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Updated: 1 hour 26 min ago

Heart Attack Deaths In Decline, Southerners, Midwesterners Still Impacted Most

March 27, 2014 - 2:36pm

Heart attack death has declined across all regions of the United States but it remains proportionately higher in the South, according to a paperat the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session.


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Sex Chromosomes Have Reverted To Autosomes Multiple Times In Flies

March 27, 2014 - 4:01am

In previous research (Nature, July 2013), UC Berkeley scientists Beatriz Vicoso, Ph.D., and Doris Bachtrog, Ph.D., determined that genes on the so-called "dot chromosome," or fourth chromosome, of the fruit fly Drosophilia melanogaster are X-linked in three other related fly species.

These and other findings revealed that the fruit fly's "dot chromosome" had descended from a differentiated X chromosome and suggests that several of the chromosome's puzzling features are remnants of its heritage as a sex chromosome. For example, the expression levels of genes on the "dot chromosome" generally are higher in female than in male fly embryos during early development.


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Gene Mutations In Flies And Humans Produce Similar Epilepsy Syndromes

March 27, 2014 - 4:01am

Four years ago, University of Iowa scientists discovered that mutations in the prickle gene in Drosophila were responsible for much more than merely altering the bristles on the fly's body to point them in the wrong direction.

Prompted by a colleague's finding that PRICKLE gene mutations were responsible for triggering a form of epilepsy in humans, John Manak, Ph.D., who led the fly research team, took a closer look at the Drosophila prickle mutants. (PRICKLE refers to the human gene, while prickle is the Drosophila form of the gene.)


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NHS Data On Patient Experience Is Often Ignored

March 27, 2014 - 2:25am

On bmj.com today, Angela Coulter, Associate Professor at Oxford University and colleagues argue that this is "unethical" and call for a coordinated approach to use the information to help improve services.

Their views follow recent news of hospital trusts "helping" patients to write favourable reports of their experience of their services – and a report by Healthwatch England warning that the complaints system for the NHS in England is "hopelessly complicated" and needs an overhaul.


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New Drug Successfully Treats Crizotinib-resistant, ALK-positive Lung Cancer

March 27, 2014 - 12:08am

Although the targeted cancer treatment drug crizotinib is very effective in causing rapid regression of a particular form of lung cancer, patients' tumors inevitably become resistant to the drug. Now a new drug called ceritinib appears to be effective against advanced ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), both in tumors that have become resistant to crizotinib and in those never treated with the older drug. The results of a phase 1 clinical trial conducted at centers in 11 countries are reported in the March 27 New England Journal of Medicine.


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Disorganized Cortical Patches Suggest Prenatal Origin Of Autism

March 27, 2014 - 12:08am

The architecture of the autistic brain is speckled with patches of abnormal neurons, according to research partially funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 27, 2014, this study suggests that brain irregularities in children with autism can be traced back to prenatal development.


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Canal Between Ears Helps Alligators Pinpoint Sound

March 27, 2014 - 12:07am

By reptile standards, alligators are positively chatty. They are the most vocal of the non-avian reptiles and are known to be able to pinpoint the source of sounds with accuracy. But it wasn't clear exactly how they did it because they lack external auditory structures.

In a new study, an international team of biologists shows that the alligator's ear is strongly directional because of large, air-filled channels connecting the two middle ears. This configuration is similar in birds, which have an interaural canal that increases directionality.


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Athena Project: Homo Minutus - A 'Laboratory Human' - Is A Little Closer

March 26, 2014 - 9:21pm

Significant progress toward creating "homo minutus" - a benchtop human - has gotten a little closer, thanks to successful development and analysis of a liver human organ construct that responds to exposure to a toxic chemical much like a real liver.

At the Society of Toxicology meeting in Phoenix, Vanderbilt University Professor John Wikswo said the achievement is the first result from a five-year, $19 million multi­-institutional effort led by he and Rashi Iyer, Senior Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.


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Cosmic Collision Creates Mini-Saturn 2 Billion Kilometers Away

March 26, 2014 - 9:20pm

Until now, rings of material in a disc have been associated with giant planets like Saturn.

Chariklo, located two billion kilometers away, between Saturn and Uranus,  is the first miniature planet with two rings of ice and pebbles. Chariklo was located in the Kuiper Belt, a collection of thousands of dwarf planets and comets in orbit beyond Neptune on the edge of our solar system, but at some point it must have been thrown out of this belt and is now between Saturn and Uranus, where there is a collection of small objects, called Centaur.


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Keeping Quantum Secrets In An NSA World

March 26, 2014 - 8:58pm

Revelations of the extent of American government surveillance into the private lives of both the American public and foreign leaders worldwide has shone a spotlight on the lack of security in digital communications.

Even today's encrypted data is vulnerable but physics may come to the rescue, according to a Nature article by Artur Ekert and Renato Renner ("The ultimate physical limits of privacy", doi:10.1038/nature13132).


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6 Glaciers Show Major Increase In West Antarctic Glacial Loss

March 26, 2014 - 8:49pm

Six glaciers in West Antarctica are moving faster than they did 40 years ago.

