Friday, May 12, 2017

Science X Newsletter Friday, May 12

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 12, 2017:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Latest fast radio burst adds to mystery of their source

Entropy landscape sheds light on quantum mystery

Jurassic drop in ocean oxygen lasted a million years

Invasive lung cancer cells display symbiosis—key to metastasis

Lab unveils 'heart-on-a-chip'

'Lost' forests found covering an area two-thirds the size of Australia

Researchers create anticancer nanomaterials by simulating underwater volcanic conditions

Antibody genes influence forgotten heart disease

Visual images often intrude on verbal thinking, study says, suggesting that pondering with images may be hardwired

Tracking the protein patrollers

A cheaper, greener way to grow crystalline semiconductor films

Historic 200th spacewalk starts late, after water leak (Update)

Scientists find a way to pack grains and drugs most efficiently

A holey graphene electrode framework that enables highly efficient charge delivery

Macrophages need two signals to begin healing process

Astronomy & Space news

Latest fast radio burst adds to mystery of their source

(—An international team of space researchers has reported on the detection of a new fast radio burst (FRB) and their efforts to trace its source. They have written a paper describing the detection and search for evidence, and have uploaded it to the arXiv preprint server.

Historic 200th spacewalk starts late, after water leak (Update)

Two US astronauts began the 200th spacewalk at the International Space Station Friday, following a brief delay after NASA discovered a water leak in equipment that helps power their spacesuits.

Equipment water leak shortens spacewalk by two US astronauts

An equipment water leak shortened Friday's spacewalk by two U.S. astronauts at the International Space Station, but they still managed to replace a faulty electronics box.

Mapping the magnetic bridge between our nearest galactic neighbours

For the first time, astronomers have detected a magnetic field associated with the Magellanic Bridge, the filament of gas stretching 75 thousand light-years between the Milky Way Galaxy's nearest galactic neighbours: the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC, respectively).

Hubble catches a galaxy duo by the 'hare'

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the unusual galaxy IRAS 06076-2139, found in the constellation Lepus (The Hare). Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) instruments observed the galaxy from a distance of 500 million light-years.

NASA delays deep-space Orion test to 2019 due to costs

The first test flight of NASA's Orion capsule, designed to one day carry people to Mars, has been delayed until 2019 at the earliest due to high costs, the US space agency said Friday.

'Awesomesauce,' proclaims US astronaut on historic spacewalk

So what is it like to float out into the vacuum of space?

Technology news

Salesforce announces results of testing its AI text summation software

(Tech Xplore)—Customer relationship management company Salesforce has announced the testing results for a new AI software product it is developing that is capable of summarizing text and offering the results to users. The announcement came courtesy of the company website, where the group claims its software outperformed competing systems.

"Ransomware" cyberattack cripples hospitals across England

A large cyberattack crippled computer systems at hospitals across England on Friday, with appointments canceled, phone lines down and patients turned away.

Major cyber attacks strike worldwide (Update)

A fast-moving wave of cyberattacks swept the globe Friday, apparently exploiting a flaw exposed in documents leaked from the US National Security Agency.

A watch fights tremors and woman finds ability to write

(Tech Xplore)—A Microsoft researcher is turning head this week with proof that she was able to harness technology to help someone manage Parkinson's, which had left her with hand tremors making it impossible to write.

Engineering researchers apply data science to better predict effect of weather and other conditions on solar panels

In a new study, a team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University and Gebze Technical University (GTU) in Turkey used data science to determine and predict the effects of exposure to weather and other conditions on materials in solar panels.

Judge refers theft allegations against Uber to US Attorney

Allegations that Uber has been using self-driving car technology stolen from Google has been referred by a federal judge to the U.S. attorney's office for a potential criminal investigation.

US intel chiefs express doubts about Kaspersky security software

Top US intelligence chiefs on Thursday publicly expressed doubts about the global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs because of its roots in Russia.

