Science news of interest...


17 April 2015

Major advance in artificial photosynthesis uses sunshine to create fossil fuel analogs


Berkeley Lab scientists say their nanowire-bacterial system has the potential to fundamentally change the oil industry by producing chemicals and fuels in a totally renewable way...


15 April 2015

Prototype video camera requires no power


Columbia University researchers have developed the first video camera to be fully self-powered - its pixels not only measuring the incident light, but also converting it into electric power...


14 April 2015

Search of 100,000 galaxies for advanced civilizations yields no obvious candidates


Using data from NASA's WISE orbiting observatory, a team of scientists has found no evidence of the mid-infrared energy emissions we would expect to observe from other advanced civilizations...


13 April 2015

Mars may have liquid water


We've known for a long time that there is water in the form of ice on Mars. But now, new data from NASA's rover Curiosity indicates that it's possible that there is liquid water on the surface of Mars...


9 April 2015

Passive smoking and litter could explain high levels of nicotine found in spices, herbal teas, and medicinal plants


Despite the fact that nicotine insecticides were banned in 2009, European researchers say that high concentrations of nicotine are still detected in many plants...


7 April 2015

Primordial DNA could have appeared spontaneously, suggests new study


The self-organization properties of DNA-like molecular fragments four billion years ago may have guided their own growth into repeating chemical chains long enough to act as a basis for primitive life, say an international team of scientists...


2 April 2015

Scientists create artificial link between unrelated memories


Working with mice, researchers at the University of Toyama were able to generate artificial links between unrelated pieces of information stored in memory, resulting in long-lasting changes in behavior. The work may point the way to the development of new treatments for disorders such as PTSD, where the main symptoms arise from unnecessary associations between unrelated memories...


1 April 2015

Spring-assisted exoskeleton beats evolution


It's taken millions of years for evolution to perfect how we walk, but research published in the journal Nature shows that humans can get better efficiency - around 7 percent - using an unpowered exoskeleton to modify the structure of their ankles...


30 March 2015

Chinese tree planting reverses global forest loss


Although massive vegetation loss is still occurring in Asia and South America, an analysis of 20 years of satellite data has revealed that the regrowth of forests in China, Australia, and Africa mean that the total amount of vegetation globally has increased by almost 4 billion tonnes of carbon since 2003...


26 March 2015

High-fat intake could trigger psychiatric disorders


High-fat diets have long been known to increase the risk for heart disease and stroke, but there is new evidence to link diets high in fat with a range of psychiatric disorders...


26 March 2015

Surprisingly, higher education doesn't seem to improve levels of happiness


In an intriguing new study, UK researchers say that while low educational attainment is associated with mental illness, happiness, or mental wellbeing, was equally likely across all levels of educational attainment...


23 March 2015

Poop mining for precious metals may be viable, say sewage scientists


Poop could be a goldmine - literally. Surprisingly, human biosolids contain gold, silver, and other metals, as well as rare elements such as palladium and vanadium that are used in electronics and alloys. Now, researchers are looking at identifying the metals that are getting flushed and how they can be recovered...


22 March 2015

Opossum-based antidote to snake venom could save thousands of lives


A peptide found in opossums that can be manufactured easily could provide a novel and inexpensive antidote for venomous snake and scorpion bites. The researchers behind the discovery believe it could save thousands of lives worldwide, without the side effects of current antivenom treatments...


20 March 2015

How evolution shaped our idea of the perfect butt


New research from The University of Texas sheds light on today's standards of beauty, attributing modern men's preferences for women with a curvy backside to prehistoric influences. Specifically, the woman's ability to better support, provide for, and carry out multiple pregnancies...


18 March 2015

The longer a mother breastfeeds, the higher the IQ and salary


A study that tracked more than 3,000 newborns for 30 years has concluded that the longer a mother breastfeeds, the greater the intelligence and earnings of the offspring...


17 March 2015

Chance discovery changes human leukemia cells into harmless immune cells


After a chance observation in the lab, Stanford researchers have identified a method that forces human leukemia cells to mature into harmless immune cells known as macrophages...


16 March 2015

Male genetic diversity strangled by wealth and power


Genetic researchers have discovered an extremely dramatic decline in male genetic diversity between 4,000 and 8,000 years ago, while in contrast, female genetic diversity was on the rise...


