Friday, October 31, 2014

Science X Newsletter Friday, Oct 31

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Phys.org Newsletter for October 31, 2014:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

- Flying qubits make for a highly resilient quantum memory
- There and back again: Extending optical storage lifetime by retrieving photon echoes from semiconductor spin excitations
- Oxygen levels were only 0.1 percent of today's levels for roughly billion years before rise of animals
- New viral tools for mapping brains
- Doubt cast over air pollution link between childhood leukemia and power lines
- Researchers find a way of avoiding overhead aversion in charity donations
- HP announces Sprout—a truly innovative workstation
- Viewing cancer on the move: New device yields close-up look at metastasis
- Green spaces don't ensure biodiversity in urban areas
- Decoding the emergence of metastatic cancer stem cells
- Drivebot aims to touch driver bases for safety, savings
- Virgin spaceship crashes, fate of pilots unknown (Update 2)
- Efficient genetic editing: Scientists develop new system that could be used to treat a host of genetic conditions
- Scientists debunk Clearwater Lakes formation theory
- 'Swiss cheese' membrane with adjustable holes

Astronomy & Space news

Virgin spaceship crashes, fate of pilots unknown (Update 2)

Virgin Galactic's first commercial spacecraft crashed Friday during a test flight over California, scattering debris over the desert and leaving the fate of two pilots unknown, the company said.

Grad student's aTmCam offers cosmic insight for dark energy survey

As a child peering through her toy telescope, Texas A&M University graduate student Ting Li was fascinated by the Moon and constellations – not so much by their cosmic beauty, but about why they exist in the first place.

Confirming a 3-D structural view of a quasar outflow

A team of astronomers have observed a distant gravitationally-lensed quasar (i.e., an active galactic nucleus) with the Subaru Telescope and concluded that the data indeed present a 3-D view of the structure around a quasar. Although the team had earlier suggested this as a possibility, the final conclusion was drawn only through additional observations.

Fifteen years of NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory

This Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the Hydra A galaxy cluster was taken on Oct. 30, 1999, with the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS) in an observation that lasted about six hours.

Possible bright supernova lights up spiral galaxy M61

I sat straight up in my seat when I learned of the discovery of a possible new supernova in the bright Virgo galaxy M61. Since bright usually means close, this newly exploding star may soon become visible in smaller telescopes. It was discovered at magnitude +13.6 on October 29th by Koichi Itagaki of Japan, a prolific hunter of supernovae with 94 discoveries or co-discoveries to his credit. Itagaki used a CCD camera and 19.6-inch (0.50-m) reflector to spy the new star within one of the galaxy's prominent spiral arms. Comparison with earlier photos showed no star at the position. Itagaki also nabbed an earlier supernova in M61 in December 2008.

Witness: Space tourism rocket explodes in desert

A Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket exploded after taking off on a test flight in Southern California's Mojave Desert, a witness said Friday.

Technology news

DARPA circuit achieves speeds of 1 trillion cycles per second, earns Guinness world record

Officials from Guinness World Records today recognized DARPA's Terahertz Electronics program for creating the fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit ever measured. The ten-stage common-source amplifier operates at a speed of one terahertz (1012 GHz), or one trillion cycles per second—150 billion cycles faster than the existing world record of 850 gigahertz set in 2012.

Method to reconstruct overt and covert speech

Can scientists read the mind, picking up inner thoughts? Interesting research has emerged in that direction. According to a report from New Scientist, researchers discuss their findings in converting brain activity into sounds and words. Their study, "Decoding spectrotemporal features of overt and covert speech from the human cortex," was published in Frontiers in Neuroengineering, an open-access academic publisher and research network.

HP announces Sprout—a truly innovative workstation

Hewlett-Packard Co has announced the development of a new kind of computer workstation—one that combines the power of a desktop computer with 3D scanning and projection—and adds a second display surface that is actually a touchpad. The workstation, called the Sprout will go on sale next week for $1,899.

Drivebot aims to touch driver bases for safety, savings

Five Thailand-based engineers have developed a dongle device that serves as a fitness tracker for cars and have turned to Indiegogo to raise funds for bringing it forward. The attraction is that it is a simple device that appears to cover all the fundamental bases for non-expert drivers who need to know how to drive efficiently and safely.

