Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Oct 29

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 29, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Batteries with fluorinated electrolytes that work at very high and low temperatures

Researchers uncover an anomaly in the electromagnetic duality of Maxwell Theory

Chameleon's tongue strike inspires fast-acting robots

Astronomers observe blazar S5 0836+710 during high activity period, detect two gamma-ray flares

New findings detail a method for investigating the inner workings of stars in a rare phase

A new method of extracting hydrogen from water more efficiently to capture renewable energy

Anti-inflammatory agents can effectively and safely curb major depressive symptoms

Exerting self-control does not mean sacrificing pleasure

Poor evidence cannabis improves mental health: study

Researchers move closer to new vaccine for killer TB

Air Force's mystery space plane lands, ends 2-year mission

Severe drought shuts down reproduction in copperhead snakes, study finds

Red algae thrive despite ancestor's massive loss of genes

De-identification team explores facial recognition block in videos

Scientists synthesize light with new intrinsic chirality to tell mirror molecules apart

Astronomy & Space news

Astronomers observe blazar S5 0836+710 during high activity period, detect two gamma-ray flares

Italian astronomers have conducted multi-band observations of the high-redshift blazar S5 0836+710 during its period of high activity. The monitoring campaign resulted in the detection of two major gamma-ray flares from this source and provided more insights on the object's properties. The findings are available in a paper published October 18 on arXiv.org.

New findings detail a method for investigating the inner workings of stars in a rare phase

In 5 billion years or so, when the sun has used up the hydrogen in its core, it will inflate and turn into a red giant star. This phase of its life—and that of other stars up to twice its mass—is relatively short compared with the more than 10 billion-year life of the sun. The red giant will shine 1000 times brighter than the sun, and suddenly the helium deep in its core will begin fusing to carbon in a process called the "helium core flash." After this, the star settles into 100 million years of quiet helium fusion.

Air Force's mystery space plane lands, ends 2-year mission

The Air Force's mystery space plane is back on Earth, following a record-breaking two-year mission.

Virgin Galactic becomes first space tourism company to land on Wall Street

Virgin Galactic landed on Wall Street Monday, debuting its listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in a first for a space tourism company.

Dark energy: new experiment may solve one of the universe's greatest mysteries

As an astronomer, there is no better feeling than achieving "first light" with a new instrument or telescope. It is the culmination of years of preparations and construction of new hardware, which for the first time collects light particles from an astronomical object. This is usually followed by a sigh of relief and then the excitement of all the new science that is now possible.

Microsatellites to take never-before-seen look at the young solar wind

Scientists know that a solar wind streams out of the Sun and rushes into the void of space, constantly buffeting Earth and the other planets with gales of charged particles.

TESS reveals an improbable planet

Using asteroseismology, a team led by an Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA) researcher studied two red-giant stars known to have exoplanets, and around one of them, found a seemingly improbable planet.

Technology news

Batteries with fluorinated electrolytes that work at very high and low temperatures

Electrolytes are chemical components that enable the flow of ions between the cathode and anode inside batteries, ultimately providing electrical power to technological devices. Most conventional and readily available non-aqueous Li-ion batteries are fabricated using carbonate-based electrolytes.

Chameleon's tongue strike inspires fast-acting robots

Chameleons, salamanders and many toads use stored elastic energy to launch their sticky tongues at unsuspecting insects located up to one-and-a-half body lengths away, catching them within a tenth of a second.

De-identification team explores facial recognition block in videos

Facebook has figured out the de-identification of people in videos. Wait, Facebook? Aren't social platforms often criticized over privacy rights? Not this time, at least not over in the halls of Facebook AI Research.

OmniVision announces world record for smallest image sensor

OmniVision, a developer of advanced digital imaging solutions, has announced that it has won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records with the development of its OV6948 image sensor—it now holds the record for the smallest image sensor in the world. Along with the sensor, the company also announced the development of a camera module based on the sensor called the CameraCubeChip.

Popular third-party genetic genealogy site is vulnerable to compromised data, impersonations

DNA testing services like 23andMe, Ancestry.com and MyHeritage are making it easier for people to learn about their ethnic heritage and genetic makeup. People can also use genetic testing results to connect to potential relatives by using third-party sites, like GEDmatch, where they can compare their DNA sequences to others in the database who have uploaded test results.

Nature can help solve optimization problems

Today's best digital computers still struggle to solve, in a practical time frame, a certain class of problem: combinatorial optimization problems, or those that involve combing through large sets of possibilities to find the best solution. Quantum computers hold potential to take on these problems, but scaling up the number of quantum bits in these systems remains a hurdle.

Facial recognition software has a gender problem

With a brief glance at a single face, emerging facial recognition software can now categorize the gender of many men and women with remarkable accuracy.

Researchers increasing access to 3-D modeling through touch-based display

With the goal of increasing access to making, engineers at Stanford University have collaborated with members of the blind and visually impaired community to develop a touch-based display that mimics the geometry of 3-D objects designed on a computer.

Google sued by Australian regulators over location tracking

Australia's consumer watchdog sued Google on Tuesday alleging the technology giant broke consumer law by misleading Android users about how their location data was collected and used.

The streaming war's first victim: your wallet

With two young daughters, Mery Montenegro is preparing to add Disney+ to her list of streaming subscriptions, which already includes Netflix, Hulu and Amazon—and, when combined with her cable TV bill, costs her almost $1,500 per year.

Survey: Number of kids watching online videos soars

The number of young Americans watching online videos every day has more than doubled, according to survey findings released Tuesday. They're glued to them for nearly an hour a day, twice as long as they were four years ago.

Live sports, the newest weapon in the TV streaming war

Streaming services have long focused on series and movies, but as online TV competition heats up could live sports—historically a bit player on these platforms—change the game?

