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Newswise SciWire
Thursday, January 16, 2020

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'The blob,' food supply squeeze to blame for largest seabird die-off

When nearly one million common murres died at sea and washed ashore from California to Alaska in 2015 and 2016, it was unprecedented — both for murres, and across all bird species worldwide. Scientists from the University of Washington, the U.S. Ge...

– University of Washington

PLOS ONE, Jan-2020

Embargo expired on 15-Jan-2020 at 14:00 ET

Marine Heatwave Likely Caused Mass Starvation of Seabirds off the U.S. West Coast and Alaska

Unprecedented numbers of common murres—North Pacific seabirds—died between 2015 and 2016. A new analysis lays out the scope of this event and suggests a potential culprit: severely reduced food supplies resulting from unusually elevated sea tempe...



Embargo expired on 15-Jan-2020 at 14:00 ET

Neandertals Went Underwater for Their Tools

Neandertals collected clam shells and volcanic rock from the beach and coastal waters of Italy during the Middle Paleolithic, according to a study published January 15, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Paola Villa of the University of Colo...



Embargo expired on 15-Jan-2020 at 14:00 ET

Healthy commercial ads don't change teens' desire to eat junk food

How teens' brains respond to TV commercials for fast food can predict what they are going to eat for dinner, according to new University of Michigan research.

– University of Michigan

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Embargo expired on 15-Jan-2020 at 09:05 ET

Are sinking soils in the Everglades related to climate change?

Soils releasing carbon as gas lead to challenges on valuable farmland

– American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)

2019 ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meeting

Reinventing the Computer: Brain-Inspired Computing for a Post-Moore’s Law Era

Since 1947, computing development has seen a consistent doubling of the number of transistors that can fit on a chip. But that trend, Moore’s Law, may reach its limit as components of submolecular size encounter problems with thermal noise, making ...

– American Institute of Physics (AIP)

Applied Physics Reviews

Astronomers reveal interstellar thread of one of life's building blocks

Phosphorus, present in our DNA and cell membranes, is an essential element for life as we know it. But how it arrived on the early Earth is something of a mystery.

– European Southern Observatory (ESO)

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Analyzing DNA in soil could be an effective way of tracking animals

It's hard to protect something you can't find. A new Stanford study reveals sampling soil for animals' left-behind DNA can provide valuable information for conservation efforts - with significantly less cost and time - than currently used methods, su...

– Stanford University

Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Study: Pig virus is easily transmitted among chickens and turkeys

The first animal study of a pig virus’s potential to jump to another species shows that the virus, once introduced to a select group of birds, is easily transmitted to healthy chickens and turkeys.

– Ohio State University

Emerging Infectious Diseases

Reconnecting with nature key for sustainability

People who live in more built up areas and spend less free-time in nature are also less likely to take actions that benefit the environment, such as recycling, buying eco-friendly products, and environmental volunteering.

– University of Exeter

Environment International

American Association for Thoracic Surgery Adopts HUBzero® Cloud Platform

The American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) has adopted an open-source, cloud-based platform led out of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) that addresses widely recognized challenges with historical platforms throughout the cardiothor...

– University of California San Diego

The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery

Glimpses of Fatherhood Found in Non-Pair-Bonding Chimps

Although they have no way of identifying their biological fathers, male chimpanzees form intimate bonds with them, a finding that questions the idea of fatherhood in some of humanity’s closest relatives, according to a study of wild chimpanzees in ...

– University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)

American Journal of Primatology

Scientists pioneer new generation of semiconductor neutron detector

In a new study, scientists have developed a new type of semiconductor neutron detector that boosts detection rates by reducing the number of steps involved in neutron capture and transduction.

– Argonne National Laboratory

Nature, Jan. 15, 2020

S&T-Funded SABER Helps Communities Get Back to Business During and After Disasters

Available both on the web and via a mobile app, SABER provides users with a means to upload and share real-time business status information with other organizations, particularly government aid entities such as FEMA, during an emergency or crisis.

