Naturally occurring arsenic in private wells threatens people in many U.S. states and parts of Canada, according to a package of a dozen scientific papers to be published next week. The studies, focused mainly on New England but applicable elsewhere, say private wells present continuing risks due to almost nonexistent regulation in most states, homeowner inaction and inadequate mitigation measures. The reports also shed new light on the geologic mechanisms behind the contamination. The studies come amid new evidence that even low doses of arsenic may reduce IQ in children, in addition to well documented risks of heart disease, cancer and reduced lung function. The reports comprise a special section in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
New research could lead to a better understanding of how the brain works in people with autism. Little is known about the cognitive processes involved.
Researchers from Monash University and Deakin University looked at new hypotheses of autism that focused on the way in which the brain combines new information from its senses with prior knowledge about the environment. Using the 'rubber-hand' illusion, the researchers examined how adults with autism experienced 'ownership' of a fake prosthetic hand.
In the 'rubber-hand' illusion, one of the subject's hands is placed out of sight, while a rubber hand sits in front of them. By stroking the fake hand at the same time as the visible real one, the subject can be convinced the fake hand is theirs.
The discovery of the first gene causing familial scoliosis was announced by an international France-Canada research team today. "Mystery surrounds the cause of scoliosis, which is a three dimensional deformation of the vertebral column. Many researchers have been attempting to uncover the origins of this disease, particularly from a genetic point of view," explained leading co-author Dr Florina Moldovan of the University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte Justine research hospital. "To date, many genes have been suspected of causing scoliosis amongst different populations, but the gene that causes the familial form of the disease remained unknown.
By Nial Wheate, University of Sydney-->
By Olivia Murphy, University of Sydney-->
The warm ocean temperatures that brought an endangered green sea turtle to San Francisco in September have triggered a population explosion of bright pink, inch-long sea slugs in tide pools along California's central and northern coastline. The Hopkins' Rose nudibranch, while no strange sight in Southern California, is rarely spotted farther north. A team of scientists, including experts from the California Academy of Sciences, believes this far-flung Okenia rosacea bloom--along with a slew of other marine species spotted north of their typical ranges--may signal a much larger shift in ocean climate and a strong forthcoming El Niño.
Understanding how baleen whales hear has posed a great mystery to marine mammal researchers. New research by San Diego State University biologist Ted W. Cranford and University of California, San Diego engineer Petr Krysl reveals that the skulls of at least some baleen whales, specifically fin whales in their study, have acoustic properties that capture the energy of low frequencies and direct it to their ear bones.
Baleen whales, also known as mysticetes, are the largest animals on earth, and include blue whales, minke whales, right whales, gray whales and fin whales. These whales can emit extremely low frequency vocalizations that travel extraordinary distances underwater. The wavelengths of these calls can be longer than the bodies of the whales themselves.