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CRISPR critters: Scientists identify key enzyme in microbial immune system

CRISPR critters: Scientists identify key enzyme in microbial immune system
2010-09-10
Imagine a war in which you are vastly outnumbered by an enemy that is utterly relentless – attacking you is all it does. The intro to another Terminator movie? No, just another day for microbes such as bacteria and archaea, which face a never-ending onslaught from viruses and invading strands of nucleic acid known as plasmids. To survive this onslaught, microbes deploy a variety of defense mechanisms, including an adaptive-type nucleic acid-based immune system that revolves around a genetic element known as CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short ...

Inflicting greater harm judged to be less harmful

2010-09-10
Los Angeles, CA (September 7, 2010) – Joseph Stalin once claimed that a single death was a tragedy, but a million deaths was a statistic. New research from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University validates this sentiment, confirming large-scale tragedies don't connect with people emotionally in the same way smaller tragedies do. The new study, entitled "The Scope-Severity Paradox: Why doing more harm is judged to be less harmful," has been published in the current issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science (published by SAGE) and was conducted ...

Pediatric vaccine stockpile policies need to be revisited, researcher says

Pediatric vaccine stockpile policies need to be revisited, researcher says
2010-09-10
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Vaccine manufacturers and public health decision-makers need to collaborate in a more efficient and effective manner not only to reduce the likelihood of supply shortages for pediatric vaccines but also to maximize community immunity by using vaccine doses to increase coverage, according to research published by a University of Illinois researcher who specializes in statistics and data analysis. Sheldon H. Jacobson, a professor of computer science and the director of the simulation and optimization laboratory at Illinois, says that the Pediatric Vaccine ...

Scientists observe single ions moving through tiny carbon-nanotube channel

2010-09-10
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — For the first time, a team of MIT chemical engineers has observed single ions marching through a tiny carbon-nanotube channel. Such channels could be used as extremely sensitive detectors or as part of a new water-desalination system. They could also allow scientists to study chemical reactions at the single-molecule level. Carbon nanotubes — tiny, hollow cylinders whose walls are lattices of carbon atoms — are about 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. Since their discovery nearly 20 years ago, researchers have experimented with them as batteries, ...

Early cotton planting requires irrigation

2010-09-10
MADISON, WI, September 9, 2010 – Cotton growers can produce more cotton if they plant early, but not without irrigation. That's the finding of an article published in the September-October 2010 Agronomy Journal, a publication of the American Society of Agronomy. Bill Pettigrew, a scientist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Stoneville, Mississippi, tested the performance of cotton under irrigated and non-irrigated plots, with half the plots being planted early (first week of April) and half being planted in the more tradition time period, around the 1st week ...

Promising treatment for metastatic melanoma 'fast tracked' by FDA

2010-09-10
HACKENSACK, N.J. (September 9, 2010) — Researchers from the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center played an important role in a study that led to the Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) recent fast tracking of ipilimumab, a promising treatment for metastatic melanoma. The FDA based its decision largely on the results of a pivotal study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on August 19, 2010 – the same day the agency accepted Bristol-Myers Squibb's application for the drug's approval and granted the application priority review status. Ipilimumab ...

AGU journal highlights

2010-09-10
The following highlights summarize research papers that have been recently published in Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres (JGR-D) and Geophysical Research Letters (GRL). In this release: Landmass shape affects extent of Arctic sea ice Estimating how much rain forests intercept How compliant fault zones respond to nearby earthquakes Measuring the rate of mountain building in New Zealand Interplanetary magnetic field causes changes in the polar cap ionosphere Oxygen and hydrogen follow different escape paths from Venus's atmosphere Anyone ...

Strategy discovered to prevent Alzheimer's-associated traffic jams in the brain

2010-09-10
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – September 9, 2010 – Amyloid beta (Αβ) proteins, widely thought to cause Alzheimer's disease (AD), block the transport of vital cargoes inside brain cells. Scientists at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease (GIND) have discovered that reducing the level of another protein, tau, can prevent Aβ from causing such traffic jams. Neurons in the brain are connected to many other neurons through long processes called axons. Their functions depend on the transport of diverse cargoes up and down these important pipelines. Particularly ...

