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


Climate disasters increase risks of armed conflicts: New evidence
The risk for violent clashes increases after weather extremes such as droughts or floods hit people in vulnerable countries, an international team of scientists finds.
Geneticists are bringing personal medicine closer to recently admixed individuals
A new study in Nature Communications proposes a method to extend polygenic scores, the estimate of genetic risk factors and a cornerstone of the personalized medicine revolution, to individuals with multiple ancestral origins.
Limited supply may scupper proposals to use antimalarials to ward off Covid-19
Limited global supplies may scupper proposals to use the antimalarial drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, to lessen the symptoms of Covid-19 infection or ward it off altogether, say Italian doctors in a letter published online today in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
Daughter cells carry memory from mother on decision to divide
Researchers at CU Boulder have found that it's actually the mother cell that determines if its daughter cells will divide.
Researchers solve structure of 'inverted' rhodopsin
Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, working with Spanish, French, and German colleagues, have determined and analyzed the high-resolution structure of a protein from the recently discovered heliorhodopsin family.
Whooping cranes form larger flocks as wetlands are lost -- and it may put them at risk
Over the past few decades, the endangered whooping crane (Grus Americana) has experienced considerable recovery.
Does relativity lie at the source of quantum exoticism?
Since its beginnings, quantum mechanics hasn't ceased to amaze us with its peculiarity, so difficult to understand.
New treatment for childhood anxiety works by changing parent behavior
A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, , reports that an entirely parent-based treatment, SPACE (Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions), is as efficacious as individual cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for the treatment of childhood and adolescent anxiety disorders.
For stroke survivors, light physical activity linked to better daily function
Stroke survivors who engage in a lot of light physical activity -- taking leisurely walks or attending to nonstrenuous household chores, for example -- also report fewer physical limitations than their more sedentary peers, a new study finds.
Tailoring an anti-cancer drug for optimal tumor cell killing
Canadian biochemists identify distinguishing features that govern the potency of a class of anti-cancer compounds known as PARP inhibitors.
Scientists develop 'backpack' computers to track wild animals in hard-to-reach habitats
To truly understand an animal species is to observe its behavior and social networks in the wild.
Wits researchers unravel the mystery of non-cotectic magmatic rocks
Research shows that an excess amount of some minerals contained in non-cotetic rocks may originate in the feeder conduits along which the magmas are travelling from the deep-seated staging chambers towards Earth's surface.
Fourth new pterosaur discovery in matter of weeks
You wait ages for a pterosaur and then four come along at once.
Robo-turtles in fish farms reduce fish stress
Robotic turtles used for salmon farm surveillance could help prevent fish escapes.
Tiny tech for accelerating transformation to low-carbon energy
In a Policy Forum, Charlie Wilson and colleagues explore the potential advantages of 'granular' energy technologies -- small-scale, lower-cost and modular technologies -- for accelerating the low-carbon transformation of our global energy system.
Drugs considered for COVID-19 can raise risk for dangerous abnormal heart rhythms
As some consider treating coronavirus patients with a combination of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin, cardiologists are advising caution because both medications can increase the risk for dangerous abnormal heart rhythms, which can in turn lead to cardiac arrest.
Responding to Covid-19: How to navigate a public health emergency legally and ethically
Early-view essay in Hastings Center Report, March-April 2020.
New energy strategy in Cameroon to help avert 28,000 deaths and reduce global temperatures
A new study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, has found that clean cooking with liquified petroleum gas (LPG) could avert 28,000 premature deaths and reduce global temperatures through successful implementation of a new national household energy strategy in Cameroon.
A friendlier way to deal with nitrate pollution
Learning from nature, scientists from the Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan and the Korean Basic Science Institute (KBSI) have found a catalyst that efficiently transforms nitrate into nitrite -- an environmentally important reaction -- without requiring high temperature or acidity, and now have identified the mechanism that makes this efficiency possible.
Cocky kids: The four-year-olds with the same overconfidence as risk-taking bankers
Overconfidence in one's own abilities despite clear evidence to the contrary is present and persistent in children as young as four, a new study by the University of Sussex Business School has revealed.
