Thursday, June 7, 2018

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jun 7

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 7, 2018:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Juno solves 39-year old mystery of Jupiter lightning

Scientists discover bees understand the concept of zero

New laser makes silicon 'sing'

Improved ape genome assemblies provide new insights into human evolution

When inertial frames of reference collide

Single neuron consciousness in the binocular brain

NASA finds ancient organic material, mysterious methane on Mars

Larger sample sizes needed to increase reproducibility in neuroscience studies

Deadly behavior-modifying weapon identified in insect-world chemical arms race

Structural protein found essential to X chromosome inactivation

Waves move across the human brain to support memory

Study identifies cellular 'death code'

How to suck carbon dioxide from the sky for fuels and more

Study of sleeping fur seals provides insight into the function of REM sleep

In male dolphin alliances, 'everybody knows your name'

Astronomy & Space news

Juno solves 39-year old mystery of Jupiter lightning

Ever since NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft flew past Jupiter in March, 1979, scientists have wondered about the origin of Jupiter's lightning. That encounter confirmed the existence of Jovian lightning, which had been theorized for centuries. But when the venerable explorer hurtled by, the data showed that the lightning-associated radio signals didn't match the details of the radio signals produced by lightning here at Earth.

NASA finds ancient organic material, mysterious methane on Mars

NASA's Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet's surface and subsurface.

Chandra scouts nearest star system for possible hazards

In humanity's search for life outside our Solar System, one of the best places scientists have considered is Alpha Centauri, a system containing the three nearest stars beyond our Sun.

NASA revises Juno's Jupiter mission

NASA has approved an update to Juno's science operations until July 2021. This provides for an additional 41 months in orbit around Jupiter and will enable Juno to achieve its primary science objectives.Juno is in 53-day orbits rather than 14-day orbits as initially planned because of a concern about valves on the spacecraft's fuel system. This longer orbit means that it will take more time to collect the needed science data.

More mystery objects detected near Milky Way's supermassive black hole

Astronomers have discovered several bizarre objects at the Galactic Center that are concealing their true identity behind a smoke screen of dust; they look like gas clouds, but behave like stars.

Scientists solve lunar mystery with aid of missing moon tapes

After eight years spent recovering lost moon data from the Apollo missions, scientists report in a new study they've solved a decades-old mystery of why the moon's subsurface warmed slightly during the 1970s.

Expedition measures solar motions seen during last summer's total solar eclipse

"During the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse, our dozens of telescopes and electronic cameras collected data during the rare two minutes at which we could see and study the sun's outer atmosphere, the corona," reported solar-astronomer Jay Pasachoff to the American Astronomical Society, meeting in Denver during June 4-7. Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College, discussed results from his team's observations made in Salem, Oregon, and measurements that his team has made of extremely rapid motions in the corona.

Are there enough chemicals on icy worlds to support life?

For decades, scientists have believed that there could be life beneath the icy surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. Since that time, multiple lines of evidence have emerged that suggest that it is not alone. Indeed, within the Solar System, there are many "ocean worlds" that could potentially host life, including Ceres, Ganymede, Enceladus, Titan, Dione, Triton, and maybe even Pluto.

What it takes to discover small rocks in space

Once every month, on average, somewhere on Earth a fireball appears out of nowhere and for mere seconds, casts a blinding flash across the sky before it blows up in a thunderous explosion. It happened last Saturday over southern Africa, where a small space rock disintegrated in the night sky and – possibly – scattered debris on the ground, awaiting discovery by meteorite hunters.

Image: Tunguska devastation

Fallen trees at Tunguska, Imperial Russia, seen in 1929, 15 km from epicentre of aerial blast site, caused by explosion of a meteor in 1908 (Photo N. A. Setrukov, 1928).

Theater club at NASA center gives scientists creative outlet

Susan Breon wears two hats: scientist and musician.

Technology news

New sensors open door to wearable medical diagnostic device

Scientists from ANU have designed tiny optical sensors that open the door to developing a wearable device that allows doctors to medically diagnose people's health in real time.

Forgotten corner of Europe brought back to life thanks to artificial intelligence

A lost world in a former empire in Europe has been brought to life thanks to University of Bristol researchers who used artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to analyse 47,000 multilingual pages from newspapers dating back to 1873.

Novel transmitter uses ultrafast 'frequency hopping' and data encryption to protect signals from being intercepted

Today, more than 8 billion devices are connected around the world, forming an "internet of things" that includes medical devices, wearables, vehicles, and smart household and city technologies. By 2020, experts estimate that number will rise to more than 20 billion devices, all uploading and sharing data online.

Amazon unveils nearly hands-free streaming TV device

Alexa for couch potatoes is coming: Amazon's new streaming TV device will let users shout out when they want to turn on the TV, flip channels or search for sitcoms—all without pushing any buttons.

