Survey: Invasive camel crickets now more common than native species in U.S. | DNA found in polar bear prints may help track endangered creatures | Eruption threat high as seismic activity calms near Bardarbunga
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September 3, 2014
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Survey: Invasive camel crickets now more common than native species in U.S.
Invasive greenhouse camel crickets may be more common in American homes than native ones, according to a citizen science survey. Researchers at North Carolina State University asked people to send photos and actual specimens of camel crickets they found in their homes, and they estimate that there could be roughly 700 million camel crickets of several species living in the eastern U.S. "We don't know what kind of impact this species has on local ecosystems, though it's possible that the greenhouse camel cricket could be driving out native camel cricket species in homes," said Mary Jane Epps, leader of the study. (9/2)
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Science in the News
DNA found in polar bear prints may help track endangered creatures
Researchers may one day be able to track polar bears and other endangered animals more economically and without disrupting their habitats by using DNA found in their footprints, thanks to a new technique. Scientists from SPYGEN in France gathered snow from around paw prints and used filters to find DNA material from a polar bear. The researchers say they are refining the technique to identify individual creatures. Reuters (9/2)
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Eruption threat high as seismic activity calms near Bardarbunga
Seismic activity has decreased near Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano, while jets of lava spurt up to 200 feet, or 60 meters, high from a fissure on its north side, which may mean it's close to eruption, experts say. The number of earthquakes fell from 500 on Monday to 300 on Tuesday, and the lava eruptions appear less active, according to Iceland's meteorological agency. An orange alert remains in effect. San Diego Union-Tribune/The Associated Press (9/2)
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Parch marks in grass suggest Stonehenge used to be a complete circle
The structures at Stonehenge may have once formed a complete circle, according to patterns in the dried grass that showed up during a particularly arid summer. Marks in the unwatered grass on the side where no stones stand revealed spots exactly where stones would be if the circle were complete, according to researchers. The parch marks appeared by chance when the groundskeeper at the site was unable to water the grass due to a short hose. Discovery (9/3)
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Ancient drug paraphernalia found in Andes
A hallucinogen-using culture once thrived in the Andean city-state of Tiwanaku in modern-day Bolivia at about 500 A.D., according to researchers who found various ancient drug paraphernalia at the site. Items included snuffing tablets, a wooden snuffing tube and spatulas. "Psychotropic substances, once extracted from plants, were spread and mixed on the tablets. Inhalation tubes were then used to introduce the substances through the nose into the system," said Fundacion Bartolome de Las Casas researcher Juan Albarracin-Jordan, lead author of the study published in Antiquity. Discovery (9/2)
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Electrical buildup may cause sparks that break down dirt on the moon
A buildup of powerful electric fields deep in the cold shadowed areas of the moon can cause sparks that break down the lunar soil, according to a computer model. "The lunar community generally thinks that the main ongoing process of fragmenting soil grains is meteoritic impacts. Our research suggests that breakdown weathering may also contribute to this fragmenting, at least within permanently shadowed regions on the moon," said space physicist Andrew Jordan of the University of New Hampshire, lead author of the study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets. (9/2)
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West Africa Ebola outbreak to worsen soon, CDC director warns
The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa will become worse in the next few weeks, said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who recently visited the region. "The challenge is that the number of cases is so large, the outbreak is so overwhelming, what it requires now is an overwhelming response," he said. The speed at which the virus is moving needs to be met with a larger response, he said. (9/2)
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Study reveals how HIV invades the gut
Researchers at the University of California at Davis discovered that Paneth cells, which are early responders to viral invasion, produce interleukin-1 beta, which damages the epithelium or gut lining, allowing HIV to spread and establish an HIV reservoir in the gut. They also found that while interleukin-1 beta reduces tight-junction proteins, which are crucial to making the lining impermeable to pathogens, Lactobacillus plantarum, a probiotic strain, helps mitigate the virus-induced inflammatory response and protects the epithelial lining. International Business Times (9/1)
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Funding Watch
Pittsburgh researcher receives $1.9M to study children's brain injury therapies
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has awarded a $1.9 million grant to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's Dr. Ericka Fink to study the use of early rehabilitation therapies on children who have suffered acute brain injury to improve their quality of life. "There's evidence in adult medicine, and also in the animal literature actually, that supports early rehabilitation strategies to improving outcomes," but such studies haven't been done on children, Fink said. WESA-FM (Pittsburgh) (9/2)
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Research Policy Regulations
FDA approves GE Healthcare's 3D breast imaging system
The Food and Drug Administration has approved GE Healthcare's SenoClaire 3D breast tomosynthesis imaging system. The device can now be marketed to create 2D and 3D images to screen for and diagnose breast cancer. GE Healthcare is the second company to get an approval for a tomosynthesis system, after Hologic. (Boston) (9/2)
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