Top Stories

A Valentine's Day gift to us all from NASA
February 14, 2015 06:03 AM - JPL/NASA

Valentine's Day is special for NASA's Voyager mission. It was on Feb. 14, 1990, that the Voyager 1 spacecraft looked back at our solar system and snapped the first-ever pictures of the planets from its perch at that time beyond Neptune. 

This "family portrait" captures Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Earth and Venus from Voyager 1's unique vantage point. A few key members did not make it in: Mars had little sunlight, Mercury was too close to the sun, and dwarf planet Pluto turned out too dim. 

Beavers provide insight on how to improve our enamel
February 13, 2015 09:50 AM - Northwestern University

Beavers don’t brush their teeth, and they don’t drink fluoridated water, but a new Northwestern University study reports beavers do have protection against tooth decay built into the chemical structure of their teeth: iron. This pigmented enamel, the researchers found, is both harder and more resistant to acid than regular enamel, including that treated with fluoride. This discovery is among others that could lead to a better understanding of human tooth decay, earlier detection of the disease and improving on current fluoride treatments.

The Future of Droughts in the US Central Plains and Southwest
February 13, 2015 08:51 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

In the recent film Interstellar, a mysterious phenomenon known as "the blight" is wiping out agriculture around the world until only corn—for some reason—survives. Humanity is on the brink of starvation. While the blight may be science fiction, global warming is not, and a new study finds that future warming could decimate the U.S.'s Central Plains and Southwest regions over the next century, topping even the worst drought of the last thousand years. "I was honestly surprised at just how dry the future is likely to be," said co-author Toby Ault at Cornell University. The research, published in the first edition of Science Advances, found that future drought conditions are likely to exceed a megadrought that swept through the western U.S. in the 12th and 13th Centuries. 

The Future of Droughts in the US Central Plains and Southwest
February 13, 2015 08:51 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

In the recent film Interstellar, a mysterious phenomenon known as "the blight" is wiping out agriculture around the world until only corn—for some reason—survives. Humanity is on the brink of starvation. While the blight may be science fiction, global warming is not, and a new study finds that future warming could decimate the U.S.'s Central Plains and Southwest regions over the next century, topping even the worst drought of the last thousand years. "I was honestly surprised at just how dry the future is likely to be," said co-author Toby Ault at Cornell University. The research, published in the first edition of Science Advances, found that future drought conditions are likely to exceed a megadrought that swept through the western U.S. in the 12th and 13th Centuries. 

When you stop at a red light you are exposed to higher levels of air pollution
February 13, 2015 08:36 AM - University of Surrey via EurekAlert.

UK commuters spend an average of about 1.5 hours a day at the wheel. Road vehicles in particular are known to emit polluting nanoparticles which contribute to respiratory and heart diseases. Now, researchers at the University of Surrey have found that where drivers spend just 2% of their journey time passing through traffic intersections managed by lights, this short duration contributes to about 25% of total exposure to these harmful particles. 

The team monitored drivers' exposure to air pollutants at various points of a journey. Signalised traffic intersections were found to be high pollution hot-spots due to the frequent changes in driving conditions.

When you stop at a red light you are exposed to higher levels of air pollution
February 13, 2015 08:36 AM - University of Surrey via EurekAlert.

UK commuters spend an average of about 1.5 hours a day at the wheel. Road vehicles in particular are known to emit polluting nanoparticles which contribute to respiratory and heart diseases. Now, researchers at the University of Surrey have found that where drivers spend just 2% of their journey time passing through traffic intersections managed by lights, this short duration contributes to about 25% of total exposure to these harmful particles. 

The team monitored drivers' exposure to air pollutants at various points of a journey. Signalised traffic intersections were found to be high pollution hot-spots due to the frequent changes in driving conditions.

New study calculates magnitude of plastic waste going into the ocean
February 12, 2015 03:30 PM - Stephanie Schupska, University of Georgia

A plastic grocery bag cartwheels down the beach until a gust of wind spins it into the ocean. In 192 coastal countries, this scenario plays out over and over again as discarded beverage bottles, food wrappers, toys and other bits of plastic make their way from estuaries, seashores and uncontrolled landfills to settle in the world's seas.

Children in cities have increased risk of neurological damage due to air pollution
February 12, 2015 08:47 AM - University of Montana

Pollution in many cities threatens the brain development in children. Findings by University of Montana Professor Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, MA, MD, Ph.D., and her team of researchers reveal that children living in megacities are at increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Calderón-Garcidueñas’ findings are detailed in a paper titled “Air pollution and children: Neural and tight junction antibodies and combustion metals, the role of barrier breakdown and brain immunity in neurodegeneration.” 

Children in cities have increased risk of neurological damage due to air pollution
February 12, 2015 08:47 AM - University of Montana

Pollution in many cities threatens the brain development in children. Findings by University of Montana Professor Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, MA, MD, Ph.D., and her team of researchers reveal that children living in megacities are at increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Calderón-Garcidueñas’ findings are detailed in a paper titled “Air pollution and children: Neural and tight junction antibodies and combustion metals, the role of barrier breakdown and brain immunity in neurodegeneration.” 

How much sleep do you really need?
February 12, 2015 05:26 AM - LOYOLA UNIVERSITY HEALTH SYSTEM via EurekAlert.

Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine researcher Lydia DonCarlos, PhD, is a member of an expert panel that's making new recommendations on how much sleep people need.

The panel, convened by the National Sleep Foundation, is making its recommendations based on age, ranging from newborns (who need 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day) to adults aged 65 and up (7 to 8 hours per day).

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