11 March 2015

"Quantum jitter" mechanism behind the random mutations that drive evolution and cancer


Errors in DNA replication make evolution - and life as we know it - possible. But if there's too many of them, our genes would mutate out of control and we wouldn't survive. Now, a new study suggests that "quantum jitters" appear to tune the frequency of these spontaneous mutations to just the right level...


9 March 2015

Instead of raising self esteem, we're raising a generation of narcissists


While the dangers of narcissism are well documented, its origins are not. Now, a new study sheds light on how parents play a big part in the early development of narcissism in children...


5 March 2015

New research suggests smartphone use associated with lowered intelligence


New research that examined people's smartphone habits as well as their analytical, verbal, and numeracy skills found an association between heavy smartphone use and lowered intelligence...


2 March 2015

Image captures light as both a particle and a wave


Europeans scientists have been able to take the first ever snapshot of light behaving both as a wave and as a particle, demonstrating that imaging quantum phenomena at the nanometer scale is possible...


19 February 2015

Dark matter could be the wild card in extinction events


Our planet's long and bouncy path around the Milky Way means that dark matter could be the ultimate wild card in our ability to predict asteroid strikes, and scientists are now speculating that dark matter could also be heating the Earth's core, potentially leading to major volcanic events...


16 February 2015

DNA of bacteria that live in the body passed from mother to child


Traits such as eye color and height are passed from one generation to the next through the parents' DNA, right? Not according to a new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who have shown that the DNA of bacteria that live in the body can pass a trait to offspring in a way similar to the parents' own DNA...


9 February 2015

Medicos find altered gene expression in anorexia nervosa patients


A new report in the International Journal of Eating Disorders is the first to show that the longer someone suffers from anorexia nervosa, the more likely they are to show alterations in DNA methylation, affecting physiological mechanisms such as immunity and the functioning of peripheral organs...


5 February 2015

Rare spectacle of three moons transiting Jupiter's face captured by Hubble


New images from the Hubble Space Telescope have captured a rare occurrence as three of the Jupiter's largest moons - Europa, Callisto and Io - parade across the giant gas planet's banded face...


4 February 2015

Study questions whether lab-grown cells are a faithful model for studying human disease


Studies of human diseases such as cancer rely on the use of laboratory-grown cell cultures that have often been grown for decades. Now, new research indicates that these cell cultures may not be a reliable copy of real tissue; a finding that casts doubt on the interpretation of many past studies...


28 January 2015

Selfie shots used to monitor mental health


University of Rochester computer scientists have developed innovative software that turns smartphones into mental health monitoring devices. Describing the project at this week's American Association for Artificial Intelligence conference in Austin, Texas, researcher Jiebo Luo said the program analyzes "selfie" images and videos taken as the user engages with social media...


25 January 2015

Evolutionary biology could reveal a universal basis for morality


Recent developments in science appear to indicate that the emergence of life in general and perhaps even rational life, with its associated technological culture, may be common throughout the Universe. Now, a new paper appearing in the journal Space Policy suggests this universal tendency toward complexity has distinctly religious overtones and may even establish a truly universal basis for morality...


21 January 2015

Psychedelic use associated with decreased suicidal thinking, say researchers behind new study


The authors of a new study say psychedelics may hold promise in the prevention of suicide, and the highly restricted legal status of psychedelics should be reconsidered to facilitate further scientific study...


20 January 2015

Scientists discover "idiosyncratic" brain patterns in autism


New research shows that the brains of individuals with autism display unique synchronization patterns, a trait that could enable earlier diagnosis of the disorder and novel future treatments...


9 January 2015

Link found between circumcision and autism


Research published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggests that regardless of cultural background, circumcised boys may run a greater risk of developing autism spectrum disorder...


31 December 2014

Tiny vibrations could reveal extraterrestrial life


Motion is a trait of all life, but detecting the tiny movements of microorganisms requires incredible sensitivity. Now, Swiss scientists say they have developed an extremely sensitive yet simple motion detector that can be built using existing technology. The system has accurately detected bacteria and cancer cells, and its inventors think it could also detect extraterrestrial life...


17 December 2014

Scientists discover breathing to be the primary mechanism for weight loss


It's long been known that human fat cells are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. What's just been discovered by Australian scientists is that when we "burn" fat, almost all the broken-down fat molecules are exhaled through the lungs as carbon dioxide...


11 December 2014

Gut flora link to Parkinson's disease


Medical researchers in Finland hope that their discovery of a significant variation in the gut microbiota of Parkinson's sufferers could be used to improve diagnostics for the disease and perhaps even prevent it...