Science news of interest...


17 April 2014

Kepler mission identifies most Earth-like exoplanet yet discovered


An international team of astronomers have announced the discovery of a new rocky planet the same size as Earth that could have liquid water on its surface. The potentially habitable planet, dubbed Kepler-186f, was discovered using data from NASA's Kepler telescope and verified by the Gemini and Keck telescopes...


16 April 2014

Wobbly planets could be best place for finding life, say astrobiologists


Pivoting planets that lean one way and then change orientation within a relatively short time period might be surprisingly habitable. That's according to NASA scientists who say the climate effects generated on these wobbling worlds could prevent them from turning into glacier-covered ice lockers, even if those planets are somewhat far from their stars...


14 April 2014

Trying to sound sexier? Sorry, guys, you just can't do it


A series of experiments suggests that men cannot intentionally make their voices sound more sexy or attractive, while women have little trouble increasing their vocal allure...


11 April 2014

Earliest roots of psychiatric disorders traced to stress effects on single gene


Babies whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy to stressors such as trauma, illness, alcohol, or drug abuse become susceptible to various psychiatric disorders later in life. Now, researchers think that it may be the stressor's effect on single gene that gives rise to conditions such as schizophrenia, PTSD, autism, and bipolar disorders...


8 April 2014

Paraplegic men move their legs again after breakthrough therapy


Epidural electrical stimulation, which delivers a continuous electrical current to the lower spinal cord, has allowed four young men who had been paralyzed for years to move their legs...


6 April 2014

Rising CO2 causing nutritional content of crops to fall


Field tests have shown conclusively that rising levels of carbon dioxide inhibit plants' ability to assimilate nitrates into proteins, indicating that the nutritional quality of food crops such as wheat, barley, rice, and potatoes is at risk as climate change intensifies...


3 April 2014

Fences causing "ecological meltdown," claims new study


A general belief by conservationists that fences can help prevent the spread of diseases, protect wildlife from poachers, and help manage populations of threatened species has been overturned by a new study that shows fences are actually causing extinctions and destroying ecosystems...


1 April 2014

A cure for age-related sleep problems?


As the quality of our sleep worsens as we get older, our overall quality of life suffers too. But age-related poor sleep quality may be reversible, according to new research in the journal Plos Biology...


31 March 2014

Breast lifts: the only way is up


The annual stats report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons shows that breast lifts are the procedure du jour for American women, growing at twice the rate of breast implant surgeries...


27 March 2014

Newly discovered dwarf planet hints at a much larger not-yet-seen planet


A newly discovered dwarf planet in the distant Oort cloud region of our Solar System indicates the potential presence of an enormous as yet undiscovered planet, perhaps up to 10 times the size of Earth...


26 March 2014

Work by celestial archaeologists hints at Earth's ultimate fate


For decades, astronomers have known that the atmospheres surrounding stars are often "polluted" with elements like carbon, silicon, and iron. How these elements came to be there has been an intriguing mystery that astronomers believe they have now solved...


25 March 2014

Next-generation solar cell can also emit light


Scientists in Singapore have developed a photovoltaic material which, as well converting light to electricity, can also emit light too. According to the researchers, this new type of solar cell could be used to make display screens that also function as solar panels...


21 March 2014

Mug shots from DNA possible, say scientists


DNA analysis can already tell us the sex and ancestry of unknown individuals, but now an international team of researchers is beginning to connect genetics with facial features. The scientists speculate that law enforcement groups might soon be able to create a mug shot from a DNA sample...


19 March 2014

Radiation risk from Chernobyl forest fire smoke worries scientists


According to a new study, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster decimated the microorganisms that would otherwise decompose fallen trees and leaves, making the area an extreme fire risk that could spread radiation throughout Eastern Europe...


17 March 2014

First direct evidence supporting cosmic inflation


Scientists announced today that they have successfully measured a B-mode polarization signal in the Universe's cosmic microwave background. The signal, detected using a telescope at the South Pole, represents an important confirmation of the theory of cosmic inflation and provides insights into how the Universe may have behaved in the first fractions of a second of its existence...


17 March 2014

Bionic plants created with carbon nanotubes


Researchers from MIT report boosting plants' ability to capture light energy by 30 percent by embedding carbon nanotubes in the chloroplast, the part of the plant where photosynthesis takes place. The new field of "plant nanobionics" could, according to the research team, create plants with enhanced energy production that are a hybrid of electronic circuits, sensors, and biological systems...


