October 18, 2018

    Greening of the Arctic thaws permafrost

    Earth | Oct 18, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Plants insulated by snow thaw permafrost, thus increasing fresh water flow into lakes, rivers, and oceans
    Greening of the Arctic thaws permafrost - climate change science news

    Greening of the Arctic is not only the result of global warming, it has also become a local accelerator. When insulating snow covers the shrubs, it promotes the warming of the ground, thus thawing the permafrost. This will lead to increases in discharges of fresh water into rivers, lakes and oceans. These observations, strengthened with computer simulations, show that snow and vegetation interact to influence permafrost hydrology.

    Read the full story: Los Alamos National Laboratory
    Scientific publication: Environmental Research Letters


    Largest galaxy proto-supercluster found

    Space | Oct 18, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    This colossal structure in the early universe is a galaxy proto-supercluster, named Hyperion; the image is based on real data. Image: ESO/L. Calçada & Olga Cucciati et al.
    Largest galaxy proto-supercluster found - space science news

    An international team of astronomers, using the VIMOS instrument of ESO’s Very Large Telescope, has found an enormous proto-supercluster forming in the early universe, 2.3 billion after the Big Bang. Its mass has been calculated to be more than one million billion times that of the sun. Unlike other superclusters and the supercluster of which our galaxy, the Milky Way, is part, mass is evenly distributed throughout the newly found proto-supercluster, which is due its relatively young age. These observations give more insight into the formation of the universe’s superclusters.

    Read the full story: European Southern Observatory
    Scientific publication: Astronomy and Astrophysics


    The electron is still round

    Space | Oct 18, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    In this artist's representation, an electron orbits an atom's nucleus, spinning about its axis as a cloud of other subatomic particles are constantly emitted and reabsorbed. Image: Nicolle R. Fuller, National Science Foundation
    The electron is still round - short science news

    Researchers have measured the shape of an electron’s charge with stunning precision, and found that it is perfectly spherical. This observation is in line with the so-called « Standard Model » of particle physics. However, the Standard Model is known be wrong, because it cannot explain why the universe exists. Several theories to replace the Standard Model have therefore been forwarded, that posit that there could be heavy particles in the electron’s presence. The current experiments, in which a beam of cold thorium-oxide molecules was fired into a chamber, and the emitted light from the molecules was measured, found no evidence for such heavy particles, as this would have distorted the emitted light pattern. Thus, the current alternative theories need rethinking, and the Standard Model, although not correct, is still the best we have to describe electrons and the universe’s mysteries.

    Read the full story: Northwestern University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Yellowstone has benefited from the reintroduction of wolves

    Life | Oct 17, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Reintroduction of wolves has made Yellowstone's ecosystem dynamic and complex
    Yellowstone has benefited from the reintroduction of wolves - ecology science news

    The reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park in 1995 has made the park’s ecosystem very complex and heterogeneous, a new study shows. While human interventions in the park are kept minimal, the presence of wolves led to the recovery of a variety of plants and trees, and bison have replaced elk as the dominant herbivore in the Northern Range of the park. Yellowstone has thus benefited from the reintroduction of wolves in the park, but this success is not easy to recapitulate in other areas where the influence of human activity (agriculture, hunting, livestock) is dominant.

    Read the full story: University of Alberta
    Scientific publication: Journal of Mammalogy


    Terrorism does not increase PTSD more than other distresses

    Health | Oct 17, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Ground zero. Interest for the effects of terrorism on mental health was sparked by the events of 9/11.
    Terrorism does not increase PTSD more than expected - health science news

    By reviewing more than 400 scientific publications describing the association between acts of terrorism and mental health, scientists conclude that terrorims does not cause more post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than would be expected from any other traumatizing or distressing event. This observation goes against the much heard view in the media that terrorist attacks negatively impact on peoples’ psychological wellbeing. The scientists argue that policy-makers should focus more on promoting social bonds and people’s resilience in response to terrorist attacks, rather than stressing peoples’ psychological vulnerability.

