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Is Eradicating Polio Realistic?

August 17, 2014 - 2:02pm
In a world that is constantly changing, are attempts to eradicate disease realistic?

Over 40 years ago, researchers were happy to have a War on Cancer. President Richard Nixon made it a national priority and it came with a lot of funding, so no one corrected what became an obvious point decades and billions of dollars later; you can't cure cancer.

Efforts at eradicating diseases may be doomed because of a mismatch between the ways humans structure the world and the ways pathogens move through the world, according to a paper in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Polio is the poster child for diseases science has successfully conquered but the deadline for its eradication came and went in 2013 and is now 2018. What is going to change by then?
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Winds Blowing May Not Prevent Ocean 'Dead Zones' Growing

August 17, 2014 - 1:00pm
By Raquel Vaquer-Sunyer, Lund University

The world’s oceans are plagued with the problem of “dead zones”, areas of high nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorus) in which plankton blooms cause a major reduction of oxygen levels in the water. Sea creatures need oxygen to breathe just as we do, and if oxygen levels fall low enough marine animals can suffocate. This commonly happens around coastlines where fertilisers are washed from fields into rivers and the sea, but also mid-ocean, where currents trap waters in gyres (large systems of rotating ocean currents).

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Two Whacks To Technology’s Dark Side

August 17, 2014 - 12:06pm
It’s banal to mention that technology is a two-edged sword. That it solves practical problems and creates new ones. That it makes our lives more comfortable and more complex, and stresses and at the same time sustains our social relationships. Today we’ll go beyond these commonplaces to explore two lesser-known aspects of tech’s dark side: Inequality and unhappiness. Will the dark side prevail? Maybe, but we’ll see glimmers of hope for the team of truth and goodness.

The growing gap

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Investigating Soil Moisture Dynamics Using Cosmic-Ray Technology

August 17, 2014 - 11:30am
Soil moisture plays a major role in the environment/climate system because the transport of water within the land and at the land-atmosphere interface is strongly dependent on the state of soil water in a region.

Despite its importance, lack of soil moisture measurements at various spatial scales has limited our understanding of how individual physical factors control soil moisture dynamics.

AMUSED (A MUlti-scale Soil moisture-Evapotranspiration Dynamics study) is a project that will monitor soil moisture using cosmic-rays sensors in combination with land surface modeling, satellite remote sensing, model diagnostics and data assimilation methods.

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Quantifying Earthquake Hazards In The Pacific Northwest - It's Complicated

August 17, 2014 - 3:01am
Nearly forgotten research from decades ago complicates the task of quantifying earthquake hazards in the Pacific Northwest, according to a new report.

The report focuses on the Cascadia subduction zone—a giant active fault that slants eastward beneath the Pacific coast of southern British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and northern California.

Geologic studies in the past three decades have provided increasingly specific estimates of Cascadia earthquake sizes and repeat times. The estimates affect public safety through seismic provisions in building design and tsunami limits on evacuation maps.
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Soy Protein More Effective Than Animal Protein In Preventing Heart Disease - Study

August 16, 2014 - 11:52pm
Scientists have known for years that women are protected from cardiovascular disease before menopause, but their risk increases significantly after menopause.

Although estrogen is thought to be the protective factor, post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy remains controversial due to the side effects.
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Sustainable Fertilizers From Green Energy Waste

August 16, 2014 - 10:55pm
Researchers are searching for a sustainable, environmentally-friendlier source of soil conditioner and crop fertilizer that could reduce costs to farmers -  all from renewable energy waste.

A collaborative project between Stopford Energy and Environment Limited, the James Hutton Institute, Aqua Enviro Limited and the University of Lancaster builds upon Stopford research looking at using a mixture of digestates, derived from anaerobic digestion, and ash, from burnt biomass, as an alternative to existing crop fertilizers.
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Ethnoburbs: Is It White Flight Or Creating Neighborhood Enclaves?

August 16, 2014 - 9:30pm

"White flight" was the term created by sociologists for when people middle-class began moving from poor city neighborhoods to newly created sub-urban communities that were not city apartments and townhouses but not rural either - suburbs. 


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Hormone Mimics: A New Way To Capture Them

August 16, 2014 - 8:45pm
Chemicals known as hormone mimics may damage our ability to reproduce and pollute the natural environment. Now there may be a new way of capturing them.

In a laboratory in Trondheim, researchers have managed to create minute particles with some very desirable properties, such as the ability to capture and break down any hormone mimics that have ended up in our waste water. These unwanted chemicals come from the kind of consumer items that make our lives easier and more comfortable. But they have consequences.
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Carbon Monoxide May Prevent Arrhythmia After Heart Attack

August 16, 2014 - 1:30pm
A new study has found that carbon monoxide could be used to protect against life-threatening arrhythmias after a heart attack.

Restoring blood flow to the heart following a heart attack can leave patients with ventricular fibrillation, a dangerous heart rhythm which puts people at greater risk of sudden cardiac death. Previous research has shown carbon monoxide, which is produced naturally in heart cells, can guard against ventricular fibrillation, however the mechanism behind why this happens was unknown.

