Friday, July 7, 2017

Science X Newsletter Friday, Jul 7

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 7, 2017:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Why do some neighborhoods improve more than others?

Powerful new photodetector can enable optoelectronics advances

New class of insulating crystals hosts quantized electric multipole moments

Elon Musk's Tesla to build world's largest battery in Australia

Qualcomm steps up legal battle with Apple, asks iPhone ban

Study finds Earth's magnetic field 'simpler than we thought'

Study offers new approach to evaluating agricultural development programs

Event-goers check in with audio data from their phones

Meniscus-assisted technique produces high efficiency perovskite PV films

Dendritic cells 'divide and conquer' to elude viral infection while promoting immunity

New way of predicting kidney function could improve chemotherapy dosing

Falling sea level caused volcanos to overflow

Physicists devise new approach to manipulate silicon 'qubits'

Changes in brain regions may explain why some prefer order and certainty, behavioral neuroscientists report

An organogelator-cellulose composite material for practical and eco-friendly marine oil-spill recovery

Astronomy & Space news

Hubble's hidden galaxy

IC 342 is a challenging cosmic target. Although it is bright, the galaxy sits near the equator of the Milky Way's galactic disk, where the sky is thick with glowing cosmic gas, bright stars, and dark, obscuring dust.

Pence vows 'new era' in US space exploration, but few details

US Vice President Mike Pence vowed Thursday to usher in a "new era" of American leadership in space, with a return to the Moon and explorers on Mars, but offered few details.

Hidden lake discovery sheds light on alien hunt

Evidence of new strains of bacteria in a lake hidden under an Icelandic glacier far from the sun has revealed how life might thrive in sub-surface oceans on the icy moons around Saturn and Jupiter.

See our seasons change from space

With the Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite fully fledged and its data freely available, the task of monitoring and understanding our changing planet has been made that much easier. Seeing the effect spring has on our plant life is just one of its many uses.

A big repeating molecule may be what defines life

As NASA inches closer to launching new missions to the solar system's outer moons in search of life, scientists are renewing their focus on developing a set of universal characteristics of life that can be measured.

Counting calories in space

Rockets and spacecraft may get us to Mars, but food must nourish us on the journey. Now researchers are using the International Space Station to look at how much food will be needed on a spacecraft heading to the Moon, Mars or beyond. By tracking the energy used by astronauts, we can count the number of calories humans will need for long flights.

Technology news

Why do some neighborhoods improve more than others?

(Tech Xplore)—Researchers have put classical theories of urban change to the test with help from Google Street View and computer vision algorithms. By comparing photos of the same locations from 2007 and 2014, they identified connections between the changes in the physical appearance of a neighborhood and the neighborhood's economic and demographic data. Overall, their results support several theories of urban change and show that a variety of factors—especially population density and level of education— contribute to the changes in neighborhoods over time.

Elon Musk's Tesla to build world's largest battery in Australia

Elon Musk's Tesla will build what the maverick entrepreneur claims is the world's largest lithium ion battery within 100 days, making good on a Twitter promise to ease South Australia's energy woes.

Qualcomm steps up legal battle with Apple, asks iPhone ban

Qualcomm on Thursday escalated its legal battle with Apple, filing a patent infringement lawsuit and requesting a ban on the importation of some iPhones, claiming unlawful and unfair use of the chipmaker's technology.

Event-goers check in with audio data from their phones

(Tech Xplore)—If you hate the hassles associated with long lines at events, technology can make your event arrivals easy going. Something that has to do with audio tones will enable easy passage through the gates and to your seats. This is a process where Ticketmaster will admit people to events and track their movement using audio technology.

Algorithm diagnoses heart arrhythmias with cardiologist-level accuracy

A new algorithm developed by Stanford computer scientists can sift through hours of heart rhythm data generated by some wearable monitors to find sometimes life-threatening irregular heartbeats, called arrhythmias. The algorithm, detailed in an arXiv paper, performs better than trained cardiologists, and has the added benefit of being able to sort through data from remote locations where people don't have routine access to cardiologists.

Mechanical third thumb offers extended hand abilities

(Tech Xplore)—Dani Clode, a grad student at the Royal College of Art in London, has created what she calls the "Third Thumb"—a system that adds a mechanical thumb to the opposite side of a natural thumb on a human hand. She showcased her invention at this year's RCA graduate exhibition.

Google's 'moonshot' factory spins off geothermal unit

Google parent Alphabet is spinning off a little-known unit working on geothermal power called Dandelion, which will begin offering residential energy services.

