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What dementia ‘tsunami’? Your chances of getting it have dropped

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-08-21 15:34
Despite scare stories, the number of people with dementia in Europe seems to be plateauing, but screening is still prioritised over measures more likely to be of benefit

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Are jellyfish going to take over the oceans? | Karl Mathiesen

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 15:29

Like a karmic device come to punish our planetary transgressions, jellyfish thrive on the environmental chaos humans create. Is the age of the jellyfish upon us?

Another British summer, another set of fear-mongering headlines about swarms of “deadly” jellyfish set to ruin your holiday. But news that jellyfish numbers may be rising carries implications far beyond the interrupted pastimes of the sunburnt masses.

Like a karmic device come to punish our planetary transgressions, jellyfish thrive on the chaos humans create. Overfishing wipes out their competitors and predators; warmer water from climate change encourages the spread of some jellies; pollution from fertilisers causes the ocean to lose its oxygen, a deprivation to which jellyfish are uniquely tolerant; coastal developments provide convenient, safe habitat for their polyps to hide. In addition, the great mixing of species transported across the world in the ballasts of ships opens up new, vulnerable ecosystems to these super-adaptors.

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Antibiotic resistance: the race to stop the 'silent tsunami' facing modern medicine

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 14:51

With deaths from antibiotic resistance far outstripping even those of epidemics such as Ebola, scientists are desperate to discover new classes of antibiotics

Off the coast of California, nearly 20,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, scientists from the San Diego Institute of Oceaneography are collecting samples of marine life from the ocean floor. At first glance, these small clumps of sediment may appear nothing special, but the micro-organisms which lie within may one day provide an answer to one of the most urgent issues in modern healthcare: the global antibiotic resistance pandemic.

To put the scale of the problem in perspective: the Ebola epidemic in West Africa captured the headlines in 2014, and in total the virus accounted for just over 11,000 fatalities, making it as the most devastating outbreak of the virus in history. Current estimates place the annual number of deaths from antibiotic resistant bacteria at around 700,000 worldwide. Unless things change this figure is predicted to rise to 10 million by 2050, with growing numbers of bacteria already fully resistant to every clinical antibiotic available.

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Be wary of studies that link mental ill health with creativity or a high IQ | Dr Oliver Joe Robinson

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 13:15

The idea that genius and madness are intertwined is an ancient one. But in truth, in this desperately underfunded field, we don’t even have objective tools to diagnose disorders of the mind, let alone back up claims such as this

The idea that highly creative or intelligent individuals are especially vulnerable to mental ill health has been around for a long time. “No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness” is attributed to Aristotle in 350BC, and more recent examples of creative types describing their afflictions with great clarity are not hard to find.

Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest are both achingly vivid portrayals of mental ill health; and both make uncomfortable reading in light of their author’s untimely deaths.

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Quantum computer firm D-Wave claims massive performance boost

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-08-21 12:58
The world only quantum computer maker says its upgraded chip is 15 times faster than ordinary computers, but experts doubt the comparison is a fair test

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Ant knows how to self-medicate to fight off fungal infection

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-08-21 11:49
When their bodies are under attack by a fungus, one species of ant chooses food laced with hydrogen peroxide and is more likely to live as a result

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Nasa says the world is not going to end in September

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 06:33

Space agency kills off internet rumour by confirming an asteroid strike will not wipe out humanity in the next few weeks, or years, or decades

Good news for those with plans for October and beyond: the Earth will still be in existence.

Nasa has confirmed – after rumours swept the internet about an imminent asteroid strike expected between 15 and 28 September – that the two-week period in question will be entirely free of Earth-destroying space attacks.

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Ariane 5 space rocket blasts off in French Guiana to deliver satellite payload – video

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 05:29

A European Arianespace rocket was successfully launched from a South American spaceport on Thursday on a mission to deliver two new communications satellites into orbit. The unmanned Ariane 5 rocket left Guiana space center with a payload that includes the Eutelsat 8 West B satellite and the Intelsat 34 satellite

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Saturn moon shot in 'best resolution ever' by Nasa spacecraft – video

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 03:43

Nasa sheds new light on Saturn moon Dione, with pictures taken by the Cassini spacecraft on its latest close approach on Monday. Nasa says the grey, black and white images show Dione’s icy terrain in ‘the best resolution ever’ and are the result of shadows cast in sunlight reflecting off Saturn

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Aztec skull trophy rack discovered at Mexico City’s Templo Mayor ruin site

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 03:10

Such racks, or tzompantli, were used to display severed heads of sacrifice victims on wooden poles, and this one is made partly of skulls mortared together

Archaeologists say they have have found the main trophy rack of sacrificed human skulls at Mexico City’s Templo Mayor Aztec ruin site.