Fiat Chrysler recall: pickup air bags, belts may be disabled

Fiat Chrysler is recalling approximately 1 million trucks in North America due to a software glitch that could prevent side air bags and seatbelts from deploying during a rollover.

Harvesting big data could bring about the next transport revolution, right now

The future of transport appears full of fun and flashy possibilities. From super-fast hyperloop transport systems, to self-driving cars and hovering taxis, new technology promises to move us further and faster than ever before. Yet for cities facing everyday problems such as congestion, air pollution and under capacity, the most effective solution could be the humble bus – coupled with the power of data.

Are solar and wind really killing coal, nuclear and grid reliability?

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in April requested a study to assess the effect of renewable energy policies on nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

Latvian daredevil in 'drone-diving' world first

A Latvian tech company is claiming a world first after successfully test-flying a super-powered drone which lifted a daredevil skydiver aloft, from where he parachuted safely back down to earth.

SoftBank sinks $500M into UK virtual reality startup

A British startup founded five years ago by Cambridge University computer science graduates has received $502 million to develop large-scale virtual reality projects in a funding round led by Japan's SoftBank.

Several Spanish firms targeted in cyber attacks

Telecom giant Telefonica and several other Spanish companies were targeted in cyber attacks Friday, the government said.

US prepares to ban laptops on flights from Europe

The U.S. is expected to broaden its ban on in-flight laptops and tablets to include planes from the European Union, a move that would create logistical chaos on the world's busiest corridor of air travel.

Cyber strike on UK hospitals is 'international attack': PM

A cyber strike which hit dozens of British hospitals on Friday is part of a wider "international attack", Prime Minister Theresa May said.

Alarm grows over global ransomware attacks

Security experts expressed alarm Friday over a fast-moving wave of cyberattacks around the world that appeared to exploit a flaw exposed in documents leaked from the US National Security Agency.

Elon Musk posts video of 'electric sled' for tunnel travel

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk on Friday posted video on social media of what he describes as an electric sled speeding through a tunnel, a test of a system he envisions for 3-D networks of underground passages for speeding traffic under Los Angeles' congested roads.

Russia's interior ministry says computers hit by 'virus attack'

Russia's interior ministry said Friday that some of its computers had been hit by a "virus attack" amid reports of major cyber strikes across the globe.

S.Korea's largest games maker goes public

South Korea's biggest mobile games maker Netmarble went public in Seoul Friday as it seeks overseas acquisitions, with early trading valuing the firm at around $12 billion.

Medicine & Health news

Invasive lung cancer cells display symbiosis—key to metastasis

When cancer cells split off from a tumor to seed deadly metastases, they are thought to travel as clusters or packs, a phenomenon known as collective invasion. The members of an invasive pack are not all alike, scientists at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have learned.

Antibody genes influence forgotten heart disease

New research has found that genetic differences in antibody genes alter individuals' susceptibility to rheumatic heart disease, a forgotten inflammatory heart condition – known as 'RHD' – that is rife in developing countries.

Visual images often intrude on verbal thinking, study says, suggesting that pondering with images may be hardwired

Harvard scientists are beginning to provide answers to one of the thorniest questions in psychology: How do we think?

Macrophages need two signals to begin healing process

In the immune system, macrophages act not only as soldiers responding to invading pathogens but also help rebuild the injured tissue once the infection is defeated. A new study by Yale Medical School researchers published in the journal Science show how they accomplish this seemingly unrelated task. 

Study sees link between porn and sexual dysfunction

(HealthDay)—Young men who prefer pornography to real-world sexual encounters might find themselves caught in a trap, unable to perform sexually with other people when the opportunity presents itself, a new study reports.

Cutting smoking rates could save the NHS GBP67 million a year

If smoking rates dropped to five per cent in the UK by 2035, the NHS could save £67million in just one year, according to research published in Tobacco Control today.

Free C3d regulates immune checkpoint blockade and enhances anti-tumor immunity

In the body, anti-cancer immunity is immobilized by stealth cancer forces. But a natural de-immobilizer has been identified—and it has a vendetta.

