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Earliest Homo Fossil Dates Back To 2.75 Million Years Ago

March 4, 2015 - 9:37pm
The earliest known record of the genus Homo dates to between 2.8 and 2.75 million years ago, according to an international team.
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1840s Shipwreck Leads To Important Beer Science Discovery

March 4, 2015 - 8:47pm
The Paleo diet is all made up, organic food just accepts one kind of genetic modification in its modern food over another, but booze? Yeah, scientists can really show how that was different in the past. -->

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No Batteries: Energy-Generating Cloth For Wearable Devices

March 4, 2015 - 8:00pm
From light-up shoes to smart watches, wearable electronics are gaining traction among consumers, but these gadgets' versatility is still held back by the stiff, short-lived batteries that are required. These limitations, however, could soon be overcome. In the journal ACS Nano, scientists report the first durable, flexible cloth that harnesses human motion to generate energy.

It can also self-charge batteries or supercapacitors without an external power source and make new commercial and medical applications possible.
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Twins Study Tries To Determine Heritability Of Autism Spectrum Disorder

March 4, 2015 - 4:43pm
Because of the broad nature of autism spectrum disorder and even broader range of autism traits, any number of genetic and environmental influences are associated with risk of it.

Twins studies are valuable in science because at least some of the factors are quantifiable. Though many papers claim  genetic influences on the risk of autism and the fuzzy related traits diagnosis, they are drawn from samples of individuals which may miss people with more subtle manifestations and may not represent the broader population. A new paper using UK twins seeks to rectify that.
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Men Are More Narcissistic Than Women, Finds Review

March 4, 2015 - 4:30pm
A review of 31 years of narcissism research using data from more than 475,000 participants finds that men, on average, are more narcissistic than women. Or at least they scored higher in narcissism across multiple generations and regardless of age. Psychology is overwhelmingly dominated by women so it's difficult to know what bias that may introduce into testing - and there is a difference between clinical narcissism and colloquial narcissism, which was not controlled for in the analysis.

The scholars examined more than 355 journal articles, dissertations, manuscripts and technical manuals, and studied gender differences in the three aspects of narcissism: leadership/authority, grandiose/exhibitionism and entitlement.  
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Brain And Vision: How Two Cyclops Eyes Create One Clear Picture

March 4, 2015 - 3:59pm
We have two eyes and each differ in their optical properties - you can easily tell by placing a hand over each and seeing the difference.

As a result of the fits and starts and do-overs in evolution that got us eyes, our vision system results in a blur projected in each retina and then the visual system calibrates itself to give us a clear picture. In the past, researchers had people where glasses where images were upside down. Eventually, our brains compensated and the images were correct - until people took off the glasses. 
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The Borexino Detector And Its Physics Results

March 4, 2015 - 3:55pm

At the XVI Neutrino Telescopes conference going on this week in Venice there was a nice presentation on the results of the Borexino experiment. The text below is a writeup of the highlights from the talk, given by Cristiano Galbiati from Princeton University.

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Pain Relief, Without All Of The Fake Medical Marijuana Prescriptions

March 4, 2015 - 3:46pm
Medical marijuana usage has been proliferating across the United States, primarily due to claims about pain management, but the demographics are baffling. Though women have 60 percent of medical visits for pain, 80 percent of medical marijuana prescriptions for pain have been men. 

Yet in instances where the prescriptions have been real, tolerance develops quickly, which means people are inhaling more and more carcinogens, and there are numerous other side effects. 
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The Science Of Randomness, One Penny At A Time

March 4, 2015 - 3:20pm
The concept of randomness has intrigued great minds for as long as history of great thinkers has been recorded.  From the nature of wind to drunks running into lampposts on their way home, scholars have been intrigued with making random predictable. 

A group of chemists say they have challenged traditional interpretations of randomness by computationally generating random and mechanically rigid arrangements of two-dimensional hard disks, think pennies with no thickness, for the first time.
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Mental Health And The Failure Of The Medicare Principle Of Universality

March 4, 2015 - 2:43pm

Researchers say they have clear and detailed evidence of the inequitable delivery of mental health care services for disadvantaged Australians. Introduced in 1975, Australia's national health insurance scheme Medicare (originally Medibank) was envisioned to deliver the most equitable and efficient means of providing health insurance coverage for all Australians.


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Why Seashells' Mineral Forms Differently In Seawater

March 4, 2015 - 2:30pm

For almost a century, scientists have been puzzled by a process that is crucial to much of the life in Earth's oceans: Why does calcium carbonate, the tough material of seashells and corals, sometimes take the form of calcite, and at other times form a chemically identical form of the mineral, called aragonite, that is more soluble -- and therefore more vulnerable to ocean acidification?


