Labeled as discuss in The Break Room, started by CraigD, Oct 19, 2020
I imagine you cuddle up with them on cold nights
MUSIC GIVES THE BRAIN A CRUCIAL CONNECTIVE ADVANTAGE
WHETHER IT'S SINGING DO-RE-MI or strumming a guitar, making music is one of the best ways to stimulate a young mind.
Even if children abandon their music lessons when they hit their angsty teen years, cognitive neuroscientists say cultivating musical ability early on has lifelong benefits. Playing music can help children read better, store memories, and pronounce different languages.
In a recent study, scientists reveal further evidence supporting this brain-building tactic. Learning music early in life actually makes the brain more connected, inducing neural plasticity capable of improving neurological capabilities beyond music.
"This study, among other studies, demonstrate how the human brain is shaped by experience," study co-author Lutz Jäncke tells Inverse. Jäncke is a neuropsychology researcher at the University of Zurich.
In the study, Jäncke and his team found that musical brains have stronger structural and functional connections compared to those of non-musicians, regardless of their innate pitch ability.
This heightened interconnectedness spans between and within brain hemispheres and was especially strong in areas of the brain responsible for processing sounds such as music and speech.
HOW ARE THE BRAINS OF MUSICIANS DIFFERENT?
The two musician groups showed "strikingly similar networks" across all analyses, Jäncke explains. But contrary to expectation, the team did not see a significant difference between regular musicians and those with absolute pitch across all functional or structural connectivity measures.
All of the musicians' brains were vastly more structurally and functionally connected than non-musicians, especially in areas of the brain responsible for speech and sound (especially the auditory cortices of both hemispheres). These connections "undoubtedly" improve the group's musical abilities, Leipold explains.
The musical group also showed stronger connections from the auditory cortices to other brain areas in the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortex known to be involved in the control of higher cognitive functions like memory, working memory, and executive functions.
Biomarkers in mother’s plasma predict a type of autism in offspring with 100% accuracy
Using machine learning, researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute have identified several patterns of maternal autoantibodies highly associated with the diagnosis and severity of autism. Their study, published Jan. 22 in Molecular Psychiatry specifically focused on maternal autoantibody-related autism spectrum disorder (MAR ASD), a condition accounting for around 20% of all autism cases.
“The implications from this study are tremendous,” said Judy Van de Water, a professor of rheumatology, allergy and clinical immunology at UC Davis and the lead author of the study. “It’s the first time that machine learning has been used to identify with 100% accuracy MAR ASD-specific patterns as potential biomarkers of ASD risk.”
Autoantibodies are immune proteins that attack a person’s own tissues. Previously, Van de Water found that a pregnant mother’s autoantibodies can react with her growing fetus’ brain and alter its development.
The research team obtained plasma samples from mothers enrolled in the CHARGE study. They analyzed the samples from 450 mothers of children with autism and 342 mothers of typically developing children, also from CHARGE, to detect reactivity to eight different proteins that are abundant in fetal brain. They then used a machine learning algorithm to determine which autoantibody patterns were specifically associated with a diagnosis of ASD.
The researchers created and validated a test to identify ASD-specific maternal autoantibody patterns of reactivity against eight proteins highly expressed in the developing brain.
“The big deal about this particular study is that we created a new, very translatable test for future clinical use,” said Van de Water. This simple maternal blood test uses an ELISA (Enzyme-Linked-ImmunoSorbent Assay) platform, which is very quick and accurate.
First baby tyrannosaur fossils discovered in Alberta, Montana
Researchers have discovered the first baby tyrannosaur fossils in Alberta and Montana.
Experts say the fossils are a rare discovery, as little is known about young tyrannosaurs and their development, according to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences on Monday.
The study, led by Greg Funston, was based on two fossils: a small toe claw found in Morrin, Alta., and a small, lower jawbone found in Montana.
Tyrannosaurs have been well-researched but fossils from tyrannosaur eggs or embryos have never been found — until now.
"What this does is give us a starting point that we didn't have," said Mark Powers, a University of Alberta PhD student and second author on the study.
