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nasa prepares to launch parker solar probe, a mission to touch the sun
early on an august morning, the sky near cape canaveral, florida, will light up with the launch of parker solar probe. no earlier than aug. 6, 2018, a united launch alliance delta iv heavy will thunder to space carrying the car-sized spacecraft, which will study the sun closer than any human-made object ever has. on july 20, 2018, nicky fox, parker solar probe's project scientist at the johns hopkins university applied physics lab in laurel, maryland, and alex young, associate director for science in the heliophysics science division at nasa's goddard space flight center in greenbelt, maryland, introduced parker solar probe's science goals and the technology behind them at a televised press conference from nasa's kennedy space center in cape canaveral, florida. `we've been studying the sun for decades, and now we're finally going to go where the action is,` said young. our sun is far more complex than meets the eye. rather than the steady, unchanging disk it seems to human eyes, the sun is a dynamic and magnetically active star. the sun's atmosphere constantly sends magnetized material outward, enveloping our solar system far beyond the orbit of pluto and influencing every world along the way. coils of magnetic energy can burst out with light and particle radiation that travel through space and create temporary disruptions in our atmosphere, sometimes garbling radio and communications signals near earth. the influence of solar activity on earth and other worlds are c...
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texas a&m study: sahara dust may make you cough, but it's a storm killer
the bad news: dust from the sahara desert in africa - totaling a staggering 2 to 9 trillion pounds worldwide - has been almost a biblical plague on texas and much of the southern united states in recent weeks. the good news: the same dust appears to be a severe storm killer. research from a team of scientists led by texas a&m university has studied saharan dust and their work is published in the current issue of the journal of climate of ams (american meteorological society). texas a&m's bowen pan, tim logan, and renyi zhang in the department of atmospheric sciences analyzed recent nasa satellite images and computer models and said the saharan dust is composed of sand and other mineral particles that are swept up in air currents and pushed over the atlantic ocean to the gulf of mexico and other nearby regions. as the dust-laden air moves, it creates a temperature inversion which in turn tends to prevent cloud - and eventually - storm formation. it means fewer storms and even hurricanes are less likely to strike when the dust is present. `the saharan dust will reflect and absorb sunlight, therefore reduce the sunlight at the earth's surface,` said pan. `if we have more frequent and severe dust storms, it's likely that we have a cooler sea surface temperature and land surface temperature. the storms have less energy supply from the colder surface therefore will be less severe.` the study goes on to show that dust and storm formation don't mix. `...
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sf state study compares athlete and truck driver, identical twins
when it comes to being fit, are genes or lifestyle -- nature or nurture -- more important? researchers at san francisco state university, csu fullerton and cal poly, pomona removed the nature part of the equation by studying a pair of identical 52-year-old twins who had taken radically different fitness paths over three decades. `one of the twins became a truck driver and one started running,` said assistant professor of kinesiology jimmy bagley. the runner became an ironman triathlete and track coach while the other remained relatively sedentary over the last 30 years. the study results, just published in the european journal of applied physiology, demonstrate the impact exercise can have on health over time.bagley explains that because identical twins share over 99 percent of the same genes, studying them offers a perfect opportunity to gauge the importance of external influences on a person's health. to look at the effects of exercise on these two brothers, bagley and his colleagues analyzed their physiques, blood profiles, cardiovascular and pulmonary health, skeletal muscle size, strength and power, and molecular markers of muscle health. not surprisingly, the athletic twin exhibited much better overall health: lower body fat, lower resting heart rate and blood pressure, lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar, and greater aerobic capacity and endurance. there was one surprise, however. the truck driver had larger, stronger leg muscles.`the untrained twin ha...
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world's fastest man-made spinning object could help study quantum mechanics
image: tongcang li and jonghoon ahn have levitated a nanoparticle in vacuum and driven it to rotate at high speed, which they hope will help them study the properties of vacuum... view more credit: purdue university/vincent walterresearchers have created the fastest man-made rotor in the world, which they believe will help them study quantum mechanics. at more than 60 billion revolutions per minute, this machine is more than 100,000 times faster than a high-speed dental drill. `this study has many applications, including material science,` said tongcang li, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, and electrical and computer engineering, at purdue university. `we can study the extreme conditions different materials can survive in.` li's team synthesized a tiny dumbbell from silica and levitated it in high vacuum using a laser. the laser can work in a straight line or in a circle - when it's linear, the dumbbell vibrates, and when it's circular, the dumbbell spins. a spinning dumbbell functions as a rotor, and a vibrating dumbbell functions like an instrument for measuring tiny forces and torques, known as a torsion balance. these devices were used to discover things like the gravitational constant and density of earth, but li hopes that as they become more advanced, they'll be able to study things like quantum mechanics and the properties of vacuum. watch a video to see how it happens here. `people say that there is nothing in vacuum, ...
