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Climate change could cost U.S. coasts $1 trillion by 2100

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  1 hour ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Climate change will cost U.S. coastal areas twice what analysts had predicted, according to a new study. Researchers had estimated that preparing coastal cities, repairing property damages, and relocating inhabitants for future sea level rise could have a roughly $500 billion price tag by 2100. But storm surge from tropical cyclones can cause additional local rises in sea level rise; that figure hits about $1 trillion."
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Does journal peer review miss best and brightest?

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  1 hour ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A study published today indicates that the scientific peer review system does a reasonable job of predicting the eventual interest in most papers, but it may shoot an air ball when it comes to identifying really game-changing research. Papers that were accepted outright by one of the three elite journals tended to garner more citations than papers that were rejected and then published elsewhere. And papers that were rejected went on to receive fewer citations than papers that were approved by an editor. But there is a serious chink in the armor: All 14 of the most highly cited papers in the study were rejected by the three elite journals, and 12 of those were bounced before they could reach peer review. The finding suggests that unconventional research that falls outside the established lines of thought may be more prone to rejection from top journals."
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Human skeleton has become lighter over time

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  3 hours ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Compared to those of other primate, human bones are weak, with a relative lack of spongy bone that makes our skeletons lighter and increases our risk of fractures and osteoporosis. The the driving force behind the change might be modern human’s sedentary lifestyle, free of the bone-strengthening exercise of chasing down prey and spending hours foraging for food. A second study further supports that hypothesis by comparing the density of spongy bone in the hip joints of nonhuman primates, ancient hunter-gatherers, and ancient farmers. The hunter-gatherers’ hip joints were about as strong as those of the apes, whereas the ancient farmers’ hips showed a significant loss of spongy bone. The researchers conclude that a lack of rigorous exercise, rather than any evolutionary pressure toward lighter skeletons, is the reason for modern human’s weak bones."
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Satellite captures glowing plants from space

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  4 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "About 1% of the light that strikes plants is re-emitted as a faint, fluorescent glow—a measure of photosynthetic activity. Today, scientists released a map of this glow as measured by the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, a NASA satellite launched in July with the goal of mapping the net amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The map reveals that tropical rainforests near the equator are actively sucking up carbon, while the Corn Belt in the eastern United States, near the end of its growing season, is also a sink. Higher resolution fluorescence mapping could one day be used to help assess crop yields and how they respond to drought and heat in a changing climate."
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Science announces its Breakthrough of the Year

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  4 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Each year, Science’s editors choose a singular scientific achievement as Breakthrough of the Year. Past winners have included the discovery of the Higgs boson, cancer immunotherapy, and the first quantum machine. This year’s winner captured the world’s attention and reminded us of the immense scope of human scientific accomplishment—as well as how far we have yet to go. Meet this year’s Breakthrough and check out our nine amazing runners-up!"
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Genetic study reveals surprising ancestry of many Americans

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  4 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In the United States, almost no one can trace their ancestry back to just one place. And for many, the past may hold some surprises, according to a new study. Researchers have found that a significant percentage of African-Americans, European Americans, and Latinos carry ancestry from outside their self-identified ethnicity. The average African-American genome, for example, is nearly a quarter European, and almost 4% of European Americans carry African ancestry."
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This is why you're always getting lost

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  4 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Have you ever stared at a map on your phone, utterly confused, as your GPS cryptically directed you to “head east”? It turns out that the entorhinal region of the brain—an area best known for its role in memory formation—may be at least partly to blame for your poor sense of direction. According to a study published online today in Current Biology, this brain region may help humans decide which direction to go to reach a destination. In the study, participants explored a virtual, square room with four unique objects in each corner and different landscapes on each of the four walls. Once they were familiar with the environment, the volunteers had to navigate a series of paths from one corner to another while the researchers monitored their brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging. The entorhinal region has long been known to help people identify which direction they’re facing already, but to plan a route, navigators must also imagine the direction of their destination. The study showed that this brain region likely also has a role in decisions about which directions to face next to get where we want to go. And as the participants imagined their way through the virtual room, the researchers found that the strength of the signal from this region was directly related to navigational performance."
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'Dinosaur eggs' spotted on Rosetta's comet

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  4 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "There are places on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko where cauliflowerlike textures appear in the dusty crust, like goose bumps under the skin. Scientists using the Rosetta spacecraft—which arrived at 67P in August and became the first mission to orbit and land on a comet—now think they may have discovered the source of these patterns on cliff faces and in deep pits: layer upon layer of rounded nodules, 1 to 3 meters across. These spherules, dubbed dinosaur eggs, could be the fundamental building blocks that clumped together to form the comet 4.5 billion years ago."
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Spacecraft spots probable waves on Titan's seas

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  5 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "It’s springtime on Titan, Saturn’s giant and frigid moon, and the action on its hydrocarbon seas seems to be heating up. Near the moon’s north pole, there is growing evidence for waves on three different seas, scientists reported here today at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Researchers are also coming up with the first estimates for the volume and composition of the seas. The bodies of water appear to be made mostly of methane, and not mostly ethane as previously thought. And they are deep: Ligeia Mare, the second biggest sea with an area larger than Lake Superior, could contain 55 times Earth’s oil reserves."
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Study finds e-cigarettes can help smokers quit

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  5 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Proponents of e-cigarettes—introduced in 2006—have argued that the pen-shaped nicotine vaporizers could help cigarette smokers kick the habit. Now, a review of the scientific literature, published today, lends credibility to this claim, although the matter is far from settled. Conducted by the UK Cochrane Centre, the review focused on just two randomized controlled trials, but it also considered data from 11 cohort studies, which compared people who were already trying to quit with and without e-cigarettes. On balance, the data “suggest that electronic cigarettes can be helpful [for] stopping smoking and reducing cigarette consumption,” says lead author and behavioral scientist Hayden McRobbie of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London."
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Researchers make blood vessels grow by shining a light on skin

