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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:22:43 EDT
Earliest ancestor of land herbivores discovered: 300-million-year-old predator showed way to modern terrestrial ecosystem
New research demonstrates how carnivores transitioned into herbivores for the first time on land. Previously unknown, the 300-million-year old fossilized juvenile skeleton of Eocasea martini is less than 20 cm long. Found in Kansas, it consists of a partial skull, most of the vertebral column, the pelvis and a hind limb. By comparing the skeletal anatomy of related animals, scientists discovered that Eocasea martini belonged to the caseid branch of the group Synapsid. This group, which includes early terrestrial herbivores and large top predators, ultimately evolved into modern living mammals. Eocasea lived nearly 80 million years before the age of dinosaurs.
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:26:34 EDT
For cells, internal stress leads to unique shapes
A cell's unique shape results from an internal tug-of-war: the cell needs to maintain structural integrity while also dynamically responding to the pushes and pulls of mechanical stress, researchers have discovered. The researchers studied the supportive microtubule arrangement in the tissue of pavement cells from the first leaves -- or cotyledons -- of a young Arabidopsis thaliana plant.
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:26:28 EDT
Red moon at night: Stargazer's delight
Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical Astronomy Observatory near Tucson, Ariz., the skies offered impressive viewing.
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:24:50 EDT
Information storage for the next generation of plastic computers: Efficient conversion from magnetic storage to light is key
Inexpensive computers, cell phones and other systems that substitute flexible plastic for silicon chips may be one step closer to reality, thanks to new research. Scientists have made a new proposal for overcoming a major obstacle to the development of such plastic devices -- the large amount of energy required to read stored information.
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:33:50 EDT
How kids' brain structures grow as memory develops
Our ability to store memories improves during childhood, associated with structural changes in the hippocampus and its connections with prefrontal and parietal cortices. New research is exploring how these brain regions develop at this crucial time. Eventually, that could give insights into disorders that typically emerge in the transition into and during adolescence and affect memory, such as schizophrenia and depression.
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:33:46 EDT
Mars: Meteorites yield clues to Red Planet's early atmosphere
Geologists analyzed 40 meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars to understand the history of the Martian atmosphere. Their new article shows the atmospheres of Mars and Earth diverged in important ways early in the solar system's 4.6 billion year evolution.
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:33:15 EDT
Eavesdropping on brain cell chatter
Everything we do -- all of our movements, thoughts and feelings -- are the result of neurons talking with one another, and recent studies have suggested that some of the conversations might not be all that private. Brain cells known as astrocytes may be listening in on, or even participating in, some of those discussions. But a new mouse study suggests that astrocytes might only be tuning in part of the time -- specifically, when the neurons get really excited about something.
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:33:07 EDT
Theoretical biophysics: Adventurous bacteria decide how to preserve species?
To reproduce or to conquer the world? Surprisingly, bacteria also face this problem. Theoretical biophysicists have now shown how these organisms should decide how best to preserve their species.
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:34:12 EDT
Quantum computing? Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation
Scientists have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. High-quality quantum switches are essential for the development of quantum computers and the quantum internet -- innovations that would offer vastly greater information processing power and speed than classical (digital) computers, as well as more secure information transmission.
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:33:43 EDT
Cancer drugs block dementia-linked brain inflammation, study finds
A class of drugs developed to treat immune-related conditions and cancer -- including one currently in clinical trials for glioblastoma and other tumors -- eliminates neural inflammation associated with dementia-linked diseases and brain injuries, according to researchers. In their study, the researchers discovered that the drugs, which can be delivered orally, eradicated microglia, the primary immune cells of the brain. These cells exacerbate many neural diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, as well as brain injury.
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