Science In The News
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Science In The News
Interesting science news from around the world
Curated by David Lawrence
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Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists

Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists | Science In The News | Scoop.it
Water scarcity's effect on food production means radical steps will be needed to feed population expected to reach 9bn by 2050...
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Genome Sequencing Offers Intelligent Treatment Of Cancer And Glimpses Into The Future Of Medicine

Genome Sequencing Offers Intelligent Treatment Of Cancer And Glimpses Into The Future Of Medicine | Science In The News | Scoop.it

A novel method known as whole genome sequencing focuses on genes that drive a cancer, not the tissues or organ where it originates.

 

With a steep drop in the costs of sequencing and an explosion of research on genes, medical experts expect that genetic analyses of cancers will become routine. Just as pathologists do blood cultures to decide which antibiotics will stop a patient’s bacterial infection, so will genome sequencing determine which drugs might stop a cancer.

 

“Until you know what is driving a patient’s cancer, you really don’t have any chance of getting it right,” Dr. Ley said. “For the past 40 years, we have been sending generals into battle without a map of the battlefield. What we are doing now is building the map.”

 

Large drug companies and small biotechs are jumping in, starting to test drugs that attack a gene rather than a tumor type.

 

Leading cancer researchers are starting companies to find genes that might be causing an individual’s cancer to grow, to analyze genetic data and to find and test new drugs directed against these genetic targets. Leading venture capital firms are jumping into the field and getting involved.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Incredible shot of US swimmer that perfectly shows the phenomenon of surface tension

Incredible shot of US swimmer that perfectly shows the phenomenon of surface tension | Science In The News | Scoop.it

Captured on camera as he is about to break the surface of the water, Clary seems to be perfectly wrapped in glass because of a physical phenomenon called surface tension.

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Scientists develop 'bionic eye' implants which could restore near-normal sight to the blind

Scientists develop 'bionic eye' implants which could restore near-normal sight to the blind | Science In The News | Scoop.it

Researchers have dramatically boosted the performance of retinal implants by cracking a “code” that communicates visual signals to the brain. The code consists of specific patterns of electrical pulses. By incorporating it into their device, the scientists came close to restoring normal vision in totally blind mice lacking any light-sensitive cells.

 

Tests showed that the animals were able to discern facial features and track images with their eyes. A reconstruction based on electrical signals from the implant showed recognisable features of a baby’s face. In contrast, a standard retinal implant without the new encoder produced a confused pattern of bright and dark spots.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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New technology produces up to 50 fold more electricity from wastewater using microbial fuel cells

New technology produces up to 50 fold more electricity from wastewater using microbial fuel cells | Science In The News | Scoop.it

Engineers at Oregon State University have made a breakthrough in the performance of microbial fuel cells that can produce electricity directly from wastewater, opening the door to a future in which waste treatment plants not only will power themselves, but will sell excess electricity. The new technology developed at OSU can now produce 10 to 50 more times the electricity, per volume, than most other approaches using microbial fuel cells, and 100 times more electricity than some.

 

Researchers say this could eventually change the way that wastewater is treated all over the world, replacing the widely used “activated sludge” process that has been in use for almost a century. The new approach would produce significant amounts of electricity while effectively cleaning the wastewater.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Hundred-Year Drought? Climate models predict dangerously low rainfall for the next several decades

Hundred-Year Drought? Climate models predict dangerously low rainfall for the next several decades | Science In The News | Scoop.it

Until recently, many scientists spoke of climate change mainly as a “threat,” sometime in the future. But it is increasingly clear that we already live in the era of human-induced climate change, with a growing frequency of weather and climate extremes like heat waves, droughts, floods and fires.

 

Future precipitation trends, based on climate model projections for the coming fifth assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, indicate that droughts of this length and severity will be commonplace through the end of the century unless human-induced carbon emissions are significantly reduced. Indeed, assuming business as usual, each of the next 80 years in the American West is expected to see less rainfall than the average of the five years of the drought that hit the region from 2000 to 2004.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Plenty of dark matter near the Sun

Plenty of dark matter near the Sun | Science In The News | Scoop.it
Astronomers at the University of Zürich and the ETH Zürich, together with other international researchers, have found large amounts of invisible "dark matter" near the Sun. Their results are consistent with the theory that the Milky Way Galaxy is surrounded by a massive "halo" of dark matter, but this is the first study of its kind to use a method rigorously tested against mock data from high quality simulations. The authors also find tantalising hints of a new dark matter component in our Galaxy.

