Science2.0

New Study Suggests A Better Way To Deal With Bad Memories

Science2.0 - April 18, 2014 - 6:21pm

What's one of your worst memories? How did it make you feel? According to psychologists, remembering the emotions felt during a negative personal experience, such as how sad you were or how embarrassed you felt, can lead to emotional distress, especially when you can't stop thinking about it.

When these negative memories creep up, thinking about the context of the memories, rather than how you felt, is a relatively easy and effective way to alleviate the negative effects of these memories, a new study suggests.


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Ancient DNA Offers Clues To How Barnyard Chickens Came To Be

Science2.0 - April 18, 2014 - 6:21pm

Durham, NC — Ancient DNA adds a twist to the story of how barnyard chickens came to be, finds a study to be published April 21 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Analyzing DNA from the bones of chickens that lived 200-2300 years ago in Europe, researchers report that just a few hundred years ago domestic chickens may have looked far different from the chickens we know today.

The results suggest that some of the traits we associate with modern domestic chickens -- such as their yellowish skin -- only became widespread in the last 500 years, much more recently than previously thought.

"It's a blink of an eye from an evolutionary perspective," said co-author Greger Larson at Durham University in the United Kingdom.


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Plants With Dormant Seeds Give Rise To More Species

Science2.0 - April 18, 2014 - 6:21pm

Durham, NC — Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first
warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More than just an insurance policy against late frosts or unexpected dry spells, it turns out that seed dormancy has long-term advantages too: Plants whose seeds put off sprouting until conditions are more certain give rise to more species, finds in a team of researchers working at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in North Carolina.


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Lost World: 3-Million-Year-Old Landscape Still Exists Under Greenland Ice Sheet

Science2.0 - April 18, 2014 - 4:09pm

Parts of the landscape underlying the massive Greenland ice sheet may have been undisturbed for almost 3 million years, since the island became completely ice-covered, say researchers who based their discovery on an analysis of the chemical composition of silts recovered from the bottom of an ice core more than 3,000 meters long. 

The find suggests "pre-glacial landscapes can remain preserved for long periods under continental ice sheets." 

In the time since the ice sheet formed "the soil has been preserved and only slowly eroded, implying that an ancient landscape underlies 3,000 meters of ice at Summit, Greenland," they conclude.


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Artificial Intelligence Programs Go Head To Head

Science2.0 - April 18, 2014 - 4:02pm
Most academics don't like competition but in the field of artificial intelligence, everyone wants to square off against the best in their discipline.

In June, the International Planning Competition held every two years will take place in  New Hampshire. It  is divided into four categories, the most significant of which is considered the “deterministic track”. This is for programs designed to eliminate any element of chance from automated planning in a wide range of fields, such as logistics, robot manipulation, satellite movement and transport. 
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Some Fish In Remote National Parks Show Elevated Levels Of Mercury

Science2.0 - April 18, 2014 - 7:38am
Mercury levels in excess of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health thresholds for potential impacts to fish, birds, and humans have been detected in fish in some of the most remote national park lakes and streams in the western United States and Alaska.

 Mercury is harmful to human and wildlife health. It arises from natural sources, such as volcanic eruptions, and from human sources such as burning fossil fuels in power plants. Mercury is distributed at local or regional scales as a result of current and historic mining activities. Human activities have increased levels of atmospheric mercury at least three fold during the past 150 years.  
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Deadly Human Pathogen Cryptococcus Fully Sequenced

Science2.0 - April 18, 2014 - 2:20am

DURHAM, N.C. – Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus neoformans -- a fungus responsible for a million cases of pneumonia and meningitis every year -- are so malleable and dangerous.


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Our Brains Are Hardwired For Language

Science2.0 - April 18, 2014 - 2:20am

A groundbreaking study published in PLOS ONE by Prof. Iris Berent of Northeastern University and researchers at Harvard Medical School shows the brains of individual speakers are sensitive to language universals. Syllables that are frequent across languages are recognized more readily than infrequent syllables. Simply put, this study shows that language universals are hardwired in the human brain.

LANGUAGE UNIVERSALS


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Malaria Pathogen's Cellular Skeleton Gets A Super-Microscope Look

Science2.0 - April 18, 2014 - 2:19am

The tropical disease malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite. For its survival and propagation, Plasmodium requires a protein called actin. Scientists of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Germany used high-resolution structural biology methods to investigate the different versions of this protein in the parasite in high detail. Their results may in the future contribute to the development of tailor-made drugs against malaria–a disease that causes more than half a million deaths per year.


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Better Thermal-imaging Lens From Waste Sulfur

Science2.0 - April 18, 2014 - 2:19am

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team has found.

The team successfully took thermal images of a person through a piece of the new plastic. By contrast, taking a picture taken through the plastic often used for ordinary lenses does not show a person's body heat.

"We have for the first time a polymer material that can be used for quality thermal imaging – and that's a big deal," said senior co-author Jeffrey Pyun, whose lab at the UA developed the plastic. "The industry has wanted this for decades."


