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Earth

Harvard Study Links Neonicotinoid Pesticide To Colony Collapse Disorder 217

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-bees? dept.
walterbyrd (182728) writes in with news about a new study from Harvard School of Public Health that links two widely used neonicotinoids to Colony Collapse Disorder. "Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), or the widespread population loss of honeybees, may have been caused by the use of neonicotinoids, according to a new study out of Harvard University. Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides, chemically similar to nicotine. They were first developed for agricultural use in the 1980's by petroleum giant Shell. The pesticides were refined by Bayer the following decade. Two of these chemicals are now believed to be the cause of CCD, according to the new study from the School of Public Health at the university. This study replicated their own research performed in 2012."
Medicine

Electric Stimulation Could Help You Control Your Dreams 138

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-get-lucid dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A new study suggests that mild current applied to the scalp while sleeping can help people become aware of, and even control, their dreams—a phenomenon called lucid dreaming. Researchers recruited 27 men and women to spend several nights in a German sleep lab. After the volunteers had plunged into REM sleep, a state in which people are unable to move and the most vividly recalled dreams occur, researchers applied electrical current to their skulls near the forehead and temples. This boosted neural activity in the frontotemporal cortex, a brain region associated with conscious self-awareness, which normally gets tamped down during REM. Researchers then woke the participants and asked them to detail any dreams they could remember. People who had received 40 Hz of current were lucid in more than 70% of their reported dreams. The researchers suggest that the technique could potentially be used to help people who suffer from chronic nightmares."
Science

Scientists Discover Nickel-Eating Plant Species 57

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-for-dessert? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A new species of metal-eating plant has been discovered in the Philippines, and the plant loves to eat nickel. From the article: 'Scientists from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños have discovered Rinorea niccolifera, a plant species that accumulates up to 18,000 ppm of the metal in its leaves without poisoning itself, according to Edwino Fernando, lead author of the report and professor, said in a statement. Fernando and his team say that the hyper-accumulation of nickel is a very rare phenomenon, with only about 0.5 percent to 1 percent of plant species native to environments with nickel-rich soil.'"
Medicine

Norwegian Infectious Disease Specialists Have New Theory On HIV In Africa 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the snail-problem dept.
mdsolar (1045926) writes in about a Norwegian team who believe they have an explanation about the unique distribution of HIV in Africa. "While around the world a vast majority of AIDS victims are men, Africa has long been the glaring exception: Nearly 60 percent are women. And while there are many theories, no one has been able to prove one. In a modest public health clinic behind a gas station here in South Africa's rural KwaZulu/Natal Province, a team of Norwegian infectious disease specialists think they may have found a new explanation. It is far too soon to say whether they are right. But even skeptics say the explanation is biologically plausible. And if it is proved correct, a low-cost solution has the potential to prevent thousands of infections every year. The Norwegian team believes that African women are more vulnerable to H.I.V. because of a chronic, undiagnosed parasitic disease: genital schistosomiasis (pronounced shis-to-so-MY-a-sis), often nicknamed 'schisto.' The disease, also known as bilharzia and snail fever, is caused by parasitic worms picked up in infested river water. It is marked by fragile sores in the far reaches of the vaginal canal that may serve as entry points for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Dr. Eyrun F. Kjetland, who leads the Otimati team, says that it is more common than syphilis or herpes, which can also open the way for H.I.V."
Education

Wyoming Is First State To Reject Science Standards Over Climate Change 661

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-the-case-of-science-v-politics dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Time Magazine reports that Wyoming, the nation's top coal-producing state, has become the first state to reject new K-12 science standards proposed by national education groups mainly because of global warming components. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a set of science standards developed by leading scientists and science educators from 26 states and built on a framework developed by the National Academy of Sciences. The Wyoming science standards revision committee made up entirely of Wyoming educators unanimously recommended adoption of these standards to the state Board of Education not once but twice and twelve states have already adopted the standards since they were released in April 2013. But opponents argue the standards incorrectly assert that man-made emissions are the main cause of global warming and shouldn't be taught in a state that ranks first among all states in coal production, fifth in natural gas production and eighth in crude oil production deriving much of its school funding from the energy industry.

