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March 8, 2013
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  Top Story 
  • Did scientists finally find the Higgs boson particle?
    Scientists in Italy say they are close to confirming the existence of the mysterious Higgs boson particle, having just one last test to go before they can confirm it. The Higgs-like particle was discovered last year and has been subjected to thousands of tests to ensure its validity. Scientists say they need to confirm the subatomic particle isn't actually a graviton before they can say with 99.9% certainty that it is indeed the "God particle" of physics that many have long been seeking. The Christian Science Monitor/The Associated Press (3/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Science in the News 
  • Study: Mars may still be capable of geological activity
    New evidence shows that the Marte Vallis river channel on Mars experienced a relatively recent megaflood and lava from a volcanic eruption, suggesting that the red planet is still capable of being geologically active, according to a study published in the journal Science. "Mars is certainly very cold and dry today, but even now it remains dynamic and certainly is not dead," said study co-author Gareth Morgan. "There are huge reservoirs of ice beneath the surface and we don't really know much about its relationship with the surface." National Geographic News (3/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Scientists closer to solving the mystery behind supernovas
    The origins of supernovas may be linked to the age of the star before the explosion as well as how metal-rich its galaxy may have been, according to research published in the journal Science. Scientists studied the remnants of 188 Type 1a supernovas, bringing them closer to unlocking the mysteries of exactly how and why supernovas occur. "The typical mass of a white dwarf is not large enough to trigger an explosion; it is suggested that either merging of two white dwarfs in a binary system or continuous accretion of mass from a companion by a white dwarf is required to reach that limit," said Xiaofeng Wang, who led the study. (3/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Researchers predict easier access to Arctic Ocean by 2050
    Melting ice in the Arctic Ocean may mean easier access for ships one day, opening doors for more efficient oceanic transportation, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Plus. Ships passing through the Arctic must have reinforced parts capable of breaking through ice; with warming temperatures, however, researchers predict that the equipment will be unnecessary by 2050. In addition, scientists predict that invasive species, such as pests and mosquitoes, will be able to spread more easily in the region. (3/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Research: Caffeinated nectar keeps bees coming back for more
    Naturally occurring caffeine in certain types of nectar helps increase learning in bees and makes them more likely to return -- a discovery that helps scientists better understand the relationship between plants and their pollinators, according to a report published in the journal Science. "The trick here is actually to influence the memorability of the signal using a psychoactive drug. And that's a new trick in the book for plants," said Lars Chittka, a researcher at Queen Mary, University of London, who did not participate in the study. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (3/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Toxin in bee venom kills HIV virus, researchers say
    Melittin, the toxic component of bee venom, penetrates HIV and other viruses, essentially killing the pathogens, say researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. They hitched melittin to nanoparticles with molecular stop gaps that prevent damage to healthy cells. Used in a vaginal gel, the toxin could prevent HIV transmission, and researchers hope the findings could be used to treat other infections. St. Louis Post-Dispatch (3/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Study reveals further complexities of human brain function
    Mice with grafted human brain cells are more capable of learning and retaining memory than ordinary mice, according to new research. Scientists used glia, a type of brain cell incapable of sending electrical signals, signifying that the human brain's ability to process information may go beyond just the neurons responsible for sending signals. "It is certainly possible that via several different mechanisms, differences in the number and/or properties of astrocytes could contribute to the greater intellectual capacity of humans compared to other species. This work is an important first step in exploring this possibility," said Robert Malenka, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. blog (3/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Scientists study biofuel potential of duckweed
    A scientist at Princeton University and his colleagues are looking into the biofuel potential of duckweed, according to a report in the journal Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research. The fast-growing aquatic plant can grow in wastewater, isn't used for human consumption and can be collected more easily than algae, the researchers said. A small-scale duckweed facility could yield a cost-competitive fuel if the price of crude oil is $100 per barrel, while a bigger biorefinery could achieve competitiveness at $72-per-barrel crude oil, the researchers stated. (3/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Research Policy Regulations 
  • Flu vaccine strains endorsed by FDA panel for 2013-2014
    The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee endorsed a slightly different influenza vaccine composition for the 2013-2014 flu season, compared with that of the previous season. The committee recommended substituting two vaccine strains while retaining the A/California/7/2009pdm09-like virus. The committee also released recommendations for quadrivalent vaccines, noting that "global influenza virus surveillance data related to epidemiology and antigenic characteristics, serological responses to 2012-2013 seasonal vaccines, and the availability of candidate strains and reagents" were used as the basis for the recommendations. Medscape (free registration) (3/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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