders, reports a study in Biological Psychiatry.
Advanced EEG analysis reveals the complex beauty of the sleeping brain
Massachusetts General Hospital investigators have developed a novel approach to analyze brainwaves during sleep, which promises to give a more detailed and accurate depiction of neurophysiological changes than provided by a traditional sleep study.
Findings: Induced pluripotent stem cells don't increase genetic mutations
Despite immense promise, adoption of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in biomedical research and medicine has been slowed by concerns that these cells are prone to increased numbers of genetic mutations.
Departure of migratory birds from stopover sites is hormone-controlled
It had been unclear which physiological signals triggered the birdsdecision to continue their flight.
Coal ash selenium found in fish in N.C. lakes
A new Duke study has found high levels of selenium in the tissues of fish in North Carolina lakes that receive coal ash effluents from power plants.
The oxygen content increased when the Earth was covered in ice
In the beginning, planet Earth was a very inhospitable place with no oxygen and only single-celled bacteria as inhabitants.
New scientific approach assesses land recovery following oil and gas drilling
A new scientific approach can now provide regional assessments of land recovery following oil and gas drilling activities, according to a new US Geological Survey study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
Electronic depositary of living systems created
An information system created within the framework of the 'Noah's ark' project has started working at the Lomonosov Moscow State University in the beginning of 2017.
Critically ill children can still undergo liver transplantation and survive
Advancements in critical care make it possible for even the sickest children to successfully undergo liver transplantation.
Stanford research shows that anyone can become an Internet troll
Three methods of research find that the situation in which an online discussion occurs influences whether people will troll more than their personal past of trolling suggests.
Amélie Juhin wins ESRF Young Scientist award
Amélie Juhin is the winner of the ESRF Young Scientist of the Year 2017.
Wolfing it down: Brown bears reduce wolf kill rates says USU ecologist
Researchers report the influence of predation on an ecosystem may depend on the composition of the predator community.
Less inclusive criteria for lung cancer screening would be cost-effective
Limiting lung cancer screening to high-risk former smokers may improve cost-effectiveness at a population level, according to a study published in PLOS Medicine.
Study shows vital role ARMC5 protein plays in development and immunity
Genetic mutations of the Armc5 gene disrupt fetal development and compromise the immune response.
UA hosts conference on science diplomacy and policy
'Science Diplomacy and Policy with Focus on the Americas' Feb.
Final artificial pancreas clinical trials now open
Clinical trials are now enrolling to provide the final tests for a University of Virginia-developed artificial pancreas to automatically monitor and regulate blood-sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes.
$2.9 million grant supports study of suicide risk assessment
A multidisciplinary team from Butler Hospital, Brown University and the University of Michigan has come together to advance screening capabilities for suicide risk.
Making a scavenger -- the meat-thieving traits that have stood the test of time
Any animal -- living or dead -- can be placed on a 'scavenging scale' based on variations in a few key biological traits and the environment at hand.
Four pivotal NIH-funded artificial pancreas research efforts begin
The first of several major research efforts to test and refine artificial pancreas systems is now underway.
Pervasive chemicals pose threats for pregnant women and their offspring
In a series of innovative, multi-institutional studies, Rolf Halden, a researcher at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute, has tracked the effects of a wide range of chemicals on human health and the environment.
Genetic defects in tooth enamel conducive to development of caries
Bacteria are not the sole cause of caries; tooth resistance also plays an instrumental role.
More screen time for kids isn't all that bad
Chances are that your children will turn out OK even though they spend hours playing video games or watching TV.
New method better predicts the onset of seasonal flu epidemics
A study from Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia (IGC; Portugal), led by Joana Goncalves-Sa, presents a new method to identify the onset of the epidemic, anticipating current official alerts by several weeks.
A new species of gecko with massive scales and tear-away skin
Many lizards can drop their tails when grabbed, but one group of geckos has gone to particularly extreme lengths to escape predation.
Enzyme key to learning in fruit flies
University of California, Riverside-led research finds enzyme that is key to learning in fruit flies.
How hydras know where to regrow lost body parts
Few animals can match the humble hydra's resilience. The small, tentacled freshwater animals can be literally shredded into pieces and regrow into healthy animals.
