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Monday September 1st 2014

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Nature’s tiny engineers

Corals control their environment, stirring up water eddies to bring nutrients.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 4:00 am

Quality of US diet shows modest improvement, but overall remains poor

Dietary quality in the US has improved steadily in recent years — spurred in large part by reduced trans fat intake — but overall dietary quality remains poor and disparities continue to widen among socioeconomic and racial/ethnic groups, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 4:00 am

Scientists call for investigation of mysterious cloud-like collections in cells

About 50 years ago, electron microscopy revealed the presence of tiny blob-like structures that form inside cells, move around and disappear. But scientists still don’t know what they do — even though these shifting cloud-like collections of proteins are believed to be crucial to the cell, and therefore could offer a new approach to disease treatment. Now, researchers are issuing a call to investigators to focus their attention on the role of these formations.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 4:00 am

A nucleotide change could initiate fragile X syndrome

Researchers reveal how the alteration of a single nucleotide — the basic building block of DNA — could initiate fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited form of intellectual disability.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 4:00 am

Faster, cheaper tests for sickle cell

Harvard scientists have developed a new test for sickle cell disease that provides results in just 12 minutes and costs as little as 50 cents — far faster and cheaper than other tests.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 4:00 am

Family dinners reduce effects of cyberbullying in adolescents

Sharing regular family meals with children may help protect them from the effects of cyberbullying, according to a study by McGill professor Frank Elgar, Institute for Health and Social Policy. Because family meal times represent social support and exchanges in the home that benefit adolescents’ well-being, Elgar suggests that this family contact and communication can also reduce some of the distressing effects of cyberbullying.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 4:00 am

Week-long meeting on naming algae, fungi, and plants recorded for posterity

The XVIII International Botanical Congress in Melbourne, Australia in 2011 included a week-long meeting of 200 of the world’s experts on naming algae, fungi, and plants. Key results were that new scientific names could be published in electronic-only journals and that English could be used instead of Latin for formal descriptions of species new to science. The official, detailed record of this meeting has been published as a forum paper in the open-access journal PhytoKeys.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 4:00 am

Training your brain to prefer healthy foods

It may be possible to train the brain to prefer healthy low-calorie foods over unhealthy higher-calorie foods, according to new research by scientists at Tufts University and at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 4:00 am

Family dinners good for teens’ mental health, could protect from cyberbullying

Cyberbullying was associated with mental health and substance use problems in adolescents but family dinners may help protect teens from the consequences of cyberbullying and also be beneficial for their mental health.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 4:00 am

Likely near-simultaneous earthquakes complicate seismic hazard planning for Italy

Before the shaking from one earthquake ends, shaking from another might begin, amplifying the effect of ground motion. Such sequences of closely timed, nearly overlapping, consecutive earthquakes account for devastating seismic events in Italy’s history and should be taken into account when building new structures, according to research published in the September issue of the journal Seismological Research Letters.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 4:00 am

Science News Headlines – Yahoo News

Get the latest Science news headlines from Yahoo News. Find breaking Science news, including analysis and opinion on top Science stories.

Americans Are Eating Healthier, Study Finds

Americans are eating a modestly healthier diet now than they were a decade ago, but the gap in diet quality between the rich and the poor has widened, a new study finds. In an opinion article published with the new findings, Dr. Takehiro Sugiyama, of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo, Japan, and Dr. Martin F. Shapiro, of the University of California, Los Angeles, proposed solutions that they said could help reduce the diet quality gap between the rich and the poor.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 8:18 pm

Labor Day in Space: A Weightless Holiday for US Astronauts

Labor Day in Space: A Weightless Holiday for US AstronautsRight now, NASA astronaut Steve Swanson commands the International Space Station with fellow American Reid Wiseman serving as a flight engineer. The pair forms one-third of the space station's six-man Expedition 40 crew, with three Russian cosmonauts and European Space Agency astronaut rounding out the crew. "The entire six-man crew of Expedition 40 will have an off-duty day with only their exercise and one or two maintenance activities scheduled," NASA spokesman Daniel Huot told Space.com in an email. Swanson and Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev from the Russian Space Agency are due to return to Earth on Sept. 10, while Wiseman, Maxim Suraev from the Russian Space Agency and Alexander Gerst from ESA will remain in orbit until November.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 12:16 pm

Iceland Volcano Blasts Back to Life

Iceland Volcano Blasts Back to LifeThe crack feeding the lava flow has also expanded to the north and south, and is now almost 1 mile (1.5 km) long. The volcanic activity kicked off Aug. 16, when thousands of small earthquakes underneath the Bardarbunga volcano signaled fresh magma (molten rock) was burrowing underground. On Aug. 29, the dike punched through to the surface in the Holuhraun lava field, an older lava flow that erupted in 1797. Askja volcano is located 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Bardarbunga.

