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Showing posts from 2014

Mars

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The center of Mars is at latitude 30 degrees north, longitude 270 degrees. NASA's Viking Mission to Mars was composed of two spacecraft, Viking 1 and Viking 2, each consisting of an orbiter and a lander. The primary mission objectives were to obtain high resolution images of the Martian surface, characterize the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface, and search for evidence of life. The results from the Viking experiments give our most complete view of Mars to date. Volcanoes, lava plains, immense canyons, cratered areas, wind-formed features, and evidence of surface water are apparent in the Orbiter images. The planet appears to be divisible into two main regions, northern low plains and southern cratered highlands. Superimposed on these regions are the Tharsis and Elysium bulges, which are high-standing volcanic areas, and Valles Marineris, a system of giant canyons near the equator. The surface material at both landing sites can best be characterized as iron-r…

NASA Curiosity Rover Detects Methane on Mars

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Since landing on the red planet in 2012, the Mars Curiosity Rover has been has been analyzing the planet's atmosphere and measuring its chemical components.  Curiosity has recently detected concentrated spikes of methane, a gas normally released by microbial organisms here on Earth, which may indicate the presence of life on Mars.  Scientists have yet to identify the source of the methane gas, which may be trapped in ice on the planet's surface or released from underground fissures due to mechanical or thermal stress.  Most of the Martian atmosphere consists of carbon dioxide, with methane measuring about 0.7 parts per billion by volume (ppbv).  By comparison, Earth's atmosphere contains about 1,800 (ppbv) of methane.
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New Drug Combines Hormones to Treat Obesity and Diabetes

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Researchers from the Hemholtz Diabetes Center in Munich, Germany were able to successfully test a drug on rodents which reversed the effects of obesity and diabetes over the course of three weeks.  At the end of the study, the fat mass of the rodents dropped by a third and their blood glucose fell by half.  The drug is a combination of the hormones glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), gastric inhibitory peptide (GIP) and glucagon, which are responsible for regulating blood sugar and appetite.  The newly created hybird-hormone would be able to stimulate chemical signals to trigger the body's metabolism to lower blood glucose, burn fat, and lose weight. 
Bariatric surgery is typically reserved for patients suffering from life threatening obesity, and sometimes involves removing part of the stomach or small intestine to limit food intake.  Recent studies have shown that these procedures can alter the way hormones are released from the gut in order to stimulate weight loss. …

NASA Launches Orion Deep Space Capsule

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NASA is testing an unmanned version of a newly developed crew capsule to be used in conjunction with a more powerful rocket that will debut in the next few years.  The technology currently in development would be designed to send astronauts past the International Space Station to other planetary bodies such as the Moon and Mars.  The Orion capsule launch is the first step in testing the vehicle's heat shielding and re-entry parachutes, as it withstands temperatures of around 3,600°F while traveling almost 20,000mph.

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HIV Evolving into Less Virulent Form

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Researchers from Oxford University conducted a recent study of HIV infected patients from Botswana and South Africa which indicated that the virus may be evolving as it adapts to our body's immune system and antiretroviral therapies.  As the virus continues to try and evade the immune system, it reduces its own ability to replicate and spread throughout the body.  As a result, it may take much longer for HIV infected individuals to develop AIDS as weaker mutated versions of the virus circulate in the body.  However, researchers reiterate that HIV is far from becoming harmless but are cautiously optimistic that antiretroviral therapy against weaker evolutions of the virus can eventually lead to better control of the epidemic.

It's estimated that over 35 million people are infected with HIV, which attacks the immune system and leaves the body more susceptible to common infections, eventually progressing into AIDS.
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U.S. Senate Fails to Pass Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

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The Senate fell short of the 60 votes needed to pass a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.  The proposed pipeline would transport an estimated 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil each day from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Nebraska. Supporters of the bill say the project would create 42,000 jobs over the two-year construction period and reduce the cost of domestic oil.  The EPA and environmentalists have warned about the risks of chemicals seeping into the soil and ground water in fragile ecosystems and local communities, and that the pipeline would ultimately nullify attempts to curb carbon emissions.

