>ScienceDaily Top Science Headlines — for Monday, March 14, 2011

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ScienceDaily Top Science Headlines

for Monday, March 14, 2011

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Non-native snakes are taking a toll on native birds in Florida, scientists find (March 13, 2011) — The Everglades National Park in Florida is home to hundreds of species of native wildlife. It has also become the well-established home of the non-native Burmese python — known to be a predator of native species. Now scientists, for the first time, have conducted a detailed analysis of the avian component of the python’s diet and the negative impact the snakes may have on Florida’s native birds, including some endangered species. … > full story

Extra iron doesn’t help many pregnant women, study suggests (March 13, 2011) — Although universal prenatal supplementation with iron is recommended, an extra intake of iron does not noticeably benefit pregnant women, except when they are anemic, new research suggests. … > full story

NASA images tsunami’s effects on northeastern Japan (March 13, 2011) — The extent of inundation from the destructive and deadly tsunami triggered by the March 11, 2011, magnitude 8.9 earthquake centered off Japan’s northeastern coast about 130 kilometers (82 miles) east of the city of Sendai is revealed in this before-and-after image pair from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft. … > full story

HIV-infected patients at higher risk for bone fractures (March 13, 2011) — Low bone mineral density in HIV-infected patients is common and raises concerns about increased risks of fracture. Although there have been several studies regarding bone mineral density, there have been few data on rates of fracture in this population. A new study examined differences in the rates of bone fractures between HIV-infected patients and the general population and found higher rates of fracture among HIV patients. … > full story

Nanotech-enabled consumer products continue to rise (March 13, 2011) — Over 1,300 manufacturer-identified, nanotechnology-enabled products have entered the commercial marketplace around the world. The most recent update to the group’s five-year-old inventory reflects the continuing use of the tiny particles in everything from conventional products like non-stick cookware to more unique items such as self-cleaning window treatments. … > full story

Testosterone linked to men’s ability to ‘woo’ potential mates (March 13, 2011) — Theories have long proposed that testosterone influences competition among males trying to attract females. Findings from a recent study give a clearer understanding of the links between testosterone and human mating behavior, and how testosterone is associated with dominance and competitive success when men battle for the attention of an attractive woman. … > full story

Chilly times for Chinese dinosaurs: Abundance of feathered dinosaurs during temperate climate with harsh winters (March 13, 2011) — Dinosaurs did not always enjoy mild climates. New findings show that during part of the Early Cretaceous, north-east China had a temperate climate with harsh winters. They explain the abundance of feathered dinosaurs in fossil deposits of that period. … > full story

Scientists reveal role of light sensor in temperature sensation (March 13, 2011) — A light-sensing receptor that’s packed inside the eye’s photoreceptor cells has an altogether surprising role in cells elsewhere in the body, scientists have discovered. Using fruit flies, they showed that this protein, called rhodopsin, also is critical for sensing temperature. … > full story

Color view from orbit shows Mars rover beside crater (March 13, 2011) — NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has nearly completed its three-month examination of a crater informally named “Santa Maria,” but before the rover resumes its overland trek, an orbiting camera has provided a color image of Opportunity beside Santa Maria. … > full story

Contrary to popular belief, not all cases of chronic pancreatitis are alcohol-induced (March 13, 2011) — The relative rate of alcohol-related chronic pancreatitis is lower when compared to other causes, according to a new study. Patients with no identifiable cause for their disease as well as those with non-alcohol-related causes represent an unexpectedly large subgroup, particularly among women. … > full story

Dawn mission gets Vesta asteroid target practice (March 13, 2011) — In the lead-up to orbiting the second most massive body in the asteroid belt this coming July, planners of NASA’s Dawn mission to the giant asteroid Vesta and scientists have been practicing mapping Vesta’s surface, producing still images and a rotating animation that includes the scientists’ best guess to date of what the surface might look like. … > full story

Judging couples’ chemistry influenced by serotonin (March 13, 2011) — The judgments we make about the intimacy of other couples’ relationships are influenced by the brain chemical serotonin, a new study has found. … > full story

Mouse nose nerve cells mature after birth, allowing bonding, recognition with mother (March 13, 2011) — For rodent pups, bonding with mom isn’t hard-wired in the womb. It develops over the first few weeks of life, which is achieved by their maturing sense of smell, possibly allowing these mammals a survival advantage by learning to identify mother, siblings, and home. Blending electrophysiological, biochemical and behavioral experiments, researchers demonstrated that neurons in the noses of mice mature after birth. … > full story

Molecules work the day shift to protect the liver from accumulating fat (March 13, 2011) — Scientists have discovered molecules that act as “shift workers” to maintain the daily rhythm of fat metabolism. When those molecules do not do their jobs, the liver dramatically fills with fat. … > full story

Smart materials for high-tech products: Hard, viscous or watery at the touch of a button (March 13, 2011) — Flexible and independently operating “smart materials” can adapt to changing conditions with high speed. … > full story

Pushing HIV out the door: How host factors aid in the release of HIV particles (March 13, 2011) — New research shows how host enzymes contribute to the release of HIV particles from infected cells. With the aid of their new microscopy technique, they now aim to analyze the entire life cycle of the virus in unprecedented detail. … > full story