Facebook admits privacy settings 'bug' affecting 14 million users

Facebook acknowledged Thursday a software glitch that changed the settings of some 14 million users, potentially making some posts public even if they were intended to be private.

Uber decries ride-hailing price cap passed in Honolulu

Honolulu leaders approved a measure Wednesday to limit prices that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft can charge during peak demand, a cap that the companies say would be the first restriction of its kind in the United States.

Retrofitting roofs in Pennsylvania's Rust Belt

The dramatic deindustrialization of much of Pennsylvania during the 1980s and 1990s left many areas of the state in serious need of revitalization. Once vibrant and bustling communities have been left in disarray. Deteriorating streets, abandoned factories and buildings and empty storefronts are found in cities like New Kensington, Pennsylvania, a town located 18 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Connected cars can lie, posing a new threat to smart cities

The day when cars can talk to each other – and to traffic lights, stop signs, guardrails and even pavement markings – is rapidly approaching. Driven by the promise of reducing traffic congestion and avoiding crashes, these systems are already rolling out on roads around the U.S.

New report highlights how drones can be used for good of society

A new report demonstrating how drones can come to the rescue in natural disasters, help starving people in conflict and provide emergency medicine has been published today (7 June 2018) by one of the UK's leading robotics experts.

Youtube partly liable for copyright breaches: Austrian court

An Austrian court has ruled that video-sharing platform YouTube can be held partly liable for copyright breaches in videos uploaded by its users, in a ruling that may have far-reaching implications.

Airbnb says forced to cancel bookings under new Japan law

Rental site Airbnb said Thursday it had been forced by Japanese authorities to cancel thousands of reservations ahead of a new law regulating short-term rentals, apologising for the "extraordinary disruption."

Refund ordered for Austrian car buyer over Dieselgate

A Vienna court has ordered a car dealer to reimburse a customer who bought a Volkswagen car because it was fitted with software designed to cheat emissions tests, the buyer's lawyers said Thursday.

US, China reach $1.4 bn ZTE deal as signs emerge of trade talks progres

Washington and Beijing have reached a deal to ease sanctions that brought Chinese smartphone maker ZTE to the brink of collapse, the US Commerce Department announced Thursday.

France seeks to send 'signal' with mobile phone ban in schools

French lawmakers began debating Thursday a ban on mobile phones in public schools, one of President Emmanuel Macron's campaign pledges which critics say will do little to counter classroom disruptions or limit cyberbullying.

Drone forensics gets a boost with new data on NIST website

Aerial drones might someday deliver online purchases to your home. But in some prisons, drone delivery is already a thing. Drones have been spotted flying drugs, cell phones and other contraband over prison walls , and in several cases, drug traffickers have used drones to ferry narcotics across the border.

New BlackBerry phone aims to revive faded brand

There's a new BlackBerry smartphone, the latest effort to revive the once-dominant brand.

Google faces EU anti-trust fines over Android: sources

The EU's powerful anti-trust authority is set to decide in the coming weeks that Google unfairly punishes rivals of its Android mobile phone operating system and faces billions of euros in fines, sources said on Thursday.

Not read a book lately? Blame Netflix, says study

Are you all caught up on your favourite Netflix show, but that novel on your nightstand is gathering dust?

Honda, GM to develop electric vehicle batteries together

Honda Motor Co. of Japan and U.S. automaker General Motors Co. agreed Thursday to work together in developing batteries for electric vehicles, mainly for the North American market.

Italy fines Ryanair for mass flight cancellations

Italy's competition authority (AGCM) on Thursday hit Ryanair with a 1.85 million euro ($2.19 million) fine for mass flight cancellations late last year and failing to adequately inform affected passengers of their rights.

Amazon to livestream Premier League in online shakeup

Amazon has secured the rights to show English Premier League football matches in a pioneering move for the online sector in the bidding war for sports events.

Feds: Tesla accelerated, didn't brake ahead of fatal crash

A Tesla SUV using the company's semi-autonomous Autopilot driving system accelerated just before crashing into a California freeway barrier, killing its driver, federal investigators have determined.

Google won't use artificial intelligence for weapons

Google announced Thursday it would not use artificial intelligence for weapons or to "cause or directly facilitate injury to people," as it unveiled a set of principles for these technologies.

A Dallas company wants to use mind-reading technology to let the world hear nonverbal people's thoughts

Dallas-based Darwin Ecosystem has long been in the business of pattern detection. The company uses machine-learning to predict trends in the financial markets, analyze essays for police academies to determine if trainees would be a good fit and work with human resources departments to identify traits of top performers.

Shareholders reject bid to link Google diversity to exec pay

Shareholders of Google parent Alphabet Inc. have rejected several proposals aimed at linking executive pay to diversity goals, being more open about lobbying, narrowing the gender-pay gap, and weakening the grip founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have on company voting stock.

