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Science News | Science Current Events | Brightsurf | March 02, 2020


Re-thinking 'tipping points' in ecosystems and beyond
Abrupt environmental changes, known as regime shifts, are the subject of new research in which shows how small environmental changes trigger slow evolutionary processes that eventually precipitate collapse.
To predict an epidemic, evolution can't be ignored
Whether it's coronavirus or misinformation, scientists can use mathematical models to predict how something will spread across populations.
Irregular sleep may increase risk of cardiovascular events
A new study led by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital measured participants' sleep duration and timing, finding that over a five-year period, individuals who had the most irregular sleep experienced a two-fold increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to those with the most regular sleep patterns.
Despite best intentions, researchers don't always share findings with study participants
Medical University of South Carolina investigators report in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science that study participants want to know trial results but few have received this information.
Study finds 'silent' genetic variations can alter protein folding
New research from the University of Notre Dame shows these silent mutations are worth a closer look.
Cloud data speeds set to soar with aid of laser mini-magnets
Tiny, laser-activated magnets could enable cloud computing systems to process data up to 100 times faster than current technologies, a study suggests.
Researchers identify protein critical for wound healing after spinal cord injury
Plexin-B2, an axon guidance protein in the central nervous system (CNS), plays an important role in wound healing and neural repair following spinal cord injury (SCI), according to research conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published today in Nature Neuroscience
Mapping childhood malnutrition
The scope of childhood malnutrition has decreased since 2000, although millions of children under five years of age are still undernourished and, as a result, have stunted growth.
Memory concerns? Blood test may put mind at ease or pave way to promising treatments
A blood test that may eventually be done in a doctor's office can swiftly reveal if a patient with memory issues has Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment and can also distinguish both conditions from frontotemporal dementia.
5,000-year-old milk proteins point to the importance of dairying in eastern Eurasia
By analyzing milk proteins extracted from calcified dental plaque, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and their international partners present the earliest evidence for dairy consumption on the eastern Eurasian Steppe and uncover clues to the origin of mounted dairy pastoralism in Mongolia.
Sinking sea mountains make and muffle earthquakes
Subduction zones -- places where one tectonic plate dives beneath another -- are where the world's largest and most damaging earthquakes occur.
Potassium metal battery emerges as a rival to lithium-ion technology
In research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute demonstrate how they can overcome a persistent challenge known as dendrites to create a metal battery that performs nearly as well as a lithium-ion battery, but relies on potassium -- a much more abundant and less expensive element.
Length of pregnancy alters the child's DNA
Researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have together with an international team mapped the relationship between length of pregnancy and chemical DNA changes in more than 6,000 newborn babies.
Life on Titan cannot rely on cell membranes, according to computational simulations
Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have made a new contribution to the ongoing search into the possibility of life on Titan, Saturn's largest moon.
Why is an empty shampoo bottle so easy to knock over?
It becomes annoyingly easy to knock over a shampoo bottle when it's nearly empty.
The fantastical Adelaide Fringe
From sky-high acrobatics to sultry-sequined burlesque, Adelaide's annual Fringe festival has long been transforming the city into an eclectic and vibrant hive of activity, attracting millions of visitors and directing millions of dollars into the South Australian economy.
Biometric devices help pinpoint factory workers' emotions and productivity
Happiness, as measured by a wearable biometric device, was closely related to productivity among a group of factory workers in Laos, reveals a recent study.
Two stars merged to form massive white dwarf
A massive white dwarf star with a bizarre carbon-rich atmosphere could be two white dwarfs merged together according to an international team led by University of Warwick astronomers, and only narrowly avoided destruction.
Implementing microbiome diagnostics in personalized medicine: Rise of pharmacomicrobiomics
A new Commentary identifies three actionable challenges for translating pharmacomicrobiomics to personalized medicine in 2020.
Scientists show drug may greatly improve cancer immunotherapy success
A study led by the University of Southampton, funded by Cancer Research UK, has shown a new drug -- originally developed to tackle the scarring of organ tissue -- could help to significantly improve the success rate of cancer immunotherapy treatment.
Early Earth may have been a 'waterworld'
Kevin Costner, eat your heart out. New research shows that the early Earth, home to some of our planet's first lifeforms, may have been a real-life 'waterworld' -- without a continent in sight.
Sex differences in salaries of department chairs at state medical schools
Researchers investigated pay differences by sex at the highest ranks of academic medicine among clinical department chairs at 29 state medical schools in 12 states.
The GDP fudge: China edition
By linking GDP growth to promotions, the Chinese government has inadvertently created incentives for provincial officials to report inaccurate financial data, a study says.
