Science news of interest...


29 July 2014

Compelling new evidence for artificial lighting's role in breast cancer


Scientists have found that for laboratory rats with human breast tumors, exposure to dim light at night made the tumors resistant to the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. The new research is the first to show that a significant correlation exists between melatonin levels and the effectiveness of tamoxifen in treating breast cancer...


24 July 2014

Locate alien civilizations by their pollution, suggest astrophysicists


Harvard-Smithsonian scientists speculate that little green men may not be "green" at all, and finding them might be a simple matter of looking for industrial pollution in the atmospheres of exoplanets...


14 July 2014

Prehistoric token "bookkeeping" persisted long into age of written language


An archaeological dig in Turkey has uncovered a large number of clay tokens that were used as records of trade before the advent of writing around 3,000 B.C. But the newly found tokens show the rudimentary accounting system didn't die out with the invention of writing, and persisted for at least another 2,000 years...


10 July 2014

New fossil interpretation challenges notion that birds are descended from dinosaurs


Re-examination of a sparrow-sized fossil from China has led researchers to challenge the commonly held belief that birds evolved from ground-dwelling dinosaurs that gained the ability to fly...


8 July 2014

Scientists uncover biggest-ever flying bird


The fossilized remains of an extinct giant bird with a wingspan of 24 feet place the creature above theoretical upper limits for powered flight in animals, leaving scientists to wonder how the enormous bird managed to take to the air...


4 July 2014

Biological basis for magic mushrooms' mind-expansion revealed


For the first time, researchers have measured the level of entropy for different networks in the brain under the influence of psilocybin. They found that activity in the more primitive brain network linked to emotional thinking became more pronounced - a pattern of activity similar to that observed in people who are dreaming...


1 July 2014

Antihistamines may be next blockbuster anti-cancer drug


Scientists have established a connection between two diseases that aren't commonly linked: allergy and cancer. The new research shows that antihistamines appear to have "significant" anti-cancer properties...


26 June 2014

African music preferred by chimps


Chimpanzees like to listen to the different rhythms of music from Africa and India, but prefer silence to music from the West according to new research...


24 June 2014

Software scans family photos to diagnose rare disorders


Software that scans and analyzes family snapshots could help doctors diagnose which rare genetic disorder a child is suffering from, say Oxford University researchers...


20 June 2014

UV light can be addictive, say scientists


Why do people still spend extended periods in the sun when the dangers of skin cancer are so well recognized? A new study adds important support to the theory that ultraviolet light can actually be addictive, triggering opiate-like effects in the body...


19 June 2014

Animals conceal sickness in mating situations


In research that has implications for our understanding of how infectious diseases spread in human populations, researchers from the University of Zurich have been studying how sick animals will conceal their illness when mating opportunities arise...


17 June 2014

Algae turn quantum coherence on and off


A team of researchers has discovered how algae that survive in very low levels of light are able to switch on-and-off a quantum phenomenon known as coherence. The function of coherence in the algae remains a mystery, but the researchers think it could help the organisms harvest energy from the Sun much more efficiently. They add that working out its precise role in a living organism could lead to technological advances, such as much-improved organic solar cells...


13 June 2014

Feminization of men causing obesity epidemic, say Aussie researchers


An imbalance of female sex hormones among men in Western nations may be contributing to high levels of male obesity, as men artificially imitate the female pattern of weight gain...


11 June 2014

Singing primates and tweeting birds: Uncovering human language's deep origins


By re-examining contemporary human language, MIT researchers believe they can uncover how human communication could have evolved from the systems underlying the older communication modes of birds and primates...


10 June 2014

Could "free will" arise from random brain noise?


Free will, the ability that we believe we have to make choices - and mistakes - might arise from simple random fluctuations in the brain's background electrical noise, say neuroscientists from the University of California, Davis...


9 June 2014

Human face evolved to be punched


A controversial new paper contends that human faces have evolved over time to minimize injury from punches to the face during fights. The new theory presents an alternative view to the long-held hypothesis that the robustness of our faces resulted from the need to chew hard-to-crush foods...


3 June 2014

Laser sensor busts drunk drivers from outside car


Most health and law enforcement agencies would agree that the effective early detection of drivers under the influence of alcohol would significantly reduce the number of fatal car accidents. To date, this has been only been possible by stopping individual vehicles and requiring the driver to breath into a device that measures the alcohol content of the driver's breath. Now, however, researchers in Poland have shown that a simple laser device can measure alcohol vapor levels in a moving vehicle...


