Top Stories

Mapping mosquito data to track spread of disease
July 7, 2015 09:01 AM - Tania Rabesandratana, SciDevNet

Mosquitoes that carry the dengue and chikungunya viruses are more widespread than ever, believe scientists mapping the global spread of the insects. There are no treatments or vaccines for these diseases, so knowing where the mosquitoes that transmit them occur and thrive can help focus research and public health resources, the scientists say.

What we can learn from the Seahorse
July 7, 2015 07:51 AM - Oregon State Univesity

One of the ocean’s oddest little creatures, the seahorse, is providing inspiration for robotics researchers as they learn from nature how to build robots that have capabilities sometimes at odds with one another – flexible, but also tough and strong.

Their findings, published today in the journal Science, outline the virtues of the seahorse’s unusual skeletal structure, including a tail in which a vertebral column is surrounded by square bony plates. These systems may soon help create technology that offers new approaches to surgery, search and rescue missions or industrial applications.

Are kangaroos left-handed?
July 6, 2015 12:11 PM - Judy Molland, Care2

President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates are all lefties, and now they have unusual colleagues: kangaroos. According to a new study, some wild kangaroos tend to favor their left hands during common tasks like grooming and feeding. Yegor Malashichev, a Russian zoologist from Saint Petersburg State University and a co-author of the study, traveled to Australia to do the fieldwork. Along with his colleagues, he spent long hours observing seven species of marsupials living in the wild. Those species included red-necked wallabies, Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo, the eastern grey kangaroo, and the red kangaroo. The team watched as the animals groomed themselves, grabbed food with their paws, and leaned on their forearms while eating grass. Two species of kangaroo and one wallaby all showed the left-handed trend; some other marsupials, which walk on all fours, did not show the same bias. This new knowledge might seem pretty interesting in itself, but more importantly, the study, published in the journal Current Biology, could give scientists a better understanding of the evolution of mammals. 

How rain can enhance food safety
July 6, 2015 10:09 AM - Cornell University

To protect consumers from foodborne illness, produce farmers should wait 24 hours after a rain or irrigating their fields to harvest crops, according to new research published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Rain or irrigation creates soil conditions that are more hospitable to Listeria monocytogenes, which when ingested may cause the human illness Listeriosis. Waiting to harvest crops reduces the risk of exposure to the pathogen, which could land on fresh produce.

Transgenderism in Black Sea Bass
July 6, 2015 06:29 AM -

Rutgers marine researchers and New Jersey fishermen are piecing together the details of the strange, gender-bending sex lives of black sea bass – a study that could improve understanding of the bass population and help the beleaguered recreational fishing industry.

Scientists have long known black sea bass are “protogynous hermaphrodites,” a species in which fish that begin life as females can switch gender to male. But the details of how and why that happens are not completely understood.

Now, there’s thinking the change is triggered when the number of males in a local population declines.  Not enough guys? Some black sea bass ladies make the switch.

Walk to improve your health
July 5, 2015 07:24 AM - Dr. Mercola , Organic Consumers Association

Wearable devices that monitor physical well-being and fitness are incredibly popular. The number sold is expected to increase from 17.7 million in 2014 to more than 40 million this year.1

Personally, I use the Jawbone UP24 and have found it very useful for keeping track of my daily steps and sleep patterns. Most of these devices come set with a default goal of 10,000 steps a day, which is a number commonly associated with a basic or moderate level of fitness.

Greece's economic problems linked to its coal-based energy policies
July 4, 2015 07:53 AM - Takis Grigoriou / Greenpeace EnergyDesk, The Ecologist

As Greece prepares for its referendum, Takis Grigoriou takes Greece to task for its highly polluting lignite power sector, its ditching of a successful solar program in favour of more coal, the minimal insulation in its buildings that locks in high fuel bills, and Syriza's failure to tackle these issues. The good news? Greece's latest €1.4bn coal project looks like going unfunded.

Instead of phasing out lignite Greece opted to engage in a long battle to preserve the ailing industry while putting an abrupt end to solar energy development by blocking new applications.

Advertising coming to EV charging stations?
July 3, 2015 05:04 AM - BOB SHETH, Electric Forum

While many electric vehicle owners will find it irritating and annoying to be hit with adverts when charging their vehicles, is this a sign of the times? The fact that many larger companies are willing and prepared to pay for advertising space on “free” charging devices seems to indicate that the marketing industry believes the sector is here to stay. So, will advertising be a help or a hindrance to the industry going forward?

Until the electric vehicle industry cracks the “mass market” it is vital that the cost of services and products is kept as low as possible. There will come a point when costs will have to rise, services will be chargeable and the whole dynamic will be very different than what we see today but, in the meantime, is advertising on “free” charging stations really a hindrance?

New data on distant galaxy numbers
July 2, 2015 09:36 PM - UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO, via EurekAlert.

There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the Universe then might be expected, suggests a new study based on simulations conducted using the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, with resulting data transferred to SDSC Cloud at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, for future analysis. 

The study, published this week in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, shows the first results from the Renaissance Simulations, a suite of extremely high-resolution adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) calculations of high redshift galaxy formation. 

Moreover, these simulations show hundreds of well-resolved galaxies, allowing researchers to make several novel and verifiable predictions ahead of the October 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a new space observatory that succeeds the Hubble Space Telescope. 

Can we grow plants in space?
July 2, 2015 06:23 AM - Purdue University

A Purdue University study shows that targeting plants with red and blue LEDs provides energy-efficient lighting in contained environments, a finding that could advance the development of crop-growth modules for space exploration.

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