Friday, December 21, 2018

Science X Newsletter Friday, Dec 21

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 21, 2018:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new robot capable of learning ownership relations and norms

Electronically programmable photonic molecule

Best of Last Year—The top articles of 2018

Stellar corpse reveals clues to missing stardust

Lean electrolyte design is a game-changer for magnesium batteries

Baby star's fiery tantrum could create the building blocks of planets

How different types of knowledge impact the growth of new firms

'Kondo metamagnet' is first in a family of eccentric quantum crystals 

Cold atoms offer a glimpse of flat physics

Best of Last Year—The top Medical Xpress articles of 2018

Strong interactions produce a dance between light and sound

Researchers detect age-related differences in DNA from blood

Ancient Antarctic ice sheet collapse could happen again, triggering a new global flood

Droughts boost emissions as hydropower dries up

Pollutants from wildfires affect crop and vegetation growth hundreds of kilometers from impact zone

Astronomy & Space news

Stellar corpse reveals clues to missing stardust

Everything around you – your desk, your laptop, your coffee cup – in fact, even you – is made of stardust, the stuff forged in the fiery furnaces of stars that died before our sun was born. Probing the space surrounding a mysterious stellar corpse, scientists at the University of Arizona have made a discovery that could help solve a long-standing mystery: Where does stardust come from?

Baby star's fiery tantrum could create the building blocks of planets

A massive stellar flare on a baby star has been spotted by University of Warwick astronomers, shedding light on the origins of potentially habitable exoplanets.

Seeds of giant galaxies formed in the early universe

Modern galaxies show a wide diversity, including dwarf galaxies, irregular galaxies, spiral galaxies, and massive elliptical galaxies. This final type, massive elliptical galaxies, provides astronomers with a puzzle. Although they are the most massive galaxies with the most stars, almost all of their stars are old. At some time during the past the progenitors of massive elliptical galaxies must have rapidly formed many stars and then stopped for some reason.

NASA's Webb Telescope wrapped in a mobile clean room

Before moving NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, and to assure that it's kept clean and safe, Webb got a very special wrapping treatment. The wrapping acts as a "mobile clean room," safeguarding the technological marvel from contaminants.

Navigating NASA's first mission to the Trojan asteroids

In science fiction, explorers can hop in futuristic spaceships and traverse half the galaxy in the blink of a plot hole. However, this sidelines the navigational acrobatics required in order to guarantee real-life mission success.

Mars Express gets festive: A winter wonderland on Mars

This image shows what appears to be a large patch of fresh, untrodden snow – a dream for any lover of the holiday season. However, it's a little too distant for a last-minute winter getaway: this feature, known as Korolev crater, is found on Mars, and is shown here in beautiful detail as seen by Mars Express.

New Horizons scientists puzzled by lack of a 'light curve' from their Kuiper Belt flyby target

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is bearing down on Ultima Thule, its New Year's flyby target in the far away Kuiper Belt. Among its approach observations over the past three months, the spacecraft has been taking hundreds of images to measure Ultima's brightness and how it varies as the object rotates.

Image: Hubble's cosmic holiday wreath

This festive NASA Hubble Space Telescope image resembles a holiday wreath made of sparkling lights. The bright southern hemisphere star RS Puppis, at the center of the image, is swaddled in a gossamer cocoon of reflective dust illuminated by the glittering star. The super star is ten times more massive than the sun and 200 times larger.

A big space crash likely made Uranus lopsided

Uranus is a lopsided oddity, the only planet to spin on its side. Scientists now think they know how it got that way: It was pushed over by a rock at least twice as big as Earth.

Holiday asteroid imaged with NASA radar

The December 2018 close approach by the large, near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 has provided astronomers an outstanding opportunity to obtain detailed radar images of the surface and shape of the object and to improve the understanding of its orbit.

Latest step toward world's largest telescope that will observe 'first stars and galaxies ever formed'

A cutting-edge instrument developed by scientists at the University of Oxford has passed critical tests and gained a powerful adaptive optics system.

