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Sahara greening intensify tropical cyclone activity worldwide

Future climate warming could lead to a re-greening of the southernmost Sahara (Sahel), with decreased dust emissions and changes in land cover. In a recent study, researchers at the Department of Meteorology have found that tropical cyclone activity may have increased during past warm climates in connection with a greening of the Sahara.

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How the brain recognizes what the eye sees

If you think self-driving cars can’t get here soon enough, you’re not alone. But programming computers to recognize objects is very technically challenging, especially since scientists don’t fully understand how our own brains do it.

Now, Salk Institute researchers have analyzed how neurons in a critical part of the brain, called V2, respond to natural scenes, providing a better understanding of vision processing. The work is described in Nature Communications on June 8, 2017.

“Understanding how the brain recognizes visual objects is important not only for the sake of vision, but also because it provides a window on how the brain works in general,” says Tatyana Sharpee, an associate professor in Salk’s Computational Neurobiology Laboratory and senior author of the paper. “Much of our brain is composed of a repeated computational unit, called a cortical column. In vision especially we can control inputs to the brain with exquisite precision, which makes it possible to quantitatively analyze how signals are transformed in the brain.”

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Overriding the Urge to Sleep

Caltech researchers have identified a neural circuit in the brain that controls wakefulness. The findings have implications for treating insomnia, oversleeping, and sleep disturbances that accompany other neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression.

The work was done in the laboratory of Viviana Gradinaru (BS '05), assistant professor of biology and biological engineering, Heritage Medical Research Institute Investigator, and director of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech. It appears in the June 8 online edition of the journal Neuron.

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Engineers design drones that can stay aloft for five days

In the event of a natural disaster that disrupts phone and Internet systems over a wide area, autonomous aircraft could potentially hover over affected regions, carrying communications payloads that provide temporary telecommunications coverage to those in need.

However, such unpiloted aerial vehicles, or UAVs, are often expensive to operate, and can only remain in the air for a day or two, as is the case with most autonomous surveillance aircraft operated by the U.S. Air Force. Providing adequate and persistent coverage would require a relay of multiple aircraft, landing and refueling around the clock, with operational costs of thousands of dollars per hour, per vehicle. 

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Where climate change is most likely to induce food violence

While climate change is expected to lead to more violence related to food scarcity, new research suggests that the strength of a country’s government plays a vital role in preventing uprisings.

“A capable government is even more important to keeping the peace than good weather,” said Bear Braumoeller, co-author of the study and associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University.

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NASA Looks at Extreme Florida Rainfall by Satellite

Extremely heavy rain has recently fallen over Florida and the Global Precipitation Measurement or GPM mission core satellite looked at that some of that rainfall on June 7. Rainfall records were broken on that date as the GPM satellite passed overhead from space.

Over 19 inches (482 mm) of rain had fallen in southeastern Florida during the past seven days beginning June 1. Record rainfall has been reported in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm. This extreme rainfall has led to flooding and flight cancellations.

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Novel material removes pollutant PFOA to levels far below EPA's health advisory limit

A highly toxic water pollutant, known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), last year caused a number of U.S. communities to close their drinking water supplies. Because of its historical use in Teflon production and other industrial processes as well as its environmental persistence, PFOA contamination is a pervasive problem worldwide.

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Sydney Harbour emissions equivalent to 200 cars on the road

The Sydney Harbour is renowned as a beautiful landmark straddling our thriving city  but a new study has shown it is also a source of significant carbon emissions, which requires careful management as the city is poised to double its population by the end of the century.

That is the message of new research that has quantified CO2 emissions from the Harbour for the first time – found to be 1000 tonnes annually – equivalent to the pollution from about 200 cars.

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Griffith scientists engineer new cancer detection tool

Studying the food poisoning bacteria E. coli may have led scientists to discover a new and improved tool to detect cancer.

In a collaborative research project, scientists from Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics, the University of Adelaide and University of Queensland have detailed their findings in a new paper published in Scientific Reports.

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Monkey See, Monkey Do, Depending on Age, Experience and Efficiency

Wild capuchin monkeys readily learn skills from each other — but that social learning is driven home by the payoff of learning a useful new skill. It’s the first demonstration of “payoff bias” learning in a wild animal, and could inform whether and how animals can adapt to rapidly changing conditions, for example due to climate change or reintroduction of species from captive breeding.  

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