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Science News and Current Events for January 11, 2018


Tracing how disaster impacts escalate will improve emergency responses
Mapping common pathways along which the effects of natural and man-made disasters travel allows more flexible and resilient responses in the future, according to UCL researchers.
No planets needed: NASA study shows disk patterns can self-generate
A new NASA study shows rings, arcs and spirals in disks around stars may not be caused by planets.
As climate is warming up, more bird nests are destroyed in Finnish farmland
A new study shows that birds have shifted the time of their breeding much faster than the farmers are anticipating their sowing times in Finnish farmland.
Army scientists improve human-agent teaming by making AI agents more transparent
US Army Research Laboratory scientists developed ways to improve collaboration between humans and artificially intelligent agents in two projects recently completed for the Autonomy Research Pilot Initiative supported by the Office of Secretary of Defense.
Cuttlefish hear bow wave of looming danger
As fish and other aquatic predators loom, their arrival is heralded by a bow wave of water and scientists from the University of Oslo, Norway and the University of Southern Denmark, have discovered that cuttlefish hear the approaching water and flee in the direction that the water is moving to evade capture.
Organic molecule benzonitrile detected in space
Scientists studying a cold molecular cloud of the Taurus region with radio telescopes have detected the presence of a particular organic molecule called benzonitrile.
UMass Amherst team reports gambling research results to Massachusetts Gaming Commission
Results of a baseline study on gambling behavior in Massachusetts that establishes how people participated -- or not -- in gambling prior to the opening of any casinos were reported on Jan.
New biomarkers for colorectal cancer
Researchers from the University of Luxembourg found a new biomarker for colorectal cancer (CRC) that might improve therapy and survival rates of patients.
New polygenic hazard score predicts when men develop prostate cancer
An international team, led by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, has developed and validated a genetic tool for predicting age of onset of aggressive prostate cancer, a disease that kills more than 26,000 American men annually.
NIH researchers report first 3-D structure of DHHC enzymes
The first three-dimensional structure of DHHC proteins -- enzymes involved in many cellular processes, including cancer -- explains how they function and may offer a blueprint for designing therapeutic drugs.
A major step forward in organic electronics
Researchers at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University, have developed the world's first complementary electrochemical logic circuits that can function stably for long periods in water.
Human protein may aid neuron invasion by virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease
A human protein known as prohibitin may play a significant role in infection of the nervous system by EV71, one of several viruses that can cause hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Researchers demonstrate RAS dimers are essential for cancer
Researchers at UT Southwestern's Simmons Cancer Center have shown that RAS molecules act in pairs, known as dimers, to cause cancer, findings that could help guide them to a treatment.
Rising CO2 is causing trouble in freshwaters too, study suggests
As carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere rise, more CO2 gets absorbed into seawater.
Marijuana farms expose spotted owls to rat poison in northwest California
Spotted owls and barred owls are being exposed to high levels of rat poison in northwest California, with illegal marijuana farms the most likely source point, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis.
NASA calculated heavy rainfall leading to California mudslides
Winter rains falling on recently burned ground triggered deadly mudslides in Santa Barbara County, California on Jan.
NIH study supports use of short-term HIV treatment interruption in clinical trials
A short-term pause in HIV treatment during a carefully monitored clinical trial does not lead to lasting expansion of the HIV reservoir nor cause irreversible damage to the immune system, new findings suggest.
Pulses of light to encrypt data and protect security of cryptocurrencies
Data travels through thousands of miles of fiber optic cables underneath the world's oceans--via pulses of light.
Solving Darwin's 'abominable mystery': How flowering plants conquered the world
In a study publishing on Jan. 11 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, researchers found that flowering plants have small cells relative to other major plant groups, made possible by a greatly reduced genome size, and this may explain how they became dominant so rapidly in ecosystems across the world.
New AI technology significantly improves human kidney analysis
The ability to quantify the extent of kidney damage and predict the life remaining in the kidney, using an image obtained at the time when a patient visits the hospital for a kidney biopsy, now is possible using a computer model based on artificial intelligence (AI).
Cell biology: Positioning the cleavage furrow
Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have identified a signaling pathway that restricts cleavage furrow formation to the mid-plane of the cell.
