Selasa, 15 April 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Everest trek shows how some people get type II diabetes

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 02:21 PM PDT

Scientists have gained new insights into the molecular process of how some people get type II diabetes, which could lead to new ways of preventing people from getting the condition. The research, which took place on Mount Everest, assessed the mechanisms by which low oxygen levels in the body -- known as hypoxia -- are associated with the development of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when cells fail to respond to insulin in the body. Insulin enables the body to regulate sugar levels. Too much sugar can be toxic and leads to type II diabetes.

Penicillin redux: Rearming proven warriors for the 21st century

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 12:44 PM PDT

Drug-resistant bacteria like MRSA are hard to treat because so many antibiotics are ineffective against them. A team of researchers has shown a new way to reclaim the power of penicillin and similar drugs against so-called "superbugs." "In the United States every year, around 100,000 patients die of bacteria-induced infections," a researcher said. "And the problem is increasing because bacteria are building resistance. It's a really, really big problem, not only for individual patients, but also for society."

'Problem wells' source of greenhouse gas at unexpected stage of natural gas production

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 12:44 PM PDT

High levels of the greenhouse gas methane were found above shale gas wells at a production point not thought to be an important emissions source. The findings could have implications for the evaluation of the environmental impacts from natural gas production. The study, which is one of only a few to use a so-called "top down" approach that measures methane gas levels in the air above wells, identified seven individual well pads with high emission levels during the drilling stage.

Faithful allies since the Cretaceous: Symbiosis between beewolves and protective bacteria originated millions of years ago

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 12:44 PM PDT

Scientists have discovered that certain wasps tightly control mother-to-offspring transmission of their bacterial symbionts. This stabilizes the symbiotic alliance and contributed to its persistence over the past 68-110 million years.

Fire and drought may push Amazonian forests beyond tipping point

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 12:44 PM PDT

Future simulations of climate in the Amazon suggest a longer dry season leading to more drought and fires. Scientists have published a new study on the impacts of fire and drought on Amazon tree mortality. Their article found that prolonged droughts caused more intense and widespread wildfires, which consumed more forests in Amazonia than previously understood.

Plugging an ozone hole: Extreme Antarctic ozone holes have not been replicated in Arctic

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 12:44 PM PDT

Since the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, scientists, policymakers, and the public have wondered whether we might someday see a similarly extreme depletion of ozone over the Arctic. But a new study finds some cause for optimism: Ozone levels in the Arctic haven't yet sunk to the extreme lows seen in Antarctica, in part because international efforts to limit ozone-depleting chemicals have been successful.

Ferns borrowed genes to flourish in low light

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 12:44 PM PDT

During the age of the dinosaurs, the arrival of flowering plants as competitors could have spelled doom for primitive ferns. Instead, ferns diversified and flourished under the new canopy -- using a mysterious gene that helped them adapt to low-light environments. Scientists have now pinpointed the curious origins of this gene and determined that it was transferred to ferns from a group of unassuming, mossy plants called hornworts.

Air pollution over Asia influences global weather and makes Pacific storms more intense

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 12:44 PM PDT

In the first study of its kind, scientists have compared air pollution rates from 1850 to 2000 and found that anthropogenic (human-made) particles from Asia impact the Pacific storm track that can influence weather over much of the world.

Dog ownership benefits families of children with autism

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 12:08 PM PDT

Dog ownership decisions in families of children with autism have been studied in a new project. Researchers have found, regardless of whether they owned dogs, the parents of these children reported the benefits of dog ownership included companionship, stress relief and opportunities for their children to learn responsibility.

Making dams safer for fish around the world

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 11:08 AM PDT

The pressure changes that many fish experience when they travel through the turbulent waters near a dam can seriously injure or kill the fish. Scientists from around the world, including areas like Southeast Asia and Brazil where huge dams are planned or under construction, are working together to protect fish from the phenomenon, known as barotrauma.

Four new species of 'killer sponges' from the deep sea

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 10:40 AM PDT

Killer sponges sound like creatures from a B-grade horror movie. In fact, they thrive in the lightless depths of the deep sea. Scientists first discovered that some sponges are carnivorous about 20 years ago. Since then only seven carnivorous species have been found in all of the northeastern Pacific. A new article describes four new species of carnivorous sponges living on the deep seafloor, from the Pacific Northwest to Baja California.

