Saturday, December 20, 2014

Science X Newsletter Friday, Dec 19

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Phys.org Newsletter for December 19, 2014:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

- Thermoelectric power plants could offer economically competitive renewable energy
- Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material
- 3-D-printable materials deform to change surface area, enabling curvature rather than rigid folding
- Research pair devise a way to make nylon precursor that is less harmful to the ozone layer
- German medics report on drug success for Ebola patient
- Putting the brakes on cancer
- Researchers use new technique to quantify the electrostatic contribution to the transition state of enzymatic reactions
- Quantum world without queues could lead to better solar cells
- Scientists reveal breakthrough in optical fibre communications
- Babies in your 30s? Don't worry, your great-grandma did it too
- Yellowstone's thermal springs—their colors unveiled
- Researchers open possible avenue to better electrolyte for lithium ion batteries
- New technique reveals immune cell motion through variety of tissues
- Early exposure to antidepressants affects adult anxiety and serotonin transmission
- Study finds tropical fish moving into temperate waters

Astronomy & Space news

Signs of Europa plumes remain elusive in search of Cassini data

(Phys.org)—A fresh look at data collected by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during its 2001 flyby of Jupiter shows that Europa's tenuous atmosphere is even thinner than previously thought and also suggests that the thin, hot gas around the moon does not show evidence of plume activity occurring at the time of the flyby. The new research provides a snapshot of Europa's state of activity at that time, and suggests that if there is plume activity, it is likely intermittent.

Compact galaxy groups reveal details of their close encounters

(Phys.org)—Galaxies – spirals laced with nests of recent star formation, quiescent ellipticals composed mainly of old red stars, and numerous faint dwarfs – are the basic visible building blocks of the Universe. Galaxies are rarely found in isolation, but rather in sparse groups – sort of galactic urban sprawl. But there are occasional dense concentrations, often found in the center of giant clusters, but also, intriguingly, as more isolated compact groups (and yes, called Compact Galaxy Groups or CGs). The galaxies in these Compact Groups show dramatic differences in the way they evolve and change with time compared with galaxies in more isolated surroundings. Why is this? Collisions between galaxies in these dense groups are common, leading to rapid star formation, but there seems to be more to the puzzle.

Scientists find meteoritic evidence of Mars water reservoir

(Phys.org)—NASA and an international team of planetary scientists have found evidence in meteorites on Earth that indicates Mars has a distinct and global reservoir of water or ice near its surface.

Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

Spinning up a dust devil in the thin air of Mars requires a stronger updraft than is needed to create a similar vortex on Earth, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

Video: Flying over Becquerel

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

Astronomer confirms a new "Super-Earth" planet

A University of British Columbia astronomer is a key player in the discovery of a new exoplanet, out beyond our solar system.

After Rosetta, Japanese mission aims for an asteroid in search of origins of Earth's water

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission to land on comet 67P was one of the most audacious in space history. The idea of landing on a small chunk of icy rock 300m kilometres away from Earth and hurtling towards the sun at speeds approaching 135,000km/hour is incredible – made more so by the fact they actually achieved it.

Why is Venus so horrible?

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you dead in moments.

SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

The sun emitted a mid-level flare on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however—when intense enough—they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Technology news

3-D-printable materials deform to change surface area, enabling curvature rather than rigid folding

Today's 3-D printers, in which devices rather like inkjet-printer nozzles deposit materials in layers to build up physical objects, are a great tool for designers building prototypes or small companies with limited product runs.

Amputee puts limb system through its paces

"Amputee Makes History with APL's Modular Prosthetic Limb" is the headline from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where a team working on prosthetics observed a milestone when a double amputee showed he can control two robotic hands with his mind. Les Baugh of Colorado lost both limbs after an electrical accident over 40 years ago; the team gave him two bionic arms attached from shoulder-level. The rest is the story of what happened when this robotic limb performed functions controlled by his thoughts. Baugh received two Modular Prosthetic Limbs (MPL) as part of a test run at the Johns Hopkins APL. A team there has been at work on a neurally controlled artificial limb that can restore near-natural motor and sensory capability to upper-extremity amputee patients. Baugh is a noteworthy case of a shoulder-level amputee who wore two MPLs at the same time.

