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Study of Holocaust survivors finds trauma passed on to children's genes

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 18:40

New finding is first example in humans of the theory of epigenetic inheritance: the idea that environmental factors can affect the genes of your children

Genetic changes stemming from the trauma suffered by Holocaust survivors are capable of being passed on to their children, the clearest sign yet that one person’s life experience can affect subsequent generations.

The conclusion from a research team at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital led by Rachel Yehuda stems from the genetic study of 32 Jewish men and women who had either been interned in a Nazi concentration camp, witnessed or experienced torture or who had had to hide during the second world war.

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Chris Marshall obituary

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 18:04
Scientific researcher whose work made possible many new cancer treatments

Chris Marshall, a pioneering cancer researcher, who has died aged 66 from the disease he spent his life studying, made important discoveries which shaped our understanding of how cancers arise and which have helped in the development of advanced therapies to treat them.

Among his most significant achievements was the identification of a human oncogene – a normal gene present in each cell that mutates and triggers cancer. This work began in 1980, when Chris established his own research team at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London. At that time the ICR had a distinguished record in understanding carcinogens and developing chemotherapeutic drugs, but lacked research into the rapidly developing areas of cell and molecular biology. Chris, with a colleague, Alan Hall, filled this gap. He was building on an astonishing discovery, made a few years earlier by scientists in the US, that the DNA taken out of a human cancer cell could be transferred to a mouse cell and that the mouse cell could then be turned into a cancer cell.

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Glaciers seed ocean with silicon – and fuel plankton growth

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-08-21 18:02
Glacier melt may be providing significant amounts of silicon to plankton, boosting their population and the amount of carbon dioxide they can soak up









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Boy, nine, fitted with first prosthetic hand that can change grip with gestures

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 17:21

Josh Cathcart can now eat with cutlery and pull up his trousers for the first time thanks to i-limb quantum, a special child-sized hand

A nine-year-old boy, born with his right arm missing from the elbow, can build Lego, eat with a knife and fork and pull up his trousers for the first time thanks to a new bionic hand.

Josh Cathcart, who was bullied because of his disability, declared his new limb “awesome” and could not wait to show it to his school friends, after becoming the first child in the UK to be fitted with the i-limb quantum, a special child-sized hand.

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Zoologger: Daring raptors lock talons mid-air and cartwheel down

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-08-21 17:01
We thought it was part of courtship: birds of prey get entangled, then spiral downwards and may even crash. But it seems it's often anything but romantic









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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









Categories: Science news

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









Categories: Science news

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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