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Monarch Butterflies

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Millions of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) migrate south to over-winter deep inside the Michoacan forests of Mexico. When the forest warms during the late morning, the butterflies take wing and move down the mountain, where they congregate in the meadows, landing to drink from the dew-covered plants.
Explore other stock images of monarch butterflies atScienceSource.com

Robotic Probe Makes Historic Landing on Comet

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After a 10-year journey across four billion miles, the Rosetta satellite launched by the European Space Agency was able to carry the Philae robotic probe to its ultimate destination: Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  It took about seven hours after being dropped from the Rosetta satellite for the probe to reach the comet surface.  However after its first landing, Philae bounced hundreds of meters and remained in flight for nearly two hours as the comet rotated beneath it.  The probe successfully landed by its third attempt, albeit far off from the intended landing zone.

Challenges may arise for ensuring the probe is securely fastened to the comet surface and receives enough sunlight for its solar panels.  Nevertheless, scientists are ecstatic over the data and photographs already collected from the expedition to the four billion year old comet.  The information gathered would hopefully shed more light onto the formation of our solar system and possibly the origins of life on our plan…

Scientists Develop New Alternative to Antibiotics

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Scientists and health officials agree that it's only a matter of time before conventional antibiotics fail to combat bacterial infections like MRSA, E. coli, salmonella or tuberculosis.  After decades of overuse, many bacterial strains have since mutated and developed a resistance to antibiotics like penicillin or carbapenem, drugs often saved as a "last resort" when fighting infections.  However, researchers recently tested a new drug in the Netherlands which may offer a long lasting solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance. 
The trial involved the use of endolysins, naturally occurring enzymes found in viruses known as bacteriophages.  As bacteria mutate, their cell membranes become more resilient to prevent traditional drugs from entering the cell.  However the modified endolysins are able to bind to the cell surface of specific bacteria and tear them apart, while leaving harmless or beneficial microbes unaffected.

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Does Drinking Coffee Improve Liver Function?

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A recent study, published by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, showed that people who drank three cups of coffee a day had lower liver enzyme levels circulating in the blood compared to those who didn't drink coffee.  Similar effects were seen in those who only drank decaffeinated coffee as well.  The study took into account dietary factors, age, sex, race, smoking and alcohol consumption among the 27,793 participants.  The reason for these effects are still unknown, but may involve one or more of the thousands of natural compounds found in coffee.
The liver is a vital organ responsible for detoxifying the blood and plays a large role in digestion and metabolism.  Liver enzymes are used as markers during blood tests to tract healthy liver function, and can often signal the presence of certain diseases like hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver cancer or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease if enzyme levels become too high.

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Beavers and the Environment

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"BUTTE, Mont. - Once routinely trapped and shot as varmints, their dams obliterated by dynamite and bulldozers, beavers are getting new respect these days. Across the West, they are being welcomed into the landscape as a defense against the withering effects of a warmer and drier climate." - Jim Robbins, Reversing Course on Beavers, The New York Times, October 27, 2014


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Cell Transplant Helps Paralyzed Man Walk Again

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A 40 year old Polish man, who was paralyzed from the chest down in 2010, has regained his ability to walk after a team of Polish surgeons and British scientists transplanted sensory nerve cells into his injured spinal cord.  The treatment involves regenerative olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC's) found on olfactory bulbs, the sensory nerves responsible for our sense of smell.  Surgeons grew OEC's in a cell culture after removing one of the patient's olfactory bulbs, and grafted thin strips of nervous tissue harvested from his ankle to bridge a gap in the injured spinal cord.  The OEC's were injected into the spine, stimulating a pathway for spinal cord cells to regenerate along the harvested nerve grafts.
Six months after the treatment, the patient's legs had regained enough muscle and sensation for him to take his first steps using supportive rails and leg braces.  After two years of intensive physical rehabilitation, he can now walk on his own and h…

American Life Expectancy Increases

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A report from the National Center of Health Statistics (NCHS) on mortality rates in the U.S. showed that in 2012, life expectancy for Americans over 65 continued to increase.  It's estimated that men over 65 could live an additional 17.9 years, while women over 65 could expect to live up to 20.5 years longer.  In 1960, the average life expectancy of Americans over 65 was only 14.4 years.  Researchers note that differences in life expectancy related to race or ethnicity are also narrowing.
Fewer deaths from heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and pneumonia, were all seen to decrease in 2012 compared to 2011.  As more patients learn to manage their disabilities or chronic illnesses more effectively, advances in medical technology and better treatment options may attribute to the increased longevity.

