August 15, 2018

    Melting of the West-Antarctic ice sheet depends on deep ocean temperature

    Earth | Aug 13, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Melting of the West-Antarctic ice sheet is related to the deep ocean's temperature cycle
    Melting of the West-Antarctic ice sheet depends on deep ocean temperature - Earth science news

    Scientists have found that the temperature in the deep ocean is much more variable than previously thought, and shows a cycle of warming and cooling over the 16 years observation period. This cycle was found in the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica, and appears to accelerate the melting of the West-Antarctic ice sheet during the warmer phase, while steadying it or even decreasing it during the cooler phases. The temperature cycle could be linked to El Nino in the tropical Pacific Ocean, and should be incorporated in the mathematical models that estimate how much ice will melt, and how much the sea water level will rise now that the Earth is warming up.

    Read the full story: British Antarctic Survey
    Scientific publication: Nature Geoscience


    Disrupted nitrogen metabolism plays a role in cancer

    Health | Aug 13, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Soon, blood urea measurements might predict which cancer patients will benefit from immunotherapy
    Disrupted nitrogen metabolism plays a role in cancer - health science news

    Nitrogen is a building block of proteins, RNA and DNA, and is therefore in high demand by cancer cells. Scientists have now found that disrupted nitrogen metabolism in the liver reduces the concentration of a nitrogenous waste product, urea, in certain cancers, and increases the availability of nitrogen for cancer cells. This makes the cancer cells on the one hand more aggressive, but on the other hand also more vulnerable to immunotherapy, in patients and experimental animals. It should now become possible to design a blood test to monitor urea levels in cancer patients, and predict in which of these patients immunotherapy will likely have beneficial effects, i.e. in those patients with low blood urea.

    Read the full story: Weizmann Institute
    Scientific publication: Cell


    Men take care of their spouses just as much as women do

    Life | Aug 13, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Men increased their care hours as much as women did, resulting in similar levels of care when their partner became ill. Credit: pexels.com
    Men take care of their spouses just as much as women do - science news

    A new study suggests that men respond to their spouse’s illness just as much as women do and as a result are better caregivers in later life than previous research suggests, according to a new Oxford University collaboration. This is good news for an increasingly stretched adult care services, which have become more reliant on patients’ family and spouses for support. The research sits in contrast to previous studies on spousal caregiving, which found that female caregivers tend to be more responsive. However, the new results reveal that men are just as responsive to a partner’s illness, as women.

    Read the full story: Oxford University
    Scientific publication: Journals of Gerontology, Series B


    When rude to your co-workers their children suffer

    Life | Aug 13, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Incivility in the workplace associated with more negative parenting behaviors at home, study says
    When rude to your co-workers their children suffer - science news

    According to a group of scientists, when people are rude to their co-workers or treat them badly, they don’t realize the unintended could be the coworkers’ children. Women who experience incivility in the workplace are more likely to engage in stricter, more authoritarian parenting practices that can have a negative impact on their children. Workplace incivility is any behavior that is rude, disrespectful, impolite, etc. “This research tells us much about the nature and scope of workplace incivility, specifically its detrimental impact on mothering well-being and specific negative parenting behavior”, said researcher Angela Dionisi.

    Read the full story: American Psychological Association
    Scientific publication: Annual convention of the American Psychological Association


    Rotavirus vaccine reduces death in infants by a third in Malawi

    Health | Aug 13, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Rotavirus vaccines seem to be effective in preventing death in infants and children
    Rotavirus vaccine reduces death in infants by a third in Malawi - science news

    Rotavirus remains a leading cause of severe diarrhea and death among infants in many countries from Africa and Asia. To combat the situation, many regions have added the rotavirus vaccine to their routine immunization strategy. A recent study assessed the impact of the vaccine over the last years and the results are encouraging. According to the research, the rotavirus vaccination reduced infant diarrhea deaths by 34% in rural Malawi. This is the first population-level evidence from a low-income country that rotavirus vaccination saves lives.