    Read the full story: University of Bath
    Scientific publication: The Lancet Psychiatry


    NASA wants to send manned missions to Venus

    Space | Oct 17, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    One day, astronauts could hoover Venus using airships flying in the atmosphere of the planet. Credit: HAVOC/NASA
    NASA wants to send manned missions to Venus - space science news

    Planet Venus is one of the most inhospitable places one could imagine, with temperatures on the surface of 460 degrees Celsius, a toxic atmosphere and crushing pressure. However, this doesn’t stop NASA from planning a manned mission to Venus.

    The plan is to use ships that are able to hover the planet in its dense atmosphere. Between 50 and 60 km from the surface, the conditions in the atmosphere are similar to the ones found on Earth’s surface. Moreover, its density can protect astronauts from radiations.

    The imagined airship would float around Venus allowing the exploration of the planet. Overall, such a mission would require less time to complete than sending people to Mars.

    Read the full story: The Conversation
    Scientific publication: HAVOC Mission, NASA


    Controlling genes with light

    Technology | Oct 17, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Fluorescent cells shaped as number 10 (to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Department of Biosystems in Basel). In response to the light, transcription was initiated in the illuminated cells. Credit: Group Mustafa Khammash/ETH Zurich
    Controlling genes with light - science news

    Scientists report the development of a new technology that controls gene transcription using light. Gene transcription is the process that allows the conversion of DNA into RNA, a crucial step in producing proteins that impact how cells function.

    The researchers used single yeast cells genetically engineered to respond to blue light. When the light is present, the cells activate a transcription factor and thereby promote the transcription of a specific gene.

    Currently, the technique only works under the microscope, so the applications are limited. However, it is very useful for research, tissue engineering and, stem cells. Further studies will be conducted to expand the applicability of the discovery.

    Read the full story: ETH Zurich
    Scientific publication: Molecular Cell


    Imaging the 3D structure of leaves

    Life | Oct 16, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    3D anatomical modeling of wheat, sunflower and tomato leaves. Image: University of Sydney/ANU
    Imaging the 3D structure of leaves - life science news

    Scientists have succeeded in imaging leaves in their three-dimensional structure by using new technology. The images are created from biological specimens, by integrating two-dimensional measurements to create the 3D pictures. The images reveal the complexity of leaves in much more detail than traditional 2D images used until now, and make it possible to better understand how water and gases flow through leaves, or how photosynthesis precisely works.

    Read the full story: University of Sydney
    Scientific publication: Trends in Plant Science


    Forests are minor contributors to the mitigation of climate change

    Earth | Oct 16, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Managing forest to optimize carbon sequestration will not lead to a decrease of global warming
    Forests are minor contributors to the mitigation of climate change - climate change science news

    Managing Europe’s forests to maximize carbon sequestration will have only a negligible effect on the global climate, a new study shows. Using computer modeling, it appeared that, for instance, changing evergreen forests to deciduous forests would result in a cooling of 0.3 degrees centigrade in Scandinavia and the Alps. This effect is too small to have a global impact. Rather, forests themselves will have to adapt to climate change to sustain the production of wood and conserve the forest’s ecosystem.

    Read the full story: Aarhus University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Graphene technologies to transform cutting edge applications in telecommunications

    Technology | Oct 15, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Graphene-integrated devices could be the key ingredient in the evolution of 5G, the Internet-of-Things (IoT), and Industry 4.0. Image: Lauren V. Robinson / © Springer Nature Ltd
    Graphene technologies to transform cutting edge applications in telecommunications - technology science news

    Technology for telecommunications is expected to benefit from graphene, which enables ultra-wide bandwidth communications with low power consumption, researchers report. While current semiconductor technologies are approaching their physical limitations, graphene may offer solutions to enable the realization of 5G, the Internet-of-Things, and Industry 4.0, as it enhances the performance of key components for optical and radio communications to levels that are even beyond the requirements. It is thus expected that graphene-based optical components, integrated on a silicon platform, will become key components in the 5G era.