Google execs discuss regulation, innovation and bobble-heads

Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg help run Google, one of the world's best-known, most successful - and most controversial - companies. They've just published a new book, "How Google Works," a guide to managing what they call "smart creatives," the technically proficient, innovation-savvy workers whom companies in every industry are trying to recruit and retain.

Reddit launches crowdfunding platform Redditmade

Reddit launched a crowdfunding tool Wednesday that gives users of the popular online forum a tailor-made alternative to Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Will Apple Pay be mobile pay's kick-start?

If anyone can get us to use our smartphones as wallets, it's Apple. That's what experts think about the recent launch of Apple Pay, the first mobile wallet to work on an iPhone.

Co-creator of Android mobile software leaves Google

Google on Thursday confirmed that an executive behind leading mobile device software Android is leaving the company to create an incubator for hardware startups.

Sony's quarterly loss balloons on mobile woes

Sony's losses ballooned to 136 billion yen ($1.2 billion) last quarter as the Japanese electronics and entertainment company's troubled mobile phone division reported huge red ink.

Researcher aims to develop system to detect app clones on Android markets

Mobile apps have exploded in popularity in recent years, as studies have reported that smartphone owners are spending more time on their apps versus the mobile web. However, users also face increased risks from attackers that clone the codes from legitimate Android apps and repackage them with malicious code. Peng Liu, a professor at Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), is part of a team that is developing technology that would enable users to accurately and efficiently gauge app clones from their legitimate counterparts.

Disaster expert identifies nine ways robots can protect Ebola workers

Dr. Robin R. Murphy, Raytheon Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and director of the Center for Robot Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) has identified nine ways robots can protect Ebola workers. Murphy also cautions that military and civilian robots often do not directly transfer to disaster situations and more work is needed to identify the use cases for robots.

Analysing animal anatomy using augmented reality

The University of Liverpool's School of Veterinary Science is utilising cutting edge technology to allow students to analyse animals' internal anatomy, using their smartphones.

Self-driving vehicles generate enthusiasm, concerns worldwide

Despite safety concerns about equipment failure, a majority of drivers on three continents have high expectations for autonomous vehicles.

Leaving the right to be forgotten in Google's hands hasn't broken the internet yet

When the "right to be forgotten" was established in the European Union, allowing people to have inaccurate and potentially harmful information removed from search engine results, there were concerns it would be misused – for example by those wishing to hide information about them that is in the public interest, such as reports of criminal wrongdoing.

Humans are largely the problem in cyber security failures

When people think about cyber and information security they often think about anti-virus software and firewalls; however, according to an information security expert from the University of Adelaide, organisations would become a lot more secure if employers invested in more security-related training for staff.

Tweet much to gain popularity is an inefficient strategy

The imbalanced structure of Twitter, where some users have many followers and the large majority barely has several dozen followers, means that messages from the more influential have much more impact. Less popular users can compensate for this by increasing their activity and their tweets, but the outcome is costly and inefficient. This was confirmed by an analysis of the social network performed by researchers from the Technical University of Madrid.

Ant behavior might shed insight on problems facing electronics design

Michael Hsiao plans to harness swarm intelligence based on the efficient behavior of ants. Why would this matter?

Estonia citizen extradited to NY in cyber case

A man from Estonia has pleaded not guilty in New York to charges that he conspired in a cyberfraud that affected millions of computers worldwide.

After Fukushima, Japan gets green boom—and glut

Like other Japanese who were banking on this country's sweeping move toward clean energy, Junichi Oba is angry.

Hungary's Orban says will scrap draft internet tax law

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday said he was scrapping a draft Internet tax law that has sparked mass demonstrations in the central European country.

Tech-industry perks long associated with Bay Area being replicated across LA

How does an old-fashioned print-era company - formerly known as the Yellow Pages - attract top talent to its offices as it tries to remake itself as an online local search company? For those who live in hip parts LA, the company now called YP has an answer it borrowed from Silicon Valley: the luxury bus.

China web users laud Apple boss for coming out

Apple chief Tim Cook's announcement of his homosexuality was the top topic on Chinese Internet forums Friday, with many users lauding him as a hero—and some joking about his declaration.