    Read the full story: University of Liverpool
    Scientific publication: The Lancet


    Melting ice provides oceans with precious silica nutrients

    Earth | Aug 12, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Melting ice sheets are an underestimated source of silica for the oceans
    Melting ice provides oceans with precious silica nutrients - science news

    Silica is needed by a group of microscopic marine algae called diatoms, who use it to build their glassy cell walls. But where do these essential silica nutrients come from? A new study suggests that glacial meltwater, both in the present and during past ice ages, contains silica that could be useful in sustaining the growth of diatoms in the oceans around ice sheets, which are home to economically important fisheries and marine life. The researchers show that the silica in glacial meltwaters from the Greenland Ice Sheet has a distinctive isotopic signature, different to the that found in other rivers. The study concluded that glaciers and ice sheets are an under-appreciated component of the silica cycle in nature.

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


    Making cancer treatment less toxic with the help of machine learning

    Health | Aug 12, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Novel machine-learning techniques to improve the quality of life for patients by reducing toxic chemotherapy and radiotherapy dosing for glioblastoma
    Making cancer treatment less toxic with the help of machine learning - science news

    Cancer patients must often endure a combination of radiation therapy and multiple drugs taken every month, which leads to a variety of adverse effects. In a quest to minimize the toxic effects of cancer drugs, a team of scientists used a machine-learning algorithm in order to identify the minimum dose of drugs that is less dangerous, but still effective. In simulated trials of 50 patients, the machine-learning model designed treatment cycles that reduced the potency to a quarter or half of nearly all the doses while maintaining the same tumor-shrinking potential. Many times, it skipped doses altogether, scheduling administrations only twice a year instead of monthly.

    Read the full story: MIT


    Glaucoma may be an autoimmune disease

    Health | Aug 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Glaucoma might be caused by T cells attacking the retina's heat shock proteins
    Glaucoma may be an autoimmune disease - health science news

    Surprising new scientific findings suggest that glaucoma, which is characterized by retina damage and can lead to blindness, is an autoimmune disease. Experiments in mice showed that retina cells are destroyed by the body’s own T cells. These particular immune cells target heat shock proteins that protect us against stress and injury, and are probably activated by heat shock proteins from bacteria that resemble the ones found in mice. Indeed, human glaucoma patients show high levels of T cells in the eye, whereas they are completely absent in the eyes of healthy people. The study therefore suggests that it could be possible to develop new treatment strategies to replace the inefficient current treatment of lowering the pressure in the eye.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Early life onset of diabetes type 1 shortens life by 18 years for women

    Health | Aug 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The moment in life when diabetes type 1 develops has a major influence on life expectancy
    Early life onset of diabetes type 1 shortens life by 18 years for women - health science news

    New research has shown that the age at which diabetes type 1 manifests itself is an important predictor of life expectancy. More specifically, development of diabetes type 1 before 10 years of age results in a loss of 18 years for women and 14 years for men. The lives of patients diagnosed with diabetes type 1 between 26 and 30 years of age shorten on average by ten years. The highest risk of mortality is the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially heart attacks in women. These rather upsetting findings highlight the need to treat young patients as effectively as possible.

    Read the full story: University of Gothenburg
    Scientific publication: The Lancet


    Pinpointing pessimism

    Mind and Brain | Aug 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Negative mood linked to neuropsychiatric disorders is localized in the brain's caudate nucleus
    Pinpointing pessimism - neuroscience news

    By stimulating a brain region known as the caudate nucleus, scientists found that experimental animals generate rather negative expectations. Such negative mood makes the stimulated animals focus on negative outcomes of a given situation, more than on potential benefits. By giving more weight to negative outlook, the animals make more negative decisions. The localization of negative moods to the caudate nucleus is relevant for patients with neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety or depression, who manifest similar negative outlooks that cloud decision-making.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Neuron


    Latest in fashion: clothing with electronic devices built right into it

    Technology | Aug 09, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    For the first time, scientists created fibers with embedded electronics that are so flexible they can be woven into soft fabrics and made into wearable clothing. Credit: the researchers / MIT
    Latest in fashion: clothing with electronic devices built right into it - science news