    Read the full story: Graphene Flagship
    Scientific publication: Nature Reviews Materials


    Cause of dementia may be found in the embryonic stage

    Mind and Brain | Oct 15, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Dementia may be caused by DNA replication errors in the womb
    Cause of dementia may be found in the embryonic stage - neuroscience news

    While dementia (Alzheimers’ disease, Lewy body dementia) has a genetic component, for most patients there are no cases of the disease in their family history. Scientists have now found, by genetic analyses of human brain samples, that spontaneous errors in our DNA might explain the development of dementia. These errors occur already during embryonic development as cells divide and replicate. Some of these errors result in wrongly folded proteins in the brain at old age, and cause dementia. Thus, the origin of dementia for most patients traces back to the time when they were not even born.

    Read the full story: University of Cambridge
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Dissolving snails due to acidification of seawater

    Life | Oct 15, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    A comparison of shells assessed during the research, with the top shell taken from waters with present-day CO22 levels and the bottom one from waters with future predicted levels. Image: Ben Harvey/University of Tsukuba
    Dissolving snails due to acidification of seawater - life science news

    Biologists have found that increased CO2 levels in seawater harms the shell of the snail Charonia lampas, or triton shell. The research was conducted off the coast of Shikinejima in Japan, where CO2 bubbles up from the seabed. This allowed the scientists to assess the effects of future high CO2 levels. The snails living in this CO2-rich area were one third smaller than the snails living in other parts of the ocean nearby, where CO2 levels are still normal. Further, high CO2 levels negatively influenced thickness, density, and structure of the shells. These effects are caused by increased stress imposed by acidification of the water, which reduces the snails’ ability to control the calcification process. The researchers conclude that increased acidification of the oceans will impact on shellfish fisheries and marine ecosystems.

    Read the full story: University of Plymouth
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Marine Science


    Panspermia at galactic scale: could Milky Way spread life?

    Space | Oct 13, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Stellar systems could exchange the building elements of life. Credit: NASA
    Panspermia at galactic scale: could Milky Way spread life? - science news

    The Panspermia theory claims that life may be spread throughout the universe by astronomical objects, such as asteroids.

    Now, a new study tried to understand if panspermia could be possible on a galactic scale.
    The study used a theoretical model to determine how likely it is that objects are being exchanged between star systems on a galactic scale. The model predicted that, even in the worst cases scenarios, Milky Way could be exchanging biotic components across vast distances.

    Thus, the study concluded that panspermia is viable on galactic scales, and even between galaxies. In principle, life could even be transferred between galaxies, since some stars escape from the Milky Way,” said Abraham Loeb, one of the authors.

    Read the full story: Universe Today
    Scientific publication: Arxiv


    Metabolites predict the risk for obesity-related diseases

    Health | Oct 12, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The pattern of the presence of many metabolites is the best predictor of obesity-related diseases
    Metabolites predict the risk for obesity-related diseases - health science news

    Predictors of future diabetes and cardiovascular disease for a person with obesity can be found among the body’s metabolites, new research shows. Metabolites were analyzed in almost 2400 people and it appeared that the composition of metabolites was profoundly altered with obesity. The most important changes concerned the metabolites that influence how the body distributes fat. 49 of the metabolites showed a strong correlation with the body mass index (BMI), a measure of obesity. The measurements allowed for an accurate prediction rate of obesity status of 80-90 percent. The study shows that looking at one metabolite or one indicator often is not enough for proper prediction of disease, but that the pattern of metabolites as a whole is the best biomarker.