Where to install renewable energy in US to achieve greatest benefits

A new Harvard study shows that to achieve the biggest improvements in public health and the greatest benefits from renewable energy, wind turbines should be installed in the Upper Midwest and solar power should be installed in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions. When adjusting for energy produced, the benefits ranged from $28 per MWh of energy produced from wind in California, to $113 per MWh of wind in the Upper Midwest and for utility-scale solar in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic. The study in Environmental Research Letters by the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard C-CHANGE) provides a guide for policymakers, businesses, and utilities on where to install renewable energy in the U.S. to maximize their health and climate benefits.

Airbus A220s ordered to slow down over engine incidents

The Airbus A220 should no longer use full power at high altitudes, Canadian and European air safety regulators have announced following several incidents with their engines, including one in which pieces came off in-flight.

Bandwidth for ubiquitous 5G and beyond might be just around the corner with this new microsystem

A new way to exploit the terahertz (THz) radio spectrum could prove cost-effective and reliable enough to commercialize new, under-used frequencies for high volume applications for 5G and beyond.

Surtrac allows traffic to move at the speed of technology

Artificial intelligence is giving more Pittsburgh drivers the green light.

Digital sovereignty: can the Russian Internet cut itself off from the rest of the world?

The Internet infrastructure is based on the principle of the internationalisation of equipment and data and information flows. Elements of the Internet with a geographic location in national territories need physical and information resources hosted in other territories to be able to function. However, in this globalised context, Russia has been working since 2012 to gradually increase national controls on information flows and infrastructure, in an atmosphere of growing political mistrust toward protest movements within the country and its international partners abroad. Several laws have already been passed in this regard, such as the one in force since 2016 requiring companies processing data from Russian citizens to store them on national territory, or the one regulating the use of virtual private networks (VPNs), proxies and anonymisation tools in force since 2017.

Technology selectively filters perchlorate from water

In June, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a request for public comment on a proposed rule for regulating perchlorate in public drinking water systems.

Drones help track wildfires, count wildlife and map plants

Drones are revolutionizing the way scientists observe, measure and monitor the natural environment. From mapping the patterns of wildfires, like those in California, to measuring the size of jellyfish populations, drones have the potential to improve our understanding of the natural environment.

Study finds companies may be wise to share cybersecurity efforts

Research finds that when one company experiences a cybersecurity breach, other companies in the same field also become less attractive to investors. However, companies that are open about their cybersecurity risk management fare significantly better than peers that don't disclose their cybersecurity efforts.

Team develops bimodal 'electronic skin'

Through the crafty use of magnetic fields, scientists from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the Johannes Kepler University in Linz have developed the first electronic sensor that can simultaneously process both touchless and tactile stimuli. Prior attempts have so far failed to combine these functions on a single device due to overlapping signals of the various stimuli. As the sensor is readily applied to the human skin, it could provide a seamless interactive platform for virtual and augmented reality scenarios. The researchers have published their results in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Examination of conscience on the role of engineering in sustainable development

One defining feature of the beginning of the twenty-first century is the growing acceptance that our world (environment, economy, politics and culture) is highly diverse but strongly interrelated and interdependent. Being a responsible professional involves taking into account that professional practice contributes to society, in addition to considering the effects that attitudes and actions have on the profession.

New AI deep learning model allows earlier, more accurate ozone warnings

Researchers from the University of Houston have developed an artificial intelligence-based ozone forecasting system, which would allow local areas to predict ozone levels 24 hours in advance.

Apple resumes human reviews of Siri audio with iPhone update

Apple is resuming the use of humans to review Siri commands and dictation with the latest iPhone software update.

Amazon drops monthly fee to boost grocery delivery sales

Amazon has a new plan to try and jumpstart its grocery delivery business: cut some fees for its Prime members.

Facebook takes more heat for enabling political falsehoods

Facebook came under fresh criticism Tuesday for its hands-off approach to political speech, as a group of employees and US lawmakers called on the social network to fact-check politicians spreading misinformation.

The internet is now 50 years old. The first online message? It was a typo

Fifty years ago, two letters were transmitted online, forever altering the way that knowledge, information and communication would be exchanged.

Apple TV Plus launching Friday with lowest price for major subscription service

The company that brought you the Macintosh computer, iPhone, iPad and iTunes now wants you to turn to it for Apple-branded entertainment.

Deep neural network generates realistic character-scene interactions

A key part of bringing 3-D animated characters to life is the ability to depict their physical motions naturally in any scene or environment.

WhatsApp sues Israeli firm NSO over cyberespionage

WhatsApp on Tuesday sued Israeli technology firm NSO Group, accusing it of using the Facebook-owned messaging service to conduct cyberespionage on journalists, human rights activists and others.

Team develops a detector that stops lateral phishing attacks

Lateral phishing attacks—scams targeting users from compromised email accounts within an organization—are becoming an increasing concern in the U.S.

Maker of China's TikTok denies report it is planning HK listing

Chinese internet start-up ByteDance, whose globally popular app TikTok has raised US security concerns, on Tuesday denied reports that it was considering an initial public offering in Hong Kong in the first quarter of next year.

Facebook employees sign letter opposing political ads policy

Hundreds of Facebook employees have signed a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives saying they oppose the social network's policy of letting politicians lie in advertisements.

Is the US losing the artificial intelligence arms race?

The U.S. government, long a proponent of advancing technology for military purposes, sees artificial intelligence as key to the next generation of fighting tools.

Young inventors come up with smart sneakers

Navigation in unfamiliar places is a major problem for residents of large cities. Therefore, the popularity of mobile GPS devices has risen significantly. However, it's nonetheless sometimes difficult for users to understand where to go. In addition, they have to regularly look at the screen to track the route, which distracts them from what's happening around them and increases risks on the road. Pre-university students from the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI in Moscow have created sneakers that can give directions, count a person's steps and tally the number calories burned.

