December 28, 2012

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BubR1 Protein Could Fight Cancer & Aging

Heart tissue in mice is one of several types that benefit from more BubR1 protein. Mice with extra BubR1 have less cardiac fibrosis (pink, image on right) compared with controls (left). Credit: Adapted from D. J. Baker et al., Nature Cell Biology, Advance Online Publication (2012)

Scientists have discovered a protein that seems to protect animals from cancer and other deficiencies of old age, with no downsides. The research on protein BubR1 could offer clues on how protecting chromosomes can enhance health. Cancer biologist Jan van Deursen at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and his colleagues published their findings in […]

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December 28, 2012

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Super-Tiger Helps Explore Cosmic Rays

Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud

It has been roughly 100 years since cosmic rays first became an object of curiosity to the science world, but now scientists are finally close to solving their mystery. Grade-school science teachers sometimes hand out “mystery boxes” containing ramps, barriers and a loose marble. By rotating the boxes and feeling the marble hang up or […]

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December 28, 2012

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SpaceX Grasshopper is First Reusable Rocket

grasshopper-spacex-take-off

SpaceX’s ground-breaking rocket, the Grasshopper, is still in development, but it’s designed to be reusable, meaning that it takes off and lands vertically. The rocket made its first trip in September 2012, after it traveled 2 meters up before landing safely. In November, it went up 32 meters and landed safely. This time, it traveled […]

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December 27, 2012

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X-Rays Reveal More of Fossil Record

When researchers shone x-rays of certain wavelengths on what was thought to be merely a 50-million-year-old fossil of lizard skin (left), they discovered spots with high concentrations of phosphorus (dots, upper right) that they interpret as the chemical vestiges of teeth (teeth of separate jaws are outlined in blue and red, lower right). Credit: Edwards et al., Applied Physics A: Materials Science & Processing (2012)

Soft tissues, like skin and feathers, aren’t usually part of the fossil record, but a new technique has found a way to bring some of them back into the record. The technique was used to resurrect the teeth and recognize the carcass of a 50-million-year-old fossil of a lizard, long thought to be merely preserved […]

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December 27, 2012

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Comb Jellies Have Proteins to Generate & Sense Light

Comb Jelly Genome

Comb jellies, known as the phylum Ctenophora, live in marine waters worldwide. They have a distinctive feature in their groups of cilia, which they use to swim. They are the largest animals that use cilia as a means to swim. Adults range from a few millimeters in length to 1.5 meters. Their bodies consist of […]

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December 27, 2012

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New Treatments for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Pulmonary arterial hypertension

A newly published study from Yale University scientists could lead to the development of new therapies aimed at restoring the signaling balance in the pulmonary vessels in order to treat patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension. Impairment of a key signaling cascade in the pulmonary blood vessels plays an important role in pulmonary arterial hypertension, a […]

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December 27, 2012

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Orangutans Learn Tool Use Through Social Observation

Sumatran orangutans may form ideas about tools long before using them. Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

A new study concludes that even very young Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) start forming ideas about their world, and how and when to use certain tools. Ape cultural traditions might not be very different from the cultural traditions of humans. The scientists published their findings in the journal Current Biology¹. Orangutans have behavioral traditions that […]

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December 27, 2012

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Cloud Forest Trees Depend on Fog

Sunrise over the cloud forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica. Credit: Drew Fulton

Trees in Costa Rica, as well as a number of plant species, in the tropical cloud forests quench their thirst by directly ingesting fog droplets through their leaves. These forests are in danger because of climate change, and a new study indicates that they’re even more fragile than previously thought. The scientists published their findings […]

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December 27, 2012

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Periodical Cicadas Manipulate the Populations of Predatory Birds

Periodical cicadas manipulate the populations of birds that eat them. Credit: ARS/USDA

Periodical cicadas emerge in North America every 13 or 17 years. Scientists think that the cicadas’ cycles are timed to “engineer” the number of predatory birds. The populations of these birds drop significantly the year that cicadas emerge. Walt Koenig, a behavioral ecologist at Cornell University and the lead author of the paper, published the […]

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December 27, 2012

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UW-Madison Researchers Help Explain the Scarcity of Anti-Matter

scientists help explain scarcity of anti-matter

The Daya Bay Neutrino experiment, recognized by Science magazine as a runner-up for the breakthrough of the year, is helping physicists explain why the universe is dominated by matter and not by anti-matter. A collaboration with major participation by physicists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has made a precise measurement of elusive, nearly massless particles, […]

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December 27, 2012

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Scientists Challenge Pulsar ‘Glitch’ Theory

Scientists Challenge Pulsar ‘Glitch’ Theory

Using a mathematical model, in conjunction with data from radio telescopes and recent results from nuclear physics theory, researchers at the University of Southampton challenge a 40 year-old theory explaining the ‘glitching’ of pulsars in their newly published study. Researchers from the University of Southampton have called in to question a 40 year-old theory explaining […]

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December 26, 2012

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Pound-for-Pound, Megapiranha Out Bites T. Rex

Credit: Steve Huskey

Megapiranha is an extinct genus of serrasalmid characin fish that lived 8 to 10 million years ago, in the Late Miocene. It’s estimated to have reached lengths of up to 1.3 meters, which is about four times the size of piranha alive today. These estimates are based upon fossil specimens that have been discovered. Based […]

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December 26, 2012

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Olympians Will Live Longer Than the Average Person

Credit: Jmex60/Creative Commons

Most medal-winning athletes returning home from the Olympic Games can look forward to a longer life than most of us. A new study has found that Olympic medalists live an average of 2.8 years longer than everyone else, whether they’re gymnasts, golfers, runners, or athletes in any other event. The scientists published their findings in […]

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December 26, 2012

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Photon Devices Could Outperform Traditional Computers

A new kind of light-manipulating device — built by researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia and elsewhere — does what no ordinary computer could ever do. Credit: Alisha Toft

Quantum computers will be able to perform tasks that silicon-based computers wouldn’t be able to do, like cracking the codes that protect bank transactions. Several research teams have revealed solid evidence that quantum physics does embody a level of complexity that classical computers could never match. The new devices these groups have built are much […]

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December 26, 2012

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Amgen to Purchase Icelandic deCODE Genetics

deCode Genetics lab, which found that the genetic nature of human disease was far more complex than anyone thought. Credit deCODE Genetics

More than a decade after the sizzle of genomics investments has faded, Amgen, an American biotechnology giant, is buying out one of the field’s most important firms, deCODE Genetics. Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, California, will pay $415 million for deCODE Genetics, based in Reykjavik. When genomics failed to produce the promise of new drug […]

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December 26, 2012

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All Coral Reefs May be Dying by 2100

Oceanographers have blamed bleaching of Porites coral from Australia's Great Barrier Reef on warming water temperatures, ocean acidification, and pollution. Credit: Louis Wray/Creative Commons

If current carbon dioxide emission trends continue, nearly every coral reef would be decimated by 2100, according to a new review of major climate models. The only way to maintain the current chemical environment in which reefs need to live, would be to deeply cut emissions worldwide. The scientists presented their findings at the American […]

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December 26, 2012

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Plant Dye Purpurin Creates Eco-Friendly Battery

Credit: Thongchai-tjn/Shutterstock

Purpurin (1,2,4-Trihydroxyanthraquinon), a nontoxic dye used to color fabric in vivid oranges, reds, and pinks, could also be used to create eco-friendly, sustainable, lithium-ion batteries. The scientists published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports¹. The dye comes from the roots of a climbing herb known as the madder plant (Rubia tinctorum). The first madder […]

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