– Homeland Security's Science And Technology Directorate


Surprising Beauty Found in Bacterial Cultures

Researchers at University of California San Diego have discovered that when certain microbes pair up, stunning floral patterns emerge.

– University of California San Diego

eLife; R01-GM069811; PHY-1707637; P50-GM085764; N00014-16-1-2093

Embargo expired on 14-Jan-2020 at 09:00 ET

includes video

U.S. protections for constitutional rights falling behind global peers

New research from the WORLD Policy Analysis Center at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health (WORLD) shows that the United States is falling behind its global peers when it comes to guarantees for key constitutional rights. Researchers identified ...

– University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences

Advancing Equality: How Constitutional Rights Can Make a Difference Worldwide

Embargo expired on 14-Jan-2020 at 00:05 ET

Opening Up DNA to Delete Disease

Protein editorial assistants are clearing the way for cut-and-paste DNA editors, like CRISPR, to access previously inaccessible genes of interest. Opening up these areas of the genetic code is critical to improving CRISPR efficiency and moving toward...

– American Institute of Physics (AIP)

APL Bioengineering

Embargo expired on 14-Jan-2020 at 11:00 ET

How to Make it Easier to Turn Plant Waste into Biofuels

Researchers have developed a new process that could make it much cheaper to produce biofuels such as ethanol from plant waste and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Their approach, featuring an ammonia-salt based solvent that rapidly turns plant fibers...

– Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Green Chemistry; Rutgers Today

CAREER Award Recipient to Explore Potential of Promising New Material

Two-dimensional semiconductors, particularly those made of a class of material known as transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs), hold exciting potential for a range of current and future technologies, like solar cells, LED lights, and quantum comput...

– Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Nano Letters

Galactic gamma-ray sources reveal birthplaces of high-energy particles

Nine sources of extremely high-energy gamma rays comprise a new catalog compiled by researchers with the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma-Ray Observatory.

– Los Alamos National Laboratory

Physical Review Letters

Robotic Gripping Mechanism Mimics How Sea Anemones Catch Prey

Researchers in China demonstrated a robotic gripping mechanism that mimics how a sea anemone catches its prey. The bionic torus captures and releases objects by crimping its skin. The grasper not only is relatively cheap and easy to produce but also ...

– American Institute of Physics (AIP)

Applied Physics Letters

Colloidal Quantum Dot Laser Diodes are Just Around the Corner

Los Alamos scientists have incorporated meticulously engineered colloidal quantum dots into a new type of light emitting diodes (LEDs) containing an integrated optical resonator, which allows them to function as lasers.

– Los Alamos National Laboratory

Nature Communications

New parasitoid wasp species discovered in the Amazon -- can manipulate host's behavior

A research group from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku studies the diversity of parasitoid insects around the world.

– University of Turku (Turun yliopisto)


Brain model offers new insights into damage caused by stroke and other injuries

A University at Buffalo neuroimaging researcher has developed a computer model of the human brain that more realistically simulates actual patterns of brain impairment than existing methods. The novel advancement represents the union of two establish...

– University at Buffalo


Clothes last longer and shed fewer microfibers in quicker, cooler washing cycles

Those nice new clothes you got for Christmas or in the new year sales might just last longer, thanks to advice from scientists researching the impact washing machines have on clothes and the environment.

– University of Leeds

Dyes and Pigments

'Cold Neptune' and two temperate super-Earths found orbiting nearby stars

Washington, DC-- A "cold Neptune" and two potentially habitable worlds are part of a cache of five newly discovered exoplanets and eight exoplanet candidates found orbiting nearby red dwarf stars, which are reported in The Astrophysical Journal Suppl...

– Carnegie Institution for Science

The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series

What is the California state soil?

The San Joaquin soil contributes billions of dollars toward the state’s economy.

– American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)

NOAA Releases Extended Version of 20th Century Reanalysis Project

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released an updated version of the 20th Century Reanalysis Project - a high-resolution, four-dimensional reconstruction of the global climate that now estimates what the weather was every day ba...

– Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Drinking among sport-playing college students is strongly influenced by peer perceptions

Alcohol misuse among college students remains a major public health concern. Students’ perceptions of how much their peers are drinking, and of peers’ attitudes to alcohol, are known to be a key influence on their own alcohol use. Two distinct ty...

– Research Society on Alcoholism

Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research

Embargo expired on 13-Jan-2020 at 10:00 ET

Beyond the binge: Extreme drinking common among working-age adults

Binge drinking is a common and harmful pattern of alcohol use, often defined as consuming at least four (for women) or five (for men) drinks in one drinking episode. However, some people drink well beyond this, consuming two or even three times the b...

– Research Society on Alcoholism

Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research

Embargo expired on 13-Jan-2020 at 10:00 ET

Influential Electrons? Physicists Uncover a Quantum Relationship

A team of physicists has mapped how electron energies vary from region to region in a particular quantum state with unprecedented clarity. This understanding reveals an underlying mechanism by which electrons influence one another, termed quantum “...

– New York University

Nature Physics

Embargo expired on 13-Jan-2020 at 11:00 ET

Nano-objects of Desire: Assembling Ordered Nanostructures in 3-D

A new DNA-programmable nanofabrication platform organizes inorganic or biological nanocomponents in the same prescribed ways.

– Brookhaven National Laboratory

Nature Materials, Jan. 13, 2019

Embargo expired on 13-Jan-2020 at 11:00 ET

Team Builds the First Living Robots

Scientists repurposed living frog cells—and assembled them into entirely new life-forms. These tiny “xenobots” can move toward a target and heal themselves after being cut. These novel living machines are neither a traditional robot nor a know...

– University of Vermont

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Embargo expired on 13-Jan-2020 at 15:00 ET

includes video

Can Solar Geoengineering Mitigate both Climate Change and Income Inequality?

New research from the University of California San Diego finds that solar geoengineering—the intentional reflection of sunlight away from the Earth’s surface—may reduce income inequality between countries.

– University of California San Diego

Nature Communications

Leviathan Polymer Brush Made With E. coli Holds Bacteria at Bay

A lab accident produced a monster of a polymer brush, an emerging biocompatible material that staves off bacteria while coating and lubricating.

– Georgia Institute of Technology

Nature Communications; 0955811; 1709897; 1205878

Calculated Surprise Leads to Groundbreaking Discovery in Cognitive Control Research

To better understand how motivational control processes help maximize performance when faced with task challenges, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and provide fascinating insights into the role of the dorsal anterior cin...

– Florida Atlantic University

Nature Human Behavior

Widespread droughts affect southern California water sources six times a century

Severe droughts happened simultaneously in the regions that supply water to Southern California almost six times per century on average since 1500, according to new University of Arizona-led research.

– University of Arizona

Journal of American Water Resources Association

Machine keeps human livers alive for one week outside of the body

Researchers from the University Hospital Zurich, ETH Zurich, Wyss Zurich and the University of Zurich have developed a machine that repairs injured human livers and keeps them alive outside the body for one week.

– University of Zurich

Nature Biotechnology

Global database of all bird species shows how body shape predicts lifestyle

A database of 10,000 bird species shows how measurements of wings, beaks and tails can predict a species' role in an ecosystem.

– Imperial College London

Nature Ecology & Evolution

STUDY: Humanity’s Footprint is Squashing World’s Wildlife

Using the most comprehensive dataset on the “human footprint,” which maps the accumulated impact of human activities on the land’s surface, researchers found intense human pressures across the range of a staggering 20,529 terrestrial vertebrate...

– Wildlife Conservation Society

Global Ecology and Conservation

Fighting melanoma with zebrafish: Biologists in search of a powerful combination of cancer-fighting drugs

Northern Arizona University professor Matthew Salanga is leading an 18-month project, funded by the Flinn Foundation, in search of drugs to help fight the deadliest form of skin cancer.