The cost of over-triage on our nation's health system

2010-09-10
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified "secondary over-triage" as a potential area of cost savings for our nation's health care. The phenomenon of over-triage occurs when patients are transferred twice, and discharged from a second facility in less than 24 hours. These findings will be published in the September 10th issue of The Journal of Trauma. "By looking at the number of times patients are transferred, we can evaluate the overall efficiency of our trauma system and its impact on healthcare costs," said Hayley Osen, ...

Flying fish glide as well as birds

2010-09-10
We're all familiar with birds that are as comfortable diving as they are flying but only one family of fish has made the reverse journey. Flying fish can remain airborne for over 40s, covering distances of up to 400m at speeds of 70km/h. Haecheon Choi, a mechanical engineer from Seoul National University, Korea, became fascinated by flying fish when reading a science book to his children. Realising that flying fish really do fly, he and his colleague, Hyungmin Park, decided to find out how these unexpected fliers stay aloft and publish their discovery that flying fish glide ...

Lack of trust in hospitals a major deterrent for blood donation among African-Americans

2010-09-10
Disparities in healthcare between races exist in the United States. A new study published in the journal Transfusion explores why African Americans donate blood at lower rates than whites. The findings reveal that there is a significant distrust in the healthcare system among the African American community, and African Americans who distrust hospitals are less likely to donate. Led by Beth H. Shaz, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the New York Blood Center in New York, New York, researchers created a survey to explore reasons for low likelihood of blood donation in African ...

BEK Communications Looks to Mariner's xVu Service to Better Manage Local IPTV Programming

2010-09-10
BEKTV utilizing industry leading service assurance tool to gain viewership insight Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Conference, Las Vegas, NV, September 9th, 2010: BEK Communications, the innovative telecommunications company serving south-central North Dakota, announced today their use of xVu as a means of gaining improved insight of their local programming. A key element of BEK's strategy as a multi-faceted telecom company is their exclusive hometown programming. Through BEKTV, BEK Communications broadcasts such specialized local features as BEK Sports, BEK Life and BEK Local ...

In attracting mates, male bowerbirds appear to rely on special optical effect

2010-09-09
Bowerbird males are well known for making elaborate constructions, lavished with decorative objects, to impress and attract their mates. Now, researchers reporting online on September 9 in Current Biology, a Cell Press journal, have identified a completely new dimension to these showy structures in great bowerbirds. The birds create a staged scene, only visible from the point of view of their female audience, by placing pebbles, bones, and shells around their courts in a very special way that can make objects (or a bowerbird male) appear larger or smaller than they really ...

Mental maturity scan tracks brain development

2010-09-09
Five minutes in a scanner can reveal how far a child's brain has come along the path from childhood to maturity and potentially shed light on a range of psychological and developmental disorders, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown. Researchers assert this week in Science that their study proves brain imaging data can offer more extensive help in tracking aberrant brain development. "Pediatricians regularly plot where their patients are in terms of height, weight and other measures, and then match these up to standardized curves ...

Main climate threat from CO2 sources yet to be built

Main climate threat from CO2 sources yet to be built
2010-09-09
Stanford, CA— Scientists have warned that avoiding dangerous climate change this century will require steep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. New energy-efficient or carbon-free technologies can help, but what about the power plants, cars, trucks, and other fossil-fuel-burning devices already in operation? Unless forced into early retirement, they will emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for decades to come. Will their emissions push carbon dioxide levels beyond prescribed limits, regardless of what we build next? Is there already too much inertia in the system to curb ...

Study finds the effects of population aging have been exaggerated

2010-09-09
Laxenburg, Austria – 9th September 2010. Due to increasing life-spans and improved health many populations are 'aging' more slowly than conventional measures indicate. In a new study, to be published in Science, (10 September) scientists from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria, Stony Brook University, US, (SBU), and the Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) have developed new measures of aging that take changes in disability status and longevity into account. The results give policymakers faced with growing numbers of elderly ...

Energy technologies not enough to sufficiently reduce carbon emissions, NYU's Hoffert concludes

2010-09-09
Current energy technologies are not enough to reduce carbon emissions to a level needed to lower the risks associated with climate change, New York University physicist Martin Hoffert concludes in an essay in the latest issue of the journal Science. Many scientists have determined that in order to avoid the risks brought about by climate change, steps must be taken to prevent the mean global temperature from rising by more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Current climate models indicate that achieving this goal will require limiting atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) ...

