Science2.0

10,000 Year Old Agricultural Wisdom Could Lead To Future Food Security

Science2.0 - December 12, 2014 - 2:00pm

Why did the earliest farmers in the Fertile Crescent, an arc of land in western Asia from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf, domesticate some cereal crops 10,000 years ago and not others?


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Culling Kangaroos Could Help The Environment

Science2.0 - December 12, 2014 - 3:04am

How many kangaroos is too many? David Jenkins/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

By Brett Howland, Australian National University; David Lindenmayer, Australian National University, and Iain Gordon, James Hutton Institute

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A Misplaced Concern About An Arctic Apple

Science2.0 - December 11, 2014 - 9:58pm
As a consumer and as an agricultural scientist, I’m looking forward to the introduction of the Arctic® apple. It is possibly nearing approval by regulators in the US and Canada which could mean that supplies might finally be available in a few more years.

These apples could give consumers the possibility of buying apples that maintain their flavor, appearance and vitamin content after cutting, and which can also be used to make beautiful dried apple slices without the need for sulfites (something that can be a problem for some people).
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Low Income Kids Eat Healthier In School - Let's Not Mess That Up

Science2.0 - December 11, 2014 - 8:55pm

A longitudinal study has found that while higher income children eat worse at school, low-income kids eat healthier than at home. While the political controversy rages over federal efforts to manage local school lunch programs, more data on who has actually been helped by the program over time is needed. 

The results in Preventive Medicine showed that fruit and vegetable intake was higher among low income adolescents on days when they consumed meals at school. The opposite was true for high income adolescents who consumed fewer fruits and vegetables when school was in session, compared to summer months. While in school, all students consumed fruits and vegetables with similar frequency regardless of income level.


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Telomeres And The Genetic Impact On Aging

Science2.0 - December 11, 2014 - 8:31pm

Some people just age better than others and it is isn't due to lifestyle. Most centenarians smoked cigarettes at one point, many were obese and almost all eat red meat. 

Perhaps birds can tell us what really matters. 


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Take That, Mammals: Birds Don't Need External Ears

Science2.0 - December 11, 2014 - 8:22pm

For mammals, the outer ears of mammals play an important function in helping identify sounds coming from different elevations.

Since birds have no external ears, how do they accomplish the same thing? They utilize their entire head, according to a new paper in PLOS ONE

"Because birds have no external ears, it has long been believed that they are unable to differentiate between sounds coming from different elevations," explains Hans A. Schnyder,  Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Chair of Zoology. "But a female blackbird should be able to locate her chosen mate even if the source of the serenade is above her." 


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Chemical Crypsis: Fish Use Camouflage From Diet To Avoid Predators

Science2.0 - December 11, 2014 - 6:47pm

A species of small fish uses a homemade coral-scented cologne to hide from predators - the first evidence of chemical camouflage from diet in fish.

Filefish evade predators by feeding on their home corals and then emitting a similar odor that makes them invisible to the noses of predators. Chemical camouflage from diet has been previously shown in insects, such as caterpillars, which mask themselves by building their exoskeletons with chemicals from their food.

If animals don't need an exoskeleton to use chemical camouflage, more animals than previously thought could be using this survival tactic.


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The Hydrological Rise And Fall Of The Roman Empire

Science2.0 - December 11, 2014 - 6:09pm

The Roman empire stretched over three continents, had 70 million people, and had a logistics and infrastructure system that kept them going for centuries.

They had smart agricultural practices and an extensive grain-trade network that enabled them to thrive even where water was scarce - but they knew their limits according to a paper in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.


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Microbiome And Parkinson's Disease Linked

Science2.0 - December 11, 2014 - 5:48pm

Parkinson's disease sufferers have a different microbiota in their intestines than healthy counterparts, they have less Prevotellaceae bacteria, according to a study conducted at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUCH).  


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Poor People Get More Energy Efficient Housing, Then More Asthma

Science2.0 - December 11, 2014 - 5:35pm

The drive for energy efficient homes is increasing asthma risk, finds a team at the University of Exeter Medical School. People are so concerned about energy savings they end up with homes that are not properly heated or ventilated, which could lead to more people developing asthma.

Working with a UK social housing provider, Coastline Housing, the research team assessed data from the residents of 700 properties in Cornwall. They found that people living in more energy efficient homes had a greater risk of asthma, and that the presence of mold doubled this risk.


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That Ginkgo Biloba Won't Help You - And It May Not Even Be Ginkgo Biloba

Science2.0 - December 11, 2014 - 5:26pm

If you are buying herbal dietary supplements like Ginkgo biloba (G. biloba)
to boost cognitive capacity, the first thing you should do is stop spending money on herbal dietary supplements like Ginkgo biloba and the next thing you should do is wonder how, in a completely unregulated market, you can even know if it is real.