    Researchers managed to create textiles and fibers that incorporate high-speed optoelectronic semiconductor devices, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and diode photodetectors. The tiny electronic devices were embedded within the fibers that were then woven into soft, washable fabrics. As a result, “smart” clothing can be obtained that behave like communication systems. This discovery, the researchers say, could unleash a rapid development for smart fabrics. The capabilities of fibers could grow rapidly and exponentially over time, just as the capabilities of microchips have grown over decades.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Poor maturation of synapses responsible for poor social interactions in autism

    Mind and Brain | Aug 09, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Picture of Dopamine neurons involved in Social interaction. Credit: UNIGE
    Poor maturation of synapses responsible for poor social interactions in autism - science news in short

    One of the hallmark symptoms of autism is a deficit in social interactions. A new study from the Universities of Geneva and Basel revealed some of the neural mechanism that could explain how this happens. A malfunction of the synaptic activity of the neurons present in the reward system seems to be important. To understand this, scientists studied mice in whom a gene called “Neuroligin 3” was suppressed or whose activity in dopaminergic neurons had been greatly reduced, in order to imitate a mutation identified in autistic people. Unlike their counterparts, these mice had a lack of interest in novelty and less motivation to interact socially, behavioral traits frequently found in some autistic individuals. The study is taking one step further in the understanding of a disorder that affects more than one child in 200 today.

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


    A germinating seed has only 48 hours to become a plant and survive

    Life | Aug 05, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    A germinating seed must turn into a small plant before its reserves have exhausted
    A germinating seed has only 48 hours to become a plant and survive - science news

    A germinating seed has only two days to become a young seedling capable of photosynthesis otherwise, the plant will not survive. During these first 48 hours, it relies solely on its internal reserves, which are quickly consumed. If photosynthesis doesn’t start immediately after, the plant will die. A new study showed that this process is controlled by a key mechanism that direct the formation of chloroplasts from proplastids, hitherto poorly studied organelles. This mechanism ensures a rapid transition to autonomous growth, as soon as the seed decides to germinate.

    Read the full story: University of Geneva
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    Where the mysterious builders of Stonehenge came from?

    Earth | Aug 03, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Strontium levels in bones from an ancient burial site allow scientists to tell where the builders of Stonehenge came from. Credit: Freesaly, Flickr
    Where the mysterious builders of Stonehenge came from - short science news

    About five thousand years ago, the builders of the mysterious Stonehenge monument buried cremated bodies near Amesbury, U.K. Now, archeologists are investigating this ancient burial site and they think that now they know where those people came from. The burials of 58 individuals were uncovered in 1919. Dating of the remains revealed that the cremations were interred during the earliest stages of the construction of Stonehenge, from 3000 to 2480 B.C.E. The study suggests that 10 of the builders were living most probably west Wales; the remaining 15 bodies investigated were from the region local to Stonehenge. The researchers analyzed Strontium levels in the bones to conclude this.

    Read the full story: Sciencemag
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Bacteria becoming resistant to hospital hand disinfectant

    Health | Aug 03, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    One hospital superbug is becoming tolerant to alcohol and thus hand disinfectants are inefficient against it
    Bacteria becoming resistant to hospital hand disinfectant - science news

    A key component of current disinfectant hand rubs is alcohol, which is pretty effective in killing bacteria. However, new research shows that a certain type of hospital super-bacteria is becoming increasingly tolerant to alcohol. The results reveal that Enterococcus faecium bacteria have become more and more tolerant to alcohol thus making the usual hand disinfectants used in hospitals inefficient. This is an alarm call for infection control hospital teams. New strategies to control bacteria and prevent the spreading o infections need to be developed soon.