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scientists reverse aging-associated skin wrinkles and hair loss in a mouse model
image: the mouse in the center photo shows aging-associated skin wrinkles and hair loss after two months of mitochondrial dna depletion. that same mouse, right, shows reversal of wrinkles and hair... view more credit: uabbirmingham, ala. - wrinkled skin and hair loss are hallmarks of aging. what if they could be reversed?keshav singh, ph.d., and colleagues have done just that, in a mouse model developed at the university of alabama at birmingham. when a mutation leading to mitochondrial dysfunction is induced, the mouse develops wrinkled skin and extensive, visible hair loss in a matter of weeks. when the mitochondrial function is restored by turning off the gene responsible for mitochondrial dysfunction, the mouse returns to smooth skin and thick fur, indistinguishable from a healthy mouse of the same age.`to our knowledge, this observation is unprecedented,` said singh, a professor of genetics in the uab school of medicine.importantly, the mutation that does this is in a nuclear gene affecting mitochondrial function, the tiny organelles known as the powerhouses of the cells. numerous mitochondria in cells produce 90 percent of the chemical energy cells need to survive.in humans, a decline in mitochondrial function is seen during aging, and mitochondrial dysfunction can drive age-related diseases. a depletion of the dna in mitochondria is also implicated in human mitochondrial diseases, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, age-associated neurological disorders and cance...
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the need for speed: why malaria parasites are faster than human immune cells
image: mosquitoes (left) inject malaria parasites (top middle) into skin. the parasites move very rapidly (bottom middle left) using a protein that is very similar to the one our cells (lower... view more credit: heidelberg university hospital/ hits/ zmbhmalaria parasites of the genus plasmodium move ten times faster through the skin than immune cells, whose job it is to capture such pathogens. heidelberg scientists have now found a reason why the parasite is faster than its counterpart. they did this by studying actin, a protein that is important to the structure and movement of cells and that is built differently in parasites and mammals. the findings of ross douglas and his colleagues at the centre for infectious diseases (department of parasitology) at heidelberg university hospital, the centre for molecular biology at the university of heidelberg (zmbh), and the heidelberg institute for theoretical studies (hits) are not only changing our understanding of a key component of all living cells, but they also provide information that could help in the discovery of new drugs.how does the malaria parasite move so fast?like lego blocks, which can be put together into long chains, actin is assembled into long rope-like structures called filaments. these filaments are important for the proper functioning of cells - such as muscle cells - and enable each of our movements. however, they also serve to enable immune system cells to move and capture invading pathogens. likewise,...
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two nasa satellites confirm tropical cyclone ampil's heaviest rainfall shift
two nasa satellites observed tropical storm ampil in six and a half hours and found the storm's heaviest rainfall occurring in a band of thunderstorms shifted from north to south of the center. nasa's gpm satellite passed over the storm first and nasa's aqua satellite made the second pass.tropical storm ampil was moving toward the northwest with winds of about 50 knots (57.5 mph) when the global precipitation measurement mission or gpm core observatory satellite flew above on july 20, 2018 at 2:56 a.m. edt (0656 utc).data received by the gpm core satellite's microwave imager (gmi) and dual-frequency precipitation radar (dpr) instruments were used in an analysis of ampil's precipitation. gmi and dpr showed that the northern side of the tropical storm was nearly dry and that rain bands in that area were producing only light to moderate rainfall. however, the most intense downpour was occurring in a band of thunderstorms well to the northeast of ampil's center. precipitation in that area was measured by gpm's radar (dpr ku band) falling at a rate of over 139 mm (5.5 inches) per hour.gpm found moderate to heavy precipitation in a rain band wrapping around the southern side of the tropical cyclone's center of circulation. gpm is a joint mission between nasa and the japan aerospace exploration agency, jaxa.at nasa's goddard space flight center in greenbelt, maryland, a 3-d image of ampil's precipitation was made possible by using data collected by gpm's radar (dpr ku and...
