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Sci/Tech
 

8,000-year-old mutation key to human life at high altitudes

In an environment where others struggle to survive, Tibetans thrive in the thin air on the Tibetan Plateau, with an average elevation of 14,800 feet. A University of Utah led discovery that hinged as much on strides in cultural diplomacy as on scientific advancements, is the first to identify a genetic variation, or mutation, that contributes to the adaptation, and to reveal how it works. The research appears online in the journal Nature Genetics on Aug. 17, 2014.

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Toothless 'dragon' pterosaurs dominated the Late Cretaceous skies

A new study provides an exciting insight into the Late Cretaceous and the diversity and distribution of the toothless 'dragon' pterosaurs from the Azhdarchidae family. The research was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

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Early Antibiotic Exposure Leads to Lifelong Metabolic Disturbances in Mice

A new study published today in Cell suggests that antibiotic exposure during a critical window of early development disrupts the bacterial landscape of the gut, home to trillions of diverse microbes, and permanently reprograms the body's metabolism, setting up a predisposition to obesity. Moreover, the study shows that it is altered gut bacteria, rather than the antibiotics, driving the metabolic effects.

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Video: Our Curiosity

The Curiosity Mars Rover is one of the most complex machines ever built, a fully equipped analytical laboratory rolling around on the surface of another planet. "Our Curiosity" celebrates the mission's exploratory spirit and scientific prowess with narration from Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Felicia Day, and an original score from Austin Wintory.

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Stanford's Maryam Mirzakhani wins Fields Medal

Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor of mathematics at Stanford, has been awarded the 2014 Fields Medal, the most prestigious honor in mathematics. Mirzakhani is the first woman to win the prize, widely regarded as the "Nobel Prize of mathematics," since it was established in 1936.

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Trapped atmospheric waves triggered more weather extremes

Weather extremes in the summer - such as the record heat wave in the United States that hit corn farmers and worsened wildfires in 2012 - have reached an exceptional number in the last ten years. Man-made global warming can explain a gradual increase in periods of severe heat, but the observed change in the magnitude and duration of some events is not so easily explained. It has been linked to a recently discovered mechanism: the trapping of giant waves in the atmosphere. A new data analysis now shows that such wave-trapping events are indeed on the rise.

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Stanford research shows value of clams, mussels in cleaning dirty water

Pharmaceuticals, personal care products, herbicides and flame retardants are increasingly showing up in waterways. New Stanford research finds that a natural, low-cost solution – clams and mussels – may already exist for these contaminants of emerging concern, or CECs.

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Ancient shellfish remains rewrite 10,000-year history of El Niño cycles

The planet's largest and most powerful driver of climate changes from one year to the next, the El Niño Southern Oscillation in the tropical Pacific Ocean, was widely thought to have been weaker in ancient times because of a different configuration of the Earth's orbit. But scientists analyzing 25-foot piles of ancient shells have found that the El Niños 10,000 years ago were as strong and frequent as the ones we experience today.

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How the woodpecker avoids brain injury despite high-speed impacts via optimal anti-shock body structure

Designing structures and devices that protect the body from shock and vibrations during high-velocity impacts is a universal challenge.

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Tests find consumer products tainted with toxic PCBs

Tests of 68 consumer products confirmed that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are present in commonly used items. Forty-nine, or 72 percent, of the products contained at least one of four PCB types.

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Pyrocumulonimbus Cloud Rises Up from Canadian Wildfires

The Northern Territories in Canada is experiencing one of its worst fire seasons in history. As of this date, there have been 344 wildfires that have burned 2,830,907 hectares of land (close to 7 million acres).

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Rosetta Arrives at Target Comet

Today, after a decade-long journey chasing its target, the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe, carrying three NASA instruments, became the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

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WSU researchers see violent era in ancient American Southwest

It's a given that, in numbers terms, the 20th century was the most violent in world history, with civil wars, purges and two world wars killing as many as 200 million people.

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For-profit home care agencies cost Medicare billions extra, yet provide worse care: Health Affairs study

For-profit home health agencies are far costlier for Medicare than nonprofit agencies, according to a nationwide study published today [Monday, Aug. 4] in the August issue of the journal Health Affairs. Overall cost per patient was $1,215 higher at for-profits, with operating costs accounting for $752 of the difference and excess profits for $463. Yet the quality of care was actually worse at for-profit agencies, and more of their patients required repeat hospitalizations.