    Read the full story: The Guardian
    Scientific publication: Science Translational Medicine


    Physicists tie light in knots to understand how it flows through space

    Technology | Aug 02, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Experimentally measured polarization singularity trefoil knot. Credit: University of Bristol
    Physicists tie light in knots to understand how it flows through space - science news physics

    Laser light may appear to be a single, focused beam. In fact, it is an electromagnetic field, vibrating in an ellipse shape at each point in space (the light is polarized). Now, scientists have been able to use holographic technology to twist a polarized laser beam into knots. This way, one can study the topology of the knotted light fields. The researchers were able to create knots of much greater complexity than previously possible. Understanding how light flows through space provides important information for the fields on optics and polarization and could lead to the creation of new devices which process information through customized complex light structures.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: Nature Physics


    Deadly heat waves could hit China hard by the end of the century

    Earth | Aug 02, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    China faces a great risk for heat waves that are dangerous for the human life. Credit: MIT
    Deadly heat waves could hit China hard by the end of the century - science news daily

    China holds one of the biggest density of people on Earth, but soon it could become less hospitable due to climate change. A recent study shows that the risk of deadly heat waves is significantly increased because of intensive irrigation in a relatively dry but highly fertile region, known as the North China Plain. The irrigation exposes more water to evaporation, leading to higher humidity in the air than would otherwise be present and exacerbating the physiological stresses of the temperature. Towards the end of the century, the increase in temperatures may push this region towards the boundaries of habitability.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Almost no more marine wilderness

    Earth | Jul 27, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Only 13% of the Earth's oceans are considered to be untouched by human activities
    Almost no more marine wilderness - Earth science news

    Only 13% of the world’s oceans can be considered untouched by human activities, a new study indicates. These "natural" oceans are the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, and the seas around remote islands such as French Polynesia. However, climate change makes the waters at the Poles more readily accessible, so that they are under threat. All other oceans suffer from shipping fleets, all sorts of fishery activities, and sediment runoff along many coastal areas. Scientists warn that urgent international action is needed to preserve the last of the wild oceans.

    Read the full story: University of California – Santa Barbara
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    New drug discovery system identifies drugs for undruggable enzymes in disease

    Health | Jul 27, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Huntingtin protein (green) in untreated cells (left) and treated with a drug identified with a new system (right). Image: Krzyzosiak et al./ Cell
    New drug discovery system identifies drugs for undruggable enzymes in disease - health science news

    Phosphatases are a class of enzymes that often act as a brake on iintracellular signalling, thus switching off certain processes within cells. Until now, it has been extremely difficult to develop drugs that act specifically on one phosphatase only, but now researchers have developed a new screening system based on synthetic phosphatases to identify molecules that do exactly this. Indeed, researchers have identified a new drug, called Raphin1, that targets only one phosphatase, which is involved in Huntington’s disease. Raphin1 was found to successfully inhibit the accumulation of toxic proteins in brain cells of a mouse model of this disease, suggesting that the new drug discovery system will yield more drugs for other phosphatases involved in disease as well.

    Read the full story: Medical Research Council
    Scientific publication: Cell


    Nano-carriers for drug release into senescent cells

    Technology | Jul 26, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Frontal and lateral scans of mouse lungs with fibrosis (grey), before and after treatment with nanoparticles carrying drugs. Image: Guillem Garaulet and Francisca Mulero, CNIO
    Nano-carriers for drug release into senescent cells - technology science news

    Senescent cells accumulate during aging, and play an active role in aging-related diseases. Scientists have now developed a drug delivery tool that specifically targets senescent cells by employing the high lysosomal (degradative) activity of these cells. Nanoparticles carrying drugs have been designed in such a way that they will go to the lysosomes, and thus release their drugs in senescent cells. In a mouse model of lung fibrosis, these nanoparticles effectively removed senescent cells, and the lung tissue regenerated. For the treatment of a cancer in mice, chemotherapy first induced the formation of senescent cells, which were then destroyed by the drugs brought by the nanoparticles. This combined therapy reduced the tumor. This versatile drug delivery system is expected to become an efficient tool for the treatment of various illnesses.