Salto-1P robot: Researchers show off its bouncing talents

(Tech Xplore)—At UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab researchers have been modifying Salto, that little fast jumping robot, and a number of robotics-watching sites have been marveling over what's new.

Samsung on a roll as data demand for memory chips soars

Samsung Electronics is on a roll thanks to booming sales of memory chips required by the increasingly data-based economy.

Virtual reality opens doors to Edinburgh's historic past

For the first time, visitors to Edinburgh will be able to explore the streets, marketplaces and churches as they may have been in the 16th century thanks to academics at the University of St Andrews. The virtual reality app, released this Friday, will add a new dimension for visitors, especially for those visiting the Fringe Festival over the summer.

Researchers study links across U.S. grids to move renewable energy and share capacity

The nearly 4,000 wind turbines all over the Iowa countryside, totaling more than 6,900 megawatts, provided almost 37 percent of all in-state electricity production in 2016. That's enough to power about 1.8 million homes.

Geocaching shows there are other ways to create value online

Although we focus on the financial health of online networks, there are other ways to create value in digital spaces.

Artificial intelligence-based system warns when a gun appears in a video

Scientists from the University of Granada (UGR) have designed a computer system based on new artificial intelligence techniques that automatically detects in real time when a subject in a video draws a gun.

Bitcoin's central appeal could also be its biggest weakness

Bitcoin reached a huge new peak in value in June 2017, when one unit of the virtual currency was worth US$2,851 (£2,208), up from around US$600 just a year earlier. More than 10m people worldwide are now thought to own bitcoin and more than 100,000 merchants accept it for goods (not counting all those using it to sell drugs and other illegal items on the black market).

Facebook wants to turn campus into a 'village'

Facebook on Friday unveiled plans to transform its Silicon Valley headquarters campus into a "mixed-use village" complete with housing and retail shops.

Medicine & Health news

Dendritic cells 'divide and conquer' to elude viral infection while promoting immunity

A research team led by Jackson Laboratory (JAX) Professor Karolina Palucka, M.D., Ph.D., in collaboration with a research team at Institut Curie in France led by Dr. Nicolas Manel, have addressed a long-standing puzzle of immunology: How do dendritic cells (DCs) do their job of promoting adaptive immunity to a virus while avoiding getting infected themselves?

New way of predicting kidney function could improve chemotherapy dosing

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have developed a new statistical model which estimates kidney function in patients with cancer. This is the most accurate model for estimating kidney function yet developed and should help cancer specialists treat their patients more safely and improve the accuracy of chemotherapy dosing. The model is now available free online.

Changes in brain regions may explain why some prefer order and certainty, behavioral neuroscientists report

Why do some people prefer stable, predictable lives while others prefer frequent changes? Why do some people make rational decisions and others, impulsive and reckless ones? UCLA behavioral neuroscientists have identified changes in two brain regions that may hold answers to these questions.

Drinking alcohol while pregnant could have transgenerational effects

Soon-to-be mothers have heard the warning – don't drink while pregnant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued numerous statements about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, as it can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in newborns.

Existing malaria test found to be useful for predicting anemia risk from standard treatment

(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has found that an existing kit for malaria testing can be used to identify patients at risk of developing anemia after receiving the standard treatment for the disease. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes their study using the test to predict a serious form of anemia called post-artesunate delayed hemolysis (PADH) on malaria patients and how well it worked.

The neighborhood sandbox: A breeding ground for germs

(HealthDay)—Kids love to play in sandboxes, and it helps them develop motor and social skills.

Dying may not be as awful an experience as you think

(HealthDay)—Does the very idea of death worry and frighten you? There may be reassurance from a new study that finds those fears might be exaggerated.

Smoking on the rise in movies aimed at young: study

(HealthDay)—Progress to keep tobacco use out of kid-friendly movies is apparently going up in smoke.

Cancer deaths higher in rural America, CDC reports

(HealthDay)—Cancer death rates are declining overall in the United States, but they are higher and falling more slowly in rural America, a new federal government report shows.

Simple test predicts return of bladder cancer

Scientists have devised a simple test for an earlier and more accurate warning of returning bladder cancer than existing methods, according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer today.

New drugs needed against gonorrhoea: UN

New drugs are urgently needed to treat gonorrhoea, a sexually-transmitted disease threatening to veer out of control as it develops resistance to existing antibiotics, the UN's health agency said Friday.