Atlantis found? Film highlights professor’s efforts to locate fabled lost city (March 13, 2011) — Could the fabled lost city of Atlantis have been located? Using satellite photography, ground-penetrating radar and underwater technology, a team of experts has been surveying marshlands in Spain to look for proof of the ancient city. If the team can match geological formations to Plato’s descriptions and date artifacts back to the time of Atlantis, we may be closer to solving one of the world’s greatest mysteries. … > full story

Fewer than one-third of children ages 5-15 will wake up to home smoke alarms, study suggests (March 13, 2011) — An Australian study to determine the likelihood of school-aged children waking up to their home smoke alarm found that 78 percent of children slept through a smoke alarm sounding for 30 seconds. … > full story

Halibut stock decline forces increased management measures for southeast Alaska charter fleet (March 13, 2011) — NOAA’s Fisheries Service has announced it is implementing the regulatory recommendations of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) due to concerns over declining halibut stocks. These regulations include limiting the maximum size of a halibut caught by charter anglers in southeastern Alaska to 37 inches, and retaining the one-fish-per-person-per-day rule that began in 2009. The halibut stock is declining due to reduced numbers of fish reaching a catchable size range, lower growth rates, and higher than target harvest rates. The stock remains at risk of further declines. Conservation of the halibut resource is the primary concern and management objective of the measures. … > full story

Keys to long life? Not what you might expect (March 12, 2011) — Cheer up. Stop worrying. Don’t work so hard. Good advice for a long life? In a groundbreaking study of personality as a predictor of longevity, researchers found just the opposite. … > full story

A blood test for lung cancer? (March 12, 2011) — Researchers have discovered genes that increase not only one’s risk of lung cancer, but perhaps one’s urge to smoke as well. Now these researchers are working on developing a blood test for lung cancer. … > full story

Low cost solar cells: New European record in efficiency (March 12, 2011) — Scientists have developed an improved preparation process for kesterite solar cells, which resulted in a new European record efficiency of 6.1 percent. … > full story

Pregnancy anemia linked to childhood wheezing and asthma (March 12, 2011) — Need a reason to take your iron supplements? Iron deficiency during pregnancy may directly impact infant and childhood breathing health according to a new study. … > full story

Engineer studies damage caused by New Zealand earthquake (March 12, 2011) — Researchers are just back from studying the damage caused by the Feb. 22 earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand, and killed more than 160 people. In Christchurch, researchers said unreinforced brick masonry buildings built in the 1930s and ’40s suffered significant damage. … > full story

Not actually bad at math or auto repair? Women fear being stereotyped by male service providers (March 12, 2011) — Women prefer female service providers in situations where they might fall prey to stereotypes about their math and science abilities, according to a new study. … > full story

Could giftedness be linked to prenatal exposure of higher levels of hormones? (March 12, 2011) — A longstanding debate as to whether genius is a byproduct of good genes or good environment has an upstart challenger that may take the discussion in an entirely new direction. One researcher says being bright may be due to an excess level of a natural hormone. … > full story

Nanoscale whiskers from sea creatures could grow human muscle tissue (March 12, 2011) — Minute whiskers of nanoscale dimensions taken from sea creatures could hold the key to creating working human muscle tissue, researchers say. … > full story

Why low birth weight is linked to obesity later in life: Study provides explanation (March 12, 2011) — Researchers have found that nutritionally deprived newborns are “programmed” to eat more because they develop less neurons in the region of the brain that controls food intake. … > full story

Surgery without external scars is gaining traction: Organ removal through body’s orifices is minimally invasive approach to surgery (March 12, 2011) — Innovative minimally invasive procedure called Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES) is allowing surgeons to perform organ removal surgery without any visible incisions. Northwestern Medicine physicians were among the first in the US to perform several types of the procedure and are leading the charge in organ removal through the mouth or vagina. … > full story

Perfect buns: Imaging system controls baking process on production line to improve sandwich bun quality (March 12, 2011) — Food companies requiring tight control over baking conditions should benefit from a new imaging system that automatically inspects sandwich buns on the production line and adjusts oven temperatures to provide product of consistent quality. A prototype has been in use in a baking facility for a year. … > full story

Consumer beware: Rejecting an option may make you more likely to choose it later (March 12, 2011) — People make purchasing decisions by choosing between alternatives or by rejecting certain options. But a new study finds that focusing on ruling out an option can lead consumers to reverse their preferences. … > full story

Reading in two colors at the same time: Patterns of synesthesia brain activity revealed (March 11, 2011) — People with synesthesia often report perceiving letters as appearing in different colors. But how do their brains accomplish this feat? What is perhaps most puzzling about this condition is that people actually claim to see two colors simultaneously when reading letters or numbers: the real color of the ink (e.g. black) and an additional — synesthetic — color. Now a new study has revealed the patterns of brain activity that allow some people to experience the sensation of “seeing” two colors at the same time. … > full story