30 May 2014

Domestication of dogs may explain success of early humans


A new analysis of European archaeological sites suggests that early humans working with the earliest domestic dogs were extremely successful at killing large animals. The success of this dog-human hunting combo could explain the mysterious, massive collections of mammoth bones found in Europe...


27 May 2014

Could heat from a Martian volcano create a habitable environment?


Scientists think that the heat from a volcano erupting beneath an immense glacier might have created large lakes of liquid water on Mars in the relatively recent past. And where there's water, there is also the possibility of life...


23 May 2014

Scientists map mental illness' effects on life expectancy


A new study by researchers at the University of Oxford shows that mental illnesses reduce life expectancy by 10-20 years, a loss of years that's equivalent to or worse than that for heavy smoking. Why then, ask the researchers, is mental health much less of a public health priority?


21 May 2014

Vitamin E in canola linked to asthma, lung inflammation


A new study shows the drastically different health effects of vitamin E depending on its form. The study authors say a vitamin E variant known as gamma-tocopherol - found in soybean, corn, and canola oils - was found to be associated with decreased lung function in humans...


19 May 2014

Windshield washer water a "significant" source of Legionnaire's


Outbreaks of Legionnaire's disease are most often linked to large-scale air conditioning systems, but new research shows that automobile windshield washers can harbor the Legionella bacteria for long periods and release potentially dangerous numbers of these bacteria into the air...


16 May 2014

Researchers go beyond quantum limit


Scientists are capable of measuring the position of an object with unprecedented accuracy, but the Heisenberg uncertainty principle ultimately places a fundamental limit on such measurements. Now, however, Caltech researchers have found a way to make measurements that go beyond the limits imposed by quantum physics...


14 May 2014

Species turnover: this isn't the biodiversity you're looking for


Re-examining biodiversity data from one hundred long-term ecosystem monitoring studies done around the world, a new paper has revealed that the number of species in many of these places has not changed much - or has actually increased. But the researchers did discover something changing rapidly: which species were thriving...


13 May 2014

The War on Drugs in 10,000 B.C.


New archaeological research suggests that the use of alcohol, opium poppies, and hallucinogenic mushrooms by prehistoric Europeans was highly regulated and restricted to sacred burial rituals, where intoxication was believed to be an integral part of communication with the spirit world...


11 May 2014

Short men living longer


Shorter men live longer, according to new research that shows shorter men were more likely to have a protective form of the longevity gene, FOXO3, leading to smaller body size during early development, lower blood insulin levels, and less cancer...


6 May 2014

New type of avian flu found in Antarctic penguins


An international team of researchers has identified a previously unknown avian influenza virus in a group of Adelie penguins from Antarctica...


2 May 2014

Space station experiment identifies microbes that can survive unprotected in space


Scientists conducting a series of experiments on the International Space Station have found that some organisms can survive long periods exposed to the hostile environment of outer space, lending weight to the concept of panspermia, where life on Earth was seeded by bacterial colonies carried on comets and asteroids...


30 April 2014

Entire star cluster flung from distant galaxy


Astrophysicists have discovered an entire star cluster that has been ejected from the galaxy known as M87 at more than two million miles per hour. The newly discovered cluster, which astronomers named HVGC-1, will now travel through the void between the galaxies for all time...


28 April 2014

Newly discovered neighboring star as cold as the North Pole


Discovered using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and Spitzer Space Telescopes, a brown dwarf star only 7 light years distant appears to be the coldest of its kind - as chilly as Earth's North Pole...


25 April 2014

New Hubble analysis reveals hidden planetary disks


Using a new image processing technique, astronomers combing through data from the Hubble Space Telescope have identified five planetary disks around young stars much like our Sun. The disks, say the astronomers, are telltale evidence of newly formed planets...


23 April 2014

Speed-reading apps hinder comprehension, say researchers


Speed-reading apps for phones and tablets work by eliminating the time we supposedly waste moving our eyes as we read. But new research suggests that the eye movements we make during reading actually play a vital role in our ability to understand what we're reading...


21 April 2014

Niacin: the vitamin from outer space


Niacin, or vitamin B3, could have been delivered to Earth by carbon-rich meteorites, say NASA researchers, whose findings support a theory that the emergence of life on Earth may have been assisted by a supply of key molecules created in space and brought to Earth by comet and meteor impacts...


17 April 2014

Kepler mission identifies most Earth-like exoplanet yet discovered


An international team of astronomers have announced the discovery of a new rocky planet the same size as Earth that could have liquid water on its surface. The potentially habitable planet, dubbed Kepler-186f, was discovered using data from NASA's Kepler telescope and verified by the Gemini and Keck telescopes...