Science briefs: Great apes have midlfe crises, too

November 24, 2012, 06:53 PM

At middle age, a great ape will neither cheat on a spouse nor buy a red sports car on impulse. But researchers have found that chimpanzees and orangutans experience midlife crises just as humans do.

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Cosmic fatigue: Few stars born

November 24, 2012, 04:29 PM

It's evening in the universe. The stars we have are dying, and we're not making new ones the way we used to. A group of British and U.S. astronomers reported that the birthrate of stars in the universe has declined over the last 11 billion years. The universe is only producing stars one-thirtieth as fast as it was at its peak in the lusty primordial days when protogalaxies were colliding and merging, popping with blazing bright new stars.

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Health notes: Doubt on soy and fiber for treating menopause woes

November 17, 2012, 04:11 PM

Many women add soy and fiber to their diet in hopes of preventing the vasomotor symptoms of menopause -- hot flashes and night sweats. But a new study suggests it probably does not help. Researchers studied 1,651 women who had not had a period in three months but had not yet had any vasomotor symptoms. They followed them for 10 years, collecting dietary information and recording instances of hot flashes and night sweats.

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Mind's eye can learn to see, study finds

By MELISSA HEALY November 17, 2012, 04:10 PM

Research challenges the longstanding belief that the brain's adaptability is limited by early conditions.

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A prickly sort for certain

November 17, 2012, 04:10 PM

Scientists in Alberta have identified a new type of horned dinosaur that looked like triceratops but lived 15 million years earlier. Called xenoceratops foremostensis, it was a 2-ton vegetarian that flourished 80 million years ago, making it the oldest known large-bodied horned dinosaur to be found in Canada. Fossils of xenoceratops were first collected in 1958, but were left unidentified at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. Scientists working on a larger project, the Southern Alberta Dinosaur Project, have identified about 10 new dinosaurs, including xenoceratops.

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Did the Mayans rise and fall with climate change?

By MONTE MORIN November 17, 2012, 04:08 PM

New research suggests large-scale climate change doomed the ancient civilization.

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On your health: Statins may reduce risk of cancer death

November 10, 2012, 06:54 PM

If you take statins to lower your cholesterol, you may also be lowering your risk of death from cancer, new research suggests.

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Scientists detect starlight from first stars in the universe

November 10, 2012, 03:56 PM

Ancient starlight, emitted by the first stars in the universe, has been detected using the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

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Did humans turn Sandy into a superstorm?

By JUSTIN GILLIS November 03, 2012, 04:50 PM

Sandy may be taste of trouble to come amid climate change, scientists warn

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Report five years ago warned of coastal flooding

November 03, 2012, 04:44 PM

Five years ago, a report called "Nation Under Siege" illustrated the vulnerability of 31 U.S. coastal cities to flooding. But not just to any kind of flooding -- to the flooding of a permanent kind from sea level rise.

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Science briefs: Reheads at higher melanoma risk?

November 03, 2012, 04:35 PM

Doctors have long urged people with red hair and fair skin to avoid the sun's ultraviolet rays. Now, a study suggests that those with ginger hair and fair complexions face an elevated risk of the disease -- even when covered up. The study, published online in the journal Nature, suggests that pheomelanin -- the reddish-yellow pigment that gives rise to rusty locks and an inability to tan -- is itself a potential trigger in the development of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Researchers discovered that redheaded mice showed almost three times as much damage due to oxidative stress than darker haired mice, leading authors to conclude that pheomelanin itself was the culprit. Evolutionary biologists say that humans evolved fair skin as they migrated to high northern latitudes, where light was less abundant in winter. By having more pheomelanin, fairer-skinned humans were better able to synthesize vitamin D, a process that's activated by sunlight. This function is so important that the trait survived despite the increased cancer risk that comes with it.

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Climate change and storms

November 03, 2012, 04:33 PM

With every degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature, the atmosphere can hold 4 percent more moisture. As a result, Sandy was able to pull in more moisture, fueling a stronger storm and magnifying the amount of rainfall by as much as 5 to 10 percent compared with conditions more than 40 years ago, said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a federally funded research and development center. Coupled with higher sea levels -- since 1992, satellites have observed a 2.25-inch rise -- that means more water to surge onshore and penetrate farther. "That may not sound like a lot," he said. But "a small increase in sea level can actually make a big difference."

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Artificial cave a safe haven for bats

By STEPHEN ORNES October 30, 2012, 08:55 PM

A disease that has killed millions of bats and confounded scientists led to this solution in Tennessee.

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Alma, the all-seeing telescope

October 27, 2012, 06:17 PM

Earth's largest radio telescope is growing more powerful by the day on Llano de Chajnantor, a plateau high above Chile's Atacama desert, where visitors often feel like they're planting the first human footprints on the red crust of Mars.

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Breast tissue density sparks debate

October 27, 2012, 04:05 PM

In a move that has irked medical groups and delighted patient advocates, states have begun passing laws requiring clinics that perform mammograms to tell patients whether they have something that many women have never even heard of: dense breast tissue.

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Scientists go Gaga over new ferns

October 27, 2012, 04:01 PM

She boasts a closetful of Emmy, Grammy and MTV music awards, but Lady Gaga just collected a more scientific honor: 19 species of ferns were named in her honor.

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Brain has area solely devoted to being able to recognize faces

October 27, 2012, 03:38 PM

The ability to recognize faces is so important in humans that the brain appears to have an area solely devoted to the task: the fusiform gyrus.

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A planet a lot like Earth

October 20, 2012, 06:54 PM

Surprising discovery is in solar system right next door

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Kennewick Man died during visit

By KIM MURPHY October 20, 2012, 05:15 PM

The long-running detective saga involving one of North America's earliest inhabitants has taken a new twist, with the discovery that Kennewick Man -- the shockingly intact 9,300-year-old skeleton unearthed in 1996 on the banks of the Columbia River -- probably was a visitor to central Washington, not a longtime resident.

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Science notes: Hospitals ditching formula samples

October 20, 2012, 05:11 PM

For years, virtually every new mother has been sent home from the hospital with a gift bag full of free product samples, including infant formula. Now health authorities and breast-feeding advocates are leading a nationwide effort to ban formula samples, saying they can sway women away from breast-feeding. As of 2011, nearly half of about 2,600 hospitals in a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had stopped giving formula samples to breast-feeding mothers, up from a quarter in 2007. Recently, 24 hospitals in Oklahoma agreed to a ban. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, all hospitals stopped free samples. There's no question that breast-feeding had health benefits, experts say. But do samples tempt mothers who could breast-feed exclusively for the recommended six months to use formula when they're exhausted or discouraged? Studies have had mixed results. People on either side of the sample issue agree that hospitals should support breast-feeding in many ways.

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