Tuesday, 12 June 2012

ScienceDaily: Latest Science News

ScienceDaily: Latest Science News


Europeans to build world’s biggest eye on the sky: Largest optical/infrared telescope

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 05:18 PM PDT

The European Southern Observatory is to build the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. At its meeting in Garching June 11, the ESO Council approved the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) Programme, pending confirmation of four so-called ad referendum votes. The E-ELT will start operations early in the next decade.

NASA Mars rover team aims for landing closer to prime science site

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:59 PM PDT

NASA has narrowed the target for its most advanced Mars rover, Curiosity, which will land on the Red Planet in August. The car-sized rover will arrive closer to its ultimate destination for science operations, but also closer to the foot of a mountain slope that poses a landing hazard.

NuSTAR to drop from plane and rocket into space

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:57 PM PDT

NASA's NuSTAR mission is scheduled to launch from Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean on June 13, no earlier than 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT). The observatory, which will hunt for black holes and other exotic objects using specialized X-ray eyes, will be launched from a Pegasus XL rocket carried by an Orbital Science Corporation L-1011 "Stargazer" plane. The plane will take off from Kwajalein Atoll an hour before launch, flying out over the Pacific Ocean.

Black hole growth found to be out of sync

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:46 PM PDT

New evidence from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory challenges prevailing ideas about how black holes grow in the centers of galaxies. Astronomers long have thought that a supermassive black hole and the bulge of stars at the center of its host galaxy grow at the same rate -- the bigger the bulge, the bigger the black hole. However, a new study of Chandra data has revealed two nearby galaxies with supermassive black holes that are growing faster than the galaxies themselves.

Highest-energy light from a solar flare ever detected

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:37 PM PDT

During a powerful solar blast on March 7, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected the highest-energy light ever associated with an eruption on the sun. The discovery heralds Fermi's new role as a solar observatory, a powerful new tool for understanding solar outbursts during the sun's maximum period of activity.

Global warming threat seen in fertile soil of northeastern U.S. forests

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:37 PM PDT

Vast stores of carbon in U.S. forest soils could be released by rising global temperatures, according to a new study. Scientists found that heating soil in Wisconsin and North Carolina woodlands by 10 and 20 degrees increased the release of carbon dioxide by up to eight times. They showed for the first time that most carbon in topsoil is vulnerable to this warming effect.

New evidence supports theory of extraterrestrial impact

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:36 PM PDT

Scientists have discovered melt-glass material in a thin layer of sedimentary rock in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Syria. According to the researchers, the material -- which dates back nearly 13,000 years -- was formed at temperatures of 1,700 to 2,200 degrees Celsius (3,100 to 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit), and is the result of a cosmic body impacting Earth.

Workings behind promising inexpensive catalyst revealed

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:36 PM PDT

A newly developed carbon nanotube material could help lower the cost of fuel cells, catalytic converters and similar energy-related technologies by delivering a substitute for expensive platinum catalysts.

Breast cancer risk can be lowered by avoiding unnecessary medical imaging

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:36 PM PDT

A new reviewed all the available scientific data compiled to date about potential environmental risks of breast cancer -- factors such as pesticides, beauty products, household chemicals, and the plastics used to make water bottles.

Neighbor galaxies may have brushed closely, astronomers find

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:36 PM PDT

New observations confirm a tenuous "bridge" of hydrogen gas streaming between two prominent members of our Local Group of galaxies -- the Andromeda Galaxy and the Triangulum Galaxy. This indicates the two may have had a close encounter in the distant past.

Helices of light: Dark helices with a bright future

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:34 PM PDT

Laser beams can be made to form dark as well as bright intensity helices, or corkscrews of light.  Scientists have now shown that forming dark helices can have considerable advantages over employing their commonly considered bright cousins.

Sick from your stomach: Bacterial changes may trigger diseases like rheumatoid arthritis

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:33 PM PDT

Larger-than-normal populations of specific gut bacteria may trigger the development of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and possibly fuel disease progression in people genetically predisposed to this crippling and confounding condition, say the researchers.

Never too late to quit: Quitting smoking reduces mortality, even in older patients

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:33 PM PDT

An analysis of available medical literature suggests smoking was linked to increased mortality in older patients and that smoking cessation was associated with reduced mortality at an older age.