For anorexia nervosa, researchers implicate genetic locus on chromosome 12

A landmark study led by UNC School of Medicine researchers has identified the first genetic locus for anorexia nervosa and has revealed that there may also be metabolic underpinnings to this potentially deadly illness.

Severe mental illness linked to much higher risk for cardiovascular disease

An international study of more than 3.2 million people with severe mental illness reveals a substantially increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease compared to the general population.

Lifting your spirits doesn't require many reps

You don't have to spend hours at the gym or work up a dripping sweat to improve your mood and feel better about yourself, researchers at the University of Connecticut say in a new study.

Delayed use of blood thinners for atrial fibrillation patients increases risk of dementia

A new study has found that dementia rates increase when anticoagulation treatment is delayed for patients with atrial fibrillation, the most common heart arrhythmia in the world that affects more than 2.7 million American adults.

New Lyme disease forecast map targets rising tide of ticks

As the rate of Lyme disease grows rapidly across the United States, new research offers veterinarians a forecasting map that tells them which parts of the country are most at risk of Lyme disease infections in dogs, which could also help track and predict Lyme disease in people.

Connection found between low sexual interest and household disorder

Older partnered adults are especially likely to report low sexual interest if they live in a disorderly home environment, according to a new study published by University of Toronto researchers. Overall, just over a quarter of cohabiting and married U.S. men aged 62-90 indicate that they have lacked sexual interest in the past year. The number is closer to 40% among men who live in particularly dirty, odorous, untidy, noisy, and in poorly repaired homes. This association between home environments and sexual interest was found after adjusting for other established risks of sexual dysfunction, including chronic health conditions, disability, mental health problems, and low cognitive capacity.

Playground politics—what drives rejection amongst children?

A child's behaviour is often scrutinized when they are rejected by their peers. A new study reveals that it's not what a child does that leads to rejection, but how other children feel about that behaviour.

Strokes on the rise among young people

"I'm used to hearing that people in their 60s have strokes."

Fidget spinners—tool or toy?

They are flying off store shelves and showing up in classrooms around the country. The growing popularity of fidget spinners, originally designed to help children and adults with autism and attention disorders like ADHD, is causing teachers and school officials to have to decide whether they should be allowed in classrooms.

If the cancer doesn't kill you, the drug prices might

The medical community is growing alarmed about a creeping malady that can diminish the quality of life for patients in treatment and even shorten their lives.

Blood study insight could improve stem cell therapy success

Researchers have pinpointed a key enzyme that is vital for the production of fresh blood cells in the body. The enzyme is essential for the survival of specialised stem cells that give rise to new blood cells, the study found. Experts say the findings could help to improve the success of stem cell therapies that are being developed to treat some blood cancers and disorders of the immune system.

Osteoarthritis could be prevented with good diet and exercise

Osteoarthritis can potentially be prevented with a good diet and regular exercise, a new expert review published in the Nature Reviews Rheumatology reports.

A lead candidate for immunotherapy may increase tumour growth in certain cancers

Boosting a part of the immune system known to have anti-tumour properties may actually help tumours grow in cancers linked to chronic inflammation.

Research suggests link between imbalanced gut microbiome and systemic sclerosis

Americans and Norwegians with systemic sclerosis had higher levels of bacteria that can cause inflammation and lower levels of bacteria that are believed to protect against inflammation compared with healthy people, according to a new study by researchers from UCLA and Oslo University.

Smartphones in the ER can help discharge patients faster

Chest pain patients in the emergency department whose attending emergency physicians received lab results delivered direct to their smartphones spent about 26 minutes less waiting to be discharged than patients whose lab results were delivered to the electronic patient record on the hospital computer system. The results of a randomized, controlled trial of a quality improvement initiative were published online Tuesday in Annals of Emergency Medicine ("Push-Alert Notification of Troponin Results to Physician Smartphones Reduces the Time to Discharge Emergency Department Patients: A randomized Controlled Trial").