Bayer-Monsanto merger creates agrichemical juggernaut

German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer will seal a $63-billion merger with US-based Monsanto Thursday, creating an agrichemical juggernaut with lofty ambitions to feed the world but feared by environmentalists.

BuzzFeed to shut French website

US news website BuzzFeed is to shut down its French version after four years online, staff told AFP on Thursday.

Germany's Bayer completes purchase of Monsanto

German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG says it has completed its purchase of U.S. seed and weed-killer maker Monsanto Co.

Boston, other cities, to work to curb renewable energy costs

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is hoping to work with other cities to drive down the cost of renewable energy by asking developers for price estimates to meet their collective energy demand.

Operations resume at underground US nuclear waste repository

Routine operations have resumed at the U.S. government's only underground nuclear waste repository following an evacuation in May that was prompted by the discovery of a misaligned drum of waste.

Auction of Brazil's pre-salt oil fields earns $807 million

Brazil raked in 3.15 billion reais ($807 million) Friday in the first auction of deep sea, pre-salt oil fields since a crippling strike led to the resignation of state oil company Petrobras's CEO.

Medicine & Health news

Single neuron consciousness in the binocular brain

In contrast to unpaired organs like the heart, liver or appendix, the brain is recognizable as a roughly symmetrical organ. Consciousness is a seemingly unpaired phenomenon created by this paired organ. One way to explore consciousness is to force it to choose between two paired stimuli in a binocular rivalry experiment.

Larger sample sizes needed to increase reproducibility in neuroscience studies

Small sample sizes in studies using functional MRI to investigate brain connectivity and function are common in neuroscience, despite years of warnings that such studies likely lack sufficient statistical power. A new analysis reveals that task-based fMRI experiments involving typical sample sizes of about 30 participants are only modestly replicable. This means that independent efforts to repeat the experiments are as likely to challenge as to confirm the original results.

Waves move across the human brain to support memory

The coordination of neural activity across widespread brain networks is essential for human cognition. Researchers have long assumed that oscillations in the brain, commonly measured for research purposes, brain-computer interfacing, and clinical tests, were stationary signals that occurred independently at separate brain regions. Biomedical engineers at Columbia Engineering have discovered a new fundamental feature of brain oscillations: they actually move rhythmically across the brain, reflecting patterns of neuronal activity that propagate across the cortex. The study was published today in Neuron.

Blood test for pregnant women can predict premature birth

A new blood test for pregnant women detects with 75-80 percent accuracy whether their pregnancies will end in premature birth. The technique can also be used to estimate a fetus's gestational age—or the mother's due date—as reliably as and less expensively than ultrasound.

Threat of malaria left its mark on the immune system in people with African ancestry

In a new study published June 7th, 2018 in PLOS Genetics, Christine Ambrosone of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and colleagues identified a genetic difference between people with African and European ancestry that affects how the immune system triggers inflammation. They suspect these differences are rooted in how the immune system evolved and the evolutionary pressure exerted by malaria on ancestors who lived in Africa.

Eosinophilic esophagitis may be due to missing protein

Scientists have discovered that the absence of a specific protein in cells lining the esophagus may cause inflammation and tissue damage in people with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). EoE affects as many as 150,000 people in the United States, many of whom are children. People with EoE experience difficult or painful swallowing, vomiting and nutritional problems because an accumulation of immune cells called eosinophils scars the esophagus.

Uncertainty in a date dampens interest in a mate

According to a new study, those who feel greater certainty that a prospective romantic partner reciprocates their interest will put more effort into seeing that person again, while rating the possible date as more sexually attractive than they would if they were less certain about the prospective date's romantic intentions.

Researchers address sleep problems in Parkinson's disease

A team of researchers at VIB and KU Leuven has uncovered why people with a hereditary form of Parkinson's disease suffer from sleep disturbances. The molecular mechanisms uncovered in fruit flies and human stem cells also point to candidate targets for the development of new treatments.

Malaria: Cooperating antibodies enhance immune response

Malaria is one of the most infectious diseases worldwide. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Germany, and from the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada, have studied how the human immune system combats malaria infections. In this study, the researchers discovered a previously unnoticed characteristic of antibodies against the malaria parasite: They can cooperate with each other, thus binding even stronger to the pathogens and improving the immune response. The results, now published in Science, are expected to develop a more effective vaccine against the disease.

Rare bacteria boosts immunotherapy in prostate cancer

A unique bacterial strain isolated from a patient with pelvic pain may represent a promising path to treating prostate cancer with immunotherapy, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in Nature Communications.

Men may contribute to infertility through newly discovered part of sperm

Life doesn't begin the way we thought it did.

In building the brain, cell pedigree matters

The cerebral cortex—the brain's epicenter of high-level cognitive functions, such as memory formation, attention, thought, language and consciousness—has fascinated neuroscientists for centuries.

