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      July 20, 2011Fitness

      Lowered Male Fertility Linked to Common Genetic Mutation

      Sperm face steep odds when set free to fertilize an egg. A slightly faulty tail, a miscalibrated electrical charge on their cell membrane or some other subtle defect can keep these genetic couriers from becoming the lucky, lone swimmer that sires offspring.And now it seems that a surprisingly common genetic mutation might decrease a man's chances of having viable sperm even further...
      February 1, 2012Evolution

      Elegance of Spider Webs Helps Make Them Strong

      Spiders' silk has been the envy of materials engineers for decades. Its combination of flexibility and durability has been difficult to match with even the most advanced technology."It is stronger than steel and tougher than Kevlar by weight," Markus Buehler, an engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a prepared statement.A new study by Buehler and his colleagues, published online Wednesday in Nature , is the first to use computer modeling to demonstrate how the molecular components and structures of the silk contribute to the astounding strength of spiders' web designs ( Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group)...
      February 20, 2012Health

      Hepatitis C Now Killing More Americans Than HIV

      The number of people who die from HIV-related causes each year in the U.S. is now down to about 12,700—from a peak of more than 50,000 in the mid-1990s—thanks to condom education and distribution campaigns, increased testing and improved treatments...
      February 21, 2012Evolution

      Staph Turns into Drug-Resistant Superbug on Farms

      Scary antibiotic-resistant infections aren't just lurking in the hospital anymore. They're in gyms, at the beach, and increasingly, on the farm.One strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) known as CC398 has been rapidly spreading through poultry and pig farms, infecting people who work with the animals around the world (up to 26.5 percent of farm workers sampled in the Neatherlands), and popping up in nearly half of all meat sampled in the U.S...
      April 17, 2012Health

      Helicopters Save Lives for Serious Trauma Victims

      A medical emergency helicopter can swoop down to pick up a trauma victim and often deliver him or her to a hospital much faster than a road-bound ambulance can.
      September 27, 2012Environment

      Silk-Based Electronics Dissolve on Cue for Vanishing Medical Implants

      Imagine an electronic medical implant that, like dissolvable stitches, could disintegrate after it is no longer needed. An innovative combination of silk and silicon have now been used to create just such ephemeral but effective devices, including diodes, transistors, mini heaters and stress sensors.A flexible device that is just nanometers thick can fight post-surgical infections or even capture images—until its work is done, when it vanishes right on cue...
      August 21, 2012Evolution

      Octopuses Gain Consciousness (According to Scientists' Declaration)

      Elephants cooperate to solve problems. Chimpanzees teach youngsters to make tools. Even octopuses seem to be able to plan. So should we humans really be surprised that "consciousness" probably does not only exist in us?This privileged state of subjective awareness in fact goes well beyond Homo sapiens , according to the new Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness (pdf), which was signed last month by a group of cognitive neuroscientists, computational neuroscientists, neuroanatomists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists who attended the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals at Cambridge University in the U.K."The weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness," the scientists wrote...
      March 27, 2013Evolution

      Unusual Octopods Elude Science: The Case of the Football Octopus

      Shallow-water octopuses can be difficult enough to find. They camouflage against corals, hide in holes and generally make themselves scarce. But researchers can at least attempt to observe and collect them by snorkeling, diving or skimming nets and bottom trawls.The rest of the vast, dark ocean, however, presents a much larger sampling challenge...
      November 15, 2012Health

      Print It: 3-D Bio-Printing Makes Better Regenerative Implants

      Desktop 3-D printers can already pump out a toy trinket, gear set or even parts to make another printer. Medical researchers are also taking advantage of this accelerating technology to expand their options for regenerative medicine...
      December 20, 2012Health

      Shootings May Threaten Global Polio Eradication Effort

      The deaths this week of nine polio vaccine workers in Pakistan at the hands of gunmen indicate a threat not only to workers but also to the effort to eradicate the disease—locally and globally.Earlier this year, the international push to eradicate the crippling—and sometimes deadly—childhood disease from its final holdouts (Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan) was still in full force...
      May 12, 2013Evolution

      Unusual Offshore Octopods: More (Octopus) Suckers Born Every Minute in Cold Water

      That octopuses can survive in the extreme, sunless environments around deep hydrothermal vents is surprising enough. But comparing octopuses that make their homes there has led to some even more interesting discoveries about animal development.The rarely seen Muusoctopus hydrothermalis live some 2,495 to 2,620 meters below the surface, along the East Pacific Rise...
      May 18, 2013Evolution

      Unusual Offshore Octopods: The See-Through "Glass" Octopus [Video]

      Octopuses that live in the deep open ocean are difficult enough to find. But try locating a "glass" octopus, which is nearly transparent. Floating in the dim midwaters, this gelatinous octopod looks almost like a be-suckered jellyfish.Rather than camouflaging like most known octopus species, the Vitreledonella richardi has taken this alternative approach to hide from potential predators—and perhaps from prey as well...
      April 26, 2013Evolution

      Unusual Offshore Octopods: The `Dumbo' Octopus Swims with Fins [Video]

      Down in the dark depths of the deep ocean live more than a dozen species of "Dumbo" octopuses.These octopods from the genus Grimpoteuthis are so named for their prominent, unusual earlike fins that they use to help them swim (reminiscent of the Disney elephant character who used his ears to fly)...
      November 2, 2011Environment

      Income and Health Inequalities Cut U.S.'s High Marks for Development

      If global development were a horse race, would you put your money on the slow-and-steady contenders or a fast new contender? With this year's results just in, the old stalwart Scandinavian countries are still in the lead, according to the 2011 United Nations' Human Development Index, published Wednesday...
      December 9, 2011Health

      Paul Farmer's Prescription for Restoring Health in Haiti-and Beyond

      PHILADELPHIA—Paul Farmer is used to uphill battles. After decades working to fight HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in impoverished areas of Haiti, the seemingly tireless doctor and anthropologist is now struggling to reassemble a health strategy for the country after last year's earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak.For Farmer, co-founder of the nonprofit organization Partners In Health (and the subject of Tracy Kidder's book Mountains beyond Mountains ), the key is to rebuild primary health clinics—not just create treatment centers, Farmer said this week at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's annual meeting here...
      December 22, 2011Health

      Journal Retracts Paper that Linked Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to Retrovirus

      A recent research paper that linked a retrovirus to chronic fatigue syndrome was fully retracted Thursday, following more than a year of growing doubts and incremental backpeddling by researchers and journals alike.Subsequent studies by others and even retests by the original research team (led by Vincent Lombardi, of the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno) failed to replicate the finding, published in October 2009 in Science , which had pointed to the presence of XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus–related virus) in blood samples from patients.The validity of linking XMRV to chronic fatigue syndrome first attracted controversy less than a year after the paper's publication...
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