Futurity

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  • Comet dust coats Mercury with ‘invisible paint’

    Futurity » Science and Technology
    Kevin Stacey-Brown
    30 Mar 2015 | 1:08 pm
    Scientists have long puzzled over the planet Mercury’s dark, barely reflective surface. Now they believe they have the answer. New research suggests that a steady dusting of carbon from passing comets has slowly painted the planet black over billions of years. On average, Mercury is much darker than its closest airless neighbor, our moon. Airless bodies are known to be darkened by micrometeorite impacts and bombardment of solar wind, processes that create a thin coating of dark iron nanoparticles on the surface. But spectral data from Mercury suggests its surface contains very little…
  • This ancient ‘remedy’ actually kills MRSA

    Futurity
    Emma Rayner-Nottingham
    31 Mar 2015 | 1:47 pm
    Researchers recreated a 10th century potion for eye infections from Bald’s Leechbook, an Old English volume in the British Library, to see if it really works as an antibacterial remedy. Their findings show that Bald’s eye salve kills up to 90 percent of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). bacteria in in vivo wound biopsies from mouse models. Christina Lee, associate professor in Viking studies and member of University of Nottingham’s Institute for Medieval Research, had the idea to test the ancient remedy. Lee translated the recipe from a transcript of the…
  • Tampon test finds pollution in rivers and streams

    Futurity » Earth and Environment
    Shemina Davis-Sheffield
    31 Mar 2015 | 6:28 am
    Engineers have started using tampons to identify where wastewater from baths, washing machines, sinks, and showers is polluting rivers and streams. The natural, untreated cotton in tampons readily absorbs chemicals commonly used in toilet paper, laundry detergents, and shampoos. These chemicals—known as optical brighteners—are used to enhance whites and brighten colors, and show up under ultraviolet (UV) light, a phenomenon often seen in glowing t-shirts under certain lighting in bars and clubs. Using a mixture of laboratory tests and field trials, a team from the University of…
  • This ancient ‘remedy’ actually kills MRSA

    Futurity » Health and Medicine
    Emma Rayner-Nottingham
    31 Mar 2015 | 1:47 pm
    Researchers recreated a 10th century potion for eye infections from Bald’s Leechbook, an Old English volume in the British Library, to see if it really works as an antibacterial remedy. Their findings show that Bald’s eye salve kills up to 90 percent of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). bacteria in in vivo wound biopsies from mouse models. Christina Lee, associate professor in Viking studies and member of University of Nottingham’s Institute for Medieval Research, had the idea to test the ancient remedy. Lee translated the recipe from a transcript of the…
  • How do you scare away a hungry elephant?

    Futurity » Science and Technology
    Lindsay Brooke-Nottingham
    31 Mar 2015 | 11:15 am
    Until now electric fences and trenches have been the best way to protect farms and villages from nighttime raids by hungry elephants. Now, there may be a better way: the recorded sound of angry predators. For a new study, researchers set up infrared sensor playback systems where elephants triggered the sound of growling tigers, leopards, and angry shouts of villagers as they approached farmers’ fields. In 41 attempted raids, tiger sounds stopped the elephants 90 percent of the time, the sound of leopards deterred them 73 percent of the time, and human shouts prevented 57 percent of the…
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    Futurity

  • This ancient ‘remedy’ actually kills MRSA

    Emma Rayner-Nottingham
    31 Mar 2015 | 1:47 pm
    Researchers recreated a 10th century potion for eye infections from Bald’s Leechbook, an Old English volume in the British Library, to see if it really works as an antibacterial remedy. Their findings show that Bald’s eye salve kills up to 90 percent of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). bacteria in in vivo wound biopsies from mouse models. Christina Lee, associate professor in Viking studies and member of University of Nottingham’s Institute for Medieval Research, had the idea to test the ancient remedy. Lee translated the recipe from a transcript of the…
  • How do you scare away a hungry elephant?