Ebola outbreak in remote part of DR Congo (Update)

The first Ebola outbreak since the crisis in West Africa that killed 11,300 people has been declared in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization said Friday, after the virus caused three deaths in the area.

Congo announces 9 suspected Ebola cases, including 3 deaths

Health authorities are investigating nine suspected cases of Ebola in a remote corner of northern Congo, including three deaths, the country's health minister and the World Health Organization said Friday.

Researchers identify counterintuitive approach to treating a brain cancer

The loss of the tumor suppressor gene PTEN has been linked to tumor growth and chemotherapy resistance in the almost invariably lethal brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Now, Ludwig researchers have shown that one way to override the growth-promoting effects of PTEN deletion is, surprisingly, to inhibit a separate tumor suppressor gene.

Stress-mitigation interventions for parents did not lessen symptoms among kids with asthma

The patient-centered study's premise was straightforward: Since there is a definite link between parents' psychosocial stress levels and asthma suffered by inner city kids, if you provide stressed-out parents effective coping skills, would kids take their medicines more regularly and would their health improve?

Blood vessel-clearing procedure riskier on weekends: study

(HealthDay)—Although you often don't have a choice of when you get the heart procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), new research suggests that having it done over the weekend may be more risky.

Can experimental nasal spray treat common heart problem?

(HealthDay)—An experimental nasal spray helped treat a common rapid heart rate condition, researchers report.

ARVO: Latanoprost halts myopia progression in animal study

(HealthDay)—Daily topical latanoprost may help stop progression of myopia, offering a potential new treatment for the condition, according to an experimental study presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, held from May 7 to 11 in Baltimore.

ARVO: Conformers can stimulate socket expansion in MICA

(HealthDay)—A series of conformers can be used to stimulate socket expansion for children with severe microphthalmia/anophthalmia (MICA), according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, held from May 7 to 11 in Baltimore.

Never breastfeeding linked to increased risk of T1DM

(HealthDay)—Never breastfeeding seems to be associated with increased risk of type 1 diabetes, according to a study published online May 9 in Diabetes Care.

Ablation for atrial fibrillation proven safe and effective for patients with congenital heart disease, study finds

Congenital heart disease (CHD) includes a range of defects that occur in the heart which patients are born with, such as a hole in the heart's wall, a leaky valve or even an inversion in the heart's orientation. CHD was once a severe condition often resulting in early death, but now, more and more CHD patients are living long and healthy lives. Therefore, as this population grows, so does the number of patients who are treated for other complications of their disease, such as early onset atrial fibrillation (AF), a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other complications. AF is often treated with a catheter ablation, a minimally invasive procedure in which the areas of the heart causing the irregularity are cauterized, but until now, there was limited data to support the safety and efficacy of treating CHD patients with an AF ablation.

Dutch court rules boy, 12, can refuse chemo

A Dutch court ruled Friday that a 12-year-old boy suffering from a brain tumour had the right to refuse chemotherapy, rejecting his father's plea to order him to have the treatment.

New CDC-funded portal enables health providers to schedule free colon cancer screenings

Imagine waiting months for a colorectal cancer screening, only for the appointment to fall between the cracks because of poor communication or, worse, being diagnosed with more advanced disease because of a long delay or lack of access to health care.

Prediction of conversion to Alzheimer's disease with longitudinal measures and time-to-event data

Predicting the timing of Alzheimer's disease (AD) conversion for individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can be significantly improved by incorporating longitudinal change information of clinical and neuroimaging markers, in addition to baseline characteristics, according to projections made by investigators from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. In an article published in Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the research team describes how their novel statistical models found that longitudinal measurements of ADAS-Cog was the strongest predictor for AD progression and the predictive utility was consistently significant with progression of disease.

