Science news

States look to naloxone to cure Americas overdose epidemic

Guardian Science - Mon, 2014-04-07 17:48

The case for expanding access to the anti-overdose drug is gaining steam around the country. Here's how it works, where its available and what comes next

The last thing I remember is the sensation of sliding down against a wall. I woke up lying on my back in the emergency room, looking up at the faces of the doctors and nurses surrounding me. They had introduced naloxone into my IV. Tim, Marin County, California

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from a heroin overdose in February cast a spotlight on Americas steadily rising overdose rate. Since then, theres been a lot of reporting on how state governments are trying to address the problem. One popular move: making naloxone, a drug that can reverse opioid overdose, more widely available to the public.

We warned her to be careful of doing too much but she shot up anyway. Seconds later she was trembling and unresponsive. I held her up, hit her face, and everyone frantically looked for the [naloxone]. Finally they found it and gave it to her. She came-to. Elly, Minneapolis, Minnesota

I have never had the luxury of being given naloxone when overdosing. During my many overdoses in the years past, friends were intimidated intimidated that theyd get in trouble for getting a friend help. I am a believer that naloxone can start to help break stereotypes and stigmatism around people who suffer . Richard, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania

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Volcanic blasts hint that Mercury is a migrant planet

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2014-04-07 17:48
Explosions seem to have rocked the planet Mercury for most of its existence – and that shouldn't be possible if it formed close to the sun

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Global plan to shush ships for the sake of whales

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2014-04-07 17:44
For the first time a set of guidelines will push shipping companies to keep the noise down, reducing the din bombarding marine animals

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Today on New Scientist

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2014-04-07 17:30
All the latest on where's Voyager? push-button orgasms, robot soldier, chromosomes grow up too soon, renewables go global and more
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Harsh world makes kids' chromosomes look middle-aged

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2014-04-07 14:59
By the age of 9, children growing up in tough environments can have telomeres that look like they belong to someone several decades older

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Almost half of new electricity is now clean and green

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2014-04-07 14:43
Investment in clean energy has fallen but nevertheless renewables like solar and wind are going global

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Robot soldier could help save human comrades' lives

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2014-04-07 14:41
Relax, puny humans – it may look like a prototype Terminator, but this android has come to help. Its job is to test equipment for the UK's armed forces

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Search for Inca 'lost city' in Amazon may endanger indigenous people

Guardian Science - Mon, 2014-04-07 14:17
A six-week expedition starting in July will try to find Paititi in the Megantoni National Sanctuary in south-east Peru

A French writer and adventurer plans to explore one of the most remote parts of the Peruvian Amazon in search of a "lost" or "secret city" that may have been built by the Incas, but there are fears that the expedition could endanger the health of isolated tribes that have never been exposed to common human diseases.

Thierry Jamin believes that the city, which he calls "Paititi", could lie somewhere in a 215,000-hectare protected area called the Megantoni National Sanctuary in the Cuzco region of south-east Peru.

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Hummingbirds: still evolving endless forms most wonderful | @GrrlScientist

Guardian Science - Mon, 2014-04-07 13:53
A new study finds that the rising Andes is tied to the rapid speciation of hummingbirds. This study also predicts that hummingbirds will evolve twice as many species as what we see today.

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

~Charles Darwin, On The Origin of Species (1859)

A newly-published comprehensive family tree for hummingbirds traces the rapid and ongoing birth of new species throughout this modern family's 22-million-year history. The findings indicate that hummingbird diversification is driven primarily by two elements: by their exploitation of new niches created by the Andean uplift and expansion into new geographic regions, and by their unique relationship to flowering plants. Combined, these two elements support the large variety of distinct hummingbird species that live side-by-side in the same places. Further, although the rate of hummingbird speciation is slowing, this study finds that the evolution of new hummingbird species is still ongoing and is far from complete.

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Athene Donald | How can we best innovate to drive economic growth?

