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A Dominant Brain Hemisphere For Handedness - And Language

July 4, 2014 - 2:28pm
Using a large psychometric and brain imaging database, researchers in the Groupe d'Imagerie Neurofonctionnelle (CNRS/CEA/Université de Bordeaux) say they have determined that the location of language areas in the brain is independent of left- or right-handedness, except for a very small proportion of left-handed individuals whose right hemisphere is dominant for both manual work and language. 
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Namibian Space Science: HESS-II Detects Its First Pulsar

July 4, 2014 - 1:16pm
The HESS-II (High Energy Stereoscopic System) telescope in Namibia has detected gamma rays of only 30 Giga electron volts (GeV) from the Vela pulsar, the first pulsar to be detected by HESS and the second to be spotted by ground-based gamma ray telescopes. 

The HESS experiment in Namibia is the first Cherenkov system with telescopes of different sizes detecting cosmic TeV gamma rays in sync. A fifth 28-meter telescope, placed at the center of the other four 12-meter telescopes, lowers the energy range under study down to 30 GeV. HESS-II has passed the firing test because scientists have detected a pulsed gamma-ray signal in the energy range of 30 GeV, which they attribute to the Vela pulsar. This paves the way for new observation possibilities of the inner Galaxy. -->

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Metabolism And Explaining Healthy Obesity

July 4, 2014 - 11:00am

25 percent of people who look obese are metabolically healthy and don't have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even though obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes.

A study finds a possible explanation, revealing that high levels of a molecule called heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) are linked to poor metabolic health and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in obese humans. Moreover, HO-1 inhibition improves metabolic health in obese mice, suggesting that HO-1 blockers could represent a promising new strategy for the treatment of metabolic disease.


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How Brown Fat Burns Energy

July 4, 2014 - 10:00am

The body contains two types of fat cells, white and brown.

White fat serves to store excess calories until they're needed by the body while brown adipocytes actually burn fat by turning it into heat. Ever since it was discovered that adult humans harbor appreciable amounts of brown fat, investigators have been working to better understand its thermogenic fat-burning properties with the ultimate goal of developing novel therapies to combat obesity and diabetes. 

Now, researchers have demonstrated that the transcription factor IRF4 (interferon regulatory factor 4) plays a key role in brown fat's thermogenic process, regulating energy expenditure and cold tolerance.  


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The Ancient Chemical Secret That Allowed Maize To Defend Itself

July 4, 2014 - 9:00am

Many ancient plants weren't pretty, they didn't taste good, and they weren't big - but they could defend themselves.

As food science progressed, numerous plants were genetically optimized for better flavor and yield, but some lost their ability to produce certain defense chemicals, making them vulnerable to attack by insects and pathogens. Swiss scientists are exploring ways to help protect 21st century maize by re-arming it with its ancestral chemical weapons.  


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Your July 4th Science Resolution - Start Taking Power Naps

July 4, 2014 - 7:30am

For hibernating mammals, the pre-winter months are a race to accumulate enough energy reserves to last until spring.

But what about offspring born late in the year? They have less time to store energy. Austrian scientists have discovered that power-napping can help late-born dormice overcome these unfavorable odds.


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Ecstasy Use Linked To Burst Spinal Artery Aneurysm

July 4, 2014 - 7:01am

Taking the street drug Ecstasy could lead to a potentially fatal weakening and rupture of the spinal cord artery, according to a new paper.

Posterior spinal artery aneurysms - a blood-filled swelling of the spinal cord artery, caused by a weakening and distension of the vessel wall - are rare, with only 12 cases reported to date. But all of them caused spinal bleeding which affected the function of the spinal cord.


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Hurricane Arthur's Cloud-Covered Eye

July 4, 2014 - 6:19am

When NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Storm Arthur on July 2 at 2:50 PM EDT on July 2nd, it saw a cloud-covered eye as the storm was on the way to becoming a hurricane.  

This visible image of Tropical Storm Arthur was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite. Arthur's center was over the Atlantic Ocean and east of Florida's northeast coast.

By 5 AM EDT on July 3, Arthur's eye had formed but remained cloud covered even as the storm hit hurricane-strength with maximum sustained winds near 75 MPH.  


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Count Macronutrients, Not Calories: For Weight Loss, High-protein Works

July 4, 2014 - 5:30am

Though strange fads like the blood type diet, going gluten-free or going vegetarian are clearly gimmicks, when your body is in a rut, it helps to change it up a little.

Just like exercise, if you do the same workout every day, its effectiveness will drop - and eating pasta and vegetables all of the time will make it hard to lose weight. But if that is your diet, forget counting calories and just eat meat. Your body will take care of the rest. Don't live the rest of your life that way, that is as crazy as being vegetarian, but for weight loss, it's better to count macronutrients than calories.


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NASA Orbiting Carbon Observatory Wants To Settle The Global Warming Issue

July 4, 2014 - 4:30am
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was a NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder Project (ESSP) mission designed to make precise, time-dependent global measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) from an Earth orbiting satellite.

