Science Tuesday: All of January’s Science News

Ok, so Science Tuesday is coming to you on a Thursday because I couldn’t get into my blog for two days (I’m not sure why, but it’s letting me today, so I’m just going to shrug and go with it). I know we’re all VERY EXCITED (or bafflingly pissed off) about the car in space, but there’s a ton of other cool science stuff that’s been going on, so let’s get to it!

Ancient writings in mummy cases seen via new scanning technique

Snakes’ venom can be used to learn more about pain

Research projects focus on artificial ovaries to help cancer survivors conceive

Disoriented sea turtle hatchlings exhibit a lot of stamina

Pacific Northwest’s mountains may have been shaped with help from salmon

New egg for long-lived albatross Wisdom (Ok, someone needs to rewrite this headline because it’s worded so poorly, so here we go: Wisdom, a 67-year-old albatross, laid her 36th egg, which is pretty damn impressive)

Metalens uses nanofins to focus almost all of visible light spectrum

Jazz musicians’ improvisation gives their brains a creative edge

UK’s new AI system could help find heart, lung diseases sooner

Jellyfish collagen promising in wound treatment (Yes! I want to be part-jellyfish!)

Ancient baby’s DNA reveals previously unknown Native American ancestors

Massive bubbles observed on surface of distant red-giant star

Male Australian peacock spiders court females with abdominal rainbow

Bacteria genetically modified to create ultrasound-detectable noise

Ancient clay stamp found in Jerusalem hints at city’s government structure

Bleaching events in world’s coral reefs accelerating

Genes linked to exploration in birds may help them adapt to climate change

Bonobos seem to prefer hinderers over helpers

New prime number record holder more than 23M digits long

Mice treated with gene therapy see temporary relief from type 1 diabetes

Device may offer long-sought relief for tinnitus sufferers

Astronomers use new technique to spot alien planets

Adventure book fragments found in wreckage of Blackbeard’s ship

Story of Earth’s creation seen in ancient Mexico stone structure

Cooling drool may help blowflies regulate their temperatures (I LOVE Scientists. They want to know everything, including how flies keep cool in summer)

Debris from asteroid indicates impact in Southeast Asia

Fungus behind deadly white nose syndrome in bats sensitive to UV light

Hole in ozone layer is healing

Researchers learning how El Nino affects Antarctica’s melting ice shelves

Ancient shark species possibly megalodon ancestor

Scientists concerned about dolphins dying in Brazil

Longer brain rhythms could be seizure indicator

Ingestible capsule examines gastrointestinal system

Amazon home to rare hybrid bird species

Shipwrecks, lighthouse found off coast of Mexico

Huge endangered water lily pads bounce back in Paraguay

Working human muscle created using skin cells

Immune reactions may make CRISPR-Cas9 ineffective in humans

Self-healing muscle could be used in prostheses

New clues about fast radio bursts emerge

Dolphins seem to recognize themselves in mirrors at early age

Walruses, flying foxes prefer to keep their young on their left sides

Oldest butterfly-scale fossils found in Germany

Ointment shows promise in treating drug-resistant bacteria

Areas of subsurface water ice on Mars revealed by erosion

Distant supermassive black hole observed burping twice

Astronomers to use Hubble observations to learn about Europa water plumes

Fossils of 113-million-year-old dinosaur found in Australia

Study finds evidence that world’s freshwater is acidifying

Space travel can hurt astronauts’ eye nerves

Ancient desert farmers may have used Silk Road travelers’ irrigation advice

Banquet hall find reveals clues about ancient Moche civilization in Peru

Scientists identify new lemur species

Genome size may have played role in flowering plants’ global dominance

New model sheds light on eyes of hurricanes

Fleas, lice on humans, rather than rats, spread medieval plague (the rats have been absolved of blame!)

161-million-year-old dinosaur boasted iridescent plumage

Illegal pot farms may be exposing Calif. owls to rat poison, researchers say

Private genetic testing for potential baby characteristics raises concerns

Creative thinking driven by key brain connections

Speed of stars at Milky Way’s center may help answer questions about bulge

Salmonella likely caused mystery 16th-century epidemic

Scientists chase elusive measurement of universe’s expansion speed

Scythian royals may be interred at ancient Siberian burial site

Tomb of Tut’s wife may be hidden in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings

Necropsy shows how dolphin was suffocated by octopus it was trying to eat

Gene encodes virus-like protein to transfer information between neurons

Prostate cancer’s spread may be spurred by high-fat diet

Small version of gamma ray burst created in lab

Pair of flooded cave systems join to create world’s largest underwater cavern

Images of DNA in action may lead to new cancer drugs

Periodic table created for 2D metals

Fluorescing bones discovered in chameleons

Environmental factors may have triggered antelopes’ mass die-off

NASA, NOAA scientists put 2017 in top 3 of world’s hottest years

Genetically modified yeasts engineered to not breed with natural plants

Distant stars may help spacecraft navigate in deep space

Hunter-gatherers can identify smells better

New swift moving robotic arm is composed of DNA

Changing weather in Arctic may threaten musk oxen

Researchers exploring use of self-healing fungi in concrete

Ancient Viking comb could hold clues to language evolution

Team works to re-create face of ancient woman (she looks familiar…)

Ancient underwater volcanoes revealed in 3D seismic reflection-produced map

Global sea level may be feature of Saturn moon Titan

West Nile virus lingers longer in sparrows exposed to light pollution

Microplastics pollution found on Scottish archipelago’s beaches

8 types of cancer found with CancerSeek (this is amazing! It can even detect cancers that currently have no screening test)

508-million-year-old worm fossil discovered

Eliminating dark matter DNA could solve scientific puzzle

Dust storms causing loss of water on Mars

Pair of research teams create ultra-thin mirrors with excitons

Rare blind golden-line barbel fish discovered in Chinese cavern

Device uses metamaterial to carry sound from underwater to air

Stars with extra lithium baffle astronomers

“Hot Jupiter” exoplanet’s winds blow in unusual direction

Scientists debate existence of pheromones

Scientists express concern that CWD will jump the gap from deer to people (cooking doesn’t destroy the prion)

Researchers clone monkeys for first time

Scientists rebuild rare mummified woolly rhino

Shape of human brains got more rounded over time

Battle between Irish fighters, Vikings described in medieval text

Researchers encouraged to look beyond oxygen for signs of alien life. “What’s exciting is that our suggestion is doable and may lead to the historic discovery of an extraterrestrial biosphere in the not-too-distant future,” said David Catling, a co-author of the study. (ALIENS YOU GUYS)

Distant dwarf planet Haumea boasts a super-fast spin

Ancient jawbone suggests earlier exit from Africa for modern humans

Plastics found on one-third of Asia-Pacific’s coral reefs

New population of rare red handfish found off Tasmania coast

Study finds hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir effectively treats Zika infections

Canadian study to use repurposed cancer drugs to treat cerebral malaria

Crystals within volcanoes may aid in eruption predictions

Storms may be exacerbated by airborne pollution particles

South Africa researchers concerned about city’s worsening water crisis

Book outlines benefits of swearing (Fuck Yeah!)

Milky Way’s dark matter could be forming in smaller clumps

Site of ancient temple found in China

Poor childhood sleep may increase obesity, cancer risk later

Food scientist to develop hypoallergenic peanut with $275,000 in grants

Rare dinosaur fossil uncovered in Egypt

Cats’ paw preference likely determined by sex

Birds conjure image of predator when they hear certain sounds

Small device used for human-genome sequencing

Proteins help cells pack chromosomes prior to division

Living in bat-filled caves may be spurring change of species in crocodiles

Killer whale displays ability to mimic human sounds (now get them out of the tiny pools and back into the wild, yes?)

Archaeopteryx fossil may be oldest of its kind ever found

New temperate conifer species found on Korean island

Rare super blue blood moon occurs

Brain-stimulation device may help slow progress of Alzheimer’s

Prenatal low-carb diet may increase neural tube defect risk, study finds


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Science Tuesday: January 2017

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a Science Tuesday, but since I’m focusing on science activism this year, I thought it was time to start it up again. I’m posting tons of science news from the past month, so get ready to have your mind blown by awesomeness.

Incubation times for some dinosaur eggs stretched into months

Second type of dark matter may have once existed in early universe

NASA may house astronauts on Mars in advanced igloos

Geologist may have found fossil of ancient reptile

Scientists seek answers about Earth’s earliest years

A look at how connectomes work

Gut membrane reclassified as organ

Off switch devised for CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system

Ancient cross etched near older menorah carving in Israel cave

Songbirds experiencing mating woes as urban development grows

Ocean ecosystems detailed in new 3D map

Tiny worm species starts life as a “swimming head”

Study compares mortality rate in adults born to mothers with, without diabetes

Distant dwarf galaxy source of recurring radio bursts, researchers say

Bizarre asteroids focus of 2 new NASA missions

Purple rocks on Mars linked to mineral

Ancient shark-like creature related to mysterious modern chimaeras

Researchers show how carbon atoms can break 4-bond rule

Mediterranean diet may stave off brain shrinkage

1.7% of patients become long-term opioid users, study finds

Huge quantity of black holes seen in X-ray image taken by space observatory

Ancient, rare berry fossil found in Patagonia

Scientists use high-tech techniques to reconstruct face of ancient man

Massive iceberg close to breaking off from Antarctic ice shelf

Infants’ early introduction to peanuts could prevent allergies later

Device allows safer insertion of softer nanoelectrodes into brain

Study finds no link between inadequate vitamin D in infancy, food allergy

Stars on track to collide in about 5 years

Strong, light structures created with graphene

Great Barrier Reef’s past holds lessons for today

Pathogen that caused Irish potato famine started in South America

Hagfishes’ loose skin can protect them from shark bites

Microbes linked to endometrial cancer, could help screen for disease

Several objects hit Earth, creating moon from moonlets

Hubble looking at interstellar clouds with eye toward future missions

New negatively charged hydrogen clusters created in lab

Higher levels of shellfish toxin seen when ocean temperatures rise

Silicon may be among elements found in Earth’s core

Study associates prenatal antacid intake, increased asthma risk

Comets detected flying toward star in the Beta Pictoris Moving Group

Exoplanet may be causing shadow in disk surrounding star

Wounds may one day be stitched with artificial spider silk

Wings of huge ancient goose built for fighting, not flying

Physical components needed for speech may have evolved earlier than thought

Strange digestive tract keeps leggy sea spider’s blood circulating

Stem-cell procedure restores vision in blind mice

Pain-signaling protein also triggers relief

Childhood secondhand smoke exposure may increase miscarriage risk

Protein found in bacteria can act like a prion

Predatory behavior triggered in mice when brains stimulated by laser light

World’s tightest knot created by chemists in UK

Mysterious Planet Nine may have come from another solar system

Study reveals moon is 4.51 billion years old

Atari game system gets the best of neuroscientists

Consumed planet, not aliens, caused star’s strange dimming

Harvester ants soften large seeds by letting them germinate

Researchers examine how earwax works

Number of ring-tailed lemurs in wild drops 95% since 2000

Geologists uncover details about supercontinents

Japanese spacecraft spots massive gravity wave over Venus

Oxygen levels briefly high enough to support complex life 2.3B years ago

Formerly mated leopard shark now produces offspring asexually

Researchers identify genes behind false thumbs on giant, red pandas

Common leopards heading higher in Tibetan mountains

Compound can block old blood’s aging effects in brain

Researchers examine efficacy of wearables to predict diseases

Babies learn language very early

Machine learning algorithm can predict quantum computer’s state

More countries to release bacteria-infected mosquitoes to fight dengue, Zika

Vampire bats widen their menu to include human blood

Turtle-shaped sunspot seen in ALMA radio telescope images

Cirrhosis risk higher for hospital patients with alcohol problems

Saturn moon Daphnis seen making waves in A ring

Curiosity’s latest Mars rock find likely a meteorite

It looks like 2016 has edged out 2015 as world’s warmest year

60% of primate species could soon be extinct

Traffic noise raises tree frogs’ stress levels

Mexico’s Colima volcano eruption recorded by webcam

3D-printed model helps researchers understand ancient portable sundial

Observing sun’s position helps ants navigate

Researchers developing polio vaccine that contains no live virus

Stronghold located in Scotland is from Dark Ages

Cell-like chemically active droplets may contain clues about origins of life

New Horizons on way to study Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69

Humans may have spurred extinction of Australia’s ancient megafauna

Caterpillar with leafy covering seen moving through Peruvian Amazon

Sedentary lifestyle may make cells age faster

Remains of ancient wolf-sized otter found in China

Solar system’s past uncovered in rare shards of early meteorites

Fear of death eased following out-of-body experience via VR

Masked hypertension may elevate heart disease risk

Hormone injections may help with sexual arousal

US cervical cancer mortality rates are underestimated

Researchers create bacteria with 2 additional letters in genetic code

Personality traits linked to brain wrinkles

Plasma accelerator may be key to studying information loss in black holes

Clusters of dwarf galaxies discovered

Cats likely have episodic memory

EPA told to stop new grants, contracts

Rats grow mouse pancreases in lab

Head ornamentation linked to larger dinosaurs

Evidence of plate tectonics seen on Charon

Measurement of kilogram to be redefined in 2018

Chimera embryos developed in sows for 28 days

Hydrogen transformed into metal under extremely high pressures

Interest growing for pro-science march in D.C.

Pilgrimages may have spread leprosy to medieval England

Study unlinking memories in mice could lead to PTSD treatments

Avian influenza’s geographic reach, diversity of strains could signal danger

Unique amber-encased insect should have its own order, researchers say

Rise in drug-resistant bacteria seen in China

Time crystals that move without energy developed

Ancient, rare meteorites were common over 466 million years ago

What makes something meaningful examined in study using LSD

Newly discovered Amazon reef seen in pictures from Greenpeace

Children with autism may benefit from microbiota transfer therapy

Researchers develop new canine influenza vaccines

Methane spikes may have kept ancient Mars warm enough for liquid water

Rocks may be concealing life on Mars

Oxygen in moon soil may have been picked up from Earth’s magnetosphere

Tiny sea creature is humans’ oldest ancestor

Researchers aim to improve wine through biotechnology


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Science Tuesday: All of June's Science News

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! I obviously failed big-time at keeping up with weekly Science Tuesday posts, so I’m switching it up and posting this segment once a month instead of weekly. Enjoy all (ok, most) of June’s science news!

Ancient geometric symbols may have been basis for writing

Comet’s atmosphere contains amino acid needed for creating life

Bees’ fuzz helps pick up flowers’ electric signals

Antarctica didn’t protect dinosaurs from mass extinction event

Specially engineered nanoparticles take aim at atherosclerosis

Study ties prednisone use to elevated mortality risk in patients with RA

Meteor source of iron in dagger found with King Tut

Water on young moon likely came from asteroids

Milky Way has mass of 700 billion suns

Pluto’s terrain visible in great detail in latest New Horizons image

Skeleton of ancient dog-like creature still puzzles scientists

Study links migraines to cardiovascular problems in women

London excavation reveals Roman-era documents

Shapes on Pluto’s surface offer clues to geological activity

Scientists eye mantis shrimp for ideas to create new body armor

Male sparrows provide less for young if they suspect mate of cheating

Gene that colors butterfly wings linked to dark-colored moth mutation

Scientists closer to creating universal cancer vaccine

Youths on ADHD meds may have increased arrhythmia risk

Unusual underwater structures are geological, not ancient city

Study suggests quicker universe expansion

New radio maps of Jupiter indicate ammonia swirls below clouds

Researchers unveil synthetic human genome project

Dogs may have originated in both Asia and Europe

Young ocean fish eating plastic “Scientists say the fish prefer the plastic to their natural food the way teenagers eschew healthy food in favor of fast food.” 🙁

Reduced risk of colon cancer death linked to low-dose aspirin use

Rosetta probe back online after orientation snafu

New magma chamber found alongside New Zealand volcanoes

Risk of microcephaly as high as 13% among Zika-infected pregnant women

Study explores link between dopamine, memory function

Hawking, colleagues say information can escape from black holes

Photons’ quantum properties could be used to send uncrackable messages

Study links ancient European farmers with Stone Age migrants from Aegean Sea

Eels climb and send pulses of electricity into threatening creatures

Bison found their way to Americas about 13,000 years ago

Strange deep-sea mushroom is a part of a siphonophore

Archerfish demonstrate ability to discern specific human faces

Malaysian rainforest home to world’s tallest tropical tree

7 new species of peacock spiders identified in Australia So pretty!