Thousands of NZ children continue to be exposed to second-hand smoke in cars

New evidence shows one in five children continue to be exposed to smoking in cars, and that exposure even increased in 2015.

Study offers clue to memory formation in the brain

While memory loss makes an engaging theme for a movie, in real life, learning and memory may be the most intriguing topics in brain science. How does the brain help us learn from our daily experience? Where is memory formed and stored in the brain? What is the mechanism for memory loss, whether caused by Alzheimer's disease or by an accident, such as in the film 50 First Dates?

Delaying the effects of aging through safe hormonal therapy

A group of Spanish researchers has developed the basis of a new model to better classify patients when it comes to prescribing anabolic hormone supplementation.

Methodology to identify drug candidates for multidrug resistant cancers

NUS chemists have developed a simple and robust bio-screening method to identify anticancer drug candidates to overcome multidrug resistance (MDR).

Researchers revolutionizing control of vector-borne diseases

Purdue University entomology professor Catherine Hill is researching a way to respond to new and reemerging vector borne diseases, specifically without wiping out the mosquito population.

Expert gives tips on how to prevent summer brain drain

Summer is a time when most students are able to relax and have fun away from the classroom, but it also can be a time when important lessons learned during the year are forgotten. A Baylor College of Medicine expert has some tips on how to prevent summer brain drain across different age groups.

How being friends with someone who has dementia can be good for you both

Each year, in the final few hours of the last day of December, many people all across North America gather with friends to raise a glass and sing Robert Burns' famous ballad, "Auld Lang Syne." Standing at the brink of a New Year, arms around each other, they ask: "Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?"

Teen ACL injuries on the rise, UNC researchers call for wider use of injury prevention programs

Among teenage athletes, the rate of ACL tears is rising, with the sharpest increase seen in females aged 13-17 who, over the last 13 years, have experienced a 59 percent increase in the number of required reconstruction procedures, according to a new study published in the JAMA Pediatrics.

New device could make closing surgical incisions a cinch

Like many surgeons, Dr. Jason Spector is often faced with the challenge of securely closing the abdominal wall without injuring the intestines. If the process goes awry, there can be serious consequences for patients, including bowel perforations or a hernia at the incision site. Often, repairing these complications requires additional surgeries.

Mouse tracking may reveal ability to resist temptation

The devil on your right shoulder is telling you, "Go ahead, grab that candy bar! You know you want it!"

Defunding women's health clinics exacerbated Hispanic disparity in preventive care, study finds

Defunding women's health clinics in Texas and Wisconsin aimed at reducing abortions has decreased the number of preventive care exams and tests given to Hispanic women in those states when compared with non-Hispanic white women, according to a University of Kansas economist's new study.

Misapplication of sunscreen leaves people vulnerable to skin cancer

When applying sunscreen people miss on average 10 per cent of their face, the most common site for skin cancer, according to University of Liverpool research presented at the British Association of Dermatologists' Annual Conference in Liverpool this week.

Childhood obesity major link to hip diseases

Significant hip deformities affect around 1 in 500 children. Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE) is the most common hip disease of adolescence. The condition always requires surgery, can cause significant pain, and often leads to a hip replacement in adolescence or early adulthood.

After the Medicare breach, we should be cautious about moving our health records online

The Australian government is digitising the country's health system, but a serious Medicare security breach suggests we may not be ready.

Antibiotics are not always the answer

The discovery of penicillin in 1928 was heralded as a medical miracle. As one of the first antibiotics, it could cure patients of potentially deadly bacterial illnesses, such as scarlet fever, typhoid and pneumonia.

Cut out sugary drinks to prevent type 2 diabetes, study finds

An international study led by ANU has bolstered the global campaign for a sugar tax, finding thousands of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented every year in Thailand if people stopped drinking sugary drinks every day.

Bullied primary school children are falling behind in learning

New work from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) has uncovered that one in three boys and one in four girls aged 8 to 9 years are experiencing weekly bullying at their primary school.

Private clinics' peddling of unproven stem cell treatments is unsafe and unethical

Stem cell science is an area of medical research that continues to offer great promise. But as this week's paper in Science Translational Medicine highlights, a growing number of clinics around the globe, including in Australia, are exploiting regulatory gaps to sell so-called stem cell treatments without evidence that what they offer is effective – or even safe.

Silicosis' toxic legacy offers deadly lessons for today

"His cough is loose … considerable amount of thick, black expectoration … cannot run; in the past six months has lost 16 pounds in weight … has no appetite in the morning and feels shaky and dizzy … diagnosis: Extensive bilateral fibrosis due to silicosis."

