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Life Boils Down To Five 'Rules' ... Or So Says The Madingley Model

August 21, 2014 - 11:00pm


By James Smith, Research Fellow in Fisheries at UNSW Australia

It may sound overly simple, but just five processes can define us as animals: eating, metabolism, reproduction, dispersal and death.

They might not seem like much, but, thanks to a mathematical model from scientists at Microsoft Research, we know that these five processes are the key to all ecosystems.

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Electric Sparking May Have Altered Properties Of Lunar Dust

August 21, 2014 - 10:30pm

The moon is a tranquil place but an article in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets suggests that periodic storms of solar energetic particles may have significantly altered the properties of the soil in the moon's coldest craters through the process of sparking - it just took eons.

The article proposes that high-energy particles from uncommon, large solar storms penetrate the moon's frigid, polar regions and electrically charge the soil. The charging may create sparking, or electrostatic breakdown, and this "breakdown weathering" process has possibly changed the very nature of the moon's polar soil, suggesting that permanently shadowed regions, which hold clues to our solar system's past, may be more active than previously thought.


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The Genomic Love Triangle Of Canola

August 21, 2014 - 9:54pm

The recently published genome of Brassica napus — commonly known as canola — paves the way for improved versions of the plant, which is used widely in farming and industry. 


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Risk Factors For Urinary Tract Infections In Young Girls

August 21, 2014 - 7:02pm

Young girls with an intense, red, itchy rash on their outer genital organs - vulvitis - may be at increased risk of developing urinary tract infections, according to new research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. 

Vulvitis is not a disease, but rather inflammation of the the vulva. It is the most common gynecological condition in pre-menstrual girls and is the greatest reason for referral to a pediatric gynecological specialist. 

The treatment may be as simple as better hygiene and avoiding potential irritants such as bubble baths and swimming pools.


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Mars, Saturn And The Claws Of Scorpius

August 21, 2014 - 7:02pm

Across Australia, catch Mars and Saturn around 8 pm local time.Source: Museum Victoria/Stellarium

By Tanya Hill, Museum Victoria

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How Science Is Using The Genetics Of Disease To Make Drugs Better

August 21, 2014 - 4:30pm

By Mark Lawler, Queen's University Belfast

Personalized medicine is the ability to tailor therapy to an individual patient so that, as it’s often put, the right treatment is given to the right patient at the right time. But just how personal is it?

While the phrase might conjure up images of each patient getting their own individual therapeutic cocktail – this isn’t actually the case. Designing an individually tailored package would be too labour intensive and (at least currently) too expensive. Instead, the answer lies in understanding the genetics of patients and disease.

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Following Your Diet? A Blood Sample Can Tell

August 21, 2014 - 4:30pm
It’s possible to assess dietary compliance from a blood sample - that is useful in controlled dietary intervention studies investigating the health benefits of specific diets, since such studies have mainly relied on the participants’ self-reported dietary intake, which is often biased, making it more difficult to assess the real health benefits.
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Would Open Science Solve Bottlenecks In Developing Biopharmaceutical Products?

August 21, 2014 - 4:00pm

Due to increased regulations, a culture war against pharmaceutical corporations, and the high costs of trials, companies have increasingly allowed early taxpayer-funded biomedical research to spread the risk among hundreds of millions of people. The pace of invention has slowed considerably and it may be because of academic culture, according to a new study.

An analysis of patented university inventions has revealed early bottlenecks on the path to commercialization and the authors suggest that better communication of basic research results during the discovery stage could lead to faster commercialization down the road.


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Though It's The 11th Cyclone This Season, Karina Is A Giant 9 From Space

August 21, 2014 - 3:56pm

Tropical Storm Karina was weakening on August 20 when NASA's Terra satellite passed overhead. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument aboard Terra snapped a visible image of Tropical Storm Karina on August 20 at 19:40 UTC (3:40 p.m. EDT). The MODIS image showed that a thick band of strong thunderstorms spiraled into Karina's center from the southeast. The band of thunderstorms wrapped around Karina's eastern and northern quadrants, spiraling into the center from the west, making the tropical cyclone look like the number nine.