Five ways to fight online abuse with good manners

Online and social media's capacity to enable anyone to communicate their ideas and views is much celebrated. So why do so many people feel nervous about getting involved with online debate?

Researchers develop a device for running shoes that prevents injuries

El Institute of Biomechanics of Valencia (IBV) and the Spanish shoe company KELME have designed a prototype running shoe with an integrated device that improves training management and prevents injuries.

European grid prepares for massive integration of renewables

Today, the ancient city of Rome welcomed an important new initiative for the large-scale integration of grids and of renewables sources into Europe's energy mix, with nearly 40 leading organisations from research, industry, utilities, transmission systems operators announcing their united goal to find the BEST PATHS to deliver affordable, reliable power in Europe from "coast to coast".

Pirate Bay founder jailed for hacking Danish data

A Danish court on Friday sentenced the Swedish founder of file-sharing site The Pirate Bay to 3½ years in prison after he was found guilty of hacking into a private company handling sensitive information for Danish authorities.

Q&A: 'Interstellar' filmmaker Nolan on his robots

In his secrecy-shrouded sci-fi extravaganza "Interstellar," filmmaker Christopher Nolan isn't just taking audiences to outer space. He's also sending a couple of robots along for the ride—and they're just not on board to sweep the floors.

Medicine & Health news

New viral tools for mapping brains

(Medical Xpress)—A brain-computer-interphase that is optogenetically-enabled is one of the most fantastic technologies we might envision today. It is likely that its full power could only be realized under the guidance of accurate maps of the brain's activity and connections. Creating these maps—or more likely, these dynamic models—will require tools that have scarcely been described let alone implemented. Among the most tantalizing ideas yet to emerge in this vein are probably what the "Kording-Church DNA tickertapes" which are based on modified DNA polymerases to record activity, and also "Zador neural barcodes" that are based on modified viruses which record connections.

Doubt cast over air pollution link between childhood leukemia and power lines

Researchers from the UK have called into question a theory suggesting that a previously reported risk of leukaemia among children born close to overhead power lines could be caused by an alteration to surrounding air pollution.

Sexual fantasies: Are you normal?

Hoping for sex with two women is common but fantasizing about golden showers is not. That's just one of the findings from a research project that scientifically defines sexual deviation for the first time ever. It was undertaken by researchers at Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal and Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montréal, affiliated with University of Montreal. Although many theories about deviant sexual fantasies incorporate the concept of atypical fantasies (paraphilias), the scientific literature does not describe what these types of fantasies actually are. In North America, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) refers to "anomalous" fantasies, while the World Health Organization talks about "unusual" fantasies in defining paraphilias. But what is an unusual sexual fantasy exactly? The prestigious Journal of Sexual Medicine published the answer today.

First human clinical trial of 'C dots' highlights their safety

(Medical Xpress)—Nanoparticles designed to adhere to and light up cancer cells have reached a major milestone in their bench-to-bedside journey. A first clinical trial of these ultrasmall, multifunctional particles has deemed them safe for humans and cleared easily by the body.

Tau, not amyloid-beta, triggers neuronal death process in Alzheimer's

New research points to tau, not amyloid-beta (Abeta) plaque, as the seminal event that spurs neuron death in disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. The finding, which dramatically alters the prevailing theory of Alzheimer's development, also explains why some people with plaque build-up in their brains don't have dementia.

Viewing cancer on the move: New device yields close-up look at metastasis

Johns Hopkins engineers have invented a lab device to give cancer researchers an unprecedented microscopic look at metastasis, the complex way that tumor cells spread through the body, causing more than 90 percent of cancer-related deaths. By shedding light on precisely how tumor cells travel, the device could uncover new ways to keep cancer in check.

Decoding the emergence of metastatic cancer stem cells

In the first study of its kind, Rice University researchers have mapped how information flows through the genetic circuits that cause cancer cells to become metastatic. The research reveals a common pattern in the decision-making that allows cancer cells to both migrate and form new tumors. Researchers say the commonality may open the door to new drugs that interfere with the genetic switches that cancer must flip to form both cancer stem cells and circulating tumor cells—two of the main players in cancer metastasis.

