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Sharks Have Personalities

October 2, 2014 - 12:30pm

Some sharks are more 'gregarious' than others and have strong social connections while others are solitary and prefer to remain inconspicuous. That's not an exception, according to a new study, these notorious predators have personality traits.

Personalities obviously exist in many animals but they are usually defined by individual characteristics such as how exploratory, bold or aggressive an individual animal is. The paper in
the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology involved testing for social personality by recording the social interactions of groups of juvenile small spotted catsharks in captivity under three different habitat types.  


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Cosmic Dust, Fish-Inspired Wind Farms And DARPA's Quest For The New GPS

October 2, 2014 - 12:00pm
We are stardust - scientists and citizen scientists alike

Physics Today's Ashley Smart describes a huge recent win for citizen science: some 30,000 volunteers pored over millions of microscopic images looking for dust collected a decade ago by NASA's Stardust probe, and their efforts have helped identify candidate interstellar grains:
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Free Birth Control Reduces Both Teen Pregnancies And Abortions

October 1, 2014 - 11:30pm

Abortion and teen pregnancy dropped among teens who received free contraception and were educated about the pros and cons of various birth control methods, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.


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Why Crowdfunding Publisher Unbound Poses A Threat To Literary Prizes

October 1, 2014 - 11:00pm

Giving publishing power to the people. Credit: Thinglass/Shutterstock

By Gillian Rudd, University of Liverpool

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How Myths And Tabloids Feed On Anomalies In Science

October 1, 2014 - 9:48pm

The need for caution when any anomaly is revealed in new research. Credit: Flickr/Adam Gerard, CC BY-NC-SA

By Michael J. I. Brown, Monash University

UNDERSTANDING RESEARCH: What do we actually mean by research and how does it help inform our understanding of things? What if research throws up a result that calls for a new way of thinking? How do we handle that?

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Understanding The Greenland Ice Sheet's Meltwater Channels

October 1, 2014 - 7:55pm

Ice sheets were never simple. There is no magic knob that could be turned to optimize melting rates and movement, outside environmental press releases.

A new paper in Nature this week
shows that not only is meltwater not as simple as sometimes contended, we don't even know what we don't know. Observations of moulins (vertical conduits connecting water on top of the glacier down to the bed of the ice sheet) and boreholes in Greenland show that subglacial channels ameliorate the speedup caused by water delivery to the base of the ice sheet in the short term.


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Sterile Neutrinos Remain Elusive

October 1, 2014 - 6:05pm

BEIJING; BERKELEY, CA; and UPTON, NY - The Daya Bay Collaboration, an international group of scientists studying the subtle transformations of subatomic particles called neutrinos, is publishing its first results on the search for a so-called sterile neutrino,

Though the search is on for a possible new type of neutrino beyond the three known neutrino "flavors," or types, the so-called sterile neutrino remains elusive.

A new paper by the Daya Bay Collaboration in Physical Review Letters finds no evidence for sterile neutrinos in a previously unexplored mass range.


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Benevolent Despotism: Power Can Corrupt Even The Honest

October 1, 2014 - 4:31pm

When choosing a new leader, people base their decision on desirable characteristics such as honesty and trustworthiness. However once leaders are in power, can we trust them to exercise it in a prosocial manner? 

A new paper in The Leadership Quarterly finds that everyone gradually becomes susceptible to power the longer they have it.  Study author John Antonakis and his colleagues from the University of Lausanne explain, "We looked to examine what Lord Acton said over 100 years ago, that 'Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'"

To investigate this the authors used experimental methods to distinguish between the situational and individual component; and determine if power corrupts or if corrupt individuals are drawn to power.


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Lift Weights, Boost Memory

October 1, 2014 - 4:00pm

If you need another good reason to hit the gym, a new study finds it can improve memory. Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have found that an intense workout of as little as 20 minutes can enhance episodic memory, also known as long-term memory for previous events, by about 10 percent in healthy young adults


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A Status Bar For Wounds: 'Smart' Bandage Emits Phosphorescent Glow For Healing

October 1, 2014 - 3:30pm

In video games, and in software downloads and processes, the status bar is often cheered or reviled. But they are here to stay.

And now it may be possible to 'gamify' your medical progress. 

Inspired by a desire to help wounded soldiers, researchers have created a paint-on, see-through, "smart" bandage that glows to indicate a wound's tissue oxygenation concentration - because oxygen plays a critical role in healing. Mapping these levels in severe wounds and burns can help to significantly improve the success of surgeries to restore limbs and physical functions.


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Drug Addicts Or Mentally Ill? Who The Public Feels Most Negative About

October 1, 2014 - 3:30pm

Mental illness has been under a lot of criticism in the last few years. The public feels like the psychology field over-medicates people based on subjective symptoms and recent high-profile violent acts all involved people on psychiatric medications.