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Scientists uncover combustion mechanism to better predict warming by wildfires

Scientists have uncovered key attributes of so-called "brown carbon" from wildfires, airborne atmospheric particles that may have influenced current climate models that failed to take the material's warming effects into account. The work was described by a collaborative team of researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Montana in the journal Nature Geosciences this week.

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MU Scientists Call for Increased Conservation Efforts to Save Black Bears

Between 1880 and 1920, the Central Interior Highlands (CIH), consisting of Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas, saw the height of deforestation that also decreased the habitat for black bears and other forest species. To combat the decline of black bears and repopulate the mountainous region, more than 250 bears from Minnesota and Manitoba were relocated to Arkansas in the 1950s and 1960s. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have analyzed genetic diversity in black bears in the CIH and have determined that coordinated conservation management is still needed to maintain healthy populations of black bears in the region.

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UC Davis: Funds awarded to begin construction of Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

The National Science Foundation has agreed to support the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy to manage the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope construction project, with a budget of up to $473 million. The announcement caps more than 10 years of developing, planning and reviewing of the LSST concept.

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Stanford professor finds that slash and burn agriculture and wildfires play bigger role in climate change

It has long been known that biomass burning – burning forests to create agricultural lands, burning savannah as a ritual , slash-and-burn agriculture and wildfires – figures into both climate change and public health.

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Asteroid attacks significantly altered ancient Earth

New research shows that more than four billion years ago, the surface of Earth was heavily reprocessed – or mixed, buried and melted – as a result of giant asteroid impacts. A new terrestrial bombardment model based on existing lunar and terrestrial data sheds light on the role asteroid bombardments played in the geological evolution of the uppermost layers of the Hadean Earth (approximately 4 to 4.5 billion years ago).

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Study: Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Alters Brain Responses to Speech

Prolonged exposure to loud noise alters how the brain processes speech, potentially increasing the difficulty in distinguishing speech sounds, according to neuroscientists at The University of Texas at Dallas.

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Watching Schrödinger's cat die

One of the famous examples of the weirdness of quantum mechanics is the paradox of Schrödinger's cat.

If you put a cat inside an opaque box and make his life dependent on a random event, when does the cat die? When the random event occurs, or when you open the box?

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WIFIRE helps firefighters get a jump on wildfires

In recent years, the number and scale of wildfires in the U.S. has risen, threatening cities and forests, and forcing large-scale evacuations. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is supporting the WIFIRE initiative, led jointly by the University of California (UC), San Diego, and the University of Maryland, to better monitor, predict and mitigate wildfires in the future.

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NOAA: 'Nuisance flooding' an increasing problem as coastal sea levels rise

Eight of the top 10 U.S. cities that have seen an increase in so-called "nuisance flooding"-- which causes such public inconveniences as frequent road closures, overwhelmed storm drains and compromised infrastructure -- are on the East Coast, according to a new NOAA technical report.

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National Parks: vegetation shifting up slope and north as climate changes

Because of the combination of climate change and habitat loss, up to one-quarter of the total area of the U.S. National Park System is vulnerable to vegetation shifting up slope and northward according to new research published in the journal Global Change Biology.

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Pesticide linked to 3 generations of disease

Washington State University researchers say ancestral exposures to the pesticide methoxychlor may lead to adult onset kidney disease, ovarian disease and obesity in future generations.

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Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles

Invertebrate numbers have decreased by 45% on average over a 35 year period in which the human population doubled, reports a study on the impact of humans on declining animal numbers. This decline matters because of the enormous benefits invertebrates such as insects, spiders, crustaceans, slugs and worms bring to our day-to-day lives, including pollination and pest control for crops, decomposition for nutrient cycling, water filtration and human health.

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New study draws links between wildlife loss and social conflicts

Citing many sobering examples of how wildlife loss leads to conflict among people around the world, a new article co-authored by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages (HEAL) Program Director Dr. Christopher Golden, calls for an interdisciplinary approach to tackle global biodiversity decline.

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Climate data shows clear signs of warming

However you view the evidence, whatever set of measurements you examine, the picture that emerges is consistent: the Earth is heating up.

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Satellite study reveals parched U.S. West using up underground water

A new study finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.A new study finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.

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A New Approach to SETI: Targeting Alien Polluters

Humanity is on the threshold of being able to detect signs of alien life on other worlds. By studying exoplanet atmospheres, we can look for gases like oxygen and methane that only coexist if replenished by life. But those gases come from simple life forms like microbes. What about advanced civilizations? Would they leave any detectable signs?

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