Majority of high school seniors favor more liberal marijuana policies, study says

The United States is undergoing a drastic change in marijuana policy. Two states legalized recreational use for adults in 2012, and next week, citizens of Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia will vote for or against legalization in their area. The majority of the public now favor legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use, but there is a lack of research examining how marijuana use and demographic characteristics relate to positions toward specific marijuana policies. For example, is it primarily marijuana users who support legalization?

Decoding a killer: Lab studying Ebola virus for mutation threat

Tiny vials of inactivated Ebola virus from Africa are coming into a San Francisco lab, carrying secrets that might reveal the killer's past - and fateful future.

Synthetic lethality offers a new approach to kill tumor cells

The scientific community has made significant strides in recent years in identifying important genetic contributors to malignancy and developing therapeutic agents that target altered genes and proteins. A recent approach to treat cancer called synthetic lethality takes advantage of genetic alterations in cancer cells that make them more susceptible to certain drugs. Alan F. List, MD, president and CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center, co-authored an article on synthetic lethality featured in the October 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Flu or Ebola? US hospitals prepare for a confusing season

After weeks of Ebola panic, false alarms and quibbles over quarantine in the United States, health authorities are bracing for a new battle: flu season.

Pro-anorexia websites provide comfort for a stigmatized condition

Like most other mental illnesses, anorexia nervosa has helpful social networks of supportive communities online – where individuals on the verge of relapsing or facing temptations can find positive feedback and encouragement on their journey toward recovery.

Could copper prevent spread of Ebola?

Research from the University of Southampton has indicated that copper could help to prevent the spread of Ebola.

Study examines psychology of workaholism

Even in a culture that lionizes hard work, workaholism tends to produce negative impacts for employers and employees, according to a new study from a University of Georgia researcher.

New step towards eradication of H5N1 bird flu

A University of Adelaide-led project has developed a new test that can distinguish between birds that have been vaccinated against the H5N1 strain of avian influenza virus or "bird flu" with those that have been naturally infected.

Fast food marketing for children disproportionately targets certain communities

(Medical Xpress)—A newly published research study examining only marketing directed at children on the interior and exterior of fast food restaurants has found that the majority of black, middle-income and rural communities are disproportionately exposed to such marketing tactics.

Study finds smoking gun for oesophageal cancer

Queensland researchers have found that sudden "chromosomal catastrophes" may trigger a third of oesophageal tumours, the fastest rising cancer in Australia.

Diagnosing prostate cancer could be as easy as peeing on a stick

University of Queensland researchers are working on a prostate cancer test that is as simple as a pregnancy test.

Conventional police interview techniques are not effective for people with autism

Police find interviewing and interacting with witnesses and suspects with autism a real challenge, a new study from researchers in our Department of Psychology has revealed – highlighting that the ways officers have been taught to interview could be at odds with what is needed in these situations.

Scientists trigger self-destruct switch in lung cancer cells

Cancer Research UK scientists have found a drug combination that can trigger the self-destruct process in lung cancer cells - paving the way for new treatments, according to research that will be presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool next week.

Cell death proteins key to fighting disease

Melbourne researchers have uncovered key steps involved in programmed cell death, offering new targets for the treatment of diseases including lupus, cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.

Walking helps COPD sufferers breathe easy

Something as simple as a walk can help people diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), research has shown.

The digital therapist: Acoustic changes in speech of people with depression could be used to help monitor mental health

Imagine this scenario: You've been feeling persistently blue lately, so you pull out your phone. Instead of asking Siri to tell you a joke, though, you open an app that records you simply talking about your day. A few hours later, your therapist sends you a message asking if you'd like to meet.

Time spent preparing meals at home linked to healthier diet

Time may be one of the most essential ingredients for a healthy diet, finds new research in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Study documents significant rise in E-cigarette use among youth in Poland

Use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has more than tripled among students in Poland, according to research led by Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD, a researcher in the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). The study, published online ahead of print in the Journal of Adolescent Health (JAH), was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the Medical University of Silesia in Poland.

New test allows parents to assess delayed development in premature babies

The University of Reading has developed a new test that could help more babies that are born underweight reach their full mental development. 

