Wednesday Science News Roundup #26

Below are 10 science news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

Alzheimer’s disease reversed in mouse model – Researchers have found that gradually depleting an enzyme called BACE1 completely reverses the formation of amyloid plaques in the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s disease, thereby improving the animals’ cognitive function. The study raises hopes that drugs targeting this enzyme will be able to successfully treat Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Science Daily

Experimental therapy restores nerve insulation damaged by disease – When the body attacks its own healthy tissues in an autoimmune disease, peripheral nerve damage handicaps people and causes persistent neuropathic pain when insulation on healing nerves doesn’t fully regenerate. Unfortunately, there are no effective ways to treat the condition. Now scientists describe an experimental molecular therapy that restores insulation on peripheral nerves in mice, improves limb function, and results in less observable discomfort. Science Daily

Poor fitness linked to weaker brain fiber, higher dementia risk – Scientists have more evidence that exercise improves brain health and could be a lifesaving ingredient that prevents Alzheimer’s disease. Science Daily

Ancient ozone holes may have sterilized forests 252 million years ago – Volcano-fueled holes in Earth’s ozone layer 252 million years ago may have repeatedly sterilized large swaths of forest, setting the stage for the world’s largest mass extinction event. Such holes would have allowed ultraviolet-B radiation to blast the planet. Even radiation levels below those predicted for the end of the Permian period damage trees’ abilities to make seeds, researchers report February 7 in Science Advances. Science News

The small intestine, not the liver, is the first stop for processing fructose – When it comes processing fructose, the liver is a pinch hitter for the small intestine. Science News

Humans are overloading the world’s freshwater bodies with phosphorus – Human activities are driving phosphorus levels in the world’s lakes, rivers and other freshwater bodies to a critical point. The freshwater bodies on 38 percent of Earth’s land area (not including Antarctica) are overly enriched with phosphorus, leading to potentially toxic algal blooms and less available drinking water, researchers report January 24 in Water Resources Research. Science News

Watch nerve cells being born in the brains of living mice – Brain scientists have filmed a first-of-a-kind birth video. It reveals specialized cells in the brains of mice dividing to create newborn nerve cells. Science News

Surprise Discovery Shows We Have Been Totally Wrong About The Size of Andromeda Galaxy – A new technique for measuring the mass of galaxies has been applied to our closest galactic neighbour – and it has found that the Andromeda galaxy is roughly the same size as the Milky Way, and not two to three times bigger as was previously thought. Science Alert

Scientists Just Found a Super-Powerful New Class of Antibiotics in Dirt – The modern medical era began when an absent-minded British scientist named Alexander Fleming returned from vacation to find that one of the petri dishes he forgot to put away was covered in a bacteria-killing mould. He had discovered penicillin, the world’s first antibiotic. Science Alert

An Incredible New Type of Brain Implant Can Boost Memory by 15% – Neural implants that claim to boost memory function aren’t new, but a novel approach to the problem has led to a device that listens to the brain before responding. Science Alert

10 Science News Roundup #13

Here are 10 science news that I find interesting and important to take note.

Potential new autism drug shows promise in mice – Scientists have performed a successful test of a possible new drug in a mouse model of an autism disorder. The candidate drug, called NitroSynapsin, largely corrected electrical, behavioral and brain abnormalities in the mice. Science Daily

Low dose, constant drip: Pharmaceutical, personal care pollution impacts aquatic life – Traditional toxicity testing underestimates the risk that pharmaceutical and personal care product pollution poses to freshwater ecosystems. Criteria that account for ecological disruption — not just organism death — are needed to protect surface waters, which are under pressure from a growing population and escalating synthetic chemical use. So reports a new study published this week in Elementa. Science Daily

Screen time might boost depression, suicide behaviors in teens – Increased time spent in front of a screen — in the form of computers, cell phones and tablets — might have contributed to an uptick in symptoms of depression and suicide-related behaviors and thoughts in American young people, especially girls, according to a new study by San Diego State University professor of psychology Jean Twenge. The findings point to the need for parents to monitor how much time their children are spending in front of media screens. Science Daily

Ancient spiral galaxy is 11 billion years old – Astronomers have spotted a spiral galaxy more ancient than any seen before. The galaxy, called A1689B11, emitted its light 11 billion years ago, just 2.6 billion years after the Big Bang. Researchers had previously reported a spiral galaxy that dates to 10.7 billion years ago. Science News