In 1968, Apollo 8 realised the 2,000-year-old dream of a Roman philosopher

Half a century of Christmases ago, the NASA space mission Apollo 8 became the first manned craft to leave low Earth orbit, atop the unprecedentedly powerful Saturn V rocket, and head out to circumnavigate another celestial body, making 11 orbits of the moon before its return. The mission is often cast in a supporting role – a sort of warm up for the first moon landing. Yet for me, the voyage of Borman, Lovell and Anders six months before Neil Armstrong's "small step for a man" will always be the great leap for humankind.

Winter solstice: The astronomy of Christmas

From the Neolithic to present times, the amount of sunlight we see in a day has had a profound impact on human culture. We are fast approaching the winter solstice for the Northern hemisphere, which takes place on December 21. This is the longest night of the year – once celebrated as "Yule" by the pagan people of Northern Europe before it became Christmas.

Remember the discovery of methane in the martian atmosphere? Now scientists can't find any evidence of it, at all

In 2003, scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Center made the first-ever detection of trace amounts of methane in Mars' atmosphere, a find which was confirmed a year later by the ESA's Mars Express orbiter. In December of 2014, the Curiosity rover detected a tenfold spike of methane at the base of the Gale Crater, and uncovered evidence that indicated that Mars has a seasonal methane cycle, where levels peak in the late northern summer.

To find life beyond Earth,"take off the blinkers," says U of T's Barbara Sherwood Lollar

Is there life beyond Earth?

Earthrise, a photo that changed the world

December 24 is the 50th anniversary of Earthrise, arguably one of the most profound images in the history of human culture. When astronaut William Anders photographed a fragile blue sphere set in dark space peeking over the moon, it changed our perception of our place in space and fuelled environmental awareness around the world.

Researcher captures rare radar images of Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Barely visible to the naked eye, Comet 46P/Wirtanen keeps some secrets so close that only radar can uncover them.

Technology news

A new robot capable of learning ownership relations and norms

A team of researchers at Yale University has recently developed a robotic system capable of representing, learning and inferring ownership relations and norms. Their study, pre-published on arXiv, addresses some of the complex challenges associated with teaching robots social norms and how to conform with them.

Windows Sandbox offers safe zone if app looks suspicious

Windows Sandbox is getting a lot of press and for good reason: Windows watchers say it's going to be a safe place to park "hmmm" executables, the ones than could (or could not) be your pathway to malicious software.

Paper sensors remove the sting of diabetic testing

A technique that enables biologically active enzymes to survive the rigors of inkjet printing presents a promising alternative to routine blood screening finger jabs for diabetic blood sugar levels. The KAUST-led team used this approach to make disposable devices that can measure glucose concentrations in human saliva.

A safe, wearable soft sensor

Children born prematurely often develop neuromotor and cognitive developmental disabilities. The best way to reduce the impacts of those disabilities is to catch them early through a series of cognitive and motor tests. But accurately measuring and recording the motor functions of small children is tricky. As any parent will tell you, toddlers tend to dislike wearing bulky devices on their hands and have a predilection for ingesting things they shouldn't.

Digital detox: Resorts offer perks for handing over phones

Can you take a vacation from your cellphone? A growing number of hotels will help you find out.

Police consider shooting down drone after London airport shutdown

British police were Friday considering shooting down the drone that has grounded flights and caused chaos at London's Gatwick Airport, with passengers set to face a third day of disruption.

Is quantum computing a cybersecurity threat?

Cybersecurity researchers and analysts are rightly worried that a new type of computer, based on quantum physics rather than more standard electronics, could break most modern cryptography. The effect would be to render communications as insecure as if they weren't encoded at all.

Swedish research multiplies the life of rechargeable NiMH batteries

Researchers at Stockholm University have developed a method to multiply the lifespan of nickel-metal hydride batteries. This means that the batteries can handle a great many more charging cycles without losing capacity. The new method also means that the batteries can easily be restored once they have begun to wear out, unlike other rechargeable batteries that must be melted down for recycling.

China bike-sharing pioneer Ofo hits the skids

Bicycle cemeteries, blocked pavements and angry users: the bike-sharing craze is beginning to look like an economic disaster in China, where fierce competition appears set to drive a pioneer of the sector into the ditch.

Breaking up (with Facebook) is hard to do: Here's how

Every relationship has a breaking point. Even yours with Facebook.

