Futurity

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  • This ant expert gives Ant-Man two thumbs up

    Futurity » Society and Culture
    Barbara Moran-Boston University
    24 Jul 2015 | 11:48 am
    The silver screen is rarely kind to the humble ant. Usually portrayed as creepy-crawly and mindless, movie ants threaten humans as freakish giants (Them! 1954) or deadly swarms (Empire of the Ants 1977), rather than living alongside us in harmony. But wait long enough, and every ant will have his—actually, her—day. In the summer blockbuster Ant-Man, currently number one at the box office, actor Paul Rudd plays an ex-con with an engineering degree who turns superhero with a suit that gives him the ability to change size and control ants. He shrinks to ant size and learns how to harness the…
  • T. rex used ‘steak knife’ teeth to chomp prey

    Futurity
    U. Toronto-Mississauga
    28 Jul 2015 | 1:39 pm
    Tyrannosaurus rex and other theropod dinosaurs were fearsome predators thanks to a unique, deeply serrated tooth structure that helped them easily tear through the flesh and bone of bigger animals. The only reptile living today with something similar is the Komodo dragon—which also preys on larger animals. For a new study, researchers determined that this sawlike tooth structure is uniquely common to carnivorous theropods such as T. rex and Allosaurus, and even one of the first theropods, Coelophysis. While other extinct animals had teeth that were superficially similar, it was the special…
  • 40% worldwide are unaware of climate change

    Futurity » Earth and Environment
    Kevin Dennehy-Yale
    27 Jul 2015 | 7:05 am
    A poll conducted in 119 countries reveals the factors that most influence climate change awareness and risk perception for 90 percent of the world’s population. The contrast between developed and developing countries is striking, note the researchers: In North America, Europe, and Japan, more than 90 percent of the public is aware of climate change. But in many developing countries, relatively few are aware of the issue, although many do report having observed changes in local weather patterns. The study, which uses data from the 2007-2008 Gallup World Poll, will appear today in Nature…
  • Why plastic surgeons are switching to fat grafting

    Futurity » Health and Medicine
    Deborah Haffeman-NYU
    28 Jul 2015 | 8:28 am
    A survey of more than 300 plastic surgeons shows that most have started using fat grafting to erase wrinkles and stop skin from sagging. The procedure involves taking fat from the body—usually the abdomen—and injecting it into the face. According to the survey, 85 percent of the 309 facial aesthetic surgeons surveyed use the technique to enhance the results of facelift procedures designed to smooth wrinkles and creases, and eliminate sagging. Of this group, over 70 percent reported adopting the method within the past 10 years. “Our survey results show that plastic surgeons across…
  • T. rex used ‘steak knife’ teeth to chomp prey

    Futurity » Science and Technology
    U. Toronto-Mississauga
    28 Jul 2015 | 1:39 pm
    Tyrannosaurus rex and other theropod dinosaurs were fearsome predators thanks to a unique, deeply serrated tooth structure that helped them easily tear through the flesh and bone of bigger animals. The only reptile living today with something similar is the Komodo dragon—which also preys on larger animals. For a new study, researchers determined that this sawlike tooth structure is uniquely common to carnivorous theropods such as T. rex and Allosaurus, and even one of the first theropods, Coelophysis. While other extinct animals had teeth that were superficially similar, it was the special…
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  • T. rex used ‘steak knife’ teeth to chomp prey

    U. Toronto-Mississauga
    28 Jul 2015 | 1:39 pm
    Tyrannosaurus rex and other theropod dinosaurs were fearsome predators thanks to a unique, deeply serrated tooth structure that helped them easily tear through the flesh and bone of bigger animals. The only reptile living today with something similar is the Komodo dragon—which also preys on larger animals. For a new study, researchers determined that this sawlike tooth structure is uniquely common to carnivorous theropods such as T. rex and Allosaurus, and even one of the first theropods, Coelophysis. While other extinct animals had teeth that were superficially similar, it was the special…
  • Silver hairs protect desert ants from scorching heat

    Jennifer Langston-Washington
    28 Jul 2015 | 10:40 am
    The Saharan silver ant forages for food in one of the hottest terrestrial environments on Earth. Covered in tiny silver hairs, the ant looks like a ball of mercury skittering across the desert sand. Scientists have discovered two key strategies that enable Saharan silver ants (Cataglyphis bombycina) to survive in blistering temperatures of up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. In a study published online in the journal Science, the researchers demonstrate how the ant’s uniquely shaped silver hairs work across an extremely broad range of the electromagnetic spectrum to reflect sunlight and shed…
  • Can brain scans separate training from talent?