House windows that double as solar panels? Shiny quantum dots brighten future of solar cells

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 09:38 AM PDT

A house window that doubles as a solar panel could be on the horizon, thanks to recent quantum-dot work. Scientists have demonstrated that superior light-emitting properties of quantum dots can be applied in solar energy by helping more efficiently harvest sunlight.

Three new species of yellow-shouldered bats discovered in museum collections

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 09:37 AM PDT

Scientists have reconstructed the phylogeny and biological history for the Yellow-shouldered bats in the New World tropics, the region of the Earth surrounding the equator. In-depth analysis of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences uncovered three species new to science, each having previously been confused with another species.

Neuroscientists: Brain activity may mark beginning of memories

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 09:35 AM PDT

By tracking brain activity when an animal stops to look around its environment, neuroscientists can mark the birth of a memory. The hippocampus is the brain's warehouse for long- and short-term processing of episodic memories, such as memories of a specific experience like a trip to Maine or a recent dinner. What no one knew was what happens in the hippocampus the moment an experience imprints itself as a memory. New research is lending clues to what they call "spatial mapping functions" in the brain.

Let the sun shine in: Redirecting sunlight to dark urban alleyways

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 08:24 AM PDT

In response to ever-crowded urban conditions in developing countries, researchers in Egypt have developed an inexpensive way of re-directing natural sunlight into dimly lit streets and alleys, where lack of sun is linked to health problems. The new optical device can increase brightness in alleyways by up to 400 percent.

Puget Sound's rich waters supplied by deep, turbulent canyon

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 08:24 AM PDT

Oceanographers have made the first detailed measurements of fast-flowing water and intense mixing in a submarine canyon just off the Washington coast.

SpaceX’s Dragon headed to space station to create astronaut farmers

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 07:33 AM PDT

"Enter the Dragon" takes on a whole new meaning this month as SpaceX's Dragon capsule heads to the International Space Station for its third commercial resupply mission on April 14. During the SpaceX-3 mission, the Dragon capsule not only will deliver cargo to the orbiting laboratory, but it also will return science samples and hardware to Earth.

Nutrient-rich forests absorb more carbon

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 07:11 AM PDT

The ability of forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere depends on nutrients available in the forest soils, shows new research from an international team of researchers. "This paper produces the first evidence that to really understand the carbon cycle, you have to look into issues of nutrient cycling within the soil," said one of the researchers.

Result of slow degradation on environmental pollutants

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Why do environmental pollutants accumulate in the cold polar regions? This may not only be due to the fact that many substances are less volatile at low temperatures, as has been long suspected, but also to their extremely slow natural degradation. Although persistent environmental pollutants have been and continue to be released worldwide, the Arctic and Antarctic regions are significantly more contaminated than elsewhere. The marine animals living there have some of the highest levels of persistent organic pollutant (POP) contamination of any creatures.

Endemic in pork industry: Will new tests prevent it?

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 07:07 AM PDT

Tests to identify pig viruses have been developed in hopes of preventing the further spread of diseases that have already killed almost 6 million pigs. "Enteric disease in pigs has turned into a huge, huge problem and we're developing all kinds of new tests to address the old problems but also to address the new diseases that are just destroying everything," said a veterinarian.

Wolves at the door: Study finds recent wolf-dog hybridization in Caucasus region

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 06:21 AM PDT

Hybridization of wolves with shepherd dogs in the Caucasus region might be more common, and more recent, than previously thought, according to new research. Scientists found recent hybrid ancestry in about ten percent of the dogs and wolves sampled. About two to three percent of the sampled wolves and dogs were identified as first-generation hybrids.

Single cell genomics technique developed to reverse-engineer developing lung

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 06:21 AM PDT

In a feat of reverse tissue engineering, researchers took lung cells from the embryos of mice at different points in their development cycles, and recorded what genes were active in each cell at each time. They studied lung cells, but the technique is applicable to any type of cell. "This lays out a playbook for how to do reverse tissue engineering," said the leader of the research team.

Genetically modified tobacco plants as an alternative for producing bioethanol

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 06:20 AM PDT

Tobacco, a high-density crop which is mown several times throughout its cycle, can produce as much as 160 tonnes of fresh matter per hectare and become a source of biomass suitable for producing bioethanol. As one researcher explained, "tobacco plants as a source of biomass for producing bioethanol could be an alternative to traditional tobacco growing which is in decline in the USA and in Europe because it cannot compete with emerging countries like China".

