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+ - Earth-Like Planet May Harbor Liquid Water->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Ever since the first exoplanet was discovered in 1996, astronomers have been scanning the heavens for another Earth: a rocky planet orbiting its star at just the right distance for it to harbor liquid water and thus, potentially, life. Now, sifting through data collected by NASA’s Kepler orbiting observatory, they have discovered just such a planet, although it’s not quite Earth 2.0. Named Kepler-186f, the planet orbits a star that is less than half the size of the sun and much cooler."
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+ - Females Sport Penises in Genital-Swapped Insects->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Ecologists spelunking in a Brazilian cave have found a new variety of insect with an unusual sex life. Females of the newly discovered genus Neotrogla, 3-mm-long flylike insects, boast large, penislike structures called gynosomes. The new genus is the first to be found with swapped genital structures. During copulation—which lasts 40 to 70 hours—the female mounts the male from behind, thrusting her gynosome into the male’s vaginalike opening. Once inside, the female uses spines on the gynosome to latch on to the potentially reluctant male. The lady’s grasp is so strong that when the researchers tried to separate a fornicating pair, the male’s abdomen was ripped from its body without breaking the genital link."
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+ - New Book Argues That Pets are Becoming Legal Persons->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Even though most owners consider cats and dogs members of the family, the law has long considered them property, no different than a couch or a toaster. A new book, Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs, argues that this is beginning to change. Over the past two decades, judges and politicians have begun to blur the line between pet and person. Cats and dogs can now inherit money, for example, and they can be the subject of custody cases. Judges have also begun awarding emotional distress damages to the owners of slain pets--damages typically only available to parents and spouses. In a few recent cases, dogs have even gotten their own lawyers.

There are good, bad, and bizarre consequences of turning pets into people, argues the book's author, David Grimm, a deputy news editor at Science. Pets would be more protected, for example, but veterinarians worry about being slapped with large malpractice lawsuits (which has already started to happen) and flooding the courts with pet cases. Pets that are people also couldn't be neutered against their will or even bought or sold. Owners themselves could face some unintended consequences: As "guardians" instead of "owners" they could have their pets taken away if they don't walk their dog enough or pay for their cat's chemotherapy."

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+ - "Thermoelectrics" Could One Day Power Cars->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Fossil fuels power modern society by generating heat, but much of that heat is wasted. Researchers have tried to reclaim some of it with semiconductor devices called thermoelectrics, which convert the heat into power. But they remain too inefficient and expensive to be useful beyond a handful of niche applications. Now, scientists in Illinois report that they have used a cheap, well-known material to create the most heat-hungry thermoelectric so far. In the process, the researchers say, they learned valuable lessons that could push the materials to the efficiencies needed for widespread applications. If that happens, thermoelectrics could one day power cars and scavenge energy from myriad engines, boilers, and electrical plants."
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+ - Deep Brain Stimulation Triggers Hallucinations->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A new study has found the area in the brain responsible for hallucinations. Brain scans of an epilepsy patient revealed a shrunken spot near his hippocampus—the brain’s memory center. Studies had shown that this region—known as the parahippocampal place area (PPA)—was involved with recognizing of scenes and places. Doctors reconfirmed this by showing the patient pictures of a house and seeing the PPA light up on brain scans with functional magnetic resonance imaging. To assess if the PPA was ground zero for seizures, the doctors used a routine procedure that involves shooting soft jolts of electricity into the region and seeing if the patient senses an oncoming seizure. Rather than have déjà vu, the patient’s surroundings suddenly changed as he hallucinated places familiar to him. In one instance, the doctors morphed into the Italians from his local pizza place."
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+ - Are Beards About to Die Out?->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Beards are everywhere these days. From the urban lumberjacks of Brooklyn to the hirsute hackers of San Francisco, men’s faces have taken a turn for the hairy. But according to one theory of evolutionary population dynamics, the look is destined to die down because of its own popularity. And now an experiment involving 3 dozen bearded men lends credence to the prediction."
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+ - Not Everyone Needs Probiotics, Suggests Study of Hunter-Gatherer Guts->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "After taking an antibiotic or catching an intestinal bug, many of us belt down probiotic drinks to restore the “natural balance” of organisms in our intestines. Probiotics are one of the fastest growing products in the food industry, now added to yogurts, drinks, and baby food. Yet, not everyone needs them to stay healthy. A new study of the gut bacteria of hunter-gatherers in Africa has found that they completely lack a bacterium that is a key ingredient in most probiotic foods and considered healthy. What’s more, the Hadza don’t suffer from colon cancer, colitis, Crohn’s, or other diseases of the colon that are found in humans eating modern diets in Western nations."
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+ - U.S. Biomedical Research 'Unsustainable,' Prominent Researchers Warn->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The U.S. biomedical science system "is on an unsustainable path" and needs major reform, four prominent researchers say. Researchers should "confront the dangers at hand,” the authors write, and “rethink” how academic research is funded, staffed, and organized. Among other issues, the team suggests that the system may be producing too many new researchers and forcing them to compete for a stagnating pool of funding."
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+ - Unhappy Marriages Due to Low Blood Sugar?-> 1

