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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December 26, 2012

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Smoking Causes Chemical Alterations in Genes

Smoking may cause chemical modifications of DNA. Credit: Hemera/Thinkstock

Smoking isn’t healthy, but a new study has shown strong evidence that tobacco use can chemically modify and affect the activity of genes known to increase the risk of developing cancer. The scientists published their findings in the journal Human Molecular Genetics¹ and hope that this finding will give them a new tool to assess […]

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December 26, 2012

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HiCIAO Helps Reveal the Structure of Protoplanetary Disks

image of the disk around SAO 206462

By masking the bright light from a central star, HiCIAO can detect the detailed features of a star’s disk and the objects that it contains, possibly providing the basis for another indirect method of detecting planets. An international team of astronomers has used HiCIAO (High Contrast Instrument for the Subaru Next Generation Optics) (Note 1) […]

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December 26, 2012

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FDA Approves AquaBounty Transgenic Fish

AquAdvantage Salmon

The US FDA has finally approved the first genetically engineered animals for human consumption. The fast-growing salmon has been assessed as safe by the FDA. After 60 days of public comment, the FDA may issue a final assessment and approval, at which time the company AquaBounty, of Maynard, Massachusetts, can start selling the fish. The […]

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December 26, 2012

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Stem Cells Help Restore a Man’s Vision

Doctors at Toronto Western Hospital preform a stem cell transplant to help a patient regain their sight. Credit: CTV News

Taylor Binns began slowly going blind because of complications with his contact lenses. However, an innovative treatment using stem cells has allowed him to regain his sight. While on humanitarian work in Haiti, Binns developed intense eye pain and increasingly blurry vision. Over the next two years, Binns slowly went legally blind, with his doctors […]

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December 26, 2012

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Princeton’s Nanomesh Triples Solar Cell Efficiency

Credit: Jumanji Solar

Researchers at Princeton University have used nanotechnology to develop a nanotechnological mesh that increases efficiency over organic solar cells nearly threefold. The scientists published their findings in the journal Optics Express¹. The team was able to reduce reflexivity and capture more of the light that isn’t reflected. The resulting solar cell is thinner, less reflective […]

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December 24, 2012

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Only About 1,000 Yangtze Finless Porpoises Remain

Finless Porpoise at Miyajima Aquarium, Japan. Credit: ori2uru/Flickr

A six-week survey of the Yangtze River’s middle and lower stretches by the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) in Wuhan and the conservation group WWF in China has concluded that the Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides asiaeorientalis) are being driven to the brink of extinction by fishing, pollution and other human activities. […]

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