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Friday, July 19, 2013

ScienceDaily: Latest Science News

ScienceDaily: Latest Science News


Immunity: A secret to making macrophages

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 01:15 PM PDT

Biologists have worked out the details of a mechanism that leads undifferentiated blood stem cells to become macrophages -- immune cells that attack bacteria and other foreign pathogens. The process involves an unexpected cycle in which cell division slows, leading to an increased accumulation of a particular regulatory protein that in turn slows cell division further. The finding provides new insight into how stem cells are guided to generate one cell type as opposed to another.

Good vibrations: Mediating mood through brain ultrasound

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 01:15 PM PDT

Researchers have developed a novel technique to affect mood through ultrasound vibrations applied to the brain. Their findings could potentially lead to new treatments for psychological and psychiatric disorders.

Dental research: Gingival stem cells can be used in tissue regeneration

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 01:15 PM PDT

Gingivae represent a unique soft tissue that serves as a biological barrier to cover the oral cavity side of the maxilla and mandible. Recently, the gingivae were identified as containing mesenchymal stem cells (GMSCs). However, it is unknown whether the GMSCs are derived from cranial neural crest cells (CNCC) or the mesoderm.

New approach to designing visual notations

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 01:14 PM PDT

A visual notation is a graphical representation. It consists of graphical symbols, their definitions, and a visual grammar. Some examples of graphical symbols are: lines, surfaces, volumes, textual labels and spatial relationships. These elements are used to build the visual vocabulary of a notation; Mind Maps for example, consist of lines and labels. Visual representations are effective because they convey information more concisely and precisely than language. They are also better remembered.

Facebook for molecules

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 01:13 PM PDT

Social media has expanded to reach an unlikely new target: molecules. Scientists have created networks of molecular data similar to Facebook's recently debuted graph search feature.

Unusual material expands dramatically under pressure

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 01:13 PM PDT

If you squeeze a normal object in all directions, it shrinks in all directions. But a few strange materials will actually grow in one dimension when compressed. Chemists have now discovered a structure that takes this property to a new level, expanding more dramatically under pressure than any other known material.

How Mars' atmosphere got so thin: Reports detail Curiosity clues to atmosphere's past

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 11:30 AM PDT

A pair of new papers report measurements of the Martian atmosphere's composition by NASA's Curiosity rover, providing evidence about loss of much of Mars' original atmosphere.

Graphene 'onion rings' have delicious potential

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 11:30 AM PDT

Hexagonal graphene "onion rings" are the product of growing two-dimensional carbon in a high-pressure, hydrogen-rich environment.

Cellular channels vital for hearing identified

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 11:28 AM PDT

Researchers identified two proteins in the inner ear, critical for hearing that cause hearing loss when damaged by genetic mutations. The findings from 30 years' research shows that the proteins encoded by the genes form channels that turn mechanical sound waves into electrical signals that talk to the brain. A tiny point mutation -- a change in one base or "letter" in the genetic sequence -- is enough to cause deafness.

Gene mutation linked to obesity: Mice gain weight even when fed normal amounts of food

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 11:28 AM PDT

Researchers have identified a genetic cause of severe obesity that, though rare, raises new questions about weight gain and energy use in the general obese population. The research involved genetic surveys of several groups of obese humans and experiments in mice.

Snow in an infant solar system: A frosty landmark for planet and comet formation

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 11:27 AM PDT

A snow line has been imaged in a far-off infant solar system for the very first time. The snow line, located in the disc around the Sun-like star TW Hydrae, promises to tell us more about the formation of planets and comets, the factors that decide their composition, and the history of the Solar System.

Best romantic singers are male bats

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 11:25 AM PDT

Male bats appear to be the sexy singers of the animal world: they have learned to vocalize in a specific way to attract females, but once they have their attention, they change their tune – literally. They then produce a more creative array of sounds to entertain and keep the females interested.

Marriage rate lowest in a century

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 11:24 AM PDT

Fewer women are getting married and they're waiting longer to tie the knot when they do decide to walk down the aisle.

Microbes can influence evolution of their hosts

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 11:24 AM PDT

Contrary to current scientific understanding, it appears that our microbial companions play an important role in their hosts' evolution. A new study provides the first direct evidence that these microbes can contribute to the origin of new species by reducing the viability of hybrids produced between males and females of different species.

MAVEN spectrometer opens window to Red Planet’s past

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:10 AM PDT

When NASA's MAVEN mission begins its journey to the Red Planet later this year, it will be equipped with a special instrument to take the planet back in time.

Computer system automatically generates TCP congestion-control algorithms

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:07 AM PDT

Computer-designed algorithms for controlling network congestion yield transmission rates two to three times as high as those designed by humans.

Evolutionary changes could aid fisheries

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:07 AM PDT

Sustainable fishing practices could lead to larger fishing yields in the long run, according to a new study that models in detail how ecology and evolution affect the economics of fishing.

Hubble shows link between stars' ages and their orbits in dense cluster

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:06 AM PDT

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have determined the orbital motion of two distinct populations of stars in an ancient globular star cluster, offering proof they formed at different times and providing a rare look back into the Milky Way galaxy's early days.