Older breast cancer patients in England less likely to survive

Older women diagnosed with breast cancer in England are less likely to survive their disease than those in Belgium, Poland, Ireland and the Netherlands according to research published today in the British Journal of Cancer.

Children can learn ways to significantly reduce salt usage

Consuming excessive salt during childhood is associated with cardiovascular health risk factors, yet the effectiveness of education- and behavior-based strategies to lower salt usage among children has not been fully researched. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that a web-based salt education program improved salt-related knowledge, self-efficacy, and behaviors among children ages 7-10 years.

Mobile health technology can potentially transform how patients manage heart disease risk

Mobile health technology has the potential to transform the way we prevent and manage heart disease, but there are unanswered questions about how to optimize this technology and maintain engagement with patients, according to a review of randomized clinical trials published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

Negative vs. positive social media experiences and depressive symptoms

Negative experiences on social media carry more weight than positive interactions when it comes to the likelihood of young adults reporting depressive symptoms, according to a new University of Pittsburgh analysis.

Machine learning helps detect lymphedema among breast cancer survivors

Machine learning using real-time symptom reports can accurately detect lymphedema, a distressing side effect of breast cancer treatment that is more easily treated when identified early, finds a new study led by NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and published in the journal mHealth.

Flu virus is protected by mucus when airborne, regardless of humidity

Mucus and other airway secretions that are expelled when a person with the flu coughs or exhales appear to protect the virus when it becomes airborne, regardless of humidity levels, a creative experiment conducted by the University of Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech discovered.

Half of hepatitis C patients with private insurance denied life-saving drugs

The number of insurance denials for life-saving hepatitis C drugs among patients with both private and public insurers remains high across the United States, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania reported in a new study published in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases. Private insurers had the highest denial rates, with 52.4 percent of patients denied coverage, while Medicaid denied 34.5 percent of patients and Medicare denied 14.7 percent.

Prolonged stress can impact quality of sperm, study says

Prolonged stress, such as that experienced during military conflict, can have an adverse impact on sperm quality, according to a new study by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva, Israel.

Tonsil and adenoid removal associated with respiratory, allergic and infectious disease

Tonsil and adenoid removal associated with long-term risks of respiratory, allergic and infectious diseases Removing tonsils and adenoids in childhood increases the long-term risk of respiratory, allergic and infectious diseases, according to researchers who have examined—for the first time—the long-term effects of the operations.

Active HIV in large white blood cells may drive cognitive impairment in infected mice

Macrophages, large white blood cells that engulf and destroy potential pathogens, harbor active viral reserves that appear to play a key role in impaired learning and memory in mice infected with a rodent version of HIV. Chao-Jiang Gu of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and colleagues present these new findings in PLOS Pathogens.

New computational tool predicts progression of metabolic syndrome in mice

Scientists have developed a new computational model that accurately predicts the gradual, long-term progression of metabolic syndrome in mice. The model, created by Yvonne Rozendaal of Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and colleagues, is presented in PLOS Computational Biology.

Cattle may spread leptospirosis in Africa, study suggests

The bacterial infection leptospirosis is increasingly recognized as an important cause of fever in Africa. Now, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have analyzed the major risk factors for contracting leptospirosis and discovered that rice and cattle farming are associated with acute infection.

Cattle, sheep and goats may transmit leptospirosis to humans in Tanzania

Leptospirosis, which affects more than one million people worldwide each year, is known to be transmitted to humans from a wide range of animals. Now, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have discovered that more than 7 percent of the cattle and 1 percent of sheep and goats in local slaughterhouses in northern Tanzania are infected with Leptospira bacteria.

Caloric intake and muscle mass at high altitude

New research in The FASEB Journal explored why a group of young, healthy adults residing at high altitude lost muscle mass while severely underfed and consuming the same high-protein diet that preserved muscle during weight loss at sea level.

This tropical disease is second only to malaria as a parasitic killer. So why haven't you heard of it?

One form of the disease begins with large open sores that won't heal, then migrates to the nose and lips, rotting them away like a form of leprosy and leaving the victim badly disfigured.

A typical communication pattern of people with Alzheimer's disease

Dementia in any form is a heartbreaking disease that can take away the capacity for thinking and making judgements. To save face, people with dementia often pretend to know answers to questions, even when they really don't. This often hides the severity of the disease and exacerbates the fears and frustrations of the people who care for them. The act of pretending to know answers to keep up appearances is referred to as "saving appearance responses" (SARs), and a research group from Kumamoto University in Japan has performed the first statistical analysis of SARs in patients with various forms of dementia. Their findings revealed that those face-saving responses are particularly common in people with Alzheimer's disease (AD), leading the researchers to recommend that doctors and caregivers should develop a more respectful attitude toward dementia patients who exhibit SARs. They emphasize that the use of SARs implies conflicted feelings about questions that patients cannot answer correctly.