    Lindsay Brooke-Nottingham
    31 Mar 2015 | 11:15 am
    Until now electric fences and trenches have been the best way to protect farms and villages from nighttime raids by hungry elephants. Now, there may be a better way: the recorded sound of angry predators. For a new study, researchers set up infrared sensor playback systems where elephants triggered the sound of growling tigers, leopards, and angry shouts of villagers as they approached farmers’ fields. In 41 attempted raids, tiger sounds stopped the elephants 90 percent of the time, the sound of leopards deterred them 73 percent of the time, and human shouts prevented 57 percent of the…
  • What comfort food reveals about our past

    Bert Gambini-Buffalo
    31 Mar 2015 | 11:01 am
    No matter what meal strikes you as comfort food, you likely love the dish based on a good relationship with the person you remember first preparing it. The findings have implications for better understanding how social factors influence our food preferences and eating behavior. “Comfort foods are often the foods that our caregivers gave us when we were children. As long we have positive association with the person who made that food then there’s a good chance that you will be drawn to that food during times of rejection or isolation,” says psychologist Shira Gabriel of the…
  • Online map lets the mail tell ‘Wild West’ story

    Stanford
    31 Mar 2015 | 9:18 am
    By the 1870s, a combination of gold rushes, railroad expansion, and opportunities in farming, fishing, and logging were drawing a steady influx of white settlers to the American West. In response to the quickly expanding population, the US Postal Service opened more than 14,000 new post offices between 1840 and 1900. Stanford University historian Cameron Blevins says the appearance (and disappearance) of these locations reveals how quickly the American West was integrated into the rest of the country. A doctoral candidate who studies US history and digital humanities, Blevins has developed…
  • Feeling stereotyped may make people act out

    Clifton B. Parker-Stanford
    31 Mar 2015 | 8:05 am
    When people feel that others don’t value them because of their group affiliations—like race or gender—they may be more inclined toward anti-social behavior, new research finds. The study examines the psychological roots of anti-social attitudes and behavior, which can lead to crime, unemployment, and lack of opportunity. “This work helps us to better understand the psychological causes of social deviancy,” says Peter Belmi, a doctoral student in organizational behavior at Stanford University and one of the study’s coauthors. “When people feel that they are…
 
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    Futurity » Earth and Environment

  • Tampon test finds pollution in rivers and streams

    Shemina Davis-Sheffield
    31 Mar 2015 | 6:28 am
    Engineers have started using tampons to identify where wastewater from baths, washing machines, sinks, and showers is polluting rivers and streams. The natural, untreated cotton in tampons readily absorbs chemicals commonly used in toilet paper, laundry detergents, and shampoos. These chemicals—known as optical brighteners—are used to enhance whites and brighten colors, and show up under ultraviolet (UV) light, a phenomenon often seen in glowing t-shirts under certain lighting in bars and clubs. Using a mixture of laboratory tests and field trials, a team from the University of…
  • How gallium arsenide could outcompete silicon

    Tom Abate-Stanford
    27 Mar 2015 | 12:21 pm
    Computer chips, solar cells, and other electronic devices have traditionally been based on silicon, the most famous of the semiconductors, that special class of materials whose unique electronic properties can be manipulated to turn electricity on and off the way faucets control the flow of water. There are other semiconductors. Gallium arsenide is one such material and it has certain technical advantages over silicon—electrons race through its crystalline structure faster than they can move through silicon. But silicon has a crushing commercial advantage. It is roughly a thousand times…
  • Feral chickens in Hawaii hold ‘Junglefowl’ genes

    Mark Kuykendall-MSU
    26 Mar 2015 | 11:08 am
    The Hawaiian island of Kauai has a feral chicken problem. How did they get there? Eben Gering of Michigan State University is working with other researchers to study the feral chickens’ mysterious ancestry. Their results, published in Molecular Ecology, may aid efforts to curtail the damage of invasive species in the future, and help improve the biosecurity of domestic chicken breeds. Domesticated chickens, humanity’s leading source of animal protein, are fighting rapidly evolving pathogens and fertility issues likely caused by inbreeding. The Red Junglefowl, the chicken’s…
  • Mutant yeast for biofuel are ‘cream of the crop’

    Patrick Wiseman-UT Austin
    25 Mar 2015 | 9:43 am
    A combination of metabolic engineering and directed evolution has led to a new, mutant yeast strain that could pave the way to a more efficient biofuel production process. The strain could make biofuels more economically competitive with conventional fuels. In addition, the new yeast strain could be used in biochemical production to produce oleochemicals, chemicals traditionally derived from plant and animal fats and petroleum, which are used to make a variety of household products. Hal Alper, associate professor in the chemical engineering department of the University of Texas at…
  • Frogs go from ‘punk’ to smooth in minutes

    Kevin Mayhood-Case Western
    25 Mar 2015 | 7:05 am
    A frog in Ecuador’s western Andean cloud forest changes skin texture in minutes, and appears to mimic the texture it sits on. Originally discovered by a Case Western Reserve University PhD student and her husband, a projects manager at Cleveland Metroparks’ natural resources division, the amphibian is believed to be the first known to have this shape-shifting capability. But the new species, called Pristimantis mutabilis, or mutable rainfrog, has company. Colleagues working with the couple recently found that a known relative of the frog shares the same texture-changing…
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    Futurity » Health and Medicine