    Read the full story: Scripps Research
    Scientific publication: Cell Metabolism


    Reprogramming mature mouse neurons

    Mind and Brain | Oct 12, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Surprise! Mature neurons can be reprogrammed to become another type of neuron
    Reprogramming mature mouse neurons - neuroscience news

    While trying to convert supporting brain cells (glia cells) into neurons that produce dopamine, neuroscientists instead reprogrammed mature mouse inhibitory, GABAergic, neurons into dopamine neurons (these are lost in Parkinson’s disease). This came as a big surprise, as until now it was believed that mature neurons cannot be reprogrammed to become some other type of neuron. Researchers use stem cells instead to produce a wide variety of neurons, but apparently this is not always necesssary.

    Read the full story: UT Southwestern Medial Center
    Scientific publication: Stem Cell Reports


    Self-healing polymers produced at low cost

    Technology | Oct 12, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Broken screens of portable telephones might be a thing of the past soon with the development of new self-healing polymers that can be used for the coating of the screen.
    Self-healing polymers produced at low cost - technology science news

    A new study reports the production of a new self-healing polymer that is cheap and can be applied to for instance the coating of cell phone screens, plastics, and paints. The researchers took advantage of interactions between co-polymers that look like spaghetti strands with little brushes on the side. When they get longer, they become more entangled, and the side groups interlock so that it becomes harder to pull them apart. Also, when they are being pulled out, they come back together, and are self-healing like our skin. Researchers expect that the polymers can be synthesized at an industrial scale relatively soon.

    Read the full story: Clemson University
    Scientific publication: Science


    The death of a star and the birth of a particular neutron star configuration

    Space | Oct 11, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The three panels represent moments before, during, and after the faint supernova iPTF14gqr, visible in the middle panel, appeared in the outskirts of a spiral galaxy located 920 million light years away. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt
    The death of a star and the birth of a particular neutron star configuration - space science news

    Astronomers have observed the death of a massive star that exploded in a rapidly faiding supernova. This observation gives rise to think that the dying star had an undetected companion, and that the exploded star became a neutron star orbiting this companion, according to the researchers. Thus, the death of the massive star gave birth to a compact neutron binary system, a phenomenon that had never been observed before.

    Read the full story: Caltech
    Scientific publication: Science


    Noninvasive blood glucose test appears effective

    Health | Oct 11, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Device uses laser technology to detect glucose levels under the skin, an alternative to painful pricking. Image: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Noninvasive blood glucose test appears effective - diabetes science news

    In the queste for noninvasive methods to measure glucose in the blood, researchers have now established a laser device that accurately detects glucose levels under the skin. When comparing the results of glucose measuring through a painful finger prick, the new laser technology obtains similar acurate glucose values in twenty healthy volunteers, before and after drinking a glucose-rich beverage. For those living with diabetes, and having to monitor their glucose levels on a daily basis, there seems to be hope on the horizon that, after further testing of the device, painful finger pricking will no longer be necessary in the not too distant future.

    Read the full story: University of Missouri
    Scientific publication: Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry


    Feed bacteria with gold, and they will produce more biofuel

    Technology | Oct 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    A single nanocluster of 22 gold atoms -- Au22 -- is only 1 nanometer in diameter, allowing it to easily slip through the bacterial cell wall. Image: Peidong Yang, UC Berkeley
    Feed bacteria with gold, and they will produce more biofuel - biotechnology science news

    Researchers have established that feeding the bacterium Moorella thermoacetica with gold clusters of 1 nm in size transforms them into an artificial photosynthesis system. The bacteria take up the gold particles quite efficiently, and have thus a sunlight-absorbing metal inside that is close to the enzymes involved in photosynthesis and electron transfer to generate energy. This energy can be used for the production of useful chemicals, including biofuel.

    Read the full story: UC Berkeley – College of Chemistry
    Scientific publication: Nature Nanotechnology


    New approach solves problem with excess heat for fusion power plants

    Technology | Oct 10, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Compacting reactors could reduce the danger of excess heat for fusion power plants. Credit: MIT
    New approach solves problem with excess heat for fusion power plants - science news - energy production

    The development of real fusion power plants is facing several problems. For example: how to get rid of the excess heat that would cause structural damage to the plant?

