Monday, May 29, 2017

Science X Newsletter Week 21

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 21:

Construction begins on the world's first super telescope

Scientists are a step closer to understanding the inner-workings of the universe following the laying of the first stone, and construction starting on the world's largest optical and infrared telescope.

Scientists find 7.2-million-year-old pre-human remains in the Balkans

The common lineage of great apes and humans split several hundred thousand years earlier than hitherto assumed, according to an international research team headed by Professor Madelaine Böhme from the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tübingen and Professor Nikolai Spassov from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The researchers investigated two fossils of Graecopithecus freybergi with state-of-the-art methods and came to the conclusion that they belong to pre-humans. Their findings, published today in two papers in the journal PLOS ONE, further indicate that the split of the human lineage occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean and not - as customarily assumed - in Africa.

Collapsing star gives birth to a black hole

Astronomers have watched as a massive, dying star was likely reborn as a black hole. It took the combined power of the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), and NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to go looking for remnants of the vanquished star, only to find that it disappeared out of sight.

Researchers uncover new gravitational wave characteristics

Monash researchers have identified a new concept - 'orphan memory' - which changes the current thinking around gravitational waves.

3.3 million-year-old fossil reveals origins of the human spine

Analysis of a 3.3 million-year-old fossil skeleton reveals the most complete spinal column of any early human relative, including vertebrae, neck and rib cage. The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate that portions of the human spinal structure that enable efficient walking motions were established millions of years earlier than previously thought.

Muscular men less likely to support social and economic equality, study suggests

Physically stronger men are less in favour of social and economic equality than weaker men, new research from Brunel University London indicates.

New blackbody force depends on spacetime geometry and topology

(Phys.org)—In 2013, a group of physicists from Austria proposed the existence of a new and unusual force called the "blackbody force." Blackbodies—objects that absorb all incoming light and therefore appear black at room temperature—have long been known to emit blackbody radiation, which repels small nearby objects such as atoms and molecules. But the physicists showed that blackbodies theoretically also exert an attractive force on these objects. They called this force the "blackbody force," and showed that it can be stronger than blackbody radiation, and—for very small particles—even stronger than gravity.

Researchers develop magnetic switch to turn on and off a strange quantum property

When a ballerina pirouettes, twirling a full revolution, she looks just as she did when she started. But for electrons and other subatomic particles, which follow the rules of quantum theory, that's not necessarily so. When an electron moves around a closed path, ending up where it began, its physical state may or may not be the same as when it left.

US beekeepers lost 33 percent of bees in 2016-17

Beekeepers across the United States lost 33 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2016 to April 2017, according to the latest preliminary results of an annual nationwide survey. Rates of both winter loss and summer loss—and consequently, total annual losses—improved compared with last year.

Toward mass-producible quantum computers

Quantum computers are experimental devices that offer large speedups on some computational problems. One promising approach to building them involves harnessing nanometer-scale atomic defects in diamond materials.

Fathers' brains respond differently to daughters than sons

Fathers with toddler daughters are more attentive and responsive to those daughters' needs than fathers with toddler sons are to the needs of those sons, according to brain scans and recordings of the parents' daily interactions with their kids.

'Smart genes' account for 20% of intelligence: study

Scientists on Monday announced the discovery of 52 genes linked to human intelligence, 40 of which have been identified as such for the first time.

Cannabis derivative cannabidiol reduces seizures in severe epilepsy disorder

After years of anecdotal claims about its benefits, the cannabis derivative cannabidiol reduced seizure frequency by 39 percent for patients with Dravet syndrome - a rare, severe form of epilepsy - in the first large-scale randomized clinical trial for the compound. The findings were published online May 24 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Let there be light: Controlled creation of quantum emitter arrays

Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are layered semiconductors that can be exfoliated into layers only a few atoms thick. Recent research has shown that some TMDs can contain quantum light sources that can emit single photons of light. Until now, the occurrence of these quantum light emitters has been random. Now, researchers in the Graphene Flagship working at the University of Cambridge, UK, have created large scale arrays of these quantum emitters in different TMD materials. The work, also involving researchers from Harvard University, US, is published in Nature Communications. This new approach leads to large quantities of on-demand, single photon emitters, paving the way for integrating ultra-thin, single photons in electronic devices.