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eagle-eyed machine learning algorithm outdoes human experts
image: radiation-damaged materials resemble a cratered lunar surface, and machine learning can now help with nuclear reactor design by finding a specific variety of defect faster and more accurately than expert... view more credit: kevin fieldsmadison, wis. -- artificial intelligence is now so smart that silicon brains frequently outthink people.computers operate self-driving cars, pick friends' faces out of photos on facebook, and are learning to take on jobs typically entrusted only to human experts.researchers from the university of wisconsin-madison and oak ridge national laboratory have trained computers to quickly and consistently detect and analyze microscopic radiation damage to materials under consideration for nuclear reactors. and the computers bested humans in this arduous task.`machine learning has great potential to transform the current, human-involved approach of image analysis in microscopy,` says wei li, who earned his master's degree in materials science and engineering this year from uw-madison.many problems in materials science are image-based, yet few researchers have expertise in machine vision -- making image recognition and analysis a major research bottleneck. as a student, li realized that he could leverage training in the latest computational techniques to help bridge the gap between artificial intelligence and materials science research.li, with oak ridge staff scientist kevin field and uw-madison materials science and engineering profes...
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spie journal announces public access to largest multi-lesion medical imaging dataset
image: the ground-truth and two enlarged lymph nodes are correctly detected, even though the lymph nodes are not annotated in the dataset. view more credit: @spiebellingham, washington, usa and cardiff, uk - a paper published today in the journal of medical imaging - `deeplesion: automated mining of large-scale lesion annotations and universal lesion detection with deep learning,` - announced the open availability of the largest ct lesion-image database accessible to the public. such data are the foundations for the training sets of machine-learning algorithms; until now, large-scale annotated radiological image datasets, essential for the development of deep learning approaches, have not been publicly available.deeplesion, developed by a team from the national institutes of health clinical center, was developed by mining historical medical data from their own picture archiving and communication system. this new dataset has tremendous potential to jump-start the field of computer-aided detection (cade) and diagnosis (cadx).the database includes multiple lesion types, including kidney lesions, bone lesions, lung nodules, and enlarged lymph nodes. the lack of a multi-category lesion dataset to date has been a major roadblock to development of more universal cade frameworks capable of detecting multiple lesion types. a multi-category lesion dataset could even enable development of cadx systems that automate radiological diagnosis.the database is built using the annotatio...
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a peek into the interplay between sleep and wakefulness
image: wakefullness state and sleep state. view more credit: university of tsukubasleep is an autonomic process and is not always under our direct, voluntary control. awake or asleep, we are basically under the regulation of two biological processes: sleep homeostasis, commonly known as 'sleep pressure', and the circadian rhythm, otherwise known as the 'body clock'. these two processes work in harmony to promote good consolidated sleep at night.the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (vlpo) in the brain plays a critical role in falling--and staying--asleep, while the lateral posterior part of the hypothalamus contains neurons (brain cells) that play a role in the maintenance of staying awake, including orexin neurons in the lateral hypothalamic area (lha) and histaminergic neurons in the tuberomammillary nucleus (tmn). to date, however, the precise connectivities among these cell populations remain unclear. `in our study, we aimed to identify the important players implicated in arousal regulation,` explains yuki saito, who co-led a university of tsukuba-centered study recently reported in the journal of neuroscience. `to achieve the study objective, we focused on populations of hypothalamic neurons, histidine decarboxylase-positive (hdc+) histaminergic neurons (hdc neurons) in the tmn and orexin neurons in the lha,` adds co-lead author takashi maejima. the team used recombinant rabies-virus-mediated trans-synaptic retrograde tracing in the mouse brain to analyze the ...
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speed up solving complex problems: be lazy and only work crucial tasks
a new approach to 'lazy grounding' is set to make a viable and attractive solution for many fields of industry and large multi-nationals dealing with complex systems. antonius weinzierl of aalto university and bart bogaerts from ku leuven have just presented their paper at one of the most renowned scientific conferences on artificial intelligence, jcai-ecai-18 in stockholm.for tasks with hundreds of parameters and thousands of possible combinations, solutions have long required time and effort. for example, when a freight train engine breaks down, the train operator is left with the challenge of finding a replacement engine that can pull the train's weight and is compatible with all kinds of requirements, like the track's signaling system, power grid, and track gauge. maybe the operator has a suitable engine available, but the solution may only become clear after shuffling around several engines. in human hands, this process can take hours.'quickly finding a replacement saves resources across the board, because larger delays incur penalties and may even bring business to a halt,' says postdoctoral researcher weinzierl.yet even state-of-the-art computational methods for solving these kinds of problems have met their limits in industry. current methods of searching for solutions that are both absolutely correct and viable require more memory than is available in today's computers. a recent method to 'ground' the computation in a way that only the most urgent and releva...
