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Insect molting is 'like having your lungs ripped out'

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  yesterday

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When an insect gets too big for its exoskeleton, it sheds it. This process—known as molting—might sound matter-of-fact, but it’s not. Insects stop eating, many lie still, and they become more vulnerable to predators. Now, a study of mayfly larvae has revealed another difficulty: While molting, insects can’t breathe. Alarmingly, the respiratory impairment grows more severe with higher temperatures, suggesting that climate change and other stressors could make molting an even greater challenge. When larvae slip out of their exoskeleton, the lining of the tracheoles comes with it. “It’s like having your lungs ripped out,” says one scientist."
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Magnetic stimulation boosts memory in people

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  yesterday

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Our memories are annoyingly glitchy. Names, dates, birthdays, and the locations of car keys fall through the cracks, losses that accelerate at an alarming pace with age and in neurodegenerative diseases. Now, by applying electromagnetic pulses through the skull to carefully targeted brain regions, researchers have found a way to boost memory performance in healthy people. The new study sheds light on the neural networks that support memories and may lead to therapies for people with memory deficits, researchers say."
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Fish raised on land give clues to how early animals left the seas

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  2 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When raised on land, a primitive, air-breathing fish walks much better than its water-raised comrades, according to a new study. The landlubbers even undergo skeletal changes that improve their locomotion. The work may provide clues to how the first swimmers adapted to terrestrial life. The study suggests that the ability of a developing organism to adjust to new conditions—its so-called developmental plasticity—may have played a role in the transition from sea to land."
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Scientists take picture of quantum cat

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  2 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "These images of a cardboard cutout of a cat were made with light that never touched the object. The technique works a bit like holography, in which a light beam that shines through an object overlaps and interferes with an identical one that passes by it, and that interference is used to encode a 3D image. Besides being really cool, the technique makes it possible to make an image of an object using a color of light that would normally pass through the thing."
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Underground experiment confirms what powers the sun

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  2 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Scientists have long believed that the power of the sun comes largely from the fusion of protons into helium, but now they can finally prove it. An international team of researchers using a detector buried deep below the mountains of central Italy has detected neutrinos—ghostly particles that interact only very reluctantly with matter—streaming from the heart of the sun. Other solar neutrinos have been detected before, but these particular ones come from the key proton-proton fusion reaction that is the first part of a chain of reactions that provides 99% of the sun’s power."
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Human altruism traces back to the origins of humanity

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  2 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Humans are generally highly cooperative and often impressively altruistic, quicker than any other animal species to help out strangers in need. A new study suggests that our lineage got that way by adopting so-called cooperative breeding: the caring for infants not just by the mother, but also by other members of the family and sometimes even unrelated adults. In addition to helping us get along with others, the advance led to the development of language and complex civilizations, the authors say."
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Water clouds tentatively detected just 7 light-years from Earth

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  4 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth—less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to the sun. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system. The clouds shroud a Jupiter-sized object known as a brown dwarf and should yield insight into the nature of cool giant planets orbiting other suns."
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Some raindrops exceed their terminal velocity

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  3 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "New research reveals that some raindrops are “super-terminal” (they travel more than 30% faster than their terminal velocity, at which air resistance prevents further acceleration due to gravity). The drops are the result of natural processes—and they make up a substantial fraction of rainfall. Whereas all drops the team studied that were 0.8 millimeters and larger fell at expected speeds, between 30% and 60% of those measuring 0.3 mm dropped at super-terminal speeds. It’s not yet clear why these drops are falling faster than expected, the researchers say. But according to one notion, the speedy drops are fragments of larger drops that have broken apart in midair but have yet to slow down. If that is indeed the case, the researchers note, then raindrop disintegration happens normally in the atmosphere and more often than previously presumed—possibly when drops collide midair or become unstable as they fall through the atmosphere. Further study could improve estimates of the total amount of rainfall a storm will produce or the amount of erosion that it can generate."
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Animal Welfare is Actually Worse in Accredited Laboratories

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  3 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The international gold standard of laboratory animal care may have lost a bit of its luster. Labs accredited by the United States’ only independent certifier of research animal welfare violate national animal welfare guidelines more frequently than do unaccredited facilities, a study has found. As both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Defense (DOD) waive certain inspection requirements for labs vetted by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International, the findings may force a rethink of how lab animal welfare is overseen in the United States and other countries"
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Why do humans grow up so slowly? Blame the brain

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  4 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Humans are late bloomers when compared with other primates—they spend almost twice as long in childhood and adolescence as chimps, gibbons, or macaques do. But why? One widely accepted but hard-to-test theory is that children’s brains consume so much energy that they divert glucose from the rest of the body, slowing growth. Now, a clever study of glucose uptake and body growth in children confirms this “expensive tissue” hypothesis."
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A gut microbe that stops food allergies