Vitamin D supplements could help pain management

Vitamin D supplementation combined with good sleeping habits may help manage pain-related diseases. This paper published in the Journal of Endocrinology, reviews published research on the relationship between vitamin D levels, sleep and pain management, and reports that levels of vitamin D combined with good quality sleep could help manage conditions including arthritis, menstrual cramps and chronic back pain.

Neutrons provide the first nanoscale look at a living cell membrane

A research team from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has performed the first-ever direct nanoscale examination of a living cell membrane. In doing so, it also resolved a long-standing debate by identifying tiny groupings of lipid molecules that are likely key to the cell's functioning.

Researchers studying century-old drug in potential new approach to autism

In a small, randomized Phase I/II clinical trial (SAT1), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine say a 100-year-old drug called suramin, originally developed to treat African sleeping sickness, was safely administered to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who subsequently displayed measurable, but transient, improvement in core symptoms of autism.

Scientists solve mystery of how most antimatter in the Milky Way forms

A team of international astrophysicists led by The Australian National University (ANU) has shown how most of the antimatter in the Milky Way forms.

Ancient DNA evidence shows hunter-gatherers and farmers were intimately linked

In human history, the transition from hunting and gathering to farming is a significant one. As such, hunter-gatherers and farmers are usually thought about as two entirely different sets of people. But researchers reporting new ancient DNA evidence in Current Biology on May 25 show that in the area we now recognize as Romania, at least, hunter-gatherers and farmers were living side by side, intermixing with each other, and having children.

Regular chocolate consumption may be linked to lower risk of heart flutter

Regular chocolate consumption may be linked to a lower risk of developing the heart rhythm irregularity atrial fibrillation, also known as heart flutter, finds research published online in the journal Heart.


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Friday, May 26, 2017

Science X Newsletter Friday, May 26

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 26, 2017:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Toward mass-producible quantum computers

The high cost of communication among social bees

Camera on NASA's Lunar Orbiter survived 2014 meteoroid hit

Knowledge gap on the origin of sex

Study finds gray matter density increases during adolescence

Researchers studying century-old drug in potential new approach to autism

Isolated Greek villages reveal genetic secrets that protect against heart disease

DNA ladders: Inexpensive molecular rulers for DNA research

Study sweetens connection between cancer and sugar

New cellular target may put the brakes on cancer's ability to spread

Bioelectricity new weapon to fight dangerous infection

Optic probes shed light on binge-eating

Scientists are accidentally helping poachers drive rare species to extinction

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

New algorithm for drones quickly makes sense of incoming visual data

Astronomy & Space news

Camera on NASA's Lunar Orbiter survived 2014 meteoroid hit

On Oct. 13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar surface, produced an image that was wild and jittery. From the sudden and jagged pattern apparent in the image, the LROC team determined that the camera must have been hit by a tiny meteoroid, a small object in space.

SDO sees partial eclipse in space

On May 25, 2017, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, saw a partial solar eclipse in space when it caught the moon passing in front of the sun. The lunar transit lasted almost an hour, between 2:24 and 3:17 p.m. EDT, with the moon covering about 89 percent of the sun at the peak of its journey across the sun's face. The moon's crisp horizon can be seen from this view because the moon has no atmosphere to distort the sunlight.

'Tiny clocks' crystallize understanding of meteorite crashes

Almost two billion years ago, a 10-kilometre-wide chunk of space slammed down into rock near what is now the city of Sudbury. Now, scientists from Western University and the University of Portsmouth are marrying details of that meteorite impact with technology that measures surrounding crystal fragments as a way to date other ancient meteorite strikes.

Construction begins on the world's first super telescope

Scientists are a step closer to understanding the inner-workings of the universe following the laying of the first stone, and construction starting on the world's largest optical and infrared telescope.

New Horizons deploys global team for rare look at next flyby target

On New Year's Day 2019, more than 4 billion miles from home, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will race past a small Kuiper Belt object known as 2014 MU69 – making this rocky remnant of planetary formation the farthest object ever encountered by any spacecraft.

Australian satellite in orbit

The first Australian satellite in 15 years, UNSW-EC0, was successfully deployed from the International Space Station, and UNSW engineers are working to make contact when it next passes above Sydney.