Neanderthals and Cro-magnons did not coexist on the Iberian Peninsula, suggests re-analysis of dating

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 06:20 AM PDT

The meeting between a Neanderthal and one of the first humans, which we used to picture in our minds, did not happen on the Iberian Peninsula. That is the conclusion reached by an scientists after redoing the dating of the remains in three caves located on the route through the Pyrenees of the first beings of our species: L'Arbreda, Labeko Koba and La Viña.

Does germ plasm accelerate evolution?

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 06:19 AM PDT

Scientists have challenged a long held belief about the way certain species of vertebrates evolved. They found that genes evolve more rapidly in species containing germ plasm. The results came about as they put to the test a novel theory that early developmental events dramatically alter the vertebrate body plan and the way evolution proceeds.

Beneficial organisms react differently to parasite drug

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 06:19 AM PDT

The substance ivermectin has been used for more than thirty years all over the world to combat parasites like roundworms, lice and mites in humans, livestock and pets. The active ingredient belongs to the chemical group of avermectins, which generally disrupt cell transport and thus attack pests. When ivermectin is excreted in the feces of treated animals, at overly high doses it also harms dung-degrading beneficial insects like dung beetles and dung flies. This impairs the functioning of the ecosystem. In extreme cases the dung is not decomposed and the pasture is destroyed.

Little-known Arctic comb jelly found in the Baltic Sea and Arctic

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 06:19 AM PDT

One of the world's oldest animal species, the comb jellies -- which have inhabited the seas for millions of years -- have kept their secrets up to the present day. Researchers have now studied the life of the Arctic comb jelly, which is found in the Baltic Sea and the Arctic.

Look who's evolving now: Using robots to study evolution

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 06:19 AM PDT

Scientists have demonstrated the usefulness of robots in studying evolution.  They successfully used a colony of rodent-like robots to watch different mating strategies evolve.  The work not only generated interesting and unexpected results, but it has also helped validate the use of robots in the study of evolution.

Efficient analysis of small quantity of cells improves chances to understand disease

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 06:17 AM PDT

Techniques have been developed that allow researchers to obtain reliable results over the course of disease development inside cells. Based on mouse studies, the researchers believe that "the single live animal data will grant unique insights into the molecular events involved in biological processes and provide an important basis for diagnosis, prognosis, drug design and discovery, and treatment strategy."

Protein crystal experiment set to fly to International Space Station

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 06:17 AM PDT

A biology professor's experiment that is set to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) could shed new light on the roles enzymes play in biological processes. The experiment, Protein Crystals for Neutron Crystallography (PC4NC), studies an enzyme inorganic pyrophosphatase (IPPase).

Gene linked to pediatric kidney cancer suggests new strategies for kidney regeneration

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 02:17 PM PDT

Nearly one-third of cases of Wilms tumor, a pediatric cancer of the kidney, are linked to a gene called Lin28, according to research. Mice engineered to express Lin28 in their kidneys developed Wilms tumor, which regressed when Lin28 was withdrawn, indicating that strategies aimed at blocking or deactivating the gene hold therapeutic promise. Studies also suggest that controlled expression of Lin28 can promote kidney development and therefore may hold clues to regeneration of damaged adult kidneys.

How a Silly Putty ingredient could advance stem cell therapies

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 10:59 AM PDT

The sponginess of the environment where human embryonic stem cells are growing affects the type of specialized cells they eventually become, a study shows. The researchers coaxed human embryonic stem cells to turn into working spinal cord cells more efficiently by growing the cells on a soft, utrafine carpet made of a key ingredient in Silly Putty.
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Senin, 14 April 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Dual role of carbon dioxide in photosynthesis: Pioneering findings

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 12:40 PM PDT

Carbon dioxide, in its ionic form bicarbonate, has a regulating function in the splitting of water in photosynthesis, researchers have found. This means that carbon dioxide has an additional role to being reduced to sugar. The pioneering work opens up a new research field where researchers can investigate possible biological and ecological consequences of the dual role of carbon dioxide.