Keeping pace: Walking speed may signal thinking problems ahead

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 04:33 PM PDT

A new study shows that changes in walking speed in late life may signal the early stages of dementia known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Untangling knots, slipknots in species separated by a billion years of evolution

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 12:32 PM PDT

A new study examines structures of proteins that not only twist and turn themselves into knots, but also form slipknots that, if anybody could actually see them, might look like shoelaces for cells.

The downstream consequences of depleting groundwater

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 12:32 PM PDT

A new report identifies improvements to groundwater management from the Western United States to Australia.

Humans are primary cause of global ocean warming over past 50 years

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 12:32 PM PDT

Scientists have shown that the observed ocean warming over the last 50 years is consistent with climate models only if the models include the impacts of observed increases in greenhouse gas during the 20th century.

New molecules important for vision and brain function identified

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 12:32 PM PDT

In a pair of related studies, scientists have identified several proteins that help regulate cells' response to light -- and the development of night blindness, a rare disease that abolishes the ability to see in dim light.

Wing bling: For female butterflies, flashier is better

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 12:31 PM PDT

If female butterflies are programmed to identify males of their species by the patterns of spots on their wings, how can new wing patterns evolve in males? The answer is that while females are predisposed to prefer a specific pattern, they learn to like flashier ones more, according to a new study.

Kill the germs, spare the ears: Encouraging study shows how

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 12:28 PM PDT

The world needs new antibiotics to overcome the ever-increasing resistance of disease-causing bacteria – but it doesn't need the side effect that comes with some of the most powerful ones now available: hearing loss. Researchers report they have developed a new approach to designing antibiotics that kill even "superbugs" but spare the inner ear.

New spin on antifreeze: Researchers create ultra slippery anti-ice and anti-frost surfaces

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:43 AM PDT

Researchers have invented a way to keep any metal surface free of ice and frost. The treated surfaces quickly shed even tiny, incipient condensation droplets or frost simply through gravity. The technology prevents ice sheets from developing on surfaces -- and any ice that does form, slides off effortlessly.

More than 635,000 Martian craters catalogued

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:43 AM PDT

How beat up is Mars from cosmic buckshot over the millenia? According to new research, there are a staggering 635,000 impact craters on Mars that are roughly a kilometer or more in diameter.

Are feminism and attachment parenting practices compatible?

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:42 AM PDT

What kind of mothers do feminists make? According to a new study, feminist mothers endorse the importance of the time-intensive, hands-on parenting practices associated with attachment parenting -- a child-centric parenting technique in which children's needs are ideally met on the child's schedule rather than the parent's.

Long-ignored enzyme turns out to be key to killing infectious bacteria

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:42 AM PDT

New research shows that an enzyme that has long been considered relatively useless to the immune response instead has an important role in setting up immune cells to kill infection-causing bacteria.

Treating childhood anxiety with computers, not drugs

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:42 AM PDT

Psychologists have turned a common computer-based test for childhood anxiety into a form of therapeutic treatment. In its initial clinical trial, the new approach was as effective as medication and cognitive therapy for children, eliminating the need for medication or expensive in-person therapeutic treatment by professionals.

Molecular imaging detects signs of Alzheimer's in healthy patients

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:42 AM PDT

An arsenal of new Alzheimer's research indicates that beta-amyloid plaque in the brain not only is involved in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease but may also precede even mild cognitive decline. These and other studies advance molecular imaging for the early detection of beta-amyloid, for which one product is now approved in the United States, as a major push forward in the race for better treatments.

Clues found to way embryonic kidney maintains its fleeting stem cells

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:42 AM PDT

Studying mice and humans, researchers have identified two proteins that are required to maintain a supply of stem cells in the developing kidney. The work is a small step toward the future goal of growing kidney stem cells in the lab.

Gene inactivation drives spread of melanoma

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:40 AM PDT

Scientists have demonstrated that inactivating a gene called LKB1 (or STK11) causes non-aggressive melanoma cells to become highly metastatic when tested in a variety of models using tumors from humans and mice. While scientists showed a role for LKB1 inactivation in lung cancer metastasis, the effects of LKB1 loss on melanoma spread is even more dramatic.

New therapy extends life for prostate cancer patients

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:40 AM PDT

Prostate cancer patients with advanced tumors that have spread to bone have a poor chance of surviving. Patients with the disease may now live longer with a new line of radioisotope therapy, say researchers.

New skin patch treatment kills most common form of skin cancer

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:40 AM PDT

A customized patch treatment for basal cell carcinoma completely destroys facial tumors without surgery or major radiation therapy in 80 percent of patients studied, say researchers.