Mammals began to thrive long before dinosaurs died out

Event Horizon Telescope will improve image of black holes

LISA Pathfinder captures almost-flawless free fall

Astronomers listen to sounds from ancient star cluster

New blood test could help personalize antidepressant treatment

New elements named for Japan, Moscow, Tenn. and Russian physicist

Satellites, drones help find huge hidden monument in Petra

Flores Island fossils appear to be from ancestors of Homo floresiensis (psst, these are the “real hobbits” you’ve heard about)

Black hole’s dinner of space clouds is in astronomers’ sights

Bioluminescence evolved many times in deep-sea fish

Scientists re-create ancient enzyme

Health, behavior changes likely in early humans due to ancient supernovas “The nearby supernovas would have brightened the night sky for about a year, leading to behavioral changes and hormone production, and increased radiation on Earth would have lasted 500 years.” (The most interesting part of this article is the discussion on radiation background levels and the dosage necessary to cause fatalities)

Female Cape honeybees exhibit invasive, freeloading behavior

Hummingbird hawk-moths staying in UK longer than usual

Carbon dioxide turned into limestone in Iceland

Breath test could warn of early return of lung cancer

Australian researchers creating allergen-free peanut

Scientists developing miniature multimodality endoscopic scanner

Mouse species has menstrual cycle similar to that of humans

Star ripping away young planet’s outer layers

Milky Way lost to light pollution for 1 in 3 people

Imperfections greatly weaken carbon nanotubes

Brain reward system changes seen in long-term marijuana users

Jupiter-sized planet found orbiting binary star system

Close-up shows boundary between Pluto’s plains and rocky highlands

NASA tracks Mars dust storms based on atmospheric temperatures

Autonomic nervous system activity during sleep helps with memory

Hoard of Roman-era silver discovered in Scottish field

More infections follow use of antibiotics during breast-feeding

Peptoids used to develop blood test for diseases without antigens

Scientists detect chiral molecule in interstellar space

NASA scientists to study behavior of fire in space with Cygnus blaze

2,000-year-old hunk of butter pulled from bog in Ireland

Part of humerus found from seabird as big as a plane

Climate change key factor in extinction of rodent in Australia

Rx drug contamination common in Southern streams

Researchers examine anaphylaxis risk in siblings of youths with peanut allergy

LIGO latches on to more gravitational waves

NASA uses space instruments to view methane leaks on Earth

New fish species found in Pacific during NOAA expedition

Amazon butterflies pilfer bamboo nectar from ants

Male banana fiddler crabs improve mating odds by trapping females

Birds’ small brains pack big neuron punch

New technique allows chemotherapy to cross blood-brain barrier

Birth defect risk low with 3rd-trimester Zika infection

Oxygen found in distant, early galaxy

Asteroid found orbiting sun alongside Earth

Strange meteorite found in 470M-year-old limestone in Sweden

New gene-drive process could limit testing impact

Researchers look for King Henry I’s remains on Reading Abbey grounds What is it with the English paving over their dead kings?

Female patients appear more prone to dry socket after extractions

Aquarium researchers seek to design whale-saving rope

Mass extinction 12,000 years ago brought on by humans

Researchers find rare eyeless catfish in Texas

Earth’s seabeds need modern mapping, ocean experts say

Distant planet being destroyed by star’s radiation

Algorithm may help predict an Islamic State-inspired attack

Supercomputers’ brain power could get boost from artificial synapses

Very young Neptune-sized planet found by Kepler space telescope

Zika vaccine approved for human trial

Early mammals’ eyes evolved to see better at night

30-second rub with sanitizer best to kill bacteria

Brain tumor-higher education link found “The 17-year study found that women with three or more years of college were 23% more likely to develop glioma, and men with similar education levels were 19% more likely to develop that type of tumor.”

Hippocampus grafts allow regeneration in aged brains “The researchers grafted neural stem cells into the hippocampus of aged animal models and found that the hippocampus of older animals accepted the grafted cells as well as that of younger animals, which may lead to helping treat age-related neurodegenerative diseases in humans.”

Powerful electrical field may have kicked water out of Venus’ atmosphere

Asteroid rings remain despite interactions with gas giants

Ancient figurine lost for 150 years found in Scotland museum

Blood flow into brain doesn’t happen right away in newborn mice

Zebra finches learn complex mating songs from their fathers

Device could capture energy for prosthetic limbs

Computer simulation shows how Pluto could have subsurface ocean

Early binary stars’ lifetimes charted to study gravitational wave creation

First high-energy physics experiment simulated on quantum computer

Chunks of land along Calif.’s San Andreas fault rising, sinking

Imaging technique gives scientists a look inside cat mummies

Researchers find contagious cancer among Canadian mussels

Drug may delay or prevent breast cancer

Hubble spots massive dark vortex in Neptune’s atmosphere

Earth’s gravity field detects strange Caribbean Sea sound <-Obviously mermaids singing…

Monkeys shrink their social circles as they age

Study examines self-destruct mechanism of paternal mitochondrial DNA

Heart attack patients with diabetes at 50% increased risk of dying

Youths with short sleep duration at increased risk for obesity

Ancient insects found in amber disguised themselves with debris

Common precursor found for scales, feathers and hair

Amphibious centipede found in Southeast Asia

Massive canyon on Charon described

Electric currents may reduce fat in chocolate, study suggests

Study evaluates PET prostate radiotracer for breast cancer imaging

Study examines intensive lifestyle intervention in black diabetes patients


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Science Tuesday: All of May's Science News

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been a loooong time since we’ve had a Science Tuesday, and we’ve missed a lot of awesome science news, so let’s take a look at all the awesome things that happened in May, starting with ET!

Intelligent extraterrestrial life likely exists

Strange tail-less comet observed by researchers

LHC gears up to search for possible new particle

Fewer than 10 Royal Turtles remain in wild in Cambodia

Scientists transform skin cells into non-functional sperm

Aerial pesticide spraying correlates with autism risk in children

Wreckage of Cook’s Endeavour possibly found off R.I. coast

Seasonal dark lines on Mars may be created by boiling water

Exoplanets orbiting ultra-cool dwarf star could harbor life

New jellyfish discovered by NOAA in Marianas Trench

New species of frog found in Amazon rainforest

Google joins Mich. colleges in effort to resolve water woes in Flint

Trillion species of microbes, most undiscovered, may exist on Earth

Wheel wear won’t keep Mars Curiosity from climbing mountain

Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo is world’s top spot for lightning

Female giant water bugs attracted to egg-carrying males

Researchers link type 1 diabetes risk to viral infections in children

3 possible reasons suggested for moon’s mysterious swirls

Leopards aren’t as abundant as once thought

Study puts focus on crocodile eyes

Embryos grown outside uterus for 13 days in pair of studies

Mouse study looks at how ketamine works as antidepressant

Sierra Leone Ebola survivors developed blindness later

Fossil discovery sheds light on primate evolution mystery

Quake swarms point to magma recharge at Mount St. Helens

Venus flytraps’ predatory ways may have roots in defense

Scientists calculate distant black hole’s mass

Gut calming messages blocked by defective genes in Crohn’s disease patients

Marijuana to be tested as treatment for PTSD in clinical trial

Ancient marine reptile boasts unusual hammerhead

Researchers check for leprosy in red squirrels on UK island

Society can influence bedtimes, but not wake times

Fast, economical test for Zika developed

Implant helps restore some sight to macular degeneration patients

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis linked to increased heart disease risk in women

Model, maps offer detailed view of Mercury

Clean water ice covers Pluto’s moon Hydra

Many of world’s plants threatened with extinction

Contradictory radar scans fuel debate over Tutankhamun’s tomb

Canadian teen links constellation with hidden Mayan city

Researchers say basalt shard was part of oldest known ax with handle

Camels’ genetic diversity linked to ancient trade routes

Kepler space telescope locates 1,284 new exoplanets

Atomic oxygen found in Mars’ atmosphere

Lava bubbles in volcanic rock offer clues to early life on Earth

Evidence of early oxygen found in 2.7-billion-year-old micrometeorites

Darkest ocean depths home to lots of life (like…mermaids?!)

Bend in Hawaii-Emperor Seamount caused by mantle flow

WHO: UK, Ireland areas exceed air pollution safety levels

Worm excrement responsible for strange mounds in South America

Cold climate shift may have been factor in Neanderthal extinction

Earth-sun magnetic field interactions seen by NASA space probes

Strange radio-wave echoes may finally have explanation

Scientists surprised to find eukaryote with no mitochondria

Caregiver depression may linger long after patient leaves ICU

Bones of American bison ancestor uncovered in Fla.

CT scan shows tiny Egyptian coffin holds ancient mummified fetus

Dung beetles take mental snapshot of sky to guide them

Study offers evidence that RNA may have started life on Earth

Space Station reaches 100,000th-orbit milestone

Expanding red giant stars could warm frozen planets enough to support life

Roman-era artifacts found near shipwreck by amateur divers in Israel

Swift bleaching of Great Barrier Reef documented in photos

Texas research team reports successful cloning of Zika virus strain

DARPA shows off latest inventions, designs

Ancient multi-celled organisms found in China

Explaining giraffe necks is a stretch goal for scientists

Chemistry of Europa’s oceans could be like Earth’s

Spider-silk-like wire developed by scientists

AI speedily learns Bose-Einstein condensate experiment

Study examines gender disparity in silent heart attacks

Bacteria may lead to development of type 1 diabetes

Small object in Kuiper Belt seen in New Horizons images

Area surrounding sun-like star similar to Kuiper Belt

Unique horns adorned 2 new dinosaur species found in Mont., Utah

Scientists examine retreat of Antarctica’s Totten Glacier

New Orleans, surrounding areas sinking

Ohio site used for spiritual ceremonies 2,300 years ago

Hubble image offers detailed view of Mars

Urban bees mostly dine on flowers rather than human food

Insect-like flying robots can stick to surfaces

Small modular nuclear reactors take step closer to marketplace

Migraine patients may find relief with green light

Childhood obesity tied to prenatal BPA exposure

Experiment supports pilot-wave theory

Exoplanets offer clues to formation of our solar system

2 separate studies link birds’ red color to same gene

Colorful gardens mark Arctic fox dens

Shark bites on rise in Hawaii because more people in water

Researchers find dangerous Nile crocodiles in Fla.

Skeletons in ancient mass graves likely Battle of Dunbar prisoners

Fossil of strange ichthyosaur offers insight about mass extinction

Lips may have covered dinosaurs’ teeth (pucker up for dino porn! Which is actually a thing…)

Solar flares from nascent sun may have paved way for life on Earth

Study paints bleak picture if global warming continues

Barley used to make beer in China 5,000 years ago

Environmental toxins may explain carcinogenic meat research

Black holes start out massive and get bigger

Dolphins need mucus to help make sounds to find prey (“It’s kind of like making a raspberry,” said researcher Aaron Thode. <- This is my favorite science news this past month. I can totally see Niku doing this)

Excavation of Malcolm X’s boyhood home finds 18th-century artifacts

Australian researchers make progress with silicon in quantum computers

Depression in adolescents tied to socioeconomic status

Historic sites in Detroit to share $50,000 in preservation grants

Neanderthals likely built mysterious 176,000-year-old structures

Studies suggest that colliding black holes may be dark matter

Tree cloud-seeding experiments may have impact on climate predictions

World War II plane missing since 1944 found near Palau

Ancient Phoenician’s genome sequenced

Protein linked to Alzheimer’s may be triggered by infections

Study IDs new eye problems in Zika-infected infants

Huge deep sea sponge could be 1,000 years old

Mars emerging from ice age

Abrupt change in 1242 Hungary climate pushed out invading Mongols

Improvement of optical clocks may pave way for redefinition of second

Bacterial infection resistant to antibiotics found in US patient (Well this is scary as shit)

Study ties AFib to increased cancer risk among women


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Science Tuesday: A New Prime Number, Ancient Prosthetic Legs, and A (Possible) New Ninth Planet.

[Photo: Space Zinnia, Scott Kelly/NASA]

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! I missed last week’s Science Tuesday, so we have two weeks worth of science news to catch up on. Let’s get to it.

Philae lander not responding to scientists’ wake-up efforts: Scientists have tried one last time to awaken the Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, but it isn’t responding. The comet is moving away from the sun, which powers the lander, deposited on the comet by the Rosetta space probe in November of 2014. “We have to face reality, and chances get less and less every day as we are getting farther and farther away from the sun. At some point we have to accept we will not get signals from Philae anymore,” said Stephan Ulamec, lander manager.

Comets may have generated so-called 1977 Wow! signal: Comets, not aliens, may have been responsible for the so-called “Wow!” signal picked up by radio astronomers on Aug. 15, 1977, according to a new study. Researchers suggest comets 266P/Christensen and P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs), neither of which had been discovered at the time, are the mostly likely candidates, generating a sound signal as they moved around the sun that could have been picked up by the Big Ear telescope. Astronomy professor Antonio Paris hopes to test this idea when the comets go through the same region of space again, one in 2017 and the other in 2018.

Dying star Betelgeuse has scientists baffled: The dying star Betelgeuse is spewing large amounts of gas into interstellar space, but scientists can’t figure out where it’s getting the energy to do so, according to findings presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting. Temperatures in the star’s upper atmosphere are much cooler than what researchers think is necessary to eject the gas. “This challenges all our theoretical models,” said astrophysicist Graham Harper.

Well-preserved Bronze Age dwellings found in UK: Well-preserved Bronze Age houses have been discovered in Cambridgeshire in the UK. The houses date back to around 1,000-800 BC, were circular and were built on stilts that were destroyed by a fire, sending the dwellings into a river, where everything was preserved in silt. “So much has been preserved, we can actually see everyday life during the Bronze Age in the round,” said excavation leader David Gibson.

Researchers: Superdeep diamonds hold valuable info about Earth’s processes: Scientists have discovered new insights into the Earth’s carbon recycling process and how that results in superdeep diamonds. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by the oceans and the carbon is pushed deep into the Earth by the movement of tectonic plates, forming the diamonds where it meets the mantle, researchers say. “We will be able to use the wealth of information that is trapped inside the diamonds to build a detailed picture of processes occurring hundreds of kilometers beneath our feet,” said Simon Kohn, an author of the study published in Nature.

Scientists create lithium-ion battery that shuts down when it gets too hot: A lithium-ion battery that stops working before it gets too hot and catches fire has been developed by scientists at Stanford University. Accidental fires caused by overheating lithium-ion batteries have been a problem for various products, including an array of vehicles, airplanes and computers. “We’ve designed the first battery that can be shut down and revived over repeated heating and cooling cycles without compromising performance,” said Zhenan Bao, an author of the study published in Nature Energy.

