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Massive amounts of Saharan dust fertilize the Amazon rainforest

The Sahara Desert and the Amazon rainforest seem to inhabit separate worlds. The former is a vast expanse of sand and scrub stretching across the northern third of Africa, while the latter is a dense green mass of humid jungle covering northeast South America. And yet, they are connected: every year, millions of tons of nutrient-rich Saharan dust cross the Atlantic Ocean, bringing vital phosphorus and other fertilizers to depleted Amazon soils.

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Geysers have loops in their plumbing

Geysers like Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park erupt periodically because of loops or side-chambers in their underground plumbing, according to recent studies by volcanologists at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Safety and life-saving efficacy of statins have been exaggerated, says USF scientist

Hailed as miracle drugs when they hit the market two decades ago, statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs prescribed to prevent heart attacks, are not as effective nor as safe as we have been led to believe, say Dr. David M. Diamond, a professor of psychology, molecular pharmacology and physiology at the University of South Florida, and Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, an independent health researcher and an expert in cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

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Out of Africa: Did humans migrate quickly and all-at-once or in phases based on weather?

Considerable debate surrounds the migration of human populations out of Africa. Two predominant hypotheses concerning the timing contrast in their emphasis on the role of the Arabian interior and its changing climate. In one scenario, human populations expanded rapidly from Africa to southern Asia via the coastlines of Arabia approx. 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. Another model suggests that dispersal into the Arabian interior began much earlier (approx. 75,000 to 130,000 years ago) during multiple phases, when increased rainfall provided sufficient freshwater to support expanding populations.

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Second Generation HPV Vaccine Shows Promise to Dramatically Reduce Cervical Cancer

A multinational study on a diverse group of women shows that a new nine-valent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prevents infections and disease associated with the vaccine types, according to a paper published today in The New England Journal of Medicine. The vaccine has the potential to dramatically reduce rates of cervical cancer, as well as the number of cervical exams a women must have during her lifetime, says Warner Huh, M.D., professor and director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Gynecologic Oncology and one of the authors of the study.

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Fearless birds and shrinking salmon: Is urbanization pushing Earth's evolution to a tipping point?

That humans and the cities we build affect the ecosystem and even drive some evolutionary change in species' traits is already known. The signs are small but striking: Spiders in cities are getting bigger and salmon in rivers smaller; birds in urban areas are growing tamer and bolder, outcompeting their country cousins.

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Indo-European languages emerged roughly 6,500 years ago on Russian steppes, new research suggests

Linguists have long agreed that languages from English to Greek to Hindi, known as 'Indo-European languages', are the modern descendants of a language family which first emerged from a common ancestor spoken thousands of years ago. Now, a new study gives us more information on when and where it was most likely used. Using data from over 150 languages, linguists at the University of California, Berkeley provide evidence that this ancestor language originated 5,500 - 6,500 years ago, on the Pontic-Caspian steppe stretching from Moldova and Ukraine to Russia and western Kazakhstan.

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A close call of 0.8 light years

A group of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile and South Africa have determined that 70,000 years ago a recently discovered dim star is likely to have passed through the solar system's distant cloud of comets, the Oort Cloud. No other star is known to have ever approached our solar system this close - five times closer than the current closest star, Proxima Centauri.

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Ancient rocks show life could have flourished on Earth 3.2 billion years ago

A spark from a lightning bolt, interstellar dust, or a subsea volcano could have triggered the very first life on Earth. But what happened next? Life can exist without oxygen, but without plentiful nitrogen to build genes - essential to viruses, bacteria and all other organisms - life on the early Earth would have been scarce.

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'Most Comprehensive Map' of Human Epigenomes Is Unveiled

Two dozen scientific papers published online simultaneously on Feb. 18, 2015 present the first comprehensive maps and analyses of the epigenomes of a wide array of human cell and tissue types. Epigenomes are patterns of chemical annotations to the genome that determine whether, how, and when genes are activated.

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In a warmer world ticks that spread disease are arriving earlier, expanding their ranges

In the northeastern United States, warmer spring temperatures are leading to shifts in the emergence of the blacklegged ticks that carry Lyme disease and other tick-borne pathogens. At the same time, milder weather is allowing ticks to spread into new geographic regions. Findings were published this week in a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B dedicated to climate change and vector-borne diseases.

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Short-term use of HRT therapy carries increased ovarian cancer risk

Taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for the menopause, even for just a few years, is associated with a significantly increased risk of developing the two most common types of ovarian cancer, a group led by Oxford University researchers have found.

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SETI researchers call for interstellar messages to alien civilizations

Is it time to send deliberate messages to the stars, in the hopes of reaching alien civilizations? Advocates in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) say that moment is long overdue. But other researchers want to take a more cautious approach and seek an international consensus before outing Earth to the rest of the universe. Scientists in both camps faced off today at a debate held at a meeting of AAAS (which publishes Science) here.