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Is UK Shale Gas Extraction Posing A Risk To Public Health?

Science2.0 - April 18, 2014 - 2:19am

More needs to be done to investigate the risks to human health that extracting shale gas poses, suggests a personal view published on bmj.com today.

Dr. Seth Shonkoff, Executive Director for Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, and his colleagues say that operations to produce natural gas from formations such as shale sometimes occur "close to human populations", but efforts to understand the potential impacts have fallen short, focusing on regulations rather than on health outcomes.


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Probiotics Ineffective For Infant Colic Symptoms

Science2.0 - April 17, 2014 - 8:58pm

Colic affects about one in five infants in the United States annually and accounts for numerous pediatric visits during the first several months after birth.

Among the many claims of probiotic marketing is that it helps with reduction of colic symptoms but a phase III, double blind, randomized placebo controlled trial published in the British Medical Journal concluded that the use of the probiotic L reuteri for infant colic did not reduce crying or fussing in infants nor was it effective in improving infant sleep, functioning or quality of life.

The results were no different for babies receiving breast milk or formula.


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Kepler-186f : An Earth-Sized Planet In A Habitable Zone

Science2.0 - April 17, 2014 - 7:48pm

Astronomers using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope report discovery of the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the "habitable zone" -- the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet.

The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun. While planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, they are all at least 40 percent larger in size than Earth and understanding their makeup is challenging. Kepler-186f is more reminiscent of Earth.


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Is Parkinson's An Autoimmune Disease?

Science2.0 - April 17, 2014 - 7:46pm

NEW YORK, NY (April 16, 2014) — The cause of neuronal death in Parkinson's disease is still unknown, but a new study proposes that neurons may be mistaken for foreign invaders and killed by the person's own immune system, similar to the way autoimmune diseases like type I diabetes, celiac disease, and multiple sclerosis attack the body's cells. The study was published April 16, 2014, in Nature Communications.


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New MRSA Superbug In Brazil

Science2.0 - April 17, 2014 - 5:39pm

An international research team has identified a new superbug that caused a bloodstream infection in a Brazilian patient.

The new superbug is part of a class of highly-resistant bacteria known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, which is a major cause of hospital and community-associated infections. The superbug has also acquired high levels of resistance to vancomycin, the most common and least expensive antibiotic used to treat severe MRSA infections worldwide.


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Without Science Leadership, Food Shortages Could Be Critical World Issue By 2050

Science2.0 - April 17, 2014 - 5:00pm

The world could be less than 40 years away from a food shortage that will have serious implications for people and governments, according to a senior science advisor at the U.S. Agency for International Development. It's not Paul Ehrlich/John Holdren Doomsday Prophet levels of gloom, but it's a sign we need to keep science advancing.


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Tourette Syndrome - Brain Training Overcomes Tics In Study

Science2.0 - April 17, 2014 - 4:42pm
Children with Tourette syndrome may unconsciously train their brain to more effectively control their tics.

How so? A recent study found that teenagers diagnosed with  Tourette syndrome   were slower than typical peers when asked to perform a task that involved them simply moving their eyes to look at targets but buterr when the task was more demanding and required them to choose between looking at or away from targets. They were as fast as their peers but made fewer eye movements in the wrong direction.
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Tesla On The Horizon: Wireless Power Now Works Over 15 Feet

Science2.0 - April 17, 2014 - 4:08pm

Researchers have reported a big improvement in the distance of wireless power.   Their "Dipole Coil Resonant System (DCRS) boosts the extended range of inductive power transfer up to 5 meters between transmitter and receiver coils. 

It's not quite the rumors about Nikola Tesla but if you think that's not a lot, ponder that Bluetooth is only slightly greater after 15 years in progress.


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Is Nick Szabo The Creator Of Bitcoin? Linguists Say They Have The Answer

Science2.0 - April 17, 2014 - 3:31pm
A recent Newsweek article claimed that the mystery of the brains behind Bitcoin had been solved - and Dorian S. Nakamoto was the guy.

The primary author of the celebrated cryptocurrency Bitcoin paper has remained unknown. Bitcoin is an Internet-based virtual currency which allows users to buy goods and services online. The payment system, introduced in 2009, is supposedly easier and safer than sending money via more traditional means. Using Bitcoin to pay for items also means avoiding credit card, foreign exchange or cash handling fees.
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The Suicide Epidemic Among India’s Marginalized Farmers

Science2.0 - April 17, 2014 - 3:25pm
A statistical analysis determines that in India’s agriculture sector following the liberalization of the nation’s economy during the 1990s,  suicides among small, debt-ridden farmers - who are clinging to tiny holdings, less than one hectare - and are trying to grow cash crops, such as cotton and coffee, that are highly susceptible to global price fluctuations - have been the result.

By contrast, areas such as Gujarat, in which cash crops are mainly cultivated on large-scale farms, have low suicide rates. Wealthy cash crop farmers have the resources to weather difficult economic periods without falling into debt and ruin. It's rare to see academics arguing for giant farms over small, family-owned ones.
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