Apple co-founder Wozniak skeptical on smartwatches, Google Glass

Steve Wozniak says he is no fan of smartwatches and believes Google Glass will fail as he cautioned not to expect the company he co-founded, Apple, to always lead the way into new technologies.

Poll: Americans skeptical of commercial drones (Update)

Americans broadly back tight regulations on commercial drone operators, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, as concerns about privacy and safety override the potential benefits of the heralded drone revolution.

Gift Guide: Strong photo, video gear options

What to buy an experienced photographer or video shooter? There is some strong gear on the market from Nikon, GoPro and Domke.

Sony hack adds to security pressure on companies

Faced with rising cybercrime like the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, companies worldwide are under pressure to tighten security but are hampered by cost and, for some, reluctance to believe they are in danger.

Hackers may have exploited Sony's weakest link: humans

Hackers who forced Sony Pictures to abort release of a comedy about North Korea likely slipped past the entertainment titan's defenses by exploiting a weak spot—humans.

Clooney slams skittish Hollywood after Sony hack

Film star George Clooney slammed the Hollywood movie industry for failing to stand up against the cyber threats that prompted Sony Pictures to cancel release of the movie "The Interview."

Atos shares soar after Xerox acquisition

Shares in French tech firm Atos soared nearly five percent on Friday as traders cheered the news it had bought the IT wing of Xerox for more than $1 billion.

Explainer: What is 4-D printing?

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it's found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can print almost anything, not just marks on paper, opens up unlimited opportunities for us to manufacture toys, household appliances and tools in our living rooms.

Optimized algorithms help methane flame simulations run 6x faster on NERSC supercomputer

Turbulent combustion simulations, which provide input to the design of more fuel-efficient combustion systems, have gotten their own efficiency boost, thanks to researchers from the Computational Research Division (CRD) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

Blackberry posts 3Q adjusted profit, revenue down

Blackberry reported an adjusted profit for its fiscal third quarter but its revenue fell, missing analysts' estimates.

Security flaws allow global cellular eavesdropping

Security flaws in a system used by telecoms companies to manage cross-border cellular connections could open the door to wide-ranging surveillance of mobile phone traffic.

US accuses North Korea of Sony hack (Update)

The United States said Friday that North Korea was behind a cyber attack on Sony Pictures, warning that those responsible would face punishment, as an envoy for Pyongyang again denied involvement.

Hackers warn not to release 'The Interview' in any form

Hackers sent a new email Friday to Sony Pictures Entertainment, gloating over the studio's "wise" decision to cancel the release of "The Interview" and warning not to distribute the film "in any form."

Hackers gloat over 'The Interview' cancellation in new email

Hackers have sent a new email to Sony Pictures Entertainment, praising the studio as "very wise" to cancel the release of "The Interview" and saying Sony's data is safe "as long as you make no more trouble."

First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

A drone testing program in Nevada is off to a bumpy start after the first unmanned aircraft authorized to fly without Federal Aviation Administration supervision crashed during a ceremony in Boulder City.

Morocco raises 1.7 bn euros for solar plants

Morocco has raised more than $2 billion (1.7 billion euros) for the next phase of a huge solar energy project, officials said on Friday.

2012 movie massacre hung over 'Interview' decision

When a group claiming credit for the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment threated violence against theaters showing "The Interview" earlier this week, the fate of the movie's big-screen life was all but sealed.

North Korea denies involvement in Sony cyber attack

North Korea's UN mission on Friday denied involvement in a cyber attack on Sony Pictures after the US FBI said it had evidence that Pyongyang was behind the hacking.

Five ways to make your email safer in case of a hack attack

The Sony hack, the latest in a wave of company security breaches, exposed months of employee emails. Other hacks have given attackers access to sensitive information about a company and its customers, such as credit-card numbers and email addresses. One way hackers can sneak into a company is by sending fake emails with malicious links to employee inboxes. Here are five simple steps to make your email more secure and limit the harm a hacker can have:

Staples: Customer data exposed in security breach

Staples Inc. says nearly 1.2 million customer payment cards may have been exposed during a security breach earlier this year.

Impoverished North Korea falls back on cyber weapons

As one of the world's most impoverished powers, North Korea would struggle to match America's military or economic might, but appears to have settled on a relatively cheap method to torment its foe.