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Your Genes Influence Academic Achievement

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In the past, scientists have identified certain genes which can influence a person's IQ.  However a higher IQ doesn't guarantee better grades and tests scores in school, which relies on a combination of preparedness, confidence, motivation, and a myriad of other traits that contribute to intelligence.  Researchers from King's College London analyzed the personalities and academic success of more than 11,000 twins, surveying overall happiness to how much they liked school or how hard they worked.

The study found that certain hereditary traits seen in identical twins affecting personality, correlated with higher standardized test scores.  Educators hope that understanding the influence genetics plays on not only intelligence, but a child's motivation to learn, would stress the importance of personalized classrooms where students can become more engaged.
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First U.S. Case of Ebola Diagnosed in Texas

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On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that an airline passenger who arrived in Dallas from Liberia on September 20, has been diagnosed with Ebola.  He did not present any symptoms while boarding the flight because the full incubation period for the disease after exposure is around 21 days.  Since the virus can only spread through direct contact with bodily fluids after symptoms develop, no other passengers on the flight would have been infected at the time.  However, the CDC is tracking down and monitoring family and friends who may have been in close contact with the patient when he became ill. 
As the outbreak of Ebola unfolded in West Africa, officials assumed the virus would inevitably make its way to American soil.  As a result, U.S. hospitals were already well prepared to safely handle cases that require isolation protocols for treating infectious diseases.  The virus is responsible for the deaths of over 3,000 people in Africa, with …

The Last Passenger Pigeon

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"This September marks a melancholy anniversary: the first of the month is the centennial of the death of Martha the pigeon in Cincinnati zoo and, with her passing, the extinction of the passenger pigeon. It was an extinction that 100 years earlier would have been inconceivable." - Adrian Barnett, Beautiful but doomed: Demise of the passenger pigeon, the New Scientist, September 2, 2014
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Athletes May Be At Greater Risk Of Dental Problems

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A study conducted by The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that intense exercise and endurance training may put athletes at greater risk of developing cavities and other dental problems.  A previous study found that many athletes suffered from poor oral health, including higher levels of tooth decay, gum disease, and the erosion of tooth enamel (the hard, outer surface of a tooth).  Researchers assumed that poor oral hygiene or consuming sugary sports drinks and energy bars was affecting their oral health.  However, this most recent study indicates that the chemical composition of an athlete's saliva changes during exercise, which may be influencing dental decay.
Saliva plays an important role in not only digestion, but washing away bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.  You may produce less saliva during an intense workout, but researchers also found that athlete's saliva became more alkaline the longer they exercised…

State of the Stock Image Licensing Industry

#ScienceSourceNews In The News: "Oh, What A Difference (Or Not?) 5 Years Makes" by Robert Henson Tall Firs Media: Perspectives on the Photo Tech Industry  September 18, 2014

World War One Innovation in Injury Treatment

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"World War One was fought on a scale that had never been experienced before. At the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the main infantry weapon was the muzzle-loading musket, which fired up to four shots a minute. At the Battle of the Somme, just over a century later, machine gunners could fire off 600 rounds a minute. High velocity rounds wreaked havoc in the body, twisting tissue and splintering bone. Fighting on farmland fertilised by manure meant that wounds quickly became infected; gangrene was rife. Faced with this challenge, new equipment and techniques were invented that, across four years of fighting, would end up saving thousands of lives." - How did WW1 change the way we treat war injuries today? Presented by Dr. Saleyha Ahsan, BBC
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Predator-Prey Balance Affected by Climate Change

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"Rising temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns may get the lion’s share of our climate change attention, but predators may want to give some thought to wind, according to a zoologist’s study, which is among the first to demonstrate the way “global stilling” may alter predator-prey relationships." - University of Wisconsin-Madison, Climate change: Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance, Science Daily, September 19, 2014 
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Researchers Developing an Artificial Spleen

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Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have created a device that can filter toxins and pathogens out of the blood, in hopes of preventing the body's fatal immune response to blood infections known as sepsis.  The device, inspired by the spleen's ability to clean the blood, uses magnetic nanobeads coated with a protein found in humans known as MBL.  The MBL protein binds to the surface of different bacteria, viruses, and toxins, while a magnet in the device pulls the protein coated beads and pathogens out of blood filtered through the machine.
When the device was tested on rats infected with E. coli or Staphylococcus aureus, the device improved survival rates and removed more than 90% of the bacteria from the rats' blood.  Researchers hope that by removing the majority of pathogens from a patient's blood, the body's immune system can easily fight off the remaining infection without resorting to the overuse o…