Patient education brochure provides low-cost solution to avoid diversion of unused Opioids
A new patient education brochure that describes safe disposal practices of unused pain pills can be a low-cost and effective way of getting patients to properly dispose of their leftover medications.
The brain's GPS has a buddy system
Brain cells that reflect self position relative to others have been identified in the rat hippocampus.
UC biologists peek into the past to see the future through tiny spider eyes
Biologists at UC look to the past for early genetic development of tiny spider and insect eyes to find potential for research into human visual challenges.
Emotionally demanding workload and confrontational patients key stressors for GPs
The emotional impact of their daily workload and confrontational patients are among the key stressors for family doctors in England, reveals an analysis of feedback from general practitioners, published in the online journal BMJ Open.
New studies aim to boost social science methods in conservation research
Scientists have produced a series of papers designed to improve research on conservation and the environment.
Hormone therapy may reduce eating disorder symptoms in transgender people
New research has shown that receiving cross-sex hormone therapy (CHT) can help to reduce the feelings of body dissatisfaction associated with eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia in transgender people.
Experts raise concerns over raw meat diets for cats and dogs
In the Vet Record today, a team of researchers based in The Netherlands say these diets may be contaminated with bacteria and parasites, and as such may pose a risk to both animal and human health.
Cheops' pyramid: Is there an iron throne in the newly discovered chamber?
A recent exploration has shown the presence of a significant void in the pyramid of Khufu at Giza.
New turkey-sized dinosaur from Australia preserved in an ancient log-jam
The partial skeleton of a new species of turkey-sized herbivorous dinosaur has been discovered in 113-million-year-old rocks in southeastern Australia.
Education and income determine whether women participate in cervical screening
The impression that foreign-born women in Sweden more often are excluded from gynecological cancer screening needs to be reconsidered.
How the malarial parasite is evading our arsenal of drugs
A team of researchers has identified numerous mutations that allow the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum to become resistant to treatment.
Maintaining tiger connectivity and minimising extinction into the next century
Tigers have lost 95% of their historical range, and what remains is highly fragmented.
Can writing your 'to-do's' help you to doze? Baylor study suggests jotting down tasks can
Writing a 'to-do' list at bedtime may aid in falling asleep, according to a Baylor University study.
Scientist's work may provide answer to martian mountain mystery
By seeing which way the wind blows, a University of Texas at Dallas fluid dynamics expert has helped propose a solution to a Martian mountain mystery.
Failed outpatient sterilization procedures not associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes: Study
Researchers looked at data from close to 1,000 pregnancies after failed outpatient and surgical sterilization procedures and found that while neither option was associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, outpatient procedures were more likely to result in a live birth and less likely to result in an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs outside of the uterus, when compared to surgical options.
UT Dallas study: Recent spikes in homicide rates don't tell whole story
Recent spikes in homicide rates across the nation have been attributed to causes ranging from civil unrest to the opioid epidemic, but new UT Dallas research published in the journal Homicide Studies found a much simpler explanation: The increases follow predictable fluctuations in rates over the past 55 years.
Tropical Cyclone Joyce soaking northwestern Australia coast
Tropical Cyclone Joyce, formerly known as tropical cyclone 5S, was moving south along the coast of Cape Leveque, Western Australia on Jan.
Hiding from a warmer climate in the forest
Global warming threatens forest plants adapted to cooler temperatures. An international team of scientists from the universities of Stockholm, Marseille and Helsinki have unraveled where these species could survive within colder spots in the same forest.
UCLA scientists make cells that enable the sense of touch
Researchers at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA have, for the first time, coaxed human stem cells to become sensory interneurons -- the cells that give us our sense of touch.
Emergency department program for older adults cuts hospitalizations by 33 percent
Roughly one third of all older patients age 65 and older visiting emergency departments nationwide are admitted to the hospital.
Restaurant and bar smoking bans do reduce smoking, especially among the highly educated
Smoking risk drops significantly in college graduates when they live near areas that have completely banned smoking in bars and restaurants, according to a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Mediterranean diet may help protect older adults from becoming frail
An analysis of published studies indicates that following the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of frailty in older individuals.
Why did the passenger pigeon die out?
The passenger pigeon was once among the most numerous species on earth.
Teenagers gamble away their education
The odds are stacked against teenagers who regularly gamble. A new study in Springer's Journal of Gambling Studies shows that a 14-year-old who gambles is more likely to struggle at school.
