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Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editors annetteboardman and Doctor RJ, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, health, energy, and the environment.

Between now and the end of the primary season, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having primary or special elections for federal or state office this year plus stories from all research universities in major cities having municipal elections as listed in the Green Papers or the 2014 Daily Kos Elections Calendar.  Tonight's edition features the research and outreach stories from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

This week's featured stories come from NOAA and The Weather Channel.

NOAA predicts near-normal or below-normal 2014 Atlantic hurricane season
El Niño expected to develop and suppress the number and intensity of tropical cyclones
May 22, 2014

In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season.

The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.

The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.  For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

NOAA predicts near-normal or above-normal Eastern Pacific hurricane season
May 22, 2014

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center announced today that a near-normal or above-normal hurricane season is likely for the Eastern Pacific this year. The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of a below normal season.

Seasonal hurricane forecasters are calling for a 70 percent chance of 14 to 20 named storms, which includes 7 to 11 hurricanes, of which 3 to 6 are expected to become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale).

An average Eastern Pacific hurricane season produces 15 named storms, with eight becoming hurricanes and four becoming major hurricanes. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 through Nov. 30, with peak activity from July through September.

Hurricane Amanda: 2014 Hurricane Season's First Named Storm in the Eastern Pacific

The first hurricane of the eastern Pacific hurricane season, Hurricane Amanda, formed Thursday afternoon as a tropical depression about 635 miles south-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, and is moving toward the west-northwest. A turn more toward the north is likely later this weekend into early next week. Other than a few minor islands well offshore such as Socorro Island, it is no threat to land.

Amanda became the season's first hurricane Saturday morning, as a period of rapid intensification began. By Saturday evening, Amanda reached major hurricane status with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. Major hurricanes are defined as those reaching at least Category 3 on the five-category Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

More stories after the jump.

Recent Science Diaries and Stories


Into the Wilds of a New Economic Paradigm
by lehman scott

Intelligent Life in the Galaxy – Are We Alone?
by liberaldad2

Spotlight on Green News & Views: anti-fracking blogathon wraps up, NextGen in the trenches
by Meteor Blades

The Daily Bucket - good news & bad news on a Caribbean coral reef
by OceanDiver

This week in science: bad moon rising
by DarkSyde


University of Texas: Texas Engineers Build World's Smallest, Fastest Nanomotor

Cockrell School of Engineering assistant professor Donglei (Emma) Fan and her mechanical engineering team have built the fastest, smallest nanomotor to date. The team's nanomotor could enable controlled drug delivery on the nanoscale. One day, nanomotors could power tiny devices that seek out and treat cancer cells inside the body.
Also read the press release Engineers Build World’s Smallest, Fastest Nanomotor.

Discovery News: There's A Dinosaur That Survived Mass Extinction!

As time goes on, we're learning more and more about dinosaurs. Last week, dinosaur fossils were discovered in South America, and it's believed that these dinosaurs died long after the great extinction! Join Tara as she discusses the Leikupal Laticauda and why this discovery is so significant.

NASA: This Week at NASA

The Morpheus prototype lander took to the skies above the Kennedy Space Center to test a suite of landing and hazard avoidance technology and self-navigate to a safe landing. Over in Hawaii, NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle, has completed final assembly and will be flown in an experimental flight test is planned for June. And, NASA is moving ahead with construction of the lander for the InSight mission to Mars where it will probe the Martian sub-surface. An ISS Science Forum took place Wednesday at Johnson Space Center, a Spacex Dragon Cargo craft departed the space station while a new expedition crew trains in Russia and students launch rockets that reach nearly 20,000 feet this week on This Week at NASA!

Science at NASA: ScienceCasts: El Niño - Is 2014 the New 1997?

The Jason-2 satellite sees something brewing in the Pacific. Researchers say it could be a significant El Niño with implications for global weather and climate.

JPL/NASA: Mars Weathercam Helps Find Big, New Crater

Scientists using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter found a fresh meteor-impact crater, and by golly it's big. It's the largest ever located anywhere by using before-and-after pictures. Using the initial pictures, scientists could nail down the time of impact to just 24 hours between March 27-28, 2012. Using the higher resolution cameras on MRO, scientists spotted not only the crater but possible landslides that occurred as a result of the impact. Deputy Project Scientist Leslie Tamppari explains.

