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Happy Darwin Day: Eotaria Crypta Fossil Ends 5-Million-Year 'Ghost Lineage'

February 12, 2015 - 12:00pm
A fossil discovery has provided a missing link that helps to resolve a more than 5-million-year gap in fur seal and sea lion evolutionary history.

This new genus and species of fur seal has been called Eotaria crypta. Eotaria means 'dawn sea lion'. The species was tiny, with adults being only slightly larger than a sea otter and around the size of a juvenile New Zealand fur seal, according to University of Otago graduate student Robert Boessenecker, who found the fossil while looking through the John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center. 
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Male And Female Exercise Difference: Oxygen Uptake In Respiratory Muscles

February 11, 2015 - 11:04pm

Muscles necessary for breathing need a greater amount of oxygen in women than in men, according to a study published today in The Journal of Physiology.

Researchers found that at submaximal and maximal exercise intensities, respiratory muscles (muscles necessary for breathing, such as the diaphragm and muscles surrounding the ribcage) consume a greater amount of oxygen in women compared with men. This means that women use more energy when breathing because a significantly greater part of total oxygen is directed to the respiratory muscles.


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Synthetic Biology: New Genetically Modified Plants Have Better Drought Tolerance

February 11, 2015 - 11:04pm

Crops and other plants are constantly faced with adverse environmental conditions, such as rising temperatures (2014 was the warmest year on record) and lessening fresh water supplies, which lower yield and cost farmers billions of dollars annually.

Drought is a major environmental stress factor affecting plant growth and development. When plants encounter drought, they naturally produce abscisic acid (ABA), a stress hormone that inhibits plant growth and reduces water consumption. Specifically, the hormone turns on a receptor (special protein) in plants when it binds to the receptor like a hand fitting into a glove, resulting in beneficial changes - such as the closing of guard cells on leaves, called stomata, to reduce water loss - that help the plants survive.


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Since Paramedics Are Probably First Line Of Treatment For Stroke, Let Them Give Drugs?

February 11, 2015 - 11:04pm

There is no time to waste when it comes to stroke. The more time that passes between stroke onset and treatment, the worse the outcome is for the patient. A study designed to test the benefits of early administration of magnesium sulfate suggests that stroke patients may not have to wait until they get to the hospital for treatment -- paramedics may be able to start therapy as soon as stroke is suspected. Although the drug did not improve outcome in stroke patients, the study demonstrated the feasibility of early therapy in the ambulance. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health.


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The Hurricanes Of The Medieval Warming Period Were Doozies

February 11, 2015 - 9:12pm
The folks in Boston might feel like they are having a run of bad weather now, but it's nothing like the intense hurricanes, fueled by warmer oceans, that frequently pounded the region during the first millennium, from the peak of the Roman Empire into the height of the Middle Ages, according to a new study.
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SB 203: California's New Warning Label Drive Targets Soda, But Not Sugar-Filled Juice

February 11, 2015 - 8:44pm
A California Democrat believes he can curb diabetes by requiring warning labels on sodas and energy drinks.

Warning labels are not new to Californians. Ever since Proposition 65 required the ubiquitous 'may cause cancer' signage in virtually every business, lawyers and the politicians they lobby have been seeking to duplicate it for their pet causes. 
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HYPER: Neurorobotics And VR Prototype Can Speed Up Physical Rehabilitation

February 11, 2015 - 5:00pm
People who suffer motor disability may soon get a high-technology boost from neurorobotics, neuroprosthetics and virtual reality.

The HYPER research project, with a budget of 5 million euros and the participation of the IK4 R&D Alliance under the coordination of the Spanish National Scientific Research Council (CSIC), has been running since 2010 and has led to the development of systems that facilitate new rehabilitation therapies and ways to compensate for gait in patients who have had spinal cord injuries or cerebral strokes.

Various prototypes have been developed and one of them is undergoing a preliminary clinical validation process with 10 patients with spinal cord injuries at the National Hospital for Paraplegics in Toledo.
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Ultra-High-Frequency Radio Waves Mean A New High-Power Microwave Generator

February 11, 2015 - 4:30pm
High-powered microwave devices are designed to transfer energy to targets via ultra-high-frequency radio waves, in civil applications, such as radar and communication systems, heating and current drive of plasmas in fusion devices, and acceleration in high-energy linear colliders.

They can also be used for military purpose in directed-energy weapons or missile guidance systems. 
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Bluefin Tuna Hearts Are Tougher Than Yours: How They Stay Warm In The Cold

February 11, 2015 - 4:02pm

Scientists have discovered how prized bluefin tuna keep their hearts pumping during temperature changes that would stop a human heart. The research helps to answer important questions about how animals react to rapid temperature changes, knowledge that's becoming more essential as the earth warms.

Pacific bluefin tuna are top predators renowned for their epic migrations across the Pacific Ocean. They are also unique amongst bony fish as they are warm bodied (endothermic) and are capable of elevating their core body temperature up to 20°C above that of the surrounding water. They are also capable of diving down below 1000 m into much colder water which affects the temperature of their heart.