How mice teach us about disease: Open access resource reveals new genes and pathways linked to human disease

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:06 AM PDT

To power research into a wide range of diseases, more than 900 genes in mice have been individually switched off. Using this resource, the team has already identified new disease-related genes and revealed new functions for known genes. This new resource, known as the Mouse Genetics Project, provides researchers and clinicians with a wealth of freely available information that will help find new treatment strategies and options for a wide range of diseases.

Widely used pesticide toxic to honeybees

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:06 AM PDT

New research concludes that the absence of mortality does not always indicate functional integrity.

Endoplasmic reticulum: Scientists image 'parking garage' helix structure in protein-making factory

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:06 AM PDT

The endoplasmic reticulum is the protein-making factory within cells consisting of tightly stacked sheets of membrane studded with the molecules that make proteins. Now, researchers have refined a new microscopy imaging method to visualize exactly how the ER sheets are stacked, revealing that the 3D structure of the sheets resembles a parking garage. This structure allows for the dense packing of ER sheets, maximizing the amount of space available for protein synthesis.

How smoking increases vulnerability to alcohol abuse

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:06 AM PDT

Smoking is a well-known risk factor for subsequent alcohol abuse, but the mechanisms underlying this link are unknown. Now researchers show in a study conducted in rats that even a single exposure to nicotine temporarily changes how the brain's reward system responds to alcohol and increases the reinforcing properties of alcohol via stress hormones.

Chimpanzees and orangutans remember distant past events

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:06 AM PDT

We humans can remember events in our lives that happened years ago, with those memories often surfacing unexpectedly in response to sensory triggers like flavor or scent. Now, researchers have evidence to suggest that chimpanzees and orangutans have similar capacities. In laboratory tests, both primate species were clearly able to recollect a tool-finding event that they had experienced just four times three years earlier and a singular event from two weeks before, the researchers show.

European fish stocks poised for recovery

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:06 AM PDT

The results of a major international effort to assess the status of dozens of European fish stocks find that many of those stocks in the northeast Atlantic are being fished sustainably today and that, given time, those populations should continue to recover. The findings come as surprisingly good news amid widespread criticism that the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy is failing, the researchers say.

Movement without muscles study in insects could inspire robot and prosthetic limb developments

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:05 AM PDT

Neurobiologists have shown that insect limbs can move without muscles -- a finding that may provide engineers with new ways to improve the control of robotic and prosthetic limbs.

Simple way to reduce healthcare costs identified

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:05 AM PDT

A new study provides a case study of a simple action that can reduce healthcare costs, without compromising care.

Complete description of gene expression in the human retina

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:04 AM PDT

Investigators have published the most thorough description of gene expression in the human retina reported to date.

Exercise can reduce stroke risk

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:04 AM PDT

A new study is one of the first to study the relationship of exercise and stroke in a large biracial cohort of men and women in the U.S.

New approach to protecting prion protein from altering shape, becoming infectious

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:04 AM PDT

Scientists have identified a mechanism that can prevent the normal prion protein from changing its molecular shape into the abnormal form responsible for neurodegenerative diseases.

Obesity and asthma: Study finds a link in the genes

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:04 AM PDT

Genes linked to chronic inflammation in asthma may be more active in people who are obese, according to new research that uncovers several biological ties between obesity and asthma.

Bearing witness to the phenomenon of symmetric cell division

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:04 AM PDT

For more than 125 years, scientists have been peering through microscopes, carefully watching cells divide. Until now, however, none has actually seen how cells manage to divide precisely into two equally-sized daughter cells during mitosis. Such perfect division depends on the position of the mitotic spindle (chromosomes, microtubules, and spindle poles) within the cell, and it's now clear that human cells employ two specific mechanisms during the portion of division known as anaphase to correct mitotic spindle positioning.

NASA interplanetary probes to take pictures of Earth

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 10:03 AM PDT

Two NASA spacecraft, one studying the Saturn system, the other observing Mercury, are maneuvering into place to take pictures of Earth on July 19 and 20.

Scientists break record for thinnest light-absorber: May lead to more efficient, cheaper solar cells

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 08:15 AM PDT

Scientists have built the thinnest, most efficient absorber of visible light on record, a nanosize structure that could lead to less-costly, more efficient, solar cells.

Electronic Health Records help fight vaccine-preventable diseases

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 08:13 AM PDT

Using an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system to automate the immunization data shared between health providers and public health agencies enables physicians to assist individual patients faster and more effectively, while also providing more immediate, cohesive community data to the agencies tasked with promoting public health.

Hurricane season: Predicting in advance what could happen

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 08:13 AM PDT

Scientists have studied how hurricanes and other disasters disrupt critical infrastructure, such as roads, electricity and water systems.

New way to measure cumulative effect of head hits in football

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 08:13 AM PDT

A new way to measure the cumulative effect of impacts to the head incurred by football players has been developed.