    Now, a group of scientists came up with a possible solution to this problem: using an innovative approach the scientists can compact fusion reactors using superconducting magnets.

    The new design has several added advantages, like allowing the replacement of critical components, which is not possible in typical fusion plants designs.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Fusion Engineering and Design


    The chemistry of the oceans is changing

    Earth | Oct 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Acidification of oceans impacts on marine ecosystems. Image: Liang Xue/ University of Delaware
    The chemistry of the oceans is changing - Earth science news

    The ongoing acidification of oceans has been attributed to vast capacity of the oceans to store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but new research has shown that this cannot be the only culprit. In the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, the western winds that strengthen during summer, bring more acidic surface water from higher latitudes, and from subsurface polar water that naturally stores much carbon dioxide. The resulting increased acidification of the Southern Ocean surface water is therefore greater than can be caused by increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. The data help to understand how ocean acidification is controlled, which is important for predicting the impact that the changing chemistry will have on marine ecosystems in the future.

    Read the full story: University of Delaware
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Atlantic salmon uses Earth’s magnetic field for navigation

    Life | Oct 10, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    A new study shows for the first time that the Atlantic salmon uses magnetic fields for navigation. Credit: Oregon State University
    Atlantic salmon uses Earth’s magnetic field for navigation - science news

    Similar to their relatives, the Pacific salmon, the Atlantic salmon uses Earth’s magnetic field as a navigational tool, according to a new study.

    Interestingly, the study showed that the fish do not lose the ability to use the magnetic field as a GPS through several generations, even after they have been transplanted into a land-locked lake.

    The use of the magnetic field explains, in part, how salmon can find the way to their river of origin. This ability does not seem to be lost when not used, as in the case of the fish confined to a small space.

    Read the full story: Oregon State University
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


    Planet size puts limits on its chemical composition

    Space | Oct 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Model of a planet with a rocky core and a gaseous atmosphere. Image: UZH
    Planet size puts limits on its chemical composition - space science news

    A computational analysis has revealed that the chemical composition and structure of exoplanets has a so-called “threshold radius”, that sets limits as to what a planet can be made off. For instance, planets with a radius of 1.4 times that of the Earth can be earth-like, i.e. have a similar chemical composition than our planet. Planets with a radius above this will contain more silicates or other light materials, planets with a radius of more 1.6 times that of the Earth will have more hydrogen-helium gas and a rocky core. Big planets (with 2.6 times the radius of the Earth) cannot contain water, and the giant planets (with 4 or more times the radius of the Earth) would be very gaseous, much like Jupiter and Neptune in our solar system. Thus, this analysis provides an estimation of whether a planet is earth-like, is made of gas or rock, or is a water-world.

    Read the full story: University of Zürich
    Scientific publication: The Astrophysical Journal


    Newly discovered star allows study of early universe

    Space | Oct 09, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    One of the oldest stars in our galaxy has an odd chemical composition and it allows scientists to understand more about the beginning of the universe. Credit: EPFL
    Newly discovered star allows study of early universe - space science news

    Astrophysicists discovered a rare star, very old and extremely low in metals. Called Pristine 221, it is among the 10 most metal-poor stars known to date in our Galaxy. Moreover, the star is almost carbon-free.

    The scientists believe that it belongs to the early generation of stars formed in the galaxy. The discovery will allow us to learn more about the early universe and to understand how the first stars were formed.

    The discovery questions our present understanding about the formation of the early stars. It was thought that carbon was needed as a cooling agent, however, the low carbon content of Pristine 221 suggests the current model has to be revised.