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  4 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A class of bacteria commonly found in the guts of people—and rodents—appears to keep mice safe from food allergies, a study suggests. The same bacteria are among those reduced by antibiotic use in early childhood. The research fits neatly into an emerging paradigm that helps explain a recent alarming increase in food allergies and other conditions, such as obesity and autoimmune disease, and hints at strategies to reverse the trend."
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Numerous methane leaks found on Atlantic sea floor

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  4 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers have discovered 570 plumes of methane percolating up from the sea floor off the eastern coast of the United States, a surprisingly high number of seeps in a relatively quiescent part of the ocean. The seeps suggest that methane’s contribution to climate change has been underestimated in some models. And because most of the seeps lie at depths where small changes in temperature could be releasing the methane, it is possible that climate change itself could be playing a role in turning some of them on."
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The star that exploded at the dawn of time

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "To probe the dawn of time, astronomers usually peer far away; but now they've made a notable discovery close to home. An ancient star a mere thousand light-years from Earth bears chemical elements that may have been forged by the death of a star that was both extremely massive and one of the first to arise after the big bang. If confirmed, the finding means that some of the universe’s first stars were so massive they died in exceptionally violent explosions that altered the growth of early galaxies."
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Study of Internet censorship reveals the deepest fears of China's government

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Behind China’s vaunted Internet censorship are throngs of specialized police officers, fake commentators, and ever-changing technologies. But China watchers have puzzled over the system’s modus operandi. Some posts are swiftly culled, whereas others on seemingly more sensitive topics are left untouched. In the most revealing study yet of Chinese censorship, researchers describe today how they peered behind the curtain to find out what China’s censors—and presumably the government officials operating behind the scenes—fear most."
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Flow of Chinese grad students to U.S. slows

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "For years, U.S. university administrators have worried that China’s massive investment in higher education would eventually mean fewer Chinese students seeking to earn advanced science and engineering degrees at their institutions. A new survey from the Council of Graduate Schools hints that the time may be approaching: For the second straight year, graduate applications from Chinese students are essentially flat. So is the number of acceptances, the first time that has happened in nearly a decade. China is the biggest single source of foreign applicants to U.S. graduate programs, composing roughly one-third of the total, so any changes in their behavior could have a potentially huge impact. And their presence is quite large: Chinese students submitted nearly 300,000 applications this year to the 285 universities that responded to the latest CGS survey and received nearly 72,000 offers of admission."
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Experimental drug stops Ebola-like infection

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "An experimental treatment against an Ebola-related virus can protect monkeys even when given up to 3 days after infection, the point at which they show the first signs of disease. The virus, known as Marburg, causes severe hemorrhagic fever—vomiting, diarrhea, and internal bleeding. In one outbreak, it killed 90% of people it infected. There are no proven treatments or vaccines against it. The new results raise hopes that the treatment might be useful for human patients even if they don’t receive it until well after infection. The company that makes the compound, Tekmira, based in Burnaby, Canada, has started a human safety trial of a related drug to treat Ebola virus disease, and researchers hope that it, too, might offer protection even after a patient has started to feel ill."
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China pulls plug on genetically modified rice and corn

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "China’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided not to renew biosafety certificates that allowed research groups to grow genetically modified (GM) rice and corn. The permits, to grow two varieties of GM rice and one transgenic corn strain, expired on 17 August. The reasoning behind the move is not clear, and it has raised questions about the future of related research in China."
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Seals infected early Americans with tuberculosis

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "We catch new flu viruses from ducks and pigs. And Ebola, the disease that's got the world worried at the moment, may have originated in bats. Now, a study of microbial DNA isolated from 1000-year-old Peruvian mummies blames seals for spreading tuberculosis (TB) to humans in South America long before European settlers arrived. "This work provides an entirely new vista on the arrival of [TB] in the New World, and also the potential role of sea mammals in the global dissemination of the TB [bacteria]," says Stephen Gordon, a microbiologist at University College Dublin who was not involved in the work. The analysis also indicates that TB as a human disease is much younger than researchers have thought."
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Origin of mummies pushed back 1500 years

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "New evidence pushes back the origin of mummification in ancient Egypt by 1500 years. The scientists examined funeral wrappings excavated from pit graves in the earliest recorded cemeteries, dating to between 4500 and 3350 B.C.E., in the Badari region in Upper Egypt. Using biochemical analysis, the team identified complex embalming agents on the linen wrappings, pictured above, made from ingredients such as pine resin, gum, aromatic plant extract, and natural petroleum. The researchers say recipes using the same ingredients in similar proportions would eventually produce the more well-known mummies at the height of the Pharaonic period, some 3000 years later."
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Bacteria shrink tumors in humans, dogs

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A syringe full of noxious bacteria sounds like the last thing a cancer patient needs. But a new study of dogs with tumors, and even one human cancer patient, reveals that injecting certain bacteria directly into the growths can shrink or even eliminate them. The results strengthen the case that using bacteria to treat cancer, an approach that performed poorly in some clinical trials, will work."
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