New mouse model could revolutionize research in Alzheimer's disease

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 12:40 PM PDT

Alzheimer's disease, the primary cause of dementia in the elderly, imposes a tremendous social and economic burden on modern society. Unfortunately, it has proven very difficult to develop drugs capable of ameliorating the disease. After a tremendous burst of progress in the 1990s, the pace of discoveries has slowed. Part of the difficulty is the inadequacy of current mouse models to replicate the real conditions of Alzheimer's disease and allow an understanding of the underlying mechanisms that lead to neurodegeneration. Scientists have now reported the creation of two new mouse models of Alzheimer's disease that may potentially revolutionize research into this disease.

Finding the switch: Researchers create roadmap for gene expression

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 11:00 AM PDT

In a new study, researchers have taken the first steps toward creating a roadmap that may help scientists narrow down the genetic cause of numerous diseases. Their work also sheds new light on how heredity and environment can affect gene expression. Pinpointing the genetic causes of common diseases is not easy, as multiple genes may be involved with a disease. Moreover, disease-causing variants in DNA often do not act directly, but by activating nearby genes.

Virus-fighting genes linked to mutations in cancer: Genetic evidence supports role of gene family in cancer development

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 10:59 AM PDT

All cancer-causing processes leave a distinct mutational imprint or signature on the genomes of patients. Researchers have found a major piece of biological evidence to support the role a group of virus-fighting genes has in cancer development. The mutational signature left by the cancer-causing process driven by this family of genes is found in half of all cancer types.

Ocean Acidification robs reef fish of their fear of predators

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 10:59 AM PDT

Research on the behavior of coral reef fish at naturally-occurring carbon dioxide seeps in Milne Bay in eastern Papua New Guinea has shown that continuous exposure to increased levels of carbon dioxide dramatically alters the way fish respond to predators. 

Sharpening microscope images: New technique takes cues from astronomy, ophthalmology

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 10:23 AM PDT

The complexity of biology can befuddle even the most sophisticated light microscopes. Biological samples bend light in unpredictable ways, returning difficult-to-interpret information to the microscope and distorting the resulting image. New imaging technology rapidly corrects for these distortions and sharpens high-resolution images over large volumes of tissue.

Greenhouse gas emissions from today will be felt for at least 1000 years

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 06:41 AM PDT

Greenhouse gas emissions from today will greatly affect our descendants for at least 1000 years. In 1000 years, between 15 and 40 per cent of the CO2 we emit today will still be left in the atmosphere," says one professor. "We are talking about effects 30 generations ahead. This is something people need to take to heart now."

Cool climate – clean planet: Research suggests cooling action will clean air

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 06:41 AM PDT

Ever-rising greenhouse gas emissions and the potential need to deploy untested and expensive climate engineering technologies are just two of the many bits of bad news in a new report. But there's good news hidden in the bad. If we take action to cool the planet, we can also expect the added benefit of cleaner air, particularly in China, the authors say.

New Chinese herbal medicine has significant potential in treating hepatitis C, study suggests

Posted: 12 Apr 2014 06:33 AM PDT

A new compound, SBEL1, has the ability to inhibit hepatitis C virus activity in cells at several points in the virus' lifecycle. SBEL1 is a compound isolated from Chinese herbal medicines that was found to inhibit HCV activity by approximately 90%. SBEL1 is extracted from a herb found in certain regions of Taiwan and Southern China. In Chinese medicine, it is used to treat sore throats and inflammations. The function of SBEL1 within the plant is unknown and its role and origins are currently being investigated.

Green space keeps you from feeling blue

Posted: 11 Apr 2014 12:33 PM PDT

If you start feeling better as spring begins pushing up its tender shoots, you might be living proof of a trend discovered in data from a new study: The more green space in the neighborhood, the happier people reported feeling. "The greening of neighborhoods could be a simple solution to reducing stress," says the lead author. "If you want to feel better, go outside."

Sharks contain more pollutants than polar bears

Posted: 11 Apr 2014 06:14 AM PDT

The polar bear is known for having alarmingly high concentrations of PCB and other pollutants. But researchers have discovered that Greenland sharks store even more of these contaminants in their bodies. Greenland sharks live in deep water, at depths of 200 to 600 meters, and live farther north than any other shark. It is also long lived, and can live to be 100 years old. They are also known as the grey shark or gurry shark.