Racks known as “tzompantli” were where the Aztecs displayed the severed heads of sacrifice victims on wooden poles pushed through the sides of the skull. The poles were suspended horizontally on vertical posts.

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Study: common form of breast cancer may warrant less aggressive treatment

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 22:07

‘We’re not suggesting a do-nothing, wait-and-see approach,’ says lead researcher in study of more than 100,000 women with breast cancer of the milk duct

Women who are treated for what has come to be considered a non-invasive breast cancer of the milk duct could need less treatment – not more – a new study of more than 100,000 women indicates.

The study, which appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Oncology this week, found that women treated for ductal carcinoma in situ, a group of abnormal cells found in the milk duct, were not significantly less likely to die of breast cancer than women on average. Some patients who received radiation therapy actually fared worse, especially if the treatment was on the left side.

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Readers recommend: songs about mood-changing music | Peter Kimpton

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 20:00

A rush of joy? Or moved to tears? Suggest songs with lyrics that refer to other songs or music that can bring about a change in state of mind or emotion

“As soon as I hear a sound, it always suggests a mood to me,” said Brian Eno. As an artist who works in many forms, including an endlessly shifting visual project created with designer Nick Robertson, 77 Million Paintings, he is an experimentalist fascinated by constantly shifting nuances and states of mind. But all music changes mood to a greater or lesser extent. Our moods are constantly on the move. As often as philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle put it, with a calm perspective: “There are good and bad times, but our mood changes more often than our fortune.”

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Genetic switch makes fat cells burn energy rather than store it

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-08-20 19:25
We now know how to turn fat cells into ones that burn calories as heat rather than store them – raising the prospect of a gene therapy for obesity

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Scientists reject claims of lab-grown mini human brain

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-08-20 18:55
It made headlines, but a claim to have cultured a nearly fully formed brain is "entirely unjustified", say neuroscientists contacted by New Scientist

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Watery time capsule hints at how life got started on early Earth

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-08-20 17:20
Water locked away in rocks for 1.5 billion years reveals conditions were right for complex organic molecules to form in deep sea hydrothermal vents

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Existence of cosmic neutrinos confirmed by Antarctic scientists

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 16:07

Neutrinos, created by violent phenomena such as black holes and exploding stars, could hold the key to the universe’s most distant and mysterious events

Antarctic scientists have confirmed the existence of cosmic neutrinos – ghostly particles that have traveled from the Milky Way and beyond. These particles carry messages from distant galaxies, and could potentially help solve several cosmic puzzles.

Related: A good week for neutrinos: highest-power beam delivers oscillations, space delivers highest energy

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Pesticides linked to bee decline for first time in a countrywide field study

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 15:56

Landscape-wide research by former UK government agency on oilseed rape fields in England and Wales shows link between neonicotinoids and honeybee colony losses

A new study provides the first evidence of a link between neonicotinoid pesticides and escalating honeybee colony losses on a landscape level.

The study found the increased use of a pesticide, which is linked to causing serious harm in bees worldwide, as a seed treatment on oilseed rape in England and Wales over an 11 year period correlated with higher bee mortality during that time.

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Metamaterial wormhole teleports magnetic fields across space

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-08-20 15:27
Better MRI scanners could result from a trick in which a magnetic field springs up from nowhere, using materials famous for their link to invisibility cloaks

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Fake It 'Til You Make It: art and science in perfect harmony

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 12:46

Trying to balance entertainment and facts has been the downfall of many an artist. But Bryony Kimmings’ latest work shows it can be done with panache

How do you make theatre which effectively communicates information without producing something that makes the audience wish they’d bought tickets to Wicked instead? As the Guardian’s science production editor I see a lot of what is termed “science communication”. It’s something of a buzzphrase which can mean anything from the slightly misfiring videos which caused a furore last week to the Large Hadron Collider’s arts residencies. Sometimes wonderful pieces of art are created; more often, yes, we wish we were drinking an overpriced G&T and marvelling at flying monkeys instead.

This balance of art and information is something which performance artist Bryony Kimmings manages extremely well, without resorting to the trappings of Oz. Her much-lauded 2013 Edinburgh show, Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model, took on what she labels “the tween-machine”: the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood. Her latest show, Fake It ’Til You Make It, tackles the issues around mental health in men, and does so in typically personal style through the lens of her partner Tim Grayburn’s clinical depression.

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Can the humble fruit fly help create a flourishing African scientific community?

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 11:03

A small institute in Kampala is cultivating a regional network of researchers, using an inexpensive lab model based on the fruit fly

African biomedical scientists face important challenges – poor training, poorer infrastructure and scarce resources.

Related: Higher Education in Africa: Our continent needs science, not aid

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