How safe is vaping?

On the heels of another damning statistic against tobacco—it kills more than 7 million people each year, the World Health Organization said recently—come questions about whether vaping is a healthier substitute.

Researchers uncover the fundamental importance of AMPA receptor biogenesis for brain function

For the first time, researchers have uncovered the significance of the molecular assembly processes—called biogenesis—of AMPA-type glutamate receptors for proper operation of the human brain. AMPA receptors, the most abundant neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, are multi-protein complexes that are assembled intracellularly and are subsequently transported to the synapses where they are responsible for signal transduction and information processing. Defective receptor assembly resulting from genetic mutations causes severe intellectual disability with cognitive impairment and epileptic activity. The results introduce an unexpected mechanism for the control of higher brain functions in humans. The biologists and geneticists recently published their findings in the online-journal Nature Communications.

Electronic games—how much is too much for kids?

Most parents view their children's playing of electronic games as potentially problematic – or even dangerous. Yet many children are engaging with electronic games more frequently than ever.

Researchers identify promising target to protect bone in patients with diabetes

Utilizing metabolomics research techniques, NYU Dentistry researchers investigated the underlying biochemical activity and signaling within the bone marrow of hyperglycemic mice with hopes of reducing fracture risks of diabetics

Bariatric surgery, medication/lifestyle modification: Which has better long-term effect on diabetes

A team of Cleveland Clinic researchers is leading a first-of-its-kind multicenter clinical trial to assess the long-term outcomes of bariatric/metabolic surgery compared to medical and lifestyle therapy for treating Type 2 diabetes.

Obstructing the 'inner eye': Psychologists aim to develop brain theory of hypnosis

Hypnosis can help people stop smoking, sleep better and even undergo dental treatment without pain. But what exactly is hypnosis and what precisely happens in the brain of a hypnotised person? These questions are currently being studied by psychologists at the Universities Jena and Trier in Germany. The aim is to find comprehensive scientific answers to the questions, and the researchers have presented their initial findings in the current issue of the specialist journal Scientific Reports.

Fasting blood sugar and fasting insulin identified as new biomarkers for weight loss

Researchers from the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen today announced the findings from a weight loss biomarker study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN). The study, "Pretreatment fasting plasma glucose and insulin modify dietary weight loss success: results from 3 randomized clinical trials," found that fasting blood sugar and/or fasting insulin can be used to select the optimal diet and to predict weight loss, particularly for people with prediabetes or diabetes.

Experts urge action to cut child deaths from deadly lung virus

Vaccines to combat a virus that can lead to fatal lung infections are urgently needed to help prevent child deaths worldwide, research suggests.

Nurse-led intervention helps carers' manage medication and cancer pain

A study funded by Marie Curie and Dimbleby Cancer Care published today shows the potential benefits of a new nurse-led intervention in supporting carers to manage pain medication in people with terminal cancer.

Taking medications as prescribed important to control health care costs

At a time when health care costs are scrutinized more closely than ever, a new study demonstrates the importance of taking medications as prescribed to control costs.

FDA approves first new drug in 20 years for sickle cell

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug in nearly 20 years for sickle cell, an inherited disease in which abnormally shaped red blood cells can't properly carry oxygen throughout the body, which can cause severe pain and organ damage.

Exercising safely with diabetes

(HealthDay)—Exercise is a powerful tool for managing diabetes.

Shortage of bee, wasp venom stings those with allergies

(HealthDay)—A shortage of honeybee, wasp and hornet venom extract has allergists concerned.

High-observation protocol cuts length of stay in head, neck CA

(HealthDay)—A high-observation protocol (HOP) appears to optimize clinical care for patients with head and neck cancer undergoing primary surgery, according to a study published online June 20 in Head & Neck.

4-food elimination diet induces EoE remission in children

(HealthDay)—For children with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), eight weeks of a four-food elimination diet can induce remission, according to a study published online June 8 in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Needling no more effective than debridement in plantar verrucae

(HealthDay)—For patients with plantar verrucae, needling is no more effective than debridement of the overlying callous, according to a study published online June 27 in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Improved glycemic control with eradication of hepatitis C

(HealthDay)—For patients with type 2 diabetes, direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is associated with improved glycemic control and reduced antidiabetic medication use, according to a study published online June 28 in Diabetes Care.

Nephrotic syndrome reported with everolimus, voriconazole

(HealthDay)—In a case report published online June 29 in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, nephrotic syndrome is diagnosed in a 32-year-old female with relapsed Hodgkin's lymphoma who was on everolimus and initiated voriconazole.

