Earth

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. (Sept. 25, 2017) -- The brain plays an active and essential role much earlier than previously thought, according to new research from Tufts University scientists which shows that long before movement or other behaviors occur, the brain of an embryonic frog influences muscle and nerve development and protects the embryo from agents that cause developmental defects. Remarkably, the brain performs these functions while it is itself still developing, marking the earliest known events of the brain-body interface.

A completely new group of sponges has been discovered, which scientists believe could be a key indicator species in measuring future mining impact in a region targeted for deep-sea mining of polymetallic (metal-rich) nodules. They are likely to be the most abundant nodule-dwelling animal in the area.

Scientists from the University of Exeter studied how guppies behaved in various situations, and found complex differences between individuals.

The researchers tested whether differences could be measured on a "simple spectrum" of how risk-averse or risk-prone guppies were. But they found variations between individuals were too complicated to be described in this way.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A major health problem in older people is age-associated osteoporosis -- the thinning of bone and the loss of bone density that increases the risk of fractures. Often this is accompanied by an increase in fat cells in the bone marrow.

Washington, DC - Sept. 22, 2017 - Antibiotic use on people or pets, and use of biocidal cleaning products such as bleach, are associated with multidrug resistance in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the home. This contamination of the home environment may contribute to reinfection of both humans and animals with MRSA, and to subsequent failure of treatment. The research is published September 22nd in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 22, 2017 -- Pure diamond consists of carbon atoms in a perfect crystal lattice. But remove a few carbons and swap some others for nitrogen, and you get a diamond with special quantum-sensing properties. These properties are useful for quantum information applications and sensing magnetic fields, and as a platform for probing the mysteries of quantum physics.

Fires that span across the Northern Territory and Western Australia appear to have broken out in areas that have already been burned in previous fires. Areas that sport "burn scars", those areas that are a darker, almost red-brown color, are surrounded by fires that are anywhere from a few hours old to 7 days old. The areas that are seven days old can be attributed to fires that spread but areas that are just a few hours old may be fires that have presumably been put out only to have them break out again.

When the strong winds that circle the Arctic slacken, cold polar air can escape and cause extreme winter chills in parts of the Northern hemisphere. A new study finds that these weak states have become more persistent over the past four decades and can be linked to cold winters in Russia and Europe. It is the first to show that changes in winds high up in the stratosphere substantially contributed to the observed winter cooling trend in northern Eurasia.

When Zika first buzzed into the continental United States during the 2016 outbreak, Florida was hit first--and hardest--with 1,174 documented cases to date. So, when Marco Ajelli, associate research scientist at Northeastern and an expert in infectious disease modeling, wanted to study how time spent outside might affect the spread of the epidemic, he chose to focus on the state's most stricken county: Miami-Dade.

What Ajelli found was that the amount of time people spend outdoors impacts their risk for contracting the Zika virus.

Most U.S. Zika infections happen outdoors

Think of the relationship between plants and pollinators as a dance -- one that has been taking place, and evolving, for millennia. The importance of this dance is enormous. Pollination from bees (and birds, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, and other animals) is necessary for the successful reproduction of a great number of plants, while pollinators gain sustenance to give birth to their next generations. These relationships support our natural ecosystems, as well as our cultivated ones, as an incredible amount of food crops worldwide depend on plant-pollinator interaction success.