Amy Edmonds, of the Wyoming Liberty Group, says teaching 'one view of what is not settled science about global warming' is just one of a number of problems with the standards. 'I think Wyoming can do far better.' Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has called federal efforts to curtail greenhouse emissions a 'war on coal' and has said that he's skeptical about man-made climate change. Supporters of the NGSS say science standards for Wyoming schools haven't been updated since 2003 and are six years overdue. 'If you want the best science education for your children and grandchildren and you don't want any group to speak for you, then make yourselves heard loud and clear,' says Cate Cabot. 'Otherwise you will watch the best interests of Wyoming students get washed away in the hysteria of a small anti-science minority driven by a national right wing group – and political manipulation.'"
Transportation

Traffic Optimization: Cyclists Should Roll Past Stop Signs, Pause At Red Lights 490

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-they-could-just-stop-texting-i'd-be-happy dept.
Lasrick writes: "Joseph Stromberg at Vox makes a good case for changing traffic rules for bicyclists so that the 'Idaho stop' is legal. The Idaho stop allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yields and red lights as stop signs, and has created a safer ride for both cyclists and pedestrians. 'Public health researcher Jason Meggs found that after Idaho started allowing bikers to do this in 1982, injuries resulting from bicycle accidents dropped. When he compared recent census data from Boise to Bakersfield and Sacramento, California — relatively similar-sized cities with comparable percentages of bikers, topographies, precipitation patterns, and street layouts — he found that Boise had 30.5 percent fewer accidents per bike commuter than Sacramento and 150 percent fewer than Bakersfield.' Oregon was considering a similar law in 2009, and they made a nice video illustrating the Idaho Stop that is embedded in this article."
Privacy

Physician Operates On Server, Costs His Hospital $4.8 Million 143

Posted by timothy
from the s'posed-to-bury-your-mistakes dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jaikumar Vijayan reports at Computerworld that a physician at Columbia University Medical Center (CU) attempted to "deactivate" a personally owned computer from a hospital network segment that contained sensitive patient health information, creating an inadvertent data leak that is going to cost the hospital $4.8 million to settle with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The error left patient status, vital signs, laboratory results, medication information, and other sensitive data on about 6,800 individuals accessible to all via the Web. The breach was discovered after the hospital received a complaint from an individual who discovered personal health information about his deceased partner on the Web. An investigation by the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) found that neither Columbia University nor New York Presbyterian Hospital, who operated the network jointly, had implemented adequate security protections, or undertook a risk analysis or audit to identify the location of sensitive patient health information on the joint network. "For more than three years, we have been cooperating with HHS by voluntarily providing information about the incident in question," say the hospitals. "We also have continually strengthened our safeguards to enhance our information systems and processes, and will continue to do so under the terms of the agreement with HHS." HHS has also extracted settlements from several other healthcare entities over the past two years as it beefs up the effort to crack down on HIPAA violations. In April, it reached a $2 million settlement with with Concentra Health Services and QCA Health Plan. Both organizations reported losing laptops containing unencrypted patient data."
Programming

Why Scientists Are Still Using FORTRAN in 2014 634

Posted by timothy
from the why-change dept.
New submitter InfoJunkie777 (1435969) writes "When you go to any place where 'cutting edge' scientific research is going on, strangely the computer language of choice is FORTRAN, the first computer language commonly used, invented in the 1950s. Meaning FORmula TRANslation, no language since has been able to match its speed. But three new contenders are explored here. Your thoughts?"
Biotech

Luke Prosthetic Arm Approved By FDA 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-have-the-technology dept.
necro81 writes: "The FDA today approved the Luke prosthetic arm for sale. The Luke Arm, created by Dean Kamen's DEKA R&D Corp., was a project initiated by DARPA to develop a prosthetic arm for wounded warriors more advanced than those previously available. The Arm can be configured for below-the-elbow, above-the-elbow, and shoulder-level amputees. The full arm has 10 powered degrees of freedom and has the look and weight of the arm it replaces. Through trials by DEKA and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Arm has been used by dozens of amputees for a total of many thousands of hours. Commercialization is still pending."
Encryption