Backyard chickens have more ectoparasites than commercial flocks: Backyard chickens have more ectoparasites, including fleas, mice and lice, than poultry in commercial facilities, according to a study in the Journal of Medical Entomology. University of California researchers believe that open, cage-free quarters increase ectoparasite loads. Most of the owners didn’t know their birds were infested, and they weren’t using any parasite prevention on the birds.

Lower back pain may respond to motor control exercises, study says: Motor control exercises that increase coordination of muscles that control and support the spine may help reduce chronic lower back pain and disability, according to a study review published in the Cochrane Library. However, research indicates no particular form of exercise has been shown to be better than others in relieving chronic lower back pain.

6,000-year-old pits found in France hold remains of people who died violently: Ancient pits containing the fossilized remains of people who died violently have been found near Bergheim, France, close to the German border. The site, about 6,000 years old, contains the bones of several people, and one pit is filled with the remains of amputated limbs. Researchers believe the pits were the result of a brutal fight or war. “The discovery of Bergheim is the witness of a very violent event, which took place at a specific time. Its unique and extraordinary nature does not allow or help us to better understand the daily life of these people,” University of Strasbourg archaeologist Fanny Chenal, co-author of the study.

Hoofed prosthetic leg found in 2,200-year-old tomb in China: An ancient prosthetic leg with a horse’s hoof at the end has been found in an ancient tomb in China. The prosthetic was found alongside the remains of a 2,200-year-old man who had a deformed knee. The find is detailed in a study published in Chinese Archaeology.

Excavation begins on “lost city” in remote Honduras region: Archaeologists hope to learn more about the people who lived in a “lost city” found last year in a remote area of Honduras now that excavation has begun at the site. Researchers believe there are more sites like the one discovered from data collected using lidar in an aerial survey done of the Mosquitia region in 2012 and they might represent a lost civilization. “We’re hoping to find out what culture was here,” said Honduran Institute for Anthropology and History director Virgilio Paredes.

Thoughtful ants pause to consider their next move, study suggests: Ants don’t think on the move, but instead stop to consider their next step, according to a mathematical analysis of their behavior. Researchers studied the movements of Temnothorax albipennis ants as they traversed an enclosed area one by one, each stopping to assess chemical signatures left by previous ants. Researchers believe the ants may be saving mental energy as they pause to think, according to findings published in Royal Society Open Science.

Baby’s future health may be affected by mother’s weight during pregnancy: Several recent studies have indicated that a mother’s weight during pregnancy can affect her child’s development in several ways. Some studies have linked high-fat diets and obesity at conception and during pregnancy with an increased risk for attention-deficit disorder, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder and other mental health issues in the resulting children. Other studies have suggested a higher risk for physical problems for children whose mothers were obese, such as asthma and a tendency toward weight issues.

Subsurface ice found on comet 67P: Grains of ice have been found in the subsurface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, according to findings published in Nature. The grains were detected by the VIRTIS infrared detector aboard the Rosetta space probe. The ice grains are bigger than any seen on the comet previously, and researchers say that comparing the different ice forms found on the comet can help them better understand its origins.

Gas cloud may contain remnants of universe’s first stars: A huge, ancient gas cloud in space has been found to contain minute amounts of heavy elements, possibly remnants of some of the universe’s first stars, according to findings presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting. Chile’s European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope glimpsed the cloud as it existed about 1.8 billion years after the Big Bang. Scientists suspect the heavy elements came from early stars that expelled them during supernova blasts.

Tool find suggests unknown ancient humans lived on Indonesian island: Ancient stone tools have been found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, suggesting humans inhabited the area about 118,000 years ago, but no fossils of those people have been found to indicate just who they were. Not far away is the island of Flores, where the fossil remains of a species of small, prehistoric humans were discovered in 2004. “Like on Flores … Sulawesi could also have harbored an isolated human lineage. And the search for fossil remains of the Talepu toolmaker is now open,” said Gerrit van den Bergh, an author of a study on the find published in Nature.

Brazilian frog species uses sophisticated communication signals: Some frog species are more vocal than others, with a broader range of vocalizations to communicate what’s going on in their world. Scientists found that the Brazilian torrent frog Hylodes japi uses the most sophisticated communication signals of any frog species. The tiny frogs use a complex array of visual, vocal and tactile signals to communicate, including five visual displays not seen in the anuran order, which includes toads and frogs, according to a study published in PLOS ONE.

Huge canyon may be hidden under thick layer of ice in Antarctica: The world’s largest canyon may be hidden deep beneath the ice in the Antarctic, according to a study published in Geology. The chasm lies under a thick layer of ice in Princess Elizabeth Land and is thought to be 621 miles, or 1,000 kilometers, long and as much as 3,280 feet, or 1 kilometer, deep in some areas, which would dwarf the 277-mile, or 446-kilometer, length of the Grand Canyon. “Geoscientists in Antarctica are carrying out experiments to confirm what we think we are seeing from the initial data,” said researcher Martin Siegert.

Researchers use human skin cells to produce insulin: Scientists have found a way to reprogram human skin cells to produce insulin, a development that could someday help patients with type-2 diabetes. The research is in its early stages, with scientists testing the cells in lab dishes, and researchers say the insulin produced is not exactly like that produced normally in the pancreas. The technique is described in Nature Communications.

Humans may have been in Arctic 45,000 years ago: Marks on the bones of a woolly mammoth found in Siberia suggest that humans may have been in the Arctic about 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. The bones, which are about 45,000 years old, indicate the creature was killed by humans using pointed projectiles, according to findings published in Science. Researchers think the humans moved that far north in search of mammoths.

Mysterious bright object may be massive supernova, astronomers say: A massive cosmic blast first seen in June may be a supernova more powerful than any seen by astronomers before, according to a study published in Science. ASASSN-15lh, about 3.8 billion light-years away, was observed with the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae, and researchers are trying to pin down whether it is a supernova, a superluminous supernova or something else entirely. “How ASASSN-15lh fades will reveal much more about this event,” said study author Ben Shappee.

Fish communicate to stay close to each other, study finds: Fish use calls to stick together as a group, a new study suggests. Researchers played recordings of bigeye vocalizations for captive wild bigeyes, and noted that their own vocalizations increased and they swam more closely together than they did when no recordings were played. “This study means that fish are now the oldest vertebrate group in which this behavior has been observed, and that has interesting implications for our understanding of evolutionary behavior among vertebrates,” said Lucy van Oosterom, lead author of the study published in Scientific Reports.

Hardened brain arteries, tissue damage linked to sleep issues: A slightly higher risk of developing hardened brain arteries and damaged brain tissue because of lack of oxygen has been linked to poor sleep in older adults, a new study published in Stroke suggests. “The forms of brain injury that we observed are important because they may not only contribute to the risk of stroke but also to chronic progressive cognitive and motor impairment,” noted neurologist Andrew Lim, a study author.

Brain waves may affect how patients respond to anesthesia: Brain waves may help predict differences in the way certain people react to anesthesia, allowing dosage to be tailored to the patient, a new study in PLOS Computational Biology suggests. Researchers found that some study participants would fight the drug propofol’s effects, while others were more susceptible to it. The difference was noticeable in the subjects’ brain waves even before the drug was given, scientists say.

Continual tea consumption can reduce risk of arterial stiffness: People who drink tea every day for more than six years have a lower risk of arterial stiffness, according to a study by researchers in China. The study of 40- to 75-year-olds showed that those who drank tea for more than 10 years were found to have the lowest levels of brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity.

Bio-activated concrete helps promote algae growth in marine environment: Researchers in Japan have discovered a way to develop concrete that promotes algae growth for use in marine environments. The process uses amino acids and grows algae up to 10 times faster than regular concrete. They hope to create a seaweed bed with the material.

Zero-energy particles give black holes “hair,” Hawking study suggests: Black holes contain “hairs” made up of zero-energy particles that may hold some of the information they consume, according to a new hypothesis by Stephen Hawking and colleagues. “The million dollar question is whether all the information is stored in this way, and we have made no claims about that. It seems unlikely that the kind of hair that we described is rich enough to store all the information,” said Harvard physicist Andrew Strominger, an author of the study published online in arXiv.

Zinnia grown on space station first flower to bloom in space: A zinnia has bloomed on the International Space Station less than a month after mold damaged several plants in its nursery. Astronaut Scott Kelly is tending the plants and shared the news of the blossom with a photo on Twitter. NASA hopes to try growing tomatoes and other flowering plants beginning in 2018 in ongoing experiments to see if fresh food can be grown in space.

Location of 1692 Salem witch trial hangings confirmed: The exact site of the hangings resulting from the 1692 Salem witch trials has been confirmed using a mix of historical document research and modern archaeological techniques. The hangings of 19 people accused of witchcraft took place on Proctor’s Ledge, located behind a present-day pharmacy on a city-owned plot of land. The finding confirms that of historian Sidney Perley, who used historical documents to find the site almost 100 years ago, but whose work was overshadowed by myth and conspiracy theories, according to the team of researchers who confirmed Perley’s discovery.

Plague bacterium lingered in medieval Europe for centuries: The second wave of bubonic plague that hit medieval Europe was likely fed by the presence of the bacterium Yersinia pestis in a local host for as long as 300 years, according to a study published in PLOS ONE. Researchers who studied DNA from 14th- to 17th-century skeletons say their findings show that the bacterium stayed in Europe, reinfecting residents rather than being brought in by travelers from Asia.

High-fiber diets important for gut microbes, study suggests: A high-fiber diet is important for one’s gut microbes and one’s children’s gut microbes as well, a new study suggests. Researchers who studied mice bred to have human gut microbes found that a low-fiber diet not only caused them to have less microbial diversity but affected their offspring, too. “Everyone accepts that we pass our human genes on to our children, but I think now we need to consider that our children also inherit a microbial set of genes from us,” said microbiologist Erica Sonnenburg, an author of the study published in Nature.

National Cancer Institute plans major genomic database: The National Cancer Institute will launch the Genomic Data Commons this summer, with data from approximately 50,000 patients and clinical trial subjects. The database, part of the new cancer “moonshot” led by Vice President Joe Biden, will initially contain two large information sets of data from two programs: the Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments, or TARGET, program and the Cancer Genome Atlas.

Amount of heat absorbed by oceans doubles since 1997, study suggests: Earth’s oceans are absorbing man-made heat at a higher rate than they were in 1997, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change. The amount of heat absorbed in just the last 18 years is about the same as the amount absorbed from 1865 to 1997, researchers say. “After 2000 in particular the rate of change is really starting to ramp up,” said oceanographer Paul Durack, a study co-author.

Researchers knot quantum matter: Quantum matter has been knotted for the first time. Researchers in Finland used a changing magnetic field to create a Hopf fibration, a complex knot of interlinked circles, of a quantum gas dubbed a Bose-Einstein condensate. “These quantum knots are great because of their fundamental importance. They show that these structures are possible in quantum fields,” said Mikko Mottonen, co-author of the study published in Nature Physics.

Finches memorize mating songs with unique brain circuitry: NYU Langone Medical Center researchers found that juvenile male zebra finches learn their mating songs by activating inhibitory cells in the brain that “lock” the tunes in place while preventing other activity in that area of the brain. This neural response was present only in juvenile birds. “Maybe we could teach old birds new tricks,” said neuroscientist and lead author Michael Long. “And extrapolating widely, maybe we could even do this in mammals, maybe even humans, and enrich learning.”

Yoga poses safe in late pregnancy, study suggests: Many yoga poses are safe to do during late pregnancy, according to a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Researchers monitored 25 women in the late stages of pregnancy while they practiced yoga, tracking their vital signs and those of their babies during the poses, which included four not recommended for pregnant women. The scientists say none of the women reported any problems resulting from the poses, and all vital signs remained normal.

Technique might allow more targeted delivery of cancer drug: Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that using an exosome coating derived from the white blood cells of mice allowed delivery of paclitaxel directly to drug-resistant cancer cells. The targeted delivery allowed scientists to use a 50-fold lower dose. The treatment, called exoPXT, was also labeled with a dye and tested as a diagnostic tool, which identified malignant cells in animal models with drug-resistant lung cancer. The findings were reported in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine.

Trying to understand the evolution of eyes: Eyes come in all shapes, sizes, abilities and placements on the myriad creatures that populate the Earth, and scientists are trying to understand the many mysteries behind the evolution of the organ. Some researchers find studying a creature’s eyes are an indicator if its specific needs, which range from the very simple to the extremely complex.

Prosthetic foot found buried with 1,500-year-old skeleton in Austria: A functional prosthesis has been found in southern Austria buried with a 1,500-year-old skeleton missing a left foot at a point above the ankle, researchers say. “In its place, an iron-ring and wooden remains were recovered and interpreted as a prosthesis replacing the lost foot,” said Michaela Binder, an author of a study on the find published in the International Journal of Paleopathology. Researchers say the man, who was between 35 and 50, would have been able to walk, perhaps with the aid of a crutch, using the wooden peg, likely attached with a pouch or straps.

Urban snow absorbs pollutants from exhaust, study finds: Snow can soak up toxic pollutants in urban areas, new research has revealed. Researchers put snow in a chamber along with exhaust fumes and found the concentration of chemicals rose substantially. “Snow flakes are ice particles with various types of surfaces, including several active sites, that can absorb various gaseous or particulate pollutants. As a mother who is an atmospheric physical chemist, I definitely do not suggest my young kids to eat snow in urban areas in general,” said Parisa Ariya, who led the study published in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.

Risk of death from cardiac arrest greater for those on higher floors: People who experience cardiac arrest on higher floors of tall buildings are at a greater risk of dying as a result than those on the first or second floors, a study suggests. The study looked at cardiac arrest patients over five years and found that 2.6% who suffered cardiac arrest on the third floor or higher survived, compared with 4.2% who experienced the event on the first two floors, and less than 1% survived if they were above the 16th floor. Findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Virtual reality might ease the pain of burn treatments: Trials show that burn victims given pain drugs may be able to further reduce the amount of pain they experience during treatment by playing a virtual reality game called Snow World, says science journalist Jo Marchant, who tried the therapy while researching a book about the science of mind-body healing. “[T]he idea is that the brain has a limited capacity for attention, so if the ice canyon commands that attention, there is less capacity left over for experiencing pain,” Marchant said.

Astronomers make case for existence of 9th planet, not Pluto: A ninth planet may exist in the outer reaches of the solar system beyond dwarf planet Pluto, said a pair of California Institute of Technology astronomers. Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin have gathered circumstantial evidence for a ninth planet by observing the orbits of six celestial bodies circling the same area and tilted at close to the same angle, suggesting a planet may be herding them. Their findings have been published in The Astronomical Journal.

^ Definitely the coolest science news in the past week!

Small, meat-eating theropod found in UK lived in early Jurassic period: Ancient bones found near the coast south of Wales belong to a small, carnivorous theropod that lived in the early days of the Jurassic period, according to findings published in PLOS ONE. The newly discovered species, dubbed Dracoraptor hanigani, is a distant relative of Tyrannosaurus rex, though much smaller, and dates back about 201 million years ago, about the time dinosaurs started to diversify after the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic period. It may be the earliest Jurassic-period dinosaur found in the UK.

10,000-year-old skeletons found in Kenya show evidence of violent death: The remains of 12 people who died violent deaths about 10,000 years ago have been found in Kenya, offering new information about early acts of violence between possibly antagonistic hunter-gatherer groups, according to a study published in Nature. Ten of 12 mostly complete skeletons show evidence of arrow wounds or blunt-force trauma to the head, while two appeared to have been tied up when they died, researchers said.