Molecular imaging finds link between low dopamine levels and aggression

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:40 AM PDT

Out of control competitive aggression could be a result of a lagging neurotransmitter called dopamine, say researchers. During a computer game against a putative cheating adversary, participants who had a lower capacity to synthesize this neurotransmitter in the brain were more distracted from their basic motivation to earn money and were more likely to act out with aggression.

Beating hearts are finally still with 4D PET image reconstruction

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:39 AM PDT

A development in 4D image reconstruction compensates for blurring caused by the beating of the heart, say researchers. The new method provides sharper-than-ever images of cardiac function to help pinpoint heart defects for better diagnoses and treatment.

Have no fear: Most cases of thyroid cancer do not affect survival

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:39 AM PDT

New research reveals that patients with differentiated thyroid cancer live as long as people in perfect health, unless they are in the minority and have reached the most advanced stages of disease. Survival did not vary based on age, sex, or even if patients' cancer had reached the beginning of stage IV.

Computer model successfully predicts drug side effects

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:37 AM PDT

A new set of computer models has successfully predicted negative side effects in hundreds of current drugs, based on the similarity between their chemical structures and those molecules known to cause side effects, according to a new article.

Normal gene hinders breast cancer chemotherapy

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:37 AM PDT

Presence of normal p53, a tumor suppressor gene, instead of a mutated version, makes breast cancer chemotherapy with doxorubicin less effective.

Lessons from epigenome evolution

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 09:26 AM PDT

The sequencing of the human genome has provided a wealth of genetic information, yet the goal of understanding the function of every gene remains outstanding. New research suggests determining the purpose of genes through a new method they call "comparative epigenomics."

Forgotten Annapolis immigration conflict uncovered

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 09:26 AM PDT

Archaeologists are uncovering a forgotten period of racial tension in Annapolis pitting Filipino immigrants against African-Americans. The surprisingly complex relations between the groups go back a century, occasionally marked by violence, but also by considerable social mixing and even intermarriage, the researchers say -- all propelled by changing racial practices at the Naval Academy.

New stroke treatment could prevent and reduce brain damage

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 09:26 AM PDT

Researchers have demonstrated the effectiveness of a potential new therapy for stroke patients. Created to target a specific enzyme known to affect important brain functions, the new compound is designed to stop the spread of brain bleeds and protect brain cells from further damage in the crucial hours after a stroke.

Recreational fishing causes Cape Cod salt marsh die-off

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 09:25 AM PDT

As recreational fishing activity has reduced predators in many of Cape Cod's salt marsh ecosystems, Sesarma crabs have feasted on grasses, causing dramatic die-offs of the marshes, according to a new study. The researchers assessed the "trophic cascade" in several experiments that also ruled out alternative explanations for the problem.

More people, more environmental stress

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 09:25 AM PDT

Scientists have taken a critical look at the various factors that have long been prime climate-change suspects. One in particular: the role of population growth.

Scientists correct Amazon water level gauges from space

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 09:25 AM PDT

NASA's laser satellite, ICESat, has been used to make corrections to water level gauges that are critical in monitoring water flow in the Amazon, the world's largest river. The new study will improve our understanding of water flows and floodplain processes.

Immune cells in the gut may improve control of HIV growth

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 09:22 AM PDT

A new study may help clarify why some people infected with HIV are better able to control the virus. It may also pinpoint a target for treatment during early HIV infection aimed at increasing the supply of certain immune cells in the gut.

Painkiller abuse linked to depression, suicide in college students

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 09:22 AM PDT

Medical researchers have recently conducted and published a study that explores non-medical prescription drug use and depressive symptoms in college students.

Humanoid soccer championship 2012

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 09:21 AM PDT

In a number of recent Hollywood hit films, robots do all kinds of spectacular things, from battling it out in boxing rings to saving the world from alien invaders. Researchers are now helping to bring those futuristic visions a little closer to reality.

Nanoparticles in polluted air, smoke & nanotechnology products have serious impact on health

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 07:53 AM PDT

New groundbreaking research has found that exposure to nanoparticles can have a serious impact on health, linking it to rheumatoid arthritis and the development of other serious autoimmune diseases. The findings have health and safety implications for the manufacture, use and ultimate disposal of nanotechnology products and materials. They also identified new cellular targets for the development of potential drug therapies in combating the development of autoimmune diseases.