Movie world fears for freedom of speech as N.Korea parody pulled

Sony Pictures' decision to cancel the release of its madcap comedy about North Korea after threats from hackers has caused consternation in the movie world and triggered concerns about freedom of expression.

Brazil's Coelho offers $100,000 for N. Korea parody film

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho offered Thursday to pay Sony $100,000 for rights to "The Interview," protesting the company's decision to scrap the North Korean parody film amid chilling threats from hackers.

Creating the fastest outdoor wireless Internet connection in the world

Lancaster University engineers are to head up a European team working on the world's first W-band wireless system, heralding the arrival of cost effective, high speed internet everywhere, every time.

Technology to help people with disabilities to learn and communicate

The Easy Communicator (ECO) application, which has been designed at the EPSEVG under the auspices of the UPC's Accessibility Chair, is aimed at children with autistic spectrum disorders, adolescents with cerebral palsy and senior citizens with cognitive problems. The purpose of the project is to help these people communicate and learn more easily. "The development focused on two aspects: firstly, programming the computer application, and secondly, defining the communication elements that the application uses," explains Daniel Guasch, the director of the UPC's Accessibility Chair and a professor at the Department of Network Engineering.

First series production vehicle with software control

Siemens has unveiled the first electric series production vehicle with the central electronics and software architecture RACE. This technology, developed in the research project of the same name, replaces the entire control system with standard hardware and a kind of "operating system for automobiles." This is expected to massively reduce the development time for vehicles. Another advantage is that thanks to the standardized software base, additional functions can be retrofitted more easily and cheaply than before. Vehicle weight will also be reduced substantially.

Multifold challenges for districts level retrofitting

Retrofitting a district is quite different from retrofitting a single building: the technological challenges involved are far greater.

Fully automated: Thousands of blood samples every hour

Siemens is supplying automation technology for the longest and one of the most cutting-edge sample processing lines in any clinical laboratory. The line, or automation track, 200 meters long, in Marlborough, Massachusetts, is the heart of the "Lab of the Future," with which Quest Diagnostics, a leading laboratory service provider in the US and worldwide, is aiming to set new standards for the industry. Once completed in 2015, the automation solution will be able to process several thousand blood samples every hour.

Renesas announces SRAM using leading-edge 16 nm FinFET for automotive information systems

Renesas Electronics today announced the development of a new circuit technology for automotive information SoCs (system on chips) at 16 nanometer (nm) and beyond. Using this new circuit technology, Renesas tested the prototype of an SRAM, at the 16 nm node as the cache memory for CPU and real-time image processing blocks in an SoC, and successfully confirmed that this SRAM operates at the high speed of 641 ps under the low-voltage condition of 0.7 V.

Coping with floods—of water and data

Halloween 2013 brought real terror to an Austin, Texas, neighborhood, when a flash flood killed four residents and damaged roughly 1,200 homes. Following torrential rains, Onion Creek swept over its banks and inundated the surrounding community. At its peak, the rampaging water flowed at twice the force of Niagara Falls (source: USA Today).

The state of shale

University of Pittsburgh researchers have shared their findings from three studies related to shale gas in a recent special issue of the journal Energy Technology, edited by Götz Veser, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering.

Report: FBI's anthrax investigation was flawed

The FBI used flawed scientific methods to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others, federal auditors said Friday in a report sure to fuel skepticism over the FBI's conclusion that Army biodefense researcher Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator.

Medicine & Health news

German medics report on drug success for Ebola patient

German doctors on Friday gave details of how an experimental drug together with advanced intensive care helped save a Ugandan physician who had been airlifted from Sierra Leone with Ebola.

Mix of bacteria in gut may depend more on diet than genes

Genes are important, but diet may be even more important in determining the relative abundance of the hundreds of health-shaping bacterial species comprising an individual's gut microbiota, according to UC San Francisco scientists whose latest mouse experiments to probe this nature-versus-nurture balance were published online December 18, 2014 in Cell Host and Microbe.