 

Dark matter was first proposed by the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky in the 1930s. He found that clusters of galaxies were filled with a mysterious dark matter that kept them from flying apart. At nearly the same time, Jan Oort in the Netherlands discovered that the density of matter near the Sun was nearly twice what could be explained by the presence of stars and gas alone. In the intervening decades, astronomers developed a theory of dark matter and structure formation that explains the properties of clusters and galaxies in the Universe, but the amount of dark matter in the solar neighbourhood has remained more mysterious. For decades after Oort's measurement, studies found 3-6 times more dark matter than expected. Then last year new data and a new method claimed far less than expected. The community was left puzzled, generally believing that the observations and analyses simply weren't sensitive enough to perform a reliable measurement.

 

Now an international team, lead by researchers of the University of Zürich with the participation of the ETH Zürich, have developed a new technique. The researchers used a state-of-the-art simulation of the Milky Way to test their mass-measuring method before applying it to real data. This threw up a number of surprises: they noticed that standard techniques used over the past twenty years were biased, always tending to underestimate the amount of dark matter. The researchers then developed a new unbiased technique that recovered the correct answer from the simulated data. Applying their technique to the positions and velocities of thousands of orange K dwarf stars near the Sun, they obtained a new measure of the local dark matter density.

 

"We are 99% confident that there is dark matter near the Sun," says the lead author Silvia Garbari. In fact, if anything, the authors' favoured dark matter density is a little high: they find more dark matter than expected at 90% confidence. There is a 10% chance that this is merely a statistical fluke, but if future data confirms this high value the implications are exciting as Silvia explains: "This could be the first evidence for a "disc" of dark matter in our Galaxy, as recently predicted by theory and numerical simulations of galaxy formation, or it could mean that the dark matter halo of our galaxy is squashed, boosting the local dark matter density."


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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WA can power world electricity 50 times over, if only for infrastructure

WA can power world electricity 50 times over, if only for infrastructure | Science In The News | Scoop.it

WESTERN Australia’s concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) potential has been assessed in a world first study that has found previous assumptions overestimate realistic site suitability for the technology.

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Global Warming's Terrifying New Math | Politics News | Rolling Stone

Global Warming's Terrifying New Math | Politics News | Rolling Stone | Science In The News | Scoop.it

If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven't convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.

 

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CERN's Higgs boson results 'get even stronger'

CERN's Higgs boson results 'get even stronger' | Science In The News | Scoop.it
Both of the experiments hunting for the Higgs boson, purported to be the source of mass in the Universe, claim much higher certainty that the particle exists. The particle has been the subject of a decades-long hunt as the last missing piece of physics' Standard Model, explaining why matter has mass.

 

Now one Higgs-hunting team at the Large Hadron Collider report a "5.9 sigma" levels of certainty it exists. That equates to a one-in-300 million chance that the Higgs does not exist and the results are statistical flukes. The findings only shore up a result that, as far as physicists were concerned, had already passed muster for declaring the existence of a new particle.

 

However, many questions remain as to whether the particle is indeed the long-sought Higgs boson; the announcement was carefully phrased to describe a "Higgs-like" particle. More analyses will be needed to ensure it fits neatly into the Standard Model - the most complete theory we have for particles and forces - as it currently exists.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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The Speed of Sound Is Too Slow for Olympic Athletes

The Speed of Sound Is Too Slow for Olympic Athletes | Science In The News | Scoop.it
Sprinters in the position farthest from the pistols were getting slower start times, so organizers switched to an electronic tone.
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17-Year-Old Builds Artificial ‘Brain’ to Detect Breast Cancer

17-Year-Old Builds Artificial ‘Brain’ to Detect Breast Cancer | Science In The News | Scoop.it

Brittany Wenger, a 17-year-old science whiz from Florida, has taken the Google Science Fair's top prize with her invention of an artificial brain with an uncanny ability to diagnose breast cancer. "I taught the computer how to diagnose breast cancer," Brittany said. "And this is really important because currently the least invasive form of biopsy is actually the least conclusive, so a lot of doctors can't use them."

