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Colorado's Front Range Wildfires Are Not Special

September 25, 2014 - 12:00pm

In our hyperactive media climate, where every incident is proof or not proof of something, it has become common to see claims that wildfires have become worse due to global warming even as American CO2 emissions have dropped.

Scientists have put a fire retardant on claims that Colorado's Front Range wildfires are becoming increasingly severe.


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Uncharted Passion, Disrupted Hormones And Weird Superstitions – The Life Of A Football Fan

September 25, 2014 - 2:20am

Australian Football League. Credit: Deirdre/Flickr

By Steve Ellen, Monash University

It’s Grand Final season – it might seem that nothing else matters about now.

Writing about the psychology of football is like writing about the psychology of love. A fool’s business. Nothing (so far) has quite made sense of how 100,000 people turn up to shout and scream, cry and gasp, and pin their fortunes on a bunch of athletes running around crashing into each other at the limits of human endurance.

It’s just good honest fun. Well, mostly honest.

Fan passion

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Researchers Create First Mouse Model For ALS Dementia

September 24, 2014 - 11:30pm

The first animal model for ALS dementia, a form of ALS that also damages the brain, has been developed. This advance will allow researchers to directly see the brains of living mice, under anesthesia, at the microscopic level and will allow direct monitoring of test drugs to determine if they work. 


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Wound Healing Response Promotes Breast Cancer Metastasis In Postpartum Mice

September 24, 2014 - 11:30pm

Within the first 5 years after the birth of a child, women are considered at an increased risk of developing metastatic breast cancer.

Why that happens has been considered a puzzle but the fact remains that women diagnosed with postpartum breast cancer have a decreased disease free survival time compared to women that have never given birth.

The aggressive tendency of postpartum breast cancer suggests that the post-birth breast environment promotes tumor metastasis. A new study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggests that dying tumor cells in postpartum breast tissue promote metastatic disease.


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Genetic Risk Factors For Stroke Identified

September 24, 2014 - 10:47pm

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and while there are obvious environmental factors such as diet, exercise and behavior, many lines of evidence suggest that the risk of stroke is heritable. Yet until now, only a small number of genes associated with stroke have been identified. 

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation identifies two genes that underlie cerebral small-vessel disease (CSVD), a risk factor for stroke.

Ordan Lehmann and colleagues at the University of Alberta analyzed genome-wide association data from individuals that received brain MRI scans as part of the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) study.


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The Upside To An Aging Population

September 24, 2014 - 8:30pm

In the developed world, people are having fewer children and living longer and that has led to a population that is older than in the past.

On average, life expectancy in developed countries has risen at a pace of three months per year, and fertility has fallen below replacement rate in the majority of Europe and some other developed countries. Most academic discussion of this trend has so far focused on potential problems - when social security was young there were over 20 workers per retiree and now there are 3 - and that is without the entire Baby Boom being retired and incurring healthcare costs.


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Gelsolin: Kill Chemo-Resistant Ovarian Cancer Cells By Killing Their Protector

September 24, 2014 - 8:00pm

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly gynecological kind, it claims the lives of more than 50% of women who are diagnosed

Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed late and develops a resistance to chemotherapy but new insight into why may lead to better diagnosis and treatment.


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Why RB1 Gene Is Linked To Retinal Tumors In Young Children

September 24, 2014 - 7:30pm

Retinoblastoma is a childhood retinal tumor usually affecting children ages one to two and the most common malignant tumor of the eye in children. Left untreated, retinoblastoma can be fatal or result in blindness.

Retinoblastomas have been found to develop in response to the mutation of a single gene, the RB1 gene, demonstrating that some cells are only a step away from developing into a life-threatening malignancy.


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Patriarchy’s Ghosts In The Light Bulbs

September 24, 2014 - 7:01pm

'To be, or not to be' male or female? Maxine Peake plays Hamlet. Credit: Jonathan Keenan/Royal Exchange Theatre

By Mareile Pfannebecker, University of Manchester

The ghost, in this autumn’s Royal Exchange Theatre production of Hamlet, is in the light bulbs. Hung over the stage, they flicker and hum as they mark Old Hamlet’s movements. They also set the scene for the production: this is an indoors, domestic Hamlet, with Fortinbras and the wars cut out to focus on family politics.

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One Statistic Can Strengthen Support For Traffic Safety Laws

September 24, 2014 - 6:51pm

The public supports most traffic safety laws. They routinely defy cell phone laws, believing that they should be pulled over for driving recklessly, not for having a cell phone, and they defy speed limits - but nothing like when the onerous national 55 MPH speed limit was forced on society - yet for the most part, road safety laws are obeyed. People stop at stop signs.

Yet a new survey shows how to strengthen road laws; quantify the traffic-related injury risks associated with a given law.


