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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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The Upside To Thawing Permafrost Is...Nothing, It's Bad

March 22, 2014 - 1:30am

Every dark cloud has a silver lining and the silver lining for a thawing permafrost is...still a dark cloud.

The climate is warming in the Arctic at twice the rate of the rest of the globe. That has led to a longer growing season and increased plant growth, which captures atmospheric carbon - that is good - but it is thawing the permafrost, which releases carbon into the atmosphere. Permafrost contains three to seven times the amount of carbon sequestered in tropical forests. A thawing permafrost which will result in the release of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere creating feedbacks to climate change – more warming and greater permafrost thaw.  


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A Precise Bound On The Higgs Boson Width

March 21, 2014 - 9:47pm
At 125 GeV of mass, the Higgs boson is a very heavy particle; yet its natural width is predicted to be of just 4.15 MeV in the standard model, a value much smaller than that of particles of similar mass. The top quark, for instance, has a width of 1.5 GeV; and the Z boson has a width of 2.5 GeV: three orders of magnitude larger.
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Potential Lung Cancer Vaccine Shows Renewed Promise

March 21, 2014 - 9:38pm

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Researchers at UC Davis have found that the investigational cancer vaccine tecemotide, when administered with the chemotherapeutic cisplatin, boosted immune response and reduced the number of tumors in mice with lung cancer. The study also found that radiation treatments did not significantly impair the immune response. The paper was published on March 10 in the journal Cancer Immunology Research, an American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) publication.


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Body's Fatty Folds May Help Fight Kidney Failure

March 21, 2014 - 9:38pm

Washington, DC (March 13, 2014) — A fatty fold of tissue within the abdomen that is a rich source of stem cells can help heal diseased kidneys when fused to the organs, according to a study conducted in rats. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), suggest that stem cells from within a chronic kidney disease patient's own abdomen could be used to preserve and possibly improve kidney function.


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The Gene Family Linked To Brain Evolution Is Implicated In Severity Of Autism Symptoms

March 21, 2014 - 7:57pm

The same gene family that may have helped the human brain become larger and more complex than in any other animal also is linked to the severity of autism, according to new research from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

The gene family is made up of over 270 copies of a segment of DNA called DUF1220. DUF1220 codes for a protein domain – a specific functionally important segment within a protein. The more copies of a specific DUF1220 subtype a person with autism has, the more severe the symptoms, according to a paper published in the PLoS Genetics.


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UV Exposure Found To Lower Folate Levels In Young Women

March 21, 2014 - 7:57pm

Women who are pregnant or trying to fall pregnant and taking a folic acid supplement may be at risk of reducing their folate benefit through sun exposure, a new QUT study has warned.

In a paper titled Exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation is associated with decreased folate status in women of childbearing age, published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B:Biology, QUT researchers found UV exposure significantly depleted folate levels.

Professor Michael Kimlin and Dr David Borradale, from QUT's AusSun Research Lab, said the study of 45 young healthy women in Brisbane aged 18 to 47, showed high rates of sun exposure accounted up to a 20 per cent reduction in folate levels.


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Stop Linking Storms To Climate Change

March 21, 2014 - 7:18pm

There was a time when advocates knew that linking weather events to climate change was a bad idea; it left the science open to criticism if Al Gore was giving a talk on global warming during a blizzard.

Yet since 2012, when SuperStorm Sandy was linked to climate change and a reason to vote for President Obama, claims that every weather event, be it drought or flood, hot or cold, is evidence of global warming, have gotten more prevalent.


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National Breast Cancer Screening - Harms Outweigh Benefits For Seniors

March 21, 2014 - 7:07pm

Extending national breast cancer screening programs to women over the age of 70 does not decrease cancers detected at advanced stages, according to new research at the European Breast Cancer Conference.

Instead, extending screening programs to older women results in a large proportion of women being over-treated, and at risk from the harmful effects of such treatment, because these women were more likely to die from other causes than from any tumors detected in the early stages of growth.


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Forgetful? It Might Be Your Genes, Not Senility

March 21, 2014 - 4:34pm

If you frequently experience cognitive lapses, there may be good news; psychologists say forgetting someone's name or losing your keys could be linked to the DRD2 gene. 

Those who have a certain variant of this gene are more easily distracted and experience a significantly higher incidence of lapses due to a lack of attention. "Such short-term memory lapses are very common, but some people experience them particularly often," said Prof. Dr. Martin Reuter from the department for Differential and Biological Psychology at the University of Bonn in their statement.


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Teenage Girls: Obesity And Depression Linked

March 21, 2014 - 3:46pm

A new psychology paper research finds that adolescent females who are either obese or depressed are more likely to develop the other.