Tree frogs thought to be extinct actually part of new genus, study finds: A species of tree frog long thought to be extinct has been found living in the jungles of northeast India, and may also exist from China to Thailand, according to a study published in PLOS ONE. Additionally, after sequencing the frogs’ DNA, researchers discovered the creatures belong to a new genus, dubbed Frankixalus. Despite finding living specimens, scientists say the frogs’ existence faces challenges due to industrial growth and development.

Magnesium trapped in Earth’s core may be power source for magnetic field: Magnesium locked in the Earth’s core may power the planet’s magnetic field, according to a new model described in Nature. Scientists long thought that magnesium couldn’t exist in the core because it doesn’t easily mix with iron, but the model suggests that magnesium was injected into the core during a series of violent collisions with other bodies when Earth was formed. “We think we now understand why the Earth has had a magnetic field for the last 4 billion years, and that the process will keep happening into the foreseeable future,” said Joseph O’Rourke, lead author of the study.

Brain changes recorded in veterans exposed to explosive blasts: Changes have been found in the brains of service members exposed to explosions, particularly in their cerebellums, according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine. Researchers looked at brain activity in veterans who had been exposed to blasts and found that increased exposure correlated with less activity in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that coordinates motor function. Researchers also found that brain pathways changed as a result of blast injuries.

Researchers identify 24 new species of beetles in Australia: Researchers have identified 24 new species of beetles in Australia among museum specimen collections throughout the country. The new species are weevils, and many specimens are nearly 30 years old, according to findings published in ZooKeys. Researchers think the new species are just the tip of the iceberg and that there could be thousands more in Australia yet to be cataloged.

Counting helps Venus flytraps capture, evaluate prey, study finds: A Venus flytrap captures and devours its prey by counting how many times the insect touches the sensitive trigger hairs positioned through the plant’s open trap, according to a study published in Current Biology. One touch alerts the plant that prey has wandered in, a second is the signal to spring the trap, and subsequent trigger touches get the plant’s digestive juices flowing. The number of additional trigger touches tells the plant information about its prey, such as size and what kind of nutrients it can expect from it, researchers say.

Existence of old burial ground beneath NYC bus depot confirmed: Bones and bone fragments have been found beneath a large bus depot in Manhattan near the Harlem River in New York City, confirming that a burial ground existed there between the 17th and 19th centuries. Documents had identified the area as the site of a Reformed Dutch churchyard where people of African descent had been laid to rest, but there had been no physical evidence until archaeologists found the bones. The burial ground was reconsecrated last fall.

Potential cancer killer makes researchers say “cheese”: University of Michigan professor Yvonne Kapila led a recent study that found large doses of nisin — a naturally occurring preservative found in various cheeses and other dairy products — acts against 30 types of cancer. The compound also killed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Kapila cautioned that the study, which involved mice, was small and the findings might not hold in people.

Newly discovered prime number sets record at 22.3 million digits long: The largest known prime number has been found by mathematicians at the University of Central Missouri. The world-record-setting 49th Mersenne prime number is 22.3 million digits long.

Study of iridescent clams may lead to better solar, screen technologies: Clams’ iridescence may one day help researchers create better solar panels, smartphones and televisions. “We are studying the clams to see how their iridescent cells interact with the algae to enhance photosynthesis,” said Amitabh Ghoshal, lead author of the study published in Optica. The study also looked at the way clams produce different iridescent colors.

Researchers use beetle to devise new method to prevent windshield frost: The shell of the Namib Desert beetle is helping scientists create a new method for preventing and controlling frost on windshields, according to findings published in Scientific Reports. Researchers noticed how the beetle collected airborne water by using bumpy patterns on its shell. They recreated the patterns on a silicon wafer, which attracted water, then repelled it, ultimately keeping the droplets moving, which slows or prevents frost.

European storks alter migration pattern to dine on food at landfills: The lure of discarded food at landfills has caused white storks in Europe to change their migration patterns, a study published in Science Advances suggests. Europe’s storks have traditionally flown to Africa for the winter, but over the last few decades more and more haven’t made the trek, preferring to scavenge in trash dumps. So far, they’re doing well. “There is some sort of human impact that causes these birds to change their migration strategy,” said study leader Andrea Flack.

Frequency of blizzards twice what it was 20 years ago, study suggests: The frequency of blizzards has doubled in the last two decades, according to new research. Scientists say the increase in snowstorms could be due to better documentation, but it also could be because of fewer sunspots. “Sunspot-minimum periods tend to coincide with more frequent polar outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere that could increase the likelihood for blizzard occurrence. However, sunspot activity is only a small component in explaining the frequency of blizzard occurrence,” said geographer Jennifer Coleman, who led the research.

Stink bugs offer healthy benefits as food source, study finds: Nutrient-rich stink bugs may be a good alternate food source for the ever-increasing human population, according to a study published in PLOS ONE. Researchers found four flavonoids, 10 essential fatty acids and 12 amino acids in stink bugs, and say that such edible insects should be included in mainstream diets. “Some of the traditional foods, including insects such as the edible stink bug, are highly nutritious and beneficial to human health and should be promoted into mainstream diets,” said study co-author Baldwyn Torto.

I’ll eat a lot of things, but stink bugs? No.


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Science Tuesday: Four New Elements, Dancing Dinosaurs, and 3-D Glasses for Praying Mantises

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! Science was a busy little bee this week, so let’s get straight to the news!

[Photo: Praying Mantis with custom 3-D glasses, Newcastle University]

Four new elements added to periodic table: The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry has filled out the seventh line of the periodic table by adding four new elements. A team of scientists in Japan has been credited with the discovery of element 113, called ununtrium. Elements 115 (ununpentium), 117 (ununseptium) and 118 (ununoctium) were credited to a joint team of Russian and American scientists.

Ancient skeleton found in Scotland may have been 16th-century pirate’s: A skeleton found last year beneath an Edinburgh playground belonged to a 16th-century pirate and not to a person from the Bronze Age, as had been thought, according to the City of Edinburgh Council. “Thanks to carbon dating techniques, archaeologists now know that the skeleton was likely to have been a murder victim — and quite possibly a pirate,” said Culture Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council Richard Lewis. Officials say the man, likely in his 50s, was hung at a gallows not far from the grave site.

Species’ speediest tongues belong to smallest chameleons: The smallest species of chameleon have the quickest tongues, which can lash out at up to 264 times gravity’s force to gobble up any prey that comes close enough, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. The smaller chameleons can whip out their tongues five times faster than their bigger cousins, researchers say. “They get such high performance because the muscles are loading energy into elastic tissues before they actually project the tongue,” said Christopher Anderson, the study’s author.

Scientists stop deadly fungus in Majorcan midwife toads: A deadly fungus that’s been killing toads, frogs, salamanders and newts around the world has been wiped out in Majorcan midwife toads in Majorca, Spain, the first time it’s been stopped in a wild population, according to findings published in Biology Letters. Chytrid fungus, or Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, is thought to have driven many amphibian populations to extinction. “This is proof of principle that you can go out there and mitigate infections and that the method doesn’t need to be that complex,” said study co-author Trenton Garner.

Marmosets can distinguish between low, high notes like humans do: Marmosets can discern between high and low pitches just as humans do, raising questions about when the ability to perceive pitch evolved, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Until now we didn’t think any animal species, including monkeys, perceived it the way we do. Now we know that marmosets, and likely other primate ancestors, do,” said Xiaoqin Wang, a study author.

Bog orchids woo mosquitoes by emitting human-like odor: Bog orchids give off an odor similar to that of the human body to attract tiger mosquitoes, say researchers at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology’s annual meeting. Tests are ongoing, but scientists say the flowers may be trying to lure the mosquitoes, which are drawn to the smell, even though the insects aren’t particularly good pollinators.

tretchable device can track heart rate using nanoparticles: Researchers at Seoul National University have developed a stretchable electronic device that could monitor heart rate continuously and accurately using gold nanoparticles. The device, which provides signal amplification and long-term memory storage, is made up of ECG sensors and amplifiers.

Teeth indicate giant apes died out due to insufficient food supply: Dwindling food supply likely led to the extinction of giant apes more than 100,000 years ago, according to a study of the massive creatures’ teeth published in Quaternary International. Gigantopithecus blacki, which weighed between 440 and 1,100 pounds, or 200 and 499 kilograms, was vegetarian, and researchers say its size and metabolism made survival difficult as the environment evolved. “When during the Pleistocene era more and more forested areas turned into savanna landscapes, there was simply an insufficient food supply for the giant ape,” said Herve Bocherens, the study’s author.

Black hole emits pair of massive gas waves: A black hole at the center of a nearby galaxy has burped out two massive waves of gas, something researchers are calling an example of feedback between the black hole and its galaxy, according to findings reported at the American Astronomical Society meeting. “We think that feedback keeps galaxies from becoming too large,” said study co-author Marie Machacek. “But at the same time, it can be responsible for how some stars form. This shows that black holes can create, not just destroy.”

Ancient farmhouse, monastery found in central Israel: Archaeologists have uncovered a 2,700-year-old farmhouse in central Israel, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. Artifacts found in the area suggest grain was grown and processed on the site. Not far away, researchers also found a monastery that dates back about 1,500 years.

New biomaterial can catalyze hydrogen formation: Using a bacterial virus, researchers have developed a biomaterial that can catalyze hydrogen formation, which could one day lead to more environmentally friendly biofuel production. “Essentially, we have taken a virus’s ability to self-assemble myriad genetic building blocks and incorporated a very fragile and sensitive enzyme with the remarkable property of taking in protons and spitting out hydrogen gas,” said study leader Trevor Douglas.

Dogs may be transmitting Guinea worm to humans in Chad: The painful Guinea worm infection occurs when the worms grow and reproduce within the human intestine and then migrate to the legs, where the sometimes almost 3-foot-long parasites take months to exit the skin. The infection was close to being eradicated in Chad, one of just four countries with cases last year, but hundreds of cases were noted in dogs there. Researchers are working with ferrets to find out how the parasite interacts with nonhuman hosts, and health officials in Chad are implementing prevention strategies, such as tethering dogs and burying potentially contaminated fish entrails.

Parasitic wasp larvae manipulate host to crave carbs: Parasitic wasp Cotesia nr. phobetri causes its host, the Grammia incorrupta caterpillar, to chow down on a carbohydrate-heavy diet, according to a new study. The wasps put their eggs into the caterpillars, and the larvae cause the caterpillars, which normally eat equal parts carbs and protein, to crave higher amounts of the carbs, which better serves the parasites and compromises the immune response of the host.

Planet with long period found circling Kepler-56, scientists say: A third planet appears to be orbiting the star Kepler-56, according to findings reported at the American Astronomical Society meeting. The planet, observed using radial velocity data gathered by the Kepler Space Telescope, has almost six times the mass of Jupiter and a period of approximately three Earth years.

Eta Carinae binary star is rare, but not unique, astronomers say: The massive Eta Carinae binary star isn’t the only one of its kind, according to findings presented at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Scientists have found five so-called twins to the giant binary star using archived images from the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. “Eta Carinae is not unique … It happens in nature. However, it’s very, very rare. This is the first time we can quantitatively say just how rare Eta Carinae is,” said NASA’s Rubab Khan.

Sense of smell important for sharks to navigate, study suggests: Sharks may navigate the ocean by using their sense of smell, a new study published in PLOS ONE suggests. Scientists followed wild leopard sharks, some of which had their noses blocked, after relocating them some distance from their favorite habitat, and noted how the ones with blocked noses seemed lost while the unblocked sharks headed straight back to their stomping grounds. Researchers acknowledge that sharks use many cues to navigate, but they say their work shows how smell plays a significant role.

Crows gather around dead comrades to learn about threats, study finds: Crows notice and react whenever they see a dead crow, assessing the potential danger to themselves and scolding any humans or possible predators nearby, a new study suggests. Researchers say the birds’ interactions with their dead comrades help them “to assess danger and trigger anti-predator behaviors,” the study published in Animal Behavior reads. Scientists noted the birds had an indifferent response when the corpse was a bird other than a crow.

Science weighs in on North Korea’s hydrogen bomb test: Science can tell us many things about North Korea’s claim that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. Experts can say that the earthquake that occurred in the area around the time of the explosion was not a natural quake, that the blast seemed to be nuclear and originated from the nation’s nuclear testing site. Experts also say that the test was likely not successful, but that they can’t rule out that it was a hydrogen bomb.

Malaria drug shows promise as Ebola treatment; survivors’ blood doesn’t: A malaria drug has shown promise in treating the Ebola virus, lowering a patient’s risk of dying by one third, according to a new study. A separate study has found, however, that treating Ebola with the blood of survivors is not likely to improve a patient’s survival chances. “After two years of the largest Ebola epidemic, and despite several promising therapeutic candidates, we still lack good evidence that any of these drugs work,” said Dr. Iza Ciglenecki, an author of the malaria drug study.

Gout tied to greater risk of atrial fibrillation, study finds: UK research found gout was associated with greater risk of atrial fibrillation, according to a study in the journal Rheumatology. Researchers said the association could be related to hyperuricemia because evidence suggests uric acid may help in the atrial remodeling process that increases the risk of atrial fibrillation.

Ancient grooves may be evidence of dinosaur mating rituals: Four sites found in Colorado exhibit fossilized grooves that may have been made by dinosaurs doing a bird-like mating dance more than 100 million years ago, according to findings published in Scientific Reports. Scientists say the gouges could have been made by theropods performing a mating ritual common to modern birds. “These are the first sites with evidence of dinosaur mating display rituals ever discovered, and the first physical evidence of courtship behavior,” said Martin Lockley, a co-author of the study.

Researchers find H. pylori in Otzi the Iceman’s gut: The bacterium Helicobacter pylori has been found in the gut of Otzi the Iceman, the 5,300-year-old mummy found in the Alps 25 years ago, giving researchers more clues about the microbe’s long history with humans. Scientists analyzed the mummy’s stomach DNA in search of that particular microbe. “It’s a really huge amount of data, in our case it was originally hundreds of gigabytes. We had to separate the Helicobacter bacteria from other bacteria, and this was like searching for a needle in a haystack,” said Thomas Rattei, author of the study published in Science.

Neanderthals linked to allergies in humans, studies suggest: Neanderthals may have passed genetic variants on to humans that make them susceptible to environmental allergies, but interbreeding with humans also may have helped humans adapt as they began to settle in Europe, a pair of new studies in the American Journal of Human Genetics suggest. “Interbreeding with archaic humans does indeed have functional implications for modern humans … the most obvious consequences have been in shaping our adaptation to our environment — improving how we resist pathogens and metabolize novel foods,” said Janet Kelso, an author of one of the studies.

Excess water causes mold to grow on space station plants: Mold has killed or sickened four zinnia plants aboard the International Space Station, NASA says. It’s believed that excessive water caused the mold, which has been bagged and frozen so it can be returned to Earth and studied later. Three healthy plants are left in the experiment that’s now being tended to by astronaut Scott Kelly.

Microbial seed coatings show promise in crop production experiments: Scientists with agricultural firms Novozymes and Monsanto’s BioAg Alliance have coated seeds with microbes and planted them to see if it would help the crops grow bigger and stronger. Five out of 2,000 microbial coatings used on the seeds produced promising results, with corn harvests increased by four to five bushels an acre and soy harvests boosted by 1.5 bushels an acre, researchers said. Findings were released this week.

Roman sanitation system may have hurt, rather than helped, public health: Roman sanitation systems may not have been as effective for public health as once believed, a new study suggests. Researchers looking at fossilized feces found an increased incidence of intestinal parasites after the Romans came into the area. The findings were published online in the American Journal of Parasitology.

