GEORGIA TECH (US) — To move over surfaces like sand, a robot called “FlipperBot” uses flexible wrists inspired by how hatchling sea turtles get to the ocean.
Both the baby turtles and FlipperBot run into trouble under the same conditions: traversing granular media disturbed by previous steps.
U. PITTSBURGH (US) — Injections of melatonin delayed the onset of symptoms and death in mice with a condition similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The findings—which show that receptors for the hormone are found in the nerve cells—could pave the way for new therapeutic approaches.
WASHINGTON U. – ST. LOUIS (US) — A common microbe likely causes a condition that can make women more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases.
The condition, bacterial vaginosis, affects one in every three women, making it more common than yeast infections. But it often does not cause significant symptoms, leaving many women unaware they have it.
U. CHICAGO (US) — Psychopaths show less activity in areas of the brain linked to empathy when they view images of people in distress, a study shows.
Psychopathy affects approximately 1 percent of the United States general population and 20 percent to 30 percent of the male and female US prison population. Relative to non-psychopathic criminals, psychopaths are responsible for a disproportionate amount of repetitive crime and violence in society.
U. MICHIGAN (US) — Long-term exposure to air pollution appears to speed up hardening of the arteries, a condition linked to heart attacks and strokes.
A new study shows that higher concentrations of fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) are linked to a faster thickening of the inner two layers of the common carotid artery—an important blood vessel that provides blood to the head, neck, and brain. Conversely, reductions of fine particulate air pollution over time are linked to slower progression of the blood vessel thickness.
U. TEXAS – AUSTIN (US) — Scavengers might not play as key a role in spreading anthrax through wildlife populations as scientists previously thought.
Wildlife managers currently spend large amounts of money and time to control anthrax outbreaks by preventing scavengers from feeding on infected carcasses. The effort might be ill spent, according to results of a small study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Carrion produced by anthrax deaths feeds many scavengers, including jackals, hyena, vultures, marabou storks, and occasionally even lions. These scavengers have evolved to be able to digest infected carrion without contracting the infection. Herbivorous animals more vulnerable to anthrax include zebra, springboks, elephants, and wildebeest.
UC BERKELEY / STANFORD (US) — When people perceive money as morally tainted, they also view it as having less value and purchasing power, a new study shows.
Challenging the belief that “all money is green,” and that people will cross ethical boundaries to amass it, social scientists have found compelling evidence that the source of wealth really does matter.
In fact, some people avoid ill-gotten gains—such as profits from unfair labor practices or insider trading—for fear of “moral contagion,” according to a paper published this week in the online issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
WASHINGTON U.-ST. LOUIS (US) — An investigational treatment for an inherited form of Lou Gehrig’s disease has passed an early clinical trial for safety, researchers report.
The researchers have shown that the therapy produced no serious side effects in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The phase 1 trial’s results, available online in Lancet Neurology, also demonstrate that the drug was successfully introduced into the central nervous system.
The treatment uses a technique that shuts off the mutated gene that causes the disease. This approach had never been tested against a condition that damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
UC SANTA BARBARA (US) — Researchers have conclusively identified what causes light emitting diodes (LEDs) to dim and be less efficient at high drive currents.
Until now, scientists had only theorized the cause behind the phenomenon known as LED “droop”—a mysterious drop in the light produced when a higher current is applied. The cost per lumen of LEDs has held the technology back as a viable replacement for incandescent bulbs for all-purpose commercial and residential lighting.
This could all change now that the cause of LED efficiency droop has been explained, according to researchers James Speck and Claude Weisbuch of the Center for Energy Efficient Materials at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
U. PITTSBURGH (US) — Exposure to a blast can cause changes in the brain that resemble patterns seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
Blast-induced traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become an important issue in combat casualty care. In many cases of mild TBI, MRI scans and other conventional imaging technology don’t show overt damage.
DUKE (US) — Astrocytes, brain cells once thought to impede healing, are actually necessary to staunch bleeding and promote repair after stroke or head trauma, report researchers.
These cells can be produced from stem cells in the brain after injury. They migrate to the site of damage where they are much more effective in promoting recovery than previously thought. This insight from studies in mice, reported online today in Nature, may help researchers develop treatments that foster brain repair.
“The injury recovery process is complex,” says senior author Chay T. Kuo, assistant professor of cell biology, pediatrics, and neurobiology at Duke University.
STONY BROOK (US) — Researchers have made a surprising prediction about one of the main materials inside planets.
They calculate that magnesium oxide (MgO) can exist in several different compositions. The predicted compounds would be radically different from traditionally known or expected materials.
JOHNS HOPKINS (US) — Diagnosis errors, not surgical mistakes or drug overdoses, account for the largest share of malpractice payouts and the most severe patient harm.
Diagnosis-related malpractice payments amounted to $38.8 billion between 1986 and 2010, say researchers whose findings appear online in BMJ Quality and Safety.
GEORGIA TECH (US) — A new wearable system measures the physical environment of an explosion and collects information that could match a soldier’s experience to his or her long-term medical outcome.
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are becoming a global problem for the US armed forces. To prevent injuries to soldiers and provide better care to those who are injured, the US military is striving to better understand how blasts impact the human body.
U. ROCHESTER (US) — Scientists have discovered how to exploit tamoxifen’s secondary activities to treat more aggressive breast cancers.
Tamoxifen is a time-honored breast cancer drug used to treat millions of women with early-stage and less-aggressive disease.
STANFORD (US) — A study of a major urban school district reveals that high-achieving students tend to get the best teachers, leaving others to less experienced instructors.
Even within the same school, lower-achieving students often are taught by less-experienced teachers, as well as by teachers who received their degrees from less-competitive colleges, according to a new study.
U. OREGON (US) — New research reveals which brain regions are active as kids on the brink of adolescence consider their identity and social status.
In a study of 27 neurologically typical children who underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at ages 10 and 13, activity in the brain’s ventromedial prefrontal cortex increased dramatically when the subjects responded to questions about how they view themselves.
MCGILL (CAN) — A newly discovered galaxy turns gas into stars with almost 100 percent efficiency—a rare phase of evolution that is the most extreme ever observed.
“Galaxies burn gas like a car engine burns fuel. Most galaxies have fairly inefficient engines, meaning they form stars from their stellar fuel tanks far below the maximum theoretical rate,” says Jim Geach of McGill University. “This galaxy is like a highly tuned sports car, converting gas to stars at the most efficient rate thought to be possible.”
MICHIGAN STATE (US) — Like hyenas, humans perceive threats as closer than they really are. But mix in others from their group, and that misperception disappears.
In other words, there’s safety in numbers. The research, which appears online in Social Psychological and Personality Science, provides the first evidence that people’s visual biases change when surrounded by members of their own group.
BROWN (US) — Double cropping—planting two crops in a field in the same year— improves schools, helps advance public sanitation, raises median income, and creates jobs in rural Brazil.
New research focuses on the state of Mato Grosso, the epicenter of an agricultural revolution that has made Brazil one of the world’s top producers of soybeans, corn, cotton, and other staple crops.