Brittany's articicial neural network is a computer program coded to do turbo-charged brain-like thinking, in this case, with the power to detect complex patterns.  She built it with Java, deployed it in the cloud, and ran more than 7 million trials.  The accuracy of artificial neural networks improves with use.  Brittany brought her project to the point of having a greater than 99 percent sensitivity to malignancy.  “It will require a little bit of coding and tweaking, but it would be very easy to adapt it so it could diagnose other types of cancer and potentially other medical problems,” Brittany said.


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Strong Storms Threaten Ozone Layer Over U.S., Study Says

Strong Storms Threaten Ozone Layer Over U.S., Study Says | Science In The News | Scoop.it
The risk of damage may increase as the climate warms and storms grow more intense and more frequent, the study said.
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Neil Armstrong, First Man on Moon, Dies at 82

Neil Armstrong, First Man on Moon, Dies at 82 | Science In The News | Scoop.it

Neil Armstrong, a quiet, self-described nerdy engineer who became a global hero when he made “one giant leap for mankind” with a small step on to the moon, died Saturday. He was 82.

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"Extreme" Science Fair Project Set to Hit the Market... and the Slopes

"Extreme" Science Fair Project Set to Hit the Market... and the Slopes | Science In The News | Scoop.it

There's plenty of room in the fast-moving world of extreme sports for science.  Ben Gulak proved it.  As a teenager, the now-23-year-old had a big ambition: Winning the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.  His senior project, the Uno, was a part Segway, part motorcycle vehicle that he developed as an environmentally friendly transportation option for consumers in Asia.  Although regulatory issues thwarted that vision, the chairman of Intel at the time, Craig Barrett noticed Ben's project, which won the "most marketable" award.  From there, Ben launched his won engineering design company, called BPG Werks, to develop a similar, even cheaper-to-produce concept -- the DTV Shredder.  Geared toward extreme-sports fans, he tough-looking all-terrain vehicle borrows elements from the Segway, motorcycle, and skateboard.   “I really like the idea of bringing something new into the world, to an industry that’s been stagnant for a long time,” Ben said.  With about 4,000 pre-sold to date, Ben anticipates that he'll ship in November and will have 10,000 sold by the December holidays.


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Many new animal species discovered in sequestered underground cave thriving exclusively off sulfur bacteria

Many new animal species discovered in sequestered underground cave thriving exclusively off sulfur bacteria | Science In The News | Scoop.it

In a cavernous underworld 100 meters beneath a soft limestone quarry in Ramle, Israel, scientists have found eight new animal species – seven of which are still thriving in the darkness below.

 

Researchers recently completed a comprehensive study on the species – whose habitat quarry workers discovered in 2006 – and have thus far given names to seven out of the eight animals inhabiting the area. Isolated for millions of years in a 40- meter-long hall in a 2.7-kilometer- long cave, the species have survived off of sulfur bacteria in their underground lake. The cave was concealed about 100 meters under the surface with no natural opening to the surface.

 

The only other cave in the world comparable to this isolated Israeli wonder is the Movile Cave in Romania, which has a similar groundwater system and is also sulfuric – essential for internal energy production in place of photosynthesis. The ecosystem in the Romanian cave, however, is larger, with many more species, but many of them also live outside the cave. They are not endemic to the cave. But in Israel, most or perhaps all are endemic to the cave.

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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More trials, less errors - An effort to lower incorrect scientific claims through a new type of service

More trials, less errors - An effort to lower incorrect scientific claims through a new type of service | Science In The News | Scoop.it

So many scientific studies are making incorrect claims that a new service has sprung up to fact-check reported findings by repeating the experiments.

 

A year-old Palo Alto, California, company, Science Exchange, announced on Tuesday its "Reproducibility Initiative," aimed at improving the trustworthiness of published papers. Scientists who want to validate their findings will be able to apply to the initiative, which will choose a lab to redo the study and determine whether the results match. The project sprang from the growing realization that the scientific literature - from social psychology to basic cancer biology - is riddled with false findings and erroneous conclusions, raising questions about whether such studies can be trusted. Not only are erroneous studies a waste of money, often taxpayers', but they also can cause companies to misspend time and resources as they try to invent drugs based on false discoveries.