Coastal pollution reduces genetic diversity of corals, reef resilience
A new study by researchers at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology found that human-induced environmental stressors have a large effect on the genetic composition of coral reef populations in Hawai'i.
Muscle protein abundant in the heart plays key role in blood clotting during heart attack
A prevalent heart protein known as cardiac myosin, which is released into the body when a person suffers a heart attack, can cause blood to thicken or clot--worsening damage to heart tissue, a new study shows.
Experiments lead to slip law for better forecasts of glacier speed, sea-level rise
Backed by experimental data from a laboratory machine that simulates the huge forces involved in glacier flow, glaciologists have written an equation that accounts for the motion of ice that rests on the soft, deformable ground underneath unusually fast-moving parts of ice sheets.
Giant umbrellas shift from convenient canopy to sturdy storm shield
In a new approach to storm surge protection, a Princeton team has created a preliminary design for dual-purpose kinetic umbrellas that would provide shade during fair weather and could be tilted in advance of a storm to form a flood barrier.
Breast density, microcalcifications, and masses may be heritable traits
An analysis of a large Swedish cohort revealed that breast density, microcalcifications, and masses are heritable features, and that breast density and microcalcifications were positively associated with a genetic predisposition to breast cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Paleontology: Fossil trove sheds light on ancient antipodean ecology
The oldest known animals and plants preserved in amber from Southern Gondwana are reported in Scientific Reports this week.
Using chemistry to unlock the difference between cold- and hot-brew coffee (video)
Cold brew may be the hottest trend in coffee-making, but not much is known about how this process alters the chemical characteristics of the beverage.
Turning cells into computers with protein logic gates
New artificial proteins have been created to function as molecular logic gates.
When three species of human ancestor walked the Earth
In a paper published this week in Science, an international team of scientists share details of the most ancient fossil of Homo erectus known and discuss how these new findings are forcing us to rewrite a part of our species' evolutionary history.
Advanced liver disease patients and transplant recipients need specific care during COVID-19
The European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) and the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) have issued a Position Paper, providing recommendations for clinicians caring for patients with liver diseases during the current pandemic.
COVID-19 vaccine candidate shows promise in first peer-reviewed research
A potential COVID-19 vaccine, delivered by microscopic needles, produces antibodies specific to the virus when tested in mice.
Climate-related disasters increase risks of conflict in vulnerable countries
Research on the effects of climate change on armed violence have previously been open to interpretation but new study shows climate-related disasters enhance armed conflict risks.
The Arctic may influence Eurasian extreme weather events in just two to three weeks
Scientists argue that the effects of rising temperatures and melting ice in the Arctic may actually be felt across the rest of the planet in a matter of weeks, but more robust, observational-based analysis is needed to fully understand how quickly Arctic events impact the rest of Earth.
Genetic self-activation maintains plant stem cells
New research led by investigators from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) describes how a key shoot stem cell-promoting gene activates its own expression, thus maintaining a stem cell lineage in the leaf axil that enables branching.
BU researchers find opioid prescriptions linked to obesity
Two new studies from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) shed light on the relationship between obesity and the use of prescription opioids in the United States.
Revisiting the potential of using psychedelic drugs in psychiatry
Before they were banned about a half century ago, psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin showed promise for treating conditions including alcoholism and some psychiatric disorders.
Scientists find a fluctuating rising trend of open agricultural straw burning in Northeast China
Open biomass burning (OBB) has a significant impact on regional air quality, especially on the heavy haze pollution in Northeast China (NEC) in recent years.
Study shows ICU patients with low-risk penicillin allergies can be tested and treated
Many patients previously diagnosed with a penicillin allergy can have their allergy label removed after testing and safely undergo treatment with penicillin medications, according to a study published in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Lung cancer surgery: Better survival probabilities with a higher case volume
In the surgical treatment of lung carcinoma, the more frequent performance of such interventions has a positive effect on treatment results -- the survival probabilities increase.
Most people consider becoming vegetarian for their health
Researchers know that people are motivated to be vegetarian for different reasons -- the most common in western cultures being health, the environment and animal rights.
Gardening helps to grow positive body image
New research has found that allotment gardening promotes positive body image, which measures someone's appreciation of their own body and its functions, and an acceptance of bodily imperfections.
