Fri, 23/07/2010 - 02:27 by Pankaj Damin
Lyon, France -- A rare foot-long salamander dubbed "the human fish" because of its flesh-like skin can live for 100 years, much longer than any other amphibian, scientists say.
The long, tubular-shaped olm salamander is found in caves in Croatia and Slovenia, and French scientists are studying a group of them, Wired magazine reported Thursday.
Biologist Yann Voituron of France's Universite Claude Bernard is studying a population of olms established 48 years ago to help preserve the rare creatures, the magazine said.
When the study project began, the olms were about 10 years old, making them nearly 60 now.
Fri, 23/07/2010 - 02:22 by Pankaj Damin
Irvine, Calif. -- Your talents and abilities could someday be revealed through a brain scan, possibly guiding your career choices, U.S. scientists say.
Neuroscientists at the University of California, Irvine, scanned 6,000 volunteers in an effort to build a brain "map" that could match particular areas to particular skills and knowledge, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.
While being scanned, volunteers performed cognitive tests to see if there was a connection between brain and aptitude, the newspaper said.
Thu, 22/07/2010 - 01:32 by Pankaj Damin
Irvine, Calif. -- The SETI Institute, listening to the cosmos for signs of signals from alien civilizations, may be monitoring the wrong "channels," a U.S. astrophysicist says.
Gregory Benford of the University of California, Irvine, says such a civilization wanting to announce it presence would transmit "cost-optimized" narrowly focused signals, not the continuous omni-directional signals the SETI program has been scanning for, a university release said Wednesday.
"This approach is more like Twitter and less like War and Peace, " James Benford, Gregory Benford's twin and fellow physicist, says.
Such short, targeted blips, dubbed Benford beacons, should be the targets of SETI efforts, a growing number of scientists say.
Tue, 20/07/2010 - 03:17 by Pankaj Damin
London -- Scientists say cells previously believed to act just as a "glue" between brain neurons have, in fact, a central role in the regulation of breathing in humans.
Astrocytes, named after their characteristic star shape, monitor levels of carbon dioxide in the blood and activate brain respiratory networks to increase a person's breathing to match metabolism and activity, ScienceDaily.com reported Friday.
The research could lead to understanding causes of devastating conditions associated with respiratory failure such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, ScienceDaily said.
Astrocytes are a type of brain cell called glial cells, from the Greek for "glue," the most numerous cell type in the human brain.
Tue, 20/07/2010 - 03:12 by Pankaj Damin
College Park, Md. -- A new "smart" metal could replace the liquid refrigerant in air conditioners, saving consumers money and reducing greenhouse gases, scientists say.
Researchers at the University of Maryland are developing a new "thermally elastic" metal alloy to replace fluids used in conventional refrigeration and air conditioning compressors, a university release said Friday.
The alloy alternately absorbs or creates heat similar to a compressor-based system, but uses far less energy and avoids the need for fluids with high global warming potential, the researchers say.
Tue, 20/07/2010 - 03:00 by Pankaj Damin
Lubbock, Texas -- Choices made today about greenhouse gas reduction could affect climate change for hundreds, even thousands of years, U.S. researchers say.
Climate scientists at Texas Tech University have issued a report of advice and recommendations for possible outcomes of choosing future emissions targets, a university release said Friday.
"Many of us have had the experience of going to the doctor and receiving advice on how to improve our health," climate researcher Katherine Hayhoe said.
"Then, it's up to us to decide how much we are willing to change," Hayhoe said. "In a similar way, this report presents the probabilities of certain impacts at different levels of global temperature increase."
Tue, 20/07/2010 - 02:30 by Pankaj Damin
Los Angeles -- A new earthquake theory suggests doughnut-shaped patterns of temblors build up over decades to a final large earthquake in the doughnut "hole," scientists say.
The circular pattern theory, called a Mogi doughnut after the Japanese seismologist who proposed it, may lead to improved earthquake forecasts, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
Recent earthquakes near Eureka and Palm Springs in California and Mexicali in Mexico, combined with large seismic upheavals like the 1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge temblors, could be precursors to a far larger rupture somewhere in the doughnut "hole," University of California, Davis physicist and geologist John Rundle and his colleagues say.
Sat, 17/07/2010 - 02:16 by Pankaj Damin
Wellington, New Zealand -- Two British engineers living in New Zealand have developed a pair of robotic legs they say will allow paraplegics to walk again.
Dubbed Rex, for Robotic Exoskeleton, the prostheses took engineers Richard Little and Robert Irving seven years to design and build, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
The legs weigh 84 pounds and are activated by a small electric motor powered from a lightweight battery.
Wheelchair users can move into the device in a sitting position, strap themselves in, and control movements with a joystick and control panel on the arm, the newspaper said.
Hayden Allen, unable to walk since a motorcycle accident injured his spine, was one of the first to walk using Rex.
Fri, 16/07/2010 - 02:24 by Pankaj Damin
College Park, Md. -- One mouse can learn from another mouse what foods are good to eat and safe to eat -- by smelling its breath, researchers say.
For rodents, any food smell combined with breath odor sends an irresistible "eat this" message to the brain, ScienceNews.org reported Thursday.
Carbon disulfide, a metabolic byproduct found in the breath of many mammals, stimulates specialized cells in the mouse nose, scientists report in the journal Current Biology.
These cells send a signal to specialized structures within the mouse brain that links an incoming odor with food that's safe to eat, researchers said.
Fri, 16/07/2010 - 01:44 by Pankaj Damin
New York -- U.S. scientists are studying hundreds of dead animals found along the Gulf coast since the beginning of the oil spill for clues to how they died, officials say.
The bodies of birds, turtles, dolphins and one whale are being examined and autopsied to determine what killed them, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Although oil is the obvious suspect, the vast majority of the animals examined so far show no visible signs of oil contamination, scientists say.
Scientists will be looking at other suspect causes including oil fumes, oiled food, chemicals used to break up the oil spill or natural diseases, the Times reported.
Tue, 13/07/2010 - 09:49 by Pankaj Damin
Washington -- Cameras on a NASA spacecraft captured activity on the sun as powerful, glowing magnetic loops erupted from a solar hot spot, U.S. officials said.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the events in the extreme ultraviolet range of the light spectrum over several days beginning July 6, Space.com reported Monday.
The arcing loops are the routes taken by solar particles following ever-changing magnetic field lines on the surface of the sun, Space.com said. The arcing solar material appears blazing-white at the sun's surface, fading to a more dull orange near the top of the arcs.
Tue, 13/07/2010 - 02:47 by Pankaj Damin
Washington -- A chunk of a Greenland glacier one-eighth the size of Manhattan broke up, leaving the edge of the glacier farther inland than ever observed, scientists say.
Almost three square miles of the Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier broke up July 6 and 7, causing the glacier's edge to retreat nearly a mile, a NASA release said.
The breakout is unusual, one scientist says, because it occurred after a warm winter that saw no sea ice forming on the surrounding bay.
"While the exact relationship between these events is being determined," Thomas Wagner, cryospheric program scientist at NASA, said, "it lends credence to the theory that warming of the oceans is responsible for the ice loss observed throughout Greenland and Antarctica."