Air Canada misses earnings forecast due to 737 MAX grounding

Air Canada on Tuesday posted record operating revenues and strong earnings, but missed forecasts, which it blamed on the grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX jetliners over the past eight months.

Boeing CEO grilled on Capitol Hill after MAX crashes

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg faced a barrage of criticism from US lawmakers Tuesday at a jammed hearing on the company's commitment to safety as family members of victims of two deadly MAX 737 crashes looked on.

India's IndiGo makes $33bn mega-order of Airbus jets

Indian airline IndiGo has placed an order for 300 A320neo family aircraft, Airbus said Tuesday, in one of its largest-ever orders from a single firm, worth over $33.2 billion at catalogue prices.

GM earnings top expectations; forecast cut after strike

General Motors reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings Tuesday on strong auto sales but trimmed its full-year forecast after a lengthy strike that ended last week.

Restaurant delivery gets easier for most, but not Grubhub

Shares in Grubhub plunged 43% Tuesday after it sharply cut its revenue expectations for the year and warned of intense competition.

Concert promoters turn away from facial recognition tech

Concert promoters in the U.S. are stepping back from plans to scan festivalgoers with facial recognition technology, after musicians and others gave it some serious side-eye.

Medicine & Health news

Anti-inflammatory agents can effectively and safely curb major depressive symptoms

Anti-inflammatory agents, such as aspirin/paracetamol, statins, and antibiotics, can safely and effectively curb the symptoms of major depression, finds a pooled analysis of the available evidence, published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Poor evidence cannabis improves mental health: study

People with psychiatric disorders may want to pass on the joint—at least until further research is done, a new Australian study suggests.

Researchers move closer to new vaccine for killer TB

Scientists said Tuesday they are closing in on a new game-changing vaccine for tuberculosis, the world's deadliest infectious disease that claimed some 1.5 million lives last year.

Drinking more water improves multitasking ability in children, study finds

Drinking water not only keeps children hydrated, but also increases their ability to multitask, suggests a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois and their collaborators.

Faith, truth and forgiveness: How your brain processes abstract thoughts

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have leveraged machine learning to interpret human brain scans, allowing the team to uncover the regions of the brain behind how abstract concepts, like justice, ethics and consciousness, form. The results of this study are available online in the October 29 issue of Cerebral Cortex.

Seeking better treatment for ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease

There is currently no cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). But new research could open up avenues for better diagnosis and more effective treatment.

Immune cells in skin kill MRSA bacteria before they enter the body

A type of immune cell called neutrophils could be responsible for controlling bacterial numbers of an antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on human skin before the bacteria get a chance to invade, according to a new study from Karolinska Institutet published in Cell Reports. The results could provide an explanation for why this superbug is only carried transiently by some people.

Eye damage linked to popular over-the-counter vitamin that lowers cholesterol can be reversed

In a first-of-its-kind clinical report, retina specialists at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai (NYEE) have shown that severe vision loss from a self-prescribed high dose of over-the-counter niacin is linked to injury of a specific cell type in a patient's eye. The experts report that discontinuing the vitamin led to reversal of the condition and have published their findings in the fall issue of Journal of VitreoRetinal Diseases.

Can't stop putting your hand in the candy dish? Scientists may have found why

A national team of scientists has identified a circuit in the brain that appears to be associated with psychiatric disorders ranging from overeating to gambling, drug abuse and even Parkinson's disease.

Study identifies role of specific gene in hardening of blood vessel walls

Arterial wall calcification is the buildup of calcium in the blood vessel walls, which can often be a predictor of serious cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes. Scientists have long pointed to family history as one possible cause for this hardening of the arteries, but a new study published in Nature Genetics implicates a specific gene—HDAC9—in the calcification of the human aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body.

Researchers develop noninvasive method to detect early-stage liver disease

A safer and more sensitive contrast dye for MRI tests developed by a team led by Georgia State University researchers may provide the first effective, noninvasive method for detecting and diagnosing early-stage liver diseases, including liver fibrosis.

Do open relationships really work?

Open relationships typically describe couples in which the partners have agreed on sexual activity with someone other than their primary romantic partner, while maintaining the couple bond. Can these open relationships work? It depends, concludes a team from the University of Rochester that focuses on couples research. Not surprisingly, the success of such relationships hinges on solid communication between all parties involved.

Implantable cancer traps could provide earlier diagnosis, help monitor treatment

Invasive procedures to biopsy tissue from cancer-tainted organs could be replaced by simply taking samples from a tiny "decoy" implanted just beneath the skin, University of Michigan researchers have demonstrated in mice.

Can aspirin decrease the rate of intracranial aneurysm growth?

Researchers conducted a database search to investigate whether aspirin can aid in the prevention of intracranial aneurysm rupture by hindering aneurysm growth. The researchers identified 146 patients harboring multiple intracranial aneurysms, five millimeters or less in diameter, that had been observed for at least five years. In this set of patients, the researchers found an association between aspirin use and a decreased rate of aneurysm growth. Growth is important in intracranial aneurysms because it increases the risk of aneurysm rupture. Detailed findings are found in the article, "Aspirin associated with decreased rate of intracranial aneurysm growth," by Mario Zanaty, M.D., and colleagues, published today in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

Cognitive screen paired with odor identification predicts lack of transition to dementia

A new study has found that performing well on two brief tests measuring cognitive ability and ability to identify odors indicates very low risk for Alzheimer's. We know that these tests can help predict the risk of developing dementia, but didn't know if they could help rule out those unlikely to develop Alzheimer's.