Suicide in veterans – study finds mixed picture

People who have served in the armed forces do not have a greater risk of suicide overall than people who have never served in the military, but there is an increased risk in certain groups, according to a study by the University of Glasgow.

Antimicrobial resistance: Successful interdisciplinary efforts

As antimicrobial-resistant bacteria can be transmitted between humans and animals, research into antimicrobial resistance must in particular investigate the mechanisms of the spread of the bacteria and the resistance genes. This is the finding that will be presented at the final symposium of the RESET and MedVet-Staph research projects from April 26-28, 2017 at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).

Analysis looks at role type of valve plays in patient outcomes post-TAVR

For patients who undergo transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), their risk factors, not the type of valve used, determined their 30-day post-TAVR outcomes. Results from "Impact of valve design and bivalirudin vs. unfractionated heparin for anticoagulation in transcatheter aortic valve replacement: Results from the BRAVO-3 trial" were presented today as a late-breaking clinical trial at the Society for CardiovascularAngiography and Interventions (SCAI) 2017 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

Race, gender and socioeconomic factors impact PCI outcomes

A first-of-its-kind study discovered that women and minorities who underwent a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) are at a greater risk of experiencing recurrent cardiac events within the first year after their procedure compared to Caucasian men. Those outcomes may be attributable to their race, gender and socioeconomic status rather than the PCI procedure itself. Results from "Interaction Effects of Race/Ethnicity and Sex on Outcomes after PCI: A Subanalysis of the PLATINUM Diversity study" were presented today as a late-breaking clinical trial at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) 2017 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

People with pre-existing health issues fear repeal-and-replace bill

(HealthDay)—Maureen Murphy believes she has much to lose if Republicans in Congress pass a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Try this workout at home

(HealthDay)—When the weather forces your fitness routine inside, exercise machines can help you work out in climate-controlled comfort. But which ones fit your needs the best?

Early treatment for NSTEMI patients shows greater rate of survival

An analysis of NSTEMI patients who undergo coronary revascularization within 24 hours of hospitalization showed an increased reduction in mortality, marking the first time this difference has been demonstrated. Results from "Outcomes of Early vs. Late Revascularization in Low and High-Risk Patients Hospitalized with Non-ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Surveillance Study" were presented today as a late-breaking clinical trial at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions(SCAI) 2017 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

Large multicenter study shows high success rate for robotic PCI procedures

The largest real-world study of robotic percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) demonstrated clinical and technical success for patients across multiple sites using multiple operators. Results from the PRECISION trial (Efficacy and Safety Outcomes of Radial- vs Femoral-Access Robotic Percutaneous Coronary Intervention: Final Results of the Multicenter PRECISION Registry) were presented today as a late-breaking clinical trial at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) 2017 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

Biology news

Scientists unlock secret of chromosome copier

University of Dundee scientists have solved a mystery concerning one of the most fundamental processes in cell biology, in a new discovery that they hope may help to tackle cancer one day.

New lung 'organoids' in a dish mimic features of full-size lung

New lung "organoids"—tiny 3-D structures that mimic features of a full-sized lung—have been created from human pluripotent stem cells by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). The team used the organoids to generate models of human lung diseases in a lab dish, which could be used to advance our understanding of a variety of respiratory diseases.

Fossil 'winged serpent' is a new species of ancient snake

An ancient sink hole in eastern Tennessee holds the clues to an important transitional time in the evolutionary history of snakes. Among the fossilized creatures found there, according to a new paper co-authored by a University of Pennsylvania paleontologist, is a new species of snake that lived 5 million years ago.

New Zealand's ambitious plan to save birds: Kill every rat

New Zealand has set itself an environmental goal so ambitious it's been compared to putting a man on the moon: ridding the entire nation of every last rat, possum and stoat.

Ancient ground squirrels prove to belong to a present-day species

Members of the Faculty of Biology of the Lomonosov Moscow State University have studied arctic ground squirrels in the Indigirka river basin, and found that their relatives now inhabit Kamchatka. The scientists have shared the research results in an article published in Scientific Reports.