13 March 2014

Solar toilet locks-in greenhouse gases, increases crop yields


Developed with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a self-contained, waterless, solar-powered toilet heats human waste to a high enough temperature to sterilize it and create biochar, a highly porous charcoal used to both increase crop yields and sequester carbon dioxide...


12 March 2014

Unusual gem find provides evidence for vast underground oceans


The chance discovery of a sample of a mineral called ringwoodite provides strong evidence for scientific theories about vast volumes of water trapped 410 to 660 kilometers (250 - 400 miles) beneath the surface of the Earth...


10 March 2014

Camouflage or bright colors? What's better to live long and prosper?


In nature, bright colors are signals that scream, "Don't eat me!" But how did prey species evolve these characteristics? Now, thanks to a computer simulation of evolving populations of organisms, evolutionary scientists think they know the answer...


6 March 2014

Astronomers witness mysterious disintegration of asteroid


Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have witnessed for the first time the breakup of an asteroid into as many as 10 smaller pieces...


5 March 2014

Smoking linked to ADHD in future generations


Scientists investigating neurobehavioral disorders say that ADHD could be an environmentally induced health condition inherited from a grandmother who smoked during pregnancy...


4 March 2014

Massive decline in food crop diversity threatens global food security


A detailed new study into global food supplies confirms for the first time what experts have long suspected: human diets around the world have grown ever more similar and the trend shows no signs of slowing, with major consequences for human nutrition and food supply reliability...


28 February 2014

New evidence for link between alcohol consumption and cancer metastasis


New research looking at the biological processes involved in breast cancer development has strengthened the argument for a potential link between alcohol consumption and progression of the disease...


27 February 2014

Bend me, shape me... into a heart


The human body has lots of soft muscular systems that bend, twist, extend, and flex in complex ways. Robotic systems that try to emulate these biological workhorses have usually fallen well short, but a team of researchers at Harvard has developed a low-cost, programmable soft actuated material which can replicate the biological motions of the heart...


25 February 2014

Spinning nanoparticles hint at origin of life


Simply making nanoparticles spin coaxes them to arrange themselves into what researchers call "living rotating crystals," a self-organizing behavior where the crystals take on a life of their own...


24 February 2014

Ancient teeth give up bacterial goldmine


Researchers have discovered a "microbial Pompeii" preserved in the dental plaque of 1,000 year old teeth. Intriguingly, the research team says that the ancient oral bacteria they discovered already showed the beginnings of antibiotic resistance more than eight centuries before the invention of the first therapeutic antibiotics...


21 February 2014

Quasars at opposite ends of the Universe could close a loophole in quantum mechanics


Physicists have proposed an experiment that may close the last major loophole of Bell's inequality - a 50-year-old theorem that, if violated by experiments, would mean that our Universe is based not on the laws of classical physics, but on the probabilities of quantum mechanics...


20 February 2014

Genetics play no role in disease risk, claims controversial new study


Genes have been implicated in influencing everything from our sexual orientation to our risk of cancer, but a new paper asserts that the prominent emphasis currently given to the gene in biology is based on a flawed interpretation of experimental genetics...


18 February 2014

Artificial leaf clears developmental barrier


Putting together the chemical reactions that make photosynthesis happen has proven harder than scientists initially thought, but in a new paper, researchers describe the breakthroughs they have made toward perfecting a functional artificial leaf...


17 February 2014

Stress hormone a key player in financial crises


Scientists studying levels of the stress hormone cortisol in financial traders say that appetite for risk may be "physiologically-driven" by the body's response to cortisol and that stress could be a trigger for market instability...


14 February 2014

Obesity could be an evolutionary hangover from prehistoric gut bacteria


Today, obesity is considered to be undesirable, but in the past getting more fat and more energy from the diet might have been important to survival in cold places. This, say scientists, might explain the dramatic differences in gut bacteria between people from warm latitudes and those who live in colder parts of the world...


12 February 2014

Fusion lab reports important boot-strapping milestone


Being able to generate more energy from a fusion reaction than the energy required to control the reaction is a key step needed before nuclear fusion power becomes a reality. This milestone of achieving fuel gains greater than unity (greater than 1) has now been reached for the first time ever...


11 February 2014

Bees using scavenged plastic to build hives


The scientists who discovered that urban bees are using plastic bags and building sealant to construct hives say it demonstrates bees' resourcefulness and flexibility in adapting to a human-dominated world...


10 February 2014

Cars, TVs, triggering type-2 diabetes epidemic in developing world


Skyrocketing obesity and an epidemic of type-2 diabetes look likely for developing countries, as researchers find a striking correlation between disease prevalence and ownership of TVs, computers, and cars...