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wave energy converters are not geared towards the increase in energy over the last century
image: this is an oyster wave energy converter, used for the study. view more credit: alain ulazia. upv/ehuwave energy converters are specifically designed to produce the maximum output at the location where they are going to be placed, in other words, to ensure that they generate as much electricity as possible from the movement of the waves around them. the design and adaptation is made on the basis of historical data, past wave height and period. `however, the timescale taken into consideration tends to be quite short and, what is more, the year is regarded as typical in this period. so the converters are adjusted on the basis of how they are expected to behave during that typical year,` explained alain ulazia, lecturer at the upv/ehu's faculty of engineering - gipuzkoa in eibar. bearing in mind the changes taking place as a result of climate change with respect to temperature and other metrological parameters, ulazia and another two upv/ehu researchers in the departments of ne and fluid mechanics and applied physics ii, and from the plentzia marine station, in collaboration with the irish centre for ocean energy research tackled a longer-term study. `in ireland we conducted a study that we had previously done in the bay of biscay, given that ireland is particularly active in terms of wave energy and we wanted to explore that energy as a resource. using a simulation we calculated what response or behaviour a converter would have displayed when faced with the leve...
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secondhand smoke causing thousands of still births in developing countries
the study reveals that more than 40% of all pregnant women in pakistan are exposed to secondhand smoke - causing approximately 17,000 still births in a year. exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth, congenital malformations, low birth-weight and respiratory illnesses. however, little is known about the extent of secondhand smoke exposure during pregnancy.the team from york looked at the number of pregnancies alongside smoking exposure data in 30 developing countries from 2008 to 2013.the analysis revealed that in armenia, indonesia, jordan, bangladesh and nepal more than 50% of pregnant women reported exposure to household secondhand smoke. the authors believe this led to over 10,000 still births in indonesia alone.in pakistan only 1% of still births are attributed to women actively smoking during pregnancy, but for secondhand smoke the figure is 7%, largely due to the high numbers of pregnant women exposed to tobacco smoke in the home.in five of the 30 countries, household secondhand smoke exposure was twice as common as active smoking.lead author, professor kamran siddiqi, from the university of york's department of health sciences, said it was predominately male smokers exposing women to secondhand smoke.he said: `this is the first study which provides national estimates for 30 developing countries on secondhand smoke exposure in pregnancy and it reveals a huge problem, a problem which is not being addressed. `we have shown for the...
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urgent change needed to regulate the environmental impacts of chemicals
international study has identified the most important questions that researchers must address in order to help protect our planet over the next decade chemicals released by human activity; such as driving cars, using toiletries and using pesticides, are resulting in a loss of biodiversity, increased natural hazards and presenting threats to food, water and energy security research aims to serve as a road map for policy makers, regulators, industry and fundersurgent change is needed to regulate the harmful impact chemicals have on the environment, a new study has revealed.the international study involving scientists from the university of sheffield, has identified the most important questions that researchers must address in order to help protect our planet from chemicals over the next decade.the research aims to serve as a road map for policy makers, regulators, industry and funders - setting the research agenda and pioneering a more coordinated approach to the regulation of chemicals.chemicals released by human activity - such as driving cars, using toiletries, taking medicines and using pesticides - are resulting in a loss of biodiversity, increased natural hazards and presenting threats to food, water and energy security.professor lorraine maltby, one of the lead authors of the international study from the university of sheffield's department of animal and plant sciences, said: `until now the regulation of chemicals has been very simplistic. scientists tend to look at th...
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houseplants could one day monitor home health
image: these are perspective images of a conceptual phytosensor (plant) wall. shown left is the lighted room, and shown right is the darkened room under sense-and-report photonic conditions. the glass partition... view more credit: photo (inset, right) by francisco palacios. design renderings by susan g. stewart and rana abudayyeh.knoxville, tenn. - in a perspective published in the july 20 issue of science, neal stewart and his university of tennessee coauthors explore the future of houseplants as aesthetically pleasing and functional sirens of home health.the idea is to genetically engineer house plants to serve as subtle alarms that something is amiss in our home and office environments. stewart, a professor of plant sciences in the ut herbert college of agriculture - who also holds the endowed racheff chair of excellence in plant molecular genetics - came up with the idea during conversations with his wife, susan, and rana abudayyeh, an assistant professor in the ut college of architecture and design's school of interior architecture. both susan stewart and abudayyeh are coauthors of the article. susan stewart recently graduated from the school as a non-traditional, re-entry student, and abudayyeh was among her professors.this is not the first time that plants have been proposed as biosensors. the authors point out that to date several environmentally relevant phytosensors have been designed by using biotechnology. in fact, what was once known as genetic engineerin...
