Science Tidbits

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Spring is springing in Possum Valley  Monday is here one more time and the opportunity for science talk is here once again.  Time to brighten your day with selections from science sites across the globe.  New discoveries, new takes on old knowledge, and other bits of news are all available for the perusing in today's information world.  Today's tidbits include why some people get more colds, Jurassic records warn of risk to marine life from climate warming, new compounds to help fight the influenza virus, and caves point to the thawing of Siberia's permafrost.

Pull up that comfy chair and grab a spot near the fire.  There is always plenty of room for everyone.  Another session of Dr. Possum's science education, entertainment, and potluck discussion is set to begin.

Featured Stories
Researchers have identified a gene linked to the likelihood of susceptibility to the common cold.

(Researchers) measured the telomere length of white blood cells from 152 healthy volunteers aged 18-55. These individuals were then exposed to a rhinovirus, which causes a common cold, and quarantined for five days to see if they actually developed an infection.

The results showed that participants with shorter telomeres were more likely to become infected by the cold virus. Further, although there was no relationship between telomere length and infection among the youngest participants (ages 18-21), beginning at about age 22, telomere length started to predict whether individuals would develop an infection. As participant age increased, telomere length became an even stronger predictor. Additionally, telomere length of a specific type of white blood cell - a CD8CD28- T-cytolytic cell - was a superior predictor of infection and cold symptoms than other white blood cell types. The telomeres found in CD8CD28- cells shorten more quickly than those found in other cell types, and previous research has found shorter telomere length in these cells to be associated with decreases in markers of immune competence.

The study of fossil records highlights the risk of climate change to marine life.
Researchers at Plymouth University believe that findings from fieldwork along the North Yorkshire coast reveal strong parallels between the Early Jurassic era of 180 million years ago and current climate predictions over the next century.

Through geology and palaeontology, they’ve shown how higher temperatures and lower oxygen levels caused drastic changes to marine communities, and that while the Jurassic seas eventually recovered from the effects of global warming, the marine ecosystems that returned were noticeably different from before.

With influenza epidemic in some places and the virus able to adapt quickly to drug treatments the news of a new class of compounds to fight the flu virus is welcome.
Tamiflu and another anti-influenza drug, Relenza, focus on interrupting neuraminidase’s ability to help influenza detach from an infected cell’s surface by digesting sialic acid, a sugar on the surface of the cell. The flu virus uses the same sugar to stick to the cell while invading it. Once attached, influenza can invade the cell and replicate.

This is where the newly discovered compounds come to the still-healthy cells’ rescue. They clog up neuraminidase, stopping the enzyme from dissolving the sialic acid, which prevents the virus from escaping the infected cell and spreading.

The new compounds are also more effective because they’re water-soluble.

Climate change continues to make the news these days with new evidence from Siberian caves that the overlying permafrost layer is endangered.
A thaw in Siberia's permafrost (ground frozen throughout the year) could eventually release over 1,000 giga-tonnes of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, potentially enhancing global warming.

The data comes from an international team led by Oxford University scientists studying stalactites and stalagmites from caves located along the 'permafrost frontier', where ground begins to be permanently frozen in a layer tens to hundreds of metres thick. Because stalactites and stalagmites only grow when liquid rainwater and snow melt drips into the caves, these formations record 500,000 years of changing permafrost conditions, including warmer periods similar to the climate of today.

Records from a particularly warm period (Marine Isotopic Stage 11) that occurred around 400,000 years ago suggest that global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the modern (pre-industrial) climate is enough to cause substantial thawing of permafrost far north from its present-day southern limit.

Knucklehead's Photo of the Week
A rare submission from me.  A prize Discus I raised from a little juvenile air-freighted from Washington state.  One of five.

Freshwater Beauty
A Royal Maroon

GIANT DISCUS flat DSCN1607

©Knucklehead, all rights reserved, presented by permission.  (Click on the image to see more in the same series.)

Other Worthy Stories of the Week
The plastinarium of Dr. von Hagens
The Russian meterorite
Bleach could hamper Mars life search
Cassini sheds light on cosmic particle accelerators
Earth's most spectacular asteroid impact craters as seen from space
Nebulas are even more amazing in 3-D
Rare asteroid sporting 'tail' spotted
Bees and flowers communicate using electric fields
Lessons from cockroaches could inform robotics
Mars may have harbored an ancient magma ocean
Bioengineers print 3-D ears that look and act like the real thing
Early human burial practices varied widely but most were simple
Migratory behavior of endangered oceanic whitetip sharks revealed

For even more science news:
General Science Collectors:
Alpha-Galileo
BBC News Science and Environment
Eureka Science News
LiveScience
New Scientist
PhysOrg.com
SciDev.net
Science/AAAS
Science Alert
Science Centric
Science Daily
Scientific American
Space Daily

Blogs:
All-GeoGeology and Earth science
Cantauri Dreams space exploration
Coctail Party Physics Physics with a twist.
Deep Sea News marine biology
List of Geoscience Blogs
Science20.com
ScienceBlogs
Space Review
Science Insider
Scientific Blogging.
Space.com
Techonology Review
Tetrapod Zoology vertebrate paleontology
Wired News
Science RSS Feed: Medworm
The Skeptics Guide to the Universe--a combination of hard science and debunking crap

At Daily Kos:
This Week in Science by DarkSyde
Overnight News Digest:Science Saturday by Neon Vincent. OND tech Thursday by rfall.
All diaries with the DK GreenRoots Tag.
Astro Kos
SciTech at Dkos.

NASA picture of the day. For more see the NASA image gallery or the Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive
 photo FluxRopesOnTheSun_zps81400d56.jpg
Flux ropes on the Sun, NASA, public domain

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