Oysters and clams can be farmed together
Eastern oysters and three species of clams can be farmed together and flourish, potentially boosting profits of shellfish growers, according to a Rutgers University-New Brunswick study.
Our direct human ancestor Homo erectus is older than we thought
A Homo erectus skullcap found northwest of Johannesburg in South Africa has been identified as the oldest to date, in research published in Science.
Chilling concussed cells shows promise for full recovery
In the future, treating a concussion could be as simple as cooling the brain.
Starving pancreatic cancer of cysteine may kill tumor cells
In a new study of mice, Columbia researchers have found that an experimental drug that breaks down the amino acid cysteine slows pancreatic tumor growth by causing ferroptosis, an unusual form of cell death.
A next-generation sensor network for tracking small animals
A newly developed wireless biologging network (WBN) enables high-resolution tracking of small animals, according to a study published April 2 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Simon Ripperger of the Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science, and colleagues.
Capturing 3D microstructures in real time
Argonne researchers have invented a machine-learning based algorithm for quantitatively characterizing material microstructure in three dimensions and in real time.
Ex­tra­cel­lu­lar forces help epi­thelial cells stick to­gether
Defects in the maintenance of the superficial tissue of the body, known as epithelial tissue, can help cancer cells achieve motility and metastasise.
Checklist for emergency department team's COVID-19 surge
After reviewing the literature on COVID-19 scientific publications the authors developed a checklist to guide emergency departments.
Researchers unveil the universal properties of active turbulence
Turbulent flows are chaotic yet feature universal statistical properties.Over the recent years, seemingly turbulent flows have been discovered in active fluids such as bacterial suspensions, epithelial cell monolayers, and mixtures of biopolymers and molecular motors.
Device that tracks location of nurses re-purposed to record patient mobility
By re-purposing badges originally designed to locate nurses and other hospital staff, Johns Hopkins Medicine scientists say they can precisely monitor how patients in the hospital are walking outside of their rooms, a well-known indicator and contributor to recovery after surgery.
Lifestyle changes could delay memory problems in old age, depending on our genes
Researchers from King's College London have shown that how we respond to changes in nutrients at a molecular level plays an important role in the aging process, and this is directed by some key genetic mechanisms.
Gut communicates with the entire brain through cross-talking neurons
You know that feeling in your gut? We think of it as an innate intuition that sparks deep in the belly and helps guide our actions, if we let it.
Gender bias in commenting poses barriers to women scholars: York University sociologist
Women academics are less likely than men to comment on published research, limiting scholarly debate, a new study co-authored by York University sociologist Professor Cary Wu, shows.
Study synthesizes what climate change means for Northwest wildfires
A synthesis study looks at how climate change will affect the risk of wildfires in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana.
Colorado study overturns 'snapshot' model of cell cycle in use since 1974
Live, single-cell imaging shows cellular 'memory' of growth factor availability throughout the cell cycle (and not just snapshot of growth factor availability) influences cells' decision to replicate.
NASA finds heavy rain potential in new Tropical Cyclone Irondro
NASA analyzed the cloud top temperatures in the newly formed Tropical Cyclone Irondro using infrared light to determine where the strongest storms were located.
COVID-19 contact tracing apps: 8 privacy questions governments should ask
Imperial experts have posed eight privacy questions governments should consider when developing coronavirus contact tracing apps.
COPD linked to heightened risk of lung cancer in people who have never smoked
COPD, short for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is linked to a heightened risk of lung cancer in people who have never smoked, indicates research published online in the journal Thorax.
Study suggests marijuana may impair female fertility
Female eggs exposed to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, have an impaired ability to produce viable embryos, and are significantly less likely to result in a viable pregnancy, according to an animal study accepted for presentation at ENDO 2020, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting.
Coalition to accelerate research for COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries
A group of scientists, physicians, funders, and policy makers from over 70 institutions from over 30 countries have launched an international coalition to respond to COVID-19 in resource-poor settings.
Repair instead of renew: Damaged powerhouses of cells have their own 'workshop mode'
CECAD-researchers find a molecular repair pathway for cellular energy production, publication in 'Nature Communications'
Discovery of life in solid rock deep beneath sea may inspire new search for life on Mars
Newly discovered single-celled creatures living deep beneath the seafloor have provided clues about how to find life on Mars.
