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February 23, 2011 06:38 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Despite having a comparable brain size to other highly evolved animals, sheep have been historically perceived as unintelligent and were therefore not considered to be good animal models for studying diseases that affect learning and memory. However, new research recently published in the journal PLoS ONE shows that sheep are indeed smarter than previously believed. The researchers are hopeful the animals will prove useful for research into diseases that impair the cognitive abilities of patients, such as Huntington's disease (HD) and Alzheimer's disease. Sheep are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name "sheep" applies to many species in the genus Ovis, in everyday usage it almost always refers to Ovis aries. Numbering a little over one billion, domestic sheep are also the most numerous species of sheep.
Captive Gorillas Succumbing to Human Disease
February 22, 2011 11:20 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Life for humans is much easier than for animals in the wild. On a day-to-day basis, we generally do not have to worry about being eaten or starving to death. Depending on the individual's job, some can get by just fine by sitting around all day. However, this lifestyle brings forth its own set of health issues such as diabetes and heart disease, illnesses rarely found in the wild. These "human" diseases have spread to gorillas that are raised in captivity.
Bald Men and Prostate Cancer
February 22, 2011 08:03 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Men who start to lose hair at the age of 20 are more likely to develop prostate cancer in later life and might benefit from screening for the disease, according to a new study published online in the cancer journal, Annals of Oncology. The study set out to see if early-onset androgenic alopecia (which are directly connected to androgens such as testosterone) was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer later in life. Androgens play a role in the development of both androgenic alopecia, commonly known as male pattern baldness, and prostate cancer. Testosterone, which is a very potent androgen or male hormone, is responsible for increased muscle mass, deepened voice and strong bones characteristic of the male gender. In addition, testosterone can contribute to aggression, libido, and growth of genitalia during puberty. Male hormones also have an effect on the liver and cholesterol; however, when it is converted into another androgen, it acts on the skin and hair follicles, and in some cases, producing male pattern baldness.
EU Household Plastics Banning
February 18, 2011 12:58 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The European Union will ban six toxic chemicals within three to five years, three of which are commonly used in plastic household items. Among the compounds are three plastic softening phthalates, a musk fragrance, a flame retardant and a hardener for epoxy resin. Although the most toxic phthalates have been banned in children's toys since 1999, a survey last October showed some are commonly found in products on supermarket shelves, including items regularly used by children, such as pencil cases and erasers. The decision is being taken under the REACH regulation on chemicals, adopted in 2006 after major debate and discussion.
How Rising Sea Levels Will Affect the US Coastline
February 18, 2011 09:08 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Thankfully, no major US city has gone underwater due to rising sea levels caused from global climate change. What happened in New Orleans was an effect of Hurricane Katrina, a failure of the levees, and the fact that part of the city was built below the water level. However, climate experts predict that sea levels will rise as ocean temperatures increase and the polar ice caps melt. Contingency plans are already being formulated by vulnerable US coastal cities. According to a new study led by scientists at the University of Arizona (UA), rising sea levels could cover up to nine percent of the land area in 180 US cities by 2100.
Lake Baikal Climate History
February 17, 2011 01:49 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world, with an average depth of over 5000 feet down and is 25 million years old so is therefore not only the deepest lake but oldest. Lake Baikal contains roughly 20% of the world's surface fresh water that is unfrozen and is located in the south of the Russian region of Siberia near the city of Irkutsk). has provided scientists with insight into the ways that climate change affects water temperature, which in turn affects life in the lake. The study is published in the journal PLoS ONE today. The research team discovered many climate variability signals, called teleconnections, in the data. For example, changes in Lake Baikal water temperature correlate with monthly variability in El Niño indices, reflecting sea surface temperatures over the Pacific Ocean tens of thousands of kilometers away. At the same time, Lake Baikal's temperatures are influenced by strong interactions with Pacific Ocean pressure fields described by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
Closer to the Cure for the Common Cold
February 17, 2011 09:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
There is no cure for the common cold, no magic elixir that will make all of your symptoms go away. However, over human's many millennia of battling the cold, we have found little tricks that can help fight it. According to new systematic review published in The Cochrane Library, we have found a new trick that could provide huge benefits. A way to significantly reduce severity and duration of the common cold is to take Zinc supplements.
Oil Shale Development
February 16, 2011 09:59 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Oil shale, which is an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock, contains significant amounts of kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds) from which liquid hydrocarbons can be extracted. Kerogen requires more processing to use than crude oil, which increases its cost as a crude-oil substitute both financially and in terms of its potential environmental impact. US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey announced today that they will take a fresh look at commercial oil shale rules and plans issued under the previous Administration and, if necessary, update them based on the latest research and technologies, to account for expected water demands in the arid West and to ensure they provide a fair return to taxpayer.
Sulfur Emissions on the Rise
February 15, 2011 04:56 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Sulfur dioxide is a major air pollutant and has significant impacts upon human health. In addition the concentration of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere can influence ecosytems. Sulfur dioxide emissions are a precursor to acid rain and atmospheric particulates. A new analysis of sulfur emissions appearing in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics shows that after declining for a decade, worldwide emissions rose again in 2000 due largely to international shipping and a growing Chinese economy. An accurate read on sulfur emissions will help researchers predict future changes in climate and determine present day effects on the atmosphere, health and the environment.
Why Do People Always Overestimate Slope?
February 15, 2011 09:07 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
"Holy Crap" is a very common phrase among mountain hikers when confronted by an intimidating slope. After plodding along at a nice five degree incline, a sudden rise in elevation can seem like either a daunting task or an irresistible challenge. I personally like sharp inclines because it means you can get more of the climb out of the way in quicker time. But sometimes that intimidating slope is not quite what it seems. According to a new study in the journal, Psychological Science, people routinely overestimate slope, whether they stand from the top or bottom. Our brains are hardwired to believe the incline is worse than it actually is.