JPL/NASA: LDSD: We Brake for Mars (Part 2)

In part 2, JPL engineer Mike Meacham explains how an inflatable decelerator will help larger spacecraft land on Mars. The device will be tested at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii in June, 2014.

JPL/NASA: #GlobalSelfie Photos of our Beautiful World

People from over 100 countries participated in NASA's #GlobalSelfie campaign on Earth Day, April 22, 2014, by sending photographs from some of the most beautiful spots on our planet. Here are a few.

JPL/NASA: Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2: NASA's New Carbon Sleuth

NASA's OCO-2 mission, scheduled to launch July 1 from Vandenberg AFB, California, will make precise measurements of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere. The orbiting observatory is NASA's first satellite mission dedicated to studying carbon dioxide, a critical component of Earth's carbon cycle that is the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth's climate. OCO-2 will provide a better understanding of the sources of carbon dioxide emissions and the natural processes that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and how they are changing over time.

Discovery News: Can Crowdfunding Save A Retired Satellite?

The International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 was launched in 1978, but was retired in 1997 by NASA. Now, NASA approved a crowdfunded plan to rescue this sun-orbiting satellite before we lose it forever! Trace explains why so many people are passionate about saving this retired satellite.


University of Arkansas: Earth Organisms Survive Under Martian Conditions
Methanogens sustain life under extremes of heat and cold
Monday, May 19, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – New research suggests that methanogens — among the simplest and oldest organisms on Earth — could survive on Mars.

Methanogens, microorganisms in the domain Archaea, use hydrogen as their energy source and carbon dioxide as their carbon source, to metabolize and produce methane, also known as natural gas. Methanogens live in swamps and marshes, but can also be found in the gut of cattle, termites and other herbivores as well as in dead and decaying matter.

Methanogens are anaerobic, so they they don’t require require oxygen. They don’t require organic nutrients and are non-photosynthetic, indicating they could exist in sub-surface environments and therefore are ideal candidates for life on Mars.


Oregon State University: Wristbands for Health
Citizen scientists can propose projects
By Nick Houtman
Posted on May 23rd, 2014

Pollutants can be undetectable to our senses, but an Oregon State researcher has come up with a simple way to monitor chemicals in the environment. A team led by Kim Anderson, professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences, has created a silicone wristband that absorbs chemicals in the air 24/7.

“The wristbands show us the broad range of chemicals we encounter but often don’t know about and may be harming us,” says Anderson. “Eventually, these bracelets may help us link possible health effects to chemicals in our environment.”

In a recent study with 30 volunteers at Oregon State, wristbands picked up nearly 50 compounds, including flame retardants, pesticides and pet flea medicines as well as personal care products.

Texas A&M: New technology may offer safe alternatives to BPA
by Holly Lambert
May 22, 2014

Researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center and Baylor College of Medicine have developed a new test that could offer a fast and cost-effective way to identify safe replacements for Bisphenonal A (more commonly known as BPA), a common endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) found in many household items. The findings appear in the current edition of Chemistry & Biology.

Numerous studies have linked exposure to BPA, a man-made synthetic compound used to make plastics and epoxy resins, with various health problems, from poor growth to cancer. Studies in young animals exposed to BPA have raised safety concerns about its use in infant bottles and toddler training cups, and the Federal Drug Administration is now supporting industry efforts to find alternatives for BPA. As a result, many new compounds, including Bispehnol A analogs (BPXs), are now used as substitutes. However, their effects on humans are not fully understood.

The team characterized how 18 different BPA analogs affect estrogen receptors, which are the primary targets of this class of chemicals. The studies were conducted using image analysis in different cell line models, with varying exposures to BPA analogs.


Oregon State University: Total Immersion
Diving the world’s waters in search of deeper knowledge
By Lee Sherman
Posted on May 23rd, 2014

In her white coat, safety goggles and latex gloves, Kerry McPhail looks every inch the medicinal chemist at work in her Oregon State University lab. Amidst dozens of molecular diagrams taped to dun-colored walls, the College of