Posted on 31 August 2014 | 6:35 pm

Ebola Outbreak: Do Hazmat Suits Protect Workers, or Just Scare Everyone?

Ebola-preventing Exercise Gets Held In ZhangjiajieFor health care workers and researchers, wearing pressurized, full-body suits around Ebola patients may be counterproductive to treating the disease, say three Spanish researchers in a new letter published in the journal The Lancet. Health agencies often require that health care workers caring for Ebola patients wear hazardous material (hazmat) suits that protect against airborne diseases. Ebola is transmitted through contact with infected patients’ secretions (such as blood, vomit or feces), and such contact can be prevented by wearing gloves and masks, the researchers wrote. It may also send the message that such protection against the virus is being preferentially given to health care workers and is out of reach to the general public, they wrote in their article.

Posted on 30 August 2014 | 7:26 pm

Labor Day Weekend Stargazing: See Moon, Mars and Saturn Meet Up

Labor Day Weekend Stargazing: See Moon, Mars and Saturn Meet UpThe yellowish-white object to the moon's right is the planet Saturn, while the one below and slightly to the moon's left is Mars. In April, Mars was 57.6 million miles (92.7 million kilometers) away from Earth, the Red Planet's closest pass with Earth for the year.

Posted on 30 August 2014 | 1:36 pm

Scientists solve mystery of moving Death Valley rocks

By Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A solution to the longstanding mystery of why rocks move erratically across an isolated patch of California’s Death Valley finally emerged on Thursday, when researchers published a study showing the driving force was sheets of wind-driven ice. Trails from the movement of the rocks, which show them changing direction suddenly in their movement across the so-called Racetrack Playa, have long befuddled scientists and the general public. Paleobiologist Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who led the study, saw the rare phenomenon first-hand last December while standing with his cousin, engineer James Norris, at the spot.

Posted on 28 August 2014 | 11:52 pm

Ebola Outbreak in Sierra Leone Began at a Funeral

Ebola Outbreak in Sierra Leone Began at a FuneralAn extensive look at the genome of the Ebola virus reveals its behavior, when it arrived in West Africa and how it spread in the region to cause the largest-ever recorded Ebola outbreak. Researchers sequenced 99 Ebola virus genomes from 78 patients in Sierra Leone, one of the countries affected by the outbreak that started in the neighboring Guinea, and found that the virus' genome changes quickly, including parts of the genome that are crucial for diagnostic tests to work. "We've uncovered more than 300 genetic clues about what sets this outbreak apart from previous outbreaks," co-author Stephen Gire of Harvard said in a statement. The researchers studied the viruses isolated from the blood of these patients, as well as subsequent Ebola patients, to identify the genetic characteristics of the Ebola virus responsible for this outbreak.

Posted on 28 August 2014 | 11:36 pm

Scientists solve mystery of moving Death Valley rocks

Handout shows a trail left by a rock implanted with a motion-activated GPS unit in the so-called Racetrack Playa of California's Death ValleyBy Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A solution to the longstanding mystery of why rocks move erratically across an isolated patch of California's Death Valley finally emerged on Thursday, when researchers published a study showing the driving force was sheets of wind-driven ice. Trails from the movement of the rocks, which show them changing direction suddenly in their movement across the so-called Racetrack Playa, have long befuddled scientists and the general public. Paleobiologist Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who led the study, saw the rare phenomenon first-hand last December while standing with his cousin, engineer James Norris, at the spot.

Posted on 28 August 2014 | 10:52 pm

‘Jeopardy!’-Winning Computer Now Crunching Data for Science

'Jeopardy!'-Winning Computer Now Crunching Data for ScienceWatch out, Sherlock, there's a new Dr. Watson in town. IBM's Watson, the computer that famously won the quiz show 'Jeopardy!', is now helping researchers make scientific discoveries. The new system, known as the Watson Discovery Advisor, could accelerate the scientific process by sifting through massive amounts of information and visualizing patterns in the data. But unlike when Watson was on 'Jeopardy!,' its new role as Discovery Advisor is "not about getting to an answer, but [rather] gaining insight into a large body of information," Merkel told Live Science.

Posted on 28 August 2014 | 10:23 pm

Brutal Winter? Almanac Could Be Wrong, Scientists Say

The United States is in for another long, cold winter, according to the newest edition of the Farmers’ Almanac. This winter will see “below-normal temperatures for about three-quarters of the nation,” the Almanac reads. But the predictions included in the Farmers’ Almanac are just that: predictions. While NOAA’s official three-month outlook for the coming winter months isn’t due out until around mid-October, Artusa said that meteorologists are not seeing the climate conditions that would indicate what the Almanac refers to as a “record breaking winter.”

Posted on 28 August 2014 | 1:57 pm