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Science News and Current Events for September 07, 2017


Immune cells halt fungal infection by triggering spore suicide
To protect the body from infection, immune cells in the lungs can exploit cell death programs in inhaled fungal pathogens, scientists have revealed, helping explain why most people aren't harmed by breathing in mold spores, and potentially offering new therapeutic strategies for people who do get infected.
UT Austin study raises question: Why are fossilized hairs so rare?
New research led by The University of Texas at Austin has found that when it comes to preserving body parts, fossilized hair is rare--five times rarer than feathers--despite being an important tool for understanding ancient species.
Fast magnetic writing of data
Magnetic data storage has long been considered too slow for use in the working memories of computers.
Study demonstrates courts' critical, underappreciated role in climate policy
The most extensive study to date shows that both climate lawsuits and their reliance on scientific data have increased over the past decade.
Interrupting Parkinson's disease
Scientists have identified a toxic cascade that leads to neuronal degeneration in patients with Parkinson's disease and figured out how to interrupt it, reports a study to be published Sept.
Big data may amplify existing police surveillance practices, study shows
With access to more personal data than ever before, police have the power to solve crimes more quickly, but in practice, the influx of information tends to amplify existing practices, according to sociology research at the University of Texas at Austin.
Individuality drives collective behavior of schooling fish
New research sheds light on how 'animal personalities' -- inter-individual differences in animal behavior -- can drive the collective behavior and functioning of animal groups such as schools of fish, including their cohesion, leadership, movement dynamics, and group performance.
Link between positive emotions and health depends on culture
Positive emotions are often seen as critical aspects of healthy living, but new research suggests that the link between emotion and health outcomes may vary by cultural context.
Cancer immunotherapy may get a boost by disabling specific T cells
Cancer immunotherapy drugs only work for a minority of patients, but a generic drug now used to increase blood flow may be able to improve those odds, a study by Columbia University Medical Center researchers suggests.
Ship exhaust makes oceanic thunderstorms more intense
Thunderstorms directly above two of the world's busiest shipping lanes are significantly more powerful than storms in areas of the ocean where ships don't travel, according to new research.
New dental imaging method uses squid ink to fish for gum disease
Squid ink could one day make getting checked for gum disease at the dentist less tedious and even painless.
Smooth, manmade surfaces create a 'blind spot' for bats using echolocation
Bats are well known for their sophisticated use of echolocation to navigate through areas riddled with obstacles, but now a new study reveals that this useful ability is hindered in the face of smooth vertical surfaces -- those that are particularly likely to be manmade.
Critical Materials Institute develops new acid-free magnet recycling process
A new rare-earth magnet recycling process developed by researchers at the Critical Materials Institute dissolves magnets in an acid-free solution and recovers high purity rare earth elements.
The doubly magic nucleus of lead-208 -- it spins, though it shouldn't!
We imagine atomic nuclei to be more or less spherical, chaotic clusters of protons and neutrons.
Chemical hot spots
Chemistry live: using a scanning tunneling microscope, researchers at the Technical University of Munich were able for the very first time to witness in detail the activity of catalysts during an electrochemical reaction.
Comprehensive study of chronic disease reveals vulnerability of childhood cancer survivors
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital analysis captures complexity and severity of chronic disease in childhood cancer survivors and suggests this growing population may benefit from more specialized health care delivery.
Australian Magpie 'dunks' its food before eating, researchers find
Scientists at the University of York, in collaboration with researchers at Western Sydney University, have shown that the Australian Magpie may 'dunk' its food in water before eating, a process that appears to be 'copied' by its offspring.
Researchers find shortened telomeres linked to dysfunction in Duchenne muscular dystrophy
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have made a discovery about muscular dystrophy disorders that suggest new possibilities for treatment.
A new learning rule for memory formation and storage revealed
Researchers now report a new learning mechanism in the brain that calls into question the widely accepted view of how memories are formed and stored.