Insulin-producing cells developed from skin cells: Scientists with the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California at San Francisco have developed insulin-producing cells from human skin cells, bypassing a pluripotent state. The research was supported by groups including the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Ice flow visible in new images of Pluto: An ice flow on Pluto can be seen in new high-resolution images released by NASA. The images are a composite of photos taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager and the Ralph Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera during the New Horizons spacecraft’s close encounter with the dwarf planet on July 14. The latest images are so detailed they show the direction of the ice flow and patterns of terrain that indicate areas of thermal convection.

Retooled Kepler mission finds more than 100 new planets: The revamped Kepler mission has confirmed more than 100 new planets so far, according to data presented at the American Astronomical Society conference last week. The mission has also identified more than 200 potential planets that are yet to be confirmed. “It’s probing different types of planets [than the original Kepler mission]. We’re focusing on stars that are much brighter, stars that are nearer by, stars that are more easy to understand and observe from the Earth. The idea here is to find the best systems, the most interesting systems,” said NASA’s Tom Barclay.

Hydrogen reaches new state under extreme pressure, study suggests: A new state of hydrogen has been created by putting the element under extreme pressures, according to a study published in Nature. Researchers created phase V hydrogen by placing a small quantity of the element under 384 gigapascals, or about 55.6 million pounds per square inch, of pressure. “This paper does not claim a metallic state, but claims that it is a precursor to the metallic state due to similarities between what we see experimentally and what is predicted theoretically for solid metallic hydrogen,” said Ross Howie, a study author.

Wreckage found off Alaskan coast may be from 1871 whaling ship disaster: What appears to be the wreckage of two whaling ships lost in the 1871 disaster that trapped 33 vessels in ice off Alaska’s coast has been found, thanks to a combination of new technology and ice shrinkage caused by climate changes. Researchers with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ Maritime Heritage Program detected the magnetic signatures of the two shipwrecks by using the latest sonar and underwater sensing devices. Scientists haven’t definitively confirmed that the wreckage is from the 1871 disaster, but they say there is a lot of evidence to support the conclusion.

Researchers find fossils of giant ocean-dwelling crocodile: The fossilized remains of what appears to be the largest crocodile that ever lived in the sea have been found in the desert of Tunisia, according to findings published in Cretaceous Research. Though not quite as large as the biggest freshwater crocodile ever found, Machimosaurus rex was more than 30 feet, or 9 meters, long and weighed about three tons, or about 2.7 metric tons. The fossils, which included a skull and other bones, were found in rock that dated back 120 million years.

Researchers learn about mantises’ brains by giving them tiny 3D glasses: Researchers made tiny 3D glasses for praying mantises and showed them movies depicting prey to learn more about how the insect’s minuscule brain works. Scientists say learning more about how the mantises’ brains make sophisticated depth calculations could help researchers create better algorithms for computer 3D depth perception. “Of course all of this data and observations is to understand how their brains work — and then how our own brains work — and then map this technology for robotics,” said Ghaith Tarawneh, an author of the study published in Scientific Reports.

Number of bacteria roughly equals amount of cells in human man, study suggests: An average human man has about the same number of bacteria as cells, according to new calculations. Earlier research suggested that bacteria outnumbered cells by a 10-to-1 or higher ratio.

Researchers develop technique to convert stem cells into primary cell types: Researchers with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said they were able to generate all of the three primary cell types from human induced pluripotent stem cells, making it possible to produce human tissues that can be used for patient transplant or drug testing. Researchers developed the technique while examining whether stem cells can be used in the production of pancreatic beta cells intended for patients with diabetes.


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Science Tuesday: A Ninja Shark, 3-D Printers, and an Atom in Two Places at Once.

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! I promised yesterday that Science Tuesday would be back, and so it is! And since Science doesn’t take holidays, there’s a lot to read. Enjoy 🙂

Metal-starved star with orbiting rocky planet discovered: A star with extremely low levels of heavy elements has been discovered with a rocky Neptune-sized planet orbiting it, according to findings set to be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics. HD175607, spied by the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher, is a yellowish dwarf located around 147 light-years from Earth, and scientists say it has the least metal of any star of its kind yet found with an orbiting planet. The discovery could mean that there are more Earth-like planets out there, since stars with lower concentrations of metals tend to have rocky, Neptune-sized or smaller planets surrounding them, astronomers say.

Sense of smell linked to TBI, brain diseases: Testing one’s sense of smell may one day be a way of detecting myriad problems in the brain, from traumatic brain injury to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Several studies are underway that link problems with a person’s sense of smell with various conditions and may lead to scratch-and-sniff-type tests that could diagnose problems early.

Global researchers work to create bomb-detecting sensors: Researchers around the world are working to develop sensors that can suss out chemicals used in making bombs, like those used in the recent Paris attacks. The scientists are focusing on triacetone triperoxide, an explosive easily made with chemicals found in hardware stores and pharmacies. Researchers say sensors could one day be more reliable at detecting explosives than bomb-sniffing dogs.

Puff adders can hide their scent from threats: Puff adders can hide their scent from threats, making them virtually invisible, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Scientists used specially trained dogs and meerkats to sniff out puff adders’ scent from a selection of odors presented to them, and while they had no trouble finding other snake-scented cloths, they could not discern those scented with puff adder. How the puff adder can camouflage its scent isn’t yet known, though researchers speculate it has something to do with the snake being an ambush hunter.

Whole-DNA study traces origins of the Irish: Ancient people from the Middle East and what’s now Eastern Europe are the early ancestors of the Irish, according to a whole-genome analysis. Scientists used DNA from a 5,000-year-old woman found near Belfast and a trio of men between 3,000 and 4,000 years old buried on an offshore Irish island. “It is clear that this project has demonstrated what a powerful tool ancient DNA analysis can provide in answering questions which have long perplexed academics regarding the origins of the Irish,” said Eileen Murphy, co-author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New species of lantern shark has ninja-like qualities: A new species of lanternshark, dubbed the ninja lanternshark, has been discovered in the deep ocean waters off Central America. The bioluminescent creature glows due to photophores, but it has fewer of them than other lanternsharks do and uses them as camouflage. The Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation published the findings.

2,000-year-old Florida cypress may live on through cloning: Preservationists hope to give new life to an ancient Florida cypress by cloning it. Climbers will ascend the 2,000-year-old Lady Liberty cypress in Seminole County’s Big Tree Park to gather new growth to use as fodder for cloning. The nonprofit Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, which aims to preserve forests with clones of the oldest and largest trees, is behind the project.

Lasers, satellite data show drought’s effect on Calif. trees: Laser-imaging technology combined with satellite data has shown new detail of years of drought on nearly 900 million trees in California. “We’ve never before had this kind of in-depth individual tree-level analysis done in California,” said Ashley Conrad-Saydah of the state’s Environmental Protection Agency. The information could help analyze which areas are most susceptible to wildfires or storm damage.

New video shows Pluto in a rainbow of colors: A NASA video shows Pluto in a rainbow of colors and has helped scientists learn more about the dwarf planet. The video was shot by the New Horizons space probe’s infrared imaging spectrometer, then translated by NASA scientists into the colors. “The discovery of water ice on Pluto was made using the data in this movie,” noted NASA’s Alex Parker.

Syrian architectural prize destroyed by ISIS to rise again thanks to 3D tech: Syria’s 2,000-year-old Arch of the Temple of Bel, recently almost destroyed by ISIS, will get a second life thanks to a giant 3D printer. The 48-foot-by-23-foot reproduction to be displayed next year in London and New York is made possible by 3D camera documentation of at-risk sites in the Middle East carried out by the Institute for Digital Archaeology.

Mystery of disappearing electrons may be solved: A band of invisible meteor dust drifting to Earth may be behind the disappearance of electrons in the high atmosphere that’s had scientists baffled since the 1960s, according to findings presented at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting. Electrons are produced high above Earth when the sun’s ultraviolet rays interact with atmospheric nitric oxide, but a big drop has been noted in the amount of electrons about 53 miles, or about 85 kilometers, above the Earth at night. Researchers call this the “D-region ledge” and suggest it’s created when meteor dust absorbs electrons because the sun’s ultraviolet rays aren’t as strong at night.

Jellyfish Nebula and strange pulsar may have come from same supernova: The Jellyfish Nebula and a mysterious pulsar that appears to reside within it may have formed at the same time during an ancient supernova, according to observations made at the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The pulsar, called CXOU J061705.3+222127, appears to exist within the southern region of the nebula, and NASA researchers say the X-ray radiation surrounding it is further indication that it is a pulsar.

Researchers map out western US areas with most plague risk: Small outbreaks of the plague that have been occurring in the western US tend to happen in rainy areas at elevations less than 1.2 miles, or 1.93 kilometers, with a significant deer mice population and boasting a large number of buildings and roads, say researchers mapping the outbreaks. Scientists say two regions appear to have the most outbreaks. One runs from southern Colorado to northern New Mexico and Arizona; the other includes areas of California, western Nevada and southern Oregon. About seven cases of plague occur each year, according to findings published online in PeerJ.

Mathematical probability can determine direction of animals’ stripes: Mathematical probability can define the directionality of an animal’s stripes, according to a new study published in Cell Systems. Researchers built a model that suggests pattern orientation is determined in the womb, depending on how much of one substance or another is produced. “We can describe what happens in stripe formation using this simple mathematical equation, but I don’t think we know the nitty-gritty details of exactly what molecules or cells are mapping the formation of stripes,” said Tom Hiscock, lead study author.

Mirroring pupil size may raise trust level, study suggests: Humans can match their pupil size with others, and that synchronization can influence social decisions, a new study in Psychological Science suggests. Researchers who tracked pupil size in volunteers during an investment game found that participants tended to share their money with partners who mirrored their pupil size.

Blood thinners safe to take before major cancer operation: Researchers followed about 2,000 patients who took blood thinners before major cancer surgery and almost 5,000 patients who did not, and found that a dose of the drug resulted in a decreased risk of blood clots. There was no increase in the risk of major bleeding or blood transfusion, according to the study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Atom ball in 2 places at once to break quantum record: A ball of atoms has set a new quantum record for being in two places at the same time, researchers at Stanford University say. Scientists used lasers to shoot a cloud of rubidium atoms in the same quantum state up a chamber 10 meters, or 32.8 feet, high to create a Bose-Einstein condensate. The atom ball existed in two separate states about 54 centimeters, or about 21 inches, apart for about a second, breaking the old record of about 1 centimeter, or about 0.4 inches, for a quarter of a second.

O.O What?

Bones found in China suggest new species of human lived 10,500 years ago: Bones found in China suggest that humans lived alongside a newly discovered species of archaic human as recently as 10,500 years ago, interbreeding and, possibly, cannibalizing them, researchers say. The femur bone of a hominin found in a cave shows signs of butchering and burning in a fire used to cook meat. DNA testing is necessary to substantiate the claims, but the burning of the bones and the climate have made that difficult for now.

Geographer proposes ancient volcanic landscape helped boost human intelligence: Geographer Michael Medler of Western Washington University recently proposed a theory that ancient humans’ use of heat and fire to cook their food expanded human intelligence, and that volcanic and thermal factors in their environment aided them. For his study, Medler mapped ancient lava flow sites in the African Rift Valley and compared them with the places where ancient hominin fossils have been found in the region. Many were at the edges of the lava flow sites, he noted.

Intelligence, mortality linked in series of studies: A person’s level of intelligence may be related to how long that person will live, say researchers analyzing decades of data. Just why this link exists is unclear, but one study suggested that a person with an average IQ of 100 was less likely to be alive at 76 than someone with an IQ of 115.

Interstellar gas “bones” may help map structure of Milky Way: Slender tendrils of interstellar gas hundreds of light-years long found along the Milky Way’s spiral arms may be “bones” that could help map the structure of the galaxy, according to research published in the Astrophysical Journal. While the bones alone may not be useful, “they provide a way to pin down the locations of spiral arms,” said Catherine Zucker, study co-author. Researchers say their study is a proof of concept and plan to look more closely at the structures.

Endangered white rhino species may be saved by stem cell research: Scientists are hoping to save severely endangered northern white rhinoceroses by creating fertilized rhino embryos using stem cells. There are only three northern white rhinos left in the world, and all have reproductive issues, so researchers hope to collect sperm and egg cells from them and combine them with induced pluripotent stem cells to make fertilized embryos that can be carried by southern white rhinos as surrogates. Researchers face a daunting challenge because no in vitro fertilization of any kind of rhino has ever been successfully completed.

3.2 billion-year-old microbes found in South African tidal sediments: Microbes from 3.2 billion years ago have been found in South African tidal sediments, suggesting that life existed close to the surface then, even though the surface was scorching hot thanks to ultraviolet radiation and no ozone layer. Earth was then much like Mars is now, so researchers say this could mean life could have existed even on the Red Planet’s harsh surface.

Ants’ roles within colony can be changed chemically, study suggests: Researchers changed the caste roles of Florida carpenter ants by giving them chemical compounds to affect their epigenetic makeup, the process that determines which genes are turned off and on, according to findings published in Science. “These are long-term, permanent changes that occur when we inject the brain with these chemicals,” said epigeneticist Shelley Berger, an author of the study. The size difference between the larger guard ants and the smaller foragers wasn’t affected.

New image highlights crack-filled crater near Mars’ north pole: A crater near Mars’ north pole is filled with frosty cracks, which can be seen in a new image taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera. The cracks have been caused by cycles of freezes and thaws occurring over thousands of years.

New technique produces hardy ceramics from 3D printer: Ceramics with complex shapes can be quickly created in 3D printers, thanks to a new method developed by HRL Laboratories researchers. The scientists use a special resin with carbon, oxygen and silicon, and they say the new technique could result in multiple applications, from large jet engine components to small microsensors. “We are at the discovery phase. It will take at least five years for an application to be commercialized,” said Tobias Schaedler, co-author of the study published in Science.

Video shows neurons working in worm’s brain: Neurons in a worm’s brain can be seen lighting up as it moves in a video released by researchers. The neurons can be seen firing in real time as the worm goes about its activities. “By studying how the brain works in a simple animal like the worm … we hope to gain insights into how collections of neurons work that are universal for all brains, even humans,” said Andrew Leifer, author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Neurons tied to inability to feel pleasure detected in rats: Researchers have located neurons in a rat’s brain linked to its ability to feel pleasure, according to a study published in Science. When scientists stimulated the medial prefrontal cortex with light, the rats showed signs of anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure linked to depression and schizophrenia. “Experimental elevations in excitability of parts of the prefrontal cortex, as can occur in depression and schizophrenia, control the extent to which major basic rewards and drives are compelling in behavior,” said neuroscientist Karl Deisseroth, a study author.

Cancer cells can’t simultaneously invade, multiply: Cancer cells can’t invade other cells and multiply at the same time, a finding that could change how cancer is treated, according to a study published in Developmental Cell. Researchers studying the inner workings of the transparent worm Caenorhabditis elegans found that in order for a cancer to invade cells, those cells have to stop dividing, but the cancer has to stop growing in order to spread to other cells. “Our study suggests that we need to figure out how to target these nondividing cells, too, as these are the ones that are invasive,” said study author David Matus.

Breast cancer drug has potential against other cancers: The oral breast-cancer drug palbociclib, which inhibits the division of tumor cells, may have broader application against other types of cancers when used with other anti-cancer therapies, according to research and a literature review in JAMA Oncology.


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Science Tuesday: Earth Evolved Quicker, Anti-Aging Mouse Blood, and No More Processed Meat.