"We had partway of their growth spurt and we didn't really have where they originated. To find specimens like this, which is definitively a tyrannosaur in the shell or before it hatched, it says something about that development."
Simulating 800,000 years of California earthquake history to pinpoint risks
Massive earthquakes are, fortunately, rare events. But that scarcity of information blinds us in some ways to their risks, especially when it comes to determining the risk for a specific location or structure.
The traditional way of getting around this lack of data involves digging trenches to learn more about past ruptures, collating information from lots of earthquakes all around the world and creating a statistical model of hazard, or using supercomputers to simulate a specific earthquake in a specific place with a high degree of fidelity.
However, a new framework for predicting the likelihood and impact of earthquakes over an entire region, developed by a team of researchers associated with SCEC over the past decade, has found a middle ground and perhaps a better way to ascertain risk.
According to the developers, the new approach improves the ability to pinpoint how big an earthquake might occur in a given location, allowing building code developers, architects, and structural engineers to design more resilient buildings that can survive earthquakes at a specific site.
Great video showing how fuel is used as ballast in Space X Starship.
Animated Starship Plumbing Diagram
Red - Liquid Methane
Blue - Liquid Oxygen
Two enzymes fuel transition from pre-cancer stem cells to leukemia stem cells
Since stem cells can continually self-regenerate, making more stem cells, and differentiate into many different specialized cell types, they play an important role in our development and health. But there can also be a dark side -; stem cells can sometimes become cancer stem cells, proliferating out of control and leading to blood cancers, such as leukemia and multiple myeloma. The self-renewing nature of cancer stem cells makes them particularly hard to eradicate, and they're often the reason a blood cancer reoccurs.
Researchers at UC San Diego Health and University of California San Diego School of Medicine are working to understand what pushes pre-cancer stem cells to transform into cancer stem cells and are developing ways to stop that switch.
Their latest study, published January 26, 2021 in Cell Reports, is the first to show that, in response to inflammation, two enzymes called APOBEC3C and ADAR1 work together to fuel the transition from pre-cancer stem cells to cancer stem cells in leukemia. Both APOBEC3C and ADAR1 are activated by inflammatory molecules, especially during the body's immune response to viruses.
The researchers also found they can prevent the formation of leukemia stem cells in the laboratory by inhibiting ADAR1 with fedratinib or ruxolitinib, two existing medications for myelofibrosis, a rare bone marrow cancer.
Physicists Use ‘Hyperchaos’ to Model Complex Quantum Systems at a Fraction of the Computing Power
Physicists have discovered a potentially game-changing feature of quantum bit behavior which would allow scientists to simulate complex quantum systems without the need for enormous computing power.
For some time, the development of the next generation of quantum computer has limited by the processing speed of conventional CPUs. Even the world’s fastest supercomputers have not been powerful enough, and existing quantum computers are still too small, to be able to model moderate-sized quantum structures, such as quantum processors.
However, a team of researchers from Loughborough and Nottingham and Innopolis universities have now found a way to bypass the need for such massive amounts of power by harnessing the chaotic behavior of qubits—the smallest unit of digital information.
Famous alien-hunting telescope collapsed in December. Now, investigators might know why.
An ongoing investigation of the December collapse of the iconic radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico offers early evidence that a manufacturing issue may have contributed to the failure.
Welding Underway on Orion for First Artemis Mission Landing Astronauts on the Moon
At NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, technicians from Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin have welded together three cone-shaped panels on Orion’s crew module for the Artemis III mission that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon.
The crew module’s primary structure, the pressure vessel, is comprised of seven machined aluminum alloy pieces that are welded together through a weld process that produces a strong, air-tight habitable space for astronauts during the mission. The pressure vessel is designed to withstand the harsh and demanding environment of deep space, and is the core structure upon which all the other elements of Orion’s crew module are integrated.
Mysterious Phenomenon Could Be Making The Atlantic Ocean Grow Bigger Every Year
The oceans are not as equal as you might think. Scientists estimate that the Atlantic Ocean is actually growing wider by several centimetres every year. At the same time, the Pacific is shrinking.
