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Ancient Indonesian Climate Change Linked To Nature

March 24, 2014 - 9:58pm

A 60,000-year record of rainfall in central Indonesia used sediments from a remote lake reveals important new details about the climate history of a region that wields a substantial influence on the global climate as a whole.

The Indonesian archipelago sits in the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool, an expanse of ocean that supplies a sizable fraction of the water vapor in Earth's atmosphere and plays a role in propagating El Niño cycles. Despite the region's importance in the global climate system, not much is known about its own climate history, says James Russell, associate professor of geological sciences at Brown.


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Citrate Shock-Absorbing Bone Goo Discovery

March 24, 2014 - 9:38pm

A new paper has found that the chemical citrate – a by-product of natural cell metabolism – is mixed with water to create a viscous fluid that is trapped between the nano-scale crystals that form our bones. This fluid allows enough movement, or 'slip', between these crystals so that bones are flexible, and don't shatter under pressure. It is the inbuilt shock absorber in bone that, until now, was unknown.

If citrate leaks out, the crystals – made of calcium phosphate – fuse together into bigger and bigger clumps that become inflexible, increasingly brittle and more likely to shatter. This could be the root cause of osteoporosis.


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Small Wireless Pacemaker Is Safe, Effective In Early Testing

March 24, 2014 - 9:29pm

A new small, wireless self-contained pacemaker appears safe and feasible for use in patients, according to a small study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Although traditional pacemakers pose minimal risk, patients are still vulnerable to some short- or long-term complications, said Vivek Y. Reddy, M.D., lead author of the study and director of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Those complications can stem from the pulse generator implanted under the skin of the chest, where infections or skin breakdown can occur, and particularly from the leads, or wires, that run from the generator through a vein to the heart. Leads can break, dislodge or contribute to a vein blockage.


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Violent Video Games Associated With Increased Aggression In Children

March 24, 2014 - 9:29pm

Bottom Line: Habitually playing violent video games appears to increase aggression in children, regardless of parental involvement and other factors.

Author: Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., of Iowa State University, Ames, and colleagues.

Background: More than 90 percent of American youths play video games, and many of these games depict violence, which is often portrayed as fun, justified and without negative consequences.


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Quantum Tornados And Kelvin Waves

March 24, 2014 - 9:17pm

As a child, you may have been fascinated to learn that draining the water from a bathtub causes a spinning tornado to appear.

That or gravity may have been your first introduction to classical mechanics. As the water rotated faster, a vortex appeared.

Yet if the water is extremely cold liquid helium, the fluid will swirl around an invisible line to form a vortex that obeys the laws of quantum mechanics. Sometimes, two of these quantum tornadoes flex into curved lines, cross over one another to form a letter X shape, swap ends, and then violently retract from one another—a process called reconnection.


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Good Or Bad For Obamacare? 42 Percent Of Americans Are Clueless About Health Insurance

March 24, 2014 - 8:58pm

Can you explain what a deductible is?

If you can, you are in the majority - but not by much. Instead, survey results have found that the people most likely to benefit from the Affordable Care Act, those earning near the Federal Poverty Level, remain the most clueless about health care policies. 

There is a week to go before enrollment in mandatory health care closes and to-date most of the discussion has revolved around technical glitches, exaggerated enrollment, doctors and health plans throwing out patients and alarming costs for most of the public.


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None Of The Above: A Science Show The Whole Family Will Enjoy

March 24, 2014 - 5:21pm
If you, like me, want to enjoy some science with your kids and not feel pushy about it, National Geographic has a terrific program coming out this evening. My kids can't get enough of None Of The Above which debuts at 9 PM tonight.

Host Tim Shaw gets right to it and kids like that. He has the two episodes we saw moving at full-speed.

The premise is simple; Tim presents a fun or clever twist on a seemingly intuitive experiment and asks people what they think will happen. He even provides them with the answer, in the form of multiple choice responses - but watch out for those choice "D: None Of The Above" picks that give the show its name. 
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Being A Fair Boss May Be A No-Win Situation

March 24, 2014 - 2:41pm

Bosses who are most conscientious about the fairness of workplace decisions make their workers happier and their companies more productive, but they may be burning themselves out.

A new paper found the act of carefully monitoring the fairness of workplace decisions wears down supervisors mentally and emotionally.  The researchers surveyed 82 bosses twice a day for a few weeks. Managers who reported mental fatigue from situations involving procedural fairness were less cooperative and socially engaging with other workers the next day. 


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Mice Give Ticks A Free Lunch

March 24, 2014 - 2:33pm

(Millbrook, NY) People living in northern and central parts of the U.S. are more likely to contract Lyme disease and other tick-borne ailments when white-footed mice are abundant. Mice are effective at transferring disease-causing pathogens to feeding ticks. And, according to an in-press paper in the journal Ecology, these "super hosts" appear indifferent to larval tick infestations.

Drawing on 16 years of field research performed at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, the paper found that white-footed mice with hundreds of larval ticks survived just as long as those with only a few ticks. Even more surprising, male mice with large tick loads were more likely to survive during a given season.


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P53 Cuts Off Invading Cancer Cells

March 24, 2014 - 2:32pm

The researchers found that p53 limits invasion by initiating a chain of events that ultimately prevents the formation of lamellipodia, cell membrane protrusions that spur cell movement and invasion. p53 activates a mitochondrial protease called Omi, which is then released into the cytosol of the cell when Ras causes mitochondria to fragment. Omi cleaves actin filaments in the cytoskeleton, and the decrease in actin suppresses the activity of p130Cas, a focal adhesion signaling protein that promotes the formation of lamellipodia. With low levels of active p130Cas, cells don't form lamellipodia and are therefore less able to invade.


