Science News

More than just a bump on the head

A bump on the head never makes you happy, and a paper in the Archives of General Psychiatry just discovered why. The article, led by Alain Ptito of the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University, has identified neurological changes in the brain following head trauma which can result in depression. This study goes some way toward explaining why 40% of head trauma patients suffer from depression, compared with 5% in the general population.

Genetic analyses may identify hidden' species

Two studies suggest that what appear to be unified animal species can in fact include genetically separate subpopulations that may more accurately be classified as multiple "cryptic" species, potentially greatly increasing the number of species yet to be identified. A study published in December in the online journal BMC Evolutionary Biology found three distinct species in Ecuador that had previously been grouped as the terrestrial leaflitter frog. Another study that was published simultaneously in BMC Biology determined that African giraffes have at least six genetic strains showing such few traces of interbreeding that they may also be individual species.

Another Sign of Global Warming? Underwater Deserts Expand Alarmingly Fast

Anyone who has tried to cross a desert will tell you that the lack of water is the biggest challenge you will face. But for some deserts, the problem isn't a lack of water: it's an abundance of water. According to images taken from the SeaStar spacecraft, the world's underwater deserts are expanding alarmingly fast.

Stormy Weather on the Horizon: NASA explores El Nino

Have you noticed that the storm season seems to be growing more severe? Or perhaps you've noticed that the winter has been particularly cold and wet in California this winter? These weather patterns are attributed to the phenomenon called El Niño (Spanish for "The Christ Child" since the phenomenon occurs around Christmas time). El Niño is a weather pattern that brings wet winter weather and strong storms to the West Coast, Gulf States and the South East. Recently, a NASA research team has released a study that sheds new light on this phenomenon.

To Drive-Through or Not To Drive-Through.That Is the Question

In recent studies led by Sheryl Szienbach professor of Pharmacy Practice and Administration at Ohio State University, pharmacists have begun to notice a decline in the level of service offered to consumers, who pick-up their prescriptions at the pharmacy's drive-through windows. Such a decline has been indicated to be responsible for delays in processing, reduction in efficiency of pharmacists, and errors in medication dispensing.

Mitochondrial Diseases: the Cracked Bottleneck of Inheritance

Patrick Chinnery at Newcastle University and a team of international scientists have opened a new door into predicting a child's risk of inheriting a mitochondrial disease that can result in stroke, diabetes, heart failure, cognitive impairment and dementia. They've discovered how diseases caused by mutant mitochondrial DNA (mutant mtDNA) pass down from mother to child, and why the severity of mtDNA diseases differs widely between siblings and amongst individuals.

Novel Prostate Cancer Biomarker Surpass Existing Prognostic Tools

Researchers at the University of Michigan recently discovered a more reliable and expedient method to detect prostate cancer. This biomarker test challenges the standard PSA test in terms of accuracy, and may be the most accurate detector of prostate cancer available today. The increasing emphasis on preventive medicine among healthcare progressives has prompted investigations into more efficient and non-invasive prognosis tools for detecting cancer.

"Hold still, I can feel your liver!" New Technology Allows Radiologists to Feel Organs

New technology by Erink Vidholm of Uppsala University could lead to more effective cancer treatment by allowing radiologists to virtually feel organs. This technology, which comes in the form of a special pen, will allow for an easier diagnosis and treatment plan development for diseases such as cancer. The magic behind this technology, called "haptics," lies in a special pen, called "haptic pen" that acts as a sort of three-dimensional mouse that allows the user to feel virtual organs. Computerized image analysis is used to determine the size of and even construct three-dimensional models of the organs prior to radiation or surgery.

The New Da Vinci Code: Detecting Hidden Artworks with Terahertz Rays

Ever wondered about hidden Renaissance frescoes? Optical engineering researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, describe a novel imaging technique. This innovation could allow art historians to see murals previously hidden under coats of plaster in century-old churches. The finding is published in the February issue of Optic Communications.

Carbon cycle in the rivers; a drop from the ocean

Professor Aaron Packman of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, teamed up with ecologists and microbiologists to study a segment in the global carbon cycle; river carbon cycle. Their work has been published in the online journal Nature Geoscience recently.

The carbon cycle, the biochemical cycle which explains how carbon is exchanged between the elements in the earth, now attracts many researchers due to the significant contribution of carbon dioxide in global warming and climate change. However, studying the global carbon cycle is a huge challenge. Professor Packman and his team has contributed to it by studying the carbon cycle in rivers.