– Northern Arizona University

Weizmann Scientists Devise New Algorithm that Predicts Gestational Diabetes

Using machine learning to analyze data on nearly 600,000 pregnancies, researchers devised an algorithm that identified nine parameters – out of more than 2,000 analyzed – that can predict which women are at risk of gestational diabetes. The param...

– Weizmann Institute of Science

Nature Medicine, Jan-2020

Connecting the dots in the sky could shed new light on dark matter

Astrophysicists have come a step closer to understanding the origin of a faint glow of gamma rays covering the night sky. They found that this light is brighter in regions that contain a lot of matter and dimmer where matter is sparser – a correlat...

– SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Physical Review Letters

Fisheries management is actually working, global analysis shows

Nearly half of the fish caught worldwide are from stocks that are scientifically monitored and, on average, are increasing in abundance. Effective management appears to be the main reason these stocks are at sustainable levels or successfully rebuild...

– University of Washington

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jan-2020

Daniel Bardayan: Then and Now

Daniel W. Bardayan is a professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Notre Dame, formerly a senior research staff member in the Physics Division of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and an adjunct associate professor in the Department ...

Expert Available

– Department of Energy, Office of Science

SciWire Policy and Public Affairs

WHOI scientist to provide testimony on climate science and solutions

Richard Murray, Deputy Director and Vice President for Research at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), will testify before the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives on January 15, 2020.

– Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

SciWire Announcement

Ground-breaking research could lead to safer and faster security scanners at airports

Airport security queues could be slashed and screening for weapons could become much more effective after Queen’s University Belfast researchers have been awarded £1 million to develop a ground-breaking solution.

– Queen's University Belfast

Embargo expired on 15-Jan-2020 at 19:00 ET

IEEE selects UAH's Jovanov as Fellow for wearable health monitoring contributions

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has selected Dr. Emil Jovanov, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), as a Fellow for his contributions to the field...

– University of Alabama Huntsville

Team led by PPPL wins major supercomputer time to help capture on Earth the fusion that powers the sun and stars

PPPL will use INCITE-award time on Summit and Theta supercomputers to develop predictions for the performance of ITER, the international experiment under construction to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy.

– Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

UNC Charlotte Opens the Carolinas' First Interdisciplinary School of Data Science

UNC Charlotte has opened the Carolinas' first School of Data Science. The interdisciplinary school allows UNC Charlotte to expand on its programs in the field and open up the growing and diverse field of data science to students with varied career in...

– University of North Carolina at Charlotte

DHS Awards $197K for Digital Credentials That Work Offline

DHS S&T has awarded $197,020.95 Phase 1 funding to Stranger Labs, Inc. based in Cambridge, MA, to develop a digital credential solution that mitigates compromising the usability and convenience of paper-based credentials by making digital credentials...

– Homeland Security's Science And Technology Directorate

Mount Sinai Diversity Innovation Hub Named Among Top 50 Leaders in Digital Health for 2020

The Diversity Innovation Hub (DIH) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is among the Top 50 in Digital Health for 2020.

– Mount Sinai Health System

Department of Energy to Provide $75 Million for Bioenergy Crops Research

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide up to $75 million over five years for research to develop sustainable bioenergy crops tolerant of environmental stress and resilient to changing environmental conditions.

– Department of Energy, Office of Science

Department of Energy Announces $625 Million for New Quantum Centers

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $625 million over the next five years to establish two to five multidisciplinary Quantum Information Science (QIS) Research Centers in support of the National Quantum Initiative.

– Department of Energy, Office of Science

Wayne State University to address urgent need for STEM educators

Through support from the U.S. Department of Education, Wayne State University announced it is launching the Metro Detroit Teaching Residency for Urban Excellence (TRUE) Project, an innovative multi-sector partnership that aims to positively impact st...

– Wayne State University Division of Research

U.S. Dept. of Education, U336S190025

DHS S&T and Israeli Partners Announce Awards for Advanced Technologies in Homeland Security

The Israel – U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation today announced three awards for collaborative projects totaling $2.3 million to develop advanced technologies for the homeland security mission.

– Homeland Security's Science And Technology Directorate





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