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+ - Spacecraft spots probable waves on Titan's seas->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "It’s springtime on Titan, Saturn’s giant and frigid moon, and the action on its hydrocarbon seas seems to be heating up. Near the moon’s north pole, there is growing evidence for waves on three different seas, scientists reported here today at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Researchers are also coming up with the first estimates for the volume and composition of the seas. The bodies of water appear to be made mostly of methane, and not mostly ethane as previously thought. And they are deep: Ligeia Mare, the second biggest sea with an area larger than Lake Superior, could contain 55 times Earth’s oil reserves."
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+ - SPAM: Study finds e-cigarettes can help smokers quit

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Proponents of e-cigarettes—introduced in 2006—have argued that the pen-shaped nicotine vaporizers could help cigarette smokers kick the habit. Now, a review of the scientific literature, published today, lends credibility to this claim, although the matter is far from settled. Conducted by the UK Cochrane Centre, the review focused on just two randomized controlled trials, but it also considered data from 11 cohort studies, which compared people who were already trying to quit with and without e-cigarettes. On balance, the data “suggest that electronic cigarettes can be helpful [for] stopping smoking and reducing cigarette consumption,” says lead author and behavioral scientist Hayden McRobbie of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London."
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+ - Researchers make blood vessels grow by shining a light on skin->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Any fan of Star Trek knows that simply shining light on an injury will heal many wounds in the future. Now scientists have brought that future a bit closer. In a new study, researchers have found a way to stimulate the growth of blood vessels—an important part of healing—by hitting the skin with ultraviolet light."
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+ - Robot spots predatory worms, floating slime balls under Arctic ice->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A lightweight, remotely operated vehicle that dove deep under Arctic ice has spotted under-ice algae, as well as tiny copepods, ctenophores (jellyfish), predatory marine worms called arrow worms, and abundant amounts of large floating slime balls, known to scientists as larvaceans. What links these lower members of the food web to seals and polar bears isn’t yet clear; scientists saw no evidence of the most obvious missing element—fish—during the expedition."
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+ - Scientists solve mystery of spontaneously combusting rubble piles in Japan quake->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Something strange happened in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that pummeled Japan. Months later, mysterious fires began breaking out in piles of brick and wood from damaged buildings. Researchers puzzled over what sparked the fires, but a new study offers a possible explanation: decomposing rice-straw flooring, called tatami mats, filled with fermenting microbes that generate large quantities of heat."
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+ - Bacteria on pubic hair could be used to identify rapists->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When it comes to identifying a rapist, one of the main pieces of evidence police analyze are pubic hairs found at the crime scene. But most of these hairs are missing their roots and thus don’t harbor enough DNA for a proper match. Now, a new study suggests there may be a better way to finger the criminal: Look at the bacteria he left behind. Scientists have found that each person harbors a unique "microbial signature" on their pubic hair that can be traced back to the scene of the crime."
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+ - Mysterious martian gouges carved by sand-surfing dry ice->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "After the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter began beaming back close-up images of the Red Planet, researchers spotted peculiar features along the slopes of dunes: long, sharply defined grooves that seem to appear and disappear seasonally. They look like trails left behind by tumbling boulders, but rocks never appear in the sunken pits at the trail ends. Researchers initially took these gullies as signs of flowing liquid water, but a new model suggests they’re the result of sand-surfing dry ice that breaks off from the crests of dunes and skids down slopes. This is no ordinary tumble—according to the model, the bases of the chunks are continually sublimating, resulting in a hovercraftlike motion that gouges the dune while propelling the ice down slopes."
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+ - Want to influence the world? Map reveals the best languages to speak->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Speak or write in English, and the world will hear you. Speak or write in Tamil or Portuguese, and you may have a harder time getting your message out. Now, a new method for mapping how information flows around the globe identifies the best languages to spread your ideas far and wide. One hint: If you’re considering a second language, try Spanish instead of Chinese."