New porcelain crab species from Colombia named
New, hairy-clawed porcelain crab species discovered in the southern Caribbean.
Undiagnosed spine fractures often cause pain in older men
Fewer than a quarter of new vertebral fractures are clinically diagnosed, yet they often cause symptoms.
Temple researchers help uncover mechanism behind heart failure and mortality in sepsis
Of the nearly 1 million people in the US who are affected by sepsis annually, almost one-fifth die.
Climate change for aliens
For more than 50 years, the Kardashev scale has been the gold standard for classifying hypothetical 'exo-civilizations' by their ability to harness energy.
Study: SNAP benefits aren't enough to afford a healthy diet
A new study finds that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, only covers 43-60 percent of what it costs to consume a diet consistent with federal dietary guidelines for what constitutes a healthy diet.
Many pregnant women search the Internet for medication safety information
A new study reveals that due to a lack of specific recommendations for medication use during pregnancy, many pregnant women search the Internet for information.
Trigger for fatty liver in obesity
Morbid obesity affects the liver: almost one-third of all adults suffer from chronic fatty liver disease, which can lead to infections and even trigger cancer.
Neuroscientists explore the risky business of self-preservation
Northwestern University researchers have learned that the escape response for prey is more nuanced than previously thought.
Curious properties
A murmuration of starlings. The phrase reads like something from literature or the title of an arthouse film.
Are you barking up the wrong tree by sleeping with your dog?
Let sleeping dogs lie...in the bedroom. That's according to a new Mayo Clinic study that's sure to set many tails wagging.
Sometimes you shouldn't say sorry
Being socially rejected can be a painful emotional experience -- but being told sorry may not soften the blow, finds a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology.
Better understanding of 'one of the most complex organs' for better lung treatments
Details of lung cell molecular pathways that promote or inhibit tissue regeneration were reported by Penn researchers.
Researchers break through the wall in bacterial membrane vesicle research
Japanese and Swiss researchers used advanced imaging techniques to investigate the formation of membrane vesicles in a Gram-positive bacterium, a process that is poorly understood, particularly in bacteria with thick cell walls.
Hidden Inca treasure: Remarkable new tree genus discovered in the Andes
Hidden in plain sight -- that's how researchers describe their discovery of a new genus of large forest tree commonly found, yet previously scientifically unknown, in the tropical Andes.
Human skin cells transformed directly into motor neurons
In new research, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St.
Monarch butterflies disappearing from western North America
Monarch butterfly populations from western North America have declined far more dramatically than was previously known and face a greater risk of extinction than eastern monarchs, according to a new study in the journal Biological Conservation.
Johns Hopkins Health System Reduces Unnecessary Transfusions With New Blood Management Program
A five-year effort across the Johns Hopkins Health System to reduce unnecessary blood transfusions and improve patient care has also resulted in an annual cost savings of more than $2 million, researchers report.
Nutrition has benefits for brain network organization, new research finds
Nutrition has been linked to cognitive performance, but researchers have not pinpointed what underlies the connection.
Satellites show Hurricane Katia not moving much
Satellite imagery from NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites showed that Hurricane Katia had not moved much, just about 30 miles in 16 hours.
Science: Sharpest image of Alzheimer's fibrils shows previously unknown details
A team of researchers from Germany and the Netherlands have determined the structure of an amyloid fibril with previously unachieved resolution.
Urinary markers may indicate prognosis after kidney transplantation
A new British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology study indicates that certain markers can help predict which patients may experience problems after receiving an organ transplant.
Exchanges of identity in deep space
By reproducing the complexity of the cosmos through unprecedented simulations, a new study highlights the importance of the possible behaviour of very high energy photons.
The sand trap: Demand outpaces caution -- and knowledge
Sand, spanning miles of beaches, carpeting vast oceans and deserts, is a visual metaphor for limitless resources.
