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Stanford biologists identify ancient stress response in corals

Stanford marine biologists have discovered that corals activate a specific group of ancient, defensive genes when exposed to stressful environmental conditions. These stress-induced genes could serve as a kind of warning sign for coral bleaching events.

In the study, researchers monitored three coral colonies in a lagoon on Ofu Island, American Samoa, for their response to stressors like high temperatures, oxygen, and ocean acidity. On the hottest days, the researchers saw a significant change in which genes the corals were activating within their cells. See video here.

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Plants at the pump

That’s a choice drivers could make at the pump one day. But for algal biofuels to compete with petroleum, farming algae has to become less expensive. Toward that goal, Sandia National Laboratories is testing strains of algae for resistance to a host of predators and diseases, and learning to detect when an algae pond is about to crash.

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The Next Great Frontier for Drones Lies in the Ocean Depths

Consumer drones conquered the sky. Now they look to the sea.

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Women more likely to follow through with breast screening recommendations when informed directly

A study published in the journal Health Communications shows that women at high risk for breast cancer who received a letter informing them of their options for additional imaging with contrast-enhanced MRI of the breast (in addition to a letter sent to their primary care physician) were more likely to return to the center for additional screening with MRI. The letter, which is included in the published paper, may help breast imaging centers navigate the complex legal, ethical and institutional landscapes in a way that increases the likelihood that women will follow through with American Cancer Society breast cancer screening recommendations for adjunct breast screening in women at elevated risk. 

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A New Era for Physics? With Creation of New Form of Matter, a Time Crystal, It Just Might Be

Salt, snowflakes and diamonds are all crystals, meaning their atoms are arranged in 3-D patterns that repeat. Today scientists are reporting in the journal Nature on the creation of a phase of matter, dubbed a time crystal, in which atoms move in a pattern that repeats in time rather than in space.

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Scientists Develop Sponge to Soak Up Oil Spills

Scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois have created a new sponge-like material that can repeatedly soak up oil spills. The material, which can absorb up to 90 times its own weight in oil, could make it faster and easier to clean up offshore oil spills, the scientists said.

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U.S. Is Polluting Less, So Why Is Our Air Smoggier Than Ever?

The United States has managed to reduce the amount of air pollution it produces, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at and breathing in the air. That’s because pollution created in Asia is gradually making its way across the Pacific Ocean to the western hemisphere.

According to research published in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal, up to 65 percent of the newly created smog in the U.S. has actually drifted over from Asia. The country’s western states are most vulnerable to the increase in ozone due to their proximity to the continent.

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Species appears to evolve quickly enough to endure city temperatures

The speed at which a tiny ant evolves to cope to its warming city environment suggests that some species may evolve quickly enough to survive, or even thrive, in the warmer temperatures found within cities, according to a new study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University.

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U.S. Desert Songbirds at Risk in a Warming Climate

Projected increases in the frequency, intensity and duration of heatwaves in the desert of the southwestern United States are putting songbirds at greater risk for death by dehydration and mass die-offs, according to a new study.

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A light rain can spread soil bacteria far and wide, study finds

A good rain can have a cleansing effect on the land. But an MIT study published today in Nature Communications reports that, under just the right conditions, rain can also be a means of spreading bacteria.

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