    Read the full story: IRB Barcelona
    Scientific publication: EMBO Molecular Medicine


    Cell biological mechanism discovered that could protect against Huntington’s disease

    Health | Jul 26, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Green aggregates of toxic proteins in C.elegans, a worm model of Huntington's disease, without UBR5. Image: Seda Koyuncu and Isabel Saez
    Cell biological mechanism discovered that could protect against Huntington’s disease - health science news

    The protein ubiquitin ligase UBR5 has been found to inhibit the formation of toxic protein aggregates in neurons that cause Huntington’s disease. These aggregates are formed as a consequence of mutations in the huntintin gene, and cause neurodegeneration and eventually death of the patient within 20 years after the onset of the disease. Using induced pluripotent stem cells from Huntington’s disease patients, scientists created neurons, and noticed that no aggregates were formed. This appeared to be caused by the protective UBR5 that these cells started to build. Blocking UBR5 induced the aggregation of toxic proteins again. Thus, a critical factor in Huntington’s disease has been discovered, with therapeutic potential for future treatment.

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


    Global biodiversity collapse expected

    Earth | Jul 26, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Biodiversity is expected to collapse if no proper measures are taken to conserve and protect the tropics
    Global biodiversity collapse expected - Earth science news

    Scientists warn that urgent action is required to halt species loss in the tropics to save biodiversity on Earth. While the tropics cover 40% of our planet, and encompass four important ecosystems (tropical forests, savannas, lake and rivers, and coral reefs), the harbor more than 75% of plant and animals species, and even more than 90% of the world’s birds species. Climate change, over-exploitation, and other human activities are the main causes of extinction, and only concerted action across the globe can halt this otherwise irreversible process. The scientists have called for implementation of sustainable development and effective conservation interventions to restore tropical ecosystems and protect the species living there.

    Read the full story: Lancaster University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Enormous liquid water lake discovered under the south pole of Mars

    Space | Jul 25, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The red planet with the white south pole at the bottom. Image: ESA and Max Planck Institute / OSIRIS team
    Enormous liquid water lake discovered under the surface of Mars - space science news

    Data obtained with the radar system of the Mars Express suggest that there is liquid water under the surface of Mars. This underground water reservoir is 20 km wide and up to 1.5 km deep. It is located under Mars’ south pole under a thick ice sheet. While water temperature in the reservoir is -68 degrees Celcius, it remains liquid due to the extremely high salt content. Also, the pressure from the ice sheet may contribute to this. Due to the high salt content, high pressure, and low temperature, researchers think it is unlikely that there are any life forms in the water reservoir, but the discovery of the permanent presence of liquid water is nevertheless spectacular and exceeds astronomer’s highest expectations.

    Read the full story: Sciencemag.org
    Scientific publication: Science


    One unique source of Martian dust identified

    Space | Jul 25, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Part of the Medusae Fossae Formation, with clear marks of erosion. Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
    One unique source of Martian dust identified - space science news

    The dust that is storming over Mars at the moment has been formed over the course of a few billion of years at one specific location: the Medusae Fossae Formation. Scientists have reached this conclusion after analysis of data obtained by the landers and rovers on the Red Planet, and by the spacecraft Mars Odyssey. It appeared that the chemical composition of the dust on the entire planet is exactly the same as found on the surface of the Medusae Fossae Formation. The formation is of volcanic origin, and once was of the size equal to 50% of the US. Because of erosion, it has shrunk to 20%, and the lost 30% has formed the dust that coats much of the surface of Mars today.

    Read the full story: Johns Hopkins University
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Blood test helps to decide which prostate cancer therapy to choose

    Health | Jul 25, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Analysis of the blood of advanced prostate cancer patients helps to select the optimal therapy
    Blood test helps to decide which prostate cancer therapy to choose - health science news

    A new blood test has been developed that will help oncologists to decide whether a hormonal or a chemotherapy should be followed for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. The test is based on the presence or absence of a nuclear protein in cancer cells that have left the prostate. If this protein (AR-V7) is absent, the best treatment option is to continue with a hormone-based therapy with androgen-receptor signaling inhibitors. They make use of the dependency of the cancer on testosterone. If AR-V7 (a splice variant of the androgen receptor) is present, the cancer has found a way to grow independently of testosterone, so that hormone therapy will be without effect, and chemotherapy should be chosen.