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doctors rely on more than just data for medical decision making
cambridge, ma -- many technology companies are working on artificial intelligence systems that can analyze medical data to help diagnose or treat health problems. such systems raise the question of whether this kind of technology can perform as well as a human doctor.a new study from mit computer scientists suggests that human doctors provide a dimension that, as yet, artificial intelligence does not. by analyzing doctors' written notes on intensive-care-unit patients, the researchers found that the doctors' `gut feelings` about a particular patient's condition played a significant role in determining how many tests they ordered for the patient.`there's something about a doctor's experience, and their years of training and practice, that allows them to know in a more comprehensive sense, beyond just the list of symptoms, whether you're doing well or you're not,` says mohammad ghassemi, a research affiliate at mit's institute for medical engineering and science (imes). `they're tapping into something that the machine may not be seeing.`this intuition plays an even stronger role during the first day or two of a patient's hospital stay, when the amount of data doctors have on patients is less than on subsequent days.ghassemi and computer science graduate student tuka alhanai are the lead authors of the paper, which will be presented at the ieee engineering in medicine and biology society conference on july 20. other mit authors of the paper are jesse raffa, an im...
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from pollutants to human health: key questions for a better environmental future in europe
image: this initiative wants to shape a new guideline --with a more global and coordinated perspective-- for several social and economic sectors in the field of chemical products and management of... view more credit: university of barcelonawhat are the most aggressive chemical products for the environment? what areas of the planet have more pollutants? can we detect toxic products which are hard to identify? how can we protect biodiversity and natural ecosystems better? degradation of the environment and natural resources, the loss of biodiversity, impacts on health and the crises on food safety are some of the effects of chemical products being thrown into the environment due human activity. now, an international study with the participation of the expert miguel cañedo-argüelles, member of the faculty of biology and the catalan water research institute of the university of barcelona (idra), and the university of vic - universitat central de catalunya (uvic-ucc) as well, determines the twenty-two main questions to consider in order to manage sustainably the environmental risks that are related to the chemical products in europe.the study, published in the journal environmental toxicology and chemistry, wants to shape a new guideline -with a more global and coordinated perspective- for several social and economic sectors in the field of chemical products and management of environmental risks in europe.the new study is part of the initiatives by global horizon scanning...
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people love to hate on do-gooders, especially at work
image: this is prof. pat barclay. view more credit: (university of guelph)sometimes, it doesn't pay to be a do-gooder, according to a new university of guelph study.highly cooperative and generous people can attract hatred and social punishment, especially in competitive circumstances, the research found.`most of the time we like the cooperators, the good guys. we like it when the bad guys get their comeuppance, and when non-cooperators are punished,` said psychology professor pat barclay.`but some of the time, cooperators are the ones that get punished. people will hate on the really good guys. this pattern has been found in every culture in which it has been looked at.`some people like to bring cooperators down a peg, especially if they think the good guys make them look bad in the workplace, boardroom or other organization, barclay said.the study, conducted by barclay and undergraduate student aleta pleasant, was published recently in psychological science.it found that cooperative behaviour attracted punishment most often in groups whose members compete with each other. this was even the case when punishing or derogating the do-gooder lessened benefits for the entire group, including the punisher.however, without competition, cooperation increased, the study said.being suspicious, jealous or hostile toward those who seem better or nicer or holier than us appears to run deep in the psychological makeup of humans, barclay said.`what we are looking for in this re...
