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Sustainable Jet Fuel: Sunshine And Seawater Could Power Flight

June 10, 2015 - 6:00pm

The aviation industry is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2011 aviation contributed around 3% of Australia’s emissions. Despite improvements in efficiency, global aviation emissions are expected to grow 70% by 2020 from 2005. While the industry is seeking new renewable fuel sources, growing biofuels takes up valuable land and water that could be otherwise used to grow food.

But what if you could grow biofuels on land nobody wants, using just seawater and sunlight, and produce food at the same time?

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Why Good People Do Bad Things

June 10, 2015 - 5:25pm

Honest behavior is much like sticking to a diet - you have to be ready for temptation and consider the long-term consequences.

A recent paper says it is the first study to test how the two separate factors of identifying an ethical conflict and preemptively exercising self-control interact in shaping ethical decision-making.

In a series of experiments that included common ethical dilemmas, such as calling in sick to work and negotiating a home sale, the researchers found that two factors together promoted ethical behavior: Participants who identified a potential ethical dilemma as connected to other similar incidents and who also anticipated the temptation to act unethically were more likely to behave honestly than participants who did not.


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Skin Color, Lactose Tolerance: Mapping Population Changes In Bronze Age Eurasia

June 10, 2015 - 5:00pm
Wide-scale population migrations and changes took place in Europe and Asia during the Bronze Age that shaped the demographic structure of present-day Europeans and Asians, as revealed by an analysis of 101 genomes from ancient Eurasian humans.

A new study published in this week’s Nature presents one of the largest studies of ancient DNA samples to date.  The research provides insights into the prevalence of certain traits such as skin color or lactose tolerance, as well as data relevant to the understanding the spread of Indo-European languages.
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Attending Breast Cancer Screening Reduces Risk Of Death By 40 Percent

June 10, 2015 - 4:00pm

Women aged 50-69 years who attend mammography screening reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer by 40 percent compared to women who are not screened - according to a major international review of the latest evidence on breast cancer screening. Overall, women who are invited to attend mammography screening have a 23 percent risk reduction in breast cancer death (owing to some attending and some not), compared with women not invited by routine screening programs.

In the UK, this relative risk translates to around eight deaths prevented per 1,000 women regularly attending screening, and five deaths prevented per 1,000 women invited to screening.


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Cancer Overtakes Cardiovascular Disease As UK's No. 1 Killer Among Men

June 10, 2015 - 3:30pm

Cancer has overtaken cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, as the UK's No 1 killer--but only among men, reveals research published online in the journal Heart.

Cardiovascular disease is still the most common cause of death among women, and kills more young women than breast cancer, the figures show.

The researchers used the latest nationally available data (2012-13) for each of the four UK countries and the Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2014 report compiled for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to quantify the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, and find out how it's treated, how much it costs, and how many deaths it causes.


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Data Underlying U.S. Dietary Guidelines Flawed - Or Not

June 10, 2015 - 3:30pm
U.S. government-issued dietary recommendations continue to evolve over time but a new paper by scholars claims that the main source of dietary information used by the U.S. Government’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) is scientifically flawed because the underlying data are primarily informed by memory-based dietary assessment methods (M-BMs) (e.g. interviews and surveys).(1)

In an editorial response nutrition experts suggest that the purported flaws are well-appreciated by nutritional researchers and can be mitigated by using multiple data sources, resulting in valid data.(2)
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How An Undergraduate Discovered Tubes Of Plasma In The Sky

June 10, 2015 - 3:00pm
The discovery by an undergraduate student of tubes of plasma drifting above Earth has made headlines in the past few days.

Many people have asked how the discovery was made and, in particular, how an undergraduate student was able to do it.

The answer is a combination of an amazing new telescope, a very smart student and an unexpected fusion of two areas of science.

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Do We Want Accurate Polling Or Fair Elections?

June 10, 2015 - 2:44pm

The public has a bit of a cultural schism about elections. Everyone says they want more diversity of candidates but an actual primary race is a sign of weakness. In the United States of America, Democrats are trumpeting the fact that they picked their candidate for 2016 back in 2013 and ridiculing Republicans because they have a dozen contenders. And we are told that if polls are too accurate, people will not bother to vote, but if they are not accurately predicting the winner of an election that has not occurred, it is a failure.


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Why Some Girls Don't Study Math-Intensive Science

June 10, 2015 - 2:30pm

Though women are the majority in the life sciences and men might need outreach programs to counteract potential bias against them in the social sciences, in math-intensive fields like physics women still lag.

Sociologists believe that it may be due to misperception; that you either have math ability or you don't. Counter that misperception and you the problem is solved.


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Pregnant Pipefish Fathers Are Not Super Dads

June 10, 2015 - 2:00pm

Many aquatic species have a reputation for negligent parenting. Having cast their gametes to the currents, they abandon their offspring to their fate. However, hands-on parenting is taken to a whole new dimension in the Syngnathidae fish family.

Instead of leaving the responsibility to the females, seahorse and pipefish males take the pledge to care for their young even before the eggs are fertilized. The females depart soon after placing their eggs directly into the male's brood pouch, leaving the soon-to-be fathers to incubate the developing embryos.