The man with a thousand brains

Forty million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer's and this is only set to increase. But tiny brains grown in culture could help scientists learn more about this mysterious disease – and test new drugs.

Time spent in childcare centres linked with poor behaviour

A major national study has found that the length of time a child spends at a childcare centre in the first three years of life is associated with a particular set of problem behaviours by ages 4-5 years.

Secrets of old age revealed

Leading health specialists last night called on the Welsh public to take responsibility for their own health by adopting a healthier lifestyle to help stave off the onset of disease and premature death.

Halloween, fear and the brain

Children and adults alike are digging out those spooky costumes ready for a celebration. We've reached that time of year again: Halloween. October 31 is dedicated to remembering the dead.

Computer game could help visually-impaired children live independently

Researchers are to begin testing a new computer game which they hope could hold the key to helping visually-impaired children lead independent lives.

Drug tests on mothers' hair links recreational drug use to birth defects

Drug tests on 517 mothers in English inner city hospitals found that nearly 15% had taken recreational drugs during pregnancy and that mothers of babies with birth defects of the brain were significantly more likely to have taken drugs than mothers with normal babies. The study found no significant links between recreational drug use and any other type of birth defect.

Make the most of this weekend's time change

(HealthDay)—A few simple steps can help make this weekend's time change easier to cope with, a sleep expert says.

Fewer malpractice claims paid in the US

(HealthDay)—The number of medical malpractice payments in the United States has dropped sharply since 2002, according to a new study. And compensation payment amounts and liability insurance costs for many doctors declined in recent years. These findings were published online Oct. 30 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Halloween at the ER is no treat

(HealthDay)—Carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating may seem like harmless fun, but Halloween injuries send many children to emergency rooms in the United States every year, experts say.

Study confirms obesity-breast cancer link for blacks, hispanics

(HealthDay)—Obesity increases the risk of certain types of breast cancer in postmenopausal black and Hispanic women, two new U.S. studies show.

Insomnia increases risk of motor vehicle deaths, other fatal injuries

New research suggests that insomnia is a major contributor to deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes and other unintentional fatal injuries. The results underscore the importance of the "Sleep Well, Be Well" campaign of the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project.

Proton therapy shown to be less costly than some alternative radiotherapy techniques

In terms of duration of treatment and cost, patients with early stage breast cancer may benefit from accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) with proton therapy versus whole breast irradiation (WBI), according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center.

Study shows how toddlers adjust to adult anger

(HealthDay)—Toddlers can both sense adult anger and alter their behavior in response to it, new research reveals.

Surgeon type doesn't affect spinal surgery complications

(HealthDay)—Complication rates are similar for single-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusions, whether the procedure is performed by a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon, according to a study published in the Sept. 15 issue of Spine.

Physician-dentist collaboration recommended in diabetes care

(HealthDay)—Dentists are uniquely placed to identify patients with diabetes, and those with diabetes who are at risk for complications, according to an article published in the October issue of Clinical Diabetes.

Docs face challenges treating HPV oropharyngeal CA patients

(HealthDay)—Key challenges have been identified for health professionals communicating the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer (OSCC), according to a study published online Oct. 28 in Head & Neck.

Cinnamon may improve menstrual cyclicity in PCOS

(HealthDay)—For women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), cinnamon supplements may improve menstrual cyclicity, according to a study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Vitamin D deficiency common in men with erectile dysfunction

(HealthDay)—For men with erectile dysfunction (ED), vitamin D deficiency is common, especially among those with arteriogenic etiology, according to a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

With new spinal cord stimulator, Army veteran is finally free of pain

Good news: Craig Hoffman separated his shoulder. Wait. Why is that good news? Let's back up.

Color contacts are popular for costumes but bad for the eyes

On Halloween, Morgan Foy will transform into Elise, the Spider Queen from the online video game "League of Legends."

Fun and games make for better learners

Four minutes of physical activity can improve behaviour in the classroom for primary school students, according to new research by Brendon Gurd.