Image: Sequence of Juno spacecraft's close approach to Jupiter

This sequence of enhanced-color images shows how quickly the viewing geometry changes for NASA's Juno spacecraft as it swoops by Jupiter. The images were obtained by JunoCam.

Technology news

New algorithm for drones quickly makes sense of incoming visual data

There's a limit to how fast autonomous vehicles can fly while safely avoiding obstacles. That's because the cameras used on today's drones can only process images so fast, frame by individual frame. Beyond roughly 30 miles per hour, a drone is likely to crash simply because its cameras can't keep up.

AI exploration shifts focus from rewards to curiosity

(Tech Xplore)—A paper titled "Curiosity Driven Exploration by Self-Supervised Prediction" has been prepared by a team of researchers at University of California Berkeley (on arXiv).

Running a power plant on carbon dioxide instead of steam

(Tech Xplore)—A team with NET Power is currently in the process of building a power plant in Texas that will use a form of carbon dioxide to turn turbines instead of using steam to make electricity. The plant will be the first in the world to attempt to utilize the new technology. Levi Irwin and Yann Le Moullec with SETA, ManTech SRS Technologies, Inc., and Électricité de France, China Holding R&D respectively offer a Perspective piece on the work being done by the company in the journal Science.

Avideh Zakhor: The brains behind Google Earth and Street View

For one of Silicon Valley's most important inventions, we can thank Avideh Zakhor, creator of the technology that brought us Google Earth and Street View.

New technique could increase success rate, life span of implantable devices

A new technique being developed at Purdue University could provide patients who require implantable catheters in the treatment of neurological and other disorders with a reliable and self-clearing catheter that could eliminate the need for additional surgery to replace failing devices.

Designing games that change perceptions, opinions and even players' real-life actions

In 1904, Lizzie Magie patented "The Landlord's Game," a board game about property ownership, with the specific goal of teaching players about how a system of land grabbing impoverishes tenants and enriches property owners. The game, which went on to become the mass-market classic "Monopoly," was the first widely recognized example of what is today called "persuasive play."

The problem of treating play like work – how esports can harm well-being

We are mid-way through the annual esports calendar and South Korean team SK Telecom 1 recently scored a resounding victory at the Mid-Seasonal Invitational. The MSI, as it's known, is a tournament where teams compete to win the video game League of Legends. This year, for the first time, there were world-class players from 13 regions across the globe battling for a US$1.69m prize pool. SK Telecom 1 skirmished through three weeks of matches to retain their title, taking home nearly US$700,000 (£544,000) in prize money.

No green light for latest traffic light app following expert evaluation

FROM sat-nav to automated parking and collision avoidance systems - cars are equipped with an increasing array of electronic aids designed to reduce the scope for human error. One of the latest pieces of kit is an app that provides assistance at traffic lights, telling drivers when they will have to stop and how long before they can move off.

French designer shows off DIY robot in public for first time

A French designer has shown his humanoid DIY robot to the public for the first time.

Canadian accused in Yahoo hack to appeal bail denial

A Canadian man accused in a massive hack of Yahoo emails says he'll appeal a judge's decision to deny him bail.

Gadgets: Several decisions to be made before selecting new headphones

With the summer just about upon us, headphone season is in full force. If you're about to make a new purchase, don't get fooled with fancy marketing, colorful boxes or hype. Instead, consider these features when shopping around (the order of importance depends on you): wireless vs wired, earbuds vs over the ear, cost and sound quality (which would be No. 1 for me).

Review: Three devices to talk on your phone while driving

Have you ever talked on your phone while driving your car?

Taiwan's 'forest bus' charms passengers

With moss-covered seats and an explosion of lush plants and flowers throughout its interior the "forest bus" offers a fragrant leafy ride for passengers used to crammed public transport in Taiwan's capital.

Minimizing the risk of electric shock around pools and lakes

A danger that you can't see or hear—electric shock in water—can easily go undetected. Electricity is deadly and often discovered only after it is too late.

Fractious politics leads 'Far Cry' video game to US

The latest edition of the blockbuster shooter video game "Far Cry" plays out on US soil, inspired by angry political divides and intense isolationist passions in rural America.

G7 demands internet giants crack down on extremist content

The G7 nations on Friday demanded action from internet providers and social media firms against extremist content online, vowing to step up their fight against terrorism after the Manchester attack.

