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Showing posts from February 4, 2016

Inadequate testing thwarts efforts to measure Zika's impact

By Paulo Prada RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - One major hurdle is thwarting efforts to measure the extent of the Zika epidemic and its suspected links to thousands of birth defects in Brazil: accurate diagnosis of a virus that still confounds blood tests. Genetic tests and clinical symptoms have enabled scientists to partially track Zika, and Brazil guesses up to 1.5 million people have been infected in the country. The World Health Organization says as many as 4 million people could become infected across the Americas and that Zika has already been locally transmitted in at least 30 countries.


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Italian consortium set to win giant Chile telescope contract

An Italian consortium, including construction company Astaldi Spa, is close to securing a contract to build the world's largest telescope in the Chilean desert, project owner the European Southern Observatory (ESO) said on Thursday. The ESO said its finance committee had agreed to enter into final discussions with the consortium, which was the winning bidder to design, manufacture, transport and build the main dome and structure for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The consortium includes major Italian builder Cimolai and subcontractor the EIE Group, as well as Astaldi.

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Energy Evolves as 4th Industrial Revolution Looks to Nature (Op-Ed)

Lynn Scarlett is global managing director for policy at The Nature Conservancy. In Davos, Switzerland, at the 2016 World Economic Forum annual meeting, industry leaders focused on what they call the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Whereas the First Industrial Revolution used steam and waterpower in manufacturing, the second used electricity to power factories, allowing production on a much larger scale.

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Five Facts That Reveal a Warming Planet (Op-Ed)

"Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we did not deny Sputnik was up there," Obama said. Despite decades of research, too many U.S. politicians still deny climate change , a phenomenon so thoroughly documented as to find agreement among virtually every leading body of American scientists — NASA, NOAA, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society, just to name a few. 1) Climate change never took a break.

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Ancient wildebeest cousin boasted bizarre dinosaur-like trait

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In an ancient streambed on Kenya's Rusinga Island, scientists have unearthed fossils of a wildebeest-like creature named Rusingoryx that boasted a weird nasal structure more befitting of a dinosaur than a mammal. The hollow structure may have enabled the horned, hoofed grass-eater to produce a low trumpeting sound to communicate over long distances with others in its herd, Ohio University paleontologist Haley O'Brien said. "This structure was incredibly surprising," O'Brien said.


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Race Is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue

More than 100 years ago, American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois was concerned that race was being used as a biological explanation for what he understood to be social and cultural differences between different populations of people. In an article published today (Feb. 4) in the journal Science, four scholars say racial categories are weak proxies for genetic diversity and need to be phased out. They've called on the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to put together a panel of experts across the biological and social sciences to come up with ways for researchers to shift away from the racial concept in genetics research.

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Europe's shift to dark green forests stokes global warming-study

By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - An expansion of Europe's forests towards dark green conifers has stoked global warming, according to a study on Thursday at odds with a widespread view that planting more trees helps human efforts to slow rising temperatures. Forest changes have nudged Europe's summer temperatures up by 0.12 degree Celsius (0.2 Fahrenheit) since 1750, largely because many nations have planted conifers such as pines and spruce whose dark colour traps the sun's heat, the scientists said. Overall, the area of Europe's forests has expanded by 10 percent since 1750.


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Europe's shift to dark green forests stokes global warming - study

By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - An expansion of Europe's forests towards dark green conifers has stoked global warming, according to a study on Thursday at odds with a widespread view that planting more trees helps human efforts to slow rising temperatures. Forest changes have nudged Europe's summer temperatures up by 0.12 degree Celsius (0.2 Fahrenheit) since 1750, largely because many nations have planted conifers such as pines and spruce whose dark colour traps the sun's heat, the scientists said. Overall, the area of Europe's forests has expanded by 10 percent since 1750.

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4 New 'Flatworm' Species: No Brains, No Eyes, No Problem

Four new species of deep-sea flatwormlike animals that look like deflated whoopee cushions and lack complex organs have helped solve a complicated puzzle about their group's placement on the tree of life, scientists found.  


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Head Trauma Linked to Same 'Plaques' Seen in Alzheimer's

People with brain injuries from trauma to the head may have a buildup of the same plaques seen in people with Alzheimer's disease in their brains, a small, new study suggests. Moreover, the areas of the brain where the plaques were found in people with brain injuries overlapped with the areas where plaques are usually found in people with Alzheimer's. "People, after a head injury, are more likely to develop dementia, but it isn’t clear why," study co-author David Sharp, a neurology professor at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.

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Aging May Slow When Certain Cells Are Killed

Killing off certain aging cells in the body may lead to a longer life, suggests a new study done in genetically engineered mice. The drug that the researchers administered to the mice only worked because the mice were transgenic, and researchers "can't make transgenic humans," noted Christin Burd, an assistant professor of molecular genetics at The Ohio State University, who was not involved in the new study. In the study, the researchers developed the genetically engineered mice.

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Riding High: Pot-Smoking Drivers Evade Blood Tests

People who drive after smoking marijuana are at greater risk of car crashes, but blood tests to check for the drug may not be a reliable way to catch impaired drivers, a new study suggests. Researchers found that levels of marijuana's active ingredient — tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — decrease very quickly in the blood. This means that a person who was impaired by marijuana while behind the wheel might not have a positive test result by the time a test is administered a few hours later, the researchers said.

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Daddy Longlegs Fossil Keeps Erection for 99 Million Years

That's how long the penis of a newly discovered arachnid fossil has been standing at attention. The harvestman, a spider relative also known as a daddy longlegs, was encased in amber during the Cretaceous in what is now Myanmar. "It was very surprising to see the genitals, as they are usually tucked away inside the harvestman's body," said Jason Dunlop, the curator of the arachnid, millipede and centipede collections at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, who reported the discovery online Jan. 28 in the journal The Science of Nature.


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