    Read the full story: Lawson Health Research Institute
    Scientific publication: JAMA Oncology


    Global warming will likely increase suicide rates globally

    Mind and Brain | Jul 24, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Increasing temperatures may lead to higher suicide rates due to the impact of warmer weather on how individuals perceive, evaluate and act on their own personal situation
    Global warming will likely increase suicide rates globally - science news

    According to a new study, rising temperature due to global warming will have a surprising effect: they will increase the rates of suicide worldwide. The study estimates that by 2050 increasing temperatures could lead to an additional 21,000 suicides in the United States and Mexico. Until now, it has been difficult to disentangle the role of temperature and other risk factors in suicide. This study could be the first evidence that climate change will have a substantial effect on mental health, with tragic consequences.

    Read the full story: Univresity of California, Berkely
    Scientific publication: Nature Climate Change


    Scientists create smallest robots that can sense the environment and store data

    Technology | Jul 24, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Cell-sized robots can sense changes in your body, but also in the environment, detecting and reporting problems. Credit: MIT
    Scientists create smallest robots that can sense the environment and store data - science news latest in medical technology

    Researchers from MIT have created the smallest robots – the size of a human cell – with the ability to detect changes in their environment, record data and even perform computations. They were created using two-dimensional materials and small particles called colloids. The colloids make it possible for the electrical circuits inside the robots to work. The applications are countless, from the diagnostic of the human body to measuring water contamination and other industrial applications.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Nature Nanotechnology


    Want to know where a cell should go? Ask a mathematician!

    Life | Jul 23, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    How are biological principles organized that determine where an embryonic cell should go during development?
    Want to know where a cell should go? Ask a mathematician! - life science news

    Scientists have long puzzled over the question of how the position of each cell is correctly specified, so that limbs, arms and other organs grow at the correct place. Biologists and mathematicians have now joined forces to provide a mathematical model of how cell positioning is organized. They studied a relatively simple organism, the fruit fly, and assessed the importance of a cell in a so-called egg chamber, a collection of 16 cells from one of which will become the fertilizable egg. These 16 cells are formed through incomplete cell division, resulting in cytoplasmic bridges connecting cells. On the basis of these observations it was possible to identify the mathematical principles that govern the packing of cells in the egg chamber. As incomplete cell division has also been observed in other organisms, including amphibians and even mammals, it seems possible that the same mathematic principles apply to the development of animals that are more complex than fruit flies, and even control cell positioning during embryonic development in humans.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Nature Physics


    Women under-treated for heart attack have higher risk of dying then men

    Health | Jul 23, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    A new study of 2898 patients (2183 men, 715 women) shows that women are less likely to receive proper care and death rates are higher compared to men
    Women under-treated for heart attack have higher risk of dying then men - short science news from health

    An Australian study reveals that women admitted to hospitals with serious heart attacks are half as likely as men to get proper treatment. Moreover, six months after hospital discharge, death rates, and serious adverse cardiovascular events among these women were more than double the rates seen in men. It is not clear why women received under-treatment and less medical management compared to men. This shows that measures must be taken to correct the discrepancies between genders.

    Read the full story: University of Sydney
    Scientific publication: Medical Journal of Australia


    Archeology: new imaging method allows identification of North American mounds

    Technology | Jul 23, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Researchers have developed an imaging technology able to identify hidden mounds to help unravel the history of Native Americans. Credit: Carl Lipo
    Archeology: new imaging method allows identification of North American mounds - science news in brief

    Mounds are artificial elevated structures, like little hills, formed through gradual accumulation of debris upon which a continuously occupied settlement is built. People lived in such areas for hundreds or thousands of years. They are invaluable for archeology, but difficult to find because they are hidden by vegetation or by the landscape. Now, scientists have used a new image-based analysis technique to identify hidden North American mounds, which could reveal valuable information about pre-contact Native Americans. To achieve this, they used satellite images and a special software designed to automatically identify mounds.

