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Showing posts from June 23, 2016

Centuries-old African soil technique could combat climate change - scientists

By Kieran Guilbert DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A farming technique practised for centuries in West Africa, which transforms nutrient-poor rainforest soil into fertile farmland, could combat climate change and revolutionise farming across the continent, researchers said on Tuesday. Adding kitchen waste and charcoal to tropical soil can turn it into fertile, black soil which traps carbon and reduces emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, according to a study carried out by the University of Sussex in England. The soils produced by the 700-year-old practice, known as "African dark earths", contain up to 300 percent more organic carbon than other soils, and are capable of supporting far more intensive farming, said the anthropologist behind the study.

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Previous exposure to dengue may make Zika worse, scientists find

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists studying the Zika outbreak in Brazil say previous exposure to another mosquito-borne virus, dengue, may exacerbate the potency of Zika infection. The scientists said their results, published in the journal Nature Immunology, suggested that some dengue antibodies can recognize and bind to Zika due to the similarities between the two viruses, but that these antibodies may also amplify Zika infection in a phenomenon called antibody-dependent enhancement. This effect is already known with dengue, they said, and is thought to explain why, when a person gets dengue fever a second time, the infection is often more serious than the first.

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Human skin cells used in animal-free cosmetic tests

By Matthew Stock A UK-based laboratory is working to eradicate animal testing in the cosmetics industry by developing alternative methods which are not only cruelty-free but more scientifically advanced than other current tests. XCellR8 uses scaffolds of cells from human skin donated by plastic surgery patients, which they say are ideally suited to testing cosmetic products. "For skin irritation testing the cells are isolated from human skin that has been donated by people who have had plastic surgery and they've said that they're quite happy for the tissue to be used for research purposes.

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Previous exposure to dengue may make Zika worse, scientists find

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists studying the Zika outbreak in Brazil say previous exposure to another mosquito-borne virus, dengue, may exacerbate the potency of Zika infection. The scientists said their results, published in the journal Nature Immunology, suggested that some dengue antibodies can recognise and bind to Zika due to the similarities between the two viruses, but that these antibodies may also amplify Zika infection in a phenomenon called antibody-dependent enhancement. This effect is already known with dengue, they said, and is thought to explain why, when a person gets dengue fever a second time, the infection is often more serious than the first.


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Previous exposure to dengue may make Zika worse, scientists find

* Findings may explain why current Zika outbreak is severe * Dengue virus is also carried by mosquitoes * Dengue antibodies attach to Zika, but only partially By Kate Kelland LONDON, June 23 (Reuters) - Scientists studying the Zika outbreak in Brazil say previous exposure to another mosquito-borne virus, dengue, may exacerbate the potency of Zika infection. The scientists said their results, published in the journal Nature Immunology, suggested that some dengue antibodies can recognise and bind to Zika due to the similarities between the two viruses, but that these antibodies may also amplify Zika infection in a phenomenon called antibody-dependent enhancement.

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Virtual Reality Could Be Film's Next 'New Wave'

Danish filmmakers Johan Knattrup Jensen and Mads Damsbo and their production company Makropol are using virtual-reality (VR) technology to explore the boundaries of movie narratives, building on traditional visual storytelling and introducing new opportunities for audiences to interact with plotlines and characters — and with one another. Their short film "Ewa: Out of Body," premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, and enabled viewers to see the world through the eyes of Ewa, the main character. The short is a brief introduction to Ewa's life.


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Hair on Demand: Researchers Create 3D-Printed Fur

3D printers aren't just for making small, rigid, plastic models — now, these figurines can have long, flowing, 3D-printed locks. "Although it is the same material, you can vary its stiffness from something like a toothbrush bristle to synthetic hair or fur," said study lead author Jifei Ou, a graduate student in the Tangible Media Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "The goal of Cilllia is not to replicate hair, but to look at the functionality of hair," Ou told Live Science.


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17th-Century French Ship Gets New Berth: A Texas Museum

After spending more than 300 years on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, the 17th-century French ship that went by the name La Belle, or "The Beautiful," has finally found a new resting place at a museum in Texas. Upon finding the wreck, the researchers were able to identify it as La Belle, a French-made ship that sank off the coast of Matagorda Bay (an area about 110 miles, or 177 kilometers, southwest of Houston) in 1686. "It's been exciting, a huge headache and a huge frustration at times, but I love old ships and in particular this one,” Peter Fix, a watercraft conservator at the Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University, said in the statement.


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Screwworm Sex Wins 'Golden Goose' Award for Unusual Research

The 2016 Golden Goose Award, which honors basic research that might seem silly but led to important breakthroughs, will go to Edward F. Knipling and Raymond C. Bushland. The U.S. Department of Agriculture funded the researchers' study of the reproductive behavior of screwworm flies (Cochliomyia hominivorax), a parasitic species that caused major problems for farmers and ranchers before Knipling and Bushland's work led to a new type of insect control in the 1950s. "Given the recent rise of infectious diseases like the Zika virus, developing eradication programs for carrier pests is a much-needed field of scientific research," Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., a supporter of the Golden Goose Award, said in a statement.


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Sharks Near You? Global Survey Reveals Predators' Top Spots

For this huge undertaking, known as the Global FinPrint, researchers are using baited remote underwater video (BRUV) equipment to capture images of sharks and other animals as they pass by. By the end of the three-year project, which began last year, the researchers hope to have cataloged sharks and rays around 400 reefs. At least 30 species of sharks and rays have been observed in the first 100 reefs, according to FinPrint lead scientist Demian Chapman, an associate professor of marine sciences at Florida International University (FIU).


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In Shellfish, Cancer Can Be Contagious

Cancer can spread infectiously between shellfish, such as clams, in the oceans, according to a new study. Although cancer can spread to distant parts of a body, in an often-deadly process known as metastasis, it generally stays within the individual in which it originated. Recently, however, scientists discovered that cancer cells can sometimes escape an organism and spread to others.


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Solar plane lands in Spain after three-day Atlantic crossing

An airplane powered solely by the sun landed safely in Seville in Spain early on Thursday after an almost three-day flight across the Atlantic from New York in one of the longest legs of the first ever fuel-less flight around the world. The single-seat Solar Impulse 2 touched down shortly after 7.30 a.m. local time in Seville after leaving John F. Kennedy International Airport at about 2.30 a.m. EDT on June 20. The flight of just over 71 hours was the 15th leg of the round-the-world journey by the plane piloted in turns by Swiss aviators Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg.


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