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The Lead

Scientists Solve Seashell Stumper

March 3, 2015 | by MIT, David Chandler | Comments

For almost a century, scientists have been puzzled by a process that is crucial to much of the life in Earth’s oceans: why does the material of seashells and corals sometimes take the form of calcite and, at other times, aragonite. Now, scientists have carried out a detailed, atomic-level analysis of the process. The new explanation could be a step toward enabling the directed synthesis of new materials on demand in the lab.


DNA Supports Human Migration Theory

March 3, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Frank Jordans | Comments

A wave of migrants from the eastern fringes of Europe some 4,500 years ago left their trace in the DNA— and possibly the languages— of modern Europeans. Scientists have discovered evidence of this Stone Age migration by analyzing the DNA of 69 people who lived across Europe between 8,000 and 3,000 years ago.


Chilean Volcano Sent Thousands Fleeing Today

March 3, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Eva Vergara, Gabriela Ulloa | Comments

One of South America's most active volcanoes erupted early today in southern Chile, spewing heavy smoke into the air as lava surged down its slopes, prompting authorities to evacuate thousands of people. The Villarrica volcano erupted around 3 a.m. local time, according to the National Emergency Office, which issued a red alert and ordered evacuations.


Airlines Won't Ship Rechargeable Batteries for Fear of Fires

March 3, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Joan Lowy | Comments

Some of the world's largest airlines are banning bulk shipments of rechargeable batteries in the face of mounting evidence of their potential to cause catastrophic in-flight fires. Citing safety concerns, United Airlines has become the second major U.S. airline to announce it will no longer accept bulk shipments of lithium-ion batteries, which are used to power everything from smartphones to laptops to power tools.


Pollution Levels Linked to Cognitive Development Speed

March 3, 2015 3:00 pm | by PLOS | Comments

Attendance at schools exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution is linked to slower cognitive development among seven to 10-year-old children in Barcelona. Researchers measured three cognitive outcomes— working memory, superior working memory and attentiveness— every three months over a 12-month period in 2,715 primary school children attending 39 schools.


Salty Diet May Fight Invading Microbes

March 3, 2015 3:00 pm | by Cell Press | Comments

Most people consume more salt than they need and therefore have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the two leading causes of death worldwide. But a new study has revealed that dietary salt could have a biological advantage: defending the body against invading microbes.


Understanding Mosquitoes Key to Aquatic Robots

March 3, 2015 3:00 pm | by AIP Publishing | Comments

Small semi-aqueous arthropods, such as mosquitoes and water striders, are free to go about their waterborne business. By examining the forces that the segments of mosquito legs generate against a water surface, researchers have unraveled the mechanical logic that allows the mosquitoes to walk on water, which may help in the design of biomimetic structures, such as aquatic robots and small boats.


It’s Probably Not the Flu

March 3, 2015 3:00 pm | by PLOS | Comments

Adults over the age of 30 only catch flu about twice a decade, a new study suggests. Flu-like illness can be caused by many pathogens, making it difficult to assess how often people are infected by influenza.


Climate Change May Have Fed Syrian War

March 3, 2015 7:00 am | by The Earth Institute at Columbia Univ. | Comments

A new study says a record drought that ravaged Syria in 2006 to 2010 was likely stoked by ongoing man-made climate change, and that the drought may have helped propel the 2011 Syrian uprising. Researchers say the drought destroyed agriculture in the breadbasket region of northern Syria, driving dispossessed farmers to cities, where poverty, government mismanagement and other factors created unrest.


Coffee Lessens Heart Risks

March 3, 2015 7:00 am | by BMJ | Comments

There has been much debate over the effect of coffee consumption on cardiovascular health. Despite earlier concerns about a potential increase in heart disease risk associated with drinking coffee, a recent meta-analysis of 36 studies showed that moderate coffee consumption was associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.  


Chemistry of Smog May Reveal Pollution Sources

March 3, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Utah | Comments

The chemical signature of water vapor emitted by combustion sources such as vehicles and furnaces has been found in the smoggy winter inversions that often choke Salt Lake City. The discovery may give researchers a new tool to track down the sources of pollutants and climate-changing carbon dioxide gas.


Gorilla Origins of AIDS Viruses Confirmed

March 3, 2015 7:00 am | by Perelman School of Medicine at the Univ. of Pennsylvania | Comments

Two of the four known groups of human AIDS viruses (HIV-1 groups O and P) originated in western lowland gorillas, according to an international team of scientists who conducted a comprehensive survey of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection in African gorillas.  


Today in Lab History: Alexander Graham Bell

March 3, 2015 7:00 am | by Lily Barback, Associate Editor | Comments

Alexander Graham Bell, the man credited with inventing the telephone, was born in Scotland on March 3, 1847, without a middle name. It’s no surprise he was interested in sound and communication as his father, brother and grandfather all worked in elocution and his mother and wife were both deaf.


Image of the Week: White Elephant Captured in Myanmar

March 3, 2015 7:00 am | by Associated Press | Comments

Myanmar's forestry department has captured a rare white elephant in the jungles of the country's western Ayeyarwaddy region, an official said. The seven-year-old female was captured Friday, six weeks after it was initially spotted in a reserve in Pathein Township.


Sleep Doesn't Turn Off Mind's GPS

March 2, 2015 3:00 pm | by NYU Langone Medical Center | Comments

Researchers have found that navigational brain cells that help sense direction are as electrically active during deep sleep as they are during wake time— and have visual and vestibular cues to guide them. Such information could be useful in treating navigational problems, among the first major symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.


Genetically, Mammals Take After Dad

March 2, 2015 3:00 pm | by UNC School of Medicine | Comments

You might resemble or act more like your mother, but a study has revealed that mammals are genetically more like their dads. Specifically, the research shows that, although we inherit equal amounts of genetic mutations from our parents– the mutations that make us who we are and not some other person– we actually “use” more of the DNA that we inherit from our dads.


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