New research disputes claims that climate change helped spark the Syrian civil war
A new study shows that there is no sound evidence that global climate change was a factor in causing the Syrian civil war.
How tails help geckos and other vertebrates make great strides
A wagging tail is often associated with dogs' emotions, but the side-to-side motion may also help them take longer strides and move faster, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside.
Helping cancer survivors return to work
A new Psycho-Oncology analysis of published studies indicates that there are various employer-related factors that can help or hinder cancer survivors as they attempt to go back to work.
Want your question answered quickly? Use gestures as well as words
When someone asks a question during a conversation, their conversation partner answers more quickly if the questioner also moves their hands or head to accompany their words.
Many ICU survivors depressed: IU study finds young and African-Americans at highest risk
The first study to examine antidepressant use and depressive symptoms after an ICU stay, has found that even if prescribed antidepressants, a significant percentage -- about a third -- had symptoms of depression at the time of their initial visit to a clinic specially designed for ICU survivors.
DNA sequencing could open up new drug indications for patients with rare cancers
Thanks to DNA sequencing, patients with rare cancers for which no standard treatment is available could receive existing therapies that work in patients treated for different cancers, but who carry the same genetic mutations.
A fair wage for global garment industry workers?
Research by Surrey's Centre for Environment and Sustainability has found that Western European garment industry workers in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries earn only half of the living wage.
City kids with asthma suffer less if they live near a park
Children with asthma who live in the city may have fewer days with symptoms the closer they live to parks and green spaces, according to research to be presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress 2017 on Monday.
3-D organoids and RNA sequencing reveal the crosstalk driving lung cell formation
To investigate lung-cell formation, researchers used a 3-D 'organoid' culture system allowing them to observe what kinds of cells were being made.
Hidden impacts of sand extraction and trade
The increasing demand for sand in building infrastructure is prompting a range of environmental and social issues that must be addressed, Aurora Torres et al. stress in this Perspective, highlighting the role that science has in finding sustainable solutions.
Study: Biomarkers as predictive of sepsis as lengthy patient monitoring
One measurement of key biomarkers in blood that characterize sepsis can give physicians as much information as hours of monitoring symptoms, a new study found.
Algorithm uses Instagram posts to advise tourists on attractions most favoured by locals
Programmers from ITMO University created a computer algorithm that allows tourists to find places of interest that are most popular with locals based on their instagram posts.
Potentially lifesaving implantable cardioverter defibrillators underutilized in eligible patients
Fewer than 10 percent of people who experience sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive.
Alcohol industry misleading the public about alcohol-related cancer risk
The alcohol industry (AI) is misrepresenting evidence about the alcohol-related risk of cancer with activities that have parallels with those of the tobacco industry, according to new research published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.
From bed to bench and back to bed: Mimicking how HPV-positive cancer responds to treatment
Patients with head and neck cancer who are also positive for human papilloma virus (HPV) are known to have a better prognosis compared to patients with HPV-negative disease, independent of therapeutic intervention.
Antibody-biogel partnership can be stronger defense than previously thought, study proves
Strong molecular bonds between antibodies and biological gels, like mucus, aren't necessary to catch pathogens as was previously thought, according to new research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Hip fracture often deadly, Australian study shows
This is the first large population-based matched cohort study exploring excess mortality risk from hip fracture in the Australian population while accounting for pre-injury comorbid conditions.
Using antidepressants during pregnancy may affect your child's mental health
A study from Aarhus BSS of almost one million Danish children shows that the use of antidepressants during pregnancy increases the risk of your child being diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder later in life.
Cilia: 'The bouncer' of bacteria
New paper by USC Viterbi School of Engineering Professor Eva Kanso and Professor Margaret McFall-Ngai of the Pacific Biosciences Research Center at the University of Hawaii elucidates the active role of cilia in regulating flow for bacteria filtering and enhancing chemical communication
A cellular tango: Immune and nerve cells work together to fight gut infections
Nerve cells in the gut play a crucial role in the body's ability to marshal an immune response to infection, according to a new study from Weill Cornell Medicine scientists.