In order to save biodiversity society's behavior must change, leading conservationists warn

2010-09-09
An innovative grouping of conservation scientists and practitioners have come together to advocate a fundamental shift in the way we view biodiversity. In their paper, which was published today in the journal Science, they argue that unless people recognise the link between their consumption choices and biodiversity loss, the diversity of life on Earth will continue to decline. Dr Mike Rands, Director of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and lead author of the paper, said: "Despite increasing worldwide conservation efforts, biodiversity continues to decline. If ...

Global health vs. global wealth: Looming choice for health firms in developing countries

Global health vs. global wealth: Looming choice for health firms in developing countries
2010-09-09
The lure of greater profits elsewhere in the world may divert bio-pharmaceutical firms in developing countries from the creation and distribution of affordable drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for illnesses of local concern, undermining the health prospects of millions of poor people, experts warn. And they call for a series of measures to bolster international support for continuing the success of firms finding homegrown solutions to immediate health concerns in developing countries. In a commentary published by the journal Nature Biotechnology, researchers Rahim Rezaie ...

Researchers expand yeast's sugary diet to include plant fiber

Researchers expand yeasts sugary diet to include plant fiber
2010-09-09
University of California, Berkeley, researchers have taken genes from grass-eating fungi and stuffed them into yeast, creating strains that produce alcohol from tough plant material – cellulose – that normal yeast can't digest. The feat could be a boon for the biofuels industry, which is struggling to make cellulosic ethanol – ethanol from plant fiber, not just cornstarch or sugar – economically feasible. "By adding these genes to yeast, we have created strains that grow better on plant material than does wild yeast, which eats only glucose or sucrose," said Jamie Cate, ...

Greener pastures and better breeds could reduce carbon 'hoofprint'

2010-09-09
NAIROBI (9 September 2010)—Greenhouse gas emissions caused by livestock operations in tropical countries—a major contributor to climate change—could be cut significantly by changing diets and breeds and improving degraded lands, according to a new study published this week in the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And as an added bonus, scientists found the small changes in production practices could provide a big payoff by providing poor farmers with up to US$1.3 billion annually in payments for carbon offsets. "These technologically straightforward ...

Phoenix Mars Lander finds surprises about red planet's watery past

Phoenix Mars Lander finds surprises about red planets watery past
2010-09-09
Liquid water has interacted with the Martian surface throughout Mars' history, measurements by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander suggest. The findings, published in the Sept. 10 issue of the journal Science, also suggest that liquid water has primarily existed at temperatures near freezing, implying hydrothermal systems similar to Yellowstone's hot springs on Earth have been rare on Mars throughout its history. These surprising results come from measurements Phoenix made in 2008 of stable isotopes of carbon and oxygen in the carbon dioxide of the Martian atmosphere. Isotopes ...

The pros and cons of Miscanthus -- uses more water, leaches less nitrogen

The pros and cons of Miscanthus -- uses more water, leaches less nitrogen
2010-09-09
URBANA – In the search for the perfect crop for biofuel production, Miscanthus has become the darling to many. But in an effort to not be charmed by its enormous potential for biomass production, researchers at the University of Illinois are taking a careful look at the pros and cons of its behavior in the field. A recent study analyzed water quantity and quality in plots of Miscanthus, switchgrass, corn, and soybeans and found that Miscanthus used substantially more water, but reduced the potential for nitrogen pollution to water bodies. "We found that Miscanthus ...

Researchers give robots the capability for deceptive behavior

Researchers give robots the capability for deceptive behavior
2010-09-09
A robot deceives an enemy soldier by creating a false trail and hiding so that it will not be caught. While this sounds like a scene from one of the Terminator movies, it's actually the scenario of an experiment conducted by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology as part of what is believed to be the first detailed examination of robot deception. "We have developed algorithms that allow a robot to determine whether it should deceive a human or other intelligent machine and we have designed techniques that help the robot select the best deceptive strategy to ...

Overweight and obese make up majority in Ontario

2010-09-09
OTTAWA – September 9, 2010 --- New analysis of a landmark health survey by the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) shows that 70% of Ontario adults are either overweight or obese, and have a strong prevalence of high blood pressure that could lead to heart attack or stroke. The research, led by Dr. Frans Leenen of the Heart Institute's Hypertension Unit, adds new information to a limited amount of Canadian data on obesity and high blood pressure. The analysis further strengthens the link between high blood pressure and above normal Body Mass Index (BMI), a formula ...
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