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! I’m sure you already heard the news about processed meat and cancer, so I put that link all the way at the bottom today. Goodbye bacon, I never liked you much anyway (except Benton bacon, which is heavenly). First we’ll get to the rest of the science news before we mourn the loss of sausages (like the boudin noir above).

11th-century mummy’s genes show signs of natural antibiotic resistance: An analysis of an 11th-century mummy from the Incan empire capital of Cuzco has revealed the presence of genes linked to antibiotic resistance, suggesting that resistance may not always be tied to antibiotic overuse, according to a study published in PLOS ONE. Researchers studying the mummy’s microbiome found that many modern-day antibiotics would not have been effective in treating the woman’s case of Chagas’ disease because of the antibiotic-resistant genes present in her body. “The finding has practical implications in modern medicine and helps understand the evolution of pathogens,” said study co-author Gino Fornaciari.

Unusual eating habits turn subordinate naked mole rats into nannies: Infertile subordinate naked mole rats assume the care of their queen’s pups after they absorb estrogen by feeding on the queen’s feces, according to findings presented at the Society for Neuroscience conference. Naked mole rats reside in eusocial colonies much like bees, with a queen; some males capable of impregnating her; and subordinates that forage for the group, protect the nest, and care for the queen and her babies. The subordinates have no mature sex organs or hormones but pick up estrogen by eating the pregnant queen’s feces, researchers found.

Amphibious fish cools itself by jumping onto land: An amphibious fish found in warm areas from Brazil to Florida likes to cool itself off by jumping out of hot water onto land, according to researchers’ observations published in Biology Letters. The mangrove rivulus can get overheated in its home waters, which can reach up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 38 degrees Celsius, so it jumps out to lower its body temperature before wiggling its way back.

Sunscreen contributes to coral reef damage, study suggests: Chemicals in sunscreen may be contributing to the global epidemic of coral bleaching, a new study suggests. Researchers say just a small amount of sunscreen can damage the fragile coral reefs, and it doesn’t have to be used by people at beaches. “The most direct evidence we have is from beaches with a large amount of people in the water. But another way is through the wastewater streams. People come inside and step into the shower. People forget it goes somewhere,” said John Fauth, co-author of the study published in Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

Early morning skies to light up with Orionid meteor shower Thursday: The skies are expected to light up Thursday morning with the Orionid meteor shower. The shower is expected to reach its peak just before sunrise, around 5 a.m. local time, when about 20 to 25 meteors might be seen per hour in clear, dark skies, experts say.

Other intelligent life may not have caught up to Earth yet, study suggests: We may not be hearing from other intelligent life-forms on other planets because Earth evolved more quickly, according to a new study about the likely evolution of habitable planets. “Our main motivation was understanding the Earth’s place in the context of the rest of the universe. Compared to all the planets that will ever form in the universe, the Earth is actually quite early,” said researcher Peter Behroozi. The scientists used data collected by the Hubble and Kepler space telescopes to reach their findings.

I suppose someone has to be first. Go Earth!

New species of giant tortoise found in Galapagos: A new species of giant tortoise has been found on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands, according to a study published in PLOS ONE. Scientists used two kinds of genetic tests to differentiate 250 Chelonoidis donfaustoi from a larger group of tortoises on the island in what was once thought to be a single species. The newly discovered tortoise species lives on a drier portion of the island and has a different shell shape.

Crocodiles keep one eye open while sleeping, study finds: Wary crocodiles likely sleep with one brain hemisphere at a time, allowing them to keep one eye open to scan for possible threats, a new study suggests. The crocodiles’ one-eyed slumber hints that they use unihemispheric sleep like other creatures with this ability, including some birds and aquatic mammals, but more precise testing is needed. “Ultimately we would require electrophysiological recordings — so you’d have to look at brain waves in both hemispheres of a sleeping crocodile, to say: is one hemisphere awake while the other is asleep,” said John Lesku, senior author of the study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Researchers say protein found in young mouse blood has anti-aging properties: A specific protein in the blood of young mice has an anti-aging effect when injected into old mice, a new study published in Circulation Research suggests. Harvard scientists argue that the protein GDF11 reversed age-related heart thickening to some degree in elderly mice, and in earlier studies the protein was shown to revitalize brains and muscles.

Rats given ability to sense infrared light via brain implants: An implant placed in the brains of rats allows them to sense infrared light, according to findings presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. Sensors were placed in the rats’ visual cortexes, spaced out evenly to allow for infrared perception of 360 degrees.

Study detects presence of carbon nanotubes in lungs: Carbon nanotubes have been found in the lungs of asthma patients in Paris, suggesting the man-made molecules are becoming common in air pollution, a study has found. The nanotubes, which several industries use due to their unique physical properties, can be inadvertently created by catalytic converters in automobiles. Researchers did not find any direct link between the nanotubes and asthma, but since nanotubes were present in all of the samples they collected, the scientists believe it’s likely everyone has some in their lungs.

Magnetic brain stimulation may help stroke patients move paralyzed arms: Transcranial magnetic stimulation, in which pulses of magnetic energy are sent into an area of the brain, may one day help stroke victims regain some use of their paralyzed arms, according to findings presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. In tests, the magnetic stimulation improved motor function and suggested that a new area of the brain might be taught to move a paralyzed arm. “Stimulating this area repeatedly may force the brain to use this latent area,” said researcher Rachael Harrington.

Near-100% probability of large quake in L.A. within 3 years, study finds: An earthquake of magnitude 5 or greater has nearly a 100% probability of occurring in the Los Angeles area by April 1, 2018, according to a new NASA-led study. Researchers used GPS and in-air radar measurements to examine the Earth’s crust within a 62-mile radius of La Habra, Calif., where a magnitude-5.1 temblor struck last March, and calculated the strain on deep, locked faults that remain there. The scientists say the probability of a quake with a magnitude of 6 or larger is much less, about 35%, and note that their calculations are not predictions but statistical probability.

Evidence of plague found in Bronze Age skeletons: DNA testing of Bronze Age skeletons has found evidence of a plague outbreak that occurred thousands of years before the Black Death that devastated Europe in the 1300s. Researchers found enough Yersinia pestis DNA in skeletons that tested positive for the bacteria to produce complete genome sequences, according to a study published in Cell. The scientists found, however, that the disease did not spread as readily as the later outbreak, likely because it lacked a gene that makes it easier for fleas to transmit it.

Fungus plays key role in health of bee larvae, study suggests: Bees are providing additional food for their larvae by farming fungus, a new study published in Current Biology has found. Researchers who tried to raise bees on pollen alone discovered that the survival rate of bee larvae dropped significantly when the fungus wasn’t present. The exact role the fungus plays has yet to be determined, but the finding could have implications for agricultural use of fungicides.

Study links activity of navigational brain cells with Alzheimer’s: How a person navigates a virtual maze could indicate if they will develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to research published in Science. The activity level of a network of navigational brain cells, called grid cells, is lower in those with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s, the study suggests.

Study uncovers molecular roots of leukemia: Using next-generation exomic sequencing, scientists identified 44 gene mutations and 11 genes with an abnormal number of copies that might play a role in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Two of the genes with CLL-linked mutations, RPS15 and IKZF3, have not been linked with human cancer in other studies. The results are reported in the journal Nature.

Compounds needed for life were on Earth from beginning: The presence of 21 complex organic molecules in the wake of Comet Lovejoy, which passed close to the sun this year, suggests the chemicals needed for life on Earth existed from the start, according to a study published in Science Advances. Scientists say several of the carbon-carrying mixtures have been detected near sun-like stars as they began to form. “This suggests that our proto-planetary nebula was already enriched in complex organic molecules (as disk models suggested) when comets and planets formed,” said Nicolas Biver, lead author of the study.

Small piece of space debris expected to fall in Indian Ocean next month: A bit of space junk will drop into the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka on Nov. 13, affording scientists a rare opportunity to track its path and test their plans should a larger, more dangerous object one day fall back to Earth. WT1190F, which could be from a recent moon mission or one of the Apollo missions, was spotted this month, and scientists swiftly calculated its trajectory. Most, if not all, of the object will burn up when it enters Earth’s atmosphere.

Skygazers in for pre-Halloween treat as Jupiter, Mars and Venus line up: Jupiter, Mars and Venus have aligned in a celestial light show visible until about Thursday. It’s a rare occurrence that won’t happen again until 2021 because of their different orbits around the sun. The planets, arrayed in what’s called a planetary trio, are best viewed in the eastern sky in the hours just before dawn.

Polymer made from orange, industrial waste products may clean up mercury: A polymer made from orange peels and industrial byproducts may help remove mercury from both soil and water. The nontoxic polymer was developed by researchers at Flinders University as a cost-efficient way to combat mercury pollution. “Not only is this new polymer good for solving the problem of mercury pollution, but it also has the added environmental bonus of putting this waste material to good use while converting them into a form that is much easier to store so that once the material is ‘full’ it can easily be removed and replaced,” said researcher Justin Chalker.

New studies look into brain’s immune cells: Microglia, the brain’s immune cells, may play a role in neurodegenerative and developmental disorders, and may also play a larger role in brain development than once thought, according to findings discussed at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago. New studies suggest that microglia are key to pruning excess synapses, and that protective tags may help keep them in check so they don’t remove too many synapses. Other studies have found increased microglia activity in those with autism and schizophrenia, but what role they play is unclear.

Allergic sensitization tied to secondhand smoke exposure: Secondhand smoke exposure in infancy, but not while inside the womb, was associated with an increased risk of food sensitization in children who were tested at ages 4, 8 and 16, Swedish researchers reported in the journal Allergy. The findings, based on 3,316 children who were followed from birth up to age 16, also showed an association between secondhand smoke exposure in infancy and an overall increased risk of eczema in combination with sensitization.

Rich tomb of ancient warrior may hold clues to Greece’s cultural transition: Archaeologists have found the opulent tomb of an ancient warrior who died around 1500 B.C. on Greece’s southwest coast. Researchers hope the find can help them better understand how the Minoan culture of Crete influenced the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland since the tomb holds numerous artifacts from Crete. “I think these objects were not just loot but had a meaning already for the guy buried in this grave. This is the critical period when religious ideas were being transferred from Crete to the mainland,” said Jack Davis, part of the team that found the grave this spring.

Researchers hope to learn more about early settlers of Americas by studying DNA: DNA recovered from the skeletons of children who lived more than 11,000 years ago in Alaska may offer scientists new clues about the first settlers in the Americas, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The skeletons were found in Beringia, near the Bering Strait, and the mitochondrial DNA collected from them is among the oldest genetic material ever found in the Americas, researchers said.

Large number of early galaxies seen by Hubble Space Telescope: The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a large cluster of galaxies that existed in the early days of the universe. “The faintest galaxies detected in these Hubble observations are fainter than any other yet uncovered in the deepest Hubble observations,” said the Observatoire de Lyon’s Johan Richard. A study on the find is slated to be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Germs thriving on space station, study suggests: Infectious germs are thriving on the International Space Station, according to a new study published in Microbiome. The germs would be mostly innocuous on Earth, but they find the conditions in space a prime breeding ground, researchers say. The findings may lead to a more rigorous cleaning routine for ISS astronauts if they want to avoid skin problems caused by Actinobacteria, which is associated with human skin and which was found during an analysis of dust on the space station.

Computer models show how ancient hypercarnivores kept large herbivores in check: Large ancient hypercarnivores like cave hyenas and saber-toothed cats helped keep megaherbivores like mammoths and mastodons in check during the Pleistocene period, new computer models have shown. “The group sizes of predators were considerably larger in the past than they are today, which would have made it easier for them to take down large prey,” said evolutionary biologist Blaire Van Valkenburgh, lead author of the study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New microscope gives researchers unique view of living biological processes: A new light microscope can give researchers an unprecedented 3D view of biological processes in entire large specimens that are not transparent, thanks to better spatial resolution. Researchers used the microscope to watch nervous systems develop in living fruit fly larvae. The IsoView is described in Nature Methods.

Trained dogs can detect hypoglycemia by their owner’s sweat: A study in Diabetes Therapy revealed that diabetes alert dogs had an 87.5% accuracy rate in detecting spot hypoglycemia sweat samples. Researchers tested six trained dogs, which were made to sniff sweat samples taken from patients during a hypoglycemic episode and during times of steady blood glucose levels, and note that the study shows dogs can use smell alone, without behavioral clues, to detect hypoglycemia.

WHO agency says processed meats raise cancer risk: The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer put processed meats such as hot dogs and bacon into its group 1 list of products that have sufficient evidence linking them to cancer. It put red meat, including beef, lamb and pork, in group 2A, classifying them as probable carcinogens. The IARC’s Kurt Straif said individual risk of developing colorectal cancer from eating processed meat is small but rises with increased consumption.


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Science Tuesday: Caffeinated Bees, A Lost Chapter of Gilgamesh, and The Sun Has A Hole.

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! Science was busy being awesome this week, so let’s get straight to the news!

Scientists discover new species of dwarf lemur: A new dwarf lemur species has been found in Madagascar. Andy Sabin’s dwarf lemur, more formally known as Cheirogaleus andysabini, is named for the New York philanthropist. The tiny lemur has a white underside and dark rings circling its eyes, according to findings published in Primate Conservation.

Burrowing owls at plague hotspot avoid disease, research finds: Western burrowing owls living alongside small mammals that are susceptible to plague aren’t infected with the bacteria that cause the disease, and neither are the fleas feeding on the owls, according to researchers at Boise State University. They speculate that the fleas may stay on owls and thus never feed on infected mammals, with the owls’ presence potentially helping slow the spread of disease.

Ancient tablet reveals lost chapter of “Epic of Gilgamesh”: A new chapter in the ancient “Epic of Gilgamesh” has been found within a set of clay tablets the Sulaymaniyah Museum in Iraq bought from a smuggler. The tablet describes in more detail a forest for the gods and also provides fresh insight into the tales’ heroes’ inner conflict. The 20 new lines have been fully translated, and the tablet is on display at the museum.

Moon’s faults influenced by Earth’s pull: The gravitational pull of the Earth is tugging open faults on the moon, scientists say. Images taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show 14 cliffs caused by faults that are believed to have formed as the moon’s hot interior cooled and shrank, researchers said. “There is a pattern in the orientations of the thousands of faults, and it suggests something else is influencing their formation, something that’s also acting on a global scale. That something is the Earth’s gravitational pull,” said planetary scientist Thomas Watters, lead author of the study published in Geology.

Researchers develop robot that could help space station astronauts: A robot that could literally lend a hand to astronauts aboard the International Space Station is being developed by scientists at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, along with the University of Bremen. The BesMan AILA robot has two arms, each equipped with a hand and articulated fingers. Researchers say the robot could help do the more menial tasks around the space station in order to free the astronauts for more specialized tasks.

Robots with hands freak me out.

Supercoiled DNA reveals wider spectrum of shapes, researchers find: DNA twists itself into more than just the widely recognized double helix shape, researchers say. Scientists looked closely at snippets of supercoiled DNA. “Some of the circles had sharp bends, some were figure eights, and others looked like handcuffs or racquets or even sewing needles. Some looked like rods because they were so coiled,” said biochemist Rossitza Irobalieva, lead author of the study published in Nature Communications.

Brain activity profiles unique to individuals, study suggests: One’s brain activity can be almost as identifiable as a fingerprint, according to findings published in Nature Neuroscience. Researchers mapped the brain activity of 126 subjects several times under different conditions to get a profile of each participant, and they were able to identify the individual by their brain scan most of the time. “What was most exciting to me was that these profiles are so stable and reliable, in the same person, no matter if it’s today or tomorrow and no matter what your brain is doing when we’re scanning you,” said Emily Finn, study co-author.

