December 10, 2018

    Just imagine charging your phone only two times per month

    Technology | Dec 10, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Fluoride based batteries might be the answer to longer lasting batteries
    Just imagine charging your phone only two times per month - short science news and articles

    Researchers have developed Fluoride-based batteries which could potentially last eight times longer effectively reducing the number of times you need to charge your devices. They have developed the first rechargeable fluoride batteries using liquid components that work at room temperatures.

    Batteries drive electric currents by shuttling ions between positive and negative electrodes. While, the current lithium-based batteries use positive lithium ions for this, the new fluoride-based batteries use negatively charged ions for the same.

    Importantly, it’s more difficult to move the lithium positive ion as compared to the single charged fluoride ion, thereby needing recharging less frequently.

    Read the full story: Caltech
    Scientific publication: Science


    Potentially the largest oil and gas reserve found

    Earth | Dec 10, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Largest reserve of oil and natural gas discovered
    Potentially the largest oil and gas reserve found - short science news and articles

    The US Department of the Interior recently announced that they estimate a reserve of 46.3 billion barrels of oil, 281 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 20 billion barrels of natural gas liquids as per the estimates provided by the US Geological Survey (USGS). This could mean that America might dominate the energy sector world over for years to come.

    The reserves are located in the Wolfcamp Shale and the Bone Spring Formation in the Delaware Basin of Texas and the Permian Basin of New Mexico.

    The discovery is due to improved technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling even as people have reservations regarding the long term effects of these methods.

    Read the full story: US Geological Survey


    Bacteria persister cells escape from antibiotics and weaken the immune system

    Health | Dec 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Bacterial persister cells manipulate our immune system from the inside
    Bacteria persister cells escape from antibiotics and weaken the immune system - health short science news

    During an infection, some bacteria go into an inactive “stand-by” mode, and are then swallowed by macrophages, cells of our immune system. Now, researchers have found that these bacterial “persister” cells are not inactive after all, but actually change the macrophages from an inflammatory to a non-inflammatory cell.

    This weakens the defense against the bacteria when they spring back to life, and against new invading bacteria.

    This mechanism explains why sometimes infections reappear after antibiotics treatment, from which the persister cells escape by hiding in the cells that should kill them.

    Read the full story: Imperial College London
    Scientific publication: Science


    Bacteria show slower evolution when facing two stressors at the same time

    Life | Dec 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Bacterial resistance to antibiotics might develop slower when the bacteria are exposed to a stressor at the same time
    Bacteria show slower evolution when facing two stressors at the same time - life short science news

    Bacteria can adapt relatively quickly to altered living conditions, but they are much less efficient in doing so when they are facing two stressors at the same time. New research has shown that predator stress and antibiotics applied together slowed the development of protection and resistance.

    Genetic analyses revealed that predation and antibiotics each induced a unique set of mutations when applied alone, but when combined, also mutate other genes and thus slow down adaptation processes.

    Such slower bacterial evolution when two stressors are presented might lead to strategies to interfere with the development of antibiotics resistance, which represents a growing problem in human health care.

    Read the full story: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
    Scientific publication: Nature Ecology and Evolution


    Regular flu vaccination may save lives of heart failure patients

    Health | Dec 10, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    For individuals with heart failure, getting regular flu shots increases the lifespan
    Regular flu vaccination may save lives of heart failure patients - daily short science news headlines

    According to a recent study, regular flu shots can significantly reduce the risk of premature death for patients diagnosed with heart failure. For them, influenza infections can be very threatening, even fatal.

    In the study, 134,048 patients with newly diagnosed heart failure were studied over 12 years. Interestingly, flu vaccination was associated with an 18% decrease in the risk of premature death, even after accounting for other variables.

    The frequency of vaccination was an important parameter. Moreover, the timing had a strong impact: there was a greater reduction in deaths when vaccination occurred earlier in the flu season (September-October).

    Read the full story: American Heart Association
    Scientific publication: Circulation


    Nanowires used to create artificial synapses

    Technology | Dec 07, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    A technology that can potentially mimic the human brain
    Nanowires used to create artificial synapses - short science news and articles

    In a major breakthrough, scientists have produced a memristive element from nanowire which functions similar to a neuron. This element can both process and save information and also receive several signals in parallel.

