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Cerebellar ataxia is a condition of the cerebellum that causes an inability to coordinate muscle movements. A study publishing June 16 in Cell Reports now describes a new genetic mutation as an additional cause of ataxia in humans and mice. The mutation, in the gene CAPN1, affects the function of the enzyme calpain-1 and causes abnormal brain development. The same genetic mutation is also associated with ataxia in Parson Russell Terrier dogs.


Vocal cords are able to produce a wide range of sound frequencies because of the larynx's ability to stretch vocal cords and the cords' molecular composition - according to a new paper published in PLOS Computational Biology. Scientists, led by Ingo Titze at the University of Utah, show how these two characteristics of various species' larynxes can closely predict the range of frequencies each species can produce. The results reveal the evolutionary roots of how and why voice arose.


Many traits make human beings unique, not the least of which is our ability to cooperate with one another. But exactly how we choose to do that -- particularly with nonfamily members -- can be complicated.

For men, that choice relies partially on perceptions of productivity and material benefit, just as it would have in an ancestral hunter-gatherer society. So finds a new study by UC Santa Barbara psychologists, which appears in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

"It's interesting that those mechanisms are designed for the environment of our ancestors, not our current context, yet they affect how people behave today," said lead author Adar Eisenbruch, a Ph.D. candidate in evolutionary psychology.


Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan have shown that torrefied biomass can improve the quality of poor soil found in arid regions. Published in Scientific Reports, the study showed that adding torrefied biomass to poor soil from Botswana increased water retention in the soil as well as --the amount of plant growth.

When high temperatures and the absence of oxygen are used to bring about the decomposition of biomass residue from agricultural products such as grains, the result is a charcoal-rich substance called biochar. Torrefied biomass -- sometimes called bio-coal -- is a type of biochar made at relatively lower temperatures that has recently received attention as a pretreatment method for biomass utilization.


In the lead up to the World Barista Championships, University of Bath scientists say brewing more flavorsome coffee could be as simple as chilling the beans before grinding.

A team from the University working with renowned Bath coffee shop Colonna&Smalls found that chilling roasted beans before grinding resulted in narrower distribution of small particles, which during the brewing process allows access to more flavor from the same amount of coffee.

Coffee is among the most valuable traded commodities globally, worth $17.9T USD to the US economy in 2015 alone. This discovery could have big implications for the coffee industry and might even allow domestic coffee connoisseurs to brew tastier beverages.


The FBI must develop modern technological capacities rather than relying on out-of-date approaches, Susan Landau argues in this Policy Forum, zeroing in on the organization's recent request to Apple to develop software through which to access an iPhone - rather than tackling the issue through its own technological efforts. Had interference by Apple happened, Landau says, it would have weakened the security provided by the phone's encryption, ultimately offering a "key to open not just a single house," Landau writes, "but millions of homes." Such a key could then be coopted by "bad actors," creating major long-term security issues at many levels.