Narcissism can lower stress levels and reduce chances of depression

People who have grandiose narcissistic traits are more likely to be 'mentally tough', feel less stressed and are less vulnerable to depression, research led by Queen's University Belfast has found.

How far schoolkids live from junk food sources tied to obesity

For the more than 1 million children attending New York City public schools, their choice of what to eat depends on which food sources are close to where they live.

Study finds inequities in access to heart failure care

Nationally, heart failure patients who receive specialized cardiology care after admission tend to have better outcomes, including lower readmission rates and lower rates of death. But not all patients may have equal access to cardiology services. As part of an initiative by the Department of Medicine Health Equity Committee at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Brigham investigators conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients admitted to the Brigham with a diagnosis of heart failure. They evaluated whether race and other factors, such as age and gender, influenced whether the patient was admitted to either the specialized cardiology service or general medicine service, as well as the subsequent relationship between admission service and outcomes. The team found that patients who self-identified as black, Latinx, female or over the age of 75 were less likely to be admitted to the cardiology service, even after adjusting for demographic and clinical factors. Their results are published in Circulation: Heart Failure.

Genetic variants for autism linked to higher rates of self-harm and childhood maltreatment

People with a higher genetic likelihood of autism are more likely to report higher childhood maltreatment, self-harm and suicidal thoughts according to a new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge. A better understanding of these issues is critical to improving wellbeing in autistic people. The results are published today in Molecular Psychiatry.

Groundbreaking study improves understanding of brain function

Researchers at KAUST are officially one step closer to understanding the brain and its function.

Editing mosquito's gene wards off malaria and halts reproduction

Scientists have looked for immune system factors that might help mosquitoes ward off pathogens such as malarial parasites and indirectly protect humans from infection. Yale researchers found one by editing a single gene, which turns out to be crucial for female reproduction.

Student correctly guesses mystery disease on Netflix series 'Diagnosis'

Lilian Fung was taking a break from studying when she came across a column in The New York Times Magazine called "Diagnosis" that described hard-to-solve medical mysteries.

To encourage healthy eating, focus on mobile produce and farmers markets

Smaller purveyors of produce such as mobile and farmers markets are the cream of the crop when it comes to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in low-income communities.

Psychologists analyze language to categorize human goals

Categorizing the goals of people has long been a challenge for psychologists, with wide disagreement regarding any set of terms intended to cover all of the factors that motivate human behavior.

Why some Parkinson's patients develop harmful addictive behaviours

A QIMR Berghofer study has discovered how the medications given to people with Parkinson's disease cause some patients to develop addictive behaviours such as problem gambling, binge eating, hypersexuality and excessive shopping.

Cracking the colon code – new light shed on gut function

New insights into how the colon functions and actually expels its contents have been revealed for the first time following decades of study by Flinders University researchers.

Older people reluctant to ask for mental health support

New ECU research has found that more than 40 percent of older Australians with chronic disease would be unlikely to seek help for mental health conditions even if they needed it.

Cannabis helps those with spinal cord injuries escape pain

Using cannabis helps people with spinal cord injuries better tolerate almost constant and excruciating pain and participate in community and family life without feeling like 'zombies', a new study has found.

Testing people with bowel cancer for genetic syndrome could save lives and money

Lynch syndrome, a mutation of four genes involved in DNA repair, is associated with increased risk of developing a range of cancers, particularly colorectal cancer (CRC).

Girls more likely to be hospitalised after self-harm than boys

Girls in Wales who have self harmed are significantly more likely than boys to be admitted to hospital, after turning up for emergency care, finds the first study of its kind, published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Medical research threatened by lack of investment in stats

A lack of attention to biostatistics as a core scientific discipline threatens the value of the $800 million spent annually on Australian health research investment, in terms of improved health and lives saved, according to the authors of a Perspective published online today by the Medical Journal of Australia.

Scientists identify brain circuit responsible for building memories during sleep

Neuroscientists at the University of Alberta have identified a mechanism that may help build memories during deep sleep.

3-D printers create perfect models of life-sized human hearts, spines and other body parts

In a small, windowless room at Toronto General Hospital, a bank of seven 3-D printers runs day and night, patiently laying down layer after layer of coloured plastic. When the printing is done, the pieces are trimmed and fitted together into perfect models of human hearts, life-sized and correct down to the smallest detail.

Why we love big, blood-curdling screams

Of all the sounds humans produce, nothing captures our attention quite like a good scream.

Scientists discover the implication of a new protein involved in liver cancer

Researchers at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) have just described for the first time the crucial involvement of a cell membrane protein in the development and progression of liver cancer, according to an article published in the Journal of Hepatology. This protein, called clathrin, is known for its key role in the process of internalization of molecules from the extracellular space into the cell, called endocytosis. In this process, the cell membrane folds creating vesicles with a cladded structure. Thanks to the new results, analyzing the levels of clathrin expression in biopsies of hepatocellular carcinoma patients will help select those patients who will benefit from a much more targeted and personalized therapy.

Unravelling the neural network of torpor

A neuronal network specifically active at the torpor onset was discovered by a research group at the University of Bologna (Italy). This represents a step forward in the research into the mechanisms regulating torpor and hibernation. Indeed, if artificially induced in humans, torpor/hibernation could have significant consequences both in medicine and in space exploration.

Is the creativity of the human mind rooted in errors?

Why do some of our choices appear to be driven by a desire to explore the unknown? An Inserm team from École Normale Supérieure led by Valentin Wyart has shown that most of these choices are not motivated by curiosity, but by errors caused by the brain mechanisms implicated in evaluating our options. These findings have been published in Nature Neuroscience.

Does aging make our brains less efficient?

We are an aging population. Demographic projections predict the largest population growth will be in the oldest age group—one study predicted a doubling of people age 65 and over between 2012 and 2050. Understanding aging and prolonging healthy years is thus becoming increasingly important.