Flights suspended again at London Gatwick after drone report

In a new nightmare for holiday travel, flights were suspended again at London's Gatwick Airport after reports that another drone had been spotted over the airport late Friday afternoon, the airport and British police said.

Ford recalls 874,000 pickups in US, Canada on fire risk

Ford is recalling 874,000 of its best-selling F-series pickup trucks due to fire risk from the engine block heater system, the company announced Friday.

Drone threat a steep learning curve for airport chiefs

Aviation chiefs are going to be on a steep learning curve to counter the security threat posed by drones after a costly and humiliating shutdown of London's Gatwick airport.

Privacy and other matters with Facebook's video-call gadget

It's rare that a new gadget these days serves a true need. Rather, it creates a want.

Carlos Ghosn re-arrested over fresh allegations

Japanese prosecutors re-arrested former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn over fresh allegations on Friday, apparently dashing his hopes of early release in the latest twist to a rollercoaster saga.

Anti-hacker team develops data sharing scheme for cloud storage

In cloud computing, there is still a pressing issue of data security. Scientists from the Laboratory of Problem-Oriented Cloud Computing at South Ural State University have developed an algorithm of improving information security, which allows to avoid providers' conspiracy.

Medicine & Health news

Best of Last Year—The top Medical Xpress articles of 2018

It was a good year for medical science as a team at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center reported that the Epstein-Barr virus could be linked to seven serious diseases. Best known for causing mononucleosis, it was also found to play a role in systemic lupus, erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease and type 1 diabetes.

Researchers detect age-related differences in DNA from blood

Researchers have discovered age- and health-related differences in fragments of DNA found floating in the bloodstream (not inside cells) called cell-free DNA (cfDNA). These differences could someday be used to determine biological age—whether a person's body functions as older or younger than their chronological age, the researchers say.

Researchers develop sight-saving treatment for eye infection or trauma

Scientists at the University of Birmingham have developed a novel eye drop that rapidly reduces sight-threatening scarring to the surface of the eye.

Experimental Alzheimer's drug improves memory in mice

An experimental drug known as A03, which was previously developed to treat depression, increases the levels of the enzyme Sirtuin1, or SirT1, and improves memory in mice. The mice were genetically modified to have a protein called ApoE4, the most common genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease in humans that has been linked to some forms of the disease.

Negative mood signals body's immune response

Negative mood—such as sadness and anger—is associated with higher levels of inflammation and may be a signal of poor health, according to researchers at Penn State.

Gene discovery reveals new targets for treating atherosclerosis, inflammatory diseases

A group of genes that has been largely ignored by scientists could play critical roles in atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), inflammation, and likely obesity and other metabolic diseases, new research suggests.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs reduce brown adipose tissue

ETH Zurich scientists have shown that statins, one of the most commonly prescribed classes of pharmaceuticals, reduce beneficial brown adipose tissue. But this is no reason to demonise these drugs, the researchers insist.

Toward vaccination against the chikungunya virus

A live vaccine genetically engineered from a common measles vaccine promises to be effective against the chikungunya virus. Such is the central finding of a recently completed Phase II trial now published in the prestigious journal The Lancet.

Newly identified subset of immune cells may be key to fighting chronic inflammation

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists have discovered a subset of helper T cells that may help to redefine understanding and treatment of chronic, debilitating inflammatory disorders. The research appears today as an advance online publication in the journal Nature.

New multi-pronged method probes how noncoding DNA affects gene expression

Approximately 98 percent of the human genome is made up of noncoding DNA, including enhancers, promoters, and other elements that regulate gene activity. The methods for studying these regions tend to be expensive, labor-intensive, and largely low-throughput.

Artificial intelligence system learns to diagnose, classify intracranial hemorrhage

A team of investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Radiology has developed a system using artificial intelligence to quickly diagnose and classify brain hemorrhages and to provide the basis of its decisions from relatively small image datasets. Such a system could become an indispensable tool for hospital emergency departments evaluating patients with symptoms of a potentially life-threatening stroke, allowing rapid application of the correct treatment. The team's report has been published online in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

People with schizophrenia experience emotion differently from others, 'body maps' show

Colorful figures of the human body are helping Vanderbilt University researchers understand how people experience emotion through their bodies and how this process is radically altered in people with schizophrenia.