Endangered Finnish seals go online to highlight plight

Wildlife conservationists in Finland are planning to give endangered seals a spot of online fame by streaming encounters with some of the few hundred remaining mammals in a bid to raise awareness of their plight.

Not a lizard nor a dinosaur, tuatara is the sole survivor of a once-widespread reptile group

Have you ever heard of the tuatara? It's a reptile that decapitates birds with its saw-like jaws, lives to about 100 years old, and can remain active in near-freezing temperatures.

Shearing of alpacas is necessary, but also stressful

Alpacas, a species of New World camelids, have very thick wool. This requires them to be shorn regularly, just like sheep. But shearing is a source of stress for the animals. This has now been confirmed for the first time by researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna based on an evaluation of clinical, hormonal and behavioural parameters. The scientists were able to show that even the act of restraining the animals in different positions released higher concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol. Shearing the animals on the floor or on a special tilt table also resulted in changed clinical parameters such as heart rate. These values remained at normal levels only when the animals were sheared in a standing position. But shearing animals in the standing position is only possible if the alpacas do not resist being restrained with a risk of injury to themselves or to their handlers. These animals should be restrained on a mattress on the ground or on a tilt table. The study was published in Veterinary Records with organisational and financial support from the Alpaca Association e.V. of Germany and the Austrian Buiatric Association.

What egg-producing housefly males can tell us about the evolution of sex determination

How do the two sexes come about? The answer to this question is more complex than one would expect. Though sexual reproduction invariably depends on the presence of male and female individuals, the genetic basis of sex determination varies strongly between species. This diversity is particularly evident in houseflies. This insect order provides an excellent model to study how different sex-determining mechanisms have evolved. Research groups in Zurich, Groningen and Göttingen now have important new findings to report in the prestigious scientific journal Science. They have identified the gene for maleness in houseflies.

In both love and war, alligators signal size by bellowing

American alligators produce loud, low-frequency vocalizations called "bellows." Cognitive biologists at the University of Vienna, Stephan Reber and Tecumseh Fitch, investigated these vocalizations and found that they reveal the caller's body size. Alligators can use this information to avoid unpromising contests for mates and breeding areas. The study results were published in Scientific Reports.

Stem cells in plants and animals behave surprisingly similarly

A new study from Lund University in Sweden shows that the behaviour of stem cells in plants and animals is surprisingly similar. The researchers were able to produce mathematical equations that reveal very small differences in the behaviour of the proteins. The results can hopefully be used in stem cell research involving humans.

Untangling the knots in cell stress

How do cells correctly make proteins?

Dig it! Two new shrimp species found in burrows at the bottom of the Gulf of California

Although the Santa María-La Reforma lagoon complex in the Gulf of California is one of the most important areas for shrimp fishery, little is known about the crustacean species that live in the burrows dug in the bottom.

Famous tree-climbing lions of Uganda roaming farther as prey animals decrease

Scientists in Uganda studying the behaviors of the country's famous tree-climbing lions have found that the home ranges of lion prides in the study areas have increased over time as they search farther for diminishing numbers of prey animals.

Researchers develop low tech method for environmental sampling of campylobacter

A team of researchers from the United Kingdom has developed a novel method for assessing human/pathogen interactions in the natural environment, using citizen scientists wearing boot socks over their shoes during walks in the countryside. In the process, they found that slightly less than half of the socks were positive for the gastrointestinal pathogen, Campylobacter. The research is published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

It's a myth that humans' sense of smell is inferior to that of other animals – here's why

Conventional wisdom has it that humans have a poorer sense of smell than most other animals. Sure, we can smell – most of us appreciate the aroma of our morning coffee or a delightful fragrance, and we're able to detect burning toast or a gas leak. But we have nonetheless long been thought to be relative weaklings in the animal kingdom's league of olfactory excellence, which puts dogs and rodents near the top.

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