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HAT-P-11b: Smallest Exoplanet With Water Vapor Found

September 24, 2014 - 5:10pm
Astronomers have discovered clear skies and steamy water vapor on a planet known as HAT-P-11b - outside our solar system. HAT-P-11b is about the size of Neptune, making it the smallest exoplanet ever on which water vapor has been detected. 

HAT-P-11b is a so-called exo-Neptune, a Neptune-sized planet that orbits another star. It is located 120 light-years away in the constellation of Cygnus (The Swan). Unlike Neptune, this planet orbits closer to its star, making one lap roughly every five days. It is a warm world thought to have a rocky core, a mantle of fluid and ice, and a thick gaseous atmosphere. Not much else was known about the composition of the planet, or other exo-Neptunes like it, until now.
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How Safe Are Safe Ingredients In Food?

September 24, 2014 - 5:04pm

A 1997 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule allowed food manufacturers to use ingredients "generally regarded as safe," or GRAS, like vinegar and lots of other things, without needing approval all over again.

Food advocates say the current GRAS process allows substances into the food supply that might pose a health risk. How can safe products be risky?


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Organ Donations: Making Them Opt-Out Might Lead To More Availability

September 24, 2014 - 4:01pm

In the future, new organs will be created from a patient's own stem cells and they will require no waiting lists, no immunosuppressive drugs, and no stickers on drivers licenses making people available for organ donations.

Currently, organ transplantation is "opt in" - you have a choice. A new paper by psychologists examines whether it might be better to have organ donation be opt-out.


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Big Data And Full-Genome Analysis Not All They’re Cracked Up To Be

September 24, 2014 - 4:00pm

Knowing your DNA will is not a panacea. Credit: PA/Harvard University

By Walter Gilbert, Harvard University

Walter Gilbert won the Nobel Prize in 1980 in Chemistry for his contribution to sequence DNA, or “determination of base sequences in a nucleic acid”. Mohit Kumar Jolly, researcher at Rice University and contributor to The Conversation, interviewed him at the 2014 Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting.

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Alcohol Consumption Influenced By Chemosensory Genes

September 24, 2014 - 4:00pm

How people perceive and taste alcohol depends on genetic factors, and that influences whether they "like" and consume alcoholic beverages, according to a nutritionist
and colleagues at Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.


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'Greener' Transistors For Upcoming Flexible Displays

September 24, 2014 - 3:30pm

The iPhone 6 is apparently flexible, though that's a not a good thing; people are warping them when they sit down, and people without abnormal strength can simply twist them in their hands.

But that won't always be a design and construction defect. As tech company LG demonstrated this summer with the unveiling of its 18-inch flexible screen, the next generation of roll-up displays is tantalizingly close.


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Natural Gas May Have Little Effect On CO2 Emissions, Finds Simulation

September 24, 2014 - 3:00pm

While it is well-known that Americans conserve electricity more than, for example, Canadians, and that CO2 emissions from energy productions have plummeted to 20 year lows without raising prices, an environmental group and scholars from UC Irvine and Stanford University are saying that won't last - they believe that unless people can't afford electricity generated by fossil fuels, expansion of cleaner energy sources, such as wind and solar, will be harmed.

Bereft of expensive subsidies and mandates, solar is not ready and wind never will be. Solar clearly needs more basic research and natural gas, long touted by environmental groups, seems to be the ideal bridge for Americans, since lobbyists for environmental groups make sure nuclear is kept out of circulation. 


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Anti-Cancer Peptide Vaccines And Inhibitors Developed

September 24, 2014 - 3:00pm

Researchers have developed two new anticancer peptide vaccines and two peptide inhibitors as part of a larger peptide immunotherapy effort, according to two studies published in  OncoImmunology

Researchers from  at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center identify new peptide vaccines and inhibitors that target the HER-3 and IGF-1R receptors. All four agents elicited significant anti-tumor responses in human cancer cell lines and in animal models. 


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Recycle 'Fracking' Wastewater For Fracking, Don't Drink It

September 24, 2014 - 2:31pm

Natural gas hydraulic fracturing - fracking - has been wonderful for CO2 emissions while keeping energy costs for poor people manageable but a few sites have been treating fracking wastewater and returning it to rivers. 

A new study finds that this is just as risky as dumping any municipal treated wastewater back into rivers. As runoff, it is safe but it shouldn't be done in volume. In the case of fracking wastewater, existing facilities are not equipped to thoroughly deal with halides so until they are ready, it's simply better to use fracking wastewater for fracking.


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Most College Athletes Return To Play After ACL Surgery

September 24, 2014 - 2:07pm

A new study by researchers found that the majority of players were able to return to play after having knee surgery to repair an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

But age matters. athletes who had ACL surgery when they were in high school or younger were much more likely to suffer repeat ACL reinjuries than athletes who experienced their first ACL injury during collegiate play.


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