    Read the full story: Phys.org
    Scientific publication: Southeastern Archaeology


    Detailed images of the sun’s corona reveal physical structure

    Space | Jul 22, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    A detailed view of the solar corona from the STEREO-A coronagraph after extensive image processing. Image: Craig DeForest, SwRI
    Detailed images of the sun’s corona reveal physical structure - space science news

    New image processing software made it possible to study the structure of the sun’s corona in much more detail before. Pictures taken by the COR2 coronagraph aboard NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relation Observatory, which orbits the Sun between Venus and Earth, thus revealed physical structure. Until now it was believed that the corona was homogenous and smooth, but this misinterpretation, as it turns out, is due to poor prior image resolution. Thus, the new observations give more insight in the structure of the corona, which is important for understanding solar winds that embed magnetic fields that we can measure on Earth. The findings of this study will be extended soon, when NASA’s new mission with the Parker Solar Probe, which aims to make measurements from within the corona itself.

    Read the full story: NASA
    Scientific publication: Astrophysical Journal


    Reversing skin wrinkling and hair loss associated with aging

    Health | Jul 22, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Wrinkled skin might be smoothed in the futureby restoring mitochondrial function
    Reversing skin wrinkling and hair loss associated with aging - health science news

    Scientists have for the first time managed to reverse skin wrinkling and hair loss during aging. In a mouse model, they found that restoring the function of mitochondria by switching off an enzyme that is responsible for mitochondria malfunction, as seen in the elderly, makes the fur regrow and smooth the skin. These mice are indistinguishable from normal, healthy mice. This reversal of high age-associated changes seems only to work in skin cells, and more research is still necessary to understand the precise molecular mechanisms involved, before scientists can begin to think of how this reversal might be employed in humans.

    Read the full story: University of Alabama at Birmingham
    Scientific publication: Cell Death & Disease


    Global dust storm engulfs planet Mars

    Space | Jul 22, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    A sudden storm covers Mars completely
    Global dust storm engulfs planet Mars - short space science news

    In the past month, astronomers have witnessed planet Mars being completely covered in dust. This is due to a global storm that creates dust clouds so large that they envelop the planet. This phenomenon appears periodically, every 3 – 4 Mars years. Scientists still do not understand how and why these storms are formed. Therefore, the event provides a welcome opportunity for further studies. For the Opportunity rover, this means a sudden drop in visibility from a clear, sunny day to that of an overcast one. Because Opportunity runs on solar energy, scientists had to suspend science activities to preserve the rover’s batteries. As of 18 July, no response has been received from the rover.

    Read the full story: NASA


    Sahara dust may not be pleasant, but it is killing storms

    Earth | Jul 22, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Saharan dust streaming out over the Mediterranean Sea and northeastward to Italy. Credit: NASA
    Sahara dust may not be pleasant, but it is killing storms - science news in brief

    Sahara provides a huge amount of dust (2 to 9 trillion pounds) that is blown by winds all over the world. Now, a new study suggests that the dust creates a temperature inversion which in turn tends to prevent cloud and eventually storm formation. It means that fewer storms and even hurricanes are less likely to strike when the dust is present. So, even if the dust is an annoying presence, especially during the last weeks in Texas and Southern United States, it may provide some benefits after all.

    Read the full story: Texas A&M University
    Scientific publication: Journal of Climate


    Religiosity decreases sexually aggressive and coercive behaviors in men

    Life | Jul 22, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Religious men are less inclined to engage in negative sexual behaviors, including aggression and coerce others into performing unwanted sexual acts
    Religiosity decrease sexually aggressive and coercive behaviors in men - science news in short

    New research shows that college men involved in religious activities are less likely to be sexually aggressive and to engage in coercive behaviors. The researchers surveyed 795 men at a large public university in their first, second, third, and fourth years of college. They found that religiosity had an influence on peer norms, pornography consumption, and promiscuity. In turn, these factors had an influence on sexual aggression and sexually coercive behavior. Although the study has some limitations, it suggests that colleges should be open to allowing students to participate in religious activities as this may have positive outcomes.