GSA will award $50,000 to study human-animal interaction's effect on healthy aging
The Gerontological Society of America, in collaboration with the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition and Mars Petcare, is offering a $50,000 grant to support high-quality, innovative research into the impact of companion animals on healthy aging in humans.
Surprising spin behavior at room temperature
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology have observed almost purely circularly polarized electroluminescence from GaAs-based spin-polarized light-emitting diodes at room temperature, with no external magnetic field.
Why we underestimate time when we're having fun on Facebook
Updating your Facebook status can be a fun way to while away the hours -- but now it seems it really is making us lose track of time as we do it.
Boyer receives SAEA Emerging Scholars Award
Chris Boyer, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, has been selected to receive an Emerging Scholars Award by the Southern Agricultural Economics Association (SAEA).
Milk versus dark chocolate: A scientific showdown (video)
Valentine's Day is nearly here. Whether you're spending it with your significant other or flying solo, chocolate is often in the mix.
Study outlines steps that growing startups must follow to succeed
By using more than three decades of experience as an entrepreneur and turnaround executive, Dr.
Glucose measurement method may underestimate past glycemia in black patients with sickle cell trait
Using standard hemoglobin A1c criteria resulted in identifying 40 percent fewer cases of prediabetes and 48 percent fewer cases of diabetes among African Americans with sickle cell trait compared with those without, while glucose-based methods resulted in a similar prevalence regardless of sickle cell trait status, according to a study in the Feb.
New brain target for potential treatment of social pathology in autism spectrum disorder
Researchers at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science have induced empathy-like behavior by identifying then manipulating a brain circuit in an experimental model, an indication that new strategies may help people with autism spectrum disorder gain social abilities.
Prenatal bisphenol A exposure weakens body's fullness cues
An expectant mother's exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) can raise her offspring's risk of obesity by reducing sensitivity to a hormone responsible for controlling appetite, according to a mouse study published in the Endocrine Society's journal Endocrinology.
New assay shows promise to advance personalized therapy for cancer patients
The National Cancer Institute's NCI-MATCH (Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice) is a large, ongoing clinical trial that matches tumors to therapies based on the tumor's genetic characteristics.
Researchers add human intuition to planning algorithms
Researchers from MIT are trying to improve automated planners by giving them the benefit of human intuition.
DNA 'barcoding' allows rapid testing of nanoparticles for therapeutic delivery
Using tiny snippets of DNA as 'barcodes,' researchers have developed a new technique for rapidly screening the ability of nanoparticles to selectively deliver therapeutic genes to specific organs of the body.
New study shows GFAP and UCH-L1 are not useful biomarkers for diagnosing mild traumatic brain injury
In patients who suffered acute orthopedic injuries, two proposed biomarkers for mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) were not able to distinguish between patients who did or did not have mTBI.
Research reveals vital links between brain tumors and epileptic seizures
Scientists report that the emergence of specific brain cells during brain tumor progression in a mouse model marked the onset of seizures and brain tumor invasion.
New species: Gecko with tear-away skin
Fish-scale geckos in the genus Geckolepis are able to lose their skin at the slightest touch.
Novel tool informs women about elective egg freezing
Egg freezing has become an attractive option for women who are electively delaying childbearing for a variety of reasons.
Melanoma research breakthrough gives hope to treatment
A QUT-driven project has identified the way in which melanoma cells spread, opening up new pathways to treatment via drugs to 'turn off' the invasive gene.
Tarantulas inspire new structural color with the greatest viewing angle
Inspired by the hair of blue tarantulas, researchers from The University of Akron lead a team that made a 3-D printed structural-colored material that has a viewing angle of 160 degrees, the largest of any synthetic structural colors demonstrated.
American Cancer Society endorses two-dose regimen for HPV vaccination
The American Cancer Society has endorsed updated recommendations on human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination supporting a two-dose schedule for boys and girls who initiate the vaccine at ages 9 to 14.
How to recycle lithium batteries
Research published in the International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy describes a new way to extract the lithium and the cobalt that make up the bulk of the metal components of rechargeable lithium ion batteries.
Study: Toxic metals found in e-cigarette liquids
A study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found high levels of toxic metals in the liquid that creates the aerosol that e-cigarette users inhale when they vape.
New method improves accuracy of imaging systems
New research provides scientists looking at single molecules or into deep space a more accurate way to analyze imaging data captured by microscopes, telescopes and other devices.