What can you learn by peering into a fruit fly's gut? It turns out a lot!
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. But what about a real-time window into the complexity of the gastrointestinal system?
Quantifying objects: bees recognize that six is more than four
A new study at the University of Cologne proves that insects can perform basic numerical cognition tasks.
Coping strategies, a matter of neuron
Researchers found CRF responsible for stress coping.
Story Tips: Antidote chasing, traffic control and automatic modeling
ORNL Story Tips: Antidote chasing, traffic control and automatic modeling
Improved work environments enhance patient and nurse satisfaction
Healthcare provider burnout is a mounting public health crisis with up to half of all physicians and one in three nurses reporting high burnout, data show.
Discovery of GABAergic synaptic regulations inside the brain for a new epilepsy treatment
DGIST announced on February 12, 2020 that the joint research team of Professor Jaewon Ko and Professor Ji Won Um in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences found a new candidate target to treat epilepsy by regulating GABAergic synaptic functions .
Drug interactions with cannabinoids: 5 things to know
A practice article provides 5 things to know on how drugs can interact with cannabinoids in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
How quickly do flower strips in cities help the local bees?
Many cities are introducing green areas to protect their fauna.
Widely used weed killer harming biodiversity
One of the world's most widely used glyphosate-based herbicides, Roundup, can trigger loss of biodiversity, making ecosystems more vulnerable to pollution and climate change, say researchers from McGill University.
Wake Forest scientists create world's most sophisticated lab model of the human body
Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) have developed the world's most sophisticated laboratory model of the human body, creating a system of miniaturized organs that can be used to detect harmful and adverse effects of drugs before they are prescribed to patients.
Understanding mechanics and materials though evolution and biomaterials
Studying the evolution of bodily processes millions of years ago as well as the properties of today's biomaterials could improve soft robotics design and inform materials science research.
A current map for improving circuit design
The flow of an electrical current can be imaged directly using magnetic bubbles.
Beef consumption hurting river quality
A new study shows irrigation of cattle feed crops is the greatest consumer of river water in the Western United States, implicating beef and dairy consumption as the leading driver of water shortages and fish imperilment in the region.
Study shows rising age of first drug use in teens, young adults
The average age at which teens and young adults start using drugs has been rising, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics.
Big drop in global drownings
James Cook University researcher Associate Professor Richard Franklin says drownings globally have dropped by half over the last 30 years, with rates reducing in all regions except Oceania.
Drug shows promise in reducing deadly brain swelling after stroke
Cases of potentially deadly brain damage as a result of stroke could be reduced after new research identified a pathway in the brain that causes swelling, and which responds to an innovative treatment.
NIH-funded research team updates online tool for extremely preterm infant outcomes
A research team funded by the National Institutes of Health has updated an online tool to provide information for clinicians and parents on outcomes for extremely preterm infants.
ITMO scientists develop new algorithm that can predict population's demographic history
Bioinformatics scientists from ITMO University have developed a programming tool that allows for quick and effective analysis of genome data and using it as a basis for building the most probable models of demographic history of populations of plants, animals and people.
Space weather model gives earlier warning of satellite-killing radiation storms
A new machine-learning computer model accurately predicts damaging radiation storms caused by the Van Allen belts two days prior to the storm, the most advanced notice to date, according to a new paper in the journal Space Weather.
The Lancet Oncology: Targeted treatments for pancreatic cancer may help eligible patients live an extra year
Patients with molecular changes in their tumors who received a targeted therapy alongside other treatment survived for an average of one year longer after being diagnosed with advanced disease compared with patients who received standard chemotherapy (survival of 31 vs.
Navigating the potential pitfalls of tracking college athletes
UW researchers interviewed 22 athletes and staff members from three college athletics programs to see how collecting data from college athletes might encroach on their autonomy.
To bee, or not to bee, a question for almond growers
The study co-authored by CTAHR's Ethel Villalobos suggests that 'Independence' almonds, like many plants that are self-compatible, still performed better when bees were assisting in pollination.
MTU engineers zap and unstick underwater smart glue
Turning adhesion on and off is what makes a glue smart.
Youth exposure to tobacco outlets and cigarette smoking
A new study led by researchers at the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation explores these questions using real time data from 100 youth participants from 16-20 years old to assess the effect of exposure to tobacco outlets on same-day smoking and the number of cigarettes consumed.
Could targeting an Alzheimer's-associated protein prevent Autism?
Researchers at the Gladstone Institutes report in Neuron that reducing levels of a protein called tau prevents the core symptoms from arising in mouse models simulating different forms of autism spectrum disorders.