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+ - Orbiter spots solar particles penetrating deep into atmosphere of Mars->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A stream of hot protons from the sun is penetrating deep into the thin atmosphere of Mars, researchers have found. The stream, known as the solar wind, is typically deflected by the ionosphere, a layer of ions and electrons forming a shield around Mars. But the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission—a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars—has found that some protons re-emerge within the ionosphere below altitudes of 200 kilometers. The effect could be used to monitor the strength of the solar wind even at altitudes where mission scientists had not expected to have any handle on it. MAVEN, which arrived in Mars’s orbit in September, needs to catalog the ways energy is deposited in the upper atmosphere in order to achieve one of its main mission goals: explaining how Mars lost much of its atmosphere. Billions of years ago, when Mars was warmer and wetter, the planet is presumed to have had a much thicker atmosphere—one that has been eroded steadily by the solar wind, and also during more catastrophic solar storm events, into the dry, cold landscape seen today."
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+ - No more foamy beer, thanks to magnets->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Few sights at a bar are more deflating than a bottle of beer overflowing with foam. This overfoaming, called gushing, arises when fungi infect the barley grains in beer’s malt base. The microorganisms latch onto barley with surface proteins called hydrophobins. During the brewing process, these hydrophobins can attract carbon dioxide molecules produced by the mashed barley as it ferments, making the beer far too bubbly. Brewers try to tamp down the gushing by adding hops extract, an antifoaming agent that binds to the proteins first. Now, food scientists in Belgium have hit upon a technological solution: magnets. When the team applied a magnetic field to a malt infused with hops extract, the magnets dispersed the antifoaming agent into tinier particles. Those smaller particles were much more effective at binding to more hydrophobins, blocking carbon dioxide and decreasing gushing. During tests in a real brewery, the magnets decreased excess foaming so effectively that brewers needed much lower amounts of hops extract—a potential cost-saving measure. Future studies could explore whether magnetic fields alone could reduce foaming on an industrial scale, the team says."
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+ - Why the Taj Mahal is turning brown->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Air pollution has turned the Taj Mahal's snowy marble dome brown. Scientists didn't know what exact process caused the discoloration: Perhaps it was fog droplets oxidizing the surface or maybe sulfurous gas in the air. Now, computer modeling has shown that these particles absorb ultraviolet light, thus giving the dome a yellow-brown shade. Researchers blame vehicle emissions and burning of biomasses such as dung and trash for causing the pollution."
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+ - NIH cancels massive U.S. children's study->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Federal officials are pulling the plug on an ambitious plan hatched 14 years ago to follow the health of 100,000 U.S. children from before birth to age 21. The National Children’s Study (NCS), which has struggled to get off the ground and has already cost more than $1.2 billion, has too many flaws to be carried out in a tight budget environment, advisers today told National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins. He announced he is dismantling the study immediately."
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+ - Israeli cave offers clues about when humans mastered fire->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Mastering fire was one of the most important developments in human prehistory. But it’s also one of the hardest to pin down, with different lines of evidence pointing to different timelines. A new study of artifacts from a cave in Israel suggests that our ancestors began regularly using fire about 350,000 years ago—far enough back to have shaped our culture and behavior but too recent to explain our big brains or our expansion into cold climates."
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+ - 3D map of DNA reveals hidden loops that allow genes to work together->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Every genome is a miracle of packaging. Somehow a human cell crams two meters of DNA into its tiny nucleus, and yet this tangled mess can carry out the complex task of building and maintaining our bodies. Now, the most detailed look yet at this genomic jumble reveals loops of DNA that bring distant parts of chromosomes together, allowing them to act in concert. The work could help researchers pin down the genetic causes of diseases and help clarify how the genome functions."
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+ - Why women's bodies abort males during tough times->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In times of trouble, multiple studies have shown, more girls are born than boys. No one knows why, but men need not worry about being overrun by women. An analysis of old church records in Finland has revealed that the boys that are born in stressful times survive better than those born during less challenging periods. The work helps explain why women may have evolved a tendency to abort certain males and could lead to a better understanding of miscarriages."
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