Scientists at Aston University in Birmingham (UK) and Peking University in China have found carbon monoxide works by blocking the channels that carry potassium into heart cells – an essential process required to reset the cells before their next heartbeat. -->

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All Our Brains Generate Emotions The Same Way

August 16, 2014 - 1:00pm
By Joel N. Shurkin, Inside Science

(Inside Science) -- In an analogy many scientists hate, the human brain is often compared to a small, wet computer, functioning in almost the same way as the electronic kind. Two scientists at Cornell University report the analogy might be closer to the truth than anyone thought.

They have found an emotion code.

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Experimental Heart Attack Drug APT102 Reduces Tissue Damage

August 16, 2014 - 12:00pm
An investigational drug known as APT102 significantly reduced damage to heart muscle from a heart attack and minimized the risk of bleeding during follow-up treatments, according to an animal study based on a decade of work by APT Therapeutics, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and colleagues at Cornell and Harvard.

Standard heart attack treatment often causes heart tissue damage. Once the blood clot that causes a heart attack is removed from an artery, molecules from dead and dying cells mix with blood rushing back through the artery. One of these molecules, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), is inflammatory; another, adenosine diphosphate (ADP), causes more clotting.
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Asimov’s Three Laws Of Robotics Get A 21st Century Health Care Update

August 16, 2014 - 3:23am
Isaac Asimov's Three Laws Of Robotics, from the story "Runaround" in 1942, are arguably the most famous example of fictional ethics becoming so fundamental they are adopted spontaneously by everyone in an industry that hadn't even been created yet.(1)

Now that robots are widely used in caring for older people, as well as in military and industrial applications, scholars want to give them a 21st century update.

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Magpies Are Only 3 Percent The Thieves We Think They Are

August 16, 2014 - 12:14am

In European culture, it is widely accepted that magpies (Pica pica) are the thieves of the bird kingdom, attracted to sparkly things and prone to stealing them for their nests.

But psychologists at the Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour (CRAB) at the University of Exeter have analyzed magpies and found that the species is actually frightened of new and unfamiliar objects rather than attracted to them. 

The researchers carried out a series of experiments with both a group of magpies which had come from a rescue center, and wild magpies in the grounds of the University. The birds were exposed to both shiny and non-shiny items and their reactions recorded. 


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Gut Bacteria: Now Assuming Control Of Your Brain

August 15, 2014 - 9:30pm

It sounds like science fiction, but a new paper in the journal BioEssays
 says that bacteria within us — which outnumber our own cells about 100-fold — may very well be affecting both our cravings and moods to get us to eat what they want, and often are driving us toward obesity. 

The scholars from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexico concluded that from a review of the recent scientific literature that microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favor consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on, rather than simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way.


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Senior Author, First Author - New Algorithm Sheds Light On Crediting Research Properly

August 15, 2014 - 9:07pm

There has always been a bit of good-natured humor when it comes to who gets credit for what in a long line of citations.

Occasionally, it can be strange, like when one person who contributed to the I.P.C.C. claims to be a Nobel laureate, but most often there is a pecking order to science papers.

This does not keep science humorosts like Jorge Cham at PhDComics.com from cutting to the heart of the matter, as they did on figuring out citations way back in 2005:


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Parenting Before Conception: You Aren't Locked Into An Epigenetic Destiny

August 15, 2014 - 7:20pm

There's evidence that a child's future health is influenced by more than just their parents' genetic material and can be impacted by environmental factors, but what is being done with that is something of a concern.


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Diffuse Interstellar Bands: Material Mystery In The Milky Way

August 15, 2014 - 6:23pm

Astronomers have produced new maps of the material located between the stars in the Milky Way, which could move science closer to cracking a stardust puzzle nearly a century old.

 The researchers say their work demonstrates a new way of uncovering the location and eventually the composition of the interstellar medium—the material found in the vast expanse between star systems within a galaxy. 

This material includes dust and gas composed of atoms and molecules that are left behind when a star dies. The material also supplies the building blocks for new stars and planets.


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Laser Makes Microscopes Way Cooler, As In -265 Degrees Celcius

August 15, 2014 - 4:00pm

Laser physicists have found a way to make atomic-force microscope probes 20 times more sensitive, using laser beams to cool a nanowire probe to minus 265 degrees Celsius. 

Atomic force microscopes achieve extraordinarily sensitivity measurements of microscopic features by scanning a wire probe over a surface.
The technique makes it capable of detecting forces as small as the weight of an individual virus.

The development could be used to improve the resolution of atomic-force microscopes, which are the state-of-the-art tool for measuring nanoscopic structures and the tiny forces between molecules.


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In Europe, Criticizing Wealthy, Environmentally Aware Travelers Is A CO2 Taboo

August 15, 2014 - 4:00pm

Transport accounts for an up to 30% of CO2 emissions in the EU, with estimates claiming that emissions from that sector rose 36% between 1990 and 2007. 

A new analysis conducted by Lund University and the University of Surrey takes on the widely-held view that new technologies, such as biofuel and improved aircraft design, will result in carbon reduction targets being met. 


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