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+ - Oldest human genome reveals when our ancestors had sex with Neandertals-> 1

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "DNA recovered from a femur bone in Siberia belongs to a man who lived 45,000 years ago, according to a new study. His DNA was so well preserved that scientists were able to sequence his entire genome, making his the oldest complete modern human genome on record. Like present-day Europeans and Asians, the man has about 2% Neandertal DNA. But his Neandertal genes are clumped together in long strings, as opposed to chopped up into fragments, indicating that he lived not long after the two groups swapped genetic material. The man likely lived 7000 to 13,000 years after modern humans and Neandertals mated, dating the mixing to 52,000 to 58,000 years ago, the researchers conclude. That’s a much smaller window than the previous best estimate of 37,000 to 86,000 years ago."
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+ - Astronomers discover two new families of alien comets->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Comets whizzing beyond our solar system made a big splash last year when astronomers discovered that they could be as common as alien planets. Now, for the first time, researchers have surveyed a large population of these “exocomets” around the young star Beta Pictoris. In the process, they uncovered a tale of two comet families that might help explain how planetary systems like our own formed."
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+ - Fiber optics in Antarctica will monitor ice sheet melting->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Earth is rapidly being wired with fiber-optic cables—inexpensive, flexible strands of silicon dioxide that have revolutionized telecommunications. They’ve already crisscrossed the planet’s oceans, linking every continent but one: Antarctica. Now, fiber optics has arrived at the continent, but to measure ice sheet temperatures rather than carry telecommunication signals. A team of scientists using an innovative fiber-optic cable–based technology has measured temperature changes within and below the ice over 14 months. This technology, they say, offers a powerful new tool to observe and quantify melting at the base of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the collapse of which may help drive a worldwide increase in sea levels of more than 3 meters."
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+ - NASA snaps first-ever pic of a long-period comet's core->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Planetary scientists have lifted the veil from the comet Siding Spring, which brushed past Mars on 19 October. NASA has now released an image of the comet’s nucleus, the part that is usually hidden in a cloud of gas and dust. The image was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at a distance of 138,000 kilometers, or nearly a third of the distance between Earth and the moon. It is the first-ever picture of a nucleus of a long-period comet, one that hails on an orbit of a million years or more from the Oort cloud, a distant region of trillions of comets."
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+ - Smart battery tells you when it's about to explode->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Material scientists have found a clever way to alert users of damaged batteries before any hazard occurs. A typical lithium-ion cell consists of a lithium oxide cathode and a graphite anode, separated by a thin, porous polymer sheet that allows ions to travel between the electrodes. When the cell is overcharged, microscopic chains of lithium, called “dendrites,” sprout from the anode and pierce through the polymer separator until they touch the cathode. An electrical current passing through the dendrites to the cathode can short-circuit the cell, which causes overheating and, in some cases, fire. Attempts to stop dendrite formation have met with limited success, so the researchers tried something different. They built a “smart” separator by sandwiching a 50-nanometer thin copper layer between two polymer sheets and connecting the copper layer to a third electrode for voltage measurement. When the dendrites reach the separator, the voltage between the anode and the copper layer drops to zero, alerting users that they should change the damaged battery while it is still operating safely—disaster averted."
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+ - Study finds evidence for ancient icebergs off Miami->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "As the last ice age waned and climate warmed, immense lakes of glacial meltwater that accumulated behind natural ice dams occasionally burst forth from the mouth of Canada’s Hudson Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. When those iceberg-laden outburst floods—some of them carrying more than 1 million cubic meters of water per second and lasting several months—reached the open sea, they took a right turn and flowed south along the coast as far as the Florida Keys, a new study suggests. The torrent-driven icebergs, some of them hundreds of meters thick, plowed troughs in the sea floor all along the continental shelf . Sea levels have risen more than 100 meters since most of these troughs were formed, which has helped preserve them from surface waves that could roil and smooth seafloor sediments. Some of the iceberg scours off Miami Beach, probably created by icebergs the size of those setting sail from Greenland today, lie less than 12 kilometers offshore."
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+ - Moon home to recent "burps" of volcanic activity->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The moon, thought to be cold and dead, is still alive and kicking—barely. Scientists have found evidence for dozens of burps of volcanic activity, all within the past 100 million years—a mere blip on the geologic timescale. And they think that future eruptions are likely—although probably not within a human lifetime. For a world thought to have gone cold long ago, the discovery points to a place that still releases internal heat in fits and starts, says Mark Robinson, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University, Tempe, and a co-author on the new study. “The big story is that the moon is warmer than we thought,” he says."