The Rice Microbiome

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"When Harsh Bais grows rice plants in trays of water in his greenhouse at the University of Delaware, he can easily spot the ones that have been exposed to arsenic: They are stunted, with shorter stems and shrunken, yellow-tinged leaves. Dr. Bais is working to develop rice plants that take up less arsenic, a common contaminant in the fields of his native India and other Asian countries. Chronic exposure to arsenic has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and genetic damage associated with elevated risk for cancer. But instead of trying to breed new strains of rice or alter its DNA, he and other scientists have set out in a surprising new direction. They are looking at the vast and untapped microbial community that lives near the rice’s roots." - Carina Storrs, Fighting Poisons with Bacteria Going Inside the Rice Microbiome, The New York Times Science Section,  September 15, 2014
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Long Lost Canadian Shipwreck Discovered

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"In 1845, two doomed British ships set sail for the Canadian Arctic to end a legendary quest for the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. After the expedition became trapped in ice, both vessels and all 129 men on board were lost. Now, nearly 170 years later, one of the shipwrecks has been found." - Megan Gannon, Lost Ship From Ill-Fated Arctic Quest Discovered, Live Science News, September 10, 2014
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U.S. Begins Human Trials for Ebola Vaccine

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland will be launching the first of several human trials for an Ebola vaccine in wake of the outbreak spreading in West Africa that has killed more than 2,000 people.  Two US aid workers recovered from the virus after receiving treatment with an experimental drug known as ZMapp, yet it is still unclear how effective the treatment can be since other patients still died after receiving the drug.  A vaccine would instead provide an immunity against the virus by stimulating the production of antibodies that specifically guard against the disease.  Twenty volunteers will receive the trial vaccine, though they will not be infected with the actual virus.  Instead, researchers will be observing how their immune system responds to the vaccine and if there are any adverse reactions.


Ebola hemorrhagic fever has a fatality rate between 50-90% and is characterized by flu-like symptoms which develop into severe fluid loss, such as vomitin…
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"New study shows the marine mammal's population in the Golden State is nearly back to pre-whaling levels. California's endangered blue whale population may not be so endangered after all, according to a study released Friday." - Rishi Iyengar, California Blue Whales Are Making a Comeback, Time, September 8, 2014 Read more

#recentUses - HIV Type 1 SEM (BB7373)

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#recentUses In the news: "Mississippi Child Thought Cured Of HIV Shows Signs Of Infection" by Richard Harris NPR shots July 10, 2014

Can Starting School Later Improve Teen Health?

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The American Academy of Pediatrics seems to think so, and recently published their policy statement for school districts to adopt later start times for middle and high schools in order for students to get at least 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep per night.  The nation's pediatricians have identified that starting classes before 8:30 a.m. becomes problematic for children when their sleep-wake cycle shifts two hours ahead as they become teenagers.  The resulting shift means that melatonin secretion (the body's sleep hormone) is delayed, as well as the brain's "sleep drive," which causes adolescents to fall asleep more slowly after staying awake for 16-18 hours.  As a result, these physiological changes can prevent the average teen from falling asleep before 11:00 p.m., and make it even harder for them to wake up during the middle of their sleep cycle the next morning.

Of course these findings come with their fair share of controversy, such as how much modern t…

Life in a Frozen Lake

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"Samples from a lake hidden under 800 metres of ice contain thousands of microbes and hint at vast ecosystems yet to be discovered." - Douglas Fox, Lakes under the ice: Antarctica’s secret garden, Nature International Weekly Journal of Science, August 20, 2014
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What is ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's Disease)?

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Through the power of social media, the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" has brought massive attention to an often times overlooked but devastating disease.  But understanding ALS and increasing its awareness can be just as invaluable as donations towards finding a cure. 
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is often known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, and affects neurons which control voluntary movements.  This motor neuron disease causes nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord  to degenerate and lose their connection to muscle fibers throughout the body.  When muscles can no longer be stimulated, they become progressively weaker and inactive, eventually leading to muscular atrophy.  Patients begin losing muscle mass and coordination, the ability to walk or use their arms, and as well as develop difficulty breathing, speaking, and swallowing.