This glacially slow shifting of oceans is due to the ongoing movement of Earth's tectonic plates, as the plates underneath the Americas pull apart from those underneath Europe and Africa.
The deep, geophysical forces underpinning this epic phenomenon remain far from fully understood, but researchers may have just identified an important contributor to what's happening.
In a new study, scientists suggest that mid-ocean ridges – mountainous formations that emerge along the seafloor in-between tectonic plates – could be more implicated in the transfer of material between the upper and lower mantle beneath Earth's crust than we previously realised.
1st private space crew paying $55M each to fly to station
The first private space station crew was introduced Tuesday: Three men who are each paying $55 million to fly on a SpaceX rocket.
They’ll be led by a former NASA astronaut now working for Axiom Space, the Houston company that arranged the trip for next January.
“This is the first private flight to the International Space Station. It’s never been done before,” said Axiom’s chief executive and president Mike Suffredini, a former space station program manager for NASA.
While mission commander Michael Lopez-Alegria is well known in space circles, “the other three guys are just people who want to be able to go to space, and we’re providing that opportunity,” Suffredini told The Associated Press.
How do wombats poop cubes? Scientists get to the bottom of the mystery
The bare-nosed wombat (Vombatus ursinus), which weighs up to 35 kilograms, lives in the grassy plains and eucalyptus forests of Australia, where it spends its nights grazing on plants and its days in underground tunnels. It’s a territorial animal, leaving its unusual droppings as a calling card. But how does such sharp-sided scat come from a round anus?
To get to the bottom of the mystery, scientists dissected a wombat that had died after being hit by a car. They examined the intestines and found that they contain two grooves where the guts are more elastic, which the team first reported in 2018.
In the new study, the researchers dissected two further wombats and tested the guts’ layers of muscle and tissue, finding regions of varied thickness and stiffness. They then created a 2D mathematical model to simulate how the regions expand and contract with the rhythms of digestion. The intestinal sections contract over several days, squeezing the poop as the gut pulls nutrients and water out of the feces, the team reports today in the aptly titled journal Soft Matter.
The stiffer portions are “like a stiff rubber band—[they’re] going to contract faster than the soft regions,” says David Hu, a biomechanics researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology and author on the study. Softer intestinal regions squeeze slowly and mold the final corners of the cube, the team found. In other mammals, the wavelike peristalsis of the intestinal muscles are consistent in all directions. But in the wombat, the grooved tissue and the irregular contractions over many cycles shape firm, flat-sided cubes.
On nights before a full moon, people go to bed later and sleep less, study shows
For centuries, humans have blamed the moon for our moods, accidents and even natural disasters. But new research indicates that our planet's celestial companion impacts something else entirely—our sleep.
In a paper published Jan. 27 in Science Advances, scientists at the University of Washington, the National University of Quilmes in Argentina and Yale University report that sleep cycles in people oscillate during the 29.5-day lunar cycle: In the days leading up to a full moon, people go to sleep later in the evening and sleep for shorter periods of time. The research team, led by UW professor of biology Horacio de la Iglesia, observed these variations in both the time of sleep onset and the duration of sleep in urban and rural settings—from Indigenous communities in northern Argentina to college students in Seattle, a city of more than 750,000. They saw the oscillations regardless of an individual's access to electricity, though the variations are less pronounced in individuals living in urban environments.
The pattern's ubiquity may indicate that our natural circadian rhythms are somehow synchronized with—or entrained to—the phases of the lunar cycle.
"We see a clear lunar modulation of sleep, with sleep decreasing and a later onset of sleep in the days preceding a full moon," said de la Iglesia. "And although the effect is more robust in communities without access to electricity, the effect is present in communities with electricity, including undergraduates at the University of Washington."
Our data suggest that moonlight likely stimulated nocturnal activity and inhibited sleep in preindustrial communities and that access to artificial light may emulate the ancestral effect of early-night moonlight.