Restrictions to clothing and freedom clash
When governments tell their citizens what they can and cannot wear, they are sending a signal about their own lack of confidence, says Rachael Jolley, editor of the Index on Censorship Magazine.
Mysterious white dwarf pulsar discovered
An exotic binary star system 380 light-years away has been identified as an elusive white dwarf pulsar -- the first of its kind ever to be discovered in the universe -- thanks to research by the University of Warwick.
Breast cancer patients with dense breast tissue more likely to develop contralateral disease
Breast cancer patients with dense breast tissue have almost a two-fold increased risk of developing disease in the contralateral breast, according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer.
A new way to discover structures of membrane proteins
University of Toronto scientists have discovered a better way to extract proteins from the membranes that encase them, making it easier to study how cells communicate with each other to create human health and disease.
Rewards treat alcohol abuse in those with mental illness
Researchers at Washington State University have shown that offering prizes- - from simple shampoo to DVD players -- can be an effective, low-cost treatment for alcohol abuse, the nation's third leading preventable cause of death.
Online weight-loss groups offer valuable support, comfort
Online weight loss forums protect participants from public fat shaming, and offer them a place to speak out without being confronted by normal-weight individuals, medical science or the authorities.
CWRU researchers secure $2 million NIH grant to test portable sickle cell monitor
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University will use a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop and test a small, portable blood-adhesion monitor for sickle cell disease patients.
Broader updrafts in severe storms may increase chance of damaging hail
Strong updrafts -- currents of rising air -- in severe thunderstorms are a prerequisite for hail formation.
Mixing opioids and alcohol may increase likelihood of dangerous respiratory complication
Taking one oxycodone tablet together with even a modest amount of alcohol increases the risk of a potentially life-threatening side effect known as respiratory depression, which causes breathing to become extremely shallow or stop altogether, reports a study published in the Online First edition of Anesthesiology, the peer-reviewed medical journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
Handedness arises from genes in the spinal cords of embryos
The left side of the spinal cord matures slightly faster than the right side in human embryos of four to eight weeks age.
Study offers new insights into receptor that regulates Staphylococcal virulence
Princeton University researchers have revealed new insights into a molecular pathway that leads to Staphylococcus aureus virulence, which can cause a range of human illnesses from skin infections to pneumonia, that could help scientists design molecules to inhibit it.
Possible link between early menstruation and stroke risk
Women who start menstruating early in life could later face a higher risk of stroke.
New study is an advance toward preventing a 'post-antibiotic era'
New UCLA research may help to overcome life-threatening antibiotic-resistant bacteria in what the World Health Organization warns could become a 'post-antibiotic era.' UCLA biologists combined different classes of antibiotics to kill E. coli bacteria in their laboratory and found that certain combinations of three antibiotics are surprisingly effective in killing the bacteria and may be helpful in slowing the evolution of resistance to bacteria.
Approach removes thyroid gland with no neck scar or need for special equipment
A surgical approach developed by ENT surgeons at LSU Health New Orleans to perform thryroidectomies without scarring the neck appears to be just as successful using standard surgery.
Overcoming hurdles in CRISPR gene editing to improve treatment
The new gene-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 holds promise for new treatment of such genetic diseases as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and hemophilia.
Cyber attacks increase stress hormone levels and perceptions of vulnerability
A new study shows that individuals exposed to a simulated cyber-terror attack had significantly increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva compared to a control group.
Stars align in test supporting 'spooky action at a distance'
Physicists address a loophole in tests of Bell's inequality with 600-year-old starlight.
Material can turn sunlight, heat and movement into electricity -- all at once
Many forms of energy surround you: sunlight, the heat in your room and even your own movements.
Physicians fail to recommend genetic testing to many high-risk breast cancer patients
Physicians often fail to recommend genetic testing to breast cancer patients at high risk for cancer-associated mutations.
Bacterial survival strategy: Splitting into virulent and non-virulent subtypes
Scientists have discovered a long-term epigenetic memory switch that controls different modes of bacterial virulence, a bacterial survival strategy for outsmarting the human immune response.
Tiny organisms with a massive impact
Although diatoms are incredibly small, they have a significant impact on the dispersal of nutrients and trace elements in global marine waters.
New research on why plant tissues have a sense of direction
Scientists at the John Innes Centre, Norwich have published new evidence that plant tissues can have a preferred direction of growth and that this characteristic is essential for producing complex plant shapes.
