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In Rats, Nicotine Withdrawal Reduces Response To Rewards

September 12, 2014 - 3:14pm

Cigarette smoking is considered a leading cause of preventable death worldwide and implicated in as many as 440,000 deaths in the United States each year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the United States, about 20 percent of people still smoke cigarettes and half claim they try to quit each year, though only 10 percent do so and most change their minds within 48 hours. Learning about withdrawal and difficulty of quitting can lead to more effective treatments to help smokers quit and so a new study on nicotine addiction measured a behavior that can be similarly quantified across species like humans and rats; the responses to rewards during nicotine withdrawal. 


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Environmental Scientists Make The Environmental Case For Fracking

September 12, 2014 - 2:58pm

A strange thing happened during climate change policy debates: Advances in hydraulic fracturing - fracking - put trillions of dollars' worth of previously unreachable oil and natural gas within humanity's grasp, and using it led to reductions in CO2 in the United States.


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Younger Dryas: Microscopic Diamonds Suggest Cosmic Impact Caused It

September 12, 2014 - 1:00pm

American cars didn't cause all climate change, no matter what you may have read. Around 13,000 years ago, a sudden, catastrophic event caused drastic climate change and much of the Earth was plunged into a period of cold climatic conditions and drought. This drastic climate change, now called the Younger Dryas, coincided with the extinction of Pleistocene megafauna, such as the saber-tooth cats and the mastodon, and resulted in major declines in prehistoric human populations, perhaps including the termination of the Clovis culture in America.


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Maternal Age Effect: Molecular Mechanisms Of Birth Defects Among Older Women

September 12, 2014 - 12:30pm
Researchers have discovered a pathway that may improve understanding of molecular mistakes that cause older women to have babies with Down syndrome.

As women age, so do their eggs and during a woman's 30s, the chance that she will conceive a Down syndrome fetus increases dramatically. Most such pregnancies arise from mistakes in a process called meiosis, a specialized cell division that creates gametes, or sex cells (sperm and eggs). Mistakes in meiosis can lead to gametes with the wrong number of chromosomes, which can cause Down syndrome.
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Why Would Kidney Failure Patients Not Want A Transplant?

September 12, 2014 - 12:30pm

Concerns about kidney transplantation are very high among kidney failure patients, particularly older adults and women, but why?

There are thousands of patients with kidney failure who lack access to kidney transplantation, and disparities persist in terms of race, age, sex, and other patient characteristics.  That gets a lot of attention but what gets less mention is those disparities are in large part self-created.

To improve access, it's important to understand the sources of the disparities. Are patients unaware of transplantation and clinicians don't explain it, clinicians don't give referrals, or are patient concerns causing them to avoid transplantation despite appropriate referrals?


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China Shows There's More To Renewable Energy Than Fighting Climate Change

September 12, 2014 - 12:00pm

The Tangshanpeng Wind Farm in China. Credit: Flickr/Land Rover Our Planet, CC BY-SA

By John Mathews and Hao Tan, University of Newcastle

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Ebola Crisis In West Africa: Where Did All The Development Money Go?

September 12, 2014 - 12:01am

Health systems aren't sexy. Credit: Truthout.org, CC BY-NC-SA

By Sophie Harman, Queen Mary, University of London

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Unusual Biochemistry: Fat Proteins Interact Directly With Mitochondria

September 11, 2014 - 11:00pm

Researchers have revealed an unusual biochemical connection: ft (Fat) genes interact directly with mitochondria in cells.

Mitochondria are the primary sources of energy production within our cells and there are some 200 pathologies linked to mitochondrial dysfunction. 


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Captured: The Sound Of An Atom

September 11, 2014 - 10:30pm
Researchers have used sound to communicate with an artificial atom, demonstrating phenomena in quantum physics using sound rather than light.

The interaction between atoms and light has been studied extensively but making acoustic waves couple to an artificial atom is a newer endeavor. An artificial atom is an example of such a quantum electrical circuit. Just like a regular atom, it can be charged up with energy which it subsequently emits in the form of a particle. This is usually a particle of light, but the atom in the Chalmers experiment is instead designed to both emit and absorb energy in the form of sound.

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Alien Life Search Guidelines Released

September 11, 2014 - 10:14pm

Astronomers searching the atmospheres of alien planets for gases that might be produced by life, such as oxygen, ozone, or methane, may be missing the mark - because those gases can be produced non-biologically.

Methane is a carbon atom bound to four hydrogen atoms. On Earth, much of it is produced biologically - burping cows are a classic example - but it can also be made inorganically; for example, volcanoes at the bottom of the ocean can release the gas after it is produced by reactions of rocks with seawater.


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Which Patients Are Most Likely To Delay Hospice Enrollment?

September 11, 2014 - 10:01pm

Almost 20 percent cancer patients wait to enroll in Hospice until their last three days of life. 

Their courage and determination is admirable, Hospice is palliative care, but it shortchanges both patients and their families and a new paper seeks to create a profile for people like to be late admissions.