Medicine & Health news

Study finds gray matter density increases during adolescence

For years, the common narrative in human developmental neuroimaging has been that gray matter in the brain - the tissue found in regions of the brain responsible for muscle control, sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control—declines in adolescence, a finding derived mainly from studies of gray matter volume and cortical thickness (the thickness of the outer layers of brain that contain gray matter). Since it has been well-established that larger brain volume is associated with better cognitive performance, it was puzzling that cognitive performance shows a dramatic improvement from childhood to young adulthood at the same time that brain volume and cortical thickness decline.

Researchers studying century-old drug in potential new approach to autism

In a small, randomized Phase I/II clinical trial (SAT1), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine say a 100-year-old drug called suramin, originally developed to treat African sleeping sickness, was safely administered to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who subsequently displayed measurable, but transient, improvement in core symptoms of autism.

Isolated Greek villages reveal genetic secrets that protect against heart disease

A genetic variant that protects the heart against cardiovascular disease has been discovered by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their collaborators. Reported today in Nature Communications, the cardioprotective variant was found in an isolated Greek population, who are known to live long and healthy lives despite having a diet rich in animal fat.

Study sweetens connection between cancer and sugar

In a new study, scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas have found that some types of cancers have more of a sweet tooth than others.

New cellular target may put the brakes on cancer's ability to spread

A team led by Johns Hopkins researchers has discovered a biochemical signaling process that causes densely packed cancer cells to break away from a tumor and spread the disease elsewhere in the body. In their study, published online May 26 in Nature Communications, the team also reported that the combined use of two existing drugs disrupts this process and appears to significantly slow cancer's tendency to travel, a behavior called metastasis.

Bioelectricity new weapon to fight dangerous infection

Changing the natural electrical signaling that exists in cells outside the nervous system can improve resistance to life-threatening bacterial infections, according to new research from Tufts University biologists. The researchers found that administering drugs, including those already used in humans for other purposes, to make the cell interior more negatively charged strengthens tadpoles' innate immune response to E. coli infection and injury. This reveals a novel aspect of the immune system - regulation by non-neural bioelectricity - and suggests a new approach for clinical applications in human medicine. The study is published online May 26, 2017, in npj Regenerative Medicine, a Nature Research journal.

Optic probes shed light on binge-eating

Activating neurons in an area of the brain not previously associated with feeding can produce binge-eating behavior in mice, a new Yale study finds.

FDA approves cancer drug for personalized immunotherapy approach

Earlier this week, for the first time, a drug was FDA-approved for cancer based on disease genetics rather than type.

Scientists jump hurdle in HIV vaccine design

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have made another important advance in HIV vaccine design. The development was possible thanks to previous studies at TSRI showing the structures of a protein on HIV's surface, called the envelope glycoprotein. The scientists used these structures to design a mimic of the viral protein from a different HIV subtype, subtype C, which is responsible for the majority of infections worldwide.

People match confidence levels to make decisions in groups

When trying to make a decision with another person, people tend to match their confidence levels, which can backfire if one person has more expertise than the other, finds a new study led by UCL and University of Oxford researchers.

Losing sleep over climate change

Climate change may keep you awake—and not just metaphorically. Nights that are warmer than normal can harm human sleep, researchers show in a new paper, with the poor and elderly most affected. According to their findings, if climate change is not addressed, temperatures in 2050 could cost people in the United States millions of additional nights of insufficient sleep per year. By 2099, the figure could rise by several hundred million more nights of lost sleep annually.

Mind-controlled device helps stroke patients retrain brains to move paralyzed hands

Stroke patients who learned to use their minds to open and close a device fitted over their paralyzed hands gained some control over their hands, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Chemical array draws out malignant cells to guide individualized cancer treatment

Melanoma is a particularly difficult cancer to treat once it has metastasized, spreading throughout the body. University of Illinois researchers are using chemistry to find the deadly, elusive malignant cells within a melanoma tumor that hold the potential to spread.

Genetic test for anal cancer could identify those at high risk

A new test, based on a patient's epigenetics, could be an accurate and inexpensive way to find and treat those at highest risk of anal cancer - a disease with growing incidence in women, men who have sex with men (MSM) and people with HIV.