Miscarriages affect one in six pregnancies. We need better investigations and treatments

A miscarriage is a devastating event. Those who experience them are suddenly and unexpectedly robbed of the promise of new life and the dream of an expanded family. The emotional toll can be even greater if conception was delayed, or if fertility treatments were required to achieve a pregnancy.

Significant association between use of long-acting contraceptives and unprecedented decline in abortion rate

A shift towards the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives, particularly by young women, is associated with declining abortion rates in New Zealand, new research has found.

How 'knowing less' can boost language development in children

Children may learn new words better when they learn them in the context of other words they are just learning—according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Hope for patients with rare Sjögren's syndrome

A new study has shed light on a debilitating autoimmune condition by identifying a number of subtypes of the disease which could lead to personalised treatment for patients.

Rabies' horrifying symptoms inspired folktales of humans turned into werewolves, vampires and other monsters

In 1855, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on the gruesome murder of a bride by her new husband. The story came from the French countryside, where the woman's parents had initially prevented the couple's engagement "on account of the strangeness of conduct sometimes observed in the young man," although he "otherwise was a most eli[g]ible match."

A good night's sleep, a long-sought dream for sleep apnea patients, may be in closer reach

For millions of people who suffer from sleep apnea, getting a good night's sleep is an elusive dream. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea have blockage of breathing while they sleep, leading to snoring, disruption of sleep and the drowsiness or fatigue that often occur. The ailment also can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure and a risk of heart attack or stroke.

The scariest part of Halloween may be costume contact lenses, an eye doctor says

Your appearance won't be the only frightening thing about wearing costume contact lenses this Halloween. Your eyes might look like a lizard's for an evening, but the risk of permanent vision loss may not be worth the temporary thrill.

Skin graft: a new molecular target for activating stem cells

Human skin completely renews itself every month thanks to the presence of stem cells in the deepest layer, which generate all the upper layers of this tissue. The deciphering of genes that regulate stemness remains an enigma that is only partially resolved, in particular for human skin.

Scientists identify critical window for treatment of Alzheimer's disease

Neuroscientists at the University of Southampton have made a significant development in understanding how Alzheimer's disease spreads through the brain, discovering a significant period of time where medical intervention could halt its onset.

New model of irregular heartbeat could boost drug efficacy

Patients with irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmia, have few effective treatment options—available drugs are not always effective, and an implanted defibrillator can be too aggressive.

Tick-borne encephalitis virus detected in ticks in the UK for the first time

Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) has been detected for the first time in ticks in the UK. The findings are part of ongoing research by Public Health England (PHE) and the Emerging and Zoonotic Infections National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit at the University of Liverpool.

Distinct brain region alterations in youth with psychosis spectrum disorders

Psychotic spectrum (PS) disorders are characterized by abnormalities in beliefs, perceptions and behavior, but how these disorders manifest themselves in earlier development stages is largely unknown. A new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) reports differences in brain structure among youth with PS disorders relative to typically developing youth.

Hormonal contraceptives affect the efficacy of exposure therapy

Psychologists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have studied in what way hormonal contraceptives affect the efficacy of anxiety therapy. They demonstrated that women who were on the pill benefitted less from exposure therapy than women who didn't take any oral contraceptives. Friederike Raeder, Professor Armin Zlomuzica and colleagues describe the results in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, published online on 28 September 2019.

Study identifies potential new target for treatment of gout

Researchers at Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane and elsewhere have identified a new therapeutic target for the treatment of gout, a common type of arthritis that causes episodes of painful and stiff joints.

Cycling is safer with more cyclists on the road, but injuries are on the rise, study finds

Head and facial injuries from cycling have remained steady over the past 10 years according to a Rutgers-led study.

Banned trans fats linked to higher dementia risk

A diet high in trans fats could put you at increased risk for dementia, a new study suggests.

Syringe exchange programs prevented thousands of new HIV cases in Philadelphia, Baltimore

Syringe exchange programs established in Philadelphia and Baltimore prevented a total of 12,483 new cases of HIV over a ten-year period, according to a study published today. The averted HIV infections also saved both cities millions of dollars every year, according to the researchers.

Significantly fewer pregnant women take antidepressants

A pregnancy is not always a happy event and as many as 10-15 per cent of pregnant women in Denmark have depressive symptoms. Despite years of critical focus on the side effects of antidepressants in the healthcare system, consumption of antidepressants by pregnant women actually increased drastically during the period 1997 to 2011.

Therapy for neuroendocrine tumors may be improved by patient-specific dosimetry

In neuroendocrine tumor treatment, different methods of predicting patient response may be required for different patients, according to new research published in the October issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine. By tailoring the method to the specific patient, physicians may better predict the effectiveness of treatment.

Survey reveals the hidden costs of care cascades

Just about any medical test can turn up an incidental finding that leads to a cascade of follow-up tests. For instance, a patient comes in for a routine test to measure their heart activity before cataract surgery and the test picks up what could be an irregularity, which leads to a stress test, which leads to a cardiac catherization, which may reveal that the patient's heart function is just fine and all of the tests, costs and anxiety were for nothing. Anecdotes about these so-called care cascades abound.

When money is scarce, biased behavior happens faster

Discrimination may happen faster than the blink of an eye, especially during periods of economic scarcity, according to a new study from Cornell University.

Whether a fashion model or not, some body image concerns are universal

When researchers from UCLA and the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma, wanted to test an app they created to measure body image perception, they went to the body image experts—fashion models.

Telehealth effectively diagnoses/manages fetal congenital heart disease in rural patients

A recent study of 368 pregnant mothers, led by Bettina Cuneo, MD, director of perinatal cardiology and fetal cardiac telemedicine at Children's Hospital Colorado, found that fetal congenital heart disease (CHD) was correctly identified and successfully managed according to evidence-based risk stratification. In addition, parents achieved a dramatic cost benefit and patient/physician satisfaction was high.