The amount of ice draining collectively from those half-dozen glaciers increased by 77 percent from 1973 to 2013, causing global sea level to rise, according to new research. 


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Dwarf Planet 2012 VP113 Hints At A Huge Unknown Mystery Planet In The Solar System?

March 26, 2014 - 8:36pm

We know the Voyager spacecraft has left the solar system. What no one can really say is when. Boundaries in space are entirely human vanities, there is no 'Now leaving the Local System' sign after Pluto.

Well, it's all so unsettled that two percent of astronomers even decided Pluto wasn't even a planet. 

But no matter how we define a planet, the solar system has a new most-distant member, according to new work from Carnegie's Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory. In Nature, they report the discovery of the distant dwarf planet 2012 VP113 beyond the known 'edge' of the Solar System.


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Natural History Got Hijacked - It's Time To Take It Back

March 26, 2014 - 6:34pm

Natural history, the study of organisms in the environment, is in steep decline and for good reason.

A large part of the modern chemophobia that has undermined science acceptance in America is due to natural history - it became a haven for weak observational studies that got media headlines or, in the case of Rachel Carson and "Silent Spring", a book of anecdotes and observations. Modern scientists prefer experiments rather than observations and so the primary use of natural history has been for 'spray and count' practitioners who need to demonize pesticides or BPA or whatever the scare journalism of the week is.


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When It Comes To Genetically Modified Biofuels, Resistance Is Not Futile

March 26, 2014 - 6:08pm

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy Joint BioEnergy Institute have identified the genetic origins of a microbial resistance to ionic liquids, based on a pair of genes discovered in a bacterium native to a tropical rainforest in Puerto Rico, and successfully introduced this resistance into a strain of E. coli bacteria.

Yes, it's Frankenfuel, but hopefully anti-science zealots won't make creating an abomination of nature that leads to less fossil fuels.


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Asteroid Chariklo Has A Ring System Like Saturn

March 26, 2014 - 6:00pm
Astronomers have announced the surprise discovery that the asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings, by far the smallest object to have rings. 

The rings of Saturn are, of course, one of the most spectacular sights in the sky. Despite many careful searches, no rings had been found around smaller objects orbiting the Sun in the Solar System. Now observations of the distant minor planet (10199) Chariklo as it passed in front of a star have shown that it is surrounded by two fine rings. Minor planet? Yes, the IAU which demoted Pluto has generally made a mess of things and so asteroid and minor planet are interchangeable in common parlance.
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The Psychology Of Why You Want To Know The Plot Of Star Wars VII

March 26, 2014 - 5:35pm
You want to know what movies are about - and that is why spoilers related to the upcoming "Star Wars" movie and "Avengers 2" and whatever else are so popular.

Hey, you knew how the RMS Titanic met its demise, and you still watched a movie about it, notes Rich Goldstein in The Daily Beast.  I didn't, but most of you did. And Shakespeare knew you wanted to know, that is why you read The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and not The Mystery Of Romeo and Juliet.

I know how The Grapes of Wrath is going to end, I still read it over and over again.
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Weekend Science: Is It Safe To Pee In The Pool?

March 26, 2014 - 3:23pm

Health officials say that holding in your urine when you really have to go can be harmful. But every public pool has signs that prohibit peeing in the pool.

Yet a lot of Olympic swimmers admit to doing it anyway and if you are visiting a public water park and it's not 20 percent urine, count yourself lucky. 

In season 5 of Seinfeld, George and Jerry had this very discussion:

George Costanza: It's not good to hold it in. I read that in a medical journal.
Jerry: Did the medical journal mention anything about standing in a pool of somebody else's urine?


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Outside Television, Here Is What Gunshot Residue Can Really Tell CSI

March 26, 2014 - 3:05pm

The popular TV series "CSI" may be fiction but real-life crime scene investigators and forensic scientists have been collecting and analyze evidence to determine what happened at crime scenes almost as long as there have been crime scenes.

There is evidence during the Qin dynasty that the Chinese used handprints as evidence in crimes as far back as 2,200 years ago and by the 1860s the process for lifting fingerprints from evidence was developed. As guns became more common, gunpowder residue became a way to know if a weapon was fired.


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How To Make Grilled Meats Better And Healthier - A Beer Marinade

March 26, 2014 - 2:46pm

Sausage experts know that the key to perfect meat is simmering in beer first - and in Science 2.0's definitive article on outdoor cooking, The Science Of Grilling, we learned that beer has multiple uses in cuisine, and an article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry adds to this important body of work, noting that a beer marinade helps reduce the formation of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats.


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Why Calvin's Dad Rocks At Explaining Science To Children

March 26, 2014 - 12:00pm

Gary Larson tapped into the universal absurd. Charles Schulz helped us identify with the underdog in us all. And Bill Watterson accurately represented a father’s profound and boundless knowledge of the universe, as in Calvin’s dad’s explanation that ice floats because, “It’s cold. Ice wants to get warm, so it goes to the top of liquids in order to be nearer the sun.” Or his explanation of relativity: “It’s because you keep changing time zones. See, if you fly to California you gain three hours on a five-hour flight, right?”

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