    Read the full story: EPFL
    Scientific publication: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society


    Bioelectronic medicine: implantable and biodegradable electric device for nerve regeneration

    Technology | Oct 09, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Biodegradable electronic implant used for nerve regeneration. Image. Northwestern University
    Bioelectronic medicine: implantable and biodegradable electric device for nerve regeneration - health technology news

    Researchers have designed and tested a prototype of an implantable, biodegradable, and wireless device that accelerates the regeneration of nerves. This example of bioelectronic medicine delivers regular pulses of electricity to damaged peripheral nerves in rats. It is about the size of a dime, as thin as a sheet of paper, and is degraded within two weeks by the body. This type of technology could be used in patients in the future to deliver care at the location in the body where it is needed, during a clinically relevant period, and is therefore expected to cause less side effects or risks associated with implants that are in use today.

    Read the full story: Northwestern University (through Eurekalert)
    Scientific publication: Nature Medicine


    Global sea level rise projected to be 50 feet by 2300

    Earth | Oct 09, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Parts of New Jersey and New York with 8 feet of sea-level rise. Image: NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer
    Global sea level rise projected to be 50 feet by 2030 - climate science news

    Sea water level will rise by about 8 inches (20 cm) by 2100, and probably by 50 feet (1.5 m) by 2300, a new study reports. These estimations are based on methods that have reconstructed the past, and are then projected into the future. They represent a worst-case scenario, meaning a situation in which emissions of greenhouse gases remain high. These projected levels represent a real danger for coastal infrastructure, economies, and ecosystems around the world, including the 11 percent of the world’s 7.6 billion people living in coastal areas below 33 feet (1 m) above sea level.

    Read the full story: Rutgers University
    Scientific publication: Annual Review of Environment and Resources


    Retail business success or failure predicted by social media and transport data

    Technology | Oct 09, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Social media and transport data can predict if a business will be a success or a failure
    Retail business success or failure predicted by social media and transport data - daily short science news

    Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a model that can predict if a given retail business will succeed or not, with an accuracy of 80%.

    To predict the future of a business, scientists used social media data and transport information. Their model included over 71 million check-ins from location-based social network and 181 million taxi trips. The data showed that across all ten cities tested, venues that are popular around the clock, rather than just at certain points of the day, are more likely to succeed.

    The model suggests that to ensure the success of a business, owners should consider the ways that people move to and through that neighbourhood at different times.

    Read the full story: University of Cambridge
    Scientific publication: ACM Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp)


    New clues about how Titan’s haze was formed

    Space | Oct 08, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The atmospheric haze of Titan, Saturn's largest moon (pictured here along Saturn's midsection), is captured in this natural-color image (box at left). Image: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Space Science Institute, Caltech
    New clues about how Titan’s haze was formed - space science news

    In a multidisciplinary approach including laboratory experiments, computer simulations and modeling, scientists found that the complex carbon structures found in the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan could have been formed through chemical reactions under low temperature. This is contrary to current views that assume that the complex carbon structures, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), require high temperatures. The laboratory experiments formed the chemicals that have been observed in the atmosphere of Titan, the precise reaction mechanisms were revealed by the computer simulations, and the modeling showed how gases should flow so that they mix properly to produce the PAHs that form the brownish haze in Titan’s atmosphere.

    Read the full story: Berkeley National Laboratory
    Scientific publication: Nature Astronomy


    Education improves economic decision-making

    Life | Oct 08, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Education equips people with better abilities to make high-quality choices
    Education improves economic decision-making - life science news

    Education support and laboratory experiments that mimicked real-life situations improved economic decision-making in a group of nearly 3,000 girls in secondary schools in Malawi. The students received one year of financial support, and the effects on economic choices the students made were assessed four years later. It turned out that students tried to obtain the greatest value possible from an economic decision, which is a criterion for economic rationality. Thus, education is a tool for enhancing and individual’s economic decision-making quality.