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Complex nerve-cell signaling traced back to common ancestor of humans and sea anemones

New research shows that a burst of evolutionary innovation in the genes responsible for electrical communication among nerve cells in our brains occurred over 600 million years ago in a common ancestor of humans and the sea anemone. The research, led by Timothy Jegla, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State University, shows that many of these genes, which when mutated in humans can lead to neurological disease, first evolved in the common ancestor of people and a group of animals called cnidarians, which includes jellyfish, coral, and sea anemones. A paper describing the research is scheduled to be posted online in the Early Edition (EE) of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America sometime during the week beginning February 16, 2015.

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SMOS on acid

With fundamental changes happening to the chemistry of the world’s oceans, salinity information from ESA’s SMOS mission is being used with other Earth observation data to obtain information on ‘the other carbon dioxide problem’ – ocean acidification.

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Mystery Mars plume baffles scientists

Plumes seen reaching high above the surface of Mars are causing a stir among scientists studying the atmosphere on the Red Planet. On two separate occasions in March and April 2012, amateur astronomers reported definite plume-like features developing on the planet.

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Wildland Fire Fighter Uniform Redesigned to Prevent Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

When leaders at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) noticed their wildland firefighters were experiencing more heat stress injuries—like heat exhaustion and heat stroke—than burn injuries, they wanted to know why and how prevent them. They soon realized their uniforms were part of the problem. Working with a team at the University of California, Davis, they developed technical and design specifications for a new uniform aimed at increasing the comfort and breathability while maintaining the current level of protection against flames.

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Iconic "Hockey Stick" graph at center of climate debate

The "Hockey Stick" graph, a simple plot representing temperature over time, led to the center of the larger debate on climate change, and skewed the trajectory of at least one researcher, according to Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology, Penn State.

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Happy Valentine's Day from space: Heart of Voh, New Caledonia

Mangrove swamps along the coast of New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific Ocean are pictured in this false-colour satellite image. The heart-shaped formation – known as the ‘Heart of Voh’ for its proximity to the Voh commune – is a natural structure caused by changes in vegetation cover.

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Measles Not Only Serious Disease We're Failing to Vaccinate Against; HPV Vaccine Raises Similar Concerns

While measles and the human papillomavirus (HPV) are vastly different diseases, failing to get vaccinated against them can have equally serious consequences, suggests Bradley Stoner, PhD, a medical anthropologist who studies infectious disease transmission at Washington University in St. Louis.

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Dogs know that smile on your face

Dogs can tell the difference between happy and angry human faces, according to a new study in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on February 12. The discovery represents the first solid evidence that an animal other than humans can discriminate between emotional expressions in another species, the researchers say.

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UM study finds air pollution affects short-term memory, IQ and brain metabolic ratios

City smog lowers children's IQ. This is among findings from a recent University of Montana study that found children living in cities with significant air pollution are at an increased risk for detrimental impacts to the brain, including short-term memory loss and lower IQ.

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Methane emissions from natural gas industry higher than previously thought

World leaders are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it's unclear just how much we're emitting. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a new program to track these emissions, but scientists are reporting that it vastly underestimates methane emissions from the growing natural gas industry. Their findings, published in two papers in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, could help the industry clamp down on "superemitter" leaks.

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Monster hurricanes reached US Northeast during prehistoric periods of ocean warming

Intense hurricanes possibly more powerful than any storms New England has experienced in recorded history frequently pounded the region during the first millennium, from the peak of the Roman Empire into the height of the Middle Ages, according to a new study. The findings could have implications for the intensity and frequency of hurricanes that the U.S. East and Gulf coasts could experience as ocean temperatures increase as a result of climate change, according to the study's authors.

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Crocodiles Just Wanna Have Fun, Too

Turns out we may have more in common with crocodiles than we'd ever dream. According to research by a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, crocodiles think surfing waves, playing ball and going on piggyback rides are fun, too.

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Mesothelioma in southern Nevada likely result of asbestos in environment

Malignant mesothelioma has been found at higher than expected levels in women and in individuals younger than 55 years old in the southern Nevada counties of Clark and Nye, likewise in the same region carcinogenic mineral fibers including actinolite asbestos, erionite, winchite, magnesioriebeckite and richterite were discovered. These data, published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the official journal of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, suggest that these elevated numbers of malignant mesothelioma cases are linked to environmental exposure of carcinogenic mineral fibers.

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Stress caused by discrimination linked to mental health issues among Latino teens

Latino adolescents who experience discrimination-related stress are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and issues with sleep, according to research led by NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. These mental health outcomes were more pronounced among Latino teens born in the U.S. to immigrant parents, as opposed to foreign-born teens.

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Measles Outbreak: What You Need to Know

A Rutgers University infectious diseases expert discusses the myths and facts of the measles outbreak and the “vaccine gap” that has put certain adults at risk.

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Scientists predict Earth-like planets around most stars

Planetary scientists have calculated that there are hundreds of billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy which might support life.

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15-million-year-old mollusk protein found

A team of Carnegie scientists have found "beautifully preserved" 15 million-year-old thin protein sheets in fossil shells from southern Maryland. Their findings are published in the inaugural issue of Geochemical Perspectives Letters.

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