Smoking may increase risk for lung disease (March 11, 2011) — Researchers have found that approximately one out of every 12 adult smokers have abnormal lung densities present on chest computed tomography images suggestive of interstitial lung disease which is associated with substantial reductions in lung volumes. In addition, despite being positively associated with smoking, these lung densities were inversely not associated with emphysema. … > full story

Radiation expert discusses Japan nuclear power plant concerns (March 11, 2011) — Following Friday’s massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake that caused tsunamis and rocked the island nation of Japan, Japanese government officials announced a nuclear emergency after the quake caused a reactor cooling system malfunction at Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. … > full story

Americans have higher rates of most chronic diseases than same-age counterparts in England (March 11, 2011) — Despite the high level of spending on health care in the United States compared to England, Americans experience higher rates of chronic disease and markers of disease than their English counterparts at all ages. Why health status differs so dramatically in these two countries, which share much in terms of history and culture, is a mystery. … > full story

West Coast tsunami warnings shouldn’t lull Oregonians to sleep, expert says (March 11, 2011) — The massive earthquake that rocked Japan on March 11 and generated a tsunami that inundated coastal cities at that island nation triggered alerts around the world. The Oregon coast was no exception. … > full story

Early male friendship as a precursor to substance abuse in girls (March 11, 2011) — A new study shows that girls tend to pursue mixed-gender friendships earlier than boys, and may be more likely to develop substance abuse problems during late adolescence as a result. … > full story

NASA study goes to Earth’s core for climate insights (March 11, 2011) — The latest evidence of the dominant role humans play in changing Earth’s climate comes not from observations of Earth’s ocean, atmosphere or land surface, but from deep within its molten core. … > full story

New view of human nerve cells opens door to potential drug targets (March 11, 2011) — Scientists have found a way to uncover potential drug targets that have so far remained hidden from researchers’ view. By applying the new method to a type of nerve cell critical to regulating body temperature, the authors found more than 400 “receptors” (structures that bind other molecules, triggering some effect on the cell) responding to neurotransmitters, hormones, and other chemical signals. This represents 20 to 30 times more receptors than previous studies had identified. … > full story

Near-real-time map of Japan quake aftershocks (March 11, 2011) — Researchers have created a near-real-time map of the aftershocks occurring globally following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan Friday. … > full story

Trauma patients have higher rate of death for several years following injury (March 11, 2011) — In a study that included more than 120,000 adults who were treated for trauma, 16 percent of these patients died within 3 years of their injury, compared to an expected population mortality rate of about 6 percent, according to a new study. The researchers also found that trauma patients who were discharged to a skilled nursing facility had a significantly increased risk of death compared with patients discharged home without assistance. … > full story

Pacific Northwest faces nearly identical risks to Japanese quake (March 11, 2011) — It’s being called one of the largest recorded earthquakes in world history. Japan today is struggling with the aftermath of a massive 8.9 earthquake on a subduction zone, a short distance offshore, which unleashed a devastating tsunami that killed hundreds and has turned large parts of cities into rubble. The disaster is also a “wake up call” for the Pacific Northwest, a noted geologist says. … > full story

Conflicts-of-interest in drug studies sneaking back into medical journals, say investigators (March 11, 2011) — Hidden financial conflicts-of-interest are sneaking into published drug research through the back door, warns an international team of investigators. … > full story

Speed demon star creates a shock (March 11, 2011) — Just as some drivers obey the speed limit while others treat every road as if it were the Autobahn, some stars move through space faster than others. NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, captured a new image of the star Alpha Camelopardalis speeding through the sky like a motorcyclist zipping through rush-hour traffic. … > full story

New treatment strategy effective for certain lung cancers (March 11, 2011) — Two chemotherapy drugs now indicated for second and third-line therapy in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer are remarkably effective in treating a certain subset of these patients, new study suggests. Researchers say these drugs should be considered as a first-line treatment in people who are known to carry an epidermal growth factor receptor mutation. … > full story

Geologists in the UK trace readings from Japan earthquake (March 11, 2011) — Geologists in the UK have recorded the impact of today’s major earthquake, off the coast of Japan, using sophisticated equipment. The magnitude 8.9 quake east of Honshu on March 11, 2011 was recorded on a SEIS-UK seismometer. It shows three traces that measure movement of Earth’s surface in the vertical, north-south and east-west direction. SEIS-UK is part of the Natural Environment Research Council’s Geophysical Equipment Facility. … > full story

Pinpointing air pollution’s effects on the heart (March 11, 2011) — Scientists are untangling how the tiniest pollution particles — which we take in with every breath we breathe — affect our health, making people more vulnerable to cardiovascular and respiratory problems. While scientists know that air pollution can aggravate heart problems, showing exactly how it does so has been challenging. Scientists have now shown that in people with diabetes, breathing ultrafine particles can activate platelets, cells in the blood that normally reduce bleeding from a wound, but can contribute to cardiovascular disease. … > full story

New details about medically important protein family (March 11, 2011) — Scientists have determined a new structure from a medically important superfamily of proteins. The structure should help instruct the design of a new kind of therapeutics for conditions ranging from Parkinson’s disease to inflammation. … > full story


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