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Feeling peeved at your partner? You may want to check your blood sugar. A new study suggests that low levels of glucose in the blood may increase anger and aggression between spouses. The researchers say their findings suggest a connection between glucose and self-control, but other experts disagree about the study’s implications."
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+ - Astronauts of Future Could Survive on Their Own Urine->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Future space travelers could more efficiently recycle their own urine to reclaim its water and make a little electrical power to boot. Researchers have found a way to separate the toxic byproducts of urine, leaving behind water that is safe to drink, plus chemicals that can be fed into a battery-like fuel cell. In tests, the amount of electrical power generated is small: Voltages are about 0.2 volts, and currents about 2 milliamps. But the team hopes to improve the power output in its next version of the system."
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+ - Cost Skyrockets for United States' Share of ITER Fusion Project->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "ITER, the international fusion experiment under construction in Cadarache, France, aims to prove that nuclear fusion is a viable power source by creating a "burning plasma" that produces more energy than the machine itself consumes. Although that goal is at least 20 years away, ITER is already burning through money at a prodigious pace. The United States is only a minor partner in the project, which began construction in 2008. But the U.S. contribution to ITER will total $3.9 billion—roughly four times as much as originally estimated—according to a new cost estimate released yesterday. That is about $1.4 billion higher than a 2011 cost estimate, and the numbers are likely to intensify doubts among some members of Congress about continuing the U.S. involvement in the project."
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+ - Measles Outbreak Traced to Fully Vaccinated Patient for First Time->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Get the measles vaccine, and you won’t get the measles—or give it to anyone else. Right? Well, not always. A person fully vaccinated against measles has contracted the disease and passed it on to others. The startling case study contradicts received wisdom about the vaccine and suggests that a recent swell of measles outbreaks in developed nations could mean more illnesses even among the vaccinated."
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+ - Jet-Lagged? There's an App for That->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Smart phones can get you to the bus station, track flight delays, and monitor your sleep. Now, they may help you adjust to new time zones, too. Released yesterday, a new app called Entrain aims to help travelers restore whacked-out rhythms after long trips. The researchers who developed it got the idea while studying the mathematics of circadian rhythms. Their number crunching resulted in specialized adjustment schedules for more than 1000 travel itineraries, they report today in PLOS Computational Biology."
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+ - Amoeba Eat Human Intestines, Cell by Cell->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Entamoeba histolytica is a tiny pathogen that takes a terrible toll. The single-celled parasite—an amoeba about a tenth the size of a dust mite—infects 50 million people worldwide and kills as many as 100,000 each year. Now, a new report reveals how the microbe does its deadly damage: by eating cells alive, piece by piece. The finding offers a potential target for new drugs to treat E. histolytica infections, and it transforms researchers’ understanding of how the parasite works."
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+ - Embattled Stem Cell Researcher Apologizes but Defends Her Work->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In her first appearance before the press since her claims of an astounding breakthrough in stem cell research started unraveling, Haruko Obokata, of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, apologized for the trouble she has caused her employer, her colleagues, and the scientific community. But she also firmly maintained that STAP cells, the new type of stem cells she claims to have developed, exist, and said she will not retract the two Nature papers reporting her finding."
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The test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Aldo Leopold

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