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer

New research at Case Western Reserve University could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.

Increased depression, suicidal thoughts and stress are reported in patients with chronically itchy skin

Itch is a very common symptom in patients suffering from skin diseases. In a new multicenter cross-sectional study on the psychological burden of itch in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, published by Elsevier, investigators report that the presence of itch in dermatological patients was significantly associated with clinical depression, suicidal ideation and stress. They recommend providing patients with access to a multidisciplinary team to prevent and manage problems associated with itch.

Wearable activity trackers a reliable tool for predicting death risk in older adults

A federally funded study by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers shows that wearable accelerometers—mechanical sensors worn like a watch, belt or bracelet to track movement—are a more reliable measure of physical activity and better than patient surveys and other methods used by physicians at assessing five-year risk of death in older adults.

New method identifies aggressive breast cancer

Aggressive forms of breast cancer often manipulate the immune response in their favor. This manipulation is revealed in humans by the same immunological "signature" as in mice. This is shown by a study carried out by scientists from the University of Bonn together with Dutch colleagues. Their method makes it possible to obtain an indication of the prognosis of the disease using patients' tumor tissue. The results are published in the journal Cell Reports.

Research shows that early retirement can accelerate cognitive decline

Early retirement can accelerate cognitive decline among the elderly, according to research conducted by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Could mathematics help to better treat cancer?

The development and survival of living beings are linked to the ability of their cells to perceive and respond correctly to their environment. To do this, cells communicate through chemical signal systems, called signalling pathways, which regulate and coordinate cellular activity. However, impaired information processing may prevent cells from perceiving their environment correctly; they then start acting in an uncontrolled way and this can lead to the development of cancer. To better understand how impaired information transmission influences the activity of diseased cells, researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, are going beyond the field of biology. They propose to examine cellular communication in the light of information theory, a mathematical theory more commonly used in computer science. This work, to be discovered in the journal Trends in Cell Biology, offers a radically new approach to oncology.

Medicaid expansion has positive effect on diabetes management

(HealthDay)—Medicaid expansion has significant positive effects on self-reported diabetes management, with substantial improvements seen in states with large diabetes populations, according to a study published online Oct. 24 in Diabetes Care.

Prevalence of pain higher in children with autism

(HealthDay)—Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have an elevated prevalence of pain compared with children without ASD, according to a research letter published online Oct. 28 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Can medical pot ease mental ills? Study says probably not

(HealthDay)—People struggling with anxiety, depression or other psychiatric problems shouldn't pin their hopes on medical marijuana, a new review suggests.

Are you accessing all your medical records online?

(HealthDay)—Surprisingly, we're still on a learning curve when it comes to the availability of electronic health records, the digital way to access what used to be paper-only files.

Drawing on a love of art, she's gone from patient to healer

A red wagon. A blue easel. A sunny atrium. Katie Hinson remembers those snippets of her childhood stay in the hospital where she had open-heart surgery at age 5.

Testing HIV testers

A team led by Penn Nursing's José A. Bauermeister, PhD, MPH, Presidential Professor of Nursing, developed an innovative study that employs a mystery shopper methodology to assess HIV testing services for young men who have sex with men.

Living in a noisy area increases the risk of suffering a more serious stroke

The high levels of environmental noise we are subjected to in large cities can increase both the severity and consequences of an ischaemic stroke. More precisely, researchers from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) and doctors from Hospital del Mar, together with researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), CIBER in Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), and Brown University, in the United States, put the increased risk at 30% for people living in noisier areas. In contrast, living close to green areas brings down this risk by up to 25%. This is the first time that these factors have been analysed in relation to stroke severity. The study has been published in the journal Environmental Research.

Teens with autism can master daily living skills when parents teach, reach for iPads

As adults, individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be highly dependent on family members or assistance programs for their day-to-day living needs. It has been reported that following high school and up to eight years after, only 17 percent of adults with ASD live independently. Developing skills like cooking, getting dressed and cleaning are essential to promoting autonomy and self-determination and improving quality of life. For some individuals with ASD, completing daily tasks can be challenging because they often involve sequential steps.

Report outlines social determinants' role in cancer and public health

A new report outlines the critical role social determinants play in shaping population health, highlighting that health disparities are systemic, and cut across multiple population characteristics, including race/ethnicity, age, disability status, sexual orientation or gender identity, or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion. The report is the latest in the American Cancer Society's Cancer Control Blueprint series, and highlights that many solutions for better health exist outside of the health care system. It appears in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, the American Cancer Society's flagship journal.

Alzheimer's subtypes could affect future treatments, researchers find

Despite decades of scientific scrutiny, Alzheimer's disease researchers have yet to work out its cause or treatment. Understanding what underlies its three distinct subtypes is thought to be a promising new research avenue.

For seniors, financial woes can be forerunner to Alzheimer's

(HealthDay)—Unpaid bills, overdrawn accounts, dwindling investments: When seniors begin experiencing fiscal troubles, early dementia or Alzheimer's disease could be an underlying cause, researchers say.

Race and poverty not risk factors for total knee replacement revision or failure

Previous studies have established that black patients have a higher risk for knee replacement revision. Black patients also report significantly more pain and worse joint function two years after surgery compared to white patients. Some years ago, a team of investigators at Hospital for Special Surgery analyzed HSS patient data and found an interaction between race and poverty that impacted patient reported pain and function two years after surgery. They discovered that black patients from wealthy neighborhoods fared as well as white patients, but black patients from poor areas experienced fared significantly worse than white patients.