But there is still recognition that some mental illness is exculpatory and not just bad behavior. That is less so with drug addicts. While addictions are called a disease, and everyone gives lip service to that idea, when it comes to public policy the truth comes out. The public doesn't support insurance, housing, or employment policies that benefit drug addicts, a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health survey finds.


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Pick Up After Your Dog: Fecal Waste Contaminates Waterways, Shows Genetic Test

October 1, 2014 - 3:01pm

Americans love their dogs, and most people clean up after their pets when they are out on a walk, but some do not: people who claim they wouldn't pour toxic chemicals or medicines onto the ground because they recognize it gets into waterways delude themselves into believing dog excrement is "natural" and will be okay in waterways.

But it isn't. Bacteria and anti-bacterial strains from dogs can make people sick from dogs just like it does humans, and we recognize that humans should not go to the bathroom on the ground near a lake.


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Not Wimpy: Humans Braved The Northern Cold As Well As Neanderthals

October 1, 2014 - 2:31pm
In 1908 the famously plump Venus of Willendorf, thought to be a symbol of fecundity, was discovered during an excavation near the Austrian town of Melk. It has been dated to 30,000 years ago and is one of the world’s earliest examples of figurative art.

Now, a team of archaeologists have dated a number of stone tools excavated recently from the same site to 43,500 years ago. Results show they were part of the Aurignacian culture, which is generally accepted as indicative of modern human presence. It is agreed that modern humans dispersed into Europe, and began to replace Neanderthals, at least 40,000 years ago. The new research pushes this date back to a potentially much earlier time when temperatures north of the Alps were cool.
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Mutational Robustness: Why Duplicate Genes Remain In The Genome

October 1, 2014 - 2:31pm

Geneticists have found a mechanism sought for more than four decades that explains how gene duplication leads to novel functions in individuals. 

Gene duplication is a biological phenomenon that leads to the sudden emergence of new genetic material. 'Sister' genes – the products of gene duplication – can survive across long evolutionary timescales, and allow organisms to tolerate otherwise lethal mutations. 


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In 2014, Over 80 Percent Of Bowel Cancers Are Halted With Medicines

October 1, 2014 - 2:31pm

The public may be critical of the War On Cancer and its hundreds of billions of government money, but pharmaceutical companies have continue to make progress. A new study finds that 80 percent of bowel cancers could be treated with existing JAK inhibitors.

The risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with age, more than 90% of cases occur in people 50 years old or older, and it is the second leading cause of cancer death in the US. But there is a genetic commonality in 80 percent of those, and that is where JAK inhibitors come into play. 


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Emergence: The Remarkable Simplicity Of Complexity

October 1, 2014 - 2:01pm

Patterns of emergence are all around us. Credit: Feliciano Guimarães/Flickr, CC BY

By Andy Martin, University of Melbourne and Kristian Helmerson, Monash University

From the fractal patterns of snowflakes to cellular lifeforms, our universe is full of complex phenomena – but how does this complexity arise?

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Bacteria May Reduce Impact Of Valium In UK Rivers

October 1, 2014 - 1:30pm

Valium (Diazepam) and similar medicines degrade naturally in the environment but it takes time, and until it happens there is concern about the freshwater environment.

Bacterial breakdown may give it a boost, a team of researchers has said.

Diazepam, used to treat anxiety and other similar conditions, has been detected in rivers across the UK and Europe. At the levels recorded, there is concern it may have the potential to produce harmful ecological effects in surface waters, including changing the behavior of fish shoals and their ability to sense danger from predators.


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Who Your Brain Decides To Make Friends With When You Start University

October 1, 2014 - 1:01pm

How many freebies can you carry? Credit: Nottingham Trent University, CC BY-NC-ND

By Kira Shaw, University of Sheffield

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Rewire The Brain's Circuitry To Treat Depression

October 1, 2014 - 12:30pm

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex can treat symptoms of depression in humans by placing a relatively small device on a person's scalp and stimulating brain circuits, yet little is known about how TMS produces these beneficial effects.

Some studies have suggested that TMS may modulate atypical interactions between two large-scale neuronal networks, the frontoparietal central executive network (CEN) and the medial prefrontal-medial parietal default mode network (DMN). These two functional networks play important roles in emotion regulation and cognition.


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Ultrasound Elastography: 'Virtual Breast' Could Improve Cancer Detection

October 1, 2014 - 12:00pm

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, which is why so many medical professionals encourage women to get mammograms. But the tests are not very accurate: only a minority of suspicious mammograms actually leads to a cancer diagnosis.

Bad results lead to needless worry for women and their families—not to mention the time, discomfort and expense of additional tests, including ultrasounds and biopsies. 


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