Simulating the universe using Einstein’s theory of gravity may solve cosmic puzzles – If the universe were a soup, it would be more of a chunky minestrone than a silky-smooth tomato bisque. Sprinkled with matter that clumps together due to the insatiable pull of gravity, the universe is a network of dense galaxy clusters and filaments — the hearty beans and vegetables of the cosmic stew. Meanwhile, relatively desolate pockets of the cosmos, known as voids, make up a thin, watery broth in between. Science News

“Gluten Sensitivity” May Not Actually Be Caused By Gluten – A recent study claims that people who are gluten-sensitive may not actually be as sensitive as they think they are. Instead, something else may be the culprit, and it’s not gluten. IFL Science

Favorite Planetary Cooling Plan Is Riskier Than We Knew – Faced with the immense threat of global warming, and the refusal of world leadership to act sufficiently, many people have wondered if it is possible to keep the planet habitable through deliberate cooling. Many versions of this idea, known as geoengineering, have been proposed, but a study of the most widely discussed idea has found a nasty side-effect.

People With Certain Blood Types Appear to Be More at Risk From Air Pollution – The kind of blood you have could increase or decrease your risk of having a heart attack in response to high levels of air pollution, new research suggests. A variant ABO gene – which can only be found in A, B, and AB blood types – has been linked with elevated risk of heart attack during periods of significant air pollution, whereas people with blood type O show lower risk. Science Alert

Scientists Will Look For Signs of Life on This Newly Discovered Earth-Size Planet – At just 11 light-years from our Solar System, a newly discovered exoplanet is the second-closest we’ve ever found that’s temperate enough to potentially host and sustain life. Science Alert

For The First Time Ever Scientists Have Boosted Human Memory With a Brain Implant – With everyone from Elon Musk to MIT to the US Department of Defense researching brain implants, it seems only a matter of time before such devices are ready to help humans extend their natural capabilities. Science Alert

10 Science News Roundup #12

Here are 10 science news that I find interesting and important to take note.

Pancreatic cancer survival linked to four genes – Alterations in four main genes are responsible for how long patients survive with pancreatic cancer, according to a new study in JAMA Oncology. Science Daily

Humans are driving climate change, federal scientists say – It is “extremely likely” that humans are driving warming on Earth since the 1950s. That statement — which indicates a 95 to 100 percent confidence in the finding — came in a report released November 3 by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. This interagency effort was established in 1989 by presidential initiative to help inform national science policy. Science News

Alzheimer’s protein can travel from blood to build up in the brain – An Alzheimer’s-related protein can move from the blood to the brain and accumulate there, experiments on mice show for the first time. Science News

Sleep Deprivation Has The Same Effect as Drinking Too Much, Says Study – A lack of sleep not only causes us to drop off at our desks in the afternoon and feel cranky, it also weakens crucial communications between the neurons in the brain, according to a new study. Science Alert

Scientists Just Confirmed 18 More Possible Habitable Planets – Remember the other day, when we told you that scientists had found some potentially habitable planets hiding in Kepler data? Well, scientists have found 18 more – and they’re just as important. IFLScience

We Think We Know Where That Interstellar Object Came From – We may have spied our first ever interstellar object in the Solar System last month. Now, scientists think they might know where it came from. IFLScience

Mystery void is discovered in the Great Pyramid of Giza – High-energy particles from outer space have helped uncover an enigmatic void deep inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. Science News

The way hungry young stars suck in food keeps most X-rays in, too – A plasma cocoon lets growing stars keep their X-rays to themselves. Laboratory experiments that mimic maturing stars show that streams of plasma splash off a star’s surface, forming a varnish that keeps certain kinds of radiation inside. Science News

Artificial insulin-releasing cells may make it easier to manage diabetes – Artificial cells made from scratch in the lab could one day offer a more effective, patient-friendly diabetes treatment. Science News

Stimulating formation of new neural connections in the adult brain – A team led by University of Idaho scientists has found a way to stimulate formation of new neural connections in the adult brain in a study that could eventually help humans fend off memory loss, brain trauma and other ailments in the central nervous system. Science Daily

10 Science News Roundup #11

Here are 10 science news that I find interesting and important to take note.