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These Humans Have Evolutionarily Adapted To Arsenic

March 4, 2015 - 2:30pm
High up in the high Andes mountains of Argentina, a population has adapted to tolerate the toxic chemical arsenic. 

For thousands of years, in some regions of the Andes, people have been exposed to high levels of it, because arsenic in volcanic bedrock is released into the groundwater.

How could this population adapt to tolerate arsenic, a potent killer of such ill repute that it's often the overused plot-driver of many murder mysteries? 
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Amazing Metamaterials Mechanical Properties

March 4, 2015 - 2:00pm


A “mechanically programmable” metamaterial held by Bastiaan Florijn, Leiden University. Photo credit: Ben P. Stein

By Ben Stein, Inside Science

(Inside Science Currents Blog) -- It’s rare when a scientific term is both cool sounding and precise, but the word “metamaterial” might just fit the bill. Although they are made from small, ordinary building blocks such as rods, circles or sticks, metamaterials have striking properties that often do not occur in the natural world.        

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In Cancer Screening, How Much Over-Detection Is Acceptable?

March 4, 2015 - 2:00pm
How much overdetection is acceptable in cancer screening? A UK survey discussed in The BMJ this week affirms what we always knew, that responses are all over the map, depending on how the questions are framed.

The article is part of a series on over-detection (over-diagnosis) looking at the risks and harms to patients of expanding definitions of disease and increasing use of new diagnostic technologies. Over-detection describes cancerous lesions that are picked up and treated but would never have caused symptoms or become fatal in a person's lifetime. This is typically seen if the cancers are so slow growing that they would not have been detected if screening had not taken place.
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New Family Of Moth Is Enigmatic Evolutionary Wonder

March 4, 2015 - 1:30pm

Male enigma moth, a new species discovered on Kangaroo Island. George Gibbs, Author provided

The discovery of a new family of moth is one of the most exciting finds in entomology in the past 40 years.

It was found not in some remote and unexplored region of Australia, but right in our backyard on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. The island that is only 100 kilometers from Adelaide and 13  kilometers from the mainland, that has been settled since 1836 and is one of the loveliest destinations for a holiday.

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Synchrotron Light Source II First Data Publication

March 4, 2015 - 1:30pm
Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) at Brookhaven National Laboratory only achieved first light a few weeks ago and already collaborators at the X-Ray Powder Diffraction (XPD) beamline have tested a setup that yielded data on thermoelectric materials. The work was part of the commissioning activities for the XPD beamline, a process that fine-tunes the settings of beamline equipment to ready the facility for first scientific commissioning experiments in mid-March on its way to full user operations later in the year. 
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Mutation May Cause Early Loss Of Sperm Supply

March 4, 2015 - 6:23am

The loss of a gene in male mice results in the premature exhaustion of their fertility. Their fundamental new insights into the complex process of sperm generation may have direct applications to a similar loss of fertility in men.

What the team discovered is that the loss of the gene that makes the protein TAF4b causes a deficit in the number of progenitor cells at an embryonic stage of a male mouse's reproductive development. Lacking those important precursor cells means that the mice struggle to develop a robust stem cell infrastructure to sustain sperm production for the long term. The affected mice are fertile at first, but quickly deplete the limited sperm supply that they can generate.


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Leukemia-associated Mutations Almost Inevitable As We Age

March 4, 2015 - 5:26am

It is almost inevitable that we will develop genetic mutations associated with leukaemia as we age, according to research published today in Cell Reports. Based on a study of 4219 people without any evidence of blood cancer, scientists estimate that up to 20 per cent of people aged 50-60 and more than 70 per cent of people over 90 have blood cells with the same gene changes as found in leukaemia.


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A Study Relates The Level Of Pollutants Accumulated In The Body With Obesity Levels

March 4, 2015 - 4:49am

A team of Spanish scientists, which includes several researchers from the University of Granada, has confirmed that there is a relation between the levels of certain environmental pollutants that a person accumulates in his or her body and their level of obesity. Subjects with more pollutants in their organisms present besides higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which are important risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

This is a study published in the prestigious journal Environmental Pollution, which has counted with the participation of researchers from the University of Granada, the San Cecilio and Virgen de las Nieves university hospitals, and the Andalusian School of Public Health, all of them members of the Granada Biohealth Research Institute.


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Physician-industry Conflict Of Interest In Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

March 4, 2015 - 4:49am

If you're one of the nearly half a million Americans living with multiple sclerosis (MS) - a slowly disabling disease of the central nervous system - you are likely dependent on disease-modifying drugs to prevent symptoms such as vision problems, balance issues and weakness. Often, these treatments have been developed through pharmaceutical industry-sponsored clinical trials (ISCT) in collaboration with academic or private practice physicians who care for MS patients.

But what do patients know, or want to know, about their physician's financial relationship with the pharmaceutical company sponsoring such research?


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