Balancing rights and responsibilities in insurers' access to genetic test results

Genetic testing is widely used across the developed world in order to diagnose and predict disease. However, along with its usefulness comes concern about how others, such as employers and insurers, can have access to and use its results. This in turn leads to the risk that individuals may avoid medically recommended genetic testing, or participation in genetic research, if they fear that they may be discriminated against based on their results.

Scientists identify protein linked to chronic heart failure

Researchers in Japan have identified a receptor protein on the surface of heart cells that promotes chronic heart failure. The study, "Corticotropin releasing hormone receptor 2 exacerbates chronic cardiac dysfunction," which will be published May 26 in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggests that inhibiting this protein could help treat a disease that affects more than 20 million people worldwide.

Researchers develop faster and cheaper cardiac imaging test for developing countries

Researchers in the UK and Peru have developed a faster and cheaper cardiac imaging test that can be used in developing countries, according to the results of the INCA-Peru study presented today at EuroCMR 2017. The scan is three times faster, less than one-fifth of the cost, and changed clinical management in 33% of patients.

Diesel pollution linked to heart damage

Diesel pollution is linked with heart damage, according to research presented today at EuroCMR 2017.

Designer viruses stimulate the immune system to fight cancer

Swiss scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, and the University of Basel have created artificial viruses that can target cancer. These designer viruses alert the immune system and cause it to send killer cells to fight the tumor. The results, published in the journal Nature Communications, provide a basis for innovative cancer treatments.

Cannabis harm prevention message a must, says study

Government, police and health agencies need clear guidelines for public campaigns on preventing harm from cannabis use, according to new research from Massey University.

IVF babies do not have lower cognitive skills than naturally conceived children: study

New research shows that between the ages of three and 11, children conceived artificially can be linked with better scores for reading and verbal tests than children conceived naturally.

Why a monthly period is especially hard for millions of women and girls around the world

Millions of girls and women are displaced and on the move right now globally – and the Trump administration's proposed drastic cuts to humanitarian aid will have a major impact on these girls' and women's health.

Game study not playing around with PTSD relief

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients wrestling with one of its main symptoms may find long-term relief beyond medication thanks to the work of a Western researcher.

Study explores the safety and efficacy of using a patient's cartilage cells to repair knee damage

Repairing painful and debilitating knee injuries may soon be as easy as growing your own new cartilage, according to a Western researcher.

Health care providers should review response plans for Congo Ebola outbreak

With an Ebola outbreak underway in the Democratic Republic of Congo, experts say health care providers should review their Ebola response plans now to avoid repeating past mistakes.

Vitamin D in pregnancy may prevent childhood asthma

A new study published today in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has found that taking Vitamin D supplements in pregnancy can positively modify the immune system of the newborn baby, which could help to protect against asthma and respiratory infections, a known risk factor for developing asthma in childhood.

Majority of time-pressed Brits walk less than a mile a day

Stagnant Brits struggle to walk more than a mile a day according to new research from Cancer Research UK's Walk All Over Cancer campaign published today.

Strategies needed to prevent malnutrition in older people

New research from Massey University shows concerning levels of malnutrition among older people living independently in the community or newly admitted to hospital or a residential care facility.

Fat nation—the rise and fall of obesity on the political agenda

When we hear the word "obesity", the words "crisis" or "epidemic" often follow. And as being overweight, obese and eating an unhealthy diet are leading contributors to disease in Australia, evidence is mounting that "tackling obesity" should be a political priority.

How to stop boxing deaths and brain injury with a simple rule

The coronial inquest in Sydney into the death by subdural haematoma (brain bleed) of 28-year-old boxer Davey Browne has yet again seen the same predictable response about how we might prevent such outcomes in the future.

New stretcher to prevent baby deaths in ambulances

Academics and industry partners in Birmingham are developing a new device that will ensure newborn babies could survive in the event of a crash in an ambulance at up to 40 miles per hour.

HIV patients sticking with therapy longer, Medicaid data show

With antiretroviral drugs, HIV has become a manageable chronic condition, but only so long as patients continue to take the medication. A large new Brown University study finds substantial momentum in that direction. The study, which examined a national sample of Medicaid patients, showed that , the median duration of persisting with treatment increased by more than 50 percent over the decade 2001 to 2010.