Restricting unwanted immune reactions

The immune system often initiates its response to pathogens by activating immune cells, so-called phagocytes, which migrate to sites of inflammation. There, the phagocytes release certain proteins, including the S100A8/S100A9 heterodimeric protein complex, which triggers or amplifies the inflammatory reaction at the site of the disease. However, if too many of these complexes are released, they can exacerbate the disease; for example, this happens in the case of autoimmune, rheumatic or dermatological diseases. Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion (CiM) Cluster of Excellence at the University of M√ľnster (Germany) have now decoded how the activity of these proteins is regulated. The leading scientists of the study, immunologists Thomas Vogl and Johannes Roth, now want to use these novel fundamental insights to develop new treatment options to combat autoimmune diseases, arthritis, allergies or inflammatory diseases of the bowel, lungs or cardiovascular system. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

High vitamin D levels linked to lower cholesterol in children

There is a link between higher serum vitamin D levels and lower plasma cholesterol levels in primary school children, new research from the University of Eastern Finland shows. Children whose serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels exceeded 80 nmol/l had lower plasma total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels than children whose serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were below 50 nmol/l, which is often regarded as a threshold value for vitamin D sufficiency. 25-hydroxyvitamin D is the major circulating form of vitamin D. The findings were reported in one of the leading journals of endocrinology, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Identifying patients at risk for hospital readmission, emergency room visits

Historically, hospital patients have been at a high risk for adverse effects after they are discharged, according to the Institute of Medicine. These effects can be defined as unplanned bad circumstances that are directly related to the patient's diagnosis, clinical conditions or the care they received while in the hospital. Many times these events lead to the patient being readmitted, going to the emergency room or, even worse, dying.

Unique patient offers insights into the brain's quest to see

When light streams through her window in just the right way, Milena Canning will sometimes stoop to pick up a shiny coin she has noticed on the wooden floor of her Glasgow-area home. But her hand comes up empty – the 'coin' is just a dancing sunbeam, a quirk of perception in Canning's extraordinary world.

State opioid monitoring programs are not created equal

States that have struggled with opioid abuse might want to take a look at prescription drug monitoring programs in Kentucky, New Mexico, Tennessee and New York—states that have significantly reduced opioid dosages, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Novel smart technology explores smoking-to-vaping transitions

Novel smart technology used in a University of Otago-led study explores smoking-to-vaping transitions, suggesting vaping is a complicated process and that some vapers may need additional cessation support to become smoke-free.

Can a Twitter-based reporting tool improve foodborne illness tracking?

Foodborne illness is a serious and preventable public health problem, affecting one in six Americans and costing an estimated $50 billion annually. As local health departments adopt new tools that monitor Twitter for tweets about food poisoning, a study from Washington University in St. Louis is the first to examine practitioner perceptions of this technology.

Medical cannabis and the challenge for regulation of medicines

Three-quarters of the British public think doctors should be able to prescribe cannabis for medical purposes. Wider interest has followed recent media reports about children such as six-year-old Alfie Dingley, whose seizures have been dramatically reduced after being given cannabis products – often by travelling abroad for treatment, or illegally sourcing or importing from countries such as the Netherlands.

Five things parents can do to improve their children's eating patterns

Eating habits develop in early childhood. Research shows eating patterns can continue into adolescence and then through to adulthood. In a new study, we compared what children aged two to three years ate with what their mothers ate.

Cost and scale of field trials for bovine TB vaccine may make them unfeasible, study suggests

Field trials for a vaccination to protect cattle against bovine tuberculosis (bovine TB) would need to involve 500 herds – potentially as many as 75,000-100,000 cattle – to demonstrate cost effectiveness for farmers, concludes a study published today in the journal eLife.

Kidney cancers caught stealing genes from other cell types in order to spread

A study has identified how kidney cancers may develop the ability to spread around the body by hijacking genes from other cell types and 'stealing' their functions.

Breaking through a tumor's defenses

In research published today, Babraham Institute researchers have shown that some tumours use not one but two levels of protection against the immune system. Knocking out one level boosted the protective effects of the second and vice versa. The research demonstrates that a two-pronged approach targeting both cell types simultaneously may offer a promising route for the development of new cancer immunotherapies.

Understanding how drug reduces confusion in older patients after surgery may lead to better care

A drug that reduces delirium in postoperative patients may work by preventing the overactivity of certain receptors in brain cells, according to a new study published in the Online First edition of Anesthesiology, the peer-reviewed medical journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). The researchers say the findings could lead to more widespread use of the drug, dexmedetomidine, and speed the development of new treatments for postoperative delirium with fewer side effects.

Normal eye dominance is not necessary for restoring visual acuity in amblyopia

Amblyopia, commonly known as "lazy eye," is a visual disorder common in children. The symptoms often are low acuity in the affected or "lazy" eye and impaired depth perception. Researchers have long believed that the impaired vision by one eye is a consequence of exaggerated eye dominance that favors the fellow or "good" eye.