But on February 24, 2009 and it failed to reach orbit.

5 years later, it was time to try again. In 2012, NASA awarded launch services contracts for three United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rockets. And OCO-2 flew on a Boeing Delta II 7320-10C, one of the most successful launch vehicles ever flown with well over 100 successful launches, rather than  on a Taurus XL.
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Kangaroo Discovery - The First Animal To Use Its Tail As A Leg

July 4, 2014 - 3:31am
A new study has found that kangaroos, commonly viewed as two-legged hoppers, move with a “pentapedal” gait, planting their tails on the ground in combination with their front and hind legs. 

What’s remarkable is that the tail is anatomically quite different, being made up of more than 20 vertebrae taking on the roles of our feet, calves and thigh bones. “Animals have discovered many uses for their tails,” says professor Max Donelan of Simon Fraser University’s Locomotion Laboratory, “but as far as we know, this is the first use of one as a leg.
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Motörhead Scientifically Documented As One Of The Most Hardcore Rock Bands On Earth

July 4, 2014 - 2:56am

Motörhead concert goers may have to sign a waiver before they buy tickets. If that band were in California, they would have to wear a Proposition 65 warning on their shirts.

Why? Because they can give you brain damage, according to a Case Report published in The Lancet. Ariyan Pirayesh Islamian and colleagues from the Hannover Medical School, detail the case of a man who developed a chronic subdural hematoma (bleeding in the brain) after headbanging at a Motörhead concert.


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Fondue Linked To Campylobacter Infections In Switzerland

July 4, 2014 - 2:30am

In Switzerland, 7,000 to 8,000 persons each year fall ill with a campylobacter infection, making it the most frequent bacterial disease transmitted through food.


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A Revised Timeline Of Human Origins?

July 4, 2014 - 1:00am

Many traits unique to humans are thought to have originated in the genus Homo between 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago in Africa.

What are the evolutionary factors that drove them?

A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage as African grasslands expanded and Earth's climate became cooler and drier. However, new climate and fossil evidence analyzed by a team of researchers suggests that these traits did not arise as a single package. Rather, several key ingredients once thought to define Homo evolved in earlier Australopithecus ancestors between 3 and 4 million years ago, while others emerged significantly later.


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Gene Enables Stem Cells To Regenerate A Decapitated Head

July 4, 2014 - 12:30am

Researchers have announced the discovery of a gene, zic-1, that enables stem cells to regrow a head after decapitation in flatworm planarians.


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Oklahoma Quakes Linked To Wastewater Injection Of Disposal Wells

July 3, 2014 - 11:47pm

The earthquakes in central Oklahoma since 2009 are likely attributable to subsurface wastewater injection at a handful of disposal wells -
Oklahoma earthquakes constitute nearly half of all central and eastern U.S. seismicity from 2008 to 2013, many occurring in areas of high-rate water disposal.

These are legacy drilling operations, not modern natural gas fracking.


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Pasture To Sugar Cane: Carbon In Soil Rebound Only Takes A Few Years Of Cultivation

July 3, 2014 - 11:01pm

The reduction of soil carbon stock caused by the conversion of pasture areas into sugarcane plantations is very common change in Brazil in recent years but those worried about the impact on CO2 can rest easy. It can  be offset within two or three years of cultivation.

The calculation by researchers at the Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture (CENA) of the University of São Paulo (USP) in collaboration with colleagues from the Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (Esalq), also at USP, concluded, "Soil carbon stocks on land-use change process to sugarcane production in South-Central Brazil."


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Untrasound For Baby Stars - Determining Age By Sound Waves

July 3, 2014 - 10:46pm

Acoustic vibrations – sound waves – are produced by radiation pressure inside stars. While physicists have long posited that young stars vibrate differently than older stars, a new study says it is the first to confirm these predications using concrete data from outer space. 

First author Konstanze Zwintz, a postdoctoral researcher at KU Leuven's Institute for Astronomy, and her colleagues studied the vibrations of 34 stars aged under 10 million years and sized between one and four times the mass of our sun.


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FDA’s Pathway For Hospital Acquired Pneumonia - It's Feasible But Stupid

July 3, 2014 - 7:48pm

The FDA released its long-awaited Draft Guidance on hospital-acquired pneumonia recently. Their guidance has not changed since I wrote a blog about my last meeting with the FDA antibacterial drug development task force back in September of last year.

To reiterate what I stated back then . . .

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Higgs Boson Mass: CMS On Top!

July 3, 2014 - 7:36pm
A couple of weeks ago I reported here about the new measurement of the Higgs boson mass produced by the ATLAS experiment. That determination, which used the full dataset of Run 1 proton-proton collisions produced by the LHC in 2011-2012, became and remained for two weeks the most precise one of the Higgs mass. Alas, as I wrote the piece I already knew that CMS was going to beat that result very soon, but of course I could not say anything about it... It ached a bit!
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