Altruistic behavior may be governed more by relationships than instincts, psychologist finds

Ever since the concept of altruism was proposed in the 19th century, psychologists have debated whether or not people are born into the world preprogrammed to be nice to others. Now, a pair of Stanford psychologists has conducted experiments that indicate altruism has environmental triggers, and is not something we are simply born with.

Serotonin neuron subtypes: New insights could inform SIDS understanding, depression treatment

Breathing. Body temperature. Mood. Appetite. Blood pressure. Sexual desire. Name a physiological function, and it seems the neurotransmitter serotonin has a hand in regulating it.

Researchers unlock mystery of skin's sensory abilities

Humans' ability to detect the direction of movement of stimuli in their sensory world is critical to survival. Much of this stimuli detection comes from sight and sound, but little is known about how the direction of movement of stimuli on the skin—humans' largest sensory organ—is detected and processed.

Putting the brakes on cancer

A study led by the University of Dundee, in collaboration with researchers at our University, has uncovered an important role played by a tumour suppressor gene, helping scientists to better understand how it combats the effects of mutations which drive cancer development.

Babies in your 30s? Don't worry, your great-grandma did it too

The shift towards late motherhood – commonly defined as motherhood after 35 – is often presented as a story of progress and technological liberation from the biological clock.

Early exposure to antidepressants affects adult anxiety and serotonin transmission

About 15 percent of women in the United States suffer from anxiety disorders and depression during their pregnancies, and many are prescribed antidepressants. However little is known about how early exposure to these medications might affect their offspring as they mature into adults.

Lost memories might be able to be restored, new study indicates

New UCLA research indicates that lost memories can be restored. The findings offer some hope for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

Latest evidence on using hormone replacement therapy for treating menopausal symptoms

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms, in particular for younger women at the onset of the menopause, suggests a new review published today in The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist (TOG).

Tooth loss linked to slowing mind and body

The memory and walking speeds of adults who have lost all of their teeth decline more rapidly than in those who still have some of their own teeth, finds new UCL research.

Xtoro approved for swimmer's ear

(HealthDay)—Xtoro (finafloxacin otic suspension) eardrops have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat swimmer's ear, clinically known as acute otitis externa.

Invasive procedures down with noninvasive prenatal testing

(HealthDay)—The number of invasive diagnostic procedures, including amniocentesis, is down significantly after the introduction of noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT), according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Ultrasound.

Lack of evidence for effect of PT on venous leg ulcer healing

(HealthDay)—Further research is needed to examine the effect of physical therapy or exercise on healing and quality of life in patients venous leg ulcers (VLUs), according to research published online Dec. 17 in JAMA Dermatology.

Medical marijuana helpful for cancer-linked symptoms

(HealthDay)—Cannabis and cannabinoid pharmaceuticals can be helpful for nausea and vomiting, pain, and weight loss associated with cancer, according to research published online Dec. 10 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Lap chole within 48 hours optimal in acute cholecystitis

(HealthDay)—The first 48 hours appears to be the optimal time for performing early laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) for acute cholecystitis, according to research published online Dec. 17 in JAMA Surgery.

OCD patients' brains light up to reveal how compulsive habits develop

Misfiring of the brain's control system might underpin compulsions in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), according to researchers at the University of Cambridge, writing in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Most commonly prescribed glaucoma drug reduces risk of vision loss by more than 50 percent over two years

Prostaglandin analogue eye drops, the most commonly prescribed treatment for glaucoma, can greatly reduce risk of vision loss in people with open angle glaucoma (OAG), one of the leading causes of blindness, according to the first placebo-controlled trial to assess their vision-preserving effect published in The Lancet.

New suit for Ebola workers promises more comfort, safety

For health care workers on the front lines of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, risking their lives in stifling protective suits, relief could soon be on the way.

Scientists discover gene critical for proper brain development

Scientists at A*STAR's Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) and Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IMCB) have identified a genetic pathway that accounts for the extraordinary size of the human brain. The team led by Dr Bruno Reversade[1]KATNB1, as an essential component in a genetic pathway responsible for central nervous system development in humans and other animals. from A*STAR in Singapore, together with collaborators from Harvard Medical School, have identified a gene,

'Financial toxicity' can lower cancer patients' quality of life

Doctors who treat cancer are vigilant when it comes to the physical side effects of the therapies they prescribe, but financial stress from accumulating medical bills can also weigh on patients' health—even those who have finished their treatments and are cancer-free.