    Read the full story: Cornell University
    Scientific publication: Science


    This is how the brain forms memories during sleep

    Mind and Brain | Oct 08, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Memories are stored in your brain while you sleep
    This is how the brain forms memories during sleep - neuroscience news

    Neuroscientists have for the first time recorded the brain activity underlying memory. They did this in epileptic patients that had electrodes implanted for surgery (this is normal procedure in these patients). The participants were shown a set of pictures to memorize, and then took an afternoon nap. Recordings through the electrodes revealed a characteristic electrical band pattern (known as gamma oscillations), that occurred in two phases: a superficial processing phase that took place during the first half a second after image presentation, and a deep processing phase after that. For memory to form, this activity during the deep processing phase had to coincide with a particular form of activity in the hippocampus, known as ripples. When gamma activity was reactivated when the hippocampal ripples did not occur, the information about the picture was forgotten.

    Read the full story: Ruhr Univerität Bochum
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Our viral defenses are inherited from Neanderthals

    Life | Oct 05, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    We inherited DNA from Neanderthals that helps us to fight viral infections. Image: Claire Scully
    Our viral defenses are inherited from Neanderthals - life science news

    New research has shown that Neanderthals and modern humans interbred and exchanged viruses. The Neanderthal DNA ended up in our DNA, and helps us to protect ourselves against viruses. This DNA-based adaptation was particularly strong against RNA viruses in Europeans. Thus, before vanishing from the globe, Neanderthals gave us the genetic tools to fight viral infections.

    Read the full story: Stanford University
    Scientific publication: Cell


    Species-rich forests take up twice as much carbon as monocultures

    Earth | Oct 05, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The more variety in tree species, the more carbon a forest will store. Image: UZH
    Species-rich forests take up twice as much carbon as monocultures - Earth science news

    Subtropical forests with a rich variety of tree species store more than twice as much carbon as monocultures, new research shows. This has been concluded after evaluation of data from forests that had been planted especially for this study in China, and included over 150,000 trees. Species-rich forests stored 32 tons, while monocultures stored only 12 tons of carbon per hectare. These data follow the ones that had already been documented for grasslands in the US and Europe, and indicate that reforestation should involve the planting of many different tree species for better productivity and protection from climate changes.

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


    Aggressive prostate and lung cancers share similar mechanisms

    Health | Oct 05, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Two cancers originating from different organs share very similar genetic mechanisms when they become invasive. A microscopic image of small cell neuroendocrine prostate cancer. Credit: UCLA
    Aggressive prostate and lung cancers share similar mechanisms - health science news - cancer

    The development of late-stage prostate and lung cancers is similar in the genetic mechanisms that underly their aggressivity, according to a new study.

    Even if initially they are genetically very different, when they reach the small cells stage (highly malignant cancer) they become almost identical.

    Discovery of the shared mechanisms could lead to a better understanding of invasive cancers and may help to discover the “master genes” that regulate cancer development and spreading.

    Read the full story: University of California, Los Angeles
    Scientific publication: Science


    Malaria severity depends on immune cells variations

    Health | Oct 05, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    A natural killer (NK) cell binds to a malaria-infected red blood cell and destroys it. Credit: Weijian Ye, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology
    Malaria severity depends on immune cells variations - science news

    According to new research, the severity of malaria is influenced by the failure of some components of the immune system to effectively destroy infected blood cells.

    Basically, a type of immune cells (NK – natural killer) cannot activate a genetic programme required to fight the disease. This doesn’t happen in all individuals, due to variations in the NK cells, and it explains why some people are more likely to experience more severe symptoms of malaria.

    Researchers managed to re-activate these cells in the lab, suggesting the possibility to develop treatments that could reduce the severity of malaria.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: PLOS Pathogens


    The two moons of Mars could be pieces of the planet itself

    Space | Oct 05, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Phobos and Deimos, the moons of Mars, could be pieces ripped away from the planet. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems/Texas A&M Univ.
    The two moons of Mars could be pieces of the planet itself - space science news headlines

    A new study about the origin of the two Martian moons contradicts previous long-lasting theories claiming that Phobos and Deimos, were asteroids captured in Mars’ gravitational pull.

    According to the new research study, the moons are made up of pieces of planet Mars itself. Most likely they were blasted off of Mars at some point in the history of the planet.