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Novel Genetic Mutations May Arise During Early Embryonic Development

June 10, 2015 - 1:30pm

Until now, de novo genetic mutations, alterations in a gene found for the first time in one family member, were believed to be mainly the result of new mutations in the sperm or eggs (germline) of one of the parents and passed on to their child.

Researchers from The Netherlands have now succeeded in determining that at least 6.5% of de novo mutations occur during the development of the child (post-zygotic) rather than from the germline of a parent.  


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Daily Sweetened Beverages Linked To Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

June 10, 2015 - 1:00pm

A daily sugar-sweetened beverage habit may increase the risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).


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Human Spaceflight At "Coastline Hugging Phase" - Lunar Villages Not Interplanetary Voyages - Op. Ed.

June 10, 2015 - 12:47pm

Elon Musk, and NASA both have in mind the idea of doing interplanetary voyages straight away, aiming for Mars, with Obama going so far as to say about the Moon: “But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before.”. If you hold that view, you are undoubtedly in distinguished company.

Now - there are two things here - yes we've been to the Moon before - but is that the end of all interest in it? But first - how ready are we for interplanetary voyages? 

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Culture Of Blame Still Prominent In The UK Today

June 10, 2015 - 12:40pm
Patient safety, whistleblowing and public inquiry have a long historical legacy - but with mixed results.

Yet lessons from the past can inform current medical practice and help maintain a safe environment for patients and that will be the topic addressed by 20 health organizations who will be convening at the University of Leicester on June 11th to discuss how old patterns of patient safety and historical complaints against doctors are still being replicated in the modern welfare system – and what lessons can be learned by looking to our medical past. 

The General Medical Council (GMC) has launched a consultation this year, which will place patient safety at the heart of medical education and training across the UK.
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Fruit Fly Genetics Reveal Pesticide Resistance And Insight Into Cancer

June 10, 2015 - 4:31am

For being so small, fruit flies have had a large impact on genetic research. Thomas Werner, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Michigan Technological University, has bridged the miniscule and the massive in an effort to better understand the mechanisms behind several unique features of fruit fly genes.

Over the past week, several studies that Werner co-authored have been published in PLoS ONE, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Nature Education. All are linked by Drosophila--a genus of fruit flies--and the insights that fruit fly genetics provide on human health, specifically cancer-causing genes.


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First Child Born To Woman Using Ovarian Tissue Frozen During Her Childhood

June 10, 2015 - 3:53am
A case study reports on a young woman who gave birth to a healthy child after doctors restored her fertility by transplanting ovarian tissue that had been removed and frozen while she was a child. 

There have been reports of successful pregnancies after ovarian transplantation using tissue that had been removed from patients as adults but this is the first successful instance using tissue taken from girls before puberty.
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Global Sanitation Fund Reports Major Sanitation Advances For 7 Million People In 13 Countries

June 10, 2015 - 2:46am

The Global Sanitation Fund's latest Progress Report details how support for nationally-led programs has helped 7 million people in over 20,500 communities become open-defecation free, improved toilets for 4.2 million people and seen eight million people gain access to hand-washing facilities. The governments of Australia, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom contributed.

Established by WSSCC, the GSF funds large-scale behavior change activities to help poor people in the world's hardest-to-reach areas attain safe sanitation and adopt good hygiene practices. The community-led, government-backed activities support existing national efforts, uniting a diverse group of stakeholders to address deficiencies in access to sanitation and hygiene.


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Weight-loss Surgery Puts Spark Back Into Relationships

June 10, 2015 - 2:46am

Bariatric surgery does not only benefit the health of patients who undergo this weight loss procedure. It also leads to greater intimacy between them and their life partners, and adds a spark to their sex life. It's all in all a shared journey that brings partners closer together, says Mary Lisa Pories of East Carolina University in the US, lead author of a study providing insights into the experience of couples after one of the partners underwent weight loss surgery. The findings are published in Springer's journal Obesity Surgery.


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Crystal Meth: Epidemic Or Not, Heavier Use, Higher Purity Are Increasing Harm

June 10, 2015 - 12:34am
Much media attention is being given to the rising toll of methamphetamine-related harm in Australia, fuelled by the increased availability and use of high purity crystalline methamphetamine (crystal meth or ice).

Unlike other forms of methamphetamine available in Australia (speed or base), ice (crystalline methamphetamine or crystal meth) can be smoked. This gives a rapid drug effect because it gets into both the bloodstream and the brain quite quickly.

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One Dose HPV Vaccine As Effective As Three-Dose Schedules Against Cervical Cancers

June 9, 2015 - 9:30pm
A single dose of the bivalent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (Cervarix) offers a similar level of protection against the HPV-16/18 infections - which cause about 70% of cervical cancers - as current two- and three-dose schedules, according to data from two large phase 3 trials.

Worldwide, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. The bivalent vaccine targets HPV types 16 and 18 that are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancers. The HPV-16/18 vaccine was initially approved to be given in three doses over 6 months, but many countries are moving to a two-dose schedule in adolescents.
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