    These elements are made of a single zinc oxide nanowire, which is approximately a thousand times thinner than a human hair. This nanowire is attached to silver and platinum metals which function as electrodes that can release ions at an appropriate current.

    This paves the way to develop neuromorphic chips which can imitate the human brain functioning, at the same time being small and energy efficient

    Read the full story: Forschungszentrum Juelich
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Cognitive training beneficial for schizophrenia patients

    Mind and Brain | Dec 07, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Specially designed computerized brain games can benefit chronic schizophrenia patients
    Cognitive training beneficial for schizophrenia patients - daily short science news headlines

    Cognitive training has long been around and has been advertised as a way to boost the powers of the brain, however science has shown the real benefits are limited or absent for healthy individuals.

    However, a new study shows that in the case of patients with severe schizophrenia, targeted cognitive training (TCT) can have a positive impact. TCT uses computerized training, such as brain games, to target specific neural pathways, in order to beneficially alter the way they process information. The study involved 46 patients recruited from a community-based residential treatment program, each following acute hospitalization.

    It was shown previously that CTC can improve symptoms of patients with mild to moderate forms of schizophrenia, but this is the first time the approach is shown to be useful also for chronic, refractory schizophrenia applied to patients from rehabilitation centers.

    Read the full story: University of California San Diego
    Scientific publication: Schizophrenia Research


    AI to deliver audio news feed

    Technology | Dec 07, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Artificial Intelligence used now to curate and deliver audio news on mobile phones and speakers
    AI to deliver audio news feed - daily short science news headlines

    Google has just announced the launch of its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven audio news feed. The service is similar to radio news journals; however, the content will be personalized by AI algorithms.

    The news feed will be managed and personalized by Google Assistant, the AI program developed by the company. The project is part of the efforts to deliver content through Google’s speakers and smartphones.

    The service will first be available to a small number of people in the United States. It will be interesting to see if this way of following the news will be embraced by the public.

    Read the full story: TechXplore


    3D-printed glucose biosensors as a replacement for finger pricking

    Technology | Dec 07, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Finger pricking for glucose monitoring might be a thing of the past soon
    3D-printed glucose biosensors as a replacement for finger pricking - health technology short science news

    Scientists have succeeded to make a glucose biosensor by 3D printing that can be used in wearable monitors.

    While alternatives for glucose meters that require constant finger printing already exist, the new device is cheaper, uses less material, is much more stable and is much more sensitive. Also, 3D-printing offers the possibility to adapt the biosensor to the biology of each individual for optimal results.

    For large-scale use, the new biosensor has to be integrated with electronic components on a wearable platform. Thus, the 3-D printed glucose biosensor might be a replacement for finger pricking in the not too distant future.

    Read the full story: Washington State University
    Scientific publication: Analytica Chimica Acta


    Biggest mass extinction caused by global warming: oceans did not contain enough oxygen

    Earth | Dec 07, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Diagram depicting the percentage of animals that went extinct at the end of the Permian era some 252 million years ago, according to fossil records (blue dots) and a computer model (black line). Image: Justin Penn and Curtis Deutsch/University of Washington
    Biggest mass extinction caused by global warming: oceans did not contain enough oxygen - climate short science news

    During the largest extinction on Earth some 252 million years ago, oceans warmed up, thus increasing the metabolism of marine animals. The warmer ocean water did not hold enough oxygen to accommodate the increased need of the animals, so that 96% of all marine species were wiped out.

    These conclusions were reached on the basis of modeling of ocean conditions and animal metabolism, combined with analyses of published lab data and fossil records. The model and fossil records agreed that most animal species died out at the poles, where warming of ocean water was more important than in the tropics.

    If greenhouse gas emissions remain at the same level as they are today, by 2100 warming in the upper ocean will have approached 20 percent of warming that caused mass extinction, increasing to 35 – 50 percent by the year 2300. This study thus highlights the possibility of mass extinction under the current, anthropogenic, climate change.

    Read the full story: University of Washington
    Scientific publication: Science


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