    Anita Kar-McGill U.
    28 Jul 2015 | 10:35 am
    New research on the brain’s capacity to learn suggests there’s more to it than “practice makes perfect.” A music-training study finds evidence to distinguish the parts of the brain that account for individual talent from the parts that are activated through training. The research involved brain-imaging studies of 15 young adults with little or no musical background who were scanned before and after they underwent six weeks of musical training. Participants were required to learn simple piano pieces. Brain activity in certain areas changed after learning, indicating the…
  • Little kids choose to imitate or mix it up

    Rachel Griess-Texas
    28 Jul 2015 | 9:40 am
    Children flexibly choose when to imitate and when to innovate the behavior of others, which demonstrates that children are precocious social learners. “There’s nothing children are more interested in than other people,” says psychologist Cristine Legare of the University of Texas at Austin. “Acquiring the skills and practices of their social groups is the fundamental task of childhood.” In order to function within their social groups, children have to learn both technical skills with instrumental goals, such as using a fork and knife to cut food, and social…
  • For Vikings, lure of the raid went beyond the booty

    David Garner-York
    28 Jul 2015 | 8:56 am
    The Viking hit-and-run raids on monastic communities during the eighth century led to expansive military campaigns, settlement, and ultimately conquest of large swathes of the British Isles. But what was the social justification for such a spike in aggressive activity? Previous research has considered environmental, demographic, technological, and political drivers, as well as the palpable lure of silver and slaves, to explain it. “I wanted to try to discover what would make a young chieftain invest in the time and resources for such a risky venture,” says Steve Ashby of the…
 
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    Futurity » Earth and Environment

  • 40% worldwide are unaware of climate change

    Kevin Dennehy-Yale
    27 Jul 2015 | 7:05 am
    A poll conducted in 119 countries reveals the factors that most influence climate change awareness and risk perception for 90 percent of the world’s population. The contrast between developed and developing countries is striking, note the researchers: In North America, Europe, and Japan, more than 90 percent of the public is aware of climate change. But in many developing countries, relatively few are aware of the issue, although many do report having observed changes in local weather patterns. The study, which uses data from the 2007-2008 Gallup World Poll, will appear today in Nature…
  • Some hospital stays go up where there’s fracking

    Karen Kreeger-Penn
    24 Jul 2015 | 11:01 am
    A new study finds more hospitalizations for heart conditions, neurological illness, and other conditions among people who live near hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Over the past ten years, hydraulic fracturing has experienced a meteoric increase in the United States. Due to substantial increases in well drilling, potential for air and water pollution posing a health threat has been a concern for nearby residents. To address this issue, researchers examined the link between drilling well density and healthcare use by zip code from 2007 to 2011 in three northeastern Pennsylvania counties.
  • Can mangrove forests save coastal areas?

    U. Southampton
    23 Jul 2015 | 8:14 am
    Mangrove forests in New Zealand could play a crucial role in protecting coastal areas from sea level rise caused by climate change. For a new study, researchers used New Zealand mangrove data to develop a modeling system to predict what will happen to different types of estuaries and river deltas when sea levels rise. The models show that areas without mangroves are likely to widen from erosion and be affected as more water will encroach inwards. Mangrove regions prevent this effect—probably because soil that builds up around their mesh-like roots reduces energy from waves and tidal…
  • Ivory DNA pinpoints Africa’s elephant poachers

    U. Washington
    23 Jul 2015 | 7:07 am
    Roughly 50,000 African elephants are now being killed each year from a population of fewer than 500,000 animals. Poaching is driving these iconic animals toward extinction, says Samuel Wasser, a biology professor at the University of Washington. Wasser has developed ways to extract DNA from illegal ivory, allowing him to analyze seized contraband and determine the elephant’s original population. Results show that over the past decade, ivory has largely come from just two areas in Africa—one each for the forest and savanna elephants. The findings are published in the journal Science.
  • How to protect drinking water from shallow fracking

    Rob Jordan-Stanford
    22 Jul 2015 | 6:41 am
    Investigations show that thousands of shallow oil and gas wells mined with the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing may threaten drinking water sources. The United States now produces about as much crude oil as Saudi Arabia does, and enough natural gas to export in large quantities. That’s thanks to hydraulic fracturing, a mining practice that involves a rock-cracking pressurized mix of water, sand, and chemicals. Ongoing research by Stanford University environmental scientist Rob Jackson attempts to minimize the risks of “fracking” to underground drinking water…
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    Futurity » Health and Medicine