Scientists ID source of damaging inflammation after heart attack

Scientists have zeroed in on a culprit that spurs damaging inflammation in the heart following a heart attack. The guilty party is a type of immune cell that tries to heal the injured heart but instead triggers inflammation that leads to even more damage.

White House launches anti-opioid ad campaign aimed at youth

The White House launched a series of new advertisements Thursday aimed at warning young people about the dangers of opioids, taking another step in the effort to turn the tide against the deadly epidemic.

Never ignore depression

(HealthDay)—Studies show that depression is underreported. People aren't getting the help they need, sometimes because they don't know the warning signs or where to turn, or are embarrassed because of the stigma that can still surround mental health issues.

Factors ID'd for persistent opioid use after pediatric surgery

(HealthDay)—Higher daily average inpatient pain scores and higher postoperative opioid consumption are associated with a subsequent persistent opioid use of up to six months among pediatric patients undergoing major oncologic surgery, according to a study published online April 17 in Pediatric Anesthesia.

Skin cancer examinations more likely for indoor tanning users

(HealthDay)—Engaging in ultraviolet (UV) indoor tanning is associated with increased use of skin cancer examinations, according to a research letter published online May 30 in JAMA Dermatology.

Compression + early ablation tied to faster leg ulcer healing

(HealthDay)—Early endovenous ablation of superficial venous reflux results in faster healing of venous leg ulcers and more time free from ulcers, compared with deferring endovenous ablation until after ulcer healing, according to a study published in the May 31 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Intellectual activities in later life may cut dementia risk

(HealthDay)—Active participation in intellectual activities among adults aged 65 years or older is associated with reduced risk of dementia, according to a study published online May 30 in JAMA Psychiatry.

More rapid decline in kidney function for diagnosed diabetes

(HealthDay)—Individuals with diagnosed diabetes have more rapid kidney function decline than those without diabetes, according to a study published online June 1 in Diabetes Care.

ASCO: undertreatment seen for women with head and neck cancer

(HealthDay)—Females with head and neck cancer (HNC) are less likely to receive intensive chemotherapy and radiation, and have an increased relative risk for death from HNC versus other causes, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology, held from June 1 to 5 in Chicago.

Thyroid dysfunction may lead to diabetes during pregnancy

Women with thyroid dysfunction in the first half of pregnancy face an increased risk for gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that is typically diagnosed during the second trimester, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Study says vaping by kids isn't up, but some are skeptical

Vaping held steady last year in high school students and declined in middle school kids, according to new government data, but some researchers are skeptical because the survey may have missed out on a booming e-cigarette brand.

Sobering report teases out factors leading to suicides

Suicide rates inched up in nearly every U.S. state from 1999 through 2016, according to a new government report released Thursday.

Canada poised to legalize recreational marijuana

Canada's Senate is set to vote Thursday on legalizing recreational marijuana, a move that would make the country the first member of the Group of Seven nations to legalize the production, sale and consumption of the mind-altering drug.

Drones a lifesaver for cardiac arrest patients?

Drones, the unmanned aircraft that got its start as part of the U.S. military's arsenal and is today being used by everyone from photographers to farmers, are now heralded as a solution to a problem that's bedeviled emergency medical personnel for years: How to deliver lifesaving defibrillators to people suffering cardiac arrest in areas not quickly reached by ambulances.

Fewer U.S. kids use tobacco, but numbers still too high: officials

(HealthDay)—The number of U.S. middle and high school students who use tobacco fell from 4.5 million in 2011 to 3.6 million in 2017, but that number is still far too high, federal health officials reported Thursday.

In kidney disease patients, illicit drug use linked with disease progression and death

In a study of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), persistent substance use—especially of hard illicit drugs—was linked with higher risks of CKD progression and early death. The findings appear in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).

Synthetic cannabis ('spice', 'k2') use may boost stroke risk in young users

Synthetic cannabis, also popularly known as 'spice' or 'k2,' may boost the risk of a stroke in young users, warn US doctors writing in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

Insurance denials for new hepatitis C drugs remain high nationwide, study suggests

Highly effective drugs that can cure chronic hepatitis C infection in approximately 95 percent of patients first became available in the U.S. in 2014. But both public and private insurers continue to deny coverage for these costly drugs at high rates nationwide, despite efforts to remove treatment restrictions, according to a new study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases. The findings suggest that all chronic hepatitis C-infected patients' access to these medications, known as direct-acting antivirals, must be improved if the public health goal of eliminating hepatitis C infection is to be achieved.

Creating vocal identity through speech therapy can be important for transgender self-confidence

A voice can be as unique as a fingerprint and provide an easily recognizable association to others. For the transgender community, voice is a key element to a realized identity.

