Science Daily: Top Science News, 05 Feb 2019


Welcome to the Tuesday 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 05 February 2019, 1435 UTC.

Source:  Email update from “Science Daily”.

Please click link or scroll down to read your selections.

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

Laughter may be best medicine — for brain surgery

Posted: 04 Feb 2019 02:09 PM PST

Neuroscientists have discovered a focal pathway in the brain that when electrically stimulated causes immediate laughter, followed by a sense of calm and happiness, even during awake brain surgery. The effects of stimulation were observed in an epilepsy patient undergoing diagnostic monitoring for seizure diagnosis. These effects were then harnessed to help her complete a separate awake brain surgery two days later, and then confirmed in two other patients.


A warming world increases air pollution

Posted: 04 Feb 2019 11:06 AM PST

The new study shows that the contrast in warming between the continents and sea, called the land-sea warming contrast, drives an increased concentration of aerosols in the atmosphere that cause air pollution.


Transforming flat elastomers into 3D shapes

Posted: 04 Feb 2019 10:25 AM PST

Researchers have developed a method to change the shape of a flat sheet of elastomer, using actuation that is fast, reversible, controllable by an applied voltage, and reconfigurable to different shapes.


New disease surveillance tool helps detect any human-infecting virus

Posted: 04 Feb 2019 09:41 AM PST

A new computational method called ‘CATCH’ designs molecular ‘baits’ for any virus known to infect humans and all their known strains, including those that are present in low abundance in clinical samples, such as Zika. The approach can help small sequencing centers around the globe conduct disease surveillance, which is crucial for controlling outbreaks.


Researcher unearths an ice age in the African desert

Posted: 04 Feb 2019 08:46 AM PST

A field trip to Namibia to study volcanic rocks led to an unexpected discovery by geologists.


Physicists create exotic electron liquid

Posted: 04 Feb 2019 08:46 AM PST

By bombarding an ultrathin semiconductor sandwich with powerful laser pulses, physicists have created the first ‘electron liquid’ at room temperature. The achievement opens a pathway for development of the first practical and efficient devices to generate and detect light at terahertz wavelengths — between infrared light and microwaves. Such devices could be used in applications as diverse as communications in outer space, cancer detection, and scanning for concealed weapons.


Harvesting wild genes gives crops renewed resistance to disease

Posted: 04 Feb 2019 08:46 AM PST

A global alliance of researchers has pioneered a new method to rapidly recruit disease-resistance genes from wild plants for transfer into domestic crops. The technique promises to revolutionize the development of disease-resistant varieties for the global food supply.


Retreating snow line reveals organic molecules around young star

Posted: 04 Feb 2019 08:45 AM PST

Astronomers using ALMA have detected various complex organic molecules around the young star V883 Ori. A sudden outburst from this star is releasing molecules from the icy compounds in the planet forming disk. The chemical composition of the disk is similar to that of comets in the modern solar system. Sensitive ALMA observations enable astronomers to reconstruct the evolution of organic molecules from the birth of the solar system to the objects we see today.


Engineers harvest heart’s energy to power life-saving devices

Posted: 04 Feb 2019 06:00 AM PST

The heart’s motion is so powerful that it can recharge life-saving devices, according to new research. Using a dime-sized invention, the heart’s energy can be harnessed to power implantable devices, according to the study. Creating an energy source within the body could save millions of people who rely on pacemakers and other implantable devices from having to undergo surgery to replace batteries.


Much of the surface ocean will shift in color by end of 21st century

Posted: 04 Feb 2019 05:59 AM PST

Climate change is causing significant changes to phytoplankton in the world’s oceans, and a new study finds that over the coming decades these changes will affect the ocean’s color, intensifying its blue regions and its green ones. Satellites should detect these changes in hue, providing early warning of wide-scale changes to marine ecosystems.


First discovered fossil feather did not belong to iconic bird Archaeopteryx

Posted: 04 Feb 2019 05:59 AM PST

A 150-year-old fossil feather mystery has been solved. Researchers applied a novel imaging technique, laser-stimulated fluorescence, revealing the missing quill of the first fossil feather ever discovered, dethroning an icon in the process.


The Caucasus: Complex interplay of genes and cultures

Posted: 04 Feb 2019 05:59 AM PST

In the Bronze Age, the Caucasus Mountains region was a cultural and genetic contact zone. Here, cultures that originated in Mesopotamia interacted with local hunter-gatherers, Anatolian farmers, and steppe populations from just north of the mountain ranges. Here, pastoralism was developed and technologies such as the wheeled wagon and advanced metal weapons were spread to neighbouring cultures. A new study, examines new genetic evidence in concert with archaeological evidence to paint a more complete picture of the region.


Invisible tags: Physicists write, read and erase using light

Posted: 01 Feb 2019 11:24 AM PST

A team of physicists has developed a new method of storing information in fully transparent plastic foils.


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

Until next time,

Russ Roberts

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