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Findings reveal clues to functioning of mysterious “mimivirus”

May 14, 2015 4:16 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered the structure of a key protein on the surface of an unusually large virus called the mimivirus, aiding efforts to determine its hosts and unknown functions. The mimivirus was initially thought to be a bacterium because it is much larger than most viruses. It was isolated by French scientists in 1992 but wasn't confirmed to be a virus until 2003.

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Geologists fine-tune search for life on Mars

May 14, 2015 2:23 pm | by Brendan Lynch, KU News Service | Videos | Comments

For centuries, people have imagined the possibility of life on Mars. But long-held dreams that Martians could be invaders of Earth, or little green men, or civilized superbeings, all have been undercut by missions to our neighboring planet that have, so far, uncovered no life at all.

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CLAIRE brings electron microscopy to soft materials

May 14, 2015 12:37 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Soft matter encompasses a broad swath of materials, including liquids, polymers, gels, foam and biomolecules. At the heart of soft materials, governing their overall properties and capabilities, are the interactions of nano-sized components. Observing the dynamics behind these interactions is critical to understanding key biological processes.

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Educating the immune system to prevent allergies

May 14, 2015 10:08 am | by Julie Robert, McGill Univ. | News | Comments

With the arrival of spring, millions of people have begun their annual ritual of sneezing and wheezing due to seasonal allergies. A research team is bringing people hope with a potential vaccine that nudges the immune response away from developing allergies. The findings have clinical implications since allergies and asthma are lifelong conditions that often start in childhood and for which there is presently no cure.

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How rivers regulate global carbon cycle

May 14, 2015 10:01 am | by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | News | Comments

Humans concerned about climate change are working to find ways of capturing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequestering it in the Earth. But nature has its own methods for the removal and long-term storage of carbon, including the world's river systems, which transport decaying organic material and eroded rock from land to the ocean.

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Climate scientists confirm elusive tropospheric hot spot

May 14, 2015 9:48 am | by Univ. of New South Wales | News | Comments

Researchers have published results in Environmental Research Letters confirming strong warming in the upper troposphere, known colloquially as the tropospheric hot spot. The hot has been long expected as part of global warming theory and appears in many global climate models.

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New target for anti-malaria drugs

May 14, 2015 9:06 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

A new target for drug development in the fight against the deadly disease malaria has been discovered by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a recently published paper, the researchers describe how they identified the drug target while studying the way in which the parasites Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis, and Plasmodium, which causes malaria, access vital nutrients from their host cells.

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Digitizing neurons

May 14, 2015 8:21 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Supercomputing resources at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will support a new initiative designed to advance how scientists digitally reconstruct and analyze individual neurons in the human brain. Led by the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the BigNeuron project aims to create a common platform for analyzing the 3-D structure of neurons.

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Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

May 14, 2015 8:09 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and various industries could play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the future. But current materials that can collect carbon dioxide have low capacities or require very high temperatures to work. Scientists are making progress toward a more efficient alternative, described in Chemistry of Materials, that could help make carbon capture less energy-intensive.

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Infant antibiotic use linked to adult diseases

May 14, 2015 8:02 am | by Lacey Nygard, Univ. of Minnesota | News | Comments

A new study led by researchers at the Univ. of Minnesota has found a three-way link among antibiotic use in infants, changes in the gut bacteria and disease later in life. The imbalances in gut microbes, called dysbiosis, have been tied to infectious diseases, allergies and other autoimmune disorders, and obesity later in life.

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Researchers build new fermion microscope

May 14, 2015 7:50 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Fermions are the building blocks of matter, interacting in a multitude of permutations to give rise to the elements of the periodic table. Without fermions, the physical world would not exist. Examples of fermions are electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks and atoms consisting of an odd number of these elementary particles. Because of their fermionic nature, electrons and nuclear matter are difficult to understand theoretically. 

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NRC wants more research on earthquake risk at nuke plants

May 13, 2015 10:04 pm | by Michael R. Blood, Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal regulators Wednesday directed nuclear power plants in California and Washington state to conduct additional, in-depth research into earthquake risks by June 2017, part of a broad review of seismic threats following Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster.

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Study: Vitamin B3 may help prevent certain skin cancers

May 13, 2015 6:05 pm | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

For the first time, a large study suggests that a vitamin might modestly lower the risk of the most common types of skin cancer in people with a history of these relatively harmless yet troublesome growths. In a study in Australia, people who took a specific type of vitamin B3 for a year had a 23% lower rate of new skin cancers compared to others who took dummy pills.

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Discovered: “Swing-dancing” pair of electrons

May 13, 2015 4:45 pm | by Joe Miksch, Univ. of Pittsburgh | News | Comments

A research team led by the Univ. of Pittsburgh’s Jeremy Levy has discovered electrons that can “swing dance.” This unique electronic behavior can potentially lead to new families of quantum devices. Superconductors form the basis for magnetic resonance imaging devices as well as emerging technologies such as quantum computers. At the heart of all superconductors is the bunching of electrons into pairs.

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New shortcut to solar cells

May 13, 2015 4:38 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have found a way to simplify the manufacture of solar cells by using the top electrode as the catalyst that turns plain silicon into valuable black silicon. Black silicon is silicon with a highly textured surface of nanoscale spikes or pores that are smaller than the wavelength of light. The texture allows the efficient collection of light from any angle, at any time of day.

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