Higgs precursor seen by researchers for the first time | Bacteria help form cave dripstones, study finds | Sculpted Caryatids found in tomb in Greece
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September 8, 2014
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Higgs precursor seen by researchers for the first time
The Higgs field, which kicked off the long search for the Higgs boson, has been seen for the first time, researchers say. "One can really do the experiments in a table-top manner, which would definitely reveal new physics and hopefully provide some useful feedbacks to particle physics," said research leader Ryo Shimano of the University of Tokyo. To create the field in its normal state, scientists shook the superconductor with a short pulse of light and found that it mathematically behaves similarly to the particle physics Higgs. New Scientist (9/5)
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Science in the News
Bacteria help form cave dripstones, study finds
Dripstones in an 8,000-year-old cave in Sweden are not only home to microoganisms like bacteria, fungi, algae and mites, but bacteria helped build the structures, according to a study in the International Journal of Speleology. "Without the microbial presence, the speleothems would be much smaller or perhaps absent. ... As the microbes metabolized, they excreted calcium which precipitated and in time helped form the dripstones," said Magnus Ivarsson of the University of Southern Denmark's Nordic Center for Earth Evolution and co-author of the study. LiveScience.com (9/7)
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Sculpted Caryatids found in tomb in Greece
Two sculpted female figures have been found in an ancient tomb that was discovered recently in Greece. The Caryatids, which stand guard at an inner entrance of the tomb, were sculpted using the same technique that was used on the heads and wings of two sphinxes uncovered at the tomb last month, according to Greece's culture ministry. Experts believe the tomb belongs to a prominent figure who lived around 300 B.C. to 325 B.C. Reuters (9/7)
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Evidence points to tectonic plate movement on Jupiter moon
Evidence of tectonic plate movement has been found on Jupiter's moon Europa, according to a study published in Nature Geoscience, and the finding could bolster NASA's effort to seek ideas from the public on how to take a closer look. Researchers studied photos taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft, which was orbiting Jupiter between 1995 and 2003, and found evidence of shifting ice plates, similar to Earth's shifting plates of rock. Nature (free content) (9/7)
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Calif. blue whale population grows to about 2,200
The endangered blue whale population off the coast of California appears to be on the rebound, according to a report published online in Marine Mammal Science. The number of blue whales off the West Coast has reached about 2,200, roughly the amount there were before unimpeded hunting pushed them into endangerment. But University of Washington researchers note that the recovery in California is only a tiny portion of the world's blue whale population. The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/Dot Earth blog (9/5)
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Century-old Ricin, other dangerous pathogens found in NIH roundup
A nearly 100-year-old container of ricin and other long-lost samples of hazardous pathogens have been found by the National Institutes of Health as it scours its labs for improperly stored materials. All the materials were discovered intact in sealed containers and have since been destroyed. "NIH takes this matter very seriously. The finding of these agents highlights the need for constant vigilance in monitoring laboratory materials in compliance with federal regulations on biosafety," according to an NIH memo. ABC News/The Associated Press (9/5)
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Blood transfusions for Ebola patients backed by WHO
The World Health Organization is backing a controversial plan to transfuse the blood of Ebola survivors into current patients, a remedy used routinely in Africa, while waiting for experimental drugs to become available. Some in the medical community are calling the treatment unproven and costly, but WHO executives say it can give people hope. "There was a consensus that this has a good chance to work, but also that this is something that can be produced now from the affected countries themselves," said Marie-Paule Kieny of the WHO. Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model) (9/5)
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Scientists find signaling molecules involved in plasma cell production
Scientists have identified two signaling molecules involved in the development and production of plasma cells, according to studies in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature Communications. Adaptor protein Downstream-of-Kinase 3, or DOK 3, promotes plasma cell production by reducing the effects of calcium signaling on membrane proteins PDL1 and PDL2, while SHP1 ensures that plasma cells migrate from the spleen to the bone marrow to ensure long-term survival. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (9/5)
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Research Policy Regulations
CKD drug from Keryx gains regulatory approval
Keryx Biopharmaceuticals' ferric citrate has been approved by the FDA to treat hyperphosphatemia in kidney disease patients being treated with dialysis. The drug, which binds to and blocks absorption of phosphate, is expected to be launched within the next three months. Reuters (9/5)
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