    Read the full story: PsyPost
    Scientific publication: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion


    Barnacle geese adjust migration to global warming

    Life | Jul 20, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Global warming makes barnacle geese travel faster to their Arctic breeding grounds
    Barnacle geese adjust migration to global warming - life science news

    Barnacle geese have been found to travel faster from their temperate wintering to their Arctic breeding grounds to be in time for the polar spring. The Arctic spring advances in time due to global warming, so that the geese have to change their timing of arrival for successful reproduction. As they migrate faster, they eat and rest less on the way, so that the geese have to recover first before they can lay their eggs. Thus, their faster travelling does not advance the timing of breeding, so that fewer chicks survive until fledgling. These observations are important to assess how animals adapt their behavior to rapidly changing climate conditions.

    Read the full story: Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics – University of Amsterdam
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    Is Parkinson’s disease an autoimmune disorder?

    Health | Jul 20, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Parkinson's disease might be an autoimmune disease
    Is Parkinson’s disease an autoimmune disorder? - health science news

    New research has found that a certain class of T immune cells can kill dopamine-producing cells in the midbrain, exactly the same neurons that die in Parkinson’s disease. T cells are especially abundant in the midbrain of Parkinson’s disease patients, similar to patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Based on this observation, scientists took skin cells from patients, and reprogrammed them to become dopaminergic midbrain neurons. These neurons were then exposed to T cells from the blood of these patients. The T cells killed the neurons through the release of interleukin-17. This study has thus established that the cause of Parkinson’s disease may be found in the patient’s own immune system.

    Read the full story: Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
    Scientific publication: Cell Stem Cell


    Plant evolution: from simple 2D to complex 3D shapes with new proteins

    Life | Jul 20, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Three-dimensional shapes of modern plants have been made possible by new proteins that are absent in plants' early ancestors
    Plant evolution: from simple 2D to complex 3D shapes with new proteins - life science news

    Plants find their origin in water, in string-like (2D), aquatic green algae to be precise. Their transition to land has been made possible by a genetic novelty, genes that are not found in algae but only in modern, 3D plants. The genes code for CLAVATA, proteins that cause cell divisions at the tips of plant stems to rotate. This spiral development of plants makes the formation of three-dimensional structures possible, and has been instrumental for plants advancing onto land.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    New molecular DNA shield discovered with major implications for cancer treatment

    Health | Jul 19, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Broken DNA is repaired with the aid of the Shieldin protein complex
    New molecular DNA shield discovered with major implications for cancer treatment - health science news

    Why do some breast cancer patients not respond to PARP-inhibitors or platinum-based chemotherapy? The answer lies in the newly discovered protein complex, called “Shieldin”, that shields damaged DNA, so that the broken strands of DNA can be repaired. It attaches to the broken ends of the DNA, so that the blunt ends of the DNA pieces are stuck back together. A messy but fast way to repair DNA, and used by immune cells to produce antibodies during immune responses. Importantly, cancer cells also use Shieldin, and when Shieldin is intact, PARP-inhibitors and platinum-based chemotherapy is effective. When Shieldin is mutated, the cancer cells make use of another method to repair DNA, and this sort of chemotherapy is no longer effective. The discovery of Shieldin will thus have a major impact on the treatment of breast cancers.

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


    Where is the missing matter in the universe?

    Space | Jul 19, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    HaloSat’s launch for the study of the halo of gas around the Milky Way as part of the search for the universe's missing matter. Image: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
    Where is the missing matter in the universe? - space science news

    A new NASA-sponsored CubeSat mission, deployed from the International Space Station on July 13, will help astronomers to detect where thus far undetected matter is in the universe. Scientists estimate that this amounts to 50% of all the matter that has formed in the early years of the universe. Half of the matter has formed gas, dust, planets, etc, but what happened to the other half is still unknown. With the new mission, astronomers will look for the missing matter in the space between galaxies or in galactic halos that surround galaxies. Scientists suspect that the missing matter is hidden in the gas in these structures of two million degrees Celcius (3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit).

    Read the full story: NASA


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