Living through Katrina associated with higher death rate among breast cancer patients

Breast cancer patients who endured Hurricane Katrina in 2005 have a 15% higher mortality rate than those patients not exposed to the storm, according to a University of Michigan researcher.

Scientists warn of new health threat caused by global warming

Monash University researchers are warning that global warming is likely to increase illnesses caused by undernutrition, due to the effects of heat exposure.

Think you're allergic to penicillin? You are probably wrong

More than 30 million people in the United States wrongly believe they are allergic to penicillin—resulting in millions of dollars in added health care costs, adverse side effects from the use of more powerful antibiotics and a risk in the rise of dangerous antibiotic resistant infections.

Scientists find possible treatment for muscle contractures in childhood paralysis

When children experience brachial plexus injury at birth, or are born with cerebral palsy, some of the most disabling problems that follow are muscle contractures, or tightness of muscles, that severely restrict limb function.

AI outperforms clinicians' judgment in triaging postoperative patients for intensive care

Artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of a machine-learned algorithm correctly triaged the vast majority of postoperative patients to the intensive care unit in its first proof-of-concept application in a university hospital setting. The accuracy of this computer-generated algorithm is leading surgeons to envision active use of AI in the real-time acquisition of clinical information from a patient's electronic medical record to more reliably determine whether a patient needs intensive or routine postoperative care. Findings from the pilot study of the algorithm were presented at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2019.

Medical scribes have a positive impact on surgeons and residents

Some clinicians are turning to medical scribes to reduce the time spent managing electronic health records (EHRs). In fact, incorporating medical scribes into surgical practice increases the number of patients seen, according to research findings presented at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2019.

Adults 85 years and older generally fare well after colon cancer operations

As people are living longer, more elderly patients are being diagnosed with age-related colon cancer, making it of increasing concern to the medical community. Another related issue is whether an operation should be suggested as a form of treatment for this vulnerable population.

In Connecticut, drug overdoses doubled in six years

Opioid overdose deaths in Connecticut doubled in the past six years, largely driven by use of multiple drugs together, according to a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut and Yale University.

Juul to cut jobs as e-cigarette firm restructures

Electronic cigarette maker Juul Labs on Monday said it will cut jobs as part of a restructuring plan, with the threat of a US vaping ban on the horizon.

Talking about the 'antibiotic apocalypse' is alarming, not persuasive

How we talk publicly about an issue influences how likely people are to support or ignore it. With Reframing Resistance, we're using global research to develop effective ways to communicate about drug-resistant infections to inspire change.

The psychology of thrills and chills

Psychologist Kenneth Carter is not a fan of Halloween haunted houses. But he has written a book about people who thrive on activities like entering dark passageways, sensing that something unknown and terrifying awaits around the next corner.

Toxic algal blooms may be key to slowing neurodegenerative disease

Toxic algal blooms can be devastating to natural waterways, robbing them of oxygen, creating dead zones, and sickening people and animals. However, they may also be beneficial, potentially helping combat the progression of neurodegenerative disease, a URI College of Pharmacy study is showing.

Parkinson's disease: Stimulation of brain, feet may help people overcome freezing episodes

Paolo Sanvito would often freeze like a statue after entering a meeting room when he was working as a manager in a multinational company. Known as freezing of gait, it's a disabling symptom of Parkinson's disease, a degenerative brain disorder that he suffers from.

A lighter, healthier version of baked crab dip

(HealthDay)—Looking for a tasty seafood dip for your next family gathering? Everyone will love this baked crab classic that's been given a healthy makeover.

ASMBS endorses new policy statement from American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a new policy statement, "Pediatric Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery: Evidence, Barriers, and Best Practices," calling for greater access to metabolic and bariatric surgery for children and adolescents with severe obesity, describing the surgery as "one of the few strategies that has been shown to be effective in treating the most severe forms of the chronic disease."

Progressing toward successful gene-based approaches to inherited neurometabolic diseases

Researchers are making great strides toward de-veloping gene-based strategies to treat a variety of inherited neurometabolic diseases characterized by severe neurological involvement. A review of the approaches currently under preclinical or clinical investigation is published in Human Gene Therapy.

Intraoral endoscopic thyroidectomy leaves no scar

A new study compares two surgical approaches to endoscopic thyroid removal, neither of which produces a scar in the neck area, providing a comprehensive comparison of the therapeutic effects and cosmetic results of each approach. The study, which compares the scarless oral vestibular approach with the breast approach is published in Journal of Laparoendoscopic & Advanced Surgical Techniques (JLAST).

Opioid prescribing and use drop significantly after state imposes regulations

A state-mandated policy restricting opioid prescriptions along with increased public awareness and education about the opioid epidemic preceded drastic reductions in opioid prescribing and use for surgical patients at the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) without impacting patient satisfaction with their postoperative pain management, according to findings presented at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2019.

ACS NSQIP surgical risk calculator predicts outcomes for geriatric surgical patients

The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) Surgical Risk Calculator establishes a new threshold for assessing quality care for elderly patients undergoing operations. The NSQIP Surgical Risk Calculator can now accurately predict four specific quality-of-life outcomes that transcend traditional measures of successful surgery, such as complication and mortality rates, and now reflects the expected effects of surgery on the ability of older patients to function independently.

Biology news

Severe drought shuts down reproduction in copperhead snakes, study finds

A long-term study of copperhead snakes in a forest near Meriden, Connecticut, revealed that five consecutive years of drought effectively ended the snakes' reproductive output.

Red algae thrive despite ancestor's massive loss of genes

You'd think that losing 25 percent of your genes would be a big problem for survival. But not for red algae, including the seaweed used to wrap sushi.

Hot as shell: birds in cooler climates lay darker eggs to keep their embryos warm

Birds lay eggs with a huge variety of colours and patterns, from immaculate white to a range of blue-greens and reddish browns.