Report examines health care challenges for pregnant women enrolled in covered California

A new report by Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University examines the challenge of maintaining enriched health care for pregnant women who are enrolled in Covered California and who are also eligible for Medi-Cal, which includes the Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program (CPSP). The CPSP, whose roots are in one of the nation's most successful programs ever developed for low-income pregnant women, makes enriched maternity care available to pregnant women facing elevated health, environmental and social risks on account of their economic status. In June, the California Legislature passed legislation designed to preserve access to enriched CPSP services—part of the Medi-Cal program—for low-income pregnant women enrolled in Covered California health plans. State officials have yet to move forward with implementation strategies.

Independent safety investigation needed in the NHS

The NHS should follow the lead of aviation and other safety-critical industries and establish an independent safety investigation agency, according to a paper published today by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. The authors say the NHS has no consistent approach to investigating safety issues, and remains dependent on costly one-off independent or public enquiries to learn from the most serious failures, such as those contributing to the tragedies at Mid Staffordshire.

Africans worst responders in Ebola crisis

The head of Africa's continental body did not get to an Ebola-hit country until last week—months after alarm bells first rang and nearly 5,000 deaths later.

Immune response key to beating Ebola

Of the nine Ebola virus disease patients known to have been treated in the United States, seven are now free of the disease.

A bucket and soap—birthday gifts for a leader in Ebola zone

It has been a vexing problem for courtesans of queens, princesses and the powerful throughout history—what do you get for the woman who has everything?

WHO issues new guidance on Ebola protective gear

The U.N. health agency is updating its guidelines for health workers dealing with the deadly Ebola virus, recommending tougher measures such as doubling up on gloves and making sure the mouth, nose and eyes are better protected from contaminated droplets and fluids.

Lawsuit: Surgical gowns let diseases pass through

A $500 million lawsuit against Kimberly-Clark Corp. alleges the company falsely claimed its surgical gowns protected against Ebola and other infectious diseases.

AbbVie hikes forecast, tops Street expectations

The drugmaker AbbVie surprised Wall Street on Friday with a third-quarter performance that turned out much better than expected and a new 2014 forecast that also extends well beyond what analysts predict.

Advance directives can benefit patients, families, and health care system

Nearly one out of four older Americans say that either they or a family member have experienced excessive or unwanted medical treatment, according to the latest issue of The Gerontological Society of America's Public Policy & Aging Report (PP&AR), which goes on to show that Americans strongly support holding doctors accountable when they fail to honor patients' end-of-life health care wishes.

Liberia opens one of largest Ebola treatment centers

Remembering those who have died in the world's deadliest Ebola outbreak, Liberia's president opened one of the country's largest Ebola treatment centers in Monrovia on Friday amid hopes that the disease is finally on the decline in this West African country.

A look at latest Ebola developments

No African countries are on the United Nations list of contributors to fight Ebola. With few exceptions, African governments and institutions are offering only marginal support as the continent faces its most deadly threat in years. Pledges to deploy 2,000 African health workers have remained largely that—promises. The epidemic did not even figure on the agenda of a session on peace and security at the Pan-African Parliament in South Africa last week. Angry legislators from Sierra Leone and Liberia said they feel abandoned. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the 53-nation African Union, said this week at a meeting with the U.N. secretary-general and the World Bank president in Ethiopia that Ebola "caught us by surprise."

Routines most vital in avoiding Ebola infection: WHO

Meticulously following stringent routines when putting on and removing protective equipment is more important than the kind of gear health care workers use to ward off Ebola infection, the World Health Organization said Friday.

Biology news

Efficient genetic editing: Scientists develop new system that could be used to treat a host of genetic conditions

As potential next-generation therapeutics and research tools, few life sciences technologies hold more promise than genome-editing proteins – molecules that can be programmed to alter specific genes in order to treat or even cure genetic diseases.

Green spaces don't ensure biodiversity in urban areas

Planting trees and creating green space in cities is good for attracting species, but it may not be enough to ensure biodiversity in built environments, a University of Iowa study has found.

Scientists create mouse model to accelerate research on Ebola vaccines, treatments

In the war against Ebola, one important hurdle has just been cleared – by a mouse.

Trout trick-or-treat: Fish gobble furry animals with four feet

Freshwater fish with bellies full of shrews – one trout a few years back was found to have eaten 19 – aren't as random as scientists have thought.