300 blind mice uncover genetic causes of eye disease

Hundreds of new genes linked to blindness and other vision disorders have been identified in a screen of mouse strains. Many of these genes are likely important in human vision and the results could help identify new causes of hereditary blindness in patients. The work is published Dec. 21 in Communications Biology.

Hepatitis C cases cluster in states hit hard by opioids

More than half of Americans with hepatitis C are living in just nine U.S. states—five of those in a region hit hard by the opioid epidemic, a new study shows.

Pediatric leukemia 'super drug' could be developed in the coming years

Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered two successful therapies that slowed the progression of pediatric leukemia in mice, according to three studies published over the last two years in the journal Cell, and the final paper published Dec. 20 in Genes & Development.

College binge drinkers are posting while drunk, 'addicted' to social media

College students who binge drink are frequently posting on social media while intoxicated and show signs of social media "addiction," according to a new study.

Germans turn to 'medibus' as doctors desert villages

For years after the last doctor left the small German village of Weissenborn, 79-year-old former mayor Arno Maeurer had to rely on his car to reach the nearest clinic, as a chronic shortage of practitioners gripped his rural region.

Americans flock to find roots under the Christmas tree

This Christmas, many Americans will find the gifts under their tree may lead to a long-lost relative or a map of ancestral migrations.

Hepatitis C and drug abuse often go hand in hand, but screening for infection lags

When people seek help at a drug treatment center for an opioid addiction, concerns about having contracted hepatitis C are generally low on their list.

Study: Increased risk of heart attack, stroke in months leading up to a cancer diagnosis

Older adults with cancer are more likely to have had a heart attack or stroke in the months prior to their cancer diagnosis compared with similar adults who do not have cancer during the same period, according to a report published online today in Blood. Lung and colon cancers, as well as advanced-staged cancers, appear to be most strongly associated with an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke caused by blood clots in the arteries.

Researchers suggest ways to reduce head impacts in youth football

The high head impact and concussion rates in football are of increasing concern, especially for younger players.

Readmissions reduction program may be associated with increase in patient-level mortality

A policy designed to reduce hospital readmissions through financial penalties was associated with a significant increase in post-discharge mortality for patients with heart failure and pneumonia, according to a large-scale study by researchers in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's (BIDMC) Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology. The study appears in the December 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Two type 2 diabetes drugs linked to higher risk of heart disease

Two drugs commonly prescribed to treat Type 2 diabetes carry a high risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure or amputation, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study. 

AIDS—an approach for targeting HIV reservoirs

Current HIV treatments need to be taken for life by those infected as antiretroviral therapy is unable to eliminate viral reservoirs lurking in immune cells. Institut Pasteur scientists have identified the characteristics of CD4 T lymphocytes that are preferentially infected by the virus—it is their metabolic (or energy-producing) activity that enables the virus to multiply. Thanks to metabolic activity inhibitors, the researchers have managed to destroy these infected cells, or "reservoirs," ex vivo. Their findings were published in the journal Cell Metabolism on December 20, 2018.

Diabetes-inducing blood vessel damage could be prevented by a growth factor, study finds

Scientists have identified a growth factor found in the kidneys that could minimise the diabetes-inducing effects of blood vessel damage.

A simple, inexpensive intervention makes birth safer for moms and babies in parts of Africa

Train nurses and midwives in the health facilities where they perform deliveries and more women and their babies will have safer births, a study led by a Jhpiego team demonstrates.

Concerns raised as opioid prescriptions rise across UK

Researchers recommend greater action to promote best practice as a new study reveals a rise in prescriptions of opioids for treating chronic pain rise between 1998 and 2018.

Study highlights problems predicting suicide

A University of Otago study examining the ability of measures to predict death-by-suicide highlights multiple problems with current mental health treatment models.

New research explores policies on timely breast cancer diagnosis for underserved women

A new study from University of Illinois at Chicago researchers suggests delays in diagnosis and use of under-resourced health centers account for most racial and ethnic disparities when it comes to a timely breast cancer diagnosis.

