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Showing posts from July 14, 2016

Lucky bug eluded eternal entombment in 50 million-year-old amber

An Oregon State University scientist on Thursday described a remarkable piece of amber -fossilized tree sap - containing a mushroom, a strand of mammalian hair and the recently shed exoskeleton of an insect that got away from the oozing sticky stuff in the nick of time, escaping eternal entombment. The tiny bug looks similar to insects alive today known as walking sticks, whose stick-like appearance provides camouflage that helps keep them safe from hungry birds and other predators. "The mushroom was growing at the base of a tree," Oregon State entomologist and amber expert George Poinar said.


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For the first time, scientists to sequence genes in space

By Irene Klotz and Julie Steenhuysen CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla/CHICAGO (Reuters) - Given her background in researching some of the deadliest pathogens on Earth, including Ebola, colleagues of newly arrived astronaut Kate Rubins had expected her to want to do "crazy science fiction" on the International Space Station. Instead, Rubins pushed for carefully controlled experiments with a mix of a bacteria, a common virus and mouse cells, all already repeatedly sequenced and safe for testing in the space station's closed-loop environment.     Rubins, a trained microbiologist who arrived at the space station on Saturday, will be using the samples to put Oxford Nanopore's MinION sequencer - a pocket-sized DNA sequencer - through its paces. The tests are intended to prove whether the technology can be used to understand microbes in the space station, to scan fellow astronauts for genetic changes that could diagnose illness, and in future missions, potentially to test samples from M…

For the first time, scientists to sequence genes in space

By Irene Klotz and Julie Steenhuysen CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla/CHICAGO (Reuters) - Given her background in researching some of the deadliest pathogens on Earth, including Ebola, colleagues of newly arrived astronaut Kate Rubins had expected her to want to do "crazy science fiction" on the International Space Station. Instead, Rubins pushed for carefully controlled experiments with a mix of a bacteria, a common virus and mouse cells, all already repeatedly sequenced and safe for testing in the space station's closed-loop environment. Rubins, a trained microbiologist who arrived at the space station on Saturday, will be using the samples to put Oxford Nanopore's MinION sequencer - a pocket-sized DNA sequencer - through its paces.


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Why Does Synthetic Marijuana Make People Act Like Zombies?

Users of increasingly popular street drugs called K2 or spice, which are made from mixtures of herbs laced with synthetic cannabinoids and other chemicals, are showing some incredibly strange behaviors. People on synthetic cannabinoid products can act anywhere from a bit confused to completely out of their minds, depending on the dose of K2 used and an individual's susceptibility to the drug, said Dr. Anthony Scalzo, a professor of pediatrics and chief of toxicology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri. "This is extremely dangerous stuff, and it's getting more dangerous" as manufacturers continually find new ways to tweak the chemicals in the drug to skirt laws that made some compounds used in K2 illegal since March 2011, Scalzo said.

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Why the Olympics Actually Won't Cause Zika to Spread Everywhere

With the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil less than a month away, concerns are mounting that the international event may spread the Zika virus to more countries around the world. Indeed, global travel has been contributing to the spread of virus in the Western Hemisphere since at least 2015, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, the new report, released today (July 13), should help quell fears for many countries that do not currently have the Zika virus: The CDC predicted that the Olympics will put only four countries at risk for importing Zika.

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Souring on Artificial Sweeteners: Substances May Boost Appetite

Artificial sweeteners have gone from diet darlings — touted for allowing people to get a hit of sweetness without the calories of sugar — to a more maligned ingredient, as evidence mounts suggesting a complicated net effect on calorie consumption. Now, a new study done in fruit flies and mice offers insights into how zero-calorie sweeteners may actually increase appetite. Previous studies in both humans and animals have suggested that artificial sweeteners might promote weight gain, but that research is controversial, said Greg Neely, an associate professor of genomics at the University of Sydney in Australia and the senior author of the new study.

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Meet Your Muscles: 6 Remarkable Human Muscles

The human body has more than 600 muscles, which help people walk, run, eat and even smile. The biggest muscle in the human body is the gluteus maximus, or the buttock muscles, also known as "the glutes." These muscles (there is one on each side) help move the hips and thighs, and keep the trunk of the body upright. If you consider the muscle that pulls in a single direction with the most force to be the strongest, then the calf muscle, known as the soleus, would be the winner, according to the Library of Congress.

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New Dinosaur Had the T. Rex Look: Tiny Arms

Like its distant relative, T. rex, a newly identified dinosaur, named Gualicho shinyae, sported small arms and hands with two clawed fingers. "We're slowly getting more information on this sort of pattern of limb reduction, and getting at this question of why tyrannosaurs and some other theropods shortened their forelimbs," said study corresponding author Peter Makovicky, curator of dinosaurs at the Field Museum in Chicago.


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How Many Types of Trees Grow in the Amazon? (Hint: It's A LOT)

The new tally is the first time anyone has tried to accurately count how many species of trees live in the Amazon, the most diverse place for trees on Earth, the researchers said. "The Amazon is a truly rich place in terms of biodiversity," said the study's lead researcher, Hans ter Steege, a senior research fellow at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands. In 2013, ter Steege and his colleagues estimated that there were approximately 16,000 tree species living in the Amazon.


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1.5-Million-Year-Old Footprints Reveal Human Ancestor Walked Like Us

The human ancestor Homo erectus may have walked similarly to the way modern humans do today, new research shows. In 2009, paleontologists discovered human-like footprints near the eastern shores of Lake Turkana in Ileret, Kenya. The fossilized tracks suggested similarities to modern human feet, including an arch, a rounded heel and a big toe aligned parallel with the other toes.


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Men with Long Work Hours Cause Families to Suffer

"The job demands of men affect women, but we didn't find any evidence that the opposite was the case," said study co-author Lyn Craig, a sociologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Though men have dramatically increased the time they spend at home and with the family sincethe 1960s there's still no contest: Women, on average, spend nearly 5 more hours a week on household chores than men do and spend double the amount of time tending to young childrens' physical needs, according to the 2015 American Time Use Survey. To get a better understanding of those couple dynamics, Craig and her colleagues looked at the 2006 Australian Time Use Survey, which included 756 Australian couples with children at home.

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'Demon Orchid' Has a 'Devil Head' and Claw-Like Petals

A new species of orchid is in a league of its own — not just because it's relatively rare, but also because scientists say it looks like the devil.


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