Helping parents understand infant sleep patterns

Most parents are not surprised by the irregularity of a newborn infant's sleep patterns, but by six months or so many parents wonder if something is wrong with their baby or their sleeping arrangements if the baby is not sleeping through the night. Healthcare providers, specifically nurse practitioners, can help parents understand what "normal" sleep patterns are for their child, according to researchers.

Combination drug therapy doubles positive effect of treatment for women with advanced breast cancer

In a groundbreaking study that offers new hope for women with advanced breast cancer, researchers from UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have published final clinical trial results that showed the amount of time women with advanced breast cancer were on treatment without their cancer worsening was effectively doubled when they took the experimental drug palbociclib.

Study suggests exercise benefit for localised prostate cancer

Moderate physical activity appears to reduce death rates among men diagnosed with prostate cancer that hasn't spread, according to a 15-year study by Swedish researchers

Peanut component linked to cancer spread

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that a component of peanuts could encourage the spread and survival of cancer cells in the body.

Parents' BMI decreases with child involved in school-based, community obesity intervention

Parents of children involved in an elementary school-based community intervention to prevent obesity appear to share in health benefits of the intervention.  A new analysis of Shape Up Somerville: Eat Smart Play Hard shows an association between being exposed to the intervention as a parent and a modest decrease in body mass index (BMI) compared to parents in two similar control communities.  The study led by researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was published online ahead of print December 18 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Levels of cancer-causing chemicals in smokeless tobacco products influence carcinogen exposure

Higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals called tobacco-specific nitrosamines in smokeless tobacco products led to greater exposure to these carcinogens even after taking into account how much or how long the product was used, according to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

On the environmental trail of food pathogens

Tracking one of the deadliest food contamination organisms through produce farms and natural environments alike, Cornell microbiologists are showing how to use big datasets to predict where the next outbreak could start.

Brave new world for food and health coming, nutrition scientists predict

The year 2020 is a mere five years away but will be a turning point defining a new era of nutrition for both consumers and scientists, say nutritionists who met this year at the University of California, Davis.

Researchers have developed a computational framework for standardizing neuroscience data worldwide

Thanks to standardized image file formats—like JPEG, PNG or TIFF—which store information every time you take a digital photo, you can easily share selfies and other pictures with anybody connected to a computer, mobile phone or the Internet. Nobody needs to download any special software to see your picture.

The hunt for botanicals

Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science.

Bacteria in caramel apples kills at least four in US

A listeria outbreak believed to originate from commercially packaged caramel apples has killed at least four people in the United States and sickened 28 people since November, officials said Friday.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy with minimized toxicity, according to research published online Dec. 17 in JAMA Dermatology.

Family criticizing your weight? You might add more pounds

Women whose loved ones are critical of their weight tend to put on even more pounds, says a new study on the way people's comments affect our health.

One common genetic variant and bacteria help dictate inflammation, antitumor activity

A common polymorphism - a variation in a person's DNA sequence that is found with regularity in the general population - can lead to a chain of events that dictates how a tumor will progress in certain types of cancer, including a form of breast cancer as well as ovarian cancer, according to new research from The Wistar Institute that was published online by the journal Cancer Cell.

Televised medical talk shows: Health education or entertainment?

For millions of people around the world, televised medical talk shows have become a daily viewing ritual. Programs such as The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors have attracted massive followings as charismatic hosts discuss new medical research and therapies while offering viewers their own recommendations for better health. For show producers it's a winning ratings formula, but for viewers eager for a healthier life, the results aren't so clear cut.

Technophobia may keep seniors from using apps to manage diabetes

Despite showing interest in web or mobile apps to help manage their Type 2 diabetes, only a small number of older adults actually use them, says a new study from the University of Waterloo. Approximately 2.2 million Canadians are living with Type 2 diabetes, 2 million of whom are age 50 or older.

Reducing emergency surgery cuts health care costs

New research indicates that reducing emergency surgery for three common procedures by 10 percent could cut $1 billion in health care costs over 10 years.

AstraZeneca cancer drug, companion test approved

U.S. regulators on Friday granted accelerated approval to the first in a new class of targeted drugs for ovarian cancer, Lynparza from British drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC.