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Faults In Same Protein? What Autism Can Teach Us About Brain Cancer

February 11, 2015 - 4:02pm

Applying lessons learned from autism to brain cancer, researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have discovered why elevated levels of the protein NHE9 add to the lethality of the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma. Their discovery suggests that drugs designed to target NHE9 could help to successfully fight the deadly disease.

"My laboratory's research on cargo transport inside the cells of patients with autism has led to a new strategy for treating a deadly brain cancer," says Rajini Rao, Ph.D., a professor of physiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "This is a great example of the unexpected good that can come from going wherever the science takes us."


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Cosmic Microwave Background And The Dynamic Side Of The Universe

February 11, 2015 - 3:30pm

The Planck collaboration has released data from four years of observation by the European Space Agency (ESA)'s Planck spacecraft. The aim of the Planck mission is to study the Cosmic Microwave Background, the light left over from the Big Bang.

The measurements, taken in nine frequency bands, were used to map not only the temperature of the radiation but also its polarization - a property of light like color or direction of propagation - which provides additional information about the very early Universe, around 380,000 years old, and our Galaxy's magnetic field. 

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New Risks Of Advanced Maternal Age

February 11, 2015 - 3:02pm
Like most things, age is the biggest risk factor for complications in pregnancy. When the expectant mother is over 35,  the risks associated with overweight, smoking, gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia also become higher, according to a register-based analysis from the University of Eastern Finland.

Advanced maternal age has been a growing trend over the past few decades. In Finland, the authors note, 20 percent of mothers in 2013 were over 35 years old. Fertility drugs and IVF have made motherhood possible at almost any age and increased popularity of 'egg freezing' is likely to increase the numbers - but there are some risks that increase after the age of 35 and have nothing to do with the embryos themselves.
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Oxygen Is Like Kryptonite To Titanium

February 11, 2015 - 2:38pm

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found the mechanism by which titanium, prized for its high strength-to-weight ratio and natural resistance to corrosion, becomes brittle with just a few extra atoms of oxygen.

The discovery in Science has the potential to open the door to more practical, cost-effective uses of titanium in a broader range of applications. The popular silver-gray metal can already be found in high-end bicycles, laptops and human implants, among other products. But high-grade titanium with low levels of oxygen is hard to come by, and the expense of purifying the metal has prevented its wider use in applications for the construction, automotive and aerospace industries.


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PathoMap: First Map Of New York City Subway System Microbes Shows Half Can't Be Identified

February 11, 2015 - 2:38pm

The microbes that call the New York City subway system home are mostly harmless, but include samples of disease-causing bacteria that are resistant to drugs -- and even DNA fragments associated with anthrax and Bubonic plague -- according to a citywide microbiome map published today by Weill Cornell Medical College investigators.


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Energy Drinks Significantly Increase Hyperactivity In Schoolchildren

February 11, 2015 - 2:38pm

Middle-school children who consume heavily sweetened energy drinks are 66% more likely to be at risk for hyperactivity and inattention symptoms, a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health has found.

The finding has implications for school success and lends support to existing recommendations to limit the amount of sweetened beverages schoolchildren drink. The authors also recommend that children avoid energy drinks, which in addition to high levels of sugar also often contain caffeine. The study is published in the journal Academic Pediatrics.


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What Californians Of 2015 Share With 1991 Religious Fundamentalists

February 11, 2015 - 2:30pm
In this century, vaccine denial is primarily located in progressive hotbeds of states like California, rooted in distrust of science. It's an embarrassment for Democrats, who pride themselves on being more scientific than Republicans, to see that right-wing states like Mississippi and Alabama have negligible exemption rates while supposedly more educated places like California, Washington and Oregon lead the charge in bringing back dangerous infectious diseases. -->

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A New Approach For Bowel Cancer

February 11, 2015 - 2:00pm
Colorectal carcinoma, colon cancer, is the third most common cancer in the United States. 

So-called microsatellite stable colorectal cancer with mutations in the BRAF gene represents a particularly aggressive form. The BRAF gene produces the enzyme B-Raf, which plays a critical role in controlling cell division.
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In Gas Turbines, Some Cracks Are A Good Thing

February 11, 2015 - 2:00pm
Gas turbines are used for the production of electricity and in aircraft engines and they are sprayed with a surface coating to increase their lifespan.

The coating consists of two layers, one of metal to protect against oxidation and corrosion, and one ceramic to give thermal insulation. The structure of the coating varies greatly, consisting of pores and cracks of different sizes. It is these cracks and pores that largely determine the efficiency of the thermal insulation and the length of the coating's life-span. 
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Ignore Phony Controversies, Failure In Real Science Is Good

February 11, 2015 - 1:30pm

The BICEP2 telescope at twilight at the South Pole. The supporting data for the inflation of the universe have also gone off into the sunset. Steffen Richter/ Harvard University , CC BY-NC-SA

By Chad Orzel, Associate Professor of Physics at Union College.

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