  • This ancient ‘remedy’ actually kills MRSA

    Emma Rayner-Nottingham
    31 Mar 2015 | 1:47 pm
    Researchers recreated a 10th century potion for eye infections from Bald’s Leechbook, an Old English volume in the British Library, to see if it really works as an antibacterial remedy. Their findings show that Bald’s eye salve kills up to 90 percent of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). bacteria in in vivo wound biopsies from mouse models. Christina Lee, associate professor in Viking studies and member of University of Nottingham’s Institute for Medieval Research, had the idea to test the ancient remedy. Lee translated the recipe from a transcript of the…
  • Early sips of booze linked to drinking later

    David Orenstein-Brown
    31 Mar 2015 | 7:50 am
    New research seems to contradict the hypothesis that introducing children to alcohol when they are young will reduce its tempting taboo and help them better manage alcohol as they get older. For a new study of 560 children in Rhode Island, about 3 in 10 students reported having a sip of alcohol before sixth grade. By ninth grade those children were five times more likely than those who didn’t get an early sip to report consuming a full drink of alcohol. They were also 4 times more likely to have been drunk and 3.7 times more likely to have tried binge drinking. The calculations take…
  • Texting bans cut crash-related hospital stays

    Rae Lynn Mitchell-Texas A&M
    31 Mar 2015 | 6:34 am
    Crash-related hospitalizations of both drivers and passengers go down by as much as 9 percent in states that have enacted bans on texting while driving. For a new study, researchers examined crash-related hospitalizations before and after the enactment of state texting bans. Nineteen states were included in the study, which was based on hospital discharge data from 2003 to 2010. Some states had passed bans on texting while driving, while other states have no such bans. The findings show that, on average, there was a 7 percent reduction in crash-related hospitalizations in states that have…
  • To amp up chemo, cut cell ‘quality control’

    Emily Boynton-Rochester
    30 Mar 2015 | 8:21 am
    A new way to make chemotherapy more effective stops a cellular quality-control mechanism, according to a new study. The mechanism is known as NMD (nonsense-mediated mRNA decay), and scientists found that exposing breast cancer cells to a molecule that inhibits NMD prior to treatment with doxorubicin, a drug used to treat leukemia, breast, bone, lung, and other cancers, hastens cell death. The research team, led by Lynne E. Maquat, director of the Center for RNA Biology at the University of Rochester, acknowledges that the work is in the early stages and a long way from being applied in…
  • Air pollution is no barrier to exercise

    Richard Steed-Copenhagen
    30 Mar 2015 | 7:27 am
    If you use your area’s air pollution as a reason not to exercise, you might need to find a better excuse. Even in heavily polluted areas, the benefits of exercise outweigh the harmful effects of air pollution in relation to the risk of premature mortality, a new study reports. “Even for those living in the most polluted areas of Copenhagen, it is healthier to go for a run, a walk, or to cycle to work than it is to stay inactive,” says Zorana Jovanovic Andersen, associate professor with the Centre for Epidemiology and Screening at the University of Copenhagen. It is well…
 
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    Futurity » Science and Technology

  • How do you scare away a hungry elephant?

    Lindsay Brooke-Nottingham
    31 Mar 2015 | 11:15 am
    Until now electric fences and trenches have been the best way to protect farms and villages from nighttime raids by hungry elephants. Now, there may be a better way: the recorded sound of angry predators. For a new study, researchers set up infrared sensor playback systems where elephants triggered the sound of growling tigers, leopards, and angry shouts of villagers as they approached farmers’ fields. In 41 attempted raids, tiger sounds stopped the elephants 90 percent of the time, the sound of leopards deterred them 73 percent of the time, and human shouts prevented 57 percent of the…
  • Snoozing in ‘torpor’ delays aging for lemurs

    Karl Bates-Duke
    31 Mar 2015 | 7:35 am
    How long lemurs live and how fast they age correlates with the amount of time they spend in a state of suspended animation known as torpor, new research shows. Hibernating lemurs live up to ten years longer than their non-hibernating cousins. When Jonas the fat-tailed dwarf lemur died in January, just five months short of his thirtieth birthday, he was the oldest of his kind. A resident of the Duke Lemur Center, Jonas belonged to a long-lived clan of primates. Dwarf lemurs live two to three times longer than similar-sized animals. For a new study, Duke University researchers combed through…
  • Can wearable tech make public speaking less scary?