However ALS does not affect involuntary muscles (such as the heart or smooth muscles), a person's senses (taste, touch, si…

Fathering in Nature

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"Imagine spending four months upside down, half starved, babysitting a brood of tiny eggs under a leaf. Parenting is tough for daddy longlegs living in the Brazilian Atlantic forest, but their efforts aren't in vain. Having a parent to watch over the eggs makes a huge difference to their survival; without one, a third of clutches are eaten. 
Although we humans no longer need to protect our progeny from hungry predators, we are accustomed to thinking that parenting is crucial if offspring are to survive and thrive. Yet, among the myriad organisms on our planet, this is rare. What's more, in those species that do care for their young there is a strong bias towards females doing all the work. That makes the daddy longlegs a real oddity - it is among the few examples where males alone raise the young." - Lesley Evans Ogden, The father enigma: Why do nature's devoted dads care?, The New Scientist, June 14, 2014

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Future Treatments for Asthma Attacks Involving the Nervous System

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Genetic research is being conducted at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to see how the nervous system responds to asthma attacks, and the possible future of medications that can be used for treatment.  Asthma attacks are triggered by a hypersensitive immune response to exercise, temperature, dust or allergens, leading to the inflammation and constriction of a person's airways.  Sensitive bundles of neurons in the chest, branching from the vagus nerve, control the muscles in the airway that are responsible for contracting and relaxing. 
Researchers performed an experiment on mice by selectively turning off genes which expressed specific nerve cells.  When those mice were exposed to an allergen that would cause asthma-like symptoms, there was no airway constriction despite an immune response.  They also found that immune system molecules may even interact and alter a neuron's behavior to constrict an airway.  Researchers hope to develop drugs that can alter th…

The Human Networker: Two New Literary Studies

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"The idea of human as networker is fast replacing the idea of human as toolmaker in the story of the human brain, claim two new books on our evolution 'HELL is other people,' goes Jean-Paul Sartre's famous line. It is a hell that may have created us and our culture, judging by two new books. They show that the idea that we are defined by our struggles to deal with our fellow humans is shaking up archaeology and how we think about the key force driving human evolution." - Alun Anderson, New Scientist, "Beyond the bones: The archaeology of human networks", July 21, 2014
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Two Americans Show Improvement With Experimental Ebola Drug

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Two American aid workers are currently being treated at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital after contracting Ebola in Liberia during their humanitarian visit to address the current outbreak in west Africa.  Both patients received an experimental drug, known as the ZMapp serum, before returning to the U.S. and have reportedly shown significant improvement.  Until that point in time, the drug had only been successful in animal experiments and had not yet gone through clinical trials to assess its safety and long-term effects.  The use of untested drugs can carry serious scientific and ethical implications, and even if successful, cannot be used in the middle of an outbreak.  The company which developed the drug will begin clinical trials in September, hoping to develop a vaccine by late next year.

The Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever, resulting in internal and external bleeding as well as damage to the nervous system.  Since there is no vaccine or cure, patients …

Hunting with Fire: Co-evolution in Australia

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"Australia's Aboriginal Martu people hunt kangaroos and set small grass fires to catch lizards, as they have for at least 2,000 years. A University of Utah researcher found such human-made disruption boosts kangaroo populations -- showing how co-evolution helped marsupials and made Aborigines into unintentional conservationists." - Science News Daily, August 4, 2014, Kangaroos win when aborigines hunt with fire: Co-evolution benefits Australia's martu people and wildlife, University of Utah
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Surgeon General Calls to Reduce Skin Cancer Rates

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A report recently released by the surgeon general addresses the alarming rise of skin cancer with an immediate call to action against the most commonly diagnosed and preventable cancer in the country.  It is estimated that skin cancer treatments cost $8.1 billion annually, with almost 5 million Americans requiring treatment and nearly 9,000 deaths from melanoma every year.  The report outlines the increase of incidence rates, especially among young adults, due to outdoor sun exposure and increased popularity of indoor tanning.  The call to action identifies opportunities to reduce UV exposure through public awareness and community involvement, which may include wearing protective clothing and sunscreen, installing structures to provide shade in public areas, or even modifying school policies for the time of day children play outside.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, but is also the most treatable.  Squamous cell carcinoma affects cells in the …

Extrasolar Planets and Planet Formation

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"Scientists searching for worlds outside of the Solar System say that three such planets — distant gas giants that resemble Jupiter — are surprisingly dry. The atmospheres of these exoplanets, known as ‘hot Jupiters’, contain between one-tenth and one-thousandth water vapour than predicted, measurements from the Hubble Space Telescope show. The findings, published 24 July in Astrophysical Journal Letters, are at odds with theories of how planets form." - Mark Zastrow, July 24, 2014, 'Hot Jupiter' measurements throw water on theory, Nature International Weekly Journal of Science
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Sandstone Arch Formation