Fiscal incentives may help reduce carbon emissions in developing countries
A study has found that fiscal policies introduced by governments in developing countries can have a significant effect on lowering harmful carbon emissions and help countries with fulfilling their commitments under the UNFCCC Paris Agreement.
Teens who vape at increased risk for future cigarette smoking
Among high school seniors who have never smoked a cigarette, those who vape are more than four times more likely to smoke a cigarette in the following year than their peers who do not vape.
Physically demanding jobs and shiftwork linked to lowered fertility in women
A physically demanding job or work schedules outside normal office hours may lower a woman's ability to conceive, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.
NASA advances first-ever silicon-based X-ray optic
NASA scientist William Zhang has created and proven a technique for manufacturing lightweight, high-resolution X-ray mirrors using silicon -- a material commonly associated with computer chips.
Novel LED street lights reduce costs
Researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have developed a novel type of LED street light of increased efficiency.
Bacterium lassoes its way from the mouth to the heart to cause disease
The human mouth can harbor more than 700 different species of bacteria.
£1.75 million five-year project under way to uncover new 'sound worlds'
A £1.7 million, five-year research project at the University of Huddersfield will push the limits of new 'sound worlds' for composers, performers and producers of electronic music.
Researchers use tiny 3-D spheres to combat tuberculosis
Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new 3-D system to study human infection in the laboratory.
Women's fertility may decrease with physically demanding or shift work
Women who lift heavy loads at work may experience decreased fertility, and the effect appears stronger among overweight or obese women and older women, according to a new study from Harvard T.H.
Protostar displays a strange geometry
Using observations of molecules in the protostar L1527 taken by the ALMA observatory in northern Chile, a group of researchers have uncovered new clues to understanding how dust in a collapsing molecular cloud can shed angular momentum and penetrate beyond an area known as the 'centrifugal barrier' to find its way to the surface of the forming star.
Concerns over wasting doctor's time may affect decision to see GP
Worries over wasting their doctor's time, particularly at a time when NHS resources are stretched, may influence when and whether patients choose to see their GP, according to a study carried out by the University of Cambridge.
Studies point way to precision therapies for common class of genetic disorders
Two Princeton University studies are opening important new windows into understanding an untreatable group of common genetic disorders known as RASopathies that are characterized by distinct facial features, developmental delays, cognitive impairment and heart problems.
Ground-breaking research on the side effects of therapy
While many people who suffer from depression and anxiety are helped by seeing a psychologist, others don't get better or actually get worse.
Persistent tropical foraging in the highlands of terminal Pleistocene/Holocene New Guinea
The terminal Pleistocene/Holocene boundary represented a major ecological threshold for humans, both as a significant climate transition and due to the emergence of agriculture around this time.
Researchers identify protein essential for healthy gut cell development
Scientists have uncovered key processes in the healthy development of cells which line the human gut, furthering their understanding about the development of cancer.
Study shows exercise, sleep are key to keeping employees from bringing home work frustrations
A brisk walk or a long swim may be the key to preventing a bad day at the office from spilling over into the home.
Findings suggest a gap between need, availability of genetic counseling
In a study appearing in the Feb. 7 issue of JAMA, Allison W.
Dinosaurs: Juvenile, adult or senior?
How old were the oldest dinosaurs? This question remains largely unanswered.
More order with less judgment: An optimal theory of the evolution of cooperation
A research team led by mathematician Tatsuya Sasaki from the University of Vienna presents a new optimal theory of the evolution of reputation-based cooperation.
NASA sees Tropical Storm Carlos west of La Reunion Island
NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Cyclone Carlos as its center moved just to the west of La Reunion Island in the Southern Indian Ocean.
BU College of Engineering receives NEXTCAR grant to develop smart car technology
The Boston University College of Engineering announced it is a co-investigator for a $3.36 million grant received by Oak Ridge National Laboratory from the US Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) NEXTCAR program.
Method to identify bacteria in blood samples works in hours instead of days
Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a desktop diagnosis tool that detects the presence of harmful bacteria in a blood sample in a matter of hours instead of days.
Heart attack treatment might be in your face
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have received $2.4 million in federal funding to pursue research on a novel cell therapy that would repair heart damage using modified cells taken from the patient's own facial muscle.