Women temporarily synchronize their menstrual cycles with the luminance and gravimetric cycles of the Moon
In a separate study, also published today in Science Advances, researchers showed that, while all of the myths surrounding this connection might not hold up, there could be some link between menstrual cycles and moon cycles.
By analyzing menstrual cycle records that 22 women kept for up to 32 years. They examined long-term data on menstrual cycle onset with data averaging a length of 15 years and including information from women both under and over age 35. They compared this data with fluctuations in the lunar cycles to see how the two lined up.
They found that, of the women who participated, those whose menstrual cycles last longer than 27 days showed "intermittently synchronized with cycles that affect the intensity of moonlight," according to a statement. The team determined that this synchronization was slowly lost over time as the participants grew older, and found that the link was lessened with increased exposure to artificial light.
More specifically, they concluded that "menstrual cycles also aligned with the tropical month (the 27.32 days it takes the moon to pass twice through the same equinox point) 13.1% of the time in women 35 years and younger and 17.7% of the time in women over 35, suggesting that menstruation is also affected by shifts in the moon’s gravimetric forces," according to the statement.
Many species synchronize reproductive behavior with a particular phase of the lunar cycle to increase reproductive success. In humans, a lunar influence on reproductive behavior remains controversial, although the human menstrual cycle has a period close to that of the lunar cycle. Here, we analyzed long-term menstrual recordings of individual women with distinct methods for biological rhythm analysis. We show that women’s menstrual cycles with a period longer than 27 days were intermittently synchronous with the Moon’s luminance and/or gravimetric cycles. With age and upon exposure to artificial nocturnal light, menstrual cycles shortened and lost this synchrony. We hypothesize that in ancient times, human reproductive behavior was synchronous with the Moon but that our modern lifestyles have changed reproductive physiology and behavior.
Crushing Diamonds With Forces Greater Than Earth's Core Reveals They Are 'Metastable'
Diamonds can handle a little pressure. Actually, revise that - diamonds can handle a lot of pressure. In a series of new experiments, scientists have found that diamonds retain their crystal structure at pressures five times higher than that of Earth's core.
This contradicts predictions that diamond should transform into an even more stable structure under extremely high pressure, suggesting that diamond sticks to a form under conditions where another structure would be more stable, what is referred to as being 'metastable'.
The discovery has implications for modelling high-pressure environments such as the cores of planets rich in carbon.
Size of helium nucleus measured more precisely than ever before
In experiments at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, an international research collaboration has measured the radius of the atomic nucleus of helium five times more precisely than ever before. With the aid of the new value, fundamental physical theories can be tested and natural constants can be determined even more precisely. For their measurements, the researchers needed muons—these particles are similar to electrons but are around 200 times heavier. PSI is the only research site in the world where enough so-called low-energy muons are produced for such experiments. The researchers are publishing their results today in the journal Nature.
NASA's Mars Perseverance rover is on course to land — on toy store shelves
The six-wheeled robotic explorer, which remains on track to touch down on Mars on Feb. 18, has been reproduced by Mattel as a Hot Wheels toy. The release of the 1:64th-scale vehicle has been timed to precede the real rover's landing on the red planet so fans of both the mission and the miniatures can reenact the event as it happens.
"We want the car to be out there so kids have it in their hands when the actual rover lands in February," said Manson Cheung, staff sculptor and lead 3D modeler for Mattel Hot Wheels. "We want kids to be like, 'Oh, I have the rover in my hand and I can see it on Mars,' so there is a connection for the kids, not only with Hot Wheels, but space as well."
Mattel are trying to achieve what the Star Wars franchise could never get right - having toys in kids hands on the big day.
Humanlike thumb dexterity may date back as far as 2 million years ago
Improved grip gave tool-wielding ancestors an advantage over related hominids
Thumb dexterity similar to that of people today already existed around 2 million years ago, possibly in some of the earliest members of our own genus Homo, a new study indicates. The finding is the oldest evidence to date of an evolutionary transition to hands with powerful grips comparable to those of human toolmakers, who didn’t appear for roughly another 1.7 million years.