Gut microbiome showed positive response to vegetarian diet in two weeks

The research team from ITMO University and collaborators analyzed the impact of short-term changes in diet on the condition of the gut microbiome. Assessing changes in the microbiome structure of 248 volunteers, the researchers concluded that a diet enriched with food fiber significantly changes the balance of gut bacterial species in two weeks. Obtained results will be used for a personal dietary recommendation system. This will be helpful for both healthy people and those who suffer from metabolic disorders and run the risk of atherosclerosis or diabetes. The study is published in Nutrients.

Fewer men who have sex with men are using condoms when taking PrEP, and that's OK

Fewer gay and bisexual men are using condoms while taking PrEP, the antiretroviral pill that prevents HIV, according to research published today in the The Lancet medical journal.

Using forensic science to tackle sexual violence

Researchers from the University of Leicester are using forensic DNA to help tackle sexual violence in humanitarian contexts—such as remote locations, displaced communities, conflict and post-conflict situations.

'Accident' caused global baby milk scare, says French company

The head of the French company at the centre of an international baby milk scandal denied Thursday that it was responsible for the contamination that triggered a recall of formula in over 80 countries, calling it "an accident".

Providers preferences may be helpful in reducing inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions

Physicians are open to receiving information on their antibiotic prescribing patterns, but have specific preference for receiving that information, according to results from a study published today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. Anticipating physicians' preferences for feedback on antimicrobial use (AU) could help optimize impact of antibiotic stewardship programs and improve the use of antibiotics.

Teen pregnancy and birth rates at an all time low in Minn., report shows

Pregnancy and birth rates continue to decline for 15-19-year-olds in Minnesota, with rates decreasing the most among youth from communities of color. The 2018 Minnesota Adolescent Sexual Health Report from the University of Minnesota Medical School's Healthy Youth Development—Prevention Research Center (HYD—PRC) attributes the decline to a combination of delayed sexual activity and an increase in use of highly effective contraceptive methods among teens.

Biology news

Scientists discover bees understand the concept of zero

Scientists have discovered honeybees can understand the concept of zero, putting them in an elite club of clever animals that can grasp the abstract mathematical notion of nothing.

Improved ape genome assemblies provide new insights into human evolution

New, higher-quality assemblies of great ape genomes have now been generated without the guidance of the human reference genome. The effort to reduce "humanizing" discovery bias in great ape genomes provides a clearer view of the genetic differences that arose as humans diverged from other primates.

Deadly behavior-modifying weapon identified in insect-world chemical arms race

Scientists probing one of the mysteries of the insect world have identified a powerful chemical weapon used in the arms race between fungus-farming leafcutter ants and the parasites that plague them.

Structural protein found essential to X chromosome inactivation

A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team has identified the essential role of a structural protein in the silencing of the inactive X chromosome, a process that prevents both copies of the same gene from being expressed in female mammals, which carry two copies of the X chromosome. In their report published online in the journal Cell, the investigators describe finding that the SMCHD1 protein is required for the inactive X chromosome to be processed in a way that blocks the expression of its genes.

Study identifies cellular 'death code'

Dying cells generally have two options: go quietly, or go out with a bang.

Study of sleeping fur seals provides insight into the function of REM sleep

All land mammals and birds have two types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM (also called slow-wave sleep). Earlier evidence had suggested that REM sleep—associated with dreaming—is essential for physical and mental well-being and learning, and that a lack of it could even be deadly. But the underlying function of REM sleep has been a mystery since its discovery in 1953. Now researchers reporting in Current Biology on June 7 have a new insight into the function of REM sleep, based on studies of a seemingly unlikely animal: the fur seal.

In male dolphin alliances, 'everybody knows your name'

It's not uncommon in dolphin society for males to form long-lasting alliances with other males, sometimes for decades. Now, after studying bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia, for more than 30 years, researchers reporting in Current Biology on June 7 find that these males retain individual vocal labels rather than sharing a common call with their cooperative partners.

Keeping plants nourished—the workings of a photosynthesis backup system

Photosynthesis is how plants 'make their food' and feed the rest of the planet. The key ingredient in that recipe is carbon. So, the process captures energy from the sun, which is then used to tear away carbon from atmospheric CO2.

Newly discovered regulation process explains plant development

Vascular tissue in plants distributes water and nutrients, thereby ensuring constant growth. Each new cell needs to develop into its respective cell type in the vascular tissue. A team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now discovered how these cells know which cell type they should develop into.

Copycat sea slugs vary in toxicity and taste

University of Queensland-led research found sea slugs that mimic the colours of other slugs to scare off predators do not have the same chemical defences as the species they are copying.

Aircraft microbiome much like that of homes and offices, study finds

What does flying in a commercial airliner have in common with working at the office or relaxing at home?

In a hole in a tunicate there lived a hobbit: New shrimp species named after Bilbo Baggins

Two new species of tiny symbiotic shrimps are described, illustrated and named by biology student at Leiden University Werner de Gier as part of his bachelor's research project, supervised by Dr. Charles H. J. M. Fransen, shrimp researcher of Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Leiden, the Netherlands).

