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Fingerprint’ technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

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The common frog (Rana temporaria)


Researchers at Lancaster University have found a way to detect subtle early warning signs that reveal a frog population is at risk from pollution. Worldwide, amphibian populations are declining due to habitat loss, disease and pollution which is cited as a major threat to their survival. Scientists publishing in Scientific Report, have found evidence of stress in tadpoles taken from ponds most impacted by pollution caused by nutrients and pesticides. They say the technique they used to spot these changes could offer an early warning system for populations at risk.

 

Passive smoking: acrolein inhibits immune response, hence accelerating tumour growth

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In Austria alone, two or three people a day die as a result of passive smoking.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that every year 600,000 deaths are caused by passive smoking worldwide and, in Austria alone, two or three people a day die as a result of passive smoking. In a study recently published in "Scientific Reports", researchers from MedUni Vienna and the Messerli Research Institute have, for the first time, identified the organic compound acrolein (acrylic aldehyde) as one of the main causes of failure of the immune defence to tumours due to passive smoking.

 

CNRS and the Louvre-Lens museum study perception of art with Ikonikat

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Heat map showing density of marks drawn by visitors: blue areas are rarely marked; red areas are most frequently marked). Painting: Jean-Baptiste Wicar, The judgment of Solomon. Oil on canvas, 96 × 150 cm, 1785. Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille. Courtesy of Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille / RMN / Julien Wylleman / Ikonikat

 

The Louvre-Lens museum and its partner, the CNRS, are conducting a novel research project during the museum’s Le Nain exhibit: The Le Nain mystery. In all, 600 museum visitors will be using tablets to highlight what most captivates their attention in seven works on display.  This tablet input collected throughout the exhibit’s duration—from 22 March to 26 June 2017—will be recorded and processed using Ikonikat software. Researchers will use it to determine whether visitors focus on the same details that professionals find most noteworthy. The findings will help the museum redefine how artwork is presented to visitors.

 

New stem cell method produces millions of human brain and muscle cells in days

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Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute scientists and their collaborators at the University of Cambridge have created a new technique that simplifies the production of human brain and muscle cells - allowing millions of functional cells to be generated in just a few days. The results published today (23 March) in Stem Cell Reports open the door to producing a diversity of new cell types that could not be made before in order to study disease. Human pluripotent stem cells offer the ability to create any tissue, including those which are typically hard to access, such as brain cells. They hold huge potential for studying human development and the impact of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and heart disease.

 

Severe psoriasis predominantly affects men

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Marcus Schmitt-Egenolf is a researcher at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University and senior author of the study.

 

The fact that men are overrepresented in psoriasis registers and consume more psoriasis care have long led researchers to believe that the common skin disease disproportionally affects men. A unique study with 5,438 Swedish psoriasis patients now reveals that women have a statistically significant lower incidence of severe psoriasis compared to men. The study, conducted by researchers at Umeå University and Karolinska Institutet, is published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. “Our results tell us that the well-established gender differences in the utilization of psoriasis care can at least partially be explained by a higher prevalence of more severe disease in men,” says Marcus Schmitt-Egenolf, who is researcher at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University and senior author of the study.

 

Upper part of Earth’s magnetic field reveals details of a dramatic past

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Magetic field model/Magnetic anomaly (ESA)


Satellites have been mapping the upper part of the Earth magnetic field by collecting data for three years and found some amazing features about the Earth’s crust. The result is the release of highest resolution map of this field seen from space to date. This ‘lithospheric magnetic field’ is very weak and therefore difficult to detect and map from space. But with the Swarm satellites it has been possible. “By combining Swarm measurements with historical data from the German CHAMP satellite, and using a new modelling technique, it was possible to extract the tiny magnetic signals of crustal magnetization with unprecedented accuracy,” said professor Nils Olsen from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), one of the team of scientists behind the new map that has just been released at a Swarm Science Meeting in Banff, Canada.

 

Fly larvae found to contribute to atmospheric methane pollution

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Greenhouse gases: First it was cows -- now it's larvae!

During the day, the Chaoborus spp hide in the sediment where dissolved methane is transferred into their gas sacs. Using the buoyancy from the methane, they float to the lake surface at night to feed on zooplankton. At the surface, the methane in the gas sacs is dissolved back into the water.  Chaoborus spp is a small fly species that is found all over the world (except in Antarctica). The insect spends one to two years of its life cycle under water in a larval state, in lakes no deeper than 70 metres. Larvae spend the day in lakebed sediment and rise to the surface at night to feed. They are equipped with air sacs that they can adjust to alter their depth in the water so as to migrate upwards and downwards.

 

Minitablets help medicate picky cats

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Hautala uutiskuva_500

Of all pets, cats are often considered the most difficult ones to medicate. Very small minitablets with flavours or flavour coatings can help cat owners commit to the treatment and make cats more compliant to it, while making it easier to regulate dosage and administer medication flexibly. In her dissertation, Jaana Hautala, MSc (Pharmacy), is seeking solutions for facilitating the medication of cats. In order for the oral medication of pets to succeed, the animal must enjoy the taste of the medicine and find it appealing. Palatability is essential both in acute cases and in the treatment of chronic illnesses which require regular, constant medical treatment. Successful treatment of pets is also necessary to ensure the health and wellbeing of humans, communities and the environment.

 

A new web of life

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Leucauge venusta suspended from its web. Photo: Dimitar Dimitrov


For the first time biologists have made a full family tree of the world's spiders, giving us knowledge about venoms that can be useful in medicine. And we might be able to develop silk just as good as the spider's. They may make you cringe in horror, or they may intrigue you. Some even have them as pets. Regardless of how you judge them, spiders are a plentiful and widespread group of animals. They have been around for 400 million years, count 45 000 species, and crawl around on nearly every terrestrial habitat in in the world. For long, researchers have tried to unlock the secrets to their evolutionary history, striking diversity and success.

 

New species discovered: Protist parasites contribute to the stability of rainforest ecosystems

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Nature_ecology_Micah_Dunthorn_480


Tropical rainforests are one of the most species-rich areas on earth. Thousands of animal and plant species live there. The smaller microbial protists, which are not visible to the naked eye, are also native to these forests, where they live in the soils and elsewhere. A team of researchers formed by Micah Dunthorn, University of Kaiserslautern, examined them more closely by analyzing their DNA. They discovered many unknown species, including many parasites, which may contribute to the stability of rainforest ecosystems. These results have now been published in the scientific journal "Nature Ecology and Evolution".

 

Looking for signs of the Big Bang in the desert

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Caption: : iStock by GettyImages. Photographer: reubenheydenrych


The silence of an immense desolate land in which to search for reverberations coming from the time at which everything began. The Simons Observatory will be built in the Chilean Atacama desert at an altitude of several thousand metres for the purposes of studying primordial gravitational waves which originated in the first instants of the Big Bang. The SISSA research group led by Carlo Baccigalupi and Francesca Perrotta will take part in this prestigious international project which will lead to the realization  of an ultra-modern telescope project. Their role will involve studying and removing ‘signal contaminants’, emissions from our galaxy and other astrophysical objects which interfere with the analysis and study of primordial gravitational waves.

 
 
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