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Why Increasing Bandwidth Of Radio Transmissions Using Orbital Angular Momentum Is Innovative

March 24, 2014 - 9:20am
I received the following comment from Bo Thide', one of the authors of the paper where Fabrizio Tamburini and collaborators explain their novel method to multiply the transmission of information via EM waves (see here). I think his points are of interest to many so I decided to elect his comment to a independent posting here.

By the way, Bo Thide' is a Swedish professor at the Uppsala department of Physics and Astronomy. For his CV see here.

Comments welcome...

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From Bo Thide':
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New Childhood Tuberculosis Estimates Double The Number Previously Thought

March 24, 2014 - 4:29am

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) in Boston have estimated that around one million children suffer from tuberculosis (TB) annually— twice the number previously thought to have tuberculosis and three times the number that are diagnosed every year. The researchers also estimated that around 32,000 children suffer from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) annually. These findings are published in The Lancet on March 23, 2014.


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Non-GMO Beer: For The Anti-Science Hippie Alcoholic In You

March 23, 2014 - 10:57pm
Peak Organic Brewing Co. has announced that it has become the first brewer to receive Non-GMO Project verification for its beer.

They believe this makes their product more 'pure' than beers which contain grains that have instead been randomly mutated and hybdrized over thousands of years.
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Off-rift Volcanoes Explained

March 23, 2014 - 8:42pm

Potsdam: Rift valleys are large depressions formed by tectonic stretching forces. Volcanoes often occur in rift valleys, within the rift itself or on the rift flanks as e.g. in East Africa. The magma responsible for this volcanism is formed in the upper mantle and ponds at the boundary between crust and mantle. For many years, the question of why volcanoes develop outside the rift zone in an apparently unexpected location offset by tens of kilometers from the source of molten magma directly beneath the rift has remained unanswered.

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New Approach Makes Cancer Cells Explode

March 22, 2014 - 5:10pm

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered that a substance called Vacquinol-1 makes cells from glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain tumour, literally explode. When mice were given the substance, which can be given in tablet form, tumour growth was reversed and survival was prolonged. The findings are published in the journal Cell.

The established treatments that are available for glioblastoma include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. But even if this treatment is given the average survival is just 15 months. It is therefore critical to find better treatments for malignant brain tumours.


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Study Reveals A Major Mechanism Driving Kidney Cancer Progression

March 22, 2014 - 5:10pm

The shortage of oxygen, or hypoxia, created when rapidly multiplying kidney cancer cells outgrow their local blood supply can accelerate tumor growth by causing a nuclear protein called SPOP—which normally suppresses tumor growth—to move out of the nucleus to the cytoplasm, where it has the opposite effect, promoting rapid proliferation.

In the March 20, 2014, issue of the journal Cancer Cell, researchers from Chicago and Beijing describe the mechanisms that enable hypoxia to cause the overexpression of SPOP. They show that hypoxia also stimulates the shuttling of SPOP out of the nucleus, where it normally prevents tumor growth, to the cytoplasm, where it shuts down protective pathways that should restrict tumor growth.


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How Localized Bacterial Infections Can Turn Into Dangerous Sepsis

March 22, 2014 - 5:10pm

We carry numerous bacteria on our skin, in our mouth, gut, and other tissues, and localized bacterial infections are common and mostly not harmful. Occasionally, however, a localized infection turns into dangerous systemic disease (sepsis), and scientists have new clues as to how that happens. A study published on March 20th in PLOS Pathogens shows that after intravenous injection of a million bacteria into a mouse, the resulting systemic disease is often started by only a single one of them.


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Pathogens In Cheese

March 22, 2014 - 4:57pm

Listeria is a rod-shaped bacterium highly prevalent in the environment and generally not a threat to human health. One species however, Listeria monocytogenes, can cause listeriosis, a very dangerous disease. This pathogen can be present in raw milk and soft cheeses, smoked fish, raw meat and ready-to-eat products. In Austria, health care providers are required to report all cases of listeriosis, which can be fatal particularly for patients with weakened immune systems. In 2009 and 2010, a dairy in Hartberg (Styria, Austria) produced Quargel cheese contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes leading to a multinational listeriosis outbreak in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic, ultimately forcing the dairy to shut down.


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Computers Spot False Faces Better Than People

March 22, 2014 - 4:57pm

TORONTO, ON — A joint study by researchers at the University of California San Diego and the University of Toronto has found that a computer system spots real or faked expressions of pain more accurately than people can. The work, titled "Automatic Decoding of Deceptive Pain Expressions," is published in the latest issue of Current Biology.

"The computer system managed to detect distinctive dynamic features of facial expressions that people missed," said Marian Bartlett, research professor at UC San Diego's Institute for Neural Computation and lead author of the study. "Human observers just aren't very good at telling real from faked expressions of pain."


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Switching An Antibiotic On And Off With Light

March 22, 2014 - 7:28am

This news release is available in German.

Scientists of the KIT and the University of Kiev have produced an antibiotic, whose biological activity can be controlled with light. Thanks to the robust diarylethene photoswitch, the antimicrobial effect of the peptide mimetic can be applied in a spatially and temporally specific manner. This might open up new options for the treatment of local infections, as side effects are reduced. The researchers present their photoactivable antibiotic with the new photomodule in a "Very Important Paper" of the journal "Angewandte Chemie".


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