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Unique Fragment From Earth’s Formation Returns Home

April 29, 2016 - 7:02pm
Unlike most asteroids, C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) was formed in the inner Solar System at the same time as the Earth itself, but was ejected at a very early stage and has not been baked by billions of years near the Sun.

Instead, it has been preserved in the best freezer there is: the Oort Cloud, a huge region surrounding the Sun like a giant, thick soap bubble. It is estimated that it contains trillions of tiny icy bodies.

C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) was originally identified by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope as a weakly active comet a little over twice as far from the Sun as the Earth. Its current long orbital period (around 860 years) suggests that its source is in the Oort Cloud, and it was nudged comparatively recently into an orbit that brings it closer to the Sun.
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Why Fraternal Twins Run In Families

April 29, 2016 - 2:34pm

If a woman's female relatives have fraternal twins, she is more likely to give birth to twins herself, but the genes behind this phenomenon have remained a mystery. Now, researchers reporting April 28 in the American Journal of Human Genetics have nailed down two genes associated with twinning. They show genetic links between having twins and female production of, and response to, follicle-stimulating hormone, which may help predict how some women respond to infertility treatments.


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Analyzing The Psyche Of Risky Drivers

April 29, 2016 - 2:34pm

Road crashes are the world's leading cause of preventable death and injury in people under 35, accounting for around 5 million casualties every year. Repeat offenders make a disproportionate contribution to these statistics - and are known for their poor response to education and prevention efforts.

But a better understanding of the subconscious and emotional processes of high-risk drivers could make a difference, according to new research from McGill University.

In a study focusing on repeat drunk driving and speeding offenders, researchers have discovered distinct behavioural, personality and neurobiological profiles behind each of these forms of dangerous driving.


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Reptiles Share Sleep Patterns With Mammals And Birds After All

April 29, 2016 - 2:34pm

A new study reveals that the sleep patterns previously thought exclusive to mammals and birds - REM and slow-wave sleep patterns - are also found in reptiles. The results shake up our understanding of the evolution of sleep. Amniotes are a group of tetrapod vertebrates comprising reptiles, birds and mammals. Because slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) are thought to be exclusive to mammals and birds, it's believed that these sleep states evolved twice after mammals and birds diverged from reptiles. However, results by Mark Shein-Idelson et al. now reveal SWS and REM sleep patterns in the Australian bearded dragon, Pogona vitticeps, suggesting that the sleep states may have evolved in a common ancestor of all amniotes, more than 300 million years ago.


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Metal Hip Replacements Implanted Since 2006 More Prone To Failure

April 29, 2016 - 1:07pm

Metal on metal hip replacements implanted since 2006 are more prone to failure and the need for further surgery, finds research looking at revision rates at one hospital trust for the DePuy Pinnacle device, and published in the online journal BMJ Open.

A higher rate of manufacturing issues since 2006, with more than a third of hips manufactured outside the stated specifications, may be to blame, suggest the researchers.

They looked specifically at the long term performance of the 36 mm Pinnacle metal on metal hip--the most commonly implanted metal hip in the world--in a bid to uncover the risk factors associated with early failure and the need for further surgery.


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Theoretical Tiger Chases Statistical Sheep To Probe Immune System Behavior

April 29, 2016 - 1:07pm

Studying the way that solitary hunters such as tigers, bears or sea turtles chase down their prey turns out to be very useful in understanding the interaction between individual white blood cells and colonies of bacteria. Reporting their results in the Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical, researchers in Europe have created a numerical model that explores this behaviour in more detail.

Using mathematical expressions, the group can examine the dynamics of a single predator hunting a herd of prey. The routine splits the hunter's motion into a diffusive part and a ballistic part, which represent the search for prey and then the direct chase that follows.


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Exposure To Particulate Air Pollutants Associated With Numerous Cancers

April 29, 2016 - 1:07pm

Researchers have found that long-term exposure to environmental pollutants was associated with increased risk of mortality for many types of cancer in an elderly Hong Kong population.

The study between the University of Birmingham and University of Hong Kong, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, adds to growing concern around the health risks of prolonged exposure to ambient fine particulate matter.


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Machines Can Learn To Respond To New Situations Like Human Beings Would

April 28, 2016 - 10:24pm

How does the image-recognition technology in a self-driving car respond to a blurred shape suddenly appearing on the road? Researchers from KU Leuven, Belgium, have shown that machines can learn to respond to unfamiliar objects like human beings would.

Imagine heading home in your self-driving car. The rain is falling in torrents and visibility is poor. All of a sudden, a blurred shape appears on the road. What would you want the car to do? Should it hit the brakes, at the risk of causing the cars behind you to crash? Or should it just keep driving?


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Want To Eat Better? Sorry, We're Closed

April 28, 2016 - 10:24pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Getting more nutritious meals on the tables of low-income Americans could depend on the hours the stores in their neighborhoods keep.

Stores likely to sell fresh produce aren't open as long in areas with more socioeconomic struggles, and that problem is more pronounced in neighborhoods where many African Americans live, new research from The Ohio State University has found.

In affluent neighborhoods, 24-7 access to a wide array of foods is far more common.

"Let's say you're stringing together a few jobs and you get off work at 10 and your market closes at 8. It's a big problem," said researcher Jill Clark, an assistant professor in Ohio State's John Glenn College of Public Affairs.