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a molecular key for delaying the progression of multiple sclerosis is found
multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys a structure known as the `myelin sheath`, whose integrity is indispensable for the brain and spinal cord to function properly. current treatment of multiple sclerosis is based on modulating the activity of the immune system or preventing its cells from accessing the central nervous system and damaging it. these therapies are effective in the early phases of the disease, but they do not prevent its advance and the progressive functional deterioration.during the progressive phase of the disease it is the microglial cells in the brain that are the main cause of the chronic inflammation responsible for the neurological deterioration. these microglial cells are the brain's sentries and react when faced with any damage or infection in it. this reaction, which is in principle beneficial, becomes harmful when it is prolonged over time, leading to chronic inflammation, and aggravates the disease and encourages its progression. in the work just published it was possible to identify a receptor known as p2x4 present in the microglial cells that increases their anti-inflammatory potential in order to reduce the damage in multiple sclerosis and, above all, encourage the body's own repair responses. this experimental development was conducted using animal models of this disease, thanks to which it was possible to discover that the drugs that activate this receptor improve the symptoms during the chronic phase of the d...
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how to weigh stars with gravitational lensing
every star in the milky way is in motion. but because of the distances their changes in position, the so-called proper motions, are very small and can only be measured using large telescopes over long time periods. in very rare cases, a foreground star passes a star in the background, at close proximity as seen from earth. light from this background star must cross the gravitational field of the foreground star where, instead of following straight paths, the light rays are bent. this is like a lens, except here the deviation is caused by the space and time distortion around any massive body. this effect was one of the cornerstone predictions of einstein's general theory of relativity and has been verified in solar system tests for decades. this distortion of the light by the foreground star is called gravitational lensing: the light of the background star is deviated or focused into a smaller angle, and the star appears brighter. the main effect is the change in the star's apparent position on the sky because the deviation shifts the centre of light relative to other more distant stars. both of these effects depend on only one thing, the mass of the lensing body, in this case that of the foreground star. thus, gravitational lensing is a method for weighing stars. actually, measuring the mass of stars that are not part of a binary star is otherwise extremely difficult to do.previously, the difficulty in this method was being able to predict the motions of the stars with high...
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mother-child communication in plants | eurekalert! science news
image: the hormone auxin accumulates in the area of the seed where the embryo is connected to the maternal tissue. view more credit: source: thomas lauxan international team led by the freiburg plant biologist prof. dr. thomas laux has shown that mother plants guide the development of their embryos using the hormone auxin. in the future, this result might help breeders grow plants that are more resilient in the face of environmental challenges. the researchers published their study in the journal nature plants.when embryos develop inside their mother, their well-being depends on the nurture provided by the maternal tissue. mutations in the maternal tissue may result in defective embryo development. in seed-bearing plants such as grains, the embryos develop in unison with the surrounding tissue of the mother plant. laux and colleagues therefore posited that there must be a form of communication between the mother plant and the embryo that guides the early stages of development after fertilization.chulmin park, doctoral researcher in the group of laux, observed in pollinated flowers of the model organism arabidopsis that the hormone auxin accumulates in the area of the seed in which the embryo is connected to the maternal tissue. auxin is used by plants to control a variety processes ranging from organ development to defence against pathogenic microbes. the freiburg biologists have shown that embryo development is disturbed when the production of auxin by the maternal cel...
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frailty may be more deadly in younger heart patients, study finds
image: dr. louise sun, the study's principal investigator, is a staff anesthesiologist at the university of ottawa heart institute and an assistant professor at the department of anesthesiology and school of... view more credit: university of ottawa heart institutetraditionally, frailty is thought to be a syndrome of the elderly - one which comes as a natural and inevitable side-effect of aging, gradually transforming strong, healthy bodies into weaker, more delicate frames over time. for clinicians, frailty is a concept which has long posed formidable challenges in perioperative medicine. for patients, frailty turns even the most routine operative procedures into complicated life or death undertakings.it is well known to science that chronological frailty, that is the degradation of the human body associated with a person's actual age, is commonly linked to increased mortality, surgical site infections, length of hospital stay, increased healthcare expenditure and readmission rates in patients presenting for a variety of major non-cardiac surgeries. however, similar literature with regard to frailty in patients undergoing heart surgery remains scarce despite its rise in prevalence.a new study conducted by researchers at the university of ottawa heart institute and published in the journal of the american heart association examines the prevalence of frailty and its association with long-term mortality in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. more specifically, the stud...