Targeted drug not approved for certain lymphoma patients on the NHS

People with a certain type of lymphoma will not be able to receive a targeted cancer drug on the NHS in England.

Three breast cancer relapse tests recommended for NHS use

Three tests designed to predict if breast cancer will come back after treatment have been recommended for use on the NHS.

Systems biology brings tailor-made approach to metabolic syndrome within sight

About a quarter of all adults have metabolic syndrome; a syndrome whose most well-known symptoms are obesity, high blood pressure and poor cholesterol levels. Eating differently and exercising more is the general advice for this condition, but that is not the whole story. Ph.D. candidates Yvonne Rozendaal and Fianne Sips developed systems biology models that describe the processes of metabolic syndrome in the body in detail.

What if consciousness is just a product of our non-conscious brain?

As the very word used to describe it has been "worn smooth by a million tongues", consciousness is a fertile topic for confusion. We all know what it is to be conscious. It is, basically, being aware of and responding to the world. Similarly, we all possess a common sense notion of how consciousness works.

Forget the gym—and other tips to making New Year's resolutions stick

Eat healthier? Get in shape? Go vegetarian? Complete a triathlon

Screening for Hepatitis C can reduce chance of liver disease

Hepatitis C is a good news, bad news kind of disease. The bad news is that many with the liver-attacking virus may not even know it. The good news is that once discovered, doctors can effectively treat and even remove it.

Scientists tackle two distinct immunological disorders

In two recent studies, a team of scientists reports the mechanisms underlying two distinct immunological disorders affecting children and adults. Stephanie Humblet-Baron (VIB-KU Leuven) was the researcher at the helm of both projects.

FDA warns companies on dangerous, unapproved stem cell treatments

(HealthDay)—After infections tied to unapproved stem cell treatments sent 12 people to hospital this past year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued a stern warning about the products.

Ways to fit pasta into your diet

(HealthDay)—Who doesn't crave a big bowl of spaghetti every now and then? But then comes the question of how to fit it into a smart diet plan.

If someone hurt you this year, forgiving them may improve your health (as long as you're safe, too)

During the end-of-year holidays families often come together to exchange gifts and, sometimes, to confront long-held grudges. What better gift than a peace offering?

Growth in use of telemedicine seen from 2005 to 2017

(HealthDay)—From 2005 to 2017, there was a substantial increase in telemedicine use, although use was still uncommon in 2017, according to a research letter published online Nov. 27 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Racial disparities seen in use of oral anticoagulants for A-fib

(HealthDay)—Black patients with atrial fibrillation are less likely to receive direct-acting oral anticoagulants (DOACs) compared with white patients, even after controlling for clinical and sociodemographic features, according to a study published in the December issue of JAMA Cardiology.

CDC: Almost 65 percent of U.S. women currently using contraceptives

(HealthDay)—Almost two-thirds of U.S. women aged 15 to 49 years were currently using contraception in 2015 to 2017, according to a December data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

Researchers make sense out of the chaos of melanoma

Melanoma is one of the most aggressive tumours, with potential for metastasis from very early stages, when lesions are just millimetres thick. Most puzzling is that these metastases occur in an apparently chaotic way, as they involve many processes that occur simultaneously but do not appear to have a relationship among them.

Researchers discover a genetic cause that links erectile dysfunction and type-2 diabetes

For those men who suffer from it, erectile dysfunction can cause exceptional mental angst, can ruin relationships, and can also be a red flag that indicates other serious underlying health conditions such as circulation or blood pressure problems.

London tries to treat knife crime surge as public health epidemic

Faced with spiralling youth violence and knife crime, authorities in London have decided to treat the issues as a public health problem, deploying similar tactics from the fight against disease epidemics.

Want to stick to your News Year's exercise regime? This research can help

Our New Year's Resolution to visit the gym or do more exercise need not be a stab in the dark with the help of some clever psychology, according to a team of researchers.

Heroes and villains influence what you buy

Stories about villains and heroes have captured the human imagination for centuries, and now those characters are ubiquitous on the packages and labels of products. But do these characters influence whether people are willing to buy something, and how much they'll pay for it?