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A Genetic Recipe For Limb Regeneration

August 21, 2014 - 3:31pm

A team of researchers  is a step closer to solving the mystery of how lizards regenerate their tails. They have found the genetic "recipe", which involves genetic ingredients in just the right mixture and amounts.

The scientists used molecular and computer analysis tools to examine the genes turned on in tail regeneration. The team studied the regenerating tail of the green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis), which when caught by a predator, can lose its tail and then grow it back. 


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Survival Of The Less Fit: Sprinting Salmon Less Likely To Survive Migration

August 21, 2014 - 3:31pm

When salmon encounter turbulent, fast-moving water, such as rapids or areas downstream of dams, they must move upstream using a behavior known as "burst swimming" that is similar to sprinting for humans.


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Orb-weaving Spiders In Cities May Be Larger, Reproduce Better

August 21, 2014 - 3:00pm

A common orb-weaving spider may grow larger and have an increased ability to reproduce when living in urban areas, according to ecologists from the University of Sydney.


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Paleolithic Escargot - Prehistoric Spaniards Cooked Snails 30,000 Years Ago

August 21, 2014 - 2:30pm

The Paleolithic inhabitants of modern-day Spain may have eaten snails 30,000 years ago - 10,000 years earlier than their Mediterranean neighbors, according to a recent paper.


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Water Gunks Up Biofuels Production

August 21, 2014 - 2:12pm

Biofuels production has never lived up to the hype. It does something, so it is less hype than quantum computers have been for 15 years, but biofuels suffer from inefficiencies that have kept it from improving due to time and experience, some of which is that subsidies and mandates lead to less innovation rather than more, and then there is a chemistry problem.

There may be hope for the chemistry problem. A new paper
the Journal of the American Chemical Society finds that water in the conversion process helps form an impurity which slows down key chemical reactions.


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Monthly Transfusions Reduce Silent Strokes In Kids With Sickle Cell Anemia

August 21, 2014 - 1:45pm

Silent strokes are a loss of blood flow to parts of the brain. Such strokes do not cause immediate symptoms and typically go undiagnosed, but they cause damage. In kids, they can even lower IQ.


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Cell Phone Morphs Into A Portable Science Lab

August 21, 2014 - 11:00am

(Inside Science TV) – From the classrooms to research facilities a cell phone could morph into a portable science lab.

"If we could use a cellphone as a microscope that would be a very cheap and cost effective way to solve a number of our problems," said Thomas Larson, a mechanical engineering graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle and inventor of the Micro Phone Lens.

The idea came to Larson while he was working in the lab at the University of Washington.

"We’re using microscopes a lot!" said Larson.

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Does Motivated Counseling For Youths About Alcohol Work?

August 20, 2014 - 11:30pm
One form of drug counseling to help young people with drinking problems makes people in a 'we must do something' culture feel better may be of limited benefit, a new systematic review suggests. 

Each year, around 320,000 people worldwide between the ages of 15 and 29 die as a result of alcohol misuse. Most of those deaths are due to car accidents, murders, suicides or drowning. Motivational interviewing is a counseling technique developed in the 1980s that is sometimes offered to people with alcohol problems. It aims to help them overcome ambivalence and change behavior. Counselors listen, adopt a non-judgmental, non-confrontational stance and then highlight the negative consequences of drinking. 
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Carbon Tetrachloride: Ozone-depleting Compound Persists Decades Later

August 20, 2014 - 9:46pm

Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) was once used in dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent but once it was found to be a cause of ozone depleted, it was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons. Parties to the Montreal Protocol have reported zero new CCl4 emissions since, though worldwide emissions of CCl4 still average 39 kilotons per year, about 30 percent of emissions prior to the treaty going into effect.


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Cough Syrups With Codeine Linked To Brain Deficits

August 20, 2014 - 9:32pm

A brain imaging study that looked at chronic users of codeine-containing cough syrups found deficits in specific regions of brain white matter and associates these changes with increased impulsivity in
codeine-containing cough syrup
users. 


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