Study reveals strange reproduction methods of mysterious ancient creature | Pollen load helps bumblebees' stability on windy days, study finds | Company says beamed microwave thruster test was successful
 
August 4, 2015
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Study reveals strange reproduction methods of mysterious ancient creature
The enigmatic 565 million-year-old organism Fractofusus, one of the oldest known animals, reproduced asexually in two ways, according to a study published in Nature. One is similar to the growth mechanism of strawberry plants, where offshoots spring from older growths. The other method is for propagules to be ejected into the current. Though the methods may seem plant-like, researchers say Fractofusus is not a plant. "Fractofusus looked like nothing that is alive today, and lived in very deep water ... far below the photic zone, so we know that they were not plants," said Emily Mitchell, the study's lead author. Discovery (8/3)
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Making science stick
Hands-on learning in the science classroom sets objects and concepts within a real-world context. Students connect theory to experience and learning sticks. Get more insights on effective science instruction from the Smithsonian's Carol O'Donnell in this SmartFocus on Hands-on Science.
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Science in the News
Pollen load helps bumblebees' stability on windy days, study finds
A bumblebee's decision to carry pollen or nectar home to the hive may have to do with wind conditions, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The bees' stability and maneuverability were tested in windy and non-windy conditions, and researchers found that the bees were more stable with a load of pollen on their hairy legs if it was windy, but they were less able to maneuver. Bees carrying nectar on their abdomens had more maneuverability under windy conditions but were less stable. ScienceMag.org (8/3)
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Company says beamed microwave thruster test was successful
Escape Dynamics, a startup aerospace technology company based in Colorado, says it has successfully tested its beamed microwave thruster, which may lead to economical, single-stage-to-orbit launch vehicles. "The reason that microwave-powered launch is the next giant leap in spaceflight is because it has the capability to produce a specific impulse above the threshold needed for single-stage-to-orbit operations," said Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux, Escape Dynamics president. She said the company is a few years away from developing a reusable launch system. Space News International (8/3)
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Study: Aggressive CO2 removal may not heal damage from ocean warming
Damage to the world's oceans will take thousands of years to overcome unless aggressive action is taken to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, according to a study by researchers at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Germany. "We show that in a business-as-usual scenario, even massive deployment of CO2 removal schemes cannot reverse the substantial impacts on the marine environment -- at least not within many centuries," said study leader Sabine Mathesius. In a second study, out of the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace in France, researchers say untested carbon removal systems will be needed in addition to cuts in emissions to curb global warming. Discovery/Agence France-Presse (8/3)
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Researchers want to study use of young blood to improve brain function in older people
Scientists are proposing using blood from young people to help older people with Alzheimer's disease and similar afflictions, after research involving animals has shown promise. "The possibility that one or many proteins in young human blood can rejuvenate a diversity of organs [including the brain] is a tantalizing one that should spur further research," Stanford University School of Medicine neurology professor Tony Wyss-Coray and colleagues wrote in an article published in JAMA Neurology. LiveScience.com (8/3)
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Study: Men who become fathers in early 20s at greater risk of early death
A study in Finland has found that men who become fathers in their early 20s have a higher risk of dying in their late 40s to early 50s, but researchers aren't sure why. Men who become fathers before the age of 22 have a 26% higher risk of dying in middle age compared with those who had their first child at 25 or 26. For men between the ages of 22 and 24, the risk is 14% higher, according to the study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. LiveScience.com (8/3)
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Study identifies possible genetic cause for cerebral palsy
Some cases of cerebral palsy may be caused by genetic mutations, rather than birth complications, according to a study published in the scientific journal Nature. Canadian researchers examined the genes of 115 children with the condition and their parents, and found genetic abnormalities among 10% of the children. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (tiered subscription model) (8/3)
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Prenatal detection of cardiac defects varies, study finds
Congenital cardiac defects that require surgical intervention within six months of birth are often missed in utero, according to research reported in Pediatrics, but detection rates have improved over time. The study found that prenatal detection of problems varied by geographic region and by defect type. Sonographers in the study mostly used the four-chamber view, which researchers said may miss defects such as transposition of the great arteries, tetralogy of Fallot, and double-outlet right ventricle, which are best identified using outflow tract views. Medscape (free registration)/Reuters (7/29)
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Funding Watch
NSF awards five La. universities $20M for manufacturing consortium
The National Science Foundation has awarded five universities in Louisiana $20 million to build a consortium for manufacturing research. The schools are Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech, Grambling, Southern University and the University of New Orleans. The Consortium for Innovation in Manufacturing and Materials, led by LSU's College of Engineering, will pool knowledge from around the country to support advanced manufacturing technologies. The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) (8/3)
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Ark. schools to share $20M for research, training programs
The Arkansas Advancing and Supporting Science, Engineering and Technology project has received $20 million from the National Science Foundation that will be spread out to 10 college and university research programs throughout the state. The schools receiving funds are the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; University of Arkansas at Fayetteville; University of Central Arkansas; University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Ouachita Baptist University; Southern Arkansas University; Philander Smith College; Arkansas State University; University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; and the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock) (free registration) (8/3)
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