A subtle strategy to spend more responsibly

If your significant other discovers an opportunity to splurge on something like a massage or ticket to a special sports event, what factors will influence the individual's decision about whether to spend money on this type of pleasurable experience?

Why you may be more at risk for foodborne infections during the holidays

There's no place like home for the holidays, many people agree, and millions of people will travel long distances to get there. Along the journey, however, you may be at higher risk of becoming infected with a foodborne pathogen also along for the ride.

How to stay fit during the holidays

Acknowledging that this time of year can be disordered and chaotic, and that chances are you won't be able to stick to a regular fitness routine, are the first steps towards staying fit over the holidays, according to a University of Alberta kinesiology researcher.

Simple method rescues stressed liver cells

Isolated human hepatocytes are essential tools in preclinical and clinical liver research, but cell quality is highly variable. Now, researchers from Uppsala University have devised a simple protocol that improves hepatocyte quality and enables cells from a wider quality spectrum to be used in standard and advanced cell culture. The findings are published in Archives of Toxicology.

Using gene drives to control wild mosquito populations and wipe out malaria

What is the deadliest animal on earth? It's a question that brings to mind fearsome lions, tigers, sharks and crocodiles. But the answer is an animal that is no more than 1 centimeter long.

Christmas can be isolating for young carers – they need time to be children

Most children look forward to the Christmas holidays as a time for fun and families. But for some young carers – children who provide care for someone in their family who is ill or disabled – the Christmas holidays are a mixed blessing.

Research highlights what helps people live well with dementia

New research has identified the factors that enable people with dementia and their carers to live as well as possible.

Air pollution in Mexico City associated with development of Alzheimer disease

A new study by researchers at the Universities of Montana, Valle de México, Boise State, Universidad Veracruzana, Instituto Nacional de Pediatría and Paul-Flechsig-Institute for Brain Research heightens together with German company Analytik Jena concerns over the evolving and relentless Alzheimer's pathology observed in young Metropolitan Mexico City (MMC) urbanites. These findings are published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Antibiotic overuse is high for common urology procedures

A new study suggests that antibiotics are being overused in up to 60 percent of patients undergoing common urological procedures. The study, led by Daniel Livorsi, MD, University of Iowa assistant professor of internal medicine, shows that the high rates of overuse were mostly due to extended use of antibiotics following the procedure. The findings were published Dec. 21 in JAMA Network Open.

Certain antibiotics tied to deadly heart vessel tears: FDA

(HealthDay)—Patients should avoid a class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolone due to an increased risk of heart vessel tears associated with their use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned.

Teething jewelry linked to at least one baby's death: FDA

(HealthDay)—Teething jewelry products, such as necklaces, pose significant safety risks and have been tied to at least one baby's death, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

News anchor opens up to viewers about dad's stroke

Brooke Lennington's phone buzzed late one night in 2016, a week before Thanksgiving. Her younger brother, Hunter, was calling, frantically saying a nurse at a hospital had called about their father.

Teen pot-smoking drops in Washington state after legalization

(HealthDay)—Contrary to predictions, teen marijuana use declined in Washington state after recreational pot was legalized in 2012, a new study finds.

A-fib risk up for antidepressant users, but higher before Tx

(HealthDay)—The risk for atrial fibrillation (AF) is increased among antidepressant users, particularly before treatment initiation, according to a study recently published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Age, BMI predict obstructive sleep apnea treatment success

(HealthDay)—Among patients with obstructive sleep apnea, older age and reduced body mass index (BMI) are predictors of upper airway stimulation (UAS) treatment response, according to a study published online Nov. 28 in the European Respiratory Journal.

CDC: weight, waist size, BMI increased for many U.S. adults

(HealthDay)—From 1999-2000 to 2015-2016, there was an increase in mean weight, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI) for many U.S. adults, according to the Dec. 20 issue of the National Vital Statistics Reports, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mental, behavior, developmental disorders up with low-income

(HealthDay)—Children in lower-income households more often receive a diagnosis of mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders (MBDDs), according to research published in the Dec. 21 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Influences of maternal diabetes on fetal heart development

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect. And even with remarkable advances in care, it remains the leading cause of non-infectious death in infants.