Why plants panic when it rains

An international team of scientists involving The University of Western Australia's School of Molecular Sciences, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology and Lund University has made the surprising discovery that a plant's reaction to rain is close to one of panic.

Bird bacteria is key to communication and mating

Birds use odor to identify other birds, and researchers at Michigan State University have shown that if the bacteria that produce the odor is altered, it could negatively impact a bird's ability to communicate with other birds or find a mate.

First structure of human cotransporter protein family member solved

In work that could someday improve treatments for epilepsy, UT Southwestern scientists have published the first three-dimensional structure of a member of a large family of human proteins that carry charged particles—ions—across the cell membrane.

UK vets need special training to report suspected animal abuse

UK vets need special training to report cases of suspected animal abuse and neglect, finds research published online in Vet Record.

How do you save endangered gorillas? With lots of human help

Deep in the rainforest of Volcanoes National Park, a 23-year-old female gorilla named Kurudi feeds on a stand of wild celery. She bends the green stalks and, with long careful fingers, peels off the exterior skin to expose the succulent inside.

Fishing plastic 'ghost nets' out of the Baltic

On a small fishing boat out in the Baltic Sea, Pekka Kotilainen rifles through buckets of fishing gear, mixed with rubbish and mussel shells.

Stripes can help prey stay hidden on the move, our new research reveals

For prey in the animal kingdom, one wrong move can mean death. Species have evolved camouflage to blend into their environment – some moths may share the colour of the tree bark they rest on while a lizard might resemble the sandy yellow of its desert home. But what about when these animals need to dart out from cover? How can they keep their camouflage when on the move?

Migratory birds are worse off in West Africa

Migratory sandpipers breeding in Greenland who choose to spend the winter in West Africa instead of elsewhere along the East Atlantic coast have a lower chance of survival, are more likely to skip their first breeding season and arrive later at their breeding grounds. An article in the Journal of Animal Ecology, spearheaded by researcher Jeroen Reneerkens (University of Groningen and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, NIOZ), challenges the widely held idea that the costs of longer migratory flights are inevitably offset by benefits in the winter habitats.

Most native bird species are losing their homes, even the ones you see every day

Across parts of Australia, vast areas of native vegetation have been cleared and replaced by our cities, farms and infrastructure. When native vegetation is removed, the habitat and resources that it provides for native wildlife are invariably lost.

New online, interactive atlas gives comprehensive view of Texas quail decline

The Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, or NRI, has recently published the Texas Quail Atlas, a free online resource and the newest "story map" to be developed by the institute.

"Wolves in sheep's clothing" – the superbugs outsmarting laboratory tests

Hospital screening tests are failing to identify the true extent of microbial resistance, according to new research.

Following in Darwin's footsteps: understanding the plant evolution of florist's gloxinia

More than 150 years ago, Charles Darwin's fascination with genetics and domestication catapulted the scientific world into new territory as scientists started to ask: How did a species evolve to be this way?

Facebook and Instagram gave away the presence of the 'Japan pig' seahorse in Taiwan

While monitoring of cryptic and elusive tiny creatures, such as pygmy seahorses that measure only 13 to 27 mm, might be too costly and time-consuming for research teams and institutions, the underwater activity might be proving of particular interest to photography and diving enthusiasts.

Study finds exotic parrots aren't impacting native bird populations in South Florida

In a neighborhood on the outskirts of Miami, a red-bellied woodpecker made two individual nests in two neighboring dead palm trees. It picked one. A red-masked parakeet moved into the other. Over the summer, they shared alarm calls when strangers approached. They would fly to the same tree when Joshua Diamond examined their nests. This was when he learned they were both parents, raising their young, side by side, without any competition or interference.

MIB2 enhances inflammation by degradation of CYLD

A team of researchers at Ehime University revealed that E3 ubiquitin ligase MIB2 enhances inflammation by degrading the deubiquitinating enzyme CYLD. This finding was published on Sept. 20 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Sewage, rivers and soils provide missing link in antibiotic resistance story

If you think that the key to beating antibiotic resistance is only for doctors to prescribe less and scientists to find new drug candidates, you are probably wrong. The fundamental solutions may lie far from medicine—in managing our rivers and soils.

Why a sense of kinship is key to caring about the living world

Leading thinkers in environmental economics and conservation are asking a pressing question. Why are we ignoring the destruction of the living world?

New strategies against the antibiotics crisis

One of the most serious threats to public health worldwide is posed by antibiotic-resistant pathogens. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns of the imminent beginning of a post-antibiotic era in which harmless infections can no longer be treated and could once again become one of the most frequent non-natural causes of death. Decades of using various antibiotics as standard therapy have greatly reduced the spectrum of effective antibacterial drugs. At the same time, the development of new drugs is being partially reduced or completely discontinued. This is due to the rapid evolution of antibiotic resistance, which makes antibacterial drugs ineffective within short time periods. For some years now, researchers have therefore attempted to develop strategies to maintain or even improve the efficacy of existing antibiotics.

Scientists call for a more ambitious approach to management of Marine Protected Areas

Researchers from the University of Plymouth have contributed to a new book addressing some of the most pressing challenges in marine conservation.

Re-cracking the genetic code

Crack open a biology textbook and you will find the table summarizing the standard genetic code. This refers to the set of rules by which the cell "decodes" the information contained in DNA and "translates" it into the amino acids that make up proteins. For example, in virtually all organisms, the codon (3-letter DNA sequence) AGA tells the translation machinery to add the amino acid asparagine. While a few deviations in the genetic code used by various organisms are known, research published earlier this year in Molecular Biology and Evolution and in the current issue of Genome Biology and Evolution suggests that a much larger number of variations present in the genetic codes of all living organisms.

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