Drought identified as key to severity of West Nile virus epidemics
A study led by UC Santa Cruz researchers has found that drought dramatically increases the severity of West Nile virus epidemics in the United States, although populations affected by large outbreaks acquire immunity that limits the size of subsequent epidemics.
A bridge of stars connects 2 dwarf galaxies
The Magellanic Clouds, the two largest satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, appear to be connected by a bridge stretching across 43,000 light years, according to an international team of astronomers led by researchers from the University of Cambridge.
The Potential of automatic word comparison for historical linguistics
Johann-Mattis List, Simon Greenhill and Russell Gray from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History have tested the capacity of different computational approaches to detect cognates with striking success rates: The best-performing method could detect word relationships with an accuracy level of nearly 90 percent.
Teen vaping 'one way bridge' to future smoking among non-smokers, say researchers
Teen vaping acts as a 'one way bridge' to future smoking among those who have never smoked before, and may not stop those who have smoked before from returning to it, concludes a small US study, published online in the journal Tobacco Control.
Electricity costs: A new way they'll surge in a warming world
Climate change is likely to increase US electricity costs over the next century by billions of dollars more than economists previously forecast, according to a new study involving a University of Michigan researcher.
Detecting early onset of metastatic disease using FAST disc
A new study, affiliated with South Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, has introduced a new technique that efficiently isolates circulating tumor cells from whole blood at a liquid-liquid interface.
Largest undersea landslide revealed on the Great Barrier Reef
James Cook University scientists have helped discover the remnants of a massive undersea landslide on the Great Barrier Reef, approximately 30 times the volume of Uluru.
Three new uranium minerals from Utah
Three new minerals discovered by a Michigan Tech alumnus are secondary crusts found in old uranium mines in southern Utah.
16 aplastic anemia patients free of disease after bone marrow transplant and chemo
Physicians at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have successfully treated 16 patients with a rare and lethal form of bone marrow failure called severe aplastic anemia using partially matched bone marrow transplants followed by two high doses of a common chemotherapy drug.
Blue-bellied insects may play a role in the fight against citrus greening
The Asian citrus psyllid, which carries the citrus greening pathogen, ramps up production of a blue protein that may help it fight the infection.
Mobile phone and satellite data to map poverty
An international team has, for the first time, developed a way of combining anonymised data from mobile phones and satellite imagery data to create high resolution maps to measure poverty.
'In 50 years, reading will be much easier -- for computers and humans alike'
At a time when even something as fundamental as reading has been co-opted by digital brains, teaching computers to read has become a monumental task.
Teachers may be cause of 'obesity penalty' on girls' grades
While obesity is often thought of as a health problem, a new study by a University of Illinois at Chicago sociologist suggests that discrimination by body weight may be the more important factor for obese white female students' lower success in school.
Air pollution linked to heightened risk of type 2 diabetes in obese Latino children
Latino children who live in areas with higher levels of air pollution have a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new USC-led study.
Why male immune cells are from Mars and female cells are from Venus
Michigan State University researchers are the first to uncover reasons why a specific type of immune cell acts very differently in females compared to males while under stress, resulting in women being more susceptible to certain diseases.
Researchers find chemical switch that may decrease symptoms of schizophrenia
A new study has found that in mice, adjusting levels of a compound called kynurenic acid can have significant effects on schizophrenia-like behavior.
Portable superconductivity systems for small motors
Superconductivity is one of modern physics' most intriguing scientific discoveries.
Sickle cell trait may confound blood sugar readings among African-Americans
A routine diabetes test produces lower blood sugar readings in African-Americans with sickle cell trait than in those without, potentially leading patients to remain untreated or with a mistaken sense of blood sugar control, study finds.

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Oliver Sipple
One morning, Oliver Sipple went out for a walk. A couple hours later, to his own surprise, he saved the life of the President of the United States. But in the days that followed, Sipple's split-second act of heroism turned into a rationale for making his personal life into political opportunity. What happens next makes us wonder what a moment, or a movement, or a whole society can demand of one person. And how much is too much?
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Future Consequences
From data collection to gene editing to AI, what we once considered science fiction is now becoming reality. This hour, TED speakers explore the future consequences of our present actions. Guests include designer Anab Jain, futurist Juan Enriquez, biologist Paul Knoepfler, and neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris.