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Planetary science: Preventing stars from eating their young

Nature - 22 hours 21 min ago

Planetary science: Preventing stars from eating their young

Nature 520, 7545 (2015). doi:10.1038/520040a

Authors: Martin J. Duncan

Researchers have found a mechanism that prevents newly forming giant-planet cores from spiralling in towards their parent stars. The result may explain why planets such as Saturn and Jupiter are where they are today. See Letter p.63

Categories: Literature

Zoology: Here be dragons

Nature - 22 hours 21 min ago

Zoology: Here be dragons

Nature 520, 7545 (2015). doi:10.1038/520042a

Authors: Andrew J. Hamilton, Robert M. May & Edward K. Waters

Emerging evidence indicates that dragons can no longer be dismissed as creatures of legend and fantasy, and that anthropogenic effects on the world's climate may inadvertently be paving the way for the resurgence of these beasts.

Categories: Literature

Major Wildlife Impacts Still Felt 5 Years After Gulf Oil Spill

Yale Environment 360 - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 11:40

Nearly five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico continue to die at unprecedented rates, endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are experiencing diminished nesting success, and many species of fish are suffering from abnormal development among some juveniles after exposure to oil. Those are the conclusions of a new study from the National Wildlife Federation, released three weeks before the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon spill, which began on April 20, 2010. The study also said that populations of brown pelicans and laughing gulls have declined by 12 and 32 percent respectively, and that oil and dispersant compounds have been found in the eggs of white pelicans nesting in Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois. The National Wildlife Federation said that the oil giant, BP, must be held fully accountable for the environmental damage and that fines and penalties should be used to restore habitats in the Gulf. Meanwhile, in advance of the spill’s fifth anniversary, BP is stepping up its public relations efforts to assure consumers that life is returning to normal in the Gulf.

Categories: Environmental News

Natural Filters: Freshwater Mussels Deployed to Clean Up Polluted Rivers

Yale Environment 360 - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 08:07

When rivers and streams become polluted, one of the first casualties is often freshwater mussels, which effectively filter

An Eastern elliptio mussel out pollutants but can also be overcome by them. As a result, freshwater mussel populations worldwide have steadily dwindled. Now, however, conservationists and scientists in the U.S. and Europe are working to re-establish declining or endangered freshwater mussel populations so these mollusks can use their natural filtration abilities to clean up excess nutrients and runoff in waterways. One such program has been established on the U.S.’s Delaware River, where environmentalists and biologists are re-seeding mussel populations in the more polluted sections of the river and in tributary streams.
Read the article.

Categories: Environmental News

Neuron encyclopaedia fires up to reveal brain secrets

Nature - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 00:00

Neuron encyclopaedia fires up to reveal brain secrets

Nature 520, 7545 (2015). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/520013a

Author: Helen Shen

But effort to catalogue brain’s building blocks may stoke disagreements over classification.

Categories: Literature

UK election: Upstart parties set out science plans

Nature - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 00:00

UK election: Upstart parties set out science plans

Nature 520, 7545 (2015). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/520016a

Authors: Elizabeth Gibney & Daniel Cressey

What the rising influence of the Greens, UKIP and the Scottish National Party means for research policy.

Categories: Literature

Evidence-based medicine: Save blood, save lives

Nature - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 00:00

Evidence-based medicine: Save blood, save lives

Nature 520, 7545 (2015). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/520024a

Author: Emily Anthes

Transfusions are one of the most overused treatments in modern medicine, at a cost of billions of dollars. Researchers are working out how to cut back.

Categories: Literature

Warming Winters Not Main Cause of Pine Beetle Outbreaks, Study Says

Yale Environment 360 - Mon, 03/30/2015 - 11:42

Milder winters can't be blamed for the full extent of recent mountain pine beetle outbreaks in the western United States, according

Pine forest affected by mountain pine beetles to a new study by Dartmouth and U.S. Forest Service researchers. Winters have been warming across the western U.S. states for decades, as overall the coldest winter night has warmed by 4 degrees C since 1960. But that warming trend could only be the primary driver of increasing pine beetle outbreaks in regions where winter temperatures have historically killed most of the beetles, such as in the Middle Rockies, eastern Oregon, and northern Colorado, the study says. Warming is unlikely to have played a major role in other regions since winters were rarely cold enough to kill the beetles, according to the study published in the journal Landscape Ecology. Other factors — including changes in the pine beetles' seasonal development patterns and forestry practices that have influenced pine density and age — were likely more important, the authors say.

Categories: Environmental News

How Long Can Oceans Continue To Absorb Earth’s Excess Heat?

Yale Environment 360 - Mon, 03/30/2015 - 07:30

The main reason soaring greenhouse gas emissions have not caused air temperatures to rise more rapidly is that oceans have soaked up much of the heat. But new evidence suggests the oceans’ heat-buffering ability may be weakening. BY CHERYL KATZ

Categories: Environmental News

Metals Used in High Tech Are Becoming Harder to Find, Study Says

Yale Environment 360 - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 10:56

Metals critical to newer technologies such as smartphones, infrared optics, and medical imaging will likely become harder

Enlarge

This chart shows the criticality of 62 metals. to obtain in coming decades, according to Yale researchers, and future products need to be designed to make reclaiming and recycling those materials easier. The study, the first to assess future supply risks to all 62 metals on the periodic table, found that many of the metals traditionally used in manufacturing — zinc, copper, aluminum, lead, and others — show no signs of vulnerability. But some metals that have become more common in technology over the last two decades, such as rare earth metals, are available almost entirely as byproducts, the researchers say. "You can't mine specifically for them; they often exist in small quantities and are used for specialty purposes," said Yale scientist Thomas Graedel. "And they don't have any decent substitutes."

Categories: Environmental News

Global-warming limit of 2 °C hangs in the balance

Nature - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 00:00

Global-warming limit of 2 °C hangs in the balance

Nature 520, 7545 (2015). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/nature.2015.17202

Author: Jeff Tollefson

Panel creates scientific baseline for debate about climate reparations.

Categories: Literature

Pollution May Trigger Heath Problems in Deep-Water Fish, Researchers Say

Yale Environment 360 - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 11:07

Fish living in deep waters near continental slopes have tumors, liver pathologies, and other health problems that may be

Microscopic abnormality in a black scabbardfish liver. linked to human-generated pollution, researchers report in the journal Marine Environmental Research. They also describe the first case of a deep-water fish species with an “intersex” condition — a blend of male and female sex organs. In the study, which looked at fish in the Bay of Biscay west of France, researchers found a wide range of degenerative and inflammatory lesions in fish living along the continental slope, which can act as a sink for heavy metal contaminants and organic pollutants such as PCBs and pesticides. The fish that live in these deep waters are often extremely long-lived — some can be 100 years old — which allows them to bioaccumulate such contaminants. However, linking the fishes' physiological changes to pollution is preliminary at this time, the researchers said.

Categories: Environmental News

Interview: Why This Tea Partyer Is Seeing Green on Solar Energy

Yale Environment 360 - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 07:31

Debbie Dooley’s conservative credentials are impeccable. She was one of the founding members of the Tea Party movement and

Debbie Dooley continues to sit on the board of the Tea Party Patriots. But on the issue of solar power, Dooley breaks the mold. To the consternation of some of her fellow conservatives, she has teamed up with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, first in Georgia and now in Florida, to form the Green Tea Coalition. The group is working to get an initiative on the Florida ballot that would allow individuals and businesses to sell power directly to consumers. In an interview with e360, Dooley explains why she supports solar energy campaigns and why she’s willing to go up against conservative organizations when it comes to this issue.
Read the interview.

Categories: Environmental News

Dutch Energy Company Is Heating Homes With Custom-Built Computer Servers

Yale Environment 360 - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 11:27

A Dutch energy company is installing radiator-sized computer servers — which infamously generate large amounts of

A radiator-sized computer server installed in a home. waste heat as they churn out data — in residential homes to offset energy costs, company representatives said this week. In the trial program, Rotterdam-based Eneco has equipped a handful of houses with custom-built computer servers designed to heat rooms as the servers process data for a variety of corporate computing clients. Eneco and the company behind the radiator-servers, Nerdalize, expect each one to reduce a home's heating expenses by roughly $440 over the course of a year. Eneco will cover all computing-related energy costs, the company said, but they expect the program to reduce server maintenance costs by up to 55 percent through preventing complications that arise when servers overheat. In summer months, the server-radiators will redirect excess heat outside the home, its designers say.

Categories: Environmental News

Website recruits people to share health data for studies

Nature - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 00:00

Website recruits people to share health data for studies

Nature 520, 7545 (2015). doi:10.1038/520009f

Author: Chris Woolston

Open Humans platform aims to connect people with researchers, but provides no privacy guarantee.

Categories: Literature

Plant biology: Coding in non-coding RNAs

Nature - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 00:00

Plant biology: Coding in non-coding RNAs

Nature 520, 7545 (2015). doi:10.1038/nature14378

Authors: Peter M. Waterhouse & Roger P. Hellens

The discovery of peptides encoded by what were thought to be non-coding – or 'junk' – regions of precursors to microRNA sequences reveals a new layer of gene regulation. These sequences may not be junk, after all. See Letter p.90

Categories: Literature

Loss of δ-catenin function in severe autism

Nature - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 00:00

Loss of δ-catenin function in severe autism

Nature 520, 7545 (2015). doi:10.1038/nature14186

Authors: Tychele N. Turner, Kamal Sharma, Edwin C. Oh, Yangfan P. Liu, Ryan L. Collins, Maria X. Sosa, Dallas R. Auer, Harrison Brand, Stephan J. Sanders, Daniel Moreno-De-Luca, Vasyl Pihur, Teri Plona, Kristen Pike, Daniel R. Soppet, Michael W. Smith, Sau Wai Cheung, Christa Lese Martin, Matthew W. State, Michael E. Talkowski, Edwin Cook, Richard Huganir, Nicholas Katsanis & Aravinda Chakravarti

Autism is a multifactorial neurodevelopmental disorder affecting more males than females; consequently, under a multifactorial genetic hypothesis, females are affected only when they cross a higher biological threshold. We hypothesize that deleterious variants at conserved residues are enriched in severely affected patients arising from female-enriched

Categories: Literature

Primary transcripts of microRNAs encode regulatory peptides

Nature - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 00:00

Primary transcripts of microRNAs encode regulatory peptides

Nature 520, 7545 (2015). doi:10.1038/nature14346

Authors: Dominique Lauressergues, Jean-Malo Couzigou, Hélène San Clemente, Yves Martinez, Christophe Dunand, Guillaume Bécard & Jean-Philippe Combier

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small regulatory RNA molecules that inhibit the expression of specific target genes by binding to and cleaving their messenger RNAs or otherwise inhibiting their translation into proteins. miRNAs are transcribed as much larger primary transcripts (pri-miRNAs), the function of which is not fully understood. Here we show that plant pri-miRNAs contain short open reading frame sequences that encode regulatory peptides. The pri-miR171b of Medicago truncatula and the pri-miR165a of Arabidopsis thaliana produce peptides, which we term miPEP171b and miPEP165a, respectively, that enhance the accumulation of their corresponding mature miRNAs, resulting in downregulation of target genes involved in root development. The mechanism of miRNA-encoded peptide (miPEP) action involves increasing transcription of the pri-miRNA. Five other pri-miRNAs of A. thaliana and M. truncatula encode active miPEPs, suggesting that miPEPs are widespread throughout the plant kingdom. Synthetic miPEP171b and miPEP165a peptides applied to plants specifically trigger the accumulation of miR171b and miR165a, leading to reduction of lateral root development and stimulation of main root growth, respectively, suggesting that miPEPs might have agronomical applications.

Categories: Literature

Applied prestige

Nature - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 00:00

Applied prestige

Nature 519, 7544 (2015). doi:10.1038/519389b

The UK research assessment should inspire everybody to reward excellent societal impacts.

Categories: Literature

About time

Nature - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 00:00

About time

Nature 519, 7544 (2015). doi:10.1038/519390a

The next few years will see NASA missions probe the innermost secrets of gas giants.

Categories: Literature

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