Efforts are underway to improve diversity in genetic databases | Array of fossils found at 518M-year-old site in China | Sun bears communicate via facial mimicry
March 22, 2019
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Efforts are underway to improve diversity in genetic databases
Genetic databases aren't ethnically diverse, with most participants in genome-wide association studies being of European descent, according to a commentary published in Cell. The NIH All of Us program and private DNA database companies such as 23andMe are working to diversify the data available by increasing the number of participants from underrepresented groups.
The Scientist online (3/21) 
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Science in the News
Array of fossils found at 518M-year-old site in China
Chinese researchers have uncovered more than 4,300 well-preserved fossils at a site along the Danshui River in China that dates back 518 million years. The fossils include many organisms never seen before, according to findings published in Science.
Science News (3/21) 
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Sun bears communicate via facial mimicry
Sun bears communicate via facial mimicry
(Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Sun bears communicate by mimicking each other's facial expressions, a practice long thought to occur only in species with complex social systems, a study published in Scientific Reports suggests. "Other primates and dogs are known to mimic each other, but only great apes and humans were previously known to show such complexity in their facial mimicry," said study co-author Marina Davila-Ross.
New Scientist (free content) (3/21) 
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Sperm from frozen testicular tissue results in monkey's birth
A healthy baby monkey has been born using sperm developed from frozen immature testicular tissue in a procedure that may one day help prepubescent boys whose future fertility is compromised by cancer treatments, according to findings published in Science. Researchers removed testicular tissue from rhesus macaques that hadn't yet reached sexual maturity, froze it and then grafted it back when the monkeys had matured, resulting in viable sperm recovered up to 12 months later.
Scientific American online (3/21) 
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CO in exoplanet atmospheres could suggest presence of alien life
An abundance of carbon monoxide in an exoplanet's atmosphere could indicate the presence of life, much like there was on Earth 3 billion years ago, when there wasn't much oxygen but microbial life thrived, according to a study published in The Astrophysical Journal. "Given the different astrophysical context for these planets, we should not be surprised to find microbial biospheres promoting high levels of carbon monoxide," said Edward Schwieterman, the study's lead author.
Space (3/21) 
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Study: States that ban texting while driving see fewer ER trips
Crash-related emergency room visits fell 4% on average from 2007 to 2014 in states that prohibit texting while driving, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Crash-related injuries dropped 8% in states that placed primary bans on texting while driving, the study found.
CNN (3/21) 
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Unique scent may one day help diagnose Parkinson's disease
Patients with Parkinson's disease give off a distinctive musky scent that could one day help doctors diagnose the disease, a study published in ACS Central Science suggests. Researchers tested participants' sebum and identified four compounds linked to the unique scent: eicosane, hippuric acid, octadecanal and perillic aldehyde.
Smithsonian online (3/21),  The Guardian (London) (3/20) 
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Funding Watch
Free speech order raises questions about university research funding
It's unclear whether President Donald Trump's executive order that would penalize universities for violating students' right to free speech will result in research funding losses, but some officials are concerned. "Under this executive order, politically appointed department and agency heads have been directed to take action that could, as President Trump suggested, strip or block federal research funding from universities they subjectively believe aren't adequately permitting the diverse debate of ideas," said Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
STAT (tiered subscription model) (3/21) 
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Sigma Xi News
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Members: It's time to make sure your dues are current for the fiscal year (July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019). You can easily renew online if your dues have expired. Members who renew dues will receive all issues of American Scientist that were missed since July 2018 and their subscription will continue for their active period.
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March-April Issue of American Scientist Is Available
March-April Issue of American Scientist Is Available
The new issue of American Scientist features articles on the renewed hope for coastal marshes in Louisiana, stretchy mechanics of knitting physics, how industrialization led to crooked teeth, why we might need less trust in robots, overlooked failures, quantum computing, and much more! Sigma Xi members should look for their digital or print editions (additional content is exclusively available on the American Scientist website). Nonmembers can find the magazine on newsstands or order a copy for $5.95 plus shipping fees by calling 1-800-282-0444 and selecting option 4.
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I had a running compiler and nobody would touch it because, they carefully told me, computers could only do arithmetic; they could not do programs.
Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hopper,
developer of the first compiler for a computer programming language

March is Women's History Month

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