FDA approves AbbVie combo hepatitis C treatment

Patients with chronic hepatitis C have a new option for treating the liver-damaging virus, with the approval of a combination treatment developed by AbbVie.

Flu season, early again, hitting hard in South and Midwest

Health officials say the flu is now hitting hard in parts of the country, especially the South and Midwest.

Infertility, surrogacy in India

Infertility is a growing problem worldwide. A World Health Organization report estimates that 60-to-80 million couples worldwide currently suffer from infertility.

Mozambique decriminalises abortion to stem maternal deaths

Mozambique has passed a law permitting women to terminate unwanted pregnancies under specified conditions, a move hailed by activists in a country where clandestine abortions account for a large number of maternal deaths.

Discovery of genes that predispose a severe form of COPD

A study by Ramcés Falfán-Valencia, researcher at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER), found that the mestizo Mexican population has a number of variations in certain genes that predispose them to develop the most severe form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Parkinson's disease reverted at a experimental stage

Mexican scientists demonstrated experimentally, with adult rats, that mobility can be restored in patients with Parkinson's disease, the major degenerative disease of the motor system worldwide. The experiments have not yet been transferred to humans, but are a scientific, measurable and repeatable basis to fight against this disease.

New approach to particle therapy dosimetry

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), in collaboration with EMRP partners, are working towards a universal approach to particle beam therapy dosimetry.

New research demonstrates benefits of national and international device registries

An unprecedented collaboration among researchers from Kaiser Permanente, Weill Cornell Medical College, and worldwide registries demonstrates the importance of tracking medical devices' effectiveness and safety—specifically of hip and knee implants—after they are in use.

Steroid-based treatment may answer needs of pediatric EoE patients

A new formulation of oral budesonide suspension, a steroid-based treatment, is safe and effective in treating pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association. Eosinophilic esophagitis is a chronic immune system disease caused by a buildup of white blood cells in the lining of the esophagus. This build up, which is a reaction to food, allergens or acid reflux, can inflame or injure esophageal tissue.

Viewpoint: Strong mentorship 'Paramount' in surgical training

(HealthDay)—The role of mentorship is explored through the career of Alfred Blalock, M.D., in a viewpoint piece published online Dec. 17 in JAMA Surgery.

Brazil to study legalization of medical marijuana

The Brazilian government says it will study the possibility of legalizing the use of a marijuana derivative to treat people suffering from severe seizures.

Biology news

Japanese scientist resigns over stem cell scandal

A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan's scientific establishment said Friday she would resign after failing to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking study on stem cells.

New species and surprising findings in the Mariana Trench

The Mariana Trench located in the Western Pacific near Guam hosts the deepest place on earth, and has been the focus of high profile voyages to conquer its deepest point, Challenger Deep. A recent expedition to the Trench onboard Research Vessel Falkor targeted multiple depths and found active thriving communities of animals. The expedition set many new records such as the deepest rock samples ever collected and new species including the deepest fish ever recorded.

Study finds tropical fish moving into temperate waters

Tropical herbivorous fish are beginning to expand their range into temperate waters – likely as a result of climate change – and a new international study documents the dramatic impact of the intrusion in the Mediterranean Sea.

Warming leads to more run-ins with polar bears

Word spread quickly: a polar bear, then two, were spotted near this remote Inuit village on the shores of Hudson Bay, about 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) north of Montreal.

How wise is the woolly bear caterpillar's wintry weather prediction?

On your next stroll through the winter wood, peak under a log and gently brush away the frozen leaves. Beneath, you might find a furry friend you haven't seen since somewhat warmer days: the woolly bear caterpillar.

Two-armed control of ATR, a master regulator of the DNA damage checkpoint

Our genomes encounter DNA damaging events continuously. As damage accumulates, our cells react and stop the cell division process, giving repair mechanisms time to act. To achieve this, two master protein kinases called ATR and ATM, encoded by well-known tumor suppressor genes, activate a cascade of phosphorylation events. The downstream readout of these checkpoint cascades is well characterized, yet the regulation of the master kinase itself has remained enigmatic. Nicole Hustedt, a student in the laboratory of Susan Gasser, examined this question with a combination of sophisticated yeast genetics and phosphoproteomics. She found that the key regulator of the yeast Mec1 kinase, the yeast ATR homologue, is a phosphatase that directly reverses the modification of many damage-induced Mec1 kinase targets. The identified phosphatase, called PP4, not only dephosphorylates Mec1 targets, but directly interacts with the kinase, fine-tunin! g its activity during the cell cycle.