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drug now in clinical trials for parkinson's strengthens heart contractions in animals
a drug currently in clinical trials for treating symptoms of parkinson's disease may someday have value for treating heart failure, according to results of early animal studies by johns hopkins medicine researchers.the drug, a member of a class of compounds known as phosphodiesterase (pde) type i inhibitors, shows promising effects on dog and rabbit hearts, as well as on isolated rabbit heart cells, most notably an increase in the strength of the heart muscle's contractions, the researchers say.human heart failure is a chronic condition often marked by weakening of the heart muscle and its subsequent failure to pump enough blood. currently, dozens of drugs are available to treat or manage heart failure symptoms, but drugs that improve the strength of the heart muscle's contractions, such as dobutamine, carry the risk of dangerous complications such as developing an irregular heartbeat.however, in their study, described in a report published in the journal circulation on july 20, the johns hopkins researchers demonstrate that the new compound works differently than current drugs, suggesting its use may be a safer way to increase heart contraction strength.heart failure affects about 5.7 million u.s. adults, according to the centers for disease control and prevention, and contributes to an estimated one in nine deaths. standard treatment includes diuretics that increase urine production to keep the heart from becoming enlarged; angiotensin-converting enzyme (ace) inhibitors ...
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supplemental oxygen eliminates morning blood pressure rise in sleep apnea patients
image: supplemental oxygen eliminates blood pressure rise after cpap withdrawal. view more credit: atsjuly 20, 2018--supplemental oxygen eliminates the rise in morning blood pressure experienced by obstructive sleep apnea (osa) patients who stop using continuous positive airway pressure (cpap), the standard treatment for osa, according to new research published online in the american thoracic society's american journal of respiratory and critical care medicine.in `effect of supplemental oxygen on blood pressure in osa: a randomized, cpap withdrawal trial,` chris d. turnbull, bmbch, a physician at the oxford centre for respiratory medicine at churchill hospital oxford in the u.k., and co-authors report that in patients with moderate to severe osa, supplemental oxygen prevented the rise in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and the increase in oxygen desaturations that were seen in the control arm of the study after cpap was withdrawn.twenty-five adults living in the united kingdom participated in the study. all had been using cpap successfully for over a year. cpap was withdrawn for 14 nights, during which time participants first received supplemental oxygen or regular air overnight through a face mask or nasal cannula, and then crossed over to a second cpap withdrawal period with the opposite treatment. neither the researchers nor the participants knew when the participant was receiving the intervention (oxygen) or control (air) therapy.many studies have demonstr...
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scientists identify most pressing issues posed by chemicals in the environment
scientists have identified 22 key research questions surrounding the risks associated with chemicals in the environment in europe.chemicals released into the environment by human activity are resulting in biodiversity loss; increased natural hazards; threats to food, water and energy security; negative impacts on human health and degradation of environmental quality.now, an international study published in environmental toxicology and chemistry involving scientists from the university of york has identified the 22 most important research questions that need to be answered to fill the most pressing knowledge gaps over the next decade.the list includes questions about which chemicals pose the greatest threat to european populations and ecosystems, where the hotspots of key contaminants are around the globe, and how we can develop methods to protect the environment. the research, which resulted from a recent 'big questions' exercise involving researchers from across europe, aims to serve as a roadmap for policy makers, regulators, industry and funders and result in a more coordinated approach to studying and regulating chemicals in the environment.one of the lead authors of the study, dr alistair boxall from the university of york's environment department, said: `our research has highlighted international scientists' research priorities and our key knowledge gaps when it comes to the risks and impacts of chemicals. the study aims to help focus scientific effort on the quest...
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relax, just break it | eurekalert! science news
the properties of a solid depend on the arrangement of its atoms, which form a periodic crystal structure. at the nanoscale, arrangements that break this periodic structure can drastically alter the behavior of the material, but this is difficult to measure. recent advances by scientists at the u.s. department of energy's (doe) argonne national laboratory are starting to unravel this mystery.using state-of-the art neutron and synchrotron x-ray scattering, argonne scientists and their collaborators are helping to answer long-held questions about a technologically important class of materials called relaxor ferroelectrics, which are often lead-based. these materials have mechanical and electrical properties that are useful in applications such as sonar and ultrasound. the more scientists understand about the internal structure of relaxor ferroelectrics, the better materials we can develop for these and other applications.`we understand the long-range order very well, but for this experiment we developed novel tools and methods to study the local order.`-- stephan rosenkranz, argonne senior physicistthe dielectric constants of relaxor ferroelectrics, which express their ability to store energy when in an electric field, have an unusual dependence on the frequency of the field. its origin has long been a mystery to scientists. relaxor ferroelectrics can also have exceedingly high piezoelectric properties, which means that when mechanically strained they develop an internal ele...