Machine learning offers glimpses into the emotional lives of mice
Using a machine learning algorithm to analyze mouse facial expressions, Nejc Dolensek and colleagues have uncovered the neurological origins of emotional states.
COVID-19 and labour constraints: Recalling former health care workers not enough
While the COVID-19 pandemic has already resulted in mass layoffs in several industries, other essential industries will instead face critical workforce shortages, according to a new report.
In South Africa, three hominins, including earliest Homo erectus, lived during same period
Nearly 2 million years ago, three hominin genera -- Australopithecus, Paranthropus and the earliest Homo erectus lineage -- lived as contemporaries in the karst landscape of what is now South Africa, according to a new geochronological evaluation of the hominin fossil-rich Drimolen Paleocave complex.
Trial drug can significantly block early stages of COVID-19 in engineered human tissues
An international team led by University of British Columbia researcher Dr.
Want to stop consumer hoarding in times of crisis?
Consumer stockpiling and hoarding took center stage in recent months as the COVID-19 virus has spread around the world, and with it, panic buying on the part of millions.
Decrypting cryptocurrencies
Cryptocurrencies have been treated as a financial terra incognita -- they enjoyed growing interest but also raised concerns due to their virtuality.
3D reconstructions of individual nanoparticles
Want to find out how to design and build materials atom by atom?
Stress thwarts our ability to plan ahead by disrupting how we use memory
Pairing brain scans with virtual-navigation tasks, researchers found that people make less efficient and effective plans when stressed.
Single mutation leads to big effects in autism-related gene
A new study in Neuron offers clues to why autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is more common in boys than in girls.
Natural sunscreen gene influences how we make vitamin D
Genetic variations in the skin can create a natural sunscreen, according to University of Queensland researchers investigating the genes linked with vitamin D.
Researchers find that nicotinamide may help treat fibrotic eye diseases and mitigate vision loss
Nicotinamide can inhibit aggressive cell transformations during wound healing and may be key to the development of therapies to treat fibrotic eye diseases.
Story tips: Molding matter atom by atom and seeing inside uranium particles
Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory: Molding matter atom by atom and seeing inside uranium particles
A new way to fine-tune exotic materials: Thin, stretch and clamp
Turning a brittle oxide into a flexible membrane and stretching it on a tiny apparatus flipped it from a conducting to an insulating state and changed its magnetic properties.
An all-organic proton battery energized for sustainable energy storage
Sustainable energy storage is in great demand. Researchers at Uppsala University have therefore developed an all-organic proton battery that can be charged in a matter of seconds.
Trial drug may block early stages of COVID-19, study in human cells shows
A drug already tested against lung disease could potentially inhibit COVID-19 by reducing the coronavirus load that enters the lungs and other organs.
Subtle flavors
Evolution is a tinkerer, not an engineer. 'Evolution does not produce novelties from scratch.
Medical teams need to be alert to the extra risks faced by diabetics from COVID-19
Doctors need to pay particular attention to patients with endocrine disorders and diabetes mellitus in relation to COVID-19 infections, say leading endocrinologists.
The facial expressions of mice
The face of a mouse reveals its emotions.
Impacts of cover crop planting dates on soil properties after 4 years
Low biomass production limits cover crop effects on soils.
Representation of driving behavior as a statistical model
A joint research team from Toyohashi University of Technology has established a method to represent driving behaviors and their changes that differ among drivers in a single statistical model, taking into account the effect of various external factors such as road structure.
New 'law' to explain how glaciers flow over soft ground
Addressing a major source of uncertainty in glacier-flow models, researchers present a new slip law to describe glaciers sliding on soft, deformable material.
Smaller scale solutions needed for rapid progress towards emissions targets
Low-carbon technologies that are smaller scale, more affordable, and can be mass deployed are more likely to enable a faster transition to net-zero emissions, according to a new study by an international team of researchers.
Scientists show how parasitic infection causes seizures, psychiatric illness for some
In a new study published in GLIA , Virginia Tech neuroscientists at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC describe how the common Toxoplasma gondii parasite prompts the loss of inhibitory signaling in the brain by altering the behavior of nearby cells called microglia.

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