Statins associated with improved heart structure and function

Statins are associated with improved heart structure and function, according to research presented today at EuroCMR 2017. The benefits were above and beyond the cholesterol lowering effect of statins.

Dramatic shift in gut microbes and their metabolites seen after weight loss surgery

Obesity, already a global epidemic, is on the rise. Over one third of the U.S. population is currently afflicted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the monetary costs alone are approaching $150 billion dollars annually. Causes of the epidemic include changing diets and greater sedentism, though environmental factors may also contribute.

Five food groups to jump-start nutrition

(HealthDay)—Most Americans still don't eat enough nutrient-rich foods from key groups including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy, according to federal health statistics.

Some benefit for curcuminoids in knee osteoarthritis

(HealthDay)—Curcuminoids seem beneficial for knee osteoarthritis (OA), although they are less effective for pain relief than ibuprofen, according to a review and meta-analysis published online May 4 in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases.

Technology can help patients facing routine decisions

(HealthDay)—Information technology can be harnessed to assist patients facing routine decisions, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Riboflavin shows positive effect for migraine in adults

(HealthDay)—Riboflavin is well tolerated and has a positive therapeutic effect in prophylactic treatment of migraine headache in adults, according to a review published online May 8 in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics.

Cognitive decline linked to visual field variability

(HealthDay)—For patients diagnosed as having glaucoma or glaucoma suspects, cognitive decline is associated with increased visual field variability, according to a study published online May 18 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Streptococcal throat infection linked to mental disorders

(HealthDay)—Individuals with streptococcal throat infection have increased risks of mental disorders, especially obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and tics, according to a study published online May 24 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Latin-Americans with different Native-American ancestry show different health risks

Latin Americans originate from a mix of people with Native American, European and African ancestry. A new study finds that different types of original Native American ancestry can be associated to different causes of death. Justo Lorenzo Bermejo and Felix Boekstegers from Heidelberg University in Germany, and their Chilean colleagues report these findings in a new study published May 26th, 2017 in PLOS Genetics.

New drug reduces transplant and mortality rates significantly in patients with hepatitis C

Patients with hepatitis C who suffer from advanced stages of liver disease have renewed hope, thanks to findings by researchers who have discovered that a new drug significantly reduces their risk of death and need for transplantation.

The correlation between lying and alcohol consumption in teens

Adolescents who have a greater tendency to lie to their parents are also more likely to start using alcohol at an earlier age, while excessive parental supervision may aggravate rather than solve the problem. Both honesty and a lower risk of developing a drinking habit are usually the result of a trusting relationship between a teenager and parents, according to a joint study by New York University and HSE researchers, published at Journal of Adolescence.

How to avoid germs in the gym

With summer quickly approaching, many people are hitting the gym to get in shape. But can going to the gym actually be harmful to your health? One Baylor College of Medicine expert offers his tips on how to avoid germs in the gym.

Maori obesity linked to various factors in study

Spiritual beliefs, cultural practices and the impacts of colonisation may make it harder for Māori to stick to the typical diet and exercise advice for reducing weight, a University of Otago PhD candidate has found.

Increased facial and head injuries after motorcycle helmet law change in Michigan

Skull fractures and other head and facial injuries from motorcycle trauma in Michigan have doubled since that state relaxed its motorcycle helmet laws, reports a study in the June issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). The new study is one of the first to focus on how helmet laws affect CMF trauma rates.

Total abdominal wall transplantation for complex transplant cases—experts outline technique

For some patients undergoing intestinal or multi-organ transplantation, closing the abdominal wall poses a difficult surgical challenge. Total abdominal wall transplantation provides an alternative for abdominal closure in these complex cases, according to a state-of-the-art approach presented in the June issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

German kindergartens to name parents who skip vaccine advice

The German government wants kindergartens to inform authorities if parents fail to prove they have attended a doctors' consultation on child vaccinations.

Biology news

The high cost of communication among social bees

(Phys.org)—Eusocial insects are predominantly dependent on chemosensory communication to coordinate social organization and define group membership. As the social complexity of a species increases, individual members require a greater diversity of signals. The communications of highly social insects such as wasps are well documented, but relatively little is known about the evolutionary transition between solitary and social living.

Knowledge gap on the origin of sex

There are significant gaps in our knowledge on the evolution of sex, according to a research review on sex chromosomes from Lund University in Sweden. Even after more than a century of study, researchers do not know enough about the evolution of sex chromosomes to understand how males and females emerge.