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+ - Feces-filled capsules treat bacterial infection->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Clostridium difficile infections kill approximately 14,000 Americans every year, often because the diarrhea-causing bacteria are highly resistant to standard antibiotics. Now, scientists have found an unusual way to combat the bugs: human feces in pill form. In the new study, researchers show that frozen fecal matter encapsulated in clear, 1.6 g synthetic pills was just as safe and effective as traditional fecal transplant techniques at treating C. difficile. Within 8 weeks or less, 18 out of 20 participants saw a complete resolution of diarrhea after consuming 30 or 60 of the feces-filled capsules. “It’s probably not the best experience of your life,” says team leader Ilan Youngster, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at Harvard University. “But it beats getting a tube stuck down your throat or a colonoscopy or having C. diff.”"
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+ - Z machine makes progress toward nuclear fusion->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Scientists are reporting a significant advance in the quest to develop an alternative approach to nuclear fusion. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, using the lab’s Z machine, a colossal electric pulse generator capable of producing currents of tens of millions of amperes, say they have detected significant numbers of neutrons—byproducts of fusion reactions—coming from the experiment. This, they say, demonstrates the viability of their approach and marks progress toward the ultimate goal of producing more energy than the fusion device takes in."
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+ - Ship noise makes cuttlefish change color->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The boom of a ship’s engine makes common cuttlefish change the complex swirls of skin hues, stripes, and spots that they use for camouflage and communication. Like other cephalopods such as octopus and squid, cuttlefish rely on visual and tactile signals to communicate; there’s been little evidence so far to suggest they perceive—or respond to—sound. But when researchers placed a loudspeaker near cuttlefish tanks and played the sound of an underwater engine, the animals swam more and changed colors more often. The fast color changes could hinder camouflage when ships are near, increasing the animals’ chances of being spotted by predators."
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+ - 'Swiss cheese' galaxy resembles those that changed the youthful universe->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Astronomers have identified a galaxy 2.9 billion light-years away that's vigorously pumping out ultraviolet radiation and resembles the ones that transformed the entire universe shortly after its birth. The finding could help scientists deepen their understanding of how, a few hundred million years after the big bang, similar galaxies busted up hydrogen atoms throughout intergalactic space. The findings could also shed light on just what our universe looked like in its earliest days."
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+ - Sidewinder robots slither like snakes->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers have created robot snakes in the past, but they've never been able to slither up steep inclines like real snakes do. Now, a scientists has found a way to climb that mountain. By teaming up with researchers studying how live snakes move, he and his colleagues have determined what it takes to make snake robots go uphill, even on slippery, sandy slopes. These reptiles, real and robotic, are sidewinders—they move forward not by slithering, but rather by wriggling their bodies perpendicular to the direction of travel in a undulating S-shaped wave. These attributes may lead to robots that can snake their way through rubble in disaster zones to find trapped people or that can inspect nuclear power plants."
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+ - Decline of bees and other pollinators could worsen global malnutrition->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Although bees, butterflies, and other winged creatures serve as natural pollinators for many of the world’s plants, they contribute only modestly to the world’s agricultural production—accounting for between 5% and 10% of the production of food crops. However, such natural pollinators may play a disproportionately large role in human nutrition and health, according to a new study. That's because pollinators support crops that deliver essential nutrients to malnourished regions of the world, the data show, suggesting that regions already facing food shortages and nutritional deficiencies may be especially hard hit by the global decline of bees and other pollinators."
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+ - For diabetes, stem cell recipe offers new hope->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Douglas Melton is as impatient as anyone for a cure for diabetes. His son developed the disease as an infant, and his daughter was diagnosed at age 14. For most of the past 2 decades, the developmental biologist at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute has focused his research on finding a cure. This week, he and his colleagues report a potentially significant step toward that goal: a recipe that can turn human stem cells into functional pancreatic cells—the cells that are destroyed by the body’s own immune system in type 1 diabetes patients such as Melton’s son and daughter. The cells the researchers produced respond to glucose by producing insulin, just as normal cells do. And when implanted into mice with a form of diabetes, the cells can cure the disorder."
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+ - Better smelling beer, thanks to fruit flies->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The next time you see a fruit fly hovering around your pint of beer, don’t swat it—appreciate it. You’re witnessing a unique relationship between yeast and insect. A new study reveals that the single-celled organisms have evolved to secrete a fruity scent that attracts fruit flies, which they hitch a ride on for greener pastures. The findings may also explain the sweet aroma of some craft beers."
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