December 29, 2012

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The Amazon Rainforest Could Be Drying Out

burning-peruvian-amazon

In the past few years, the Amazon rainforest in Peru’s Ucayali region has been hit by two severe droughts, one in 2005 and another in 2010. These dry spells could become more frequent as temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean continue to rise and as thousands of square kilometers of forest are burnt to […]

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December 29, 2012

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Pitcher Plant’s Ingenious Way of Trapping Ants

Credit: alexlomas/Flickr

The carnivorous pitcher plant lures insects to their doom with drops of nectar. South American pitcher plants have developed an ingenious insect-trapping mechanism to keep insects from escaping their grasp. Plant biologist Ulrike Bauer of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and colleagues published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the Royal […]

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December 28, 2012

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Garbled Text Messages Could Indicate Stroke

Credit: Summer Skyes/Flickr

Dystextia is when a person sends garbled messages, it could simply be that the auto-correct is turned off or that there is something else is going on. Scientists have discovered that dystextia could indicate some kind of a stroke, if taken in context with other symptoms. The scientists published their findings in the journal Archives […]

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December 28, 2012

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Flying Squirrels Can Adjust Speed and Flight Dynamically

Credit: Angie spuc/Wikicommons

Flying squirrels, a tribe of 44 species of the family Sciuridae, might look reckless as they fling themselves through the air, but scientists have reported that there is a certain measure of finesse involved. The squirrels are able to actively manipulate the furry membrane that stretches between their wrists and ankles to control the speed […]

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December 28, 2012

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British Team Fails to Reach Lake Ellsworth

The Lake Ellsworth team earlier this month, in happier times.
Credit: Courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) arrived in western Antarctica earlier in December, preparing for their anticipated mission to drill into Lake Ellsworth, a subglacial lake. After days of hard work, the team announced that it was stopping its efforts, stymied by a technical problem. The team was one of three groups in Antarctica attempting to […]

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December 28, 2012

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Vanadium-Sapphire Device Absorbs 99.75 Percent of Infrared Light

vanadium-sapphire device

Using a 180-nanometer-thick layer of vanadium dioxide on top of a sheet of sapphire, researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a device that can absorb nearly 100% of infrared light. Now you see it, now you don’t. A new device invented at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied […]

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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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