How do close relationships lead to longer life?
While recent research has shown that loneliness can play a role in early death, psychologists are also concerned with the mechanisms by which social relationships and close personal ties affect health.
A tiny device offers insights to how cancer spreads
Researchers developed a new type of microfluidic device that can cultivate cells for longer periods of time, better reflecting how cancer cells to change over time.
Children exposed to chemicals in 9/11 'dust' show early signs of risk of heart disease
Sixteen years after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers sent a 'cloud' of toxic debris across Lower Manhattan, children living nearby who likely breathed in the ash and fumes are showing early signs of risk for future heart disease.
Birds are on the move in the face of climate change
Research on birds in northern Europe reveals that there is an ongoing considerable species turnover due to climate change and due to land use and other direct human influences.
Does alcohol affect the risk of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
In an analysis of published studies, lower levels of alcohol consumption were associated with a lower risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm until approximately 15 to 20 g/day, with an increasing risk thereafter.
Extreme weather has limited effect on attitudes toward climate policies
People who recently experienced severe weather events such as floods, storms and drought are more likely to support policies to adapt to the effects of climate change, according to a new study co-authored by an Indiana University researcher.
A new way to directly convert methane to methanol using gold-palladium nanoparticles
A collaborative team led by Graham J. Hutchings at the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, and Christopher J.
Ebola: Early immune response provides insight into vaccination
The latest outbreaks of emerging pathogens, such as Ebola or Zika, emphasize the importance of the rapid development of vaccines.
Penn researchers closer to uncovering a new feature in heart failure
While there is a length range for classifying a healthy telomere, researchers found, for the first time ever, that people with heart failure have shorter telomeres within the cells that make up the heart muscle (known as cardiomyocytes).
Discovery of chromosome motor supports DNA loop extrusion
It is one of the mysteries in biology: how does a cell neatly distribute its replicated DNA between two daughter cells?
Life expectancy trends tied to 2016 voting choices
Ever since the unexpected results of the 2016 presidential election, political analysts have sought to understand what factors played into voters' decision making.
UTA researchers discover connection between low oxygen levels and a human gene
University of Texas at Arlington researchers have established a link between hypoxia, a condition that reduces the flow of oxygen to tissues, and HOTAIR, a noncoding RNA or molecule that has been implicated in several types of cancer.
Immunotherapy combination safe and 62 percent effective in metastatic melanoma patients
Immunotherapy is a promising approach in the treatment of metastatic melanoma, an aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer, In a phase 1b clinical trial with 21 patients, researchers tested the safety and efficacy of combining the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab with an oncolytic virus called T-VEC.
Drivers don't ignore a ringing phone but do ignore the risk
Drivers find it difficult to ignore a ringing phone but do ignore the dangers, with a new QUT study revealing almost 50 percent believe locating and answering a ringing phone is not as risky as talking and texting.
Human papillomavirus 16 infections may pose variable cancer risk
Human papillomavirus 16 accounts for about half of all cervical cancers, but researchers reporting Sept.
Fifty-fifty split best for children of divorce
Preschool children in joint physical custody have less psychological symptoms than those who live mostly or only with one parent after a separation.
The chemicals we leave behind (video)
Everything we use is made out of chemicals. So it's not surprising that we pick up a lot of foreign molecules from what we bump into all the time, from our multivitamins to the gas we put in our cars.
Frailty and older men: Study identifies factors that speed/slow progression
Frailty tends to become more of a challenge as we age, but in some studies a small number of frail older adults became stronger and less frail as they aged.
Streamlined security: Optimizing sensor placement with mathematics
Increasing reliance on heightened security in public and private settings calls for optimal sensor technology.
Researchers point way to improved stem cell transplantation therapies
Researchers in Germany have demonstrated that hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplants can be improved by treatments that temporarily prevent the stem cells from dying.