Physicists Turn 8MP Smartphone Camera Into a Quantum Random Number Generator 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-than-one-way-to-skin-schrodinger's-cat dept.
KentuckyFC writes: "Random numbers are the lifeblood of many cryptographic systems and demand for them will only increase in the coming years as techniques such as quantum cryptography become mainstream. But generating genuinely random numbers is a tricky business, not least because it cannot be done with a deterministic process such as a computer program. Now physicists have worked out how to use a smartphone camera to generate random numbers using quantum uncertainties. The approach is based on the fact that the emission of a photon is a quantum process that is always random. So in a given unit of time, a light emitter will produce a number of photons that varies by a random amount. Counting the number of photons gives a straightforward way of generating random numbers. The team points out that the pixels in smartphone cameras are now so sensitive that they can pick up this kind of quantum variation. And since a camera has many pixels working in parallel, a single image can generate large quantities of random digits. The team demonstrates the technique in a proof-of principle experiment using the 8-megapixel camera on a Nokia N9 smartphone while taking images of a green LED. The result is a quantum random number generator capable of producing digits at the rate of 1 megabit per second. That's more than enough for most applications and raises the prospect of credit card transactions and encrypted voice calls from an ordinary smartphone that are secured by the laws of quantum physics."
Earth

As Species Decline, So Do the Scientists Who Name Them 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-the-line dept.
tcd004 (134130) writes "Few sciences are more romantic than taxonomy. Imagine Darwin, perched over a nest of newly-discovered birds in the Galapagos, sketching away with a charcoal in his immortal journals. Yet Taxonomy is a dying science. DNA barcoding, which can identify species from tiny fragments of organic material, and other genetic sciences are pulling students away from the classical studies of anatomy and species classifications. As the biodiversity crisis wipes undiscovered species off the planet, so to go the scientists who count them."
Biotech

Scientists Create Bacteria With Expanded DNA Code 85

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-could-go-wrong? dept.
perryizgr8 (1370173) writes "Biologists have managed to create a bacteria with DNA made of the usual A-T, C-G plus an artificial third base pair, thus encoding more data in DNA. From the article: 'The scientists behind the work at the Scripps Research Institute have already formed a company to try to use the technique to develop new antibiotics, vaccines and other products, though a lot more work needs to be done before this is practical. The work also gives some support to the concept that life can exist elsewhere in the universe using genetics different from those on Earth. “This is the first time that you have had a living cell manage an alien genetic alphabet,” said Steven A. Benner, a researcher in the field at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Fla., who was not involved in the new work.'"
Space

Study: Earthlings Not Ready For Alien Encounters, Yet 453

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-me-to-your-leader dept.
astroengine (1577233) writes "The people of planet Earth would be wise to raise their cosmic consciousness prior to contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, a new study shows. 'The scientific community now accepts to some degree that this contact may occur in the next 50 to 100 years,' said Gabriel De la Torre, a clinical neuropsychologist and human factors specialist at the University of Cádiz in Spain. 'Consequently, we are becoming more concerned about this possibility and its aftermath Certainly the topic of contact with extraterrestrial civilizations raises a number of questions that are not easy to answer. We estimate that this type of event will have not only a social effect, but also on both consciousness and biology as well.' Although we may not have the necessary social skill set to deal with an encounter of the third kind, scientists or astronauts might make the best candidates for the first alien conversation."
AI

Mathematical Model Suggests That Human Consciousness Is Noncomputable 426

Posted by timothy
from the opposite-would-be-more-suprising dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "One of the most profound advances in science in recent years is the way researchers from a variety of fields are beginning to formulate the problem of consciousness in mathematical terms, in particular using information theory. That's largely thanks to a relatively new theory that consciousness is a phenomenon which integrates information in the brain in a way that cannot be broken down. Now a group of researchers has taken this idea further using algorithmic theory to study whether this kind of integrated information is computable. They say that the process of integrating information is equivalent to compressing it. That allows memories to be retrieved but it also loses information in the process. But they point out that this cannot be how real memory works; otherwise, retrieving memories repeatedly would cause them to gradually decay. By assuming that the process of memory is non-lossy, they use algorithmic theory to show that the process of integrating information must noncomputable. In other words, your PC can never be conscious in the way you are. That's likely to be a controversial finding but the bigger picture is that the problem of consciousness is finally opening up to mathematical scrutiny for the first time."
Biotech