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New Gene Testing Technology Finds Cancer Risks 'hiding In Plain Sight'

April 28, 2016 - 10:24pm

A research team led by an award-winning genomicist at Western University has developed a new method for identifying mutations and prioritizing variants in breast and ovarian cancer genes, which will not only reduce the number of possible variants for doctors to investigate, but also increase the number of patients that are properly diagnosed.

These potentially game-changing technologies, developed by Peter Rogan, PhD, students and his collaborators from Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, reveal gene variants that were missed by conventional genetic testing.


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Crop Advances Grow With Protection

April 28, 2016 - 3:24pm

Most people are aware of open-source computer programs. These free programs, accessible by anyone, spread technology to distant corners of the world. Cutting-edge innovations, however, come at a price. As a result, many software companies license their work.

These same concerns exist within the seed-development arena. Some plant researchers support the free exchange of new varieties of seeds and plants. Doing so, they argue, benefits both plant breeders and farmers. Considering seeds "intellectual property" may seem harmful to this free exchange of information.


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Hear No Evil: Farmed Fish Found To Be Hard Of Hearing

April 28, 2016 - 3:24pm

New research published today in the journal Scientific Reports has revealed for the first time that half of the world's farmed fish have hearing loss due to a deformity of the earbone.

Like humans, fish have ears which are essential for hearing and balance, so the findings are significant for the welfare of farmed fish as well as the survival of captive-bred fish released into the wild for conservation purposes.

The University of Melbourne-led study found that half of the world's most farmed marine fish, Atlantic salmon, have a deformity of the otolith or 'fish earbone', much like the inner ear of mammals. The deformity was found to be very uncommon in wild fish.


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Study Shows How Neurons Decline As Parkinson's Develops

April 28, 2016 - 3:24pm

SAN ANTONIO (April 27, 2016) -- It's an unsettling thought: You could be walking around for 20 years developing Parkinson's disease and not even know it.

And once symptoms appear, it's too late for a cure.

What if a therapy that treats the root causes of Parkinson's, not just the symptoms, could be started earlier?


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The Number Of My Publications Has Four Digits

April 28, 2016 - 12:30pm
While tediously compiling a list of scientific publications that chance to have my name in the authors list (I have to apply for a career advancement and apparently the committee will scrutinize the hundred-page-long lists of that kind that all candidates submit), I discovered today that I just passed the mark of 1000 published articles. This happened on February 18th 2016 with the appearance in print of a paper on dijet resonance searches by CMS. Yay! And 7 more have been added to the list since then. -->

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Fireflies Light The Way To Female HIV Transmission

April 27, 2016 - 6:31pm

  • Scientists identify hundreds of infected cells at different points of initial entry

  • New technology lights up location of first cells to be infected
  • Discovery will enable scientists to develop more effective vaccine
  • 'We see the chink in the armor of the virus' and can attack it early to stop it

    CHICAGO --- Finding the vulnerable points where HIV enters the female reproductive tract is like searching for needles in a haystack. But Northwestern Medicine scientists have solved that challenge by creating a glowing map of the very first cells to be infected with a HIV-like virus.


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    Brain's 'thesaurus' Mapped To Help Decode Inner Thoughts

    April 27, 2016 - 6:19pm

    What if a map of the brain could help us decode people's inner thoughts?

    Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have taken a step in that direction by building a "semantic atlas" that shows in vivid colors and multiple dimensions how the human brain organizes language. The atlas identifies brain areas that respond to words that have similar meanings.

    The findings, to be published April 28, 2016 in the journal Nature, are based on a brain imaging study that recorded neural activity while study volunteers listened to stories from the "Moth Radio Hour." They show that at least one-third of the brain's cerebral cortex, including areas dedicated to high-level cognition, is involved in language processing.


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    Got Good Fat?

    April 27, 2016 - 3:15pm

    Brown fat cells can burn fat to generate heat. University of Bonn researchers have discovered a new method to measure the activity of brown fat cells in humans and mice. The researchers showed that microRNA-92a can be used as an indirect measure for the activity of energy consuming brown fat cells. They showed that a small blood sample was sufficient. Results were published in Nature Communications, a well-known scientific journal.

    People who want to lose weight often encounter boundaries: No matter what diet they try, the pounds won't drop. Being overweight and obese can have severe health consequences, and has shown to increase a person's chance of developing type-2-diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.


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    Emotion Detector

    April 27, 2016 - 3:15pm

    A computer algorithm that can tell whether you are happy or sad, angry or expressing almost any other emotion would be a boon to the games industry. New research published in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics describes such a system that is almost 99 percent accurate.

    Hyung-Il Choi of the School of Media, at Soongsil University, in Seoul, Korea, working with Nhan Thi Cao and An Hoa Ton-That of Vietnam National University, in Ho Chi Minh City, explain that capturing the emotions of players could be used in interactive games for various purposes, such as transferring the player's emotions to his or her avatar, or activating suitable actions to communicate with other players in various scenarios including educational applications.


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    The Geology Of Wine

    April 27, 2016 - 3:15pm

    Boulder, Colo., USA: Every day, all around the world, millions of people contemplate a very simple question with a very complex answer: which wine? In this month's issue of GSA Today, Gregory Retallack (University of Oregon) and Scott Burns (Portland State University) examine the link between the taste of wine and soil properties.


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    In Chemistry, 1 Minus 1 Doesn't Have To Equal 0

    April 27, 2016 - 2:20pm

    In the world of chemistry, one minus one almost always equals zero.


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