It might not be. Even the olive oil industry thinks supplement makers need to be more honest. A new study in Genome used DNA barcoding to test the authenticity of Ginkgo biloba (G. biloba) found that almost 20 percent of samples didn't even have any. 


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Europe May Need To Ban Potatoes, Bread And Coffee Next

Science2.0 - December 11, 2014 - 5:00pm
The European Food Safety Authority, most famous for declaring that water does not cure thirst, is now thinking about how to ban acrylamide, which is a chemical that can form in some foods during frying, roasting, or baking. No, it is not due to BPA, it has been present for as long as mankind has cooked food, but it was only discovered in 2002 and then in 2010 a paper was written showing it could be harmful to rats in extremely high doses.
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Kids With Open Bone Breaks Can Heal Safely Without Surgery

Science2.0 - December 11, 2014 - 2:00pm

When a broken bone protrudes through the skin, causing a puncture wound, it is called an open break. It is understandably traumatizing for kids and perhaps even more so for parents but there may be good news for those daunted by the prospect of surgery on top of all that - it may not be necessary.

Many children who sustain open bone fractures in the forearm or lower leg heal safely without surgery, according to the results of a small study in the Journal of Children's Orthopaedics, if the wound is small -- less than a half-inch in diameter -- and the surrounding tissue is free of visible contamination with dirt or debris. 


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Artificial Intelligence Lets Machines Weld The Emotional With The Physical

Science2.0 - December 10, 2014 - 10:00pm

Not now! Roboscribe is busy creating a masterpiece (of heuristic analysis). gastev, CC BY

By Peter McOwan, Queen Mary University of London

The human race has long designed and used tools to help us solve problems, from flint axes to space shuttles. They affect our lives and shape society in expected and sometimes unexpected ways. We may understand how these tools work – after all, we built them – but sometimes it’s the use they’re put to that surprises.

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How Much Plastic Is Floating In The World's Oceans?

Science2.0 - December 10, 2014 - 9:49pm

A new estimate says that microplastic and macroplastic pollution could consist of as much as 269,000 tons floating in the world's oceans.

Though there has been no sufficient data to truly estimate the amount of plastic in the oceans, there has been no limit to guessing and speculation so Marcus Eriksen, from Five Gyres Institute, and colleagues set out to build a better model.

For their paper in PLOS ONE, they gathered data from 24 expeditions collected over a six-year period (2007-2013) across all five sub-tropical gyres, coastal Australia, Bay of Bengal, and the Mediterranean Sea.


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MDH2: Mitochondrial Enzyme Targeting May Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects

Science2.0 - December 10, 2014 - 8:47pm

Two compounds appear to block the cardiac damage caused by the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin, according to a report in Science Translational Medicine which indicates that inhibiting the action of the enzyme MDH2, which is key to the generation of cellular energy in mitochondria, could prevent doxorubicin-induced damage to cardiac cells without reducing the drug's anti-tumor effects. 


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Late Nights And The Rise Of The Teenage 'Vamper'

Science2.0 - December 10, 2014 - 8:00pm

Past your bedtime? Mikael Damkier/Shutterstock

By Elizabeth Englander, Bridgewater State University

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Healthcare Spending And Maternal Mortality Rates Linked In EU

Science2.0 - December 10, 2014 - 7:30pm

Reductions in government healthcare spending in the European Union (EU) increase maternal mortality rates, suggests a new paper in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG).

Maternal mortality is defined as the death of a woman during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of delivery from direct obstetric causes.  The new analysis looked at the association between reductions in government healthcare spending and maternal mortality across the European Union (EU) over a 30 year period, from 1981 to 2010, based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO) database. Data were available for 24 EU countries, a population of 419 million people (2010). 


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The Key To Vitamin A Metabolism Is Lecithin Retinol Acyltransferase

Science2.0 - December 10, 2014 - 6:30pm

The discovery of the mechanism that enables the enzyme Lecithin: retinol acyltransferase (LRAT) to store vitamin A, a process that is indispensable for vision, may provide a boost for designing small molecule therapies for degenerative eye diseases.

The same enzymatic activity of LRAT that allows specific cells to absorb vitamin A can be used to transport small molecule drugs to the eye. These drugs would accumulate in eye tissue, lowering the effective dose and reducing risk of systemic side effects. 


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Family-Friendly Workplace Policies Make People Happy, But Don't Affect Turnover Rates

Science2.0 - December 10, 2014 - 6:18pm

It's no secret that a happy worker is a productive worker and a new analysis by scholars at The University of Texas at Dallas finds that family-friendly policies are beneficial for increasing productivity of employees. Yet the benefit for employers is unclear, since that may be offset by the same turnover rates.


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