Intermittent electrical brain stimulation improves memory
Intermittent electrical stimulation of an area deep inside the brain that degenerates in Alzheimer's appears to improve working memory, scientists report.
Researchers develop cheaper, faster test for E. coli in drinking water
Researchers at the University of Waterloo have invented a fast, affordable way for developing communities to test their drinking water for potentially deadly E. coli.
Paint by numbers
Researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen have developed a new method for reconstructing continuous biological processes, such as disease progression, using image data.
Research team discovers 'rubber material' that could lead to scratch-proof paint for car
A group of researchers from Queen's University Belfast have discovered a stretchy miracle material that could be used to create highly resistant smart devices and scratch-proof paint for cars.
Scientists make methanol using air around us
Scientists at Cardiff University have created methanol from methane using oxygen from the air.
Private payments for hospital care in Indiana are high relative to Medicare, study finds
While many studies have examined the relative cost of hospital care, a new analysis about private hospital payments in Indiana is the first to include details about the prices paid to individual hospitals and health systems rather than reporting results in an aggregated or blinded fashion.
Researchers develop 3-D-printed biomaterials that degrade on demand
The temporary structures, which can be degraded away with a biocompatible chemical trigger, could be useful in fabricating microfluidic devices, creating biomaterials that respond dynamically to stimuli and in patterning artificial tissue.
Seven steps to keep your brain healthy from childhood to old age
A set of simple steps that promote heart health, called Life's Simple 7, can also foster ideal brain health, an expert panel says.
Active region on sun continues to emit solar flares
The sun emitted two mid-level solar flares on Sept. 7, 2017.
What makes alcoholics drink? Research shows it's more complex than supposed
What makes alcoholics drink? New research has found that in both men and women with alcohol dependence, the major factor predicting the amount of drinking seems to be a question of immediate mood.
Circadian clock's inner gears
Research shows that a set of core clock proteins organize themselves into a handful of molecular machines that control the precise workings of the body's circadian rhythms.
Mediterranean-style diet may eliminate need for reflux medications
A plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to provide the same medical benefits for treating laryngopharyngeal reflux as popular reflux medications.
New method for producing malaria treatment at large scales
For the first time, production of the anti-malarial drug artemisinin has been achieved at an industrial scale using genetically engineered moss.
Satellites show different sides of Hurricane Irma
Satellite imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite and NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite have provided different data on the still Category 5 Hurricane Irma as it headed for the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Link established between a molecular driver of melanoma & novel therapeutic agent
Wistar scientists have described a correlation between a key melanoma signaling pathway and a novel class of drugs being tested in the clinic as adjuvant therapy for advanced melanoma, providing useful information for a more effective use of this type of treatment.
Long-term opioid prescription use jumps threefold over 16-year period, study suggests
A new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that opioid prescription use increased significantly between 1999 and 2014, and that much of that increase stemmed from patients who'd been taking their medication for 90 days or longer.
Pluto features given first official names
The Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union has officially approved the naming of 14 features on the surface of Pluto.
Report: Whole grains decrease colorectal cancer risk, processed meats increase the risk
Major new report finds strong evidence of links between lifestyle and colorectal cancer risk.
Study points to a growing trend in opioid use over the past 2 decades
The prevalence of prescription opioid use increased from 4.1 percent of US adults in 1999-2000 to 6.8 percent in 2013-2014, according to a recent Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety study.
Ultraviolet light from superluminous supernova key to revealing explosion mechanism
An international team of researchers led by Kavli IPMU's Alexey Tolstov and Ken'ichi Nomoto have discovered a way to use UV light from superluminous supernovae to uncover its explosion mechanism, and used it to identify Gaia16apd as a shock-interacting supernova, reports a new study.