Researchers find evolutionary 'tipping point' linked to climate change

Researchers studying the impact of extreme climate conditions on biodiversity found a "tipping point" at which species, under pressure from dwindling food supplies due to climate change, must either evolve to take advantage of different food supplies or face extinction.

How much is wildlife tourism affecting the animals it targets?

A new study in Conservation Physiology, published by Oxford University Press, reveals that white shark activity increases dramatically when the animals are interacting with cage-diving operators.

Dolphins deliberately killed for use as bait in global fisheries

Important new research released ahead of World Oceans Day exposes the widespread practice of killing aquatic mammals such as dolphins, sea lions, seals and otters for use as bait in global fisheries. Published in open-access journal Frontiers in Marine Science, the study shines a new light into what researchers say is an issue that has so far received little attention within the scientific and conservation communities.

Fungicide impairs silk production, according to study

One of the problems caused by the intensive use of pesticides is their effect on organisms other than those they are designed to combat—the most notorious example of which is the global mortality of honeybees.

Post-emergent herbicide timing key in corn production

Weed control in corn is important to profitability, but producers need to be aware of herbicide application timing, said Dr. Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist in Amarillo.

How germs thrive on school desks

Looking at the microbial communities that grow on students' desks, a team of Yale researchers found that the bacteria and fungi overwhelmingly came from the children sitting at the desks. They also found that, even after a desk cleaning, the microbes were back in full force within a few days.

Fighting back against the Australian blowfly

Opening the mail may not seem the most thrilling of tasks for a geneticist, but for a period of five months at the start of this year, our team was excited every time an Express Post envelope arrived at our Melbourne lab.

Biologists discover gene responsible for unique appearance of butterflies' dorsal wings

Butterflies often display strikingly different colour or patterns on the dorsal (top) and ventral (bottom) sides of their wings. A study by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has revealed that the gene apterous A is responsible for the appearance of the dorsal wings of butterflies.

When do invasive species pose a threat?

Is it possible to predict whether newly-arriving alien species, such as fishes from the Black Sea, will establish in Western Europe and displace native species? Researchers of Wageningen University & Research and Radboud University Nijmegen present a novel method, based on functional traits, such as mouth shape, to predict which alien fish species pose a threat to native fish. Their work is published in PLOS ONE of this week.

Nature's traffic engineers have come up with many simple but effective solutions

As more and more people move to cities, the experience of being stuck in impenetrable gridlock becomes an increasingly common part of the human experience. But managing traffic isn't just a human problem. From the tunnels built by termites to the enormous underground networks built by fungi, life forms have evolved incredible ways of solving the challenge of moving large numbers of individuals and resources from one place to another.

Killing sharks, wolves and other top predators won't solve conflicts

In French Polynesia, fishing is an integral part of everyday life. The people living here fish on the flats and along the reef using nets, hooks and line, harpoons, spearguns and traditional artisanal traps.

Australian fished populations drop by a third over ten years, study finds

Large fish species are rapidly declining around Australia, according to the first continental diver census of shallow reef fish. Contrary to years of sustainability reports, our study indicates that excessive fishing pressure is contributing to decline of many Australian fish species.

Scientists are using DNA to study ocean life and reveal the hidden diversity of zooplankton

Marine zooplankton are tiny animals, roughly the size of insects you might see on a summer day, that drift with ocean currents. Many of them are lovely, but except for scientists who study them, few people are aware that they are among the most numerous – and important – animals on Earth.

Australian lizard scares away predators with ultra-violet tongue

When attacked, bluetongue skinks open their mouth suddenly and as wide as possible to reveal their conspicuously coloured tongues. This surprise action serves as their last line of defence to save themselves from becoming prey says Martin Whiting, of Macquarie University in Australia, who conceived the study just published in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. The research revealed that the back of the northern bluetongue skink's tongue is much more UV-intense and luminous than the front, and that this section is only revealed in the final stages of an imminent attack.

Rare lynx found in Spain after being released in Portugal

Spanish environmental authorities say they have captured a rare lynx in Catalonia, three years after it was released in Portugal. Litio, a four-year-old Iberian lynx, had been spotted on the outskirts of Barcelona on May 29.

Sleuthing leads to new findings about peculiar ocean fish

The fish buyer noticed something different about the large, colorful disc-shaped opah waiting to be sold at the auction house in Honolulu. Among the differences: one fish had a bigger eye than the other.

Pheromone power—Bringing 'SexyPlant' back to defy crop pests

The project will use a biological method for manufacturing pheromones, which provide a safe and sustainable alternative to harmful pesticides, reducing the environmental impact of agriculture.

Scientists, animal activists: Don't cull Romanian brown bear

Scientists and animal rights groups have urged the Romanian government to rethink its plans to allow the hunting of brown bears.


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