The team examined de-identified data from electronic medical records of 64,264 patients in 12 hospices in the Coalition of Hospices Organized to Investigate Comparative Effectiveness network from January 2008 to May 2013. Hospices spanned 11 states, including Pennsylvania, with censuses ranging from 400 to 1,700 patients per day. Of those 64,264 patients, 10,460 had a hospice stay of 3 days or fewer.


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Mapping 15 Years Of Carbon Dioxide Emissions

September 11, 2014 - 9:45pm

There hasn't been a lot of progress made on greenhouse gas emissions policies - while America and the EU have made efforts to curb emissions, three countries that account for 3X the emissions of the US are exempt from treaties under an umbrella of developing nation status.

And neither policy makers nor the public trusts climate science the way they do other fields.

What the world needs is globally consistent, independent emissions assessments - and a lot less self-reporting, errors and lack of verification. 


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B1 Deficit Linked To Brain Damage

September 11, 2014 - 9:30pm

Thiamine - vitamin B1 - can potentially cause a fatal brain disorder called Wernicke encephalopathy.

Wernicke encephalopathy typically occurs in people who have disorders such as alcoholism and anorexia that lead to malnourishment and is an example of the wide range of brain diseases called encephalopathies that are caused by metabolic disorders and toxic substances

Symptoms can include confusion, hallucinations, coma, loss of muscle coordination and vision problems such as double vision and involuntary eye movements. Untreated, the condition can lead to irreversible brain damage and death.

Acute encephalopathy has a rapid onset of between hours and days. It is commonly due to toxic and metabolic factors.


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Male Scientists Forsake Careers For Family - Or The Other Way Around

September 11, 2014 - 9:02pm

Though perception is that academia is harder on women when it comes to career and families, and they need to adopt a more corporate approach to penalize mothers less, it isn't just women; one third of men in academic science scale back their careers to focus on family life, according to surveys.


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Genetic Mutation BRAFV600E Linked To Melanoma Progression

September 11, 2014 - 9:00pm

The genetic mutation BRAFV600E secretes a protein that promotes the growth of melanoma tumor cells and modify the network of normal cells around the tumor to support the disease's progression, according to a new paper.

Targeting this mutation with Vemurafenib reduces this interaction, and suggests possible new treatment options for melanoma therapy. BRAFV600E is common present in metastatic melanoma. 


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The Endometriosis Burden On Women

September 11, 2014 - 8:22pm

Endometriosis often takes a long time to be diagnosed and affects all areas of a woman's life, from sex to emotional wellbeing, from personal relationships to work. 

Endometriosis is a chronic, recurring disease that is experienced by approximately 10 per cent of women worldwide. Common symptoms include painful menstruation, heavy menstrual bleeding, painful sex and infertility.


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Spinosaurus: The First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

September 11, 2014 - 7:36pm

The first truly semi-aquatic dinosaur, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, has been announced.

New fossils of the massive Cretaceous-era predator reveal it adapted to life in the water some 95 million years ago, providing the most compelling evidence to date of a dinosaur able to live and hunt in an aquatic environment.

The fossils also indicate that Spinosaurus was the largest known predatory dinosaur to roam the Earth, measuring more than 9 feet longer than the world's largest Tyrannosaurus rex specimen. 


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Game Of Thrones Weather: Winter Is Coming Vs. You Know Nothing, Jon Snow

September 11, 2014 - 6:29pm
The seasons are about to change and that means a new round of projections, prognostications, sooth-saying and doomsday forecasts.

If you think you know which of those are done by the civilized world and which of those are done by pagan Wildlings, you know nothing about modern climate science and culture.

In George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire", a wall separates two very different people - think England and Scotland. South of The Wall, the people of Winterfell are always preparing for the worst. North of The Wall, they are just living their lives and rolling with the punches. And there is a lot more (consensual) sex. These two groups live in the same world but approach it in very different ways.
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Non-coding RNA: Genetic Modification Anti-Science Groups Can't Protest

September 11, 2014 - 6:01pm

Modern genetic modification, where biologists cause a plant to express a natural protein taken from another plant that wards off pests, is protested by environmental groups and organic farmers. Organic farmers will spray Bt on their plants, while calling them organic food, yet the same food that expresses Bt naturally, like many plants do, is a Frankenfood.

It's the protein expression, they insist. There may be a compromise between the world of science - and not letting poor people die - and activism. If protein expression is the problem, don't code for proteins. Non-coding RNA (ncRNA) still sounds like scary science to environmentalists, but transcripts that do not code for proteins exclude the possibility of producing exogenous protein products.


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New Soldier In The Body's Anti-Virus Army Discovered

September 11, 2014 - 5:01pm

When it comes to defense against viruses, the immune system has an arsenal of weapons at its disposal, including killer cells, antibodies and messenger molecules, and when a pathogen attacks the body, the immune system usually activates the appropriate mechanisms. 


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