Researchers to begin study of “in womb” stem cell therapy for bone disorder: The Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London are scheduled to initiate a stem cell trial for osteogenesis imperfecta in January. The 30-patient trial involves the injection of stem cells into babies in utero.

Hubble sees strange structure in Jupiter’s shrinking Red Spot: A detailed map produced by the Hubble Space Telescope shows the Great Red Spot in Jupiter’s atmosphere is shrinking and a strange structure has been seen within it. The spot, a massive storm that has hovered over Jupiter’s equatorial region for about 300 years, is about half the size it was 100 years ago, but scientists say the rate of shrinkage recently slowed. With the new Hubble observations, researchers have also discovered a bizarre wispy structure, but they don’t know what it is or how it came to be there.

Pebbles indicate Mars once held extensive river system, study finds: The shape of pebbles found on Mars indicates the Red Planet once had an extensive river system, according to a new study published in Nature Communications. Scientists created a mathematical model to help determine how much mass a rock loses over time due to erosion as it rolls downstream. They concluded that the Martian pebbles had been rolling around for a long time, moving about 30 miles, or about 48 kilometers. Researchers say the technique could be used to measure river-borne rocks on Earth and other planets as well.

Pair of experiments show genetic testing can be performed in zero gravity: Genetics tests can be performed in zero gravity, researchers discovered in experiments aboard NASA’s reduced-gravity aircraft. In the first experiment, the scientists tested three methods to transfer liquid samples from one vessel to another, determining that the best technique involves using a tiny plunger inside a pipette that moves the liquid without allowing air to get in. The researchers also tested a MiniON, a genetic sequencer, which successfully sequenced DNA in the zero-gravity environment.

Fossilized eggshells reveal clues about dinosaur metabolism: Dinosaur body temperatures varied widely, according to a study of ancient eggshells. Scientists analyzed the fossilized eggshells of a titanosaur sauropod and an oviraptorid, finding a wide range of metabolic rates. “Combined with other data, it’s consistent with them having some kind of intermediary metabolism. This suggests that maybe they were warm blooded, but hadn’t developed the high level of temperature regulation seen in mammals and birds today. They were kind of part way to evolving endothermy,” said Robert Eagle, author of the study published in Nature Communications.

Fungi in milkweed soil may help butterflies with parasite: Certain fungi in the soil around milkweed plants may help monarch butterflies battle a certain parasite, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy B. Monarchs infected with Ophryocystis elektroscirrha seek out specific milkweed plants that contain the toxic steroid cardenolide, and now researchers have linked arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to the amount of cardenolide a plant has.

Analysis suggests bias safeguards not in place for many animal studies: Many animal research studies may contain biases, according to a survey of more than 2,500 journal articles. Simple safeguards to avoid biases are often not used by researchers in animal studies, making their findings look more promising than they are, the analysis by the Center for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh suggests.

MRSA bacteria may be passed between humans and their pets: Recent research found that people with the superbug methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus pass it to their pets. Those pets, in turn, may serve as a reservoir and pass the bacteria back to humans. More studies are planned to determine exactly how pets acquire MRSA from their owners.

I’m SO GLAD I have so many pets! >.<

Well-preserved fossil of furry little mammal that lived with dinosaurs found: A small, furry rat-like creature lived alongside dinosaurs about 125 million years ago, according to analysis of an extremely well-preserved mammal fossil found in Spain. The remains of Spinolestes xenarthrosus include a complete skeleton, along with cellular level fur, spines like those of a hedgehog, and liver and lung soft tissues. Scientists say the fossil gives them the best view yet of mammals that lived with dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era, according to a study published in Nature.

Nest of baby giant hadrosaurs fossils found in Gobi Desert: A nest of baby giant hadrosaur fossils has been found in the Gobi Desert’s Nemegt Formation in Mongolia. The rare find includes the embryonic remains of three or four Saurolophus angustirostris babies along with eggshell fragments. The fossils are described in a study published in PLOS ONE.

Ancient teeth found in China shed light on migration of early humans: Scientists are learning more about Homo sapiens’ migration from Africa thanks to the discovery of 47 fossilized human teeth in a southern China cave. The teeth are between 80,000 and 120,000 years old. “This finding suggests that Homo sapiens is present in Asia much earlier than the classic, recent ‘Out of Africa’ hypothesis was suggesting: 50,000 years ago,” said paleontologist Maria Martinon-Torres, an author of the study published in Nature.

Ancient giant sea scorpion remains found in Iowa impact crater: Pieces of a giant sea scorpion that lived about 460 million years ago have been found within an impact crater in Iowa. Fossils of Pentecopterus decorahensis were found well-preserved, pressed between layers of rock, according to findings published in BMC Evolutionary Biology. Researchers say the giant sea scorpion reached lengths of about 5.7 feet, or 1.7 meters, and featured hind limbs shaped like paddles.

Dark Coalsack nebula blots out portion of Milky Way in new image: The vast darkness of the Coalsack nebula obscures a portion of the Milky Way in a new image taken by the European Southern Observatory. The Coalsack nebula, unlike its more brightly glowing brethren, is dark because the dust is coated in frozen water and particles that block visible light almost completely, but ESO researchers say that will one day come to an end. “As the stray material in the Coalsack coalesces under the mutual attraction of gravity, stars will eventually light up, and the coal ‘nuggets’ in the Coalsack will ‘combust,’ almost as if touched by a flame,” they said.

People in high-stress jobs have increased stroke risk, study suggests: High-stress jobs may increase one’s stroke risk, according to a new study. Researchers examined six previous studies between three and 17 years long and involving about 140,000 participants, and found that those with high-stress jobs were 22% more likely to have a stroke than those who didn’t. The findings were reported in Neurology.

Massive coronal hole in sun seen in NASA image: There’s a massive hole in the sun and its magnetic field visible in a new ultraviolet wavelength image taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Coronal holes most often occur during less active points in the sun’s 11-year cycle and cause geomagnetic storms. The current hole is about the width of 50 Earths and has touched off a geomagnetic storm that’s resulted in several auroras on Earth visible farther south than usual, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists.

Climate-driven lava pulses have little effect on sea-floor hill formation: Faulting action and regular magma eruptions form hills along the sea floor, not climate-driven lava pulses as previous studies have suggested, according to a new analysis published in Science. The new study tested the climate hypothesis with three different models, and researchers said none showed that climate made any significant difference in the hills’ formation. “We’re not contradicting the idea that the modulations exist. We’re contradicting the idea that it leads to the sea floor landscapes,” said Jean-Arthur Olive, author of the latest study.

Renovations uncover Jefferson-designed chemical lab at U. of Virginia: A chemical lab designed by Thomas Jefferson has been discovered in the Rotunda of the University of Virginia during renovations there. The 19th century science classroom, located behind a wall, features a chemical hearth, two fireboxes and five workstations, and officials say it may have been sealed off after the chemistry lab was relocated to another area of the Rotunda. “This may be the oldest intact example of early chemical education in this country,” said the school’s Brian Hogg.

This is awesome!

Bees can become hooked on caffeine, study finds: Honeybees seem to have a weakness for caffeine, a fact some flowers capitalize on to keep the insects coming back for more, a new study suggests. Researchers raised concerns, however, that bees who fixated on plants containing caffeine are more likely to ignore nectar from uncaffeinated flowers. “We saw that if they just had one, three-hour exposure to the caffeinated nectar on the first day, they would come back [to the empty feeder] for many more days, and more often within each day,” said Margaret Couvillon, lead author of the study published in Current Biology.

Fossils of ancient massive shark found in Texas: The 300 million-year-old fossils of a massive shark have been found in Texas. The shark measured about 26 feet, or about 8 meters, long. The shark, which lived during the Carboniferous period, was described at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology conference in Dallas.

Supposed dinosaur species actually juvenile T. rex, study suggests: Fossils long considered to be from a smaller cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex are actually from a juvenile T. rex, according to findings presented at the Society of Vertebrate Paelontology. A dinosaur skull found in the 1940s was first described as being in the tyrannosaur family, then was re-evaluated in the 1980s as a separate and smaller creature. However, scientists have used 3D computer reconstruction to allow for a more detailed analysis, leading to the conclusion that the skull belonged to a juvenile T. rex.

Seals are effective hunters thanks to shape of whiskers: A seal’s whiskers help it catch prey by sensing external vibrations that help it determine the prey’s shape, size and trajectory, according to a new study published in Smart Materials and Structures. The whiskers have a particular wavy shape that helps them detect prey without being influenced by their own movements, making seals especially effective hunters, researchers say. Scientists constructed large plastic whiskers and tested them underwater to reach their conclusions.

US record for most time in space broken by Scott Kelly: Astronaut Scott Kelly has broken the US record for spending the most time in space. Friday was Kelly’s 383rd day in space, and he’s got quite a few more days to go before he returns to Earth from the International Space Station on March 2. Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka is the world record holder for time spent is space: 879 days.

Researchers use robot replicas to study Galapagos lava lizards: Researchers used robot lizards to help them learn more about the evolutionary behaviors of different species of lava lizards that live on the Galapagos Islands. Microlophus grayii reacted in the same way to the robot that resembled it and the robot that resembled Microlophus indefatigabilis, while M. indefatigabilis responded most to the robot that acted most like itself. The findings are described in Animal Behavior.

Data Science Machine can predict human behavior, study suggests: An algorithm is better at predicting human behavior than humans, according to a new study set to be presented at the IEEE Data Science and Advanced Analytics conference this week. Researchers at MIT have developed the Data Science Machine, which seeks out patterns and relevant variables to predict an outcome. In three tests, the machine’s predictions were more accurate than 615 of 906 human teams, researchers said.

Trove of fossils found in Bahamas offers clues about extinctions: An underwater fossil site in the Bahamas is giving researchers clues about what caused extensive extinctions during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests. About 39 of the more than 90 species found among the fossils went extinct, and more than 56% of those died out after humans arrived on the island of Abaco, suggesting that human involvement was the greatest factor. About 44% died out due to climate changes, researchers said.

Dogs likely originated in Central Asia, DNA study suggests: Dogs likely originated in Central Asia about 15,000 years ago, according to a new DNA study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers looked at a diverse group of more than 4,500 canines from 38 countries, including free-ranging dogs. Three sources of DNA from the purebred and street dog subjects worldwide were analyzed.

Drought in Mexico reveals colonial-era church in reservoir: A drought in southern Mexico has revealed the remains of a colonial-era church sunken within a reservoir. The Temple of Santiago, which was abandoned in the mid-1770s due to plagues, was swallowed by the reservoir in the state of Chiapas when a dam in the area was completed in 1966. This is the second time that falling water levels have revealed the church. In 2002, the water receded so much that people could actually walk inside the mid-16th-century building.

Some of Earth’s bacteria could survive in Europa’s salty ocean, researchers say: Some strains of terrestrial bacteria could likely survive in the salty, sulfate-filled oceans of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, a new study suggests. Scientists tested Bacillus pumilus, Halomonas halodurans and Salinibacter ruber in varying concentrations of sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium sulfate and magnesium sulfate, and found that each could adapt. Salinibacter ruber took a specific liking to magnesium sulfate, which is particularly abundant on Europa.

Asteroid to pass close to Earth on Halloween, NASA says: An asteroid will pass about 310,000 miles, or 490,000 kilometers, from Earth on Oct. 31, according to NASA scientists. It will be the closest an asteroid has come to Earth since 2006. NASA scientists just spotted the asteroid about two weeks ago because it is “on an extremely eccentric and a high inclination orbit,” they said, but they said it won’t hit the planet.

400M-year-old mineral grains may hold clues to earliest life on Earth: Life may have existed on Earth about 300 million years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists found a “chemo-fossil” made up of a particular concoction of carbon isotopes, or “the gooey remains of biotic life or anything more complicated,” said Mark Harrison, the study’s co-author, when they examined zircon mineral grains dating to Earth’s early days.

Hearts age differently in men, women: The hearts of men and women age differently, a long-term study suggests. The muscle around the left ventricle gets bigger and thicker in men, but remains the same size or becomes smaller in women. “Our results are a striking demonstration of the concept that heart disease may have different pathophysiology in men and women, and of the need for tailored treatments that address such important biologic differences,” said Joao Lima, author of the study published online in Radiology.


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Science Tuesday: DNA.LAND, Pluto’s Blue Skies, and a Floating Island of Pain

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been a long time since we’ve had a Science Tuesday post *coughMAYcough* but now that StO is done and I’m world building Enfields, I have time to read through all my science news emails. So here’s all the science news from October (so far).

Ceres’ bright spots, pyramid-shaped mountain focus of colorful new maps: Colorful new maps of Ceres charted by the Dawn space probe have been unveiled at the European Planetary Science Conference in France. The maps highlight the dwarf planet’s topography and composition, as well as a pyramid-shaped mountain and the Occator crater, where many mysterious bright spots can be found. Dawn scientists are also discussing three bursts of energetic electrons that have them puzzled.

Analysis suggests bones from Bronze Age Britain belonged to mummies: People who lived in Bronze Age Britain may have mummified their dead, according to a review of ancient bones. “The results demonstrate that Bronze Age populations throughout Britain practiced mummification on a proportion of their dead, although the criteria for selection are not yet certain,” researchers wrote in the study published online in Antiquity.

Worms could be answer to world’s plastic waste problem: Mealworms could be key to solving the global problem of what to do with plastic waste, which takes a very long time to biodegrade. A pair of companion studies indicate that mealworms can safely and efficiently eat Styrofoam and plastic, breaking them down in their guts and turning them into “biodegraded fragments that look similar to tiny rabbit droppings” that could be safely used in agriculture, researchers said. The plastic doesn’t seem to adversely affect the worms.

Higher sea levels, stronger storms raise NYC’s flood risk: Increasing sea levels and more powerful storms are placing New York City at a higher risk of flooding than it faced a century ago, researchers say. Flooding events such as Superstorm Sandy should occur only once in 3,000 years but have become more likely to occur once every 100 years, says researcher Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University.

Study links specific genetic variations with reduced risk of malaria: Researchers with Wellcome Trust’s Sanger Institute and Center for Human Genetics found that genetic variation near glycophorins was associated with a 40% reduction in risk of severe malaria. The study team analyzed the DNA of 25,552 African children, 5,633 of whom had severe malaria. The findings were reported in the journal Nature.

Venus, asteroids among 5 missions chosen for development by NASA: Venus, asteroids and near-Earth objects are the focus of five missions NASA has selected to move forward for development in the Discovery program. The five teams, four of which are headed by women, will receive $3 million each to help them come up with concept designs and analyses before the space agency chooses which mission or missions will receive full funding next September. The chosen mission or missions could take off as soon as 2020.

Volcanoes, asteroid may have killed dinosaurs: Researchers studying ancient lava flows in India say volcanic eruptions, combined with an asteroid strike, caused the mass extinction of dinosaurs some 66 million years ago, according to a report in the journal Science. Lead author Paul Renne, a geochronologist at the Berkeley Geochronology Center, says the lava flow from the Deccan Traps would be large “enough to cover the entire Earth to a depth of something like a meter or so. It’s really big.”

Photos of Pluto moon Charon reveal large valleys: New high-resolution photographs of Pluto’s moon Charon has revealed interesting characteristics on its surface, including a large valley that crosses much of its crust. New Horizons scientists speculate the cracking could have been caused by frozen water that reached the surface of the moon.