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"The fantastical arch shapes of sandstone formations have long been thought to be sculpted by wind and rain. But a team of researchers has now found that the shapes are inherent to the rock itself. 'Erosion gets [excess] material out, but doesn’t make the shape,' says Jiri Bruthans, a hydrogeologist at Charles University in Prague, who led the research. Rather, erosion is merely a 'tool' that works in combination with more fundamental factors embedded in the rock. These factors are stress fields created by the weight of overlying rock. Under low stress, Bruthans says, sandstone erodes easily. But as stress mounts — as parts of a cliff or pillar are eroded away, for example — the sand grains on the surface of the remaining rock lock together and become more resistant to further erosion." - Richard A. Lovett, July 20, 2014, Sandstone arches form under their own stress, Nature International Weekly Journal of Science

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Marijuana Abusers Less Responsive to Dopamine

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With the legalization of marijuana becoming increasingly prevalent (but no less controversial) in states like Colorado and Washington, research pertaining to the drug's chemical components and their long term effects on the human body remain scarce.  The challenge of studying the affects of marijuana can become quite difficult, as it involves approval from numerous federal agencies that become speed-bumps along the road to research.
However researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, M.D., were able to take a closer look at brain imaging scans of marijuana abusers to see how the dopamine system (the brain's "pleasure chemical") was affected by excessive, long-term use of the drug.  Their findings showed that while both the control group and marijuana abusers produced similar levels of dopamine, marijuana abusers exhibited almost none of the physical responses such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, restlessness, or feeli…

Oxygen and Evolution

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"One of the biggest riddles in Earth's history is why animals did not evolve after a spike in oxygen levels approximately 2.3 billion years ago. Instead, despite what scientists had thought was a period of relatively high oxygen, the evolution of life on Earth stalled for what is dubbed the ‘boring billion’." - Jane Qiu, July 14, 2014, Oxygen fluctuations stalled life on Earth, Nature International Weekly Journal of Science

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Samples of Smallpox Found in Old NIH Lab

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An old laboratory on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, MD., was in the process of being cleaned out in preparation for moving the lab to the main campus.  During that time, scientists uncovered six vials of the smallpox virus in a storage room, prompting an immediate response by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to transport the frozen samples to a secure facility.  Once there, the CDC will test the virus to see if it is still viable before destroying it.  There was no evidence of the samples being breached or lab workers being exposed to infection.

Smallpox is caused by the airborne variola virus, and results in flu-like symptoms which eventually develop into lesions appearing on the skin, which rapidly enlarge and rupture.  It is estimated that smallpox was responsible for 300-500 million deaths in the 20th century, until a vaccine was discovered and the disease eradicated in 1977.  Since then, only two facilities in the wor…

Evolution: Continuing Discoveries

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"A trio of anthropologists has decided it's time to rewrite the story of human evolution.
That narrative has always been a work in progress, because almost every time scientists dig up a new fossil bone or a stone tool, it adds a new twist to the story. Discoveries lead to new arguments over the details of how we became who we are. But anthropologists generally agree on this much: A little more than 2 million years ago in Africa, the human lineage emerged. Smithsonian anthropologist Rick Potts says the conventional wisdom is that much of Africa changed about then from forest to dry savanna. Our ape-like ancestors had to adapt or die, leave the forest and embrace the savanna — and in doing so, they evolved into something more like us." - Christopher Joyce, Dance Of Human Evolution Was Herky-Jerky, Fossils Suggest, NPR, July 4, 2014
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Battling the Ebola Outbreak

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The World Health Organization is attempting to contain an outbreak of Ebola which is "out of control" in regions of west Africa.  The outbreak, which experts believe may have started in February in southeast Guinea, has killed 468 of its 763 infected hosts.  The virus has since spread to neighboring parts of Liberia and Sierra Leone, mostly due to the high volume of commercial and social activity across the border.  WHO has begun gathering health officials from 11 countries in the region in an attempt to better educate the public about the virus and contain the outbreak as much as possible.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a disease caused by the Ebola virus after close contact with contaminated blood or body fluids.  Patients develop a fever, sore throat, muscle pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased liver and kidney function.  Eventually patients can develop severe internal bleeding, with an estimated 90% mortality rate.  There is no known cure or va…