Thumbs that enabled a forceful grip and improved the ability to manipulate objects gave ancient Homo or a closely related hominid line an evolutionary advantage over hominid contemporaries, says a team led by Fotios Alexandros Karakostis and Katerina Harvati. Now-extinct Australopithecus made and used stone tools but lacked humanlike thumb dexterity, thus limiting its toolmaking capacity, the paleoanthropologists, from Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in Germany, found.
The researchers digitally simulated how a key muscle influenced thumb movement in 12 previously found fossil hominids, five 19th century humans and five chimpanzees. Surprisingly, Harvati says, a pair of roughly 2-million-year-old thumb fossils from South Africa display agility and power on a par with modern human thumbs.
This reminds me of a comment I posted a while ago.
Global shark and ray population crashed more than 70% in past 50 years – study
Increase in fishing since the 1970s has ravaged abundance of sharks and rays in oceans
The global population of sharks and rays has crashed by more than 70% in the past 50 years, researchers have determined for the first time, with massive ongoing losses pushing many species towards extinction.
A huge increase in fishing since 1970 has ravaged the abundance of sharks and rays in our oceans, with previously widespread species such as hammerhead sharks now facing the threat of being wiped out, the study found. Half of the world’s 31 oceanic shark species are now listed as either endangered or critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The giant manta ray is also endangered.
“The decline isn’t stopping, which is a problem,” said Nathan Pacoureau, a researcher at Simon Fraser University in Canada who was lead author of the study, published in Nature. “Everything in our oceans is so depleted now. We need proactive measures to prevent total collapse, this should be a wake up call for policy makers.”
Astronomers Discover First Cloudless, Jupiter-Like Planet
Astronomers at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian have detected the first Jupiter-like planet without clouds or haze in its observable atmosphere. The findings were published this month in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Named WASP-62b, the gas giant was first detected in 2012 through the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) South survey. Its atmosphere, however, had never been closely studied until now.
"For my thesis, I have been working on exoplanet characterization," says Munazza Alam, a graduate student at the Center for Astrophysics who led the study. "I take discovered planets and I follow up on them to characterize their atmospheres."
Known as a "hot Jupiter," WASP-62b is 575 light years away and about half the mass of our solar system's Jupiter. However, unlike our Jupiter, which takes nearly 12 years to orbit the sun, WASP-62b completes a rotation around its star in just four-and-a-half days. This proximity to the star makes it extremely hot, hence the name "hot Jupiter."
While there was no evidence of potassium, sodium’s presence was strikingly clear. The team was able to view the full sodium absorption lines in their data, or its complete fingerprint. Clouds or haze in the atmosphere would obscure the complete signature of sodium, Alam explains, and astronomers usually can only make out small hints of its presence.
"This is smoking gun evidence that we are seeing a clear atmosphere," she says.
Cloud-free planets are exceedingly rare; astronomers estimate that less than 7 percent of exoplanets have clear atmospheres, according to recent research. For example, the first and only other known exoplanet with a clear atmosphere was discovered in 2018. Named WASP-96b, it is classified as a hot Saturn.
First evidence that water can be created on the lunar surface by Earth's magnetosphere
The prevailing theory is that positively charged hydrogen ions propelled by the solar wind bombard the lunar surface and spontaneously react to make water (as hydroxyl (OH-) and molecular (H2O)). However, a new multinational study published in Astrophysical Journal Letters proposes that solar wind may not be the only source of water-forming ions. The researchers show that particles from Earth can seed the moon with water, as well, implying that other planets could also contribute water to their satellites.
Water is far more prevalent in space than astronomers first thought, from the surface of Mars to Jupiter's moons and Saturn's rings, comets, asteroids and Pluto; it has even been detected in clouds far beyond our solar system. It was previously assumed that water was incorporated into these objects during the formation of the solar system, but there is growing evidence that water in space is far more dynamic. Though the solar wind is a likely source for lunar surface water, computer models predict that up to half of it should evaporate and disappear at high-latitude regions during the approximately three days of the full moon when it passes within Earth's magnetosphere.
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