Single Gene Can Boost IQ By Six Points 199

Posted by timothy
from the pair-of-jeans-can-lower-them-at-least-20 dept.
ananyo (2519492) writes "People are living longer, which is good. But old age often brings a decline in mental faculties and many researchers are looking for ways to slow or halt such decline. One group doing so is led by Dena Dubal of the University of California, San Francisco, and Lennart Mucke of the Gladstone Institutes, also in San Francisco. Dr Dubal and Dr Mucke have been studying the role in aging of klotho, a protein encoded by a gene called KL. A particular version of this gene, KL-VS, promotes longevity. One way it does so is by reducing age-related heart disease. Dr Dubal and Dr Mucke wondered if it might have similar powers over age-related cognitive decline. What they found was startling. KL-VS did not curb decline, but it did boost cognitive faculties regardless of a person's age by the equivalent of about six IQ points. If this result, just published in Cell Reports, is confirmed, KL-VS will be the most important genetic agent of non-pathological variation in intelligence yet discovered."
Earth

Electromagnetic Noise Found To Affect Bird Navigation 71

Posted by timothy
from the or-did-you-mean-magnetic-north? dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "A 7-year German study has come to a troubling conclusion: the EM noise from human activities is interfering with birds' magnetic 'compass' [paywalled paper, but above-average abstract], and potentially disrupting migratory behavior. While science is unclear how the birds' compasses work, it is theorized it employs the quantum phenomenon of electron spin. As the lead researcher, Prof Henrik Mouritsen, is quoted as saying, 'A very small perturbation of these electron spins would actually prevent the birds from using their magnetic compass.' The BBC has a nice summary article, as well."
Space

Space Telescope Reveals Weird Star Cluster Conundrum 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the weird-space dept.
astroengine (1577233) writes "We thought we had star formation mechanisms pinned down, but according to new observations of two star clusters, it seems our understanding of how stars are born is less than stellar. When zooming in on the young star clusters of NGC 2024 (in the center of the Flame Nebula) and the Orion Nebula Cluster, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory teamed up with infrared telescopes to take a census of star ages. Conventional thinking suggests that stars closest to the center of a given star cluster should be the oldest and the youngest stars can be found around the edges. However, to their surprise, astronomers have discovered that the opposite is true: 'Our findings are counterintuitive,' said Konstantin Getman of Penn State University, lead scientist of this new study. 'It means we need to think harder and come up with more ideas of how stars like our sun are formed.'"
Space

Astrophysicists Build Realistic Virtual Universe 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
sciencehabit writes "In the most detailed effort yet, astrophysicists and cosmologists have modeled the evolution of the universe right down to the formation of individual galaxies. The results of the mammoth computer simulation neatly match multiple astronomical observations, ranging from the distribution of galaxies in massive galaxy clusters to the amounts of neutral hydrogen gas in galaxies large and small (abstract). The findings once again neatly confirm cosmologists' standard theory of the basic ingredients of the universe and how it evolved—a result that may disappoint researchers hoping for new puzzles to solve."
Biotech

Controlling Fear By Modifying DNA 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the turning-somebody-into-one-of-the-x-men-would-also-subdue-fear dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The fear of flying or of skittering spiders can mean more than just a momentary increase in heart rate and a pair of sweaty palms. A hard-core phobia can lead to crippling anxiety. Now an international team of researchers says it believes it has found a way to silence the gene that feeds phobic fear via a novel mechanism of gene regulation associated with fear extinction. The notion appears to be that phobias arise from experiences that have left an outsized imprint on gene expression, and that undoing this can undo the anxiety itself. The study was published this month (abstract) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."
Space

The Strange Death of Comet Ison 49

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the need-better-space-cameras dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Last year, astronomers announced that a small ball of ice and rock heading towards the inner Solar System could turn out to be the most eye-catching comet in living memory. They calculated that Comet Ison's orbit would take it behind the Sun but that it would then head towards Earth where it would put on a spectacular display of heavenly fireworks. Sure enough, Ison brightened dramatically as it headed Sunwards. But as astronomers watched on the evening of 28 November, the brightly flaring Ison moved behind the Sun but never emerged. The comet simply disappeared. Now a new analysis of the death of Ison suggests that the comet was doomed long before it reached the Sun. Images from several Sun-observing spacecraft that had a unique view of events, indicate that Ison exhausted its supply of water and other ice in the final flare-ups as it approached the Sun. The new study shows that all that was left in its last hours were a few hundred thousands pebbles glowing brightly as they vaporized in the Sun's heat. In fact, Comet Ison died in full view of the watching hordes of astronomers on Earth who did not realize what they were watching at the time."

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