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Friday March 27th 2015

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EurekAlert! – Breaking News

Effect of natural sweetener Xylitol in preventing tooth decay still unproven

New research out today concludes that there is limited evidence to show that xylitol is effective in preventing dental cavities in children and adults.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 4:00 am

Stereotypes lower math performance in women, but effects go unrecognized, IU study finds

A new study from Indiana University suggests that gender stereotypes about women’s ability in mathematics negatively impact their performance. And in a significant twist, both men and women wrongly believe those stereotypes will not undermine women’s math performance — but instead motivate them to perform better.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 4:00 am

Novel plastic could spur new green energy applications, ‘artificial muscles’

A plastic used in filters and tubing has an unusual trait: It can produce electricity when pulled or pressed. This ability has been used in small ways, but now researchers are coaxing fibers of it to make even more electricity for a wider range of applications from green energy to ‘artificial muscles.’ They will report progress on a novel form of this plastic at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 4:00 am

Carnival game mimics eye growth

The motion of coins in a ‘Penny Pusher’ carnival game is similar to the movement of cells in the eye’s lens, as described in a new study published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. This new insight may help scientists understand how the eye maintains its precise shape — critical for clear vision — and how cataracts develop.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 4:00 am

What if the severity of our seasonal influenza were related to our genetic background?

While most of us recover from influenza after a week, it can be a very severe disease, and even fatal in rare cases, with no reason for physicians to have expected such an outcome. By analyzing the genome of a little girl who contracted a severe form of influenza, researchers have discovered that she has a genetic mutation, unknown until now, that causes a subtle dysfunction in her immune system.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 4:00 am

Flocks of starlings ride the wave to escape

Why does a dark band ripple through a flock of starlings that are steering clear of a hawk? It all lies in the birds’ ability to quickly and repeatedly dip to one side to avoid being attacked. For a second, these zigs change the view that observers on the ground have of the birds’ wings to cause a so-called agitation wave. This evasive strategy is explained and published in Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 4:00 am

Middle-age hip replacements nearly double from 2002-2011

The number of total hip replacements nearly doubled among middle-aged patients between 2002-2011, primarily due to the expansion of the middle-aged population in the US.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 4:00 am

Honey bees use multiple genetic pathways to fight infections

Honey bees use different sets of genes, regulated by two distinct mechanisms, to fight off viruses, bacteria and gut parasites, according to researchers at Penn State and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The findings may help scientists develop honey bee treatments that are tailored to specific types of infections.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 4:00 am

The CNIO develops an anti-obesity treatment in animal models

The study has been conducted on obese mice and monkeys, using a drug which inhibits the activity of the PI3K enzyme. The body weight loss was exclusively due to a reduction in fat mass and no toxic effects have been noted. The study also found an improvement in the symptoms of diabetes and hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease). Obesity is one of the top risk factors within the spectrum of serious diseases that constitute metabolic syndrome.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 4:00 am

Genetic mutation helps explain why, in rare cases, flu can kill

A small number of children who catch the influenza virus fall so ill they end up in the hospital even while their family and friends recover easily. New research from Rockefeller helps explain why: a rare genetic mutation that prevents the production of a critical protein, interferon, that is needed to fight off the virus.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 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.

Meet the Leading Space Rock Target for NASA’s Asteroid-Capture Mission

Meet the Leading Space Rock Target for NASA's Asteroid-Capture MissionThe big asteroid 2008 EV5 may end up giving a piece of itself in the name of science and exploration. NASA intends to pluck a boulder off a near-Earth asteroid and haul it into orbit around the moon, where astronauts could visit and study the rock beginning in 2025. NASA announced the boulder plan on Wednesday (March 25), and unveiled a new video of how astronauts would fly the asteroid mission. Agency officials haven't decided upon the target asteroid yet, but the leading contender at the moment is the 1,300-foot-wide (400 meters) 2008 EV5.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 9:24 pm

U.S. Air Force overstepped bounds in SpaceX certification: report

The unmanned Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch pad 40 the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape CanaveralBy Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force overstepped its bounds as it worked to certify privately held SpaceX to launch military satellites, undermining the benefit of working with a commercial provider, an independent review showed on Thursday. The report cited a "stark disconnect" between the Air Force and SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies, about the purpose of the certification process and recommended changes. Air Force Secretary Deborah James ordered the review after the service missed a December deadline for certifying SpaceX to compete for some launches now carried out solely by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co. The Pentagon is eager to certify SpaceX as a second launch provider, given mounting concerns in Congress about ULA's use of a Russian-built engine to power its Atlas 5 rocket.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 8:02 pm

Ebola ‘Supervirus’ Is Unlikely, Experts Say

Ebola 'Supervirus' Is Unlikely, Experts SayThe Ebola virus that is causing the current outbreak in West Africa is not mutating as quickly as earlier reports had suggested, a new study finds. In the study, published online today (March 26) in the journal Science, researchers compared virus samples from people in Africa who became infected with Ebola up to nine months apart. "We do not see any evidence that the virus is mutating any more rapidly than has been reported in previous outbreaks," said Thomas Hoenen, a postdoctoral fellow in virology at the National Institutes of Health and one of the researchers on the study. In a 2014 study published in the journal Science, researchers had suggested that the Ebola virus in the West African epidemic was mutating twice as fast as other Ebola virus strains.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 6:23 pm