Liver disease could be picked up much sooner by nurse-led tests in GP surgeries

Research carried out by scientists at the University of Southampton has shown that simple tests in GP surgeries could potentially double the diagnosis rate of liver disease where patients are not displaying any symptoms.

Study supports safety of overlapping surgery for outpatient orthopaedic procedures

At least for brief periods, overlapping surgery is safe for patients undergoing outpatient or "same-day" orthopaedic surgery procedures, reports a study in the December 19, 2018 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

NHS trusts struggling to produce Brexit plans amid continuing uncertainty

NHS trusts are struggling to produce contingency plans for Brexit because of the continuing uncertainty about the UK's future relationship with the European Union, reveals an investigation published by The BMJ today.

Flint inspires national nutrition prescription program in US Farm Bill

A Flint nutrition prescription program, where fruits and vegetables are prescribed to young patients by their pediatrician, will expand nationally as a result of the recently signed U.S. Farm Bill by President Trump.

Columbia professor uses data science to create personalized cancer therapies

Columbia's Andrea Califano has developed a highly-predictive computer platform that can analyze all tumor types and predict which drug or drugs will be most effective in treating them.

Biology news

Forget-me-not: Scientists pinpoint memory mechanism in plants

Plant scientists at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham have unravelled a mechanism that enables flowering plants to sense and 'remember' changes in their environment.

Divining roots—revealing how plants branch out to access water

New research has discovered how plant roots sense the availability of moisture in soil and then adapt their shape to optimise acquisition of water.

How sperm stem cells maintain their numbers

The steady production of sperm relies on the number of sperm stem cells in the testis remaining constant. Researchers including Assistant Professor Yu Kitadate and Professor Shosei Yoshida (developmental biologists at the National Institute for Basic Biology within the National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan) and Professor Benjamin Simons (a theoretical physicist at the University of Cambridge in the U.K.) have revealed a novel mechanism for stem cell population control. Their results show that constant sperm stem cell numbers are achieved in mouse testes through a self-organized process in which they actively migrate and compete for a limited supply of self-renewal-promoting fibroblast growth factors (FGFs). This study was published on line in Cell Stem Cell on Nov. 20th, 2018.

The idiosyncratic mammalian diversification after extinction of the dinosaurs

Mass extinction typically conjures a picture of a meteor falling to Earth and decimating the dinosaurs along with everything else. However, this is not exactly what happened. Different groups of living beings were affected differently by the various mass extinctions that have occurred during the planet's history.

Structure and function of photosynthesis protein explained in detail

An international team of researchers has solved the structure and elucidated the function of photosynthetic complex I. This membrane protein complex plays a major role in dynamically rewiring photosynthesis. The team from the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Osaka University and Ruhr-Universität Bochum together with their collaboration partners report the work in the journal Science, published online on 20 December 2018.

Industrial fishing in marine protected areas poses significant threats to endangered sharks and other species

What began as a Dalhousie Ph.D. student's investigation into North Atlantic shark populations turned into an eye-opening discovery that shows a number of European Union-designated marine protected areas (MPAs) are falling short of protecting threatened biodiversity. The research will be published in Science this week (Dec. 21).

Bees can count with just four nerve cells in their brains

Bees can solve seemingly clever counting tasks with very small numbers of nerve cells in their brains, according to researchers at Queen Mary University of London.

Camera trap study reveals the hidden lives of island carnivores

Researchers placed 160 cameras on 19 of the 22 Apostle Islands in northern Wisconsin to see which carnivores were living there. After taking more than 200,000 photos over a period of three years, the team discovered that several mammalian predators are living on various islands in this remote archipelago in Lake Superior.

Bird migration and conservation clues in robin and Turtle dove genomes

The European robin and Turtle dove have had their genetic codes sequenced and assembled for the first time by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and their collaborators. The genomes, completed today (21 December) will enable researchers to explore the genetic switches controlling bird migration and give insight into the magneto receptors that help robins 'see' the Earth's magnetic fields for navigation. The Turtle dove genome will help conservation efforts to save one of the UK's fastest declining bird species.

Alba the albino orangutan returned to jungle in Indonesia

The world's only known albino orangutan climbed trees, foraged for food and began building a nest after being released into a remote Borneo jungle more than a year after conservation officials found her starving and dehydrated in an Indonesian village.