Limb-enhancing genes in snakes appear to affect only genital growth: Genes that direct the growth of limbs may also play a role in the development of genitals, especially in snakes, according to new research from the University of Georgia. Researchers found limb-enhancing genes in the genomes of three species of snakes that, when placed in mice, affected the genitals but not the limbs.

Researchers find New Zealand fish jumps out of water to hunt prey: Researchers in New Zealand have discovered that the banded kokopu fish leaps from the water to hunt prey on riverbanks. Researchers became curious after finding terrestrial insects in the stomachs of the fish once thought to eat only whatever prey fell in the water, but experiments showed the fish leave the water to eat wax moth larvae left on the bank.

Study review finds 2 antidepressants ineffective for teens: A reanalysis of data from a 2001 industry-funded study found the antidepressant paroxetine is neither effective nor safe for adolescents with depression. The report in BMJ also concluded that imipramine is not effective for treating depression in teens and is linked to a higher incidence of cardiovascular events. Family physician Ken Schellhase, M.D., commented that the new report shows physicians should be cautious of industry-funded research.

Beaver-like mammal thrived after asteroid wiped out dinosaurs: The remains of a newly found species is giving researchers clues about how mammals survived and thrived after the asteroid that hit Earth 66 million years ago wiped out the dinosaurs, a study in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society reports. The large, beaver-like herbivore was part of a group of mammals known as multituberculates, which lived during the Jurassic along with dinosaurs. “Then the asteroid hit … and suddenly — in geological terms — this [group of animals] started to proliferate and get bigger,” said lead researcher Stephen Brusatte.

Ancient massive tsunami caused by volcano’s collapse, study suggests: A volcano erupted and collapsed on the island of Fogo about 73,000 years ago, resulting in a huge tsunami that overtook neighboring Santiago Island, according to findings published in Science Advances. Researchers found evidence that massive marine-type boulders on Santiago Island were pushed 650 feet, or about 200 meters, above sea level by a huge wave caused by the volcano’s collapse. Further, the researchers say a similar event could happen again.

Woolly mammoth remains found in Mich. soybean field: A Michigan farmer has found the remains of a woolly mammoth in his soybean field. Paleontologists called in to excavate the ancient creature have recovered the pelvis, skull, two tusks, both shoulder blades, and several vertebrae and ribs. “We think that humans were here and may have butchered and stashed the meat so that they could come back later for it,” said dig leader Daniel Fisher.

Study looks at methods blue whales use to eat krill: Blue whales may not be the indiscriminate eaters they were once thought to be, according to a study published in Science. Researchers say the whales have a method for feeding on krill to get the maximum amount of food while conserving energy when the food source is scarce. “For blue whales, one of our main questions has been: ‘How do they eat efficiently to support that massive body size?’ Now we know that optimizing their feeding behavior is another specialization that makes the most of the food available,” said study author Elliott Hazen.

Crows gather around dead brethren to assess threats: Crows that gather around dead comrades aren’t grieving, but are likely trying to determine if there is a threat they should avoid in the future, according to a study published in Animal Behavior. The two-year study used taxidermied crows held by masked volunteers to gauge the reaction of living crows in the area. Researchers found that the crows would make an alert sound if a volunteer was holding a dead crow, but paid no attention if the volunteer was holding nothing.

Scientists develop self-propelled powder to stop bleeding: A self-propelled, gas-generating calcium carbonate powder, which could deliver clotting agents into internal bleeding sites, has been developed by researchers with the University of British Columbia. The study team revealed that the powder was effective at stopping bleeding in animal models with traumatic injuries. The findings were reported in the journal Science Advances.

2 antifungal treatments to be tested against white-nose syndrome: University of California researchers are testing two new ways to combat white-nose syndrome, the deadly fungal disease that has killed over 5.7 million bats in the US since it surfaced in 2006. An antifungal bacterium and chitosan, an antifungal substance made from insect exoskeletons, will be tested in wild bat colonies.

Hog-nosed rat found in Indonesia is new species of mammal: A rodent with big ears, a pointed face and a flat, pig-like nose found in Indonesia is a new mammal species, according to findings published in the Journal of Mammalogy. Dubbed the hog-nosed rat, Hyorhinomys stuempkei was discovered in a remote mountain forest on Sulawesi Island. “To Australians, Hyorhinomys is a bit like a rat version of a bandicoot, with long hind limbs, huge ears and a long, pointed face perfect for slurping up invertebrate prey,” said Kevin Rowe, a researcher at Museum Victoria.

Large animals returning to Chernobyl exclusion zone: Wildlife is returning to the exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, scientists say in findings published in Current Biology. Researchers have conducted a census of animals using aerial surveys and measured the amount of radioactivity in animal tracks left in snow, but did not specifically look at the health effects on the animals. The study looked only at large mammals like elk, wild boar, roe deer and wolves, which have especially thrived with no competition from human hunters in the area.

Carnivorous pitcher plant dines on ants with help from raindrops: Raindrops help the carnivorous pitcher plant gobble up ants, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows. A high-speed camera captured images of raindrops hitting the plant’s leaves, which vibrate, quickly turning the leaf into a springboard and propelling ants crawling on them into the digestive juices in the pitcher, where they drown. “Having a fast movement in a plant is unusual in itself, but having a fast movement that doesn’t require the plant to invest any energy — it just requires it to build the structure — that’s something quite surprising,” said study author Ulrike Bauer.

Scientists develop new mathematical model to weigh stars: University of Southampton scientists have developed a new way to measure stars’ mass using fluidynamics within a pulsar. Researchers created a mathematical model that uses the frequency and magnitude of an arrhythmia in young pulsars’ rotating electromagnetic radiation beams. Their findings are outlined in Science Advances.

Arthur B. McDonald, Takaaki Kajita win Nobel Physics Prize for work with neutrinos: Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo and Arthur McDonald of Canada’s Queen’s University have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work with neutrinos. Kajita and McDonald each worked on teams in the late 1990s that demonstrated that neutrinos do, indeed, have mass. “This year’s prize is about changes in identity among some of the most abundant inhabitants in the universe,” the Nobel committee said in announcing the prize.

Not enough carbon deposits on Mars to account for missing atmosphere: There aren’t enough deposits of carbon on the surface of Mars to have trapped much of the Red Planet’s missing atmosphere, new research suggests. The researchers used data from several Mars missions to estimate how much carbon would be needed for a thick atmosphere. “Even if you combine all known carbon reservoirs together, it is still nowhere near enough to sequester the thick atmosphere that has been proposed for the time when there were rivers flowing on the Martian surface,” said Bethany Ehlmann, co-author of a study published in Geology.

Epic storm in Carolinas produced 11 trillion gallons of rain: The torrential rains that soaked the Carolinas from Oct. 1 through Oct. 5 and caused widespread flooding totaled about 11 trillion gallons, or about 42 trillion liters, an amount NASA said last December parched California needed to end its drought. South Carolina alone recorded 26 inches of rain, mostly in the central and coastal regions, and 16 deaths have been attributed to the flooding.

Oh, hey, I experienced something in Science Tuesday first hand! Our house stayed dry, but my yard is still wet.

Ants link themselves into rafts to survive S.C. floods: Ants are saving themselves from the massive flooding in South Carolina by tightly linking themselves together into rafts, according to observers. The insects’ collective behavior seen in South Carolina is consistent with recent studies. The ants’ rafting behavior is used to protect their queen.

Gene duplication helps spiders develop knees, study suggests: Gene duplication appears to be what gives spiders their knees, according to a new DNA study published online in Molecular Biology and Evolution. The researchers studied the Dachshund gene, which plays a role in limb development, to try to find out why some arachnids had longer legs than others. They didn’t find a difference between the two spider species for their original study, but noticed the gene had been copied in each spider. They went on to study gene expression in spider embryos to find out when and where the duplicated gene was activated.

Homo naledi walked upright, climbed trees, research indicates: The newly discovered human ancestor Homo naledi was adept at walking upright and climbing, and possibly at using tools, according to findings by two research teams published in Nature Communications. One team examined H. naledi’s foot bones and found that they were very much like those in a modern human foot. The other team studied bones from a right hand, and learned that H. naledi was adept at climbing, with a strong thumb and wrist that could have wielded tools, though no tools were found at the South African cave site, where the fossils were discovered.

New examination of Hubble photos shows light from first stars in universe: New analysis of photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope has revealed faint light from stars formed shortly after the Big Bang, and researchers say this light may come from the first galaxies ever created. The photos were taken by Hubble from 2002 to 2012, showing a vast expanse of more recent stars with seemingly empty patches in areas, which on further examination gave off a faint light. Scientists separated that light from stars and galaxies that formed later using information from the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey and the Cosmic Assembly Near-Infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey.

3 researchers win Nobel for work on drugs treating parasitic diseases: The Nobel Prize for Medicine has been awarded to three scientists for work that led to new drugs to fight parasitic diseases. William Campbell and Satoshi Omura were awarded half of the prize for their discovery of avermectin, which led to treatments for river blindness and elephantiasis. The other half of the prize was given to Tu Youyou, who discovered artemisinin, a drug used to treat malaria. “These two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually,” the Nobel panel said.

Study to explore communication at the end of life: Lisa Smartt, whose Final Words Project is a collection of final messages collected by relatives and other survivors, will take part in a study at Bryn Athyn College to record and analyze communication by patients in the final weeks of hospice care. The researchers want to examine how communication changes at the end of life, and make the dying process less scary and mysterious for medical practitioners and family.

Fast-moving waves in dust around young star baffle scientists: Strange rippling structures have been spotted by researchers studying a disk of dust around young star AU Microscopii. The scientists reviewed earlier images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and determined that the structures are moving away from the star at high speeds, but just what they are and what’s causing them are still a mystery. “One explanation for the strange structure links them to the star’s flares. AU Mic is a star with high flaring activity — it often lets off huge and sudden bursts of energy from on or near its surface,” said Steward Observatory’s Glenn Schneider, co-author of a study published in Nature.

Trio of DNA researchers awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their groundbreaking work with DNA. Lindahl’s work focused on how cells repair damage to DNA in general, while Modrich discovered ways cells fix DNA replication mistakes when they divide. Sancar’s work mapped the way cells fix DNA damaged by ultraviolet light.

Early evidence of hunter-gatherers in Scotland dug up by pigs: Some of the earliest evidence of hunter-gatherers on the island of Islay in Scotland has been uncovered by foraging pigs released in the area to help clear away bracken. The pigs dug up an array of approximately 12,000-year-old tools, according to findings published in British Archaeology. Archaeologists examined the area and located layers of artifacts from various time periods.

Comprehensive bird family tree created: Scientists have created a comprehensive avian family tree using genome data from 198 species of birds alive today, according to a study in Nature. Researchers focused on the Neoave group, which covers almost all birds, except for some such as chickens, ostriches and ducks. “Any attempt to understand their biology at a broad scale requires an understanding of this deep historical context,” said study co-author Jacob Berv. “It’s critical to every area of bird biology. How they act, where they live, what they look like, how they communicate: it’s all linked to how they evolved in relation to each other.”

Warming sea temperatures resulting in global coral bleaching event: Coral around the world is bleaching due to warming ocean temperatures and could result in a massive loss of coral, particularly in US tropical regions such as Hawaii and possibly continuing through 2016, experts said. “This is only the third time we’ve seen what we would refer to as a global bleaching event, an event that causes mass bleaching in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic-Caribbean basin,” said Mark Eakin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Cancer exacerbated by antioxidants, mouse study finds: Taking antioxidants may exacerbate the spread of cancer, according to a new study. Researchers in Sweden found that mice engineered to be susceptible to melanoma developed more tumors in their lymph nodes when given the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine than those that hadn’t had the antioxidant. The findings were published in Science Translational Medicine.

Portion of rat brain reconstructed in computer: A group of 82 neuroscientists have built a portion of a rat’s brain in a computer. The reconstruction is the work of the controversial Blue Brain Project, which hopes to complete a rat brain and move on to a human brain one day. The computerized brain section, culled from various cell data, responded like living tissue when brain activity was simulated, according to the lengthy report published in Cell.

Evidence that long-lived lakes once existed on Mars found: Mars once had long-lived freshwater lakes within Gale Crater, increasing the chance that life existed there billions of years ago, according to a new study in Science. Researchers poured over photos the rover Curiosity took throughout its journey to Mount Sharp and found lots of evidence of rivers, lakes and deltas. “If life had evolved on Mars, you now have a habitat which is perpetually wet that would allow microbes to be sustained. Those environments would have existed probably for millions, if not tens of millions of years throughout the rocks that we see,” said John Grotzinger, lead author of the study.

New image reveals Pluto has blue skies: The latest image from New Horizons’ flyby of Pluto shows that the dwarf planet has blue skies much like Earth does. Scientists say tholins, complex organic molecules in the atmosphere, create the blue color, even though the tholins are likely red or gray. “That striking blue tint tells us about the size and composition of the haze particles. A blue sky often results from scattering of sunlight by very small particles. On Earth, those particles are very tiny nitrogen molecules,” said Carly Howett, a mission team member.

Genome of 4,500-year-old African man offers clues about migration: DNA from a 4,500-year-old skull found in a cave in Ethiopia is giving scientists clues about migration to and from Africa when compared with modern African DNA, according to findings published in Science. Researchers were able to reconstruct the man’s genome, which revealed that his ancestors had never moved from Africa. When compared with modern African genomes, scientists found that the genetic makeup of Africa changed about 1,500 years after the man’s death.

Gene that suppresses cancer cells abundant in elephants: Elephants have multiple copies of a gene that suppresses cancer cells, according to a pair of independent studies. Elephants boast 20 copies of the p53 gene, compared with the single copy that exists in humans and other mammals. The gene reacts to DNA damage in cells, either repairing them or killing them off.

Researchers look for link between colony collapse disorder, bee parasite: Scientists are looking to see if there is any link between a parasitic fly that plagues bees and colony collapse disorder. Apocephalus borealis leaves its eggs in bees’ stomachs, which causes the bees to abandon their hives, flying erratically until they die, much the same way they abandon their hives in colony collapse disorder. While no link has yet been found, experts say any additional stress on already taxed bees is troubling.

Common mouthwash component in gel form may stave off infections in newborns: A gel containing a high concentration of the antibacterial chlorhexidine, an ingredient common in mouthwash, may help newborns in developing countries fight sometimes fatal infections. GlaxoSmithKline, which developed the gel, is seeking approval from the European Medicines Agency for use on umbilical cords on newborns in developing nations. The company hopes to distribute the gel at a not-for-profit price if it wins the agency’s approval.

DNA.LAND aims to make use of already gathered genome information: Researchers have established DNA.LAND, a project that hopes to persuade people who have had genetic studies done by consumer companies to share their genome information. “Millions of people have access to their genomes, and many more millions will join them in the near future. Can you get to the point that instead of paying for each study from scratch, we can use the crowd to collect and repurpose this data?” said Yaniv Erlich, a computational geneticist and one of DNA.LAND’s founders.

Test could help determine if antibiotics are necessary: A diagnostic test that uses the genetic signature of a patient’s immune response to infection could help reduce antibiotic resistance. The tool, which is set to be described at a Food and Drug Administration workshop this week, is being developed by scientists at the Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine in North Carolina. Doctors often prescribe antibiotics even though they don’t know if an infection is bacterial or viral, but the new test would help them know if antibiotics are called for.

Injection could protect people from Lyme disease: Researchers at the University of Massachusetts have developed a vaccine that neutralizes Lyme bacteria within the gut of the feeding tick before the pathogen can enter the host animal’s system. Initial tests showed people developed antibodies after vaccination, and human trials are planned. The goal is a seasonal injection that would protect against a disease that for now cannot be prevented in humans.


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