    Leonor Sierra-Rochester
    31 Mar 2015 | 5:41 am
    Public speaking gives some people the jitters. A new intelligent user interface for Google Glass gives real-time feedback on volume modulation and speaking rate, all while remaining minimally distracting. The new interface can record a speaker and transmit the audio to a server to automatically analyze the volume and speaking rate, and then present data to the speaker in real-time. The feedback lets the speaker adjust his or her volume and speaking rate or continue as before. Researchers will present a paper on the system—which they call Rhema after the Greek word for…
  • Comet dust coats Mercury with ‘invisible paint’

    Kevin Stacey-Brown
    30 Mar 2015 | 1:08 pm
    Scientists have long puzzled over the planet Mercury’s dark, barely reflective surface. Now they believe they have the answer. New research suggests that a steady dusting of carbon from passing comets has slowly painted the planet black over billions of years. On average, Mercury is much darker than its closest airless neighbor, our moon. Airless bodies are known to be darkened by micrometeorite impacts and bombardment of solar wind, processes that create a thin coating of dark iron nanoparticles on the surface. But spectral data from Mercury suggests its surface contains very little…
  • Ants tumble but keep marching in microgravity

    Stanford
    30 Mar 2015 | 12:59 pm
    Last year, eight groups of ants flew to the International Space Station. Results from their trip show that the collective search behavior of ants in microgravity had some interesting twists. The ISS experiment, reported online in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, used the pavement ant. The results show that this species searches by spreading quickly to the boundary of the area they are exploring. This search algorithm may be why pavement ants often end up in conflict with neighboring colonies along sidewalks. “In the extreme condition of microgravity in space, the pavement ants did…
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    Futurity » Society and Culture

  • What comfort food reveals about our past

    Bert Gambini-Buffalo
    31 Mar 2015 | 11:01 am
    No matter what meal strikes you as comfort food, you likely love the dish based on a good relationship with the person you remember first preparing it. The findings have implications for better understanding how social factors influence our food preferences and eating behavior. “Comfort foods are often the foods that our caregivers gave us when we were children. As long we have positive association with the person who made that food then there’s a good chance that you will be drawn to that food during times of rejection or isolation,” says psychologist Shira Gabriel of the…
  • Online map lets the mail tell ‘Wild West’ story

    Stanford
    31 Mar 2015 | 9:18 am
    By the 1870s, a combination of gold rushes, railroad expansion, and opportunities in farming, fishing, and logging were drawing a steady influx of white settlers to the American West. In response to the quickly expanding population, the US Postal Service opened more than 14,000 new post offices between 1840 and 1900. Stanford University historian Cameron Blevins says the appearance (and disappearance) of these locations reveals how quickly the American West was integrated into the rest of the country. A doctoral candidate who studies US history and digital humanities, Blevins has developed…
  • Feeling stereotyped may make people act out

    Clifton B. Parker-Stanford
    31 Mar 2015 | 8:05 am
    When people feel that others don’t value them because of their group affiliations—like race or gender—they may be more inclined toward anti-social behavior, new research finds. The study examines the psychological roots of anti-social attitudes and behavior, which can lead to crime, unemployment, and lack of opportunity. “This work helps us to better understand the psychological causes of social deviancy,” says Peter Belmi, a doctoral student in organizational behavior at Stanford University and one of the study’s coauthors. “When people feel that they are…
  • Texting bans cut crash-related hospital stays

    Rae Lynn Mitchell-Texas A&M
    31 Mar 2015 | 6:34 am
    Crash-related hospitalizations of both drivers and passengers go down by as much as 9 percent in states that have enacted bans on texting while driving. For a new study, researchers examined crash-related hospitalizations before and after the enactment of state texting bans. Nineteen states were included in the study, which was based on hospital discharge data from 2003 to 2010. Some states had passed bans on texting while driving, while other states have no such bans. The findings show that, on average, there was a 7 percent reduction in crash-related hospitalizations in states that have…
  • Why American sympathy cards veer positive

    Clifton B. Parker-Stanford
    26 Mar 2015 | 12:45 pm
    When we hear about a tragedy or troubling situation, culture affects how we respond. For example, Americans of European descent are more positive in how they articulate sympathy, whereas Germans are more direct about the negativity of the circumstance. “Most research in psychology has focused on how people actually feel, but this work and other work in our lab shows that the emotions that people want or don’t want to feel are just as important in everyday life,” says study author Jeanne Tsai, associate professor of psychology at Stanford University. The paper, published in…
 
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