Trends in drug development – One third of all drugs on the American market act on the same kind of important cell receptor — the G protein-coupled receptors. A major mapping of these drugs has found that their pharmacological mechanisms are becoming more complex. The mapping also reveals rapid developments especially within Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, asthma and diabetes. Science Daily

How flu shot manufacturing forces influenza to mutate – The common practice of growing influenza vaccine components in chicken eggs disrupts the major antibody target site on the virus surface, rendering the flu vaccine less effective in humans. Science Daily

Building a sustainable future: Urgent action needed – We need to act urgently to increase the energy efficiency of our buildings as the world’s emerging middle classes put increasing demands on our planet’s energy resources. Science Daily

Aliens Probably Went Through Natural Selection Just Like Us – Science fiction normally depicts aliens in one of two ways. The first is that they look almost identical to us (hello Star Trek). The other is they are something wildly beyond our imagination, say, the heptapods in Arrival. IFLScience

Photons are caught behaving like superconducting electrons – Light is a fan of the buddy system. Photons, or particles of light, have been spotted swapping energy with partners. This chummy behavior resembles how electrons pair up in materials that conduct current without resistance, known as superconductors, researchers report in a paper accepted in Physical Review Letters. Science News

Zika hasn’t been in the news much, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone – Less than a year after the World Health Organization declared Zika is no longer a public health emergency, the virus seems to have fallen from public consciousness, at least outside of heavily affected areas. The mosquito-borne virus staged a massive assault on the Western Hemisphere in 2015 and 2016 (SN: 12/24/16, p. 19), but this year, Zika appears to be in retreat. Science News

Extremely Rare Case in US as Woman Gets Pregnant While Already Pregnant – An extremely rare case of a woman becoming pregnant while already pregnant has occurred in the US, with a mother unwittingly giving birth to ‘twins’ who were not conceived at the same time. Science Alert

Alzheimer’s Could Actually Start Elsewhere in The Body And Not The Brain, Says Study – Alzheimer’s disease is usually described as a degenerative neurological condition, one that is commonly associated with memory loss and confusion. Science Alert

This Monster Planet With a Tiny Star Poses a Planetary Formation Puzzle – Astronomers have found something they thought was impossible: a gas giant roughly the size of Jupiter orbiting a white dwarf half the mass and size of the Sun. Science Alert

Yellowstone’s massive volcano could erupt more frequently than scientists thought – SEATTLE, WASHINGTON—Some 630,000 years ago, the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming recorded its last catastrophic eruption, forming a caldera that nearly spans the park’s width and belching a thick layer of ash, or tephra, across North America. Science

10 Science News Roundup #10

Here are 10 science news that I find interesting and important to take note.

Daydreaming is good: It means you’re smart – A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that daydreaming during meetings isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It might be a sign that you’re really smart and creative. Science Daily

Transparent solar technology represents ‘wave of the future’ – See-through solar materials that can be applied to windows represent a massive source of untapped energy and could harvest as much power as bigger, bulkier rooftop solar units, scientists report in Nature Energy. Science Daily

Arsenic can cause cancer decades after exposure ends – A new paper published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that arsenic in drinking water may have one of the longest dormancy periods of any carcinogen. By tracking the mortality rates of people exposed to arsenic-contaminated drinking water in a region in Chile, the researchers provide evidence of increases in lung, bladder, and kidney cancer even 40 years after high arsenic exposures ended. Science Daily

What detecting gravitational waves means for the expansion of the universe – Ripples in spacetime travel at the speed of light. That fact, confirmed by the recent detection of a pair of colliding stellar corpses, kills a whole category of theories that mess with the laws of gravity to explain why the universe is expanding as fast as it is. Science News

Nicaragua Joins Paris Agreement Leaving America And Syria Isolated – The world reeled when President Trump announced that America would withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement earlier this year. Despite all the political, environmental, societal, and economic costs of doing so, the White House declared that it would stop all efforts to combat climate change at a federal level. IFLScience

12 Global Cities Unite In Bold Declaration To Make Streets Fossil Fuel-Free By 2030 – The mayors of London, Los Angeles, Paris, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Quito, Vancouver, Mexico City, Milan, Seattle, Auckland, and Cape Town have just committed to a bold plan to clean up their cities’ air and calm the wider threat of climate change. IFLScience

Scientists Have Concluded That The Universe Shouldn’t Really Exist – Scientists just confirmed the problem at the centre of the Universe: it shouldn’t really exist at all. Science Alert

