August 21, 2018

    Yet another victim of rising sea-levels - the internet

    Earth | Aug 20, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Cables which carry internet might soon be submerged in water
    Yet another victim of rising sea-levels - the internet - short science articles

    Much of the infrastructure responsible for the fast internet of today in the US is due to the thousands of miles of buried fibre optic cable in the coastal regions. However, this critical communication infrastructure might soon be submerged by rising sea levels in the coming 15 years or so. Several of the conduits are already close to sea levels and a fraction of rise in the water levels due to polar ice melting could put several more in the harm's way. Buried fibre optic cables aren't waterproof like the marine cables that transmit information between continents under the ocean. This is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed.

    Read the full story: University of Wisconsin-Madison


    An inside body GPS system to locate ingestible implants

    Technology | Aug 20, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Several imaging techniques in medicine require cutting open people or making them swallow large tubes with attached cameras. However, scientists have developed an in-body GPS system called ReMix. Now, one can track accurately the location of ingestible implants using a wireless signal. Importantly, the marker inside the body doesn't need to transmit any wireless signal, rather it reflects the signals which are transmitted from a device outside the body. Further, the marker inside the body doesn't need any battery or external energy source. An important application for ReMix is the proton therapy which is used in cancer treatments to kill cancer cells with magnetically controlled protons.

    Read the full story: MIT news


    Antidepressants may keep your brain young

    Mind and Brain | Aug 20, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Sensory and cognitive decline in elderly people may be partially reversed by antidepressants
    Antidepressants may keep your brain young - neuroscience news

    In contrast to what was generally believed, the aging brain does not lose neurons, but neurons lose their arbors, a new study found. These arbors are antenna-like outgrowths of neurons that make it possible that the neuron changes (plasticity). The reduced capacity to change is likely at the basis of cognitive and sensory declines in the elderly. When the researchers gave aged mice the antidepressant fluoxetine (also known as Prozac), the neurons started to grow arbors again, and plasticity was restored. While the neuroscientists studied inhibitory interneurons in the visual cortex of mice, such rejuvenation of brain cells by an antidepressant may occur in other brain regions as well, perhaps also in the human brain.

    Read the full story: MIT – The Picower Institute
    Scientific publication: Journal of Neuroscience


    Rapid evolution of ants living in the city

    Life | Aug 20, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Urban ants adapt to higher ambient temperatures in 20 generations. Image: Lauren Nichols, Case Western Reserve University
    Rapid evolution of ants living in the city - life science news

    Acorn-dwelling ants living in big American cities (Cleveland and Knoxville) appear to become more heat-tolerant to adapt to their warmer environment, whereas their conspecifics living in the country nearby do not. Their increased tolerance for higher temperatures helps these ants to live in cities. Researchers believe they are witnessing fast paced evolution in action, as the city ants change in only 20 generations. However, this sort of fast evolution did not happen in another city, Cincinnati. While the exact biological mechanisms underlying temperature acclimation are thus still obscure, these observations give nevertheless more insight into how animals might evolve as a consequence of global warming.

    Read the full story: Case Western Reserve University
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the Royal Society B


    Acceleration of biofuel production with an enzyme from algae

    Technology | Aug 20, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The red alga C. merolae grown in culture in the laboratory. Image: Sousuke Imamura
    Acceleration of biofuel production with an enzyme from algae - biotechnology news

    Scientists found that the enzyme GPAT1 is the rate-limiting factor in the accumulation of oils called triacylglycerols in red algae. This is of importance for the production of biofuel, as triacylglycerols can be converted to biodiesel. Red algae normally store triacylglycerols under adverse condition such as nitrogen deprivation, and use them as energy source. Overexpressing GPAT1 increases triacylglycerols by more than 50%, without compromising algae survival or growth, suggesting that upregulation of the enzyme may serve to increase the production of biofuel.

    Read the full story: Tokyo Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Study discovers mechanisms involved in development of lung cancer

    Health | Aug 19, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Research identifies how chromosome 15q25.1 locus influences lung cancer risk
    Study discovers mechanisms involved in development of lung cancer - short science news

    Chromosome 15q25.1 has been known as a genetic component responsible for increasing the susceptibility to lung cancer. Now, a new study discovered two main cellular pathways, involving the chromosome, that can modify the risk for lung cancer. The first pathway discovered is an interaction pathway in the nervous system that is implicated in nicotine dependence. The other pathway can control key components in many biological processes, such as transport of nutrients and ions, and the human immune system. The discovery could help us to understand this disease and pave the way for a treatment.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Eyes could be the window to the brain of Parkinson's patients

    Mind and Brain | Aug 19, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Retinal thickness could correlate with disease progression in Parkinson's disease
    Eyes could be the window to the brain of Parkinson's patients - short science news and articles

    Patients with Parkinson's gradually lose neurons which produce dopamine, the chemical which helps control movement. Scientists have now found out that thinning of the retina which is the nerve cells in the back of the eye is linked with this neuronal loss. They studied 49 individuals who were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and discovered that thinner the retina, higher is the severity of the disease. This could lead to someday development of simple eye scans which could detect Parkinson's disease at a much earlier stage before the movement problems and then we could implement preventive strategies to prevent progression of the disease.

    Read the full story: American Academy of Neurology
    Scientific publication: Neurology


    First evidence linking DDT and Autism found

    Mind and Brain | Aug 19, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Exposure to DDT during pregnancy could increase the risk of Autism
    First evidence linking DDT and Autism found - short science news and articles

    Researchers studied more than 1 million pregnancies in Finland and found the first evidence of the link between an insecticide and risk for autism. Blood from mothers taken during the beginning of the pregnancy was analyzed for the metabolite DDE of the insecticide DDT and the investigators found that the chances of the baby suffering from autism with intellectual disability increased by twofold if DDE levels were in the top quartile of the population. Whats more surprising is that this insecticide DDT is banned in Finland. Researchers suspect that DDE inhibits binding of hormone androgen to the receptors which is also seen in rat models of autism.

    Read the full story: Columbia University
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Psychiatry


    Connection between depressive symptoms and poor sleep quality explained by new research

    Mind and Brain | Aug 19, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Depressive symptoms and poor sleep are associated with increased brain activity in areas associated with short-term memory, the self, and negative emotions
    Connection between depressive symptoms and poor sleep quality explained by new research - short science news

    New research has identified functional connectivities in the brain that mediate the association between depressive symptoms and poor sleep quality. The researchers examined data from 1,017 participants. They found that both poor sleep quality and depressive symptoms were associated with increased neural connections involving several brain regions: the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the cingulate cortex, and the precuneus. This may suggest that “people with poor sleep or depression may focus too much on the negative things and dwell on bad thoughts, which leads to a poor quality of sleep,” said author Jianfeng Feng.

    Read the full story: PsyPost
    Scientific publication: JAMA Psychiatry


    Children are susceptible to peer pressure by robots

    Technology | Aug 19, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Robots induced peer pressure in children, while adults resisted. Credit: Pixabay
    Children are susceptible to peer pressure by robots - science news

    Peer pressure is a common psychological phenomenon, but now a new study shows that it doesn’t necessarily take a human to induce it. As the research shows, robots can induce peer pressure too. In an experiment, humanoid robots influenced children to make bad decisions. However, adults remained immune to the peer pressure from the robots but were influenced by human peers. According to the paper, this reinforces the idea of humans treating computers and robots as social beings, “attributing human-like qualities to technology.”

    Read the full story: Popular Mechanics
    Scientific publication: Science Robotics


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