The doping-drug Epo has an impact in the brain

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 07:53 AM PDT

Sportsmen and women have been known to dope with the blood hormone Epo to enhance their performance. Researchers have now discovered, through animal testing, that Epo has a performance-enhancing effect in the brain shortly after an injection by improving oxygen transport in blood. As Epo also increases motivation, it could be useful in treating depression, experts say.

Bacterial armor for the first time visualized in minute detail

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 07:53 AM PDT

Many bacteria protect themselves against threats from the outside world by developing a protective protein layer that acts as armor. Scientists have succeeded in imaging the structure of this armor for the first time. The possible implications of the research are varied and far-reaching -- from infectious diseases to new nanomaterials.

Hope for new imaging isotope source

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 07:53 AM PDT

Scientists have made an important breakthrough in the race to find a viable replacement for supply of technetium-99m, an important isotope produced by Canada's Chalk River reactor.

Unusual 'altruistic' stem cell behavior with possible link to cancer identified

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 07:52 AM PDT

Certain human embryonic stem cells, in times of stress, produce molecules that not only benefit themselves, but also help nearby cells survive.

Fruit flies reveal mechanism behind ALS-like disease

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 07:51 AM PDT

Studying how nerve cells send and receive messages, scientists have discovered new ways that genetic mutations can disrupt functions in neurons and lead to neurodegenerative disease, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Theorem unifies superfluids and other weird materials

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 06:23 AM PDT

Despite physicists' fascination with the weird behavior of materials at extremely low temperatures -- 11 Nobel Prizes have been awarded in the area -- a unified explanation of materials like superfluids and Bose-Einstein condensates remained elusive. Now, physicists have demonstrated that counting the number of Nambu-Goldstone bosons in a material reveals the material's behavior at low temperatures, allowing the prediction of behavior and design of new materials with spooky properties.

'Bad' dieting increases cardiovascular disease risk

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 06:23 AM PDT

A 25 year study is the first to show that a regional and national dietary intervention to reduce fat intake, decreased cholesterol levels, but a switch to the popular low carbohydrate diet was paralleled by in an increase in cholesterol levels. Over the 25 year period the population BMI continued to increase, regardless of either diet.

Global investment in renewable energy powers to record $257 billion

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 06:23 AM PDT

Solar generation surged past wind power to become the renewable energy technology of choice for global investors in 2011. Solar attracted nearly twice as much investment as wind, driving the renewable energy sector to yet another record-breaking year, albeit one beset with challenges for the industry, according to two new reports.

A SMART(er) way to track influenza

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 06:23 AM PDT

Researchers have created a reliable and fast flu-detection test that can be carried in a first-aid kit. The novel prototype device isolates influenza RNA using a combination of magnetics and microfluidics, then amplifies and detects probes bound to the RNA. The technology could lead to real-time tracking of influenza.

Some adults with sleep disturbances are actually afraid of the dark, study says

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 06:23 AM PDT

Sleep researchers are shedding light on a contributing factor to insomnia maybe hard to admit -- an adult fear of the dark. A pilot study reports that nearly half of the students reporting poor sleep also were found (with objective measurement) to have a phobia of the dark. Researchers said traditional insomnia treatments might not work for these patients, and suggest they be adapted to account for the dark-related phobia.

Top risk of stroke for normal-weight adults: Getting under 6 hours of sleep

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 06:23 AM PDT

Habitually sleeping less than six hours significantly increases stroke risk among middle-age to older adults of normal weight and at low risk for sleep apnea, study of 5,666 people followed for up to three years reports. Participants started with no stroke history or high risk for sleep apnea, BMI was adjusted for. First stroke symptoms were measured, along with demographic information, stroke risk factors, depression symptoms, health behaviors. Study found no association among overweight participants.

A better way to grow bone: Fresh, purified fat stem cells grow bone better, faster

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 06:21 AM PDT

Stem cell scientists purified a subset of stem cells found in fat tissue and made from them bone that was formed faster and was of higher quality than bone grown using traditional methods, a finding that may one day eliminate the need for painful bone grafts that use material taken from the patient during invasive procedures.

Scientists reveal structure of bacterial chainmail

Posted: 10 Jun 2012 12:15 PM PDT

Scientists have uncovered the structure of the protective protein coat which surrounds many bacteria like a miniature suit of armor. The research has far ranging consequences in helping us understand how some pathogenic bacteria infect humans and animals, and could help us develop new vaccines.

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