Why haven’t we had alien contact? Blame icy ocean worlds – Might ET be buried under too much ice to phone Earth? That’s what planetary scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, has concluded may be delaying our contact with alien civilizations. Most extraterrestrial creatures are likely deep inside their home planets, in subsurface oceans crusted over in frozen water ice, according to a new proposal at this year’s American Astronomy Society Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Provo, Utah. The hypothesis could explain the lack of signals from other technologically advanced civilizations, a conundrum known as the Fermi paradox. Science

Sun’s light touch explains asteroids flying in formation behind Mars – The power of sunlight appears to be simultaneously creating and destroying families of asteroids, according to a new study of Mars’s Trojans, asteroids that accompany the planet like planes flying in formation. The result, reported yesterday at the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Provo, Utah, solves a minor mystery and could explain the creation of asteroid families in other parts of the solar system. Science

Mating with Neandertals reintroduced ‘lost’ DNA into modern humans – Interbreeding with Neandertals restored some genetic heirlooms that modern humans left behind in the ancient exodus from Africa, new research suggests. Science News

10 Science News Roundup #8

Here are 10 science news that I find interesting and important to take note.

How fever in early pregnancy causes heart, facial birth defects – Duke researchers now have evidence indicating that the fever itself, not its root source, is what interferes with the development of the heart and jaw during the first three to eight weeks of pregnancy. Science Daily

When the brain’s wiring breaks – Among all the bad things that can happen to the brain when it is severely jolted — in a car accident, for example — one of the most common and worrisome is axon damage. Axons are the long stalks that grow out of the bodies of neurons and carry signals to other neurons. They are part of the brain’s “wiring,” and they sometimes grow to amazing lengths — from the brain all the way down to the spinal cord. But axons are thin and fragile. When the brain receives a strong blow, axons are often stressed past their structural limits. They either break or swiftly degenerate. Science Daily

Superbugs may meet their match in these nanoparticles – Antibiotics may have a new teammate in the fight against drug-resistant infections. Researchers have engineered nanoparticles to produce chemicals that render bacteria more vulnerable to antibiotics. These quantum dots, described online October 4 in Science Advances, could help combat pathogens that have developed resistance to antibiotics (SN: 10/15/16, p. 11).

Secret Supereruption That Once Changed The World Found In North America – Yellowstone’s supervolcano gets all the attention these days, but it’s not the only vessel of apocalyptic eruptions. Today, there are several spots around the world that could bring about a game-changing eruption, and volcanologists are always on the hunt for ancient ones that until now have slipped beneath the radar.

Turns Out The Great Barrier Reef Can Actually Heal Itself, But We Have to Help It – he Great Barrier Reef is suffering from recent unprecedented coral bleaching events. But the answer to part of its recovery could lie in the reef itself, with a little help. In our recent article published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, we argue that at least two potential interventions show promise as means to boost climate resilience and tolerance in the reef’s corals: assisted gene flow and assisted evolution.

Bright light therapy at midday helped patients with bipolar depression – Daily exposure to bright white light at midday significantly decreased symptoms of depression and increased functioning in people with bipolar disorder, a recent Northwestern Medicine study found. Science Daily

NASA Is Running Out of The Most Precious Ingredient Needed For Future Space Missions – Classroom models lie – our Solar System isn’t a bunch of bright, closely nestled orbs. Instead, other planets are separated from Earth by unfathomable distances – and are often too cold, dim, and remote for any spacecraft to explore on solar power alone. Science Alert

EPA Says “The War on Coal Is Over” in Major Reversal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan – The Trump administration has formally announced its plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan – President Obama’s key policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions produced by power plants. Science Alert

This Is How Online Dating Has Changed The Very Fabric of Society – Digital match-making services have done more than just change how we find our perfect squeeze; they’re changing the fundamental nature of our social networks. According to a pair of researchers investigating online dating, the way we’re looking for love (and lust) is connecting communities in completely novel ways, breaking down boundaries and possibly even making for stronger long-term relationships. Science Alert

How to make the cosmic web give up the matter it’s hiding – Evidence is piling up that much of the universe’s missing matter is lurking along the strands of a vast cosmic web. A pair of papers report some of the best signs yet of hot gas in the spaces between galaxy clusters, possibly enough to represent the half of all ordinary matter previously unaccounted for. Previous studies have hinted at this missing matter, but a new search technique is helping to fill in the gaps in the cosmic census where other efforts fell short. The papers were published online at arXiv.org on September 15 and September 29. Science News