New facial recognition findings could help develop new treatments for conduct disorder
New psychology paper points to evidence that girls and boys with severe antisocial behavior have difficulty recognizing facial expressions.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs may help patients with cirrhosis
Statins used for the treatment of high cholesterol may have other beneficial effects, but there has been reluctance to prescribe them to patients with liver disease because of concerns that they may cause abnormal liver enzyme levels in the blood.
Pressure to be perfect may increase suicide risk in some individuals
A recent analysis of published studies suggests that self-generated and socially based pressures to be perfect may contribute to suicidal thoughts and attempts in individuals.
Quantum detectives in the hunt for the world's first quantum computer
A new paper in Nature Communications is the latest confirmation of Majorana fermions -- a strange quasiparticle at the heart of the next generation of quantum machines being pursued by University of Sydney and Microsoft Station Q engineers.
Tweet life vs. street life: Exploring the gap between content and feelings
Twitter is an unreliable witness to the world's emotions, according to University of Warwick sociology expert Dr.
NASA finds Jose strengthening into a hurricane
The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite has been providing rainfall rates and cloud heights in tropical cyclones, and recently found towering thunderstorms that indicated strengthening in Tropical Storm Jose.
UCI, JPL investigators find direct evidence of sea level 'fingerprints'
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have reported the first observation of sea level 'fingerprints,' tell-tale differences in sea level rise around the world in response to changes in continental water and ice sheet mass.
Study finds length of stay critical factor in readmission rates at hospitals
Using data from congestive heart failure patient records in North Texas from January 2006 to December 2009, UT Dallas researchers studied the relationship between length of stay and readmission risk, the role of health information technology in reducing the deviation of length of stay, and the cost trade-offs between early discharge and readmission.
New treatment significantly improved bladder activity after spinal cord injury
Researchers have shown that compared to placebo, a drug treatment intended to prevent remodeling of the bladder wall and given within 48 hours after spinal cord injury (SCI) in dogs was associated with significantly higher bladder compliance.
Double targeting ligands to identify and treat prostate cancer
Researchers have demonstrated a new, effective way to precisely identify and localize prostate cancer tumors while protecting healthy tissue and reducing side effects.
Study shows oral food challenges are safe for diagnosing food allergies
The best way to find out if someone has a food allergy is through an oral food challenge (OFC) under the supervision of a board-certified allergist.
What role do genome variations play in tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In 2016, this was the most common causative pathogen for death by infectious diseases.
Research shows links between explicit material and early sexual behaviour
Elysia said: 'Our study examined how exposure to sexually explicit material, defined as any media depicting uncensored sexual behavior, can influence the adoption of sexually risky behavior.
Dietary approach found as effective as medications for treating type of reflux disease
Among patients with laryngopharyngeal reflux, there was no significant difference in the reduction of reflux symptoms between patients treated with alkaline water and a plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet and those treated with proton pump inhibitors, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
Tooth trouble: Many middle-aged adults report dental pain, embarrassment and poor prevention
The dental health of middle-aged Americans faces a lot of problems right now, and an uncertain future to come, according to new national poll results.
New treatment on the horizon for type 1 diabetes sufferers
Patients suffering from type 1 diabetes may soon have access to improved approaches to treat the disease, courtesy of new research out of Sydney's Westmead Institute for Medical Research.
Study offers a new mindset in the search for stroke therapies
UNSW researchers have identified a promising new avenue to explore in the search for stroke treatments, after translating findings from Alzheimer's disease.

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.
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Simple Solutions
Sometimes, the best solutions to complex problems are simple. But simple doesn't always mean easy. This hour, TED speakers describe the innovation and hard work that goes into achieving simplicity. Guests include designer Mileha Soneji, chef Sam Kass, sleep researcher Wendy Troxel, public health advocate Myriam Sidibe, and engineer Amos Winter.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#448 Pavlov (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning about the life and work of a groundbreaking physiologist whose work on learning and instinct is familiar worldwide, and almost universally misunderstood. We'll spend the hour with Daniel Todes, Ph.D, Professor of History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University, discussing his book "Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science."