Philippines' rare dwarf buffalo charges against extinction

The population of the Philippines' dwarf buffalo, one of the world's rarest animals, has grown to its largest since efforts to save them from extinction began, conservationists said Friday.

'Divide and rule'—raven politics

Mythology has attributed many supernatural features to ravens. Studies on the cognitive abilities of ravens have indeed revealed that they are exceptionally intelligent. Ravens live in complex social groups and they can gain power by building social bonds that function as alliances. Cognitive biologists of the University of Vienna now revealed that ravens use a 'divide and rule' strategy in dealing with the bonds of conspecifics: Socially well integrated ravens prevent others from building new alliances by breaking up their bonding attempts.

Captive rhinos exposed to urban rumbles

The soundtrack to a wild rhinoceros's life is wind passing through the savannah grass, birds chirping, and distant animals moving across the plains. But a rhinoceros in a zoo listens to children screaming, cars passing, and the persistent hum of urban life.

Strange, fanged deer persists in Afghanistan

More than 60 years after its last confirmed sighting, a strange deer with vampire-like fangs still persists in the rugged forested slopes of northeast Afghanistan according to a research team led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which confirmed the species presence during recent surveys.

Is fleet diversity key to sustainable fisheries?

Concern about fisheries is widespread around the world. Over the past several decades, a robust discussion has taken place concerning how to manage fisheries better to benefit ecosystems and humans. Much of the discussion has focused on preserving biological diversity, a critical component of healthy ecosystems. One aspect that gets less attention is the role of fishing fleet diversity.

Scientists seek cure for devastating witches' broom disease of the chocolate tree

In the early 1900s, Brazil was the world's largest producer of cocoa. Chocolate trees (Theobroma cacao) were cultivated in a 800, 000 ha region of rainforest in the state of Bahia, beneath a dense canopy of native shade trees. Whereas the surrounding rainforest was a biodiversity hotspot, the chocolate trees, which were derived mainly from a handful of seeds introduced in the mid 1700s, had very low levels of genetic variation. According to Brazilian scientist Gonçalo Pereira, "This scenario created a very romantic, but extremely fragile situation". Genetic variation is important for a population's survival, as genetically variable populations are more resistant to pathogens. In 1989, disaster struck in the form of a devastating fungus named Moniliophthora perniciosa. In a ten-year period, the fungus eradicated around 70 percent of Brazil's chocolate trees, resulting in an economic and social catastrophe that affected two million people.

Team publishes evidence for natural alternative to antibiotic use in livestock

Today the leading journal PLOS ONE published research that provides underlying scientific support for a fundamentally new type of natural alternative to the use of antibiotics in livestock feeds for growth promotion and disease prevention. The paper is the result of work by both independent and company scientists. Avivagen Inc. is a wellness company developing and delivering products that support and enhance the health and quality of life for animals and the people who care for them.

Literature searches benefit from location tagging

Agricultural Research Service ecologist Jason Karl is creating new options for helping researchers to conduct literature searches that go beyond using traditional search terms such as keywords or authors. With the help of a diverse team of collaborators, he has developed a search engine called "JournalMap" that uses research locations and physical site variables to identify scientific papers of interest.

LED lighting can significantly reduce greenhouse horticulture energy consumption

With the exception of energy consumption, where there is still much to be done, the Dutch are global leaders in greenhouse horticulture. The quality is high, and nowhere else is the use of water and pesticides so low. Even so, demand for innovation, sustainable production and healthy fruit and vegetables and high-quality flowers remains high. One innovation that would really help in this is the introduction of LED lighting in the greenhouse horticulture sector, said Prof. Leo Marcelis on 30 October in his acceptance speech as Full Professor in Horticulture and Product Physiology at Wageningen University.

Sugar-free candy not a sweet treat for dogs, veterinarian warns

When taking home a stash of candy, keep an eye on the sugar-free kind. While it may be a good alternative for humans, just a small amount can be life-threatening for pets, says a Kansas State University veterinarian.

Wolf-like animal seen roaming in northern Arizona

An animal resembling a gray wolf has been spotted roaming the far reaches of northern Arizona, officials said Thursday, and tests are planned to determine exactly what it is.


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