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Any fan of Star Trek knows that simply shining light on an injury will heal many wounds in the future. Now scientists have brought that future a bit closer. In a new study, researchers have found a way to stimulate the growth of blood vessels—an important part of healing—by hitting the skin with ultraviolet light."
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Robot spots predatory worms, floating slime balls under Arctic ice

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A lightweight, remotely operated vehicle that dove deep under Arctic ice has spotted under-ice algae, as well as tiny copepods, ctenophores (jellyfish), predatory marine worms called arrow worms, and abundant amounts of large floating slime balls, known to scientists as larvaceans. What links these lower members of the food web to seals and polar bears isn’t yet clear; scientists saw no evidence of the most obvious missing element—fish—during the expedition."
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Scientists solve mystery of spontaneously combusting rubble piles in Japan quake

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Something strange happened in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that pummeled Japan. Months later, mysterious fires began breaking out in piles of brick and wood from damaged buildings. Researchers puzzled over what sparked the fires, but a new study offers a possible explanation: decomposing rice-straw flooring, called tatami mats, filled with fermenting microbes that generate large quantities of heat."
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Bacteria on pubic hair could be used to identify rapists

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When it comes to identifying a rapist, one of the main pieces of evidence police analyze are pubic hairs found at the crime scene. But most of these hairs are missing their roots and thus don’t harbor enough DNA for a proper match. Now, a new study suggests there may be a better way to finger the criminal: Look at the bacteria he left behind. Scientists have found that each person harbors a unique "microbial signature" on their pubic hair that can be traced back to the scene of the crime."
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Mysterious martian gouges carved by sand-surfing dry ice

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "After the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter began beaming back close-up images of the Red Planet, researchers spotted peculiar features along the slopes of dunes: long, sharply defined grooves that seem to appear and disappear seasonally. They look like trails left behind by tumbling boulders, but rocks never appear in the sunken pits at the trail ends. Researchers initially took these gullies as signs of flowing liquid water, but a new model suggests they’re the result of sand-surfing dry ice that breaks off from the crests of dunes and skids down slopes. This is no ordinary tumble—according to the model, the bases of the chunks are continually sublimating, resulting in a hovercraftlike motion that gouges the dune while propelling the ice down slopes."
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Want to influence the world? Map reveals the best languages to speak

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Speak or write in English, and the world will hear you. Speak or write in Tamil or Portuguese, and you may have a harder time getting your message out. Now, a new method for mapping how information flows around the globe identifies the best languages to spread your ideas far and wide. One hint: If you’re considering a second language, try Spanish instead of Chinese."
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Orbiter spots solar particles penetrating deep into atmosphere of Mars

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A stream of hot protons from the sun is penetrating deep into the thin atmosphere of Mars, researchers have found. The stream, known as the solar wind, is typically deflected by the ionosphere, a layer of ions and electrons forming a shield around Mars. But the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission—a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars—has found that some protons re-emerge within the ionosphere below altitudes of 200 kilometers. The effect could be used to monitor the strength of the solar wind even at altitudes where mission scientists had not expected to have any handle on it. MAVEN, which arrived in Mars’s orbit in September, needs to catalog the ways energy is deposited in the upper atmosphere in order to achieve one of its main mission goals: explaining how Mars lost much of its atmosphere. Billions of years ago, when Mars was warmer and wetter, the planet is presumed to have had a much thicker atmosphere—one that has been eroded steadily by the solar wind, and also during more catastrophic solar storm events, into the dry, cold landscape seen today."
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No more foamy beer, thanks to magnets

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Few sights at a bar are more deflating than a bottle of beer overflowing with foam. This overfoaming, called gushing, arises when fungi infect the barley grains in beer’s malt base. The microorganisms latch onto barley with surface proteins called hydrophobins. During the brewing process, these hydrophobins can attract carbon dioxide molecules produced by the mashed barley as it ferments, making the beer far too bubbly. Brewers try to tamp down the gushing by adding hops extract, an antifoaming agent that binds to the proteins first. Now, food scientists in Belgium have hit upon a technological solution: magnets. When the team applied a magnetic field to a malt infused with hops extract, the magnets dispersed the antifoaming agent into tinier particles. Those smaller particles were much more effective at binding to more hydrophobins, blocking carbon dioxide and decreasing gushing. During tests in a real brewery, the magnets decreased excess foaming so effectively that brewers needed much lower amounts of hops extract—a potential cost-saving measure. Future studies could explore whether magnetic fields alone could reduce foaming on an industrial scale, the team says."
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Why the Taj Mahal is turning brown

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Air pollution has turned the Taj Mahal's snowy marble dome brown. Scientists didn't know what exact process caused the discoloration: Perhaps it was fog droplets oxidizing the surface or maybe sulfurous gas in the air. Now, computer modeling has shown that these particles absorb ultraviolet light, thus giving the dome a yellow-brown shade. Researchers blame vehicle emissions and burning of biomasses such as dung and trash for causing the pollution."
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NIH cancels massive U.S. children's study

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Federal officials are pulling the plug on an ambitious plan hatched 14 years ago to follow the health of 100,000 U.S. children from before birth to age 21. The National Children’s Study (NCS), which has struggled to get off the ground and has already cost more than $1.2 billion, has too many flaws to be carried out in a tight budget environment, advisers today told National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins. He announced he is dismantling the study immediately."
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