Guardian Science - Mon, 2014-04-07 10:29

Innovation as a driver of economic growth will only thrive if researchers are able to pursue excellent blue skies research to underpin subsequent development work

To many people innovation is seen as the key to getting the economy moving, creating jobs and solving the energy crisis. It's harder to define exactly what innovation is, how it happens and whether it actually translates into economic growth. Last month I attended the EU's flagship Innovation Convention in Brussels , a huge event formally opened by José Manuel Barroso accompanied by the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, with the Commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn also in attendance.

I stayed the night before in a Brussels hotel, chosen by the Commission at whose invitation I was attending, and as I walked around my room there was plenty to make me contemplate the meaning of innovation. Modern hotel bathrooms seem designed to be an intelligence test. It is extraordinary (to my mind) quite how many different ways there are of configuring a tap in order to enable one to wash. But I was also inclined to consider whether this represented 'innovation' in any meaningful sense of the word, given the brief that was on my mind. (If you want to read another blogger's frustrated view on bathrooms and taps, try this by Dorothy Bishop.)

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IPCC report proposes sucking carbon out of the air as climate fix

Guardian Science - Mon, 2014-04-07 10:07
Technique of burning biomass then pumping released carbon underground included in leaked draft from UN climate panel

An upcoming UN report suggests that unproven technologies to suck carbon out of the air might be a fix for climate change, according to a leaked draft obtained by the Guardian.

Scientists and government officials gather in Berlin this week ahead of Sunday's publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's third part of its series of blockbuster climate change reports, which deals with policies addressing the emissions that drive global warming.

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Startup offering DNA screening of 'hypothetical babies' raises fears over designer children

Guardian Science - Mon, 2014-04-07 08:00
Six years after Anne Morriss gave birth to a boy with a rare disease, she and a US scientist are giving would-be parents the chance to screen potential children for genetic conditions

Two days after Anne Morriss took her newborn son home from hospital, she received a bone-chilling phone call. The stranger on the end of the line asked her whether she was sure her baby was still alive. Rushing to the next room, she was relieved to find the baby was fine, but the call was from a Massachusetts state physician who told her that a routine scan had revealed her baby had been born with a rare and often fatal genetic condition.

The condition, MCAD deficiency, is caused by mutations in a gene involved in fat metabolism. Some babies born with a severe version of the disease do not live for more than fortnight because their bodies cannot derive energy from fat by normal methods when their sugar stores run out. An infant with MCADD (Medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase) can simply sleep beyond the amount of sugar in his or her body, without an efficient way of converting fat into energy to keep the brain alive, says Morriss.

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Progress in science communication but problems remain

Guardian Science - Mon, 2014-04-07 07:55

A new MORI survey suggests that communication between scientists and the public may be improving

A survey released in mid-March examines Public attitudes to Science about the perceptions of the British public about science, scientists and engineers, and there are some both interesting and important trends with implications for both how, and what, scientists communicate. Encouragingly, the results were actually very positive overall and even controversial subjects like animal testing, vaccinations, and global climate change suggest that the public is firmly behind the data and the researchers, and that they generally trust scientists to do the right thing and that those researchers know what they are doing.

This is excellent news, but there are concerns over communication between the scientists and the general public, especially when via the media. Despite the overall depth of the survey, it did poll only around 2000 people (mostly adults, but with some children) and its hard to know just how representative that really is of some 60-odd million people in the UK. Even so, concerns manifested (the full report can be downloaded here) are not to be ignored and there were a number of recurring themes that are worthy of consideration and discussion.

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Robots and sex: creepy or cool? | Tauriq Moosa

Guardian Science - Mon, 2014-04-07 07:00

Sex with robots may currently be restricted to fiction, but with advances in technology this could eventually change. Despite how some may react, this is something that should be accepted, maybe even embraced

Consenting adults private activities seem to get a lot of other people very cross. Almost nowhere is this more pronounced than activities involving sex: the position, placement and management of peoples genital activities seem to keep a lot of other adults awake but in an unhealthy, conservative way.