 

Last year, Bayer Healthcare reported that its scientists could not reproduce some 75 percent of published findings in cardiovascular disease, cancer and women's health. In March, Lee Ellis of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and C. Glenn Begley, the former head of global cancer research at Amgen, reported that when the company's scientists tried to replicate 53 prominent studies in basic cancer biology, hoping to build on them for drug discovery, they were able to confirm the results of only six.

 

The new initiative's 10-member board of prominent scientists will match investigators with a lab qualified to test their results, said Elizabeth Iorns, Science Exchange's co-founder and chief executive officer. The original lab would pay the second for its work. How much depends on the experiment's complexity and the cost of study materials, but should not exceed 20 percent of the original research study's costs. Iorns hopes government and private funding agencies will eventually fund replication to improve the integrity of scientific literature.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Making Up Yo-Yo Moves…in Space

Making Up Yo-Yo Moves…in Space | Science In The News | Scoop.it

Making Up Yo-Yo Moves…in Space

Zero gravity definitely makes things incredibly awesome. Well astronaut Don Petit has figured out that yo-yos are definitely a past-time that works well with a spaceman’s work environment. He’s happily making up names for his cool new space-only yo-yo moves and even imparting some wisdom on learning physics and dating…

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Mass of ants behaving like an "intelligent" fluid

Fire ants use their claws to grip diverse surfaces, including each other. As a result of their mutual adhesion and large numbers, ant colonies flow like inanimate fluids. This film shows how ants behave similarly to the spreading of drops, the capillary rise of menisci, and gravity-driven flow down a wall. By emulating the flow of fluids, ant colonies can remain united under stressful conditions.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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It's Official: It's Been Hot in the Northeast

It's Official: It's Been Hot in the Northeast | Science In The News | Scoop.it
No surprise for Northeast residents sweating out the summer after a winter barely touching their snow shovels: This is the hottest year on record in the region so far.
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NASA's rover Curiosity lands on Mars - CNN.com

NASA's rover Curiosity lands on Mars - CNN.com | Science In The News | Scoop.it
NASA's $2.6 billion rover, Curiosity, carried out a challenging landing on Mars early Monday after traveling hundreds of millions of miles through space.
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New Study Links Current Events to Climate Change - weather.com

New Study Links Current Events to Climate Change  - weather.com | Science In The News | Scoop.it
The relentless, weather-gone-crazy type of heat that has blistered the United States and other parts of the world in recent years is so rare that it can't be anything but man-made global warming, says a new statistical analysis from a top...
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Giant carbon-capturing funnels discovered in Southern Ocean

Giant carbon-capturing funnels discovered in Southern Ocean | Science In The News | Scoop.it

Oceans represent an important global carbon sink, absorbing 25% of annual man-made CO2 emissions and helping to slow the rate of climate change. The Southern Ocean in particular is known to be a significant oceanic sink, and accounts for 40% of all carbon entering the deep oceans. And yet, until now, no-one could quite work out how the carbon gets there from the surface waters.

 

A team of scientists from the UK and Australia has shed new light on the mysterious mechanism by which the Southern Ocean sequesters carbon from the atmosphere. Winds, vast whirlpools and ocean currents interact to produce localized funnels up to 1000 km across, which plunge dissolved carbon into the deep ocean and lock it away for centuries

 

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Rest in Peace, Sally Ride

Rest in Peace, Sally Ride | Science In The News | Scoop.it

Science has lost one of its brightest stars, as trailblazing astronaut Sally Ride died peacefully yesterday at the age of 61.

Becoming a household name in 1983 as the first woman to fly in space, Sally later championed the cause of inspiring young children -- girls, in particular -- to pursue their interests in science. She founded Sally Ride Science, a science education company dedicated to supporting girls’ and boys’ STEM interests. The company's school programs, classroom materials, and teacher trainings aim to "bring science to life to show kids that science is creative, collaborative, fascinating, and fun." Programs include the Sally Ride Science Academy, Science Festivals, and Science Camps.

Sally Ride's brilliance, strength, and integrity make her an inspirational role model for new generations of scientists.


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After Uproar, USDA Walks Back 'Meatless Monday' Support : NPR

After Uproar, USDA Walks Back 'Meatless Monday' Support  : NPR | Science In The News | Scoop.it
An internal newsletter got the agency in trouble with the meat industry and Republican lawmakers.
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