Science Daily: Top Science News, 01 Feb 2019


Welcome to the Friday edition of “Hawaii Science Digest”.  This Hawaii Island blog focuses on science, technology, medicine, health, the environment, cyber security, and artificial intelligence (AI).  Views expressed in this science news summary are those of the reporters and correspondents.  Content provided by “Science Daily”.

Accessed on 01 February 2019, 1350 UTC.


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ScienceDaily: Top Science News

Self-growing materials that strengthen in response to force

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 11:34 AM PST

A strategy inspired by the process responsible for muscle growth could lead to the development of stronger, longer-lasting materials.


European waters drive ocean overturning, key for regulating climate

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 11:33 AM PST

An international study reveals the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, which helps regulate Earth’s climate, is highly variable and primarily driven by the conversion of warm, salty, shallow waters into colder, fresher, deep waters moving south through the Irminger and Iceland basins. This upends prevailing ideas and may help scientists better predict Arctic ice melt and future changes in the ocean’s ability to mitigate climate change by storing excess atmospheric carbon.


Mars rover Curiosity makes first gravity-measuring traverse on the Red Planet

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 11:33 AM PST

A clever use of non-science engineering data from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has let a team of researchers to measure the density of rock layers in Gale Crater.


To sleep, perchance to heal: Newly discovered gene governs need for slumber when sick

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 11:33 AM PST

Humans spend nearly one-third of their lives in slumber, yet sleep is still one of biology’s most enduring mysteries. Little is known about what genetic or molecular forces drive the need to sleep — until now. In a study of over 12,000 lines of fruit flies, researchers have found a single gene, called nemuri, that increases the need for sleep.


New 3D printer shapes objects with rays of light

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 11:33 AM PST

A new 3D printer uses light to transform gooey liquids into complex solid objects in only a matter of minutes. The printer can create objects that are smoother, more flexible and more complex than what is possible with traditional 3D-printers. It can also encase an already existing object with new materials, which current printers struggle to do.


Membraneless protocells could provide clues to formation of early life

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 09:59 AM PST

Membraneless protocells allow RNAs to participate in fundamental chemical reactions, providing clues to early steps in origin of life on Earth.


Hubble fortuitously discovers a new galaxy in the cosmic neighborhood

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 09:59 AM PST

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study some of the oldest and faintest stars in the globular cluster NGC 6752 have made an unexpected finding. They discovered a dwarf galaxy in our cosmic backyard, only 30 million light-years away.


How the fruit fly got its stripes

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 09:59 AM PST

The first moments of life unfold with incredible precision. Now, using mathematical tools and the help of fruit flies, researchers have uncovered new findings about the mechanisms behind this precision.


Psychologists solve mystery of songbird learning

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 09:59 AM PST

New research shows zebra finches engage in socially guided vocal learning, where they learn their songs by watching their mothers’ reactions to their immature songs.


Earth’s largest extinction event likely took plants first

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 09:59 AM PST

New evidence from the cliffsides of Australia suggests that Earth’s largest extinction event — a volcanic cataclysm occurring roughly 252 million years ago — extinguished plant life long before many animal counterparts.


Ancient pandas weren’t exclusive bamboo eaters, bone evidence suggests

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 08:39 AM PST

The giant pandas we know and love today live only in the understory of particular mountains in southwestern China, where they subsist on bamboo alone. But according to new evidence, extinct and ancient panda species most likely had a more varied and complex diet.


Fasting ramps up human metabolism, study shows

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 08:39 AM PST

Research uncovers previously unknown effects of fasting, including notably increased metabolic activity and possible anti-aging effects.


Opposite effect: Protein widely known to fight tumors also boosts cancer growth

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 08:38 AM PST

Researchers studying p53, the heralded cancer-fighting ‘guardian of the genome,’ found that the human protein also plays a role in promoting tumors, in addition to suppressing them. They found that the PUMA protein works inside the cell’s mitochondria to switch energy production processes and stimulate cancer growth.


Learning new vocabulary during deep sleep

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 08:38 AM PST

Researchers showed that we can acquire the vocabulary of a new language during distinct phases of slow-wave sleep and that the sleep-learned vocabulary could be retrieved unconsciously following waking. Memory formation appeared to be mediated by the same brain structures that also mediate wake vocabulary learning.


Ancient asteroid impacts played a role in creation of Earth’s future continents

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 07:49 AM PST

The heavy bombardment of terrestrial planets by asteroids from space has contributed to the formation of the early evolved crust on Earth that later gave rise to continents – home to human civilization.


Robot combines vision and touch to learn the game of Jenga

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 07:10 AM PST

Machine-learning approach could help robots assemble cellphones and other small parts in a manufacturing line.


Iguana-sized dinosaur cousin discovered in Antarctica

Posted: 31 Jan 2019 05:42 AM PST

Scientists have discovered the fossils of an iguana-sized reptile, which they named ‘Antarctic king,’ that lived at the South Pole 250 million years ago (it used to be warmer). Antarctanax was an early cousin of the dinosaurs, and it shows how life bounced back after the world’s biggest mass extinction.


Engineers create a robot that can ‘imagine’ itself

Posted: 30 Jan 2019 02:56 PM PST

Engineers have created a robot that learns what it is, with zero prior knowledge of physics, geometry, or motor dynamics. Initially the robot has no clue what its shape is. After a brief period of ‘babbling,’ and within about a day of intensive computing, the robot creates a self-simulation, which it can then use to contemplate and adapt to different situations, handling new tasks as well as detecting and repairing damage in its body.


Extreme rainfall events are connected around the world

Posted: 30 Jan 2019 10:32 AM PST

An analysis of satellite data has revealed global patterns of extreme rainfall, which could lead to better forecasts and more accurate climate models.


For the latest science and technology news, please visit this blog daily.

Until next time,

Russ Roberts

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