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Australia can no longer lay claim to the origins of the iconic New Zealand kiwi following new research showing the kiwi’s closest relative is not the emu as was previously thought. Instead, the diminutive kiwi is most closely related to the extinct Madagascan elephant bird -- a 2-3 meter tall, 275 kg giant. And surprisingly, the study concluded, both of these flightless birds once flew.
Collecting plant and animal specimens is essential for scientific studies and conservation and does not, as some critics of the practice have suggested, play a significant role in species extinctions. Those are the conclusions of more than 100 biologists and biodiversity researchers.
As new research documents growing inequalities in health and wealth, the gap between "haves" and "have-nots" is growing in the field of scientific research itself, says a sociologist.
Fruit-fly ovaries were used in a new study to uncover how E-cadherin guides collective cell migration. According to traditional scientific dogma, E-cadherin acts like the mortar between bricks, holding cells together and preventing motility. This research team found the opposite: Cadherin is actually promoting the ability of cells to move and migrate. "It's doing it in three different ways in three different parts of the cell," the lead investigator said. "In each spot in the cell, cadherin is doing something different and all of those function together to orchestrate the movement of cells."
Images of microtubule assembly and disassembly have been produced by researchers at the unprecedented resolution of 5 angstroms, providing new insight into the success of the anti-cancer drug Taxol and pointing the way to possible improvements. "This is the first experimental demonstration of the link between nucleotide state and tubulin conformation within the microtubules and, by extension, the relationship between tubulin conformation and the transition from assembled to disassembled microtubule structure," says a biophysicist on the study.
Neurostimulation techniques such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) have gradually gained favor in the public eye over the past decade. In a new report, ethics experts raise important questions about the rising tide of tDCS coverage in the media, while regulatory action is lacking and ethical issues need to be addressed.
Growing resistance to antibiotics and other drugs demands a coordinated global response on the same scale as efforts to address climate change, say experts. Without an international commitment to tackle the issue, the world faces a future in which simple infections that have been treatable for decades become deadly diseases, they warn.
In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season. The main driver of this year's outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has announced that a near-normal or above-normal hurricane season is likely for the Eastern Pacific this year. The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of a below normal season.
NOAA's Central Pacific Hurricane Center announced that climate conditions point to a near-normal or above-normal season in the Central Pacific Basin this year. For 2014, the outlook calls for a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, a 40 percent chance of an above-normal season, and a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.
The way a woman feels about tackling everyday physical activities, including exercise, may be a predictor of how much weight she'll retain years after childbirth says a professor. A study followed 56 women during pregnancy and measured their physical activity levels, along with barriers to exercise and the ability to overcome them. Six years later, the research team followed up with more than half of the participants and found that the women who considered themselves less able to take on these barriers had retained more of their pregnancy weight. Top barriers identified in the study included time, motivation and childcare issues.
The world has great expectations that stem cell research one day will revolutionize medicine. But in order to exploit the potential of stem cells, we need to understand how their development is regulated. Now researchers report a new discovery that provides valuable insight into basic mechanisms of stem cell differentiation. The discovery could lead to new ways of making stem cells develop into exactly the type of cells that a physician may need for treating a disease.
An antibody that simultaneously blocks the sensations of pain and itching has been found in studies with mice. The new antibody works by targeting the voltage-sensitive sodium channels in the cell membrane of neurons. "We hope our discovery will garner interest from pharmaceutical companies that can help us expand our studies into clinical trials," said one researcher.
Chronic pain is known to shorten lifespan, and pain tends to increase with age. But is there a relationship between pain and longevity? Researchers have found that mice lacking the capsaicin pain receptor live around 14 percent longer than other mice, and they retain a more youthful metabolism as well. Receptor blockers could not only relieve pain, but increase lifespan, improve metabolic health and help diabetics and the obese.
Computer models helping unravel the science of life? How cells of the fruit fly react to changes in the environment
Scientists have developed a sophisticated computer modelling simulation to explore how cells of the fruit fly react to changes in the environment. The model shows how cells of the fruit fly communicate with each other during its development.
A gene driving the development of pernicious adipose tissue in humans has been identified by researchers for the first time. The findings imply that the gene may constitute a risk factor promoting the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. "Our findings represent an important step forward in the understanding of how adipose tissue links to the development of metabolic disease," comments one of the principal investigators.
Numerous studies have linked exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic, receipt paper, toys, and other products with various health problems from poor growth to cancer, and the FDA has been supporting efforts to find and use alternatives. But are these alternatives safer? Researchers have developed new tests that can classify such compounds' activity with great detail and speed. The advance could offer a fast and cost-effective way to identify safe replacements for BPA.
Want a simple way to monitor wide swaths of the landscape without breaking a sweat? Listen in on the 'conversations' honeybees have with each other, researchers suggest. The scientists' analyses of honeybee waggle dances suggest that costly measures to set aside agricultural lands and let the wildflowers grow can be very beneficial to bees.
A novel pathway by which proteins are actively and specifically shuttled into the nucleus of a cell has been discovered by scientists. The finding captures a precise molecular barcode that flags proteins for such import and describes the biochemical interaction that drives this critically important process. The discovery could help illuminate the molecular dysfunction that underpins a broad array of ailments, ranging from autoimmune diseases to cancers.
74 percent of HIV-positive children in a study developed resistance to at least one form of drug treatment. The researchers followed almost 450 children enrolled in the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study, one of the largest studies of HIV-positive children in the United States. "The problem with drug resistance is that once you develop it, it never goes away," said the principal investigator. "Some patients with very resistant virus have no effective treatment options. Resistant virus is the major reason for death among youth with perinatal HIV."