Epithelial tube contraction: A new feedback mechanism for regulating contractility

Researchers at the Mechanobiology Institute (MBI), National University of Singapore (NUS) have identified a novel mechanosensitive regulation of epithelial tube contraction. These findings are published on 19 December 2014 in Current Biology.

How the cell keeps misdelivered proteins from causing damage in the cell nucleus

In their research on protein quality control, Heidelberg scientists gained new insights into how the cell keeps proteins misdirected into the cell nucleus from causing damage. Their investigations focussed on a complex apparatus on the inner nuclear membrane that detects and marks the misdelivered proteins. In an international cooperation with researchers from France, Sweden and Canada, the team under the direction of Prof. Dr. Michael Knop at the Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University (ZMBH) demonstrated how the cellular "waste disposal service" is triggered in this process. The results of their research were published in Nature.

Hearing capabilities of bushcrickets and mammals

A detailed review of the functional mechanics of katydid (bushcricket) hearing, draws distinct parallels between the ear of the bushcricket and tetrapods. 

Bangladesh development threatens fragile Sundarbans mangroves

Bangladesh's rapid development on the doorstep of the ecologically fragile Sundarbans mangrove forest means "environmental disasters" like this month's oil spill in the massive delta are increasingly likely, experts warn.

The origin of the language of life

The genetic code is the universal language of life. It describes how information is encoded in the genetic material and is the same for all organisms from simple bacteria to animals to humans. However, the origin of the code remains enigmatic. Over the past two years, the research team of Bojan Žagrović at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL) of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna has revealed several surprising clues that may help unlock this mystery. The results are described in a series of articles – the latest was published in December in Nucleic Acids Research.

A vegetarian carnivorous plant

Carnivorous plants catch and digest tiny animals in order and derive benefits for their nutrition. Interestingly the trend towards vegetarianism seems to overcome carnivorous plants as well. The aquatic carnivorous bladderwort, which can be found in many lakes and ponds worldwide, does not only gain profit from eating little animals but also by consuming algae and pollen grains. This results in survival in aquatic habitats where prey animals are rare, and in increased fitness if the animals and algae are caught in a well-balanced diet. An Austrian research group around Marianne Koller-Peroutka and Wolfram Adlassnig published these results in the respected journal Annals of Botany.

Hermit creepy crawlies: Two new taxa of wood-feeding cockroach from China

Scientists from the Southwest University, Chongqing, China have found a new species and a new subspecies of cockroach. What makes these creepy crawlies distinctive from the cockroaches most of us know is that they don't infest human houses, on the contrary they prefer to live a hermit life drilling logs, hidden away from human eyes. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Alaska fish adjust to climate change by following the food

Not all species may suffer from climate change. A new analysis shows that Dolly Varden, a species of char common in southeast Alaska, adjust their migrations so they can keep feasting on a key food source - salmon eggs - even as shifts in climate altered the timing of salmon spawning.

Efforts to save rare northern white rhino continue

Experts will meet in Kenya next month to discuss ways to save the critically endangered northern white rhinos from extinction.

Lengguru 2014 scientific expedition returns – an initial overview

Having left on 17th October to produce a biodiversity inventory of the Lengguru karsts in West Papua, the scientists are back after more than a month of exploration both on land and at sea. Conducted by the French Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD), the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), and the Sorong Fisheries Academy (APSOR), this expedition involved more than 70 European and Indonesian researchers. Lengguru 2014, the largest scientific expedition ever undertaken in Indonesia, enabled the study of several original karst environments and the collection of hundreds of animal and plant species, testifying to a clear indication of the area's rich biodiversity.

PacifiCorp Energy pleads guilty in bird deaths

Wind farm operator PacifiCorp Energy will pay $2.5 million in fines after pleading guilty Friday to charges related to the deaths of protected birds in Wyoming.


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