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new battery could store wind and solar electricity affordably and at room temperature
a new combination of materials developed by stanford researchers may aid in developing a rechargeable battery able to store the large amounts of renewable power created through wind or solar sources. with further development, the new technology could deliver energy to the electric grid quickly, cost effectively and at normal ambient temperatures.the technology - a type of battery known as a flow battery - has long been considered as a likely candidate for storing intermittent renewable energy. however, until now the kinds of liquids that could produce the electrical current have either been limited by the amount of energy they could deliver or have required extremely high temperatures or used very toxic or expensive chemicals.stanford assistant professor of materials science and engineering william chueh, along with his phd student antonio baclig and jason rugolo, now a technology prospector at alphabet's research subsidiary x development, decided to try sodium and potassium, which when mixed form a liquid metal at room temperature, as the fluid for the electron donor - or negative - side of the battery. theoretically, this liquid metal has at least 10 times the available energy per gram as other candidates for the negative-side fluid of a flow battery.`we still have a lot of work to do,` said baclig, `but this is a new type of flow battery that could affordably enable much higher use of solar and wind power using earth-abundant materials.`the group published their work ...
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fewer injuries in girls' sports when high schools have athletic trainers
study: fewer injuries in girls' soccer and basketball when high schools have athletic trainers recurrent injury rates were six times higher in girls' soccer and nearly three times higher in girls' basketball in schools without athletic trainersavailability of a full-time certified athletic trainer in high school reduces overall and recurrent injury rates in girls who play on the soccer or basketball team, according to a study published in injury epidemiology. schools with athletic trainers were also better at identifying athletes with concussion. this is the first study to compare injury rates in schools that have an athletic trainer with those that do not.`our results are significant because currently only about a third of high schools have access to a full-time athletic trainer,` says study co-author cynthia labella, md, medical director of the institute for sports medicine at ann & robert h. lurie children's hospital of chicago, and professor of pediatrics at northwestern university feinberg school of medicine. `the positive impact we observed is likely because athletic trainers are licensed healthcare professionals who work with coaches and athletes to apply evidence-based injury prevention strategies, and they are able to recognize and manage injuries when they happen, which may reduce severity or complications.`labella and colleagues analyzed data from two injury reporting systems, for high schools with athletic trainers and for those without, over a two-year pe...
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toward a secure electrical grid
not long ago, getting a virus was about the worst thing computer users could expect in terms of system vulnerability. but in our current age of hyper-connectedness and the emerging internet of things, that's no longer the case. with connectivity, a new principle has emerged, one of universal concern to those who work in the area of systems control, like joão hespanha, a professor in the departments of electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical engineering at uc santa barbara. that law says, essentially, that the more complex and connected a system is, the more susceptible it is to disruptive cyber-attacks.`it is about something much different than your regular computer virus,` hespanha said. `it is more about cyber physical systems -- systems in which computers are connected to physical elements. that could be robots, drones, smart appliances, or infrastructure systems such as those used to distribute energy and water.` in a paper titled `distributed estimation of power system oscillation modes under attacks on gps clocks,` published this month in the journal ieee transactions on instrumentation and measurement, hespanha and co-author yongqiang wang (a former ucsb postdoctoral research and now a faculty member at clemson university) suggest a new method for protecting the increasingly complex and connected power grid from attack.the question that arises in any system that incorporates many sensors for monitoring is, what if someone intercepts the communicatio...
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chemists characterize the fatal fungus among us
image: lsu department of chemistry assistant professor tuo wang conducts research on complex carbohydrates including fungi, in their native states. view more credit: lsulife-threatening fungal infections affect more than two million people worldwide. effective antifungal medications are very limited. until now, one of the major challenges is that the fungal cell wall is poorly understood, which has impeded the development of effective antifungal medications that target the cell wall. however, an lsu chemist has identified for the first time the cell wall structure of one of the most prevalent and deadly fungi, which could usher in a new era of antifungal drug development to help save millions of lives.lsu department of chemistry assistant professor tuo wang and colleagues have identified the high-resolution architecture of the cell wall of one of the most common fungi, aspergillus fumigatus. aspergillus fumigatus is airborne and can be found indoors and outdoors. in people with compromised immune systems, the fungi multiplies at an extraordinary rate. it affects more than 200,000 people annually including a quarter of all leukemia patients, and kills more than half of these patients. `this is the first time anyone has looked at the whole cell of this fungi in its native state at such high resolution. our work provides the molecular basis to engineer more effective antifungal drugs,` wang said. his research was published this week in the journal nature communications. ...
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