Patient involvement can cut errors in X-ray imaging

(HealthDay)—A patient involvement system can reduce errors in X-ray imaging, according to a study published online July 5 in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.

Pulsed dye laser doesn't significantly improve acne

(HealthDay)—For patients with acne, pulsed dye laser (PDL) treatment does not improve acne severity grading or acne erythema grading but is associated with patient satisfaction, according to a study published recently in the International Journal of Dermatology.

Rod, cone function down for children born extremely preterm

(HealthDay)—Children born extremely preterm have reduced rod and cone function compared with children born at term, according to a study published online June 29 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Diabetes complications are a risk factor for repeat hospitalizations, study shows

For patients with diabetes, one reason for hospitalization and unplanned hospital readmission is severe dysglycemia (uncontrolled hyperglycemia - high blood sugar, or hypoglycemia - low blood sugar), says new research published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Hospitalized older adults may need more help selecting skilled nursing facilities

More than 20 percent of all hospitalized older adults who use Medicare will be admitted to a skilled nursing facility following a stay in the hospital (also known as "post-acute care"). However, these men and women may be given too little information when it comes to choosing a post-acute care facility: sometimes they may receive just a list of addresses for local facilities. What's more, hospitalized older adults typically don't plan for care at a skilled nursing facility ahead of time. This can lead to making important decisions too quickly or during a time of particular stress.

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are discovering why.

Family-based treatments may help address obesity in children

Researchers found that a family-based treatment for obesity in children—which included nutritional advice, exercise, and behavioral counseling—was effective.

Breast-feeding peer support services are lacking in many UK regions

Peer support is recommended by the World Health Organization for the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding, but in a survey of 136 service managers with jobs related to infant feeding across UK NHS Trust and Health Board areas, breastfeeding peer supporters were available in only 56% of NHS areas.

Some patients with dementia may experience delayed-onset PTSD

Delayed-onset post-traumatic symptoms in the elderly may be misdiagnosed as falling under the umbrella of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), according to a recent review.

Mindfulness-based therapy may reduce stress in overweight and obese individuals

In a randomized clinical trial of women who were overweight or obese, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) increased mindfulness and decreased stress compared with health education. In addition, fasting blood sugar levels decreased within the MBSR group, but not within the health education group.

Heavier birthweight linked to increased risk of obesity in early school-aged children

In a recent study, babies who were large at birth had an increased likelihood of being obese when they were in kindergarten to second grade (age 5 to 8 years). At each grade level and for both preterm and term children, children who were heavy as infants remained heavier than children born at normal birthweight.

'Educating' patients' immune cells may help combat diabetes

New research reveals that a treatment called Stem Cell Educator therapy is safe and effective for treating type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The therapy cultures the patient's immune cells with cord blood stem cells and returns only the "educated" immune cells to the patient's circulation.

Healthy lifestyle may help older adults preserve their independence

In a study of men with an average age of 71 years, lifestyle factors such as never smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, and not being obese were associated with survival and high functionality over the next 16 years.

Teaching old drugs new tricks in the fight against infectious diseases

A new article looks at how currently available drugs for various conditions might be repurposed alone or in combination with other drugs to treat infectious diseases.

Study predicts future burden of Parkinson's disease in New Zealand

Numbers of people with Parkinson's disease will double over the next 25 years, according to a new study from the University of Otago, Christchurch's specialist brain research group.

High use of medications in Norwegian nursing homes

For the first time ever, researchers have looked at the long-term use of psychiatric medication in Norwegian nursing homes. Psychiatric drugs are a collective term for medicines used to treat mental disorders, such as antipsychotics, anxiolytics (anxiety suppressants), antidepressants and sleeping pills.

Well-being in later life—the mind plays an important role

Well-being in later life is largely dependent on psychosocial factors. Physical impairments tend to play a secondary role, as scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have discovered. The results of their recent study are published in BMC Geriatrics.

How do you like walrus? Well done is best amid outbreak

If walrus is in your dinner plans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you make sure it's well done.

5 Legionnaires' disease cases connected to Graceland hotel

Health officials say five people have been diagnosed with Legionnaire's disease in connection with an outbreak at the hotel at Graceland.