Experts call for action to address physician burnout in nephrology
Kidney specialists face increasing work demands, high rates of burnout, and declining interest in nephrology as a career.
Spider eat spider: Scientists discover 18 new spider-hunting pelican spiders in Madagascar
Scientists examined and analyzed hundreds of pelican spiders both in the field in Madagascar and through study of pelican spiders preserved in museum collections.
New expert guidance on contact precautions for drug-resistant infections
New expert guidance released today by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America advises hospitals on determining when they can safely discontinue contact precautions for patients with multi-drug resistant bacteria.
Northern corn leaf blight genes identified in new study
Midwestern corn growers know the symptoms of northern corn leaf blight all too well: greenish-gray lesions on the leaves that can add up to major yield losses if not detected and treated early.
California's water saving brings bonus effects
Water-saving measures in California have also led to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and electricity consumption in the state.
Women and men military veterans, childhood adversity and alcohol and drug use
Results of a national study led by public health scientist Elizabeth Evans at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with others at the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the University of California, Los Angeles, suggest that risk for alcohol and drug use disorders among United States military veterans is increased by childhood adversity, and in ways that are different between women and men and different compared to the civilian population.
New study reveals adverse impact of both type 2 and type 1 diabetes on pregnancy outcomes
A new study published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]) reveals that both type 2 (T2D) and type 1 diabetes (T1D) are associated with complications during pregnancy including stillbirths and emergency Caesarean sections, as well as increasing the risk of infant mortality.
Closed marriage: An orchid that never blooms
'When plants give up photosynthesis, this changes their relationship with other organisms, such as the insects who may pollinate them', comments Professor Suetsugu.
Do less harm: E-cigarettes a safer option than smoking
A new article publishing in the forthcoming volume of the Annual Review of Public Health focuses on harm minimization and smoking cessation, with alternative nicotine products like e-cigarettes emerging as a promising avenue for people who want to quit smoking.
Rising temperatures turning major sea turtle population female
Scientists have used a new research approach to show that warming temperatures are turning one of the world's largest sea turtle colonies almost entirely female, running the risk that the colony cannot sustain itself in coming decades, newly published research concludes.
Surprise: A virus-like protein is important for cognition and memory
A protein pivotal to how the brain acquires knowledge originated from a chance evolutionary event that occurred hundreds of millions of years ago.
Re-programming innate immune cells to fight tuberculosis
Tuberculosis (TB), an infectious disease which attacks the lungs, claims someone's life every 20 seconds and 1.5 million lives worldwide every year.
Risk of non-infectious elephantiasis mapped in Cameroon
Both the etiology and demographics of podoconiosis, a non-infectious disease which causes massive swelling of the legs, are poorly understood.
Media Availability: The coming of age of gene therapy: A review of the past and path forward
After three decades of hopes tempered by setbacks, gene therapy -- the process of treating a disease by modifying a person's DNA -- is no longer the future of medicine, but is part of the present-day clinical treatment toolkit.
Super-adsorbent MOF captures twice its weight in water
Material chemists in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have developed a superporous solid made up of a patchwork of metal ions and organic linkers (a metal-organic framework, or MOF) that can suck up to 200 percent of its own weight in atmospheric moisture.
What sort of stream networks do scientific ideas flow along?
When scientists have an interesting idea, the result is usually a joint publication.
Hubble finds substellar objects in the Orion Nebula
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered the largest known population of brown dwarfs sprinkled among newborn stars in the Orion Nebula.
MDI Biological Laboratory discovery could lead to new therapies for diabetics
New research by MDI Biological Laboratory scientist Sandra Rieger, Ph.D., has demonstrated that an enzyme she had previously identified as playing a role in peripheral neuropathy induced by cancer chemotherapy also plays a role in peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes.
Clothes make the woman: Less empathy towards women showing more skin
Sexualized representations, especially the emphasis of secondary sexual characteristics, can change the way we perceive an individual.
Students more engaged and attentive following outdoor lesson in nature
A study recently published in Frontiers in Psychology has found that children are significantly more attentive and engaged with their schoolwork following an outdoor lesson in nature.
Big Pharma playing system to secure lucrative funding deals in Central Europe
Health research from the University of Bath highlights concerns over transparency and conflicts of interests surrounding pharmaceutical firms operating in Central Europe.
Multiple sites rich in water ice found on Mars
Erosion on Mars is exposing deposits of water ice, starting at depths as shallow as one to two meters below the surface and extending 100 meters or more.
Why the Republican Party may have an advantage when it rains: Voters change their minds
Bad weather affects US voter turnout and election outcomes with past research demonstrating that the Republican Party has the advantage.
Variation between strains may account for differences in vulnerability to infection
New research shows that subtle differences between bacterial strains may cause dramatic differences in outcome between people infected with the same microbe.
Study suggests many gay and bisexual men are skeptical, but attitudes are on the rise
Undetectable = Untransimittable: Study suggests many gay and bisexual men are skeptical, but attitudes are on the rise.
Long-lasting adaptations of the innate immune system through the bone marrow
The immune system not only detects and destroys pathogens such as microbes but also plays a role in the onset of diseases such as arteriosclerosis.
How the animal brain deciphers the locations of animals nearby
Two new studies have identified a subset of neurons in the bat and rat hippocampi, respectively, that specifically encode the spatial position of others of the same species.
White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional
Bilayer white graphene combined with a ceramic creates a multifunctional material with high strength and toughness, according to a Rice University lab.
Machine learning predicts new details of geothermal heat flux beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet
A paper appearing in Geophysical Research Letters uses machine learning for the first time to craft an improved model for understanding geothermal heat flux -- heat emanating from the Earth's interior -- below the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Breaking bad metals with neutrons
By combining the latest developments in neutron scattering and theory, researchers are close to predicting phenomena like superconductivity and magnetism in strongly correlated electron systems.
Babies stir up clouds of bio-gunk when they crawl
When babies crawl, their movement across floors, especially carpeted surfaces, kicks up high levels of dirt, skin cells, bacteria, pollen, and fungal spores, a new study has found.
Are women really under-represented in clinical trials?
Several studies have reported a lack of gender diversity in clinical trials, with trials including mostly adult males; however, a recent review of publicly available registration data of clinical trials at the US Food and Drug Administration for the most frequently prescribed drug classes found no evidence of any systemic significant under-representation of women.
Study examines genetic link between epilepsy and mood disorders
Mood disorders, including depression, are the most common comorbid conditions in individuals with epilepsy, but the cause remains unclear.
Study identifies brain circuit controlling social behavior
A new study by researchers at Roche in Basel, Switzerland has identified a key brain region of the neural circuit that controls social behavior.
Developing a secure, un-hackable net
A method of securely communicating between multiple quantum devices has been developed by a UCL-led team of scientists, bringing forward the reality of a large-scale, un- hackable quantum network.
New insight into climate impacts of deforestation
Deforestation is likely to warm the climate even more than originally thought, scientists warn.
Population-specific deep biomarkers of aging
Insilico Medicine and its' collaborators just present a novel deep-learning based hematological human aging clock using a large dataset of fully anonymized Canadian, South Korean and Eastern European blood test records to train an aging clock.
Nanotube fibers in a jiffy
Rice University scientists are making short carbon nanotube fibers by hand as a way to quickly test materials before spinning industrial quantities of fiber for aerospace, automotive, medical and smart-clothing applications.
A look at participants in Morris Animal Foundation golden retriever lifetime study
What do 3,044 golden retrievers across the nation have in common?
Stem cell-rich cord blood donations could increase by 'nudging' parents, study suggests
A two-year study of expectant mothers in Milan, Italy, has found that cord blood donations increased significantly when parents received information about the procedure and 'prompts' to indicate their interest in donating at both early and late stages of their pregnancies.
Cervical lesions change fastest in Hispanics, slowest in blacks--for better and worse
Hispanic women progressed the fastest, moving from innocuous to worrisome high-grade lesions within 17.6 months, whereas black women took 27.6 months to reach that critical state.
Patients' unfavorable views of hospital care strongly linked to nurse numbers
Patients' unfavorable views of hospital care in England are strongly linked to insufficient numbers of nurses on duty, rather than uncaring staff, indicates observational research published in the online journal BMJ Open.
Researchers engineer ultra-sensitive temperature sensor
Material developed in Brazil measures temperatures in the range of 80-750 kelvin (-193 °C to 476 °C) and, as described in Scientific Reports, could be used in manufacturing and biological processes.
Study examines link between epilepsy and mood disorders
Mood disorders, including depression, are the most common comorbid conditions in individuals with epilepsy, but the cause remains unclear.
By altering bone marrow, training can prepare innate immune system for future challenges
In a new paper, published in Cell, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania collaborated with an international team to show how the innate immune system, which responds more generally to dangers detected in the body, can be trained to 'remember' past threats and respond more robustly to future challenges.
Urban insects are more resilient in extreme weather
A study led by Amy Savage, a Rutgers University-Camden assistant professor of biology, will help researchers understand how to make predictions and conservation decisions about how organisms living in cities will respond to catastrophic weather events.
Shedding some light on life in the Arctic
Scientists know that light triggers zooplankton and other marine organisms to move up and down in the water column during normal day and night cycles.
Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication
Dengue virus slowly takes over the endoplasmic reticulum, the production site for a subset of host proteins, and steers clear of the cytosol, the fluid-filled space where the majority of host cellular proteins are synthesized.
All in the family: Focused genomic comparisons
Aspergillus fungi are pathogens, decomposers, and important sources of biotechnologically-important enzymes.
Scientists identify immune cells that keep gut fungi under control
Immune cells that process food and bacterial antigens in the intestines control the intestinal population of fungi, according to a new study from Weill Cornell Medicine scientists.
Researchers map out genetic 'switches' behind human brain evolution
UCLA researchers have developed the first map of gene regulation in human neurogenesis, the process by which neural stem cells turn into brain cells and the cerebral cortex expands in size.
Correct warm-up reduces soccer injuries in children by half
A warm-up program developed specially for children reduces soccer injuries by around 50 percent.
Nurse staffing levels linked to patient satisfaction
Satisfaction with care in hospitals declines when patients believe there are not enough nurses on wards, according to a new study based on the NHS Inpatient Survey published in the BMJ Open.
The circadian clock sets the pace of plant growth
Researchers at the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) discover that the members of a protein family from the plant internal clock act sequentially to limit the plant growth until the end of the night.
Different strains of same bacteria trigger widely varying immune responses
Genetic differences between different strains of the same pathogenic bacterial species appear to result in widely varying immune system responses, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.
The nanoscopic structure that locks up our genes
For decades, scientists could only speculate about the shape of heterochromatin.
GBT detection unlocks exploration of 'aromatic' interstellar chemistry
Astronomers using the Green Bank Telescope have made the first definitive interstellar detection of benzonitrile, an intriguing organic molecule that helps to chemically link simple carbon-based molecules and truly massive ones known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Researchers map druggable genomic targets in evolving malaria parasite
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues across the country and around the world, have used whole genome analyses and chemogenetics to identify new drug targets and resistance genes in 262 parasite cell lines of Plasmodium falciparum -- protozoan pathogens that cause malaria -- that are resistant to 37 diverse antimalarial compounds.
Evolution acceptance in children linked to aptitude, not belief
In contrast to adults, acceptance of evolution in schoolchildren in the UK is linked to their scientific aptitude rather than conflicts with belief systems, say scientists at the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath.
Fast food makes the immune system more aggressive in the long term
The immune system reacts similarly to a high fat and high calorie diet as to a bacterial infection.
New technology will create brain wiring diagrams
Scientists from Caltech have developed a technology that allows them to see which neurons are talking to which other neurons in live fruit flies.
Rice University biologists create toolkit for tuning genetic circuits
Rice University scientists have created a toolkit for synthetic biologists who need to precisely tune the input and output levels of genetic circuits.
Estrogen-mimicking compounds in foods may reduce effectiveness of breast cancer treatment
Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have discovered that two estrogen-mimicking compounds found in many foods appear to potently reverse the effects of palbociclib/letrozole, a popular drug combination for treating breast cancer.
Older adult-friendly emergency department staff help reduce hospital admissions
When older adults arrive at a hospital's emergency department, they may face unexpected challenges.
Frequent growth events and fast growth rates of fine aerosol particles in Beijing
Secondary aerosol formation and rapid increases in aerosol particle sizes are believed to play important roles in haze formation.
New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs
Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world -- creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines -- and causing deadly invasive infection.

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