Too much protein may kill brain cells as Parkinson's progresses

Posted: 10 Apr 2014 09:21 AM PDT

The most common genetic cause of Parkinson's disease destroys brain cells and devastates many patients worldwide, scientists have discovered. The investigators found that mutations in a gene called leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 may increase the rate at which LRRK2 tags ribosomal proteins, which are key components of protein-making machinery inside cells. This could cause the machinery to manufacture too many proteins, leading to cell death.
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Minggu, 13 April 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Researchers examine metabolism in defective cells

Posted: 11 Apr 2014 12:38 PM PDT

Mitochondria produce energy for cells through oxidative metabolism, but the process produces toxic byproducts that can accumulate and cause defects in the cell's mitochondria. These defects, in turn, affect the cell's ability to generate energy and can potentially lead to cell death and are associated with aging and various neurological diseases. Researchers have examined how dietary changes at the cell level can affect cell health.

Warming climate has consequences for Michigan's forests

Posted: 11 Apr 2014 12:38 PM PDT

The vulnerability of forest ecosystems within a 16.6-million-acre area in Michigan's eastern Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, about 70 percent of the state's forested land cover, has been assessed by researchers. Topics of their report include information on the contemporary landscape, past climate trends, and a range of projected future climates.

NASA simulation portrays ozone intrusions from aloft

Posted: 11 Apr 2014 06:19 AM PDT

Outdoor enthusiasts in Colorado's Front Range are occasionally rewarded with remarkable visibility brought about by dry, clear air and wind. But it's what people in the mountainous U.S. West can't see in conditions like this -- ozone plunging down to the ground from high in the stratosphere, the second layer of the atmosphere -- that has attracted the interest of scientists, university scientists and air quality managers.

Passive houses save lots of energy

Posted: 11 Apr 2014 06:17 AM PDT

Housing is the easiest sector to change if we are to reach the climate targets, experts say. Norwegian research shows the housing sector today represents about one-third of the country's energy consumption, or about 35 terawatt hours out of a total of 112 terawatt hours. As a result, it is indirectly one of largest contributors to Norway's greenhouse gas emissions.

How a bird flu virus spreads could prevent pandemics

Posted: 10 Apr 2014 09:20 AM PDT

The H5N1 bird flu virus has killed hundreds of people, despite the fact that the virus can't spread easily between people. The death toll could become much worse if the virus became airborne. A study reveals a minimal set of mutations allowing H5N1 to be transmitted through the air from one ferret to another. The findings will be invaluable for future surveillance programs and may provide warning signals of the emergence of potential pandemic strains.

Mercury contamination threatens Antarctic birds

Posted: 10 Apr 2014 09:20 AM PDT

Mercury contamination in the Antarctic and Subantarctic affects bird populations, reveal researchers. The scientists monitored skuas in Adélie Land and the Kerguelen Islands for ten years and showed that, when these seabirds exhibit high mercury levels in their blood, their breeding success decreases. This is the first time that toxicological measurements have been combined with a population study carried out over such a long period in the Antarctic and Subantarctic.

Influenza has an Achilles' Heel: New drug reduces flu mortality

Posted: 10 Apr 2014 09:19 AM PDT

Flu epidemics cause up to half a million deaths worldwide each year, and emerging strains continually threaten to spread to humans and cause even deadlier pandemics. A study reveals that a drug that inhibits a molecule called prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) increases survival rates in mice infected with a lethal dose of the H1N1 flu virus. The findings pave the way for an urgently needed therapy that is highly effective against the flu virus and potentially other viral infections.

Decades-old mystery solved of how cells keep from bursting

Posted: 10 Apr 2014 09:19 AM PDT

A team led by scientists has identified a long-sought protein that facilitates one of the most basic functions of cells: regulating their volume to keep from swelling excessively. The identification of the protein, dubbed SWELL1, solves a decades-long mystery of cell biology and points to further discoveries about its roles in health and disease -- including a serious immune deficiency that appears to result from its improper function.

Security barriers in U.S./Mexico national parks affect movement of animals

Posted: 09 Apr 2014 05:45 PM PDT

Security barriers in national parks on the US/Mexican border which aim to deter illegal migrants are affecting the movements of some native animal species while not necessarily restricting the movement of humans, according to new research.
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