Many people dont like two men doing romantic things together; many dislike women doing things too; and even if its the proper combination of sexes, there are rules about monogamy and marriage and money and so forth that must not be violated, lest you incur the wrath of judgmental columnists and incomprehensible comment sections (or, unfortunately, the law itself).

[Roxxxy] boasts artificial intelligence, speech recognition technology and a bevy of recorded phrases, making it able to, on some levels, converse with her mate. She also has a personality-changer, an Internet connection to receive software and dialog updates.

We came up with the concept of using a robot to help care for not to replace a nurse but help people who need extra care at home: invalids, Alzheimer's patients, etc. It might not be cost-effective or practical to have a nurse full-time with the patient. But the robot would allow interaction with the patient as well as the technology to connect remotely and talk and care as needed.

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Science Weekly podcast: has personal genome sequencing been overhyped?

Guardian Science - Mon, 2014-04-07 06:00
What is the true medical value and cost-effectiveness of personal genome mapping? Prof Euan Ashley discusses his latest research Continue reading...

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Where am I? Voyager on the solar system's frontier

New Scientist - news - Sun, 2014-04-06 20:00
NASA says our furthest emissary has at last broken though into interstellar space – but Voyager's dispatches reveal that nothing is simple at the outer limits (full text available to subscribers)

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Flimsy rocks allowed Earth's plates to start moving

New Scientist - news - Sun, 2014-04-06 18:00
Earth is the only planet whose surface is known to be divided into shifting tectonic plates. An analysis of fragile rock may explain why

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Off mass-shell: Pythagoras to the LHC, via Einstein and Feynman | Jon Butterworth | Life & Physics

Guardian Science - Sun, 2014-04-06 07:35

When a particle physicist describes something as "off mass-shell", they could be referring to a precise bit of quantum mechanics, or denouncing an unrealistic budget estimate. Either way, it's a bit of jargon that connects Pythagoras to the Large Hadron Collider, via Einstein and Feynman

A few days ago, I wrote about a measurement of the "width" of the Higgs boson, meaning the width of its mass distribution. It is a bit of a surprise that particles even have a mass distribution; surely a particle should have a particular mass, not a distribution of different masses? The clue is in the words. But, as I described in that piece, quantum mechanics, in the shape of Heisenberg's uncertainty, says no.

There is a particular mass associated with particles, it is just that they do not always have to have that mass. If they have the right mass, they are "real", or "on mass-shell". If not, they are called "virtual" or "off mass-shell". Particles which are off mass-shell are unstable, living a very short time before decay. Hence, if your budget estimate is described this way, it is probably not a compliment.

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Parallel universes, milk and human evolution: your science questions answered

Guardian Science - Sun, 2014-04-06 07:00
Why milk is a good source of calcium; whether parallel universes are 'far out' or should be taken seriously; wondering if modern society has stopped human evolution in its tracks; and why plastic ducks float

A Magnesium has many roles in a plant including in chlorophyll molecules (the biological pigment needed for photosynthesis in green plants), where a magnesium ion sits in the central cavity of the large ring-shaped part of the structure. However, it is not the only "mineral nutrient" in plants.

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Rev's church could have been where Romeo and Juliet died

Guardian Science - Sun, 2014-04-06 00:05
Shakespeare knew television's fictional St Saviour's as a real church in Shoreditch. Archaeology may reveal that it inspired one of his most famous scenes

Some people believe Shakespeare may have worshipped there, even that it might have inspired scenes in Romeo and Juliet. Today it provides the backdrop to the hit BBC series Rev, starring Tom Hollander. Soon, an east London church could be the site of one of the most exciting archaeological investigations in recent times, one that may shed new light on the life of the playwright.

St Leonard's church in Shoreditch an 18th-century building known to fans of Rev as St Saviour in the Marshes stands on a site occupied by its medieval predecessor, also known as St Leonard's until it was demolished in the 1730s.

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