Richard III Gets a Regal Tomb 530 Years After His Death

Richard III Gets a Regal Tomb 530 Years After His DeathOne of history's most infamous kings, Richard III, was reburied today (March 26) in a lavish ceremony in Leicester, England, 530 years after his violent death in battle. Capping a week of events and processions celebrating the medieval monarch, Richard's stark oak casket was lowered into a brick-lined vault near the altar at Leicester Cathedral in front of hundreds of people today. In 2012, archaeologists seeking Richard's lost grave amazingly found the king's battle-scarred bones under a parking lot in Leicester. When Richard's skeleton was discovered in the ruins of Grey Friars, it provided scientists a rare opportunity to intimately examine the body of a historical figure.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 6:22 pm

Dark Matter Probably Isn’t a Mirror Universe, Colliding Galaxies Suggest

Dark Matter Probably Isn't a Mirror Universe, Colliding Galaxies SuggestDark matter may not be part of a "dark sector" of particles that mirrors regular matter, as some theories suggest, say scientists studying collisions of galaxy clusters. When clusters of galaxies collide, the hot gas that fills the space between the stars in those galaxies also collides and splatters in all directions with a motion akin to splashes of water. Dark matter makes up about 90 percent of the matter in galaxy clusters: Does it splatter like water as well? New research suggests that no, dark matter does not splatter when clusters of galaxies collide, and this finding limits the kinds of particles that can make up dark matter.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 6:21 pm

Scientist defends WHO group report linking herbicide to cancer

File photo of activists protesting against the production of herbicides and GMO food products outside Monsanto headquarters in Creve CoeurA World Health Organization group's controversial finding that the world's most popular herbicide "probably is carcinogenic to humans" was based on a thorough scientific review and is a key marker in ongoing evaluations of the product, the scientist who led the study said Thursday. There was sufficient evidence in animals, limited evidence in humans and strong supporting evidence showing DNA mutations … and damaged chromosomes," Aaron Blair, a scientist emeritus at the National Cancer Institute, said in an interview. Blair chaired the 17-member working group of the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which rocked the agricultural industry on March 20 by classifying glyphosate as "probably" cancer-causing. Monsanto Co , which has built a $15 billion company on sales of glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide and crops genetically engineered to tolerate being sprayed with Roundup, has demanded a retraction and explanation from WHO.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 6:11 pm

EU to resume Galileo satellite launch program

By Francesco Guarascio BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is set to send two navigation satellites into orbit on Friday aboard a Russian rocket, in its first launch since a botched deployment in August that cost several million euros to fix. The Galileo project to set up an EU alternative to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) is obliged to use the Russian Soyuz system until a development of Arianespace’s European Ariane 5 rocket is ready around the end of the year, despite strained relations with Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine. An official at the European Commission, which oversees the program, said the EU executive was tendering for insurance cover for future satellites and had set up an insurance scheme for the launches. The two launched in August have since been nudged into viable orbits and are fit for use, a spokesman for the European Space Agency said.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 6:08 pm

Jockey motion tracking reveals racing prowess

By Matthew Stock A research team from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is using motion tracking technology to try to establish the optimal riding position for jockeys, as well as enhance the performance of racehorses and reduce the risk of injury to both horse and jockey. The project, entitled “Apprentice to Journeyman: the influence of jockey technique on thoroughbred racehorse locomotion”, is analyzing the riding style of more experienced jockeys compared with novice riders to try to determine if the technique differs significantly between the two skill levels. They wanted to see how more experienced jockeys’ movement, stability and positioning differed from the novice. RVC researcher Dr Anna Walker explained that more experienced jockeys commented on how different the experience was on a simulator compared to a real horse.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 4:44 pm

Are Smart Pills & Brain Zapping Risky? Bioethicists Weigh In

Now, bioethicists are weighing in, saying that while such cognitive enhancement is neither bad nor good, it deserves more research. In the past, “there have been many arguments that suggest one should take an ethical stance for or against cognitive enhancement” of healthy individuals, said Amy Gutmann, chairwoman of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, which released the second part of a report today (March 26) on ethics in neuroscience research, commissioned by President Barack Obama as part of the BRAIN Initiative, a collaborative effort to develop tools to study the human brain. “We as a commission recommend there is no bright line to be drawn here,” Gutmann told Live Science during a news conference yesterday. The new report focused on three main areas: cognitive enhancement, informed consent in mentally impaired individuals and the use of neuroscience in the legal system.

Posted on 26 March 2015 | 4:18 pm

More Infidelity Uncovered in King Richard III’s Family Tree

More Infidelity Uncovered in King Richard III's Family TreeThe remains of Richard III may be locked away in a coffin to be reburied this week, but the 15th-century king's genome is still offering scientists a chance to unravel royal mysteries. "Having worked in the world of genetic genealogy for years, this is not at all surprising to me," said Turi King, a geneticist at the University of Leicester. In the general population, false paternities occur in about 1 percent to 2 percent of births, King said. They found a match between Richard's mitochondrial DNA (which is passed down only through the mother) and the mitochondrial DNA from two living female-line descendants of Richard's sister Anne of York: Michael Ibsen and Wendy Duldig.

Posted on 25 March 2015 | 10:46 pm