By assessing a statewide sample of more than 1,500 males and females in Minnesota over a period of more than 10 years, the authors found that depression occurring by early adolescence in females predicts obesity by late adolescence. Meanwhile, obesity that occurs by late adolescence in females predicts the onset of depression by early adulthood. No significant associations between the two disorders across time were found in males during the study.


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Sea Turtle And Marine Mammal By-Catch: Unintended Consequence Of Global Fisheries

March 21, 2014 - 3:35pm

Seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals can be unintended victims – by-catch – of global fishing. Accidental entanglement in fishing gear is the single biggest threat to some species in these groups, according to a new analysis co-authored by Stanford biology Professor Larry Crowder that provides a global map of this by-catch.


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Lessons Learned From Carbon Cap And Trade Schemes

March 21, 2014 - 3:17pm

As economic policy, carbon trading doesn't seem to work. Mandating a market and forcing people to participate is in defiance of what a market is.

Markets for trading carbon emission credits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are in place in some countries, and even a few US states, so there is at least some idea about what does and does not work. 


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Water Fluoridation Safety, Efficacy And Value In Oral Health

March 21, 2014 - 3:02pm

During the 43rd Annual Meeting&Exhibition of the American Association for Dental Research, held in conjunction with the 38th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Dental Research,  Stephen H. Abrams of Cliffcrest Dental Office in Toronto chaired a symposium titled "Water Fluoridation: Safety Efficacy and Value in Oral Health Care."


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Rare Find: Unique Chromosomes Preserved In 180 Million Year Old Swedish Fossil

March 21, 2014 - 3:01pm

Somewhere around 180 million years ago, during the Jurassic period, the southern Swedish county of Skåne was a tropical paradise populated by dinosaurs and volcanoes.

One sudden volcanic eruption caused a fern to be preserved instantaneously and now researchers from Lund University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History have made a unique discovery; both undestroyed cell nuclei and individual chromosomes have been found in the plant fossil.


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Techni-Quark: Is This, Rather ThanThe Higgs, The God Particle?

March 21, 2014 - 2:52pm

The Higgs boson, colloquially called the God Particle because of its fundamental nature, may not be the smallest particle out there. Well before the Higgs had even been found at the Large Hadron Collider, there were lots of hypotheses put forth as to what forces and particles might make up its existence.

Thomas Ryttov, particle physicist and associate professor at the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics Phenomenology (CP ³ - Origins) at University of Southern Denmark, says what he calls the most important of these hypotheses has been critically reviewed and that the existence of smaller yet unseen particles is now more likely than ever. 

"There seems to be no new or unseen weaknessess. My review just leaves them just stronger," he says.


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Hot Jupiter! Water Detected On Tau Boo B

March 21, 2014 - 2:48am

A research team has detected water vapor in the atmosphere of tau Boo b, a "hot Jupiter" planet outside our solar system. 

The team applied a Doppler technique to the infrared to directly detect tau Boo b and demonstrate the presence of water in its atmosphere. Tau Boo b orbits the nearby star tau Boötis, 51 light years away. Unlike our Jupiter, which is fairly cold and has an orbital period of about 12 years, the hot Jupiter tau Boo b orbits its star every 3.3 days and is heated to extreme temperatures by its proximity to the star. Under these conditions, water will exist as a high temperature steam.


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EU Can Afford To Lead On Climate Change - So They Should

March 21, 2014 - 2:37am

Like most of the developed world, European citizens are suffering from 'green fatigue' - claims that it is too late to do anything about climate change alternating with demands that more action is needed right now. Solar power has been an expensive endeavor and hasn't led to private sector uptake as promised. Even Chinese solar panel companies that relied on Western subsidies are collapsing.

In reality, no one is sure what works and what doesn't but the heads of the EU member states are meeting in Brussels to discuss the adoption of a 40 percent greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030. Advocates claim such front runner action could reduce future global warming by more than 1 degree - if their bold leadership induced others to join by 2030.


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Football Displays Fractal Dynamics

March 21, 2014 - 2:22am

Football fascinates millions of fans, almost all of them unaware that the game is subject to the laws of physics. Despite their seemingly arbitrary decisions, players obey certain rules, as they constantly adjust their positions in relation to their teammates, opponents, the ball and the goal. A team of Japanese scientists has now analysed the time-dependent fluctuation of both the ball and all players' positions throughout an entire match. They discovered that a simple rule governs the complex dynamics of the ball and the team's front-line. These findings, published in EPJ B, could have implications for other ball games, providing a new perspective on sports science.


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