More young and other traits help mammals adapt to urban environments

Species of mammals that live in urban environments produce more young compared to other mammals. But along with this advantage, mammals have other strategies to successfully inhabit cities. This is what Radboud University ecologist Luca Santini and colleagues found in a study that they will publish in Ecology Letters on 21 December. "This is the first step of many to understand why certain mammals manage to live in cities and why other species don't."

Wildlife struggle to cope with extreme weather

The mass death of flying foxes in extreme heat in North Queensland last month underscores the importance of University of Queensland wildlife research released today.

Sulfate helps plants cope with water scarcity

Plants absorb the mineral sulfate from groundwater. An international research team led by scientists from Heidelberg University has uncovered how sulfate controls the production of the drought stress hormone ABA in plants and thus contributes to their drought-resistance. These findings improve scientists' understanding of how the drought-stress signal travels from the roots to the leaves. The studies in Heidelberg were carried out at the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS).

Major gaps remain in how traditional knowledge is used in salmon governance in Norway and Finland

A new article published today in the journal Arctic points to major challenges in the ways traditional knowledge is included in the management of Atlantic salmon in Norway and Finland. Comparing different policy and research approaches in the two countries in relation to international expectations towards traditional knowledge inclusion (i.e. the Convention on Biodiversity and at the Arctic policy level), the authors point to remaining gaps and rare examples of success in the inclusion of Sámi knowledge in Atlantic salmon governance.

Same genes allow humans and domestic animals to survive in Arctic conditions

Juha Kantanen, a research professor at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), has collected a large set of biological materials and data for the study of the genomes of Northern domestic animals, reindeer, cattle and horses during his expeditions in a project called Arctic Ark.

We discovered more about the honeybee 'wake-up call'—and it could help save them

Worldwide honeybee populations are in peril – and it's a dire situation for humans. Threats from climate change, toxic pesticides, and disease have all contributed to a steep honeybee population decline since 2006. And as a third of the food we eat is a direct result of insect pollination – including by honeybees – there could be serious consequences for us if the species goes extinct.

Antennal sensors allow hawkmoths to make quick moves

All insects use vision to control their position in the air when they fly, but they also integrate information from other senses. Biologists at Lund University have now shown how hawkmoths use mechanosensors in their antennae to control fast flight manoeuvres.

Robin hushed: Wind turbines are making songbirds change their tune

Wind turbines are a leading source of green energy which could supply 12% of the world's energy by 2020. But their use is often criticised for its impact on wildlife, particularly birds. Larger birds can collide with turbines and some have even learned to avoid flying near them.

Researchers explore genetics of California mountain lions to inform future conservation

Fragmentation of wildlife populations is increasing on a global scale, and understanding current genetic structure, genetic diversity and genetic connectivity is key to informing future wildlife management and conservation.

Tons of dead fish wash up in Rio de Janeiro lagoon

Residents of a high-end neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro woke up to the unpleasant smell of 13 tons of rotting dead fish floating in the city's Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon.

Thailand to honor beautiful, violent Siamese fighting fish

The Siamese fighting fish, a popular beauty in home aquariums and a popular bet for gamblers for their violent territoriality, is set to become Thailand's national aquatic animal.

Tiny bubbles of bacterial mischief

Margarethe (Meta) Kuehn studies vesicles—little bubbles that bud off bacterial membranes. All sorts of things may be tightly packed into these bubbles: viruses, antigens, and information a bacterium will need to make cells vulnerable to infection.

Why the issue of drug resistance in animal farming means a fight against urban elites

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been framed as one of the biggest threats to humanity in the 21st century. By 2050, more humans could die because of AMR than cancer. But despite alarming concerns from the early 1960s and warnings that the issue of antimicrobial resistance could cross barriers between animal species, the problems of antimicrobial use in animal farming have for long been ignored by policy makers and the food industry.

Ruling that blocked grizzly bear hunt plans appealed by US

U.S. government attorneys filed notice Friday that they are appealing a court ruling that restored protections for grizzly bears in the Northern Rockies and blocked plans to hold the first public hunts for the animals in decades.

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