Slow bow shock ahead of the sun's heliosphere predicted

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 08:13 AM PDT

A new study indicates that a bow shock (a dynamic boundary between sun's heliosphere and the interstellar medium) is highly likely. These findings challenge recent predictions that no such bow shock would be encountered.

No benefit found from oxytocin treatment for autism

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:14 AM PDT

The so-called trust hormone, oxytocin, may not improve the symptoms of children with autism, a new study has found. In a randomized controlled clinical trial of 38 boys with autism, half were given a nasal spray of oxytocin on four consecutive days. Compared to a placebo, oxytocin did not significantly improve emotion recognition, social interaction skills, repetitive behaviors, or general behavioral adjustment.

This fungus cell only looks like the 405 freeway

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:13 AM PDT

Mathematicians have created a video of a live fungus, with many millions of nuclei in a single cell.

Southern California crustacean sand-dwellers suffering localized extinctions

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:13 AM PDT

Two types of small beach critters -- both cousins of the beloved, backyard roly-poly -- are suffering localized extinctions in Southern California at an alarming rate, says a new study. As indicator species for beach biodiversity at large, their disappearance suggests a looming threat to similar sand-dwelling animals across the state and around the world.

Irish potato famine-causing pathogen even more virulent now

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:13 AM PDT

The plant pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s lives on today with a different genetic blueprint and an even larger arsenal of weaponry to harm and kill plants.

Computing toxic chemicals

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:13 AM PDT

A new computational method for working out in advance whether a chemical will be toxic has been developed.

New approach to treat the most common heart valve disease in Western countries

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:12 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a new approach to treat aortic valve stenosis through the administration of a compound that prevents valve deterioration and can even reverse the progression of the disease. It is the most common type of heart valve disease in Western countries.

Social media, DNA typing help identify source of foodborne strep outbreak

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:12 AM PDT

Facebook posts helped alert public health officials to a strep throat outbreak among a high school dance team in 2012, and DNA fingerprinting led investigators to pasta prepared by a previously ill parent as the likely source. Although strep throat, or Group A Streptococcus pharyngitis, usually spreads from person to person by droplets, foodborne transmission is possible.

Why crop rotation works: Change in crop species causes shift in soil microbes

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:12 AM PDT

Shift in soil microbes triggers cycle to improve yield, plant nutrition and disease resistance. New research could help explain the dramatic effect on soil health and yield of crop rotation.

Long-distance relationships can form stronger bonds than face-to-face ones

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:12 AM PDT

The long-distance relationship has plagued college students and people relocated for work for ages. These relationships are seen as destined to fail, but are they actually creating stronger bonds than a geographically closer relationship? A recent article found that people in long-distance relationships often have stronger bonds from more constant, and deeper, communication than normal relationships.

Infection biology: How Legionella subverts to survive

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:11 AM PDT

Bacteria of the genus Legionella have evolved a sophisticated system to replicate in the phagocytic cells of their hosts. Researchers have now identified a novel component of this system.

Reclassification of cannabis linked to cannabis psychosis

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:11 AM PDT

Researchers have demonstrated that the change in cannabis declassification in 2009 has coincided with a significant increase in hospital admissions for cannabis psychosis - rather than the decrease it was intended to produce.

New methods to visualize bacterial cell-to-cell communication

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:11 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a live-cell fluorescent labeling that makes bacterial cell-to-cell communication pathways visible. The communication between bacterial cells is essential in the regulation of processes within bacterial populations, such as biofilm development.

Ice age figurine's head found: Archaeologists put new and old finds together to reassemble ancient work of art

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:11 AM PDT

Researchers have successfully re-attached the newly discovered head of a prehistoric mammoth-ivory figurine discovered in 1931. The head was found during renewed excavations at Vogelherd Cave, site of the original dig in 1931.

Evaporation: Tiny temperature differences are primary driving force in droplet evaporation

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:10 AM PDT

Evaporation is so common that everybody thinks it's a well understood phenomenon. Appearances can be, however, deceptive. Recently, a new, earlier not predicted mechanism of evaporation was discovered. Experiments and simulations not only confirm its existence, but also indicate that it plays the crucial role in evaporation process in the nanoscale.

Singing helps students tune into a foreign language

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:10 AM PDT

A new study provides the first experimental evidence that a listen-and-repeat singing method can support foreign language learning. Singing in a foreign language can significantly improve learning how to speak it, according to a new study. Adults who listened to short Hungarian phrases and then sang them back performed better than those who spoke the phrases, researchers found. People who sang the phrases back also fared better than those who repeated the phrases by speaking them rhythmically.

Shorebirds prefer a good body to a large brain

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:09 AM PDT

In many animal species, males and females differ in terms of their brain size. The most common explanation is that these differences stem from sexual selection. But predictions are not always certain. Scientists have discovered that a group of coastal birds, shorebirds, do not choose their mates by brain size but "on their physiques".

Successful restoration of hearing and balance

Posted: 18 Jul 2013 07:07 AM PDT

The sounds of success are ringing due to a research project that has the potential to treat human deafness and loss of balance.

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