September 21, 2012

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Geographically Close Neighbors Have Been Genetically Isolated for Thousands of Years

khoisan-family

Hunter-gatherer and pastoralist tribes in sub-Saharan Africa, where humans are thought to have originated, even though linguistically close, belong to two different distinct genetic clusters. Two new studies exploring their genetics were published in Science and Nature Communications (preprint available through arXiv). Both teams looked at single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the DNA of the […]

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September 21, 2012

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Dawn Spacecraft Finds Traces of Water on Vesta

vesta-crater

Vesta, the second most massive asteroid in the Solar System, after the dwarf planet Ceres, was thought to be a dry place, but the most recent evidence from NASA’s spacecraft Dawn has found that smaller, water-rich asteroids once implanted themselves in Vesta’s surface. The water is locked up in hydrated minerals until subsequent impacts create […]

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September 21, 2012

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Bacteria Replicate Closely to the Actual Thermodynamic Limit

escherichia-coli-blue

The bacterium Escherichia coli takes about 20 minutes to duplicate in optimal conditions. Biological physicists state that the bacteria are impressively close to the limit established by the laws of physics. The scientists published their findings in a preprint arXiv. Jeremy England, a biological physicist at MIT in Cambridge wanted to examine how living systems […]

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September 21, 2012

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Predicting Future Explosions at the Yellowstone Caldera

yellowstone-caldera

Scientists have been trying to figure out exactly what the future entails for the Yellowstone caldera. Unlike other more speculative theories, this most recent study tries to unlock the future by examining the past. The scientists published their findings in the journal GSA. The Yellowstone caldera has had some large eruptions in the past, but […]

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September 21, 2012

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Disruption of Memory Reconsolidation Erases a Fear Memory Trace

memory-consolidation

Fear memories are formed when humans associate things with strong, negative emotional responses. A team of scientists from Uppsala University in Sweden have developed a technique that allows them to erase new emotional memories from the brain, making it possible to erase your fears. The scientists published their findings in the journal Science. Memories in […]

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September 21, 2012

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Unmanned Air Force X-37B Space Plane Lands Itself at Vandenberg Base

boeing-x-37b-space-plane

Early Saturday morning, an unmanned Air Force space plane landed by itself at a California military base, wrapping up a 15-month clandestine mission. The spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in March 2011 and conducted in-orbit experiments during the mission. This was the second autonomous landing at the Vandenberg Air […]

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September 21, 2012

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NASA’s Dawn Mission Reveals Hydrated Minerals on Vesta

global-distribution-of-hydrogen-on-the-surface-of-Vesta

Two new papers based on observations from the low-altitude mapping orbit of the Dawn mission were recently published in the journal Science. One paper describes how the instrument found signatures of hydrogen, likely in the form of hydroxyl or water bound to minerals in Vesta’s surface, while the other describes the presence of pitted terrain […]

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September 20, 2012

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With Genetic Tweak Maize Cells Produce Enzyme-Replacement Drug

waxy-maize

Some complex protein drugs need to be made by culturing mammalian cells. Plant biologists have developed a way to manufacture the necessary enzymes for drugs in maize. The scientists published their findings in the journal Nature Communications. Plant biologist Allison Kermode, at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, whose husband works with people who have […]

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September 20, 2012

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Projections of Urban Growth Highlight at Risk Areas

urban-city-sprawl

Researchers are trying to make detailed predictions about how urban areas are likely to grow in order to forecast how the next few decades of urbanization will affect biodiversity. The scientists published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The biggest changes are currently occurring in developing countries. The UN […]

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September 20, 2012

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Lens-Free System Shows Spiraling Swimming Pattern of Human Sperm

image-sperm-head-chip

A new three-dimensional imaging technique has shown the spiraling movements that human sperm accomplishes while swimming. Previously, these movements had only been inferred from two-dimensional data. The scientists published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The high-resolution recordings in three dimensions tracked more than 1,500 cells over several hours. […]

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September 20, 2012

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Precise Determination of the Weight of Ocean Will Help Model Sea Level Rise

ocean-sea-level-rise

If scientists are able to figure out the precise weight of the world’s oceans it will allow them to model changes in the sea level more accurately. With the record ice melt this past summer, it would help ensure the safety of the cities on the coastlines that are vulnerable to any rise of the […]

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September 20, 2012

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NASA Telescopes Spot Ultra-Distant Galaxy, MACS 1149-JD

MACS 1149-JD

Using NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes and gravitational lensing, astronomers have spotted what could be the most distant galaxy ever seen. Pasadena, California — With the combined power of NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, as well as a cosmic magnification effect, astronomers have spotted what could be the most distant galaxy ever seen. […]

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September 20, 2012

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Russian Impact Crater Might Contain Trillions of Carats of Diamonds

Popigai crater

On Monday, Novosibirsk scientists of the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences announced that there is a huge deposit of diamonds buried under an impact crater in Siberia. These diamonds are twice as hard as normal because of their origin. The trillions of carats are located […]

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September 19, 2012

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West Nile Virus Might Be Linked to Kidney Problems

west-nile-virus

As of September of this year, there have been more than 2,600 new cases of West Nile virus in the USA, including 118 deaths, which were reported to the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia. While most people have no symptoms of West Nile, some have life-threatening brain inflammation, which leaves survivors with long-term disabilities including paralysis […]

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September 19, 2012

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DARPA’s CT2WS Program Improves Target Detection

CT120 Camera

Launched in 2008 to improve the ability to detect threats from standoff distances, DARPA’s CT2WS program uses human brainwaves, improved sensors, and cognitive algorithms to improve visual threat detection, identifying up to 91 percent of targets during testing with extremely low false-alarm rates and widening a warfighter’s field of view to 120 degrees. For warfighters […]

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September 19, 2012

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Improved Estimates of DNA’s Mutation Rate Paint Clearer Picture of Human Prehistory

reconstruction-homo-heidelbergensis

Since the 1960s, DNA has changed the story of human ancestry. Some studies have shown that all modern humans are descended from ancestors who lived in Africa 100,000 years ago. Some new findings suggest that key events in human evolution contradict archeology. Estimates of DNA’s mutation rate work like a molecular clock that underpins genetic […]

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September 19, 2012

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Overcoming Barriers to Stem Cell-Based Regenerative Medicine

colony of induced pluripotent stem cells

In a newly published paper, a team of researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and their collaborators at UC San Diego found that there is a consistent signature difference between embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells; findings that could help implement the use of induced stem cells in regenerative medicine. La Jolla, California […]

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