DNA ladders: Inexpensive molecular rulers for DNA research

New, license-free DNA ladders will allow researchers to estimate the size of fragments of DNA for a fraction of the cost of currently available methods. A research team of undergraduate students led by Penn State Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Song Tan and former undergraduate student Ryan C. Henrici developed two plasmids—a circular form of DNA—that can be cut by DNA scissors known as restriction enzymes to create the DNA ladders. The ladders can be used to estimate the size of DNA fragments between about 50 and 5,000 base pairs in length. A paper describing the research appears online May 26, 2017 in the journal Scientific Reports.

Scientists are accidentally helping poachers drive rare species to extinction

If you open Google and start typing "Chinese cave gecko", the text will auto-populate to "Chinese cave gecko for sale" – just US$150, with delivery. This extremely rare species is just one of an increasingly large number of animals being pushed to extinction in the wild by animal trafficking.

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

A team of scientists led by the University of Bristol has provided new insights into the origins of the Archaea, the group of simple cellular organisms that are the ancestors of all complex life.

Modifying cell wall can increase bacterial lipids

If you want to create sustainable biofuels from less and for less, you've got a range of options. And one of those options is to go microbial, enlisting the help of tiny but powerful bacteria in creating a range of renewable biofuels and chemicals.

Darwin was right: Females prefer sex with good listeners

Almost 150 years after Charles Darwin first proposed a little-known prediction from his theory of sexual selection, researchers have found that male moths with larger antennae are better at detecting female signals.

Fungal enzymes team up to more efficiently break down cellulose

One of the biggest barriers in the commercial production of sustainable biofuels is to cost-effectively break down the bioenergy crops into sugars that can then be converted into fuel. To reduce this barrier, bioenergy researchers are looking to nature and the estimated 1.5 million species of fungi that, collectively, can break down almost any substance on earth, including plant biomass.

Why communication is vital—even among plants and funghi

Plant scientists at the University of Cambridge have found a plant protein indispensable for communication early in the formation of symbiosis - the mutually beneficial relationship between plants and fungi. Symbiosis significantly enhances a plant's ability to take up vital nutrients like phosphate from the soil, and understanding the processes involved holds great promise for the development of sustainable 'biosolutions' to enhancing food production in order to feed a growing global population.

Marine species distribution shifts will continue under ocean warming

Scientists using a high-resolution global climate model and historical observations of species distributions on the Northeast U.S. Shelf have found that commercially important species will continue to shift their distribution as ocean waters warm two to three times faster than the global average through the end of this century. Projected increases in surface to bottom waters of 6.6 to 9 degrees F (3.7 to 5.0 degrees Celsius) from current conditions are expected.

DNA research provides new hope for a bird on the brink

In a fresh bid to save the southern black-throated finch from extinction, researchers are turning to a novel analysis of DNA to help plot a path to survival. Already extinct in NSW, this woodland species is endangered in Queensland, having lost 80 per cent of its range in the last 30 years. Under current development plans for its last stronghold, the Galilee basin, it's predicted to lose a further 57 per cent of its remaining habitat.

Pregnant rays and babies pay a price after 'catch and release' from fishing trawlers

Rays are among the species most vulnerable to overfishing and are often caught incidentally in commercial trawlers and released as unwanted bycatch.

Dog DNA influences face shape

A study of dog DNA has revealed a genetic mutation linked to flat face shapes such as those seen in pugs and bulldogs.

Oh baby! DC zoo officials hoping to get panda pregnant

Zoo officials in Washington are hoping to get panda mom Mei Xiang pregnant—again.

Study finds Congo's miners often resort to hunting wildlife for food

A new study by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) has revealed how mining for valuable minerals in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a major driving factor in the illegal hunting of great apes and other wildlife for food.

The plan to protect wildlife displaced by the Hume Highway has failed

It's no secret that human development frequently comes at a cost to other creatures. As our urban footprint expands, native habitat contracts. To compensate for this, most Australian governments require developers to invest in biodiversity offsetting, where habitat is created or protected elsewhere to counterbalance the impact of construction.

US science agency: Selfies with seal pups a no-no

U.S. officials are warning people not to take selfies with seals, no matter how tempting.


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