New image offers closer view of interstellar object | Study in monkeys shows brain maps are present at birth | New way to study evolution of same-sex behavior in animals offered
November 27, 2019
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New image offers closer view of interstellar object
Astronomers used the W.M. Keck Observatory's Low-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer to take a new image of 2I/Borisov, the second interstellar object ever observed passing through our solar system. The image shows the coma of the interstellar comet, which will pass by the sun early next month and Earth not long after that.
ScienceAlert (Australia) (11/27) 
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Education is in a constant state of change, buffeted by state and federal standards, emerging technologies, teacher shortages and funding crises, to name a few. Successful change initiatives require strong leaders, led by uncompromising integrity and confidence.
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Science in the News
Study in monkeys shows brain maps are present at birth
Somatotopic organization, or mapping specific neurons in the brain to input from specific parts of the body, is present in monkeys as young as 11 days old, researchers reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers used functional MRI to study somatotopic organization in monkeys and found clear signs of organization, suggesting that somatotopic maps are present at birth, but they are not necessarily static.
Discover magazine online (11/20) 
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New way to study evolution of same-sex behavior in animals offered
A paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution is questioning the practice of using a human heterosexual baseline to study the evolution of same-sex behavior in animals. "It's important for us as scientists to recognize that while we'd love to think about what we do as objective, it might be really framed by our culture and context," says study author Julia Monk.
The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (11/26) 
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Calif. team to deploy sensor-equipped oysters
Calif. team to deploy sensor-equipped oysters
(Fred Tanneau/AFP via Getty Images)
Researchers are preparing to release 10 oysters fitted with magnets and sensors into San Diego-area estuaries to learn more about how varying water conditions affect the species. "If we do see a direct response to their environment ... we could actually use these sensors in the future to learn more about the environment," says Sarah Giddings, a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
KPBS-TV/KPBS-FM (San Diego) (11/25) 
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New metallic material holds promise for soft robotics
Researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed a lightweight, foldable, stretchable and flexible metallic material that folds like origami and could mark a big step forward for soft robotics. The electrically conductive product is made with elaborately folded paper that's soaked in graphene oxide, dipped into a solution of platinum ions and then burned at high temperatures in argon gas and air before it's stabilized with an elastomer solution, according to findings published in Science Robotics.
New Atlas (11/25) 
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Less sleep in older women may affect bone health, study finds
Research published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that postmenopausal women who got less than five hours of sleep per night had significantly lower values in four measures of bone mineral density -- whole body, neck, spine and hip -- compared with women who got more sleep. The researchers said the lower BMD levels in the women who had less sleep were the equivalent of being one year older.
Medical News Today (11/20) 
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Dementia may be delayed with extra virgin olive oil intake
Mice with tauopathy that received an extra virgin olive oil regimen at an age equivalent of nearly 30 or 40 human years had 60% lower accumulation of tau proteins associated with dementia at an age equivalent of 60 human years, compared with those that weren't given extra virgin olive oil, according to a study in the journal Aging Cell. The findings suggest that extra virgin olive oil intake may help delay cognitive decline and dementia onset, researchers said.
PhillyVoice (Philadelphia) (11/25),  Medical Xpress (11/25) 
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Funding Watch
Pa. to spend $3M on fracking health studies
Pennsylvania has earmarked $3 million for two studies that will examine the potential health impacts of hydraulic fracturing in response to appeals from residents concerned by an increase in rare cancer diagnoses. The studies are expected to each take three years.
The Associated Press (11/22) 
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Sigma Xi News
Support STEM Education on Giving Tuesday
On Tuesday, December 3, you're invited to help Sigma Xi provide free one-year subscriptions of its trusted STEM magazine, American Scientist, to 1,300 high schools. Your generous gift helps to deliver a credible source of scientific information to students and teachers in states where the integrity of science education is threatened.
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Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference Addressed Our Changing Global Environment
Sigma Xi members, researchers, science supporters, and students came together in Madison, Wisconsin, for the Assembly of Delegates, symposia, student research presentations, and a STEM Art and Film Festival.
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Editor's Note
SmartBrief will not publish Thursday, Friday
In observance of Thanksgiving in the US, SmartBrief will not publish Thursday or Friday. Publication will resume Monday.
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We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
Cynthia Ozick,
writer, essayist
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