    The conclusion was based on comparing the spectral properties of the Tagish Lake meteorite (coming from the asteroid belt) with those of the Martian moons. This hypothesis is similar to the current theories about the origin of the Earth’s moon.

    Read the full story: University of Alberta
    Scientific publication: Journal of Geophysical Research


    New system can spot fake news at the source

    Technology | Oct 04, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Fake news could be stopped at the origin with this new algorithm
    New system can spot fake news at the source - science news

    Detecting fake news is not an easy task, and many companies invest millions in this direction.

    Now, researchers from MIT have developed a new approach, based on machine learning, to identify fake news right at the source. The system automatically collects data about different websites and after analyzing about 150 articles it can reliably estimate whether a news source is trustable.

    The system is still in development however, it helped already establish a database of 1,000 news sources, annotated with factuality and bias scores, that is the world’s largest database of its kind.

    Read the full story: MIT


    Pseudo-embryos from stem cells created in the lab

    Life | Oct 04, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Embryos created from stem cells could open new possibilities for developmental biology. Seven-day old gastruloid. Credit: Mehmet Girgin, EPFL
    Pseud-embryos from stem cells created in the lab - science news
    A new research study reports that mouse stem cells have the ability to produce pseudo-embryos, similar in many aspects to real embryos of 6 to 10 days.

    The study showed that the three main embryonic axes were formed using around 300 stem cells, according to a gene expression program similar to that of normal embryos.

    This new approach has great potential for the study of the early stages of development in mammals and could one day replace the use of real embryos in research.

    Read the full story: University of Geneva
    Scientific publication: Nature


    The 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded for evolution in a test tube

    Technology | Oct 04, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith, and Sir Gregory P. Winter the 2018 laureates. Credit: Niklas Elmehed, Nobel Media
    The 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded for evolution in a test tube - daily science news headlines

    The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Frances H. Arnold from California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA, George P. Smith from the University of Missouri, Columbia, USA and Sir Gregory P. Winter from MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK.

    Frances H. Arnold conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes and he received half of the award. George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter shared the other half for developing and perfecting a method to evolve new proteins using a phage system.

    They have used the principles of evolution to produce new molecules in a process called directed evolution. Their work allowed production of new enzymes and proteins with particular properties that are now used in many applications, from research and medicine to fuel production.

    Read the full story: Nobel Prize


    Genetics do not contribute much to forming a social society

    Life | Oct 04, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Studies on Lasioglossum baleicum, or sweat bee, revealed the importance of cooperation to increase fitness. Image: Norihiro Yagi
    Genetics do not contribute much to forming a social society - life science news

    Research in sweat bees (Lasioglossum baleicum) revealed that social behavior is relatively independent of genetic similarities between the individuals. Fitness, i.e. an organism’s reproductive success and propagation of its genes, is rather determined by cooperative behavior. This finding contradicts an earlier theory that stated that forming of social groups is determined by genetic relationships between individuals. Sweat bees can live both in groups with many female workers and a single queen, or as individual mothers. Individual females in social nests had a higher fitness than single mothers, and 92% of this difference could be attributed to cooperative behavior while living in a group, and only 8% to genetics. Thus, this study helps to better understand the evolution of living together in social groups, including in humans.

    Read the full story: Hokkaido University
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    Evidence for a moon outside our solar system

    Space | Oct 04, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Artist's impression of the exoplanet Kepler-1625b with the candidate exomoon orbiting it. Image: Dan Durda
    Evidence for a moon outside our solar system - space science news

    For the first time, astronomers have obtained compelling evidence for the existence of an “exomoon”, a moon outside our solar system. It is orbiting the planet Keppler 1625b, and is unusual because of its big size, roughly that of the planet Neptune. Unlike exoplanets, exomoons have not been observed until today, and even the evidence obtained in the current study needs further validation. If confirmed, the finding of the exomoon could shed light on the development of planetary systems, and on the question of how moons are formed around planets.

    Read the full story: Columbia University New York
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


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