  • Why plastic surgeons are switching to fat grafting

    Deborah Haffeman-NYU
    28 Jul 2015 | 8:28 am
    A survey of more than 300 plastic surgeons shows that most have started using fat grafting to erase wrinkles and stop skin from sagging. The procedure involves taking fat from the body—usually the abdomen—and injecting it into the face. According to the survey, 85 percent of the 309 facial aesthetic surgeons surveyed use the technique to enhance the results of facelift procedures designed to smooth wrinkles and creases, and eliminate sagging. Of this group, over 70 percent reported adopting the method within the past 10 years. “Our survey results show that plastic surgeons across…
  • Yeast hints at how ancient proteins lead to tumors

    Anita Srikameswaran-Pittsburgh
    28 Jul 2015 | 7:34 am
    By studying the yeast used to make beer and bread, scientists have discovered the mechanism ancient proteins use to repair damage DNA—and how their dysfunction can lead to the development of tumors. In humans, protein mutations called RAD51 paralogues have been associated with breast and ovarian tumors. Researchers say their findings could lead to new ways to tailor cancer therapies. Tailored therapies “These are proteins that have been present throughout evolution in many species, but very little has been known about what they do,” says Kara Bernstein, assistant professor of…
  • ‘Leaky’ vaccines can make viruses more deadly

    Barbara Kennedy-Penn State
    28 Jul 2015 | 5:56 am
    A new study is the first to confirm a highly controversial theory: that some vaccines could allow more virulent version of a virus to survive, putting unvaccinated individuals at greater risk of severe illness. The research involves the herpesvirus such as the one that causes Marek’s disease in poultry. The findings, published in PLOS Biology, have important implications for food-chain security and food-chain economics, as well as for other diseases that affect humans and agricultural animals. “When a vaccine works perfectly, as do the childhood vaccines for smallpox, polio,…
  • Why your brain acts like a jazz band

    Yasmin Anwar-UC Berkeley
    28 Jul 2015 | 5:09 am
    The human brain improvises while its rhythm section keeps up a steady beat. But when it comes to taking on intellectually challenging tasks, groups of neurons tune in to one another for a fraction of a second and harmonize, then go back to improvising, according to new research. These findings, reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience, could pave the way for more targeted treatments for people with brain disorders marked by fast, slow, or chaotic brain waves, also known as neural oscillations. Tracking the changing rhythms of the healthy human brain at work advances our understanding of…
  • Insulin resistance may boost risk of memory loss

    Angie Hunt-Iowa State
    27 Jul 2015 | 11:12 am
    The fact that obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers is well known. A new study suggests that memory loss—and Alzheimer’s disease—should also be a top concern. Researchers discovered a strong association between insulin resistance and memory function decline, increasing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Insulin resistance is common in people who are obese, pre-diabetic, or have type 2 diabetes. For the study, scientists examined brain scans in 150 late middle-aged adults, who were at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but showed no sign of…
 
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    Futurity » Science and Technology

  • T. rex used ‘steak knife’ teeth to chomp prey

    U. Toronto-Mississauga
    28 Jul 2015 | 1:39 pm
    Tyrannosaurus rex and other theropod dinosaurs were fearsome predators thanks to a unique, deeply serrated tooth structure that helped them easily tear through the flesh and bone of bigger animals. The only reptile living today with something similar is the Komodo dragon—which also preys on larger animals. For a new study, researchers determined that this sawlike tooth structure is uniquely common to carnivorous theropods such as T. rex and Allosaurus, and even one of the first theropods, Coelophysis. While other extinct animals had teeth that were superficially similar, it was the special…
  • Silver hairs protect desert ants from scorching heat

    Jennifer Langston-Washington
    28 Jul 2015 | 10:40 am
    The Saharan silver ant forages for food in one of the hottest terrestrial environments on Earth. Covered in tiny silver hairs, the ant looks like a ball of mercury skittering across the desert sand. Scientists have discovered two key strategies that enable Saharan silver ants (Cataglyphis bombycina) to survive in blistering temperatures of up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. In a study published online in the journal Science, the researchers demonstrate how the ant’s uniquely shaped silver hairs work across an extremely broad range of the electromagnetic spectrum to reflect sunlight and shed…
  • Can brain scans separate training from talent?