New epigenomic strategies in the clinical management of cancer of unknown primary

The invention of the EPICUP epigenetic test last year allowed physicians to elucidate what type of primary tumor had metastasized in patients with Cancer of Unknown Primary (CUP). Today, an article published in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology by Dr. Manel Esteller, coordinator of the Epigenetics and Cancer Biology Program of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), ICREA Researcher and Professor of Genetics at the University of Barcelona, explains how this test is being transferred to the clinical practice and the new advances that can develop from it.

Insulin release is controlled by the amount of Epac2A at the secretory vesicles

Specialized beta cells in the pancreas release the hormone insulin to control our blood glucose levels, and failure of this mechanism is central to the development of type-2 diabetes. How much and when insulin is released depends on a complex system of messenger molecules and proteins that is not well understood.

Ongoing job growth reflects people with disabilities striving to work

Americans with disabilities continued to engage in the labor market, reaching 15 months of job gains, according to today's National Trends in Disability Employment - Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). This extends the longest stretch of recorded gains for this population. As the nation implements the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014, vocational rehabilitation (VR) services are evolving to better serve people with significant disabilities. By aligning VR with programs for students and young adults with severe disabilities, there are more options for their transition to competitive, integrated employment.

Biology news

Study offers new approach to evaluating agricultural development programs

As the old saying goes, teaching someone to fish is far more helpful than just giving them a fish. Now, research from WorldFish and MIT takes that adage a step further: Better yet, the study found, is working with the fishermen to help develop better fishing methods.

Borneo's orangutans in 'alarming' decline: study

The orangutan population on the island of Borneo has shrunk by a quarter in the last decade, researchers said Friday, urging a rethink of strategies to protect the critically-endangered great ape.

Diatoms have sex after all, and ammonium puts them in the mood

New research shows a species of diatom, a single-celled algae, thought to be asexual does reproduce sexually, and scientists learned it's a common compound - ammonium - that puts the ubiquitous organism in the mood.

Litter bugs may protect chocolate supply

Those who crave brownies or hot cocoa may be happy to hear that heroes too small to be seen may help to protect the world's chocolate supply. Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama found that exposing baby cacao plants to microbes from healthy adult cacao plants reduced the plant's chance of becoming infected with the serious cacao pathogen, Phytopthora palmivora, by half. The researchers' study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on July 5.

Chile salmon industry swims against current

Salmon are leaping in their millions from Chilean fish farms to US, Japanese and European dining tables—but surging demand and environmental concerns have Chile wriggling on the hook.

Fern fossil data clarifies origination and extinction of species

Throughout the history of life, new groups of species have flourished at the expense of earlier ones and global biodiversity has varied dramatically over geologic time. A new study led by the University of Turku, Finland, shows that completely different factors regulate the rise and fall of species.

Can spiders really count?

A recent issue of Interface Focus examined the idea of convergent minds, which pertains to how distantly related species can think about problem solving in very similar ways. The special issue is a multi-disciplinary investigation into the evolution of cognition and its various forms. One of the papers, a research article called 'Representation of different exact numbers of prey by a spider-eating predator' shows that spiders can differentiate between one, two and many. We spoke to authors Fiona Cross and Robert Jackson to find out more.

Team develops golden bananas high in pro-vitamin A

The decade-long research, led by Distinguished Professor James Dale, involved extensive laboratory tests at QUT as well as field trials in north Queensland.

Baits may be bolstering bear populations

New research reveals that baits used by hunters have become a substantial portion of black bears' diets. In northern Wisconsin, over 40% of the diet of harvested animals consisted of bait subsidies.

Philippine police arrest rare sea turtle poachers

Philippine police said Friday they had seized 70 dead hawksbill marine turtles, a critically endangered species illegally trafficked for its prized shell, and arrested two suspects.

Visitors get first look at Pittsburgh Zoo's baby elephant

She doesn't have a name yet, but visitors to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium can now get a look at a female elephant calf born a month prematurely.

Save the Vaquita Day marked by bold, coordinated efforts to save the 'panda of the sea'

The world is marking International Save the Vaquita Day on July 8 by supporting VaquitaCPR's ambitious, emergency plan to help save the vaquita porpoise from extinction in the northern Gulf of California. The project, which has been recommended by the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), involves relocating some of the remaining vaquitas to a temporary sanctuary later this year. At the same time, a permanent ban on gillnet fishing went into effect last week in a bid to save a critically endangered species of porpoise. VaquitaCPR is led by the Mexican government and supported by a consortium of marine mammal experts from more than a dozen organizations around the world.

Rx for orphan walrus calf: touch, massage, cuddle, repeat

Everybody needs a shoulder to lean on now and then. A walrus calf at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska, is getting one 24 hours per day.

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