Women paid less than men even at highest levels of academic medicine, study finds
Women who chair clinical departments at public medical schools are paid an average of 88 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, or about $70,000 to $80,000 less per year, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and UC San Francisco report.
'Start low, go slow' still applies for pain management, especially for older patients
Chronic pain affects a large proportion of older adults and most long-term care residents.
Blood test method may predict Alzheimer's protein deposits in brain
Researchers report an advance in the development of a blood test that could help detect pathological Alzheimer's disease in people who are showing signs of dementia.
Not a 'math person'? You may be better at learning to code than you think
New research from the University of Washington finds that a natural aptitude for learning languages is a stronger predictor of learning to program than basic math knowledge.
New 'organ-on-a-chip' system holds promise for drug toxicity screening
Researchers in the US have developed a new multi-organ-on-a-chip to test how new drugs affect the human body's vital organs.
The world faces an air pollution 'pandemic'
Air pollution is responsible for shortening people's lives worldwide on a scale far greater than wars and other forms of violence, parasitic and insect-born diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and smoking, according to a study published in Cardiovascular Research.
Radionuclide levels in freshwater fish differ between lakes and rivers
After the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, managing environmental radionuclide contamination efficiently has become incredibly important.
New tools show a way forward for large-scale storage of renewable energy
A technique based on the principles of MRI has allowed researchers to observe not only how next-generation batteries for large-scale energy storage work, but also how they fail, which will assist in the development of strategies to extend battery lifetimes in support of the transition to a zero-carbon future.
Directed species loss from species-rich forests strongly decreases productivity
At high species richness, directed loss, but not random loss, of tree species strongly decreases forest productivity.
The dairy dilemma: Low-fat is not necessarily better for kids
Children who consume full-fat dairy products do not show an increased risk of obesity or heart disease, according to an Edith Cowan University (ECU) research finding that raises questions about the current dietary advice for children.
Biologists capture fleeting interactions between regulatory proteins and their genome-wide targets
New York University biologists captured highly transient interactions between transcription factors -- proteins that control gene expression -- and target genes in the genome and showed that these typically missed interactions have important practical implications.
The neural basis of sensory hypersensitivity
A study from MIT and Brown University reveals a neural circuit that appears to underlie sensory hypersensitivity in a mouse model of autism, offering a possible strategy for developing new treatments.
Battle with the cancer: New avenues from childhood vaccines
A new research from the University of Helsinki showed for the first time how the pre-immunization acquired through common childhood vaccines can be used to enhance therapeutic cancer treatment.
Atomic vacancy as quantum bit
Physicists from Würzburg for the first time have experimentally observed spin centers in two-dimensional materials.
The 'Monday effect' is real -- and it's impacting your amazon package delivery
The ''Monday Effect'' is real - and it's impacting your Amazon package delivery.
The magnet that didn't exist
In 1966, Japanese physicist Yosuke Nagaoka predicted the existence of a rather striking phenomenon: Nagaoka's ferromagnetism.
On eve of Super Tuesday, study sheds light on how people make choices
A new study taps into mathematics to probe how people make fraught choices, such as which candidate to vote for in an election.
Immune cells may improve accuracy of predicting survival in colorectal cancer
The density of immune cells, called tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, when combined with analysis of tumor budding may serve as a method to more accurately predict survival in patients with stage III colon cancer.
App detecting jaundice may prevent deaths in newborns
A smartphone app that allows users to check for jaundice in newborn babies simply by taking a picture of the eye may be an effective, low-cost way to screen for the condition, according to a pilot study led by UCL and UCLH.
Marine cyanobacteria do not survive solely on photosynthesis
The University of Cordoba published a study in a journal from the Nature group that supports the idea that marine cyanobacteria also incorporate organic compounds from the environment.
KITE code could power new quantum developments
A research collaboration led by the University of York's Department of Physics has created open-source software to assist in the creation of quantum materials which could in turn vastly increase the world's computing power.
Scientists pair machine learning with tomography to learn about material interfaces
Researchers have put a new technique based on machine learning to work uncovering the secrets of buried interfaces and edges in a material.
Whether horseradish flea beetles deter predators depends on their food plant and their life stage
Horseradish flea beetles use glucosinolates from their host plants for their own defense.
Evaluating association of state firearm laws to prevent child access with pediatric firearm fatalities
This research letter looked at two categories of firearm laws to prevent child access and their association with pediatric firearm fatalities throughout the United States from 1991 to 2016.
How three genes rule plant symbioses
A study published in Nature Plants, led by scientists from the John Innes Centre in the UK and the University of Toulouse/CNRS in France, describes the discovery of a common genetic basis for plant symbioses
Scientists find functioning amyloid in healthy brain
The generation of amyloids, a special form of fibrillar proteins, is believed to result in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases.
Fresh clean drinking water for all could soon to be a reality in Pakistan
A fresh, clean water supply will be a reality in Pakistan, particularly in South Punjab, following the announcement of an international partnership spearheaded by the Pakistan government, alongside other key stakeholders, and driven by the University of Huddersfield.
Researchers develop app to determine risk of preterm birth
An improved mobile phone app will help identify women who need special treatments at the right time and reduce emotional and financial burden on families and the NHS.
Carbon chains adopt fusilli or spaghetti shapes if they have odd or even numbers
Helical shapes are very familiar in the natural world and, at the molecular level, of DNA, the very blueprint of life itself.
Earliest look at newborns' visual cortex reveals the minds babies start with
Within hours of birth, a baby's gaze is drawn to faces.
Number of cancer cases in Canada will increase in 2020 as population ages
As Canada's population grows and ages, the cancer burden will remain high and even increase in 2020, according to a study on projected cancer rates published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
CRISPR-HOT: A new tool to 'color' specific genes and cells
Researchers from the group of Hans Clevers at the Hubrecht Institute have developed a new genetic tool to label specific genes in human organoids, or mini organs.
OHSU-led evidence review shows new therapy for Hepatitis C is highly effective
New direct-acting antiviral therapies are highly effective at eliminating the Hepatitis C virus infection, according to a systematic evidence review by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University.
Quantum mechanical simulations of Earth's lower mantle minerals
The theoretical mineral physics group of Ehime University led by Dr.
Exposure to 'fake news' during the 2016 US election has been overstated
Since the 2016 US presidential election, debates have raged about the reach of so-called 'fake news' websites and the role they played during the campaign.
'Smart water' may aid oil recovery
Rice engineers study the mechanism that would allow 'smart water' to aid oil recovery from reservoirs.
What if mysterious 'cotton candy' planets actually sport rings?
Some of the extremely low-density, 'cotton candy like' exoplanets called super-puffs may actually have rings, according to new research published in The Astronomical Journal by Carnegie's Anthony Piro and Caltech's Shreyas Vissapragada.
Technology provides a new way to probe single molecules
A new technology called individual ion mass spectrometry, or I2MS, can determine the exact mass of a huge range of intact proteins.
USPSTF recommendation expands screening for hepatitis C
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends that adults ages 18 to 79 be screened for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The USPSTF routinely makes recommendations about the effectiveness of preventive care services and this statement updates its previous guidance that adults born between 1945 and 1965 be screened.
Gold in limbo between solid and melted states
Laser-induced melting occurs nonuniformly in polycrystalline gold thin films -- a finding that may be important for precision part micromachining.
Is there a technological solution to aquatic dead zones?
Could pumping oxygen-rich surface water into the depths of lakes, estuaries, and coastal ocean waters help ameliorate dangerous dead zones?
Fallowing cattle-feed farmland simplest way to alleviate western water shortage
An important new study published this week in Nature Sustainability finds that irrigated crop production accounts for 86 percent of all water consumed in the western US--and of all the water used on western farms, by far the largest portion goes to cattle-feed crops such as alfalfa and grass hay.
Study finds irregular sleep patterns double the risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults
Older adults with irregular sleep patterns -- meaning they have no regular bedtime and wakeup schedule, or they get different amounts of sleep each night -- are nearly twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease as those with more regular sleep patterns, according to a new study funded in part by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Tool for identifying frail patients to reduce surgical risk works in health system setting
UPMC research shows that the Risk Analysis Index, which takes 30 seconds to complete, can be implemented at scale for health systems to identify frail patients and reduce surgical risk.
Mayo researchers recommend all women with breast cancer diagnosis under age 66
A study by researchers at Mayo Clinic published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests that all women with a breast cancer diagnosis under the age of 66 be offered germline genetic testing to determine if they have a gene mutation known to increase the risk of developing other cancers and cancers among blood relatives.
Swamp wallabies conceive new embryo before birth -- a unique reproductive strategy
Reproduction specialists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), Germany, and the University of Melbourne, Australia, recently demonstrated that swamp wallabies ovulate, mate and form a new embryo before the birth of the previous offspring.
Fish school by randomly copying each other, rather than following the group
An international team of researchers has revealed the mechanisms behind fish schooling -- and what they found differs from what scientists had previously thought.
Surgeons cut opioid prescriptions by 64 percent using a new multipronged program
Surgeons in a large health-care system in central Texas implemented a pain management program that reduced longer-term opioid prescriptions by two-thirds.
ACA helped make health insurance access more equal, but racial and ethnic gaps remain
As the Affordable Care Act turns 10, a new study shows it has narrowed racial and ethnic gaps in access to health insurance -- but definitely not eliminated them.
Researchers study role culture plays in feeling sick
Scientists think that a person's values may shape views on ''socially appropriate sickness.'' This has implications for how individuals may take more action in dealing with illness rather than spreading further disease.
New study reveals the secret of magmatic rocks consisting of only one mineral
Geologists from Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, have come up with an original explanation of how nature may produce an intriguing class of magmatic rocks that are made up of only one type of mineral.
Engendering trust in an AI world
Regulators play a balancing act between protecting individuals and enabling business innovation, said speakers at a conference on AI and commercial law organised by SMU.
The microbes in your mouth, and a reminder to floss and go to the dentist
Most people know that good oral hygiene - brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits - is linked to good health.
'Digital disruption' a game-changer for climate: Future Earth report
The climate crisis requires strategic engagement of 4 powerful 'digital disruptors' to shift systems and mindsets obstructing adequate responses.
Artificial intelligence could enhance diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders
Artificial intelligence has the potential to improve efficiencies and precision in sleep medicine, resulting in more patient-centered care and better outcomes, according to a new position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Study maps landmarks of peripheral artery disease to guide treatment development
Novel biomedical advances that show promise in the lab often fall short in clinical trials.
APS tip sheet: Using bird song to determine bird size
An analysis of a bird species' unique rasps shows how sound fluctuations in birds' songs might reveal details about birds' body sizes.
Novel use of robotics for neuroendovascular procedures
The advanced technology has the potential to change acute stroke treatment.
Federally protected lands reduce habitat loss and protect endangered species, study finds
Using more than 30 years of earth satellite images, scientists at have discovered that habitat loss for imperiled species in the US over this period was more than twice as great on non-protected private lands than on federally protected lands.
Child access prevention laws spare gun deaths in children
US states with laws regulating the storage of firearms in households with minors had a 13% reduction in firearm fatalities in children under 15 compared to states with no such regulations, finds a study from Boston Children's Hospital.
Paper: Disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing poses dangers to drivers
A new paper co-written by Yilan Xu, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, shows that the growing traffic burden in shale energy boomtowns from trucks hauling wastewater to disposal sites resulted in a surge of road fatalities and severe accidents.
Egg stem cells do not exist, new study shows
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have analysed all cell types in the human ovary and found that the hotly debated so-called egg stem cells do not exist.
Ocean changes almost starved life of oxygen
Chemical changes in the oceans more than 800 million years ago almost destroyed the oxygen-rich atmosphere that paved the way for complex life on Earth, new research suggests.
UBCO professor simplifies exercise advice for spinal cord injury
Professor Kathleen Martin Ginis says a major barrier to physical activity for people with a spinal cord injury is a lack of knowledge or resources about the amount and type of activity needed to achieve health and fitness benefits.
Soil life thrives between oil palm fronds
The threat to insects and soil-life from rainforest clearance is recognised.
Hydrogen energy at the root of life
A team of international researchers in Germany, France and Japan is making progress on answering the question of the origin of life.
Indigenous-led health care partnerships flourishing in Canada
Innovative, Indigenous-led health care partnerships and cultural healing practices have shown improved health outcomes and access to care, and have become important features of the medical landscape in Canada, according to a new analysis in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Epoxy resins: Hardening at the push of a button
A new epoxy resin has been developed at TU Wien (Vienna).
NASA finds ex-Tropical Cyclone Esther moving back inland
Ex-Tropical Cyclone Esther just won't give up. The storm formed in the South Pacific Ocean, tracked across Australia's Northern Territory and reached the Kimberley coast of Western Australia, and has now turned around.
Sleeping sheep may offer clues to human brain disease
People may count sheep when they cannot sleep, but when they do finally drift off their brains generate the same type of brain wave as their ovine counterparts, according to new research published in eNeuro.
Scientists succeed in measuring electron spin qubit without demolishing it
Scientists have succeeded in taking repeated measurements of the spin of an electron in a silicon quantum dot (QD), without changing the spin in the process.
Geologists determine early Earth was a 'water world' by studying exposed ocean crust
Geologists -- including Iowa State's Benjamin Johnson -- studied exposed, 3.2-billion-year-old ocean crust in Australia and used that rock data to build a quantitative, inverse model of ancient seawater.

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