    Anita Kar-McGill U.
    28 Jul 2015 | 10:35 am
    New research on the brain’s capacity to learn suggests there’s more to it than “practice makes perfect.” A music-training study finds evidence to distinguish the parts of the brain that account for individual talent from the parts that are activated through training. The research involved brain-imaging studies of 15 young adults with little or no musical background who were scanned before and after they underwent six weeks of musical training. Participants were required to learn simple piano pieces. Brain activity in certain areas changed after learning, indicating the…
  • Little kids choose to imitate or mix it up

    Rachel Griess-Texas
    28 Jul 2015 | 9:40 am
    Children flexibly choose when to imitate and when to innovate the behavior of others, which demonstrates that children are precocious social learners. “There’s nothing children are more interested in than other people,” says psychologist Cristine Legare of the University of Texas at Austin. “Acquiring the skills and practices of their social groups is the fundamental task of childhood.” In order to function within their social groups, children have to learn both technical skills with instrumental goals, such as using a fork and knife to cut food, and social…
  • New material would win for highest melting point

    Kevin Stacey-Brown
    28 Jul 2015 | 7:49 am
    Powerful computer simulations have identified a material with a higher melting point than any known substance. The computations, described in the journal Physical Review B (Rapid Communications), show that a material made with just the right amounts of hafnium, nitrogen, and carbon would have a melting point of more than 4,400 kelvins (7,460 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s about two-thirds the temperature at the surface of the sun, and 200 kelvins higher than the highest melting point ever recorded experimentally. The experimental record-holder is a substance made from the elements hafnium,…
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    Futurity » Society and Culture

  • For Vikings, lure of the raid went beyond the booty

    David Garner-York
    28 Jul 2015 | 8:56 am
    The Viking hit-and-run raids on monastic communities during the eighth century led to expansive military campaigns, settlement, and ultimately conquest of large swathes of the British Isles. But what was the social justification for such a spike in aggressive activity? Previous research has considered environmental, demographic, technological, and political drivers, as well as the palpable lure of silver and slaves, to explain it. “I wanted to try to discover what would make a young chieftain invest in the time and resources for such a risky venture,” says Steve Ashby of the…
  • Extroverts tend to save less money

    Dominic Ali-Toronto
    27 Jul 2015 | 10:29 am
    Extroverted populations tend to have lower savings rates, new research shows. “Many of the choices that people make are influenced by their personality characteristics,” says Jacob Hirsh, assistant professor at Rotman School and University of Toronto Mississauga’s Institute for Management and Innovation. “I started to think about how that affect might play out across larger groups.” In his previous work, Hirsh has shown that more extroverted individuals tend to choose smaller but immediate rewards instead of larger but delayed ones. “Extroverts are far more…
  • Watching Alfred Hitchcock gives us ‘tunnel vision’

    Jason Maderer-Georgia Tech
    27 Jul 2015 | 8:13 am
    The movies of Alfred Hitchcock have made palms sweat and pulses race for more than 65 years. A new study shows how the Master of Suspense affects audiences’ brains. Researchers measured brain activity while people watched clips from Hitchcock and other suspenseful films. During high suspense moments, the brain narrows what people see and focuses attention on the story. During less suspenseful moments, viewers devote more attention to their surroundings. “Many people have a feeling that we get lost in the story while watching a good movie and that the theater disappears around…
  • This ant expert gives Ant-Man two thumbs up

    Barbara Moran-Boston University
    24 Jul 2015 | 11:48 am
    The silver screen is rarely kind to the humble ant. Usually portrayed as creepy-crawly and mindless, movie ants threaten humans as freakish giants (Them! 1954) or deadly swarms (Empire of the Ants 1977), rather than living alongside us in harmony. But wait long enough, and every ant will have his—actually, her—day. In the summer blockbuster Ant-Man, currently number one at the box office, actor Paul Rudd plays an ex-con with an engineering degree who turns superhero with a suit that gives him the ability to change size and control ants. He shrinks to ant size and learns how to harness the…
  • Social 20-year-olds are more satisfied at 50

    Monique Patenaude-U. Rochester
    24 Jul 2015 | 6:20 am
    The quantity of social interactions a person has at 20—and the quality of social relationships that person has at age 30—may increase well-being later in life and perhaps help people live longer. “In fact,” says Cheryl Carmichael, the study’s lead author, who conducted the research as a PhD candidate in psychology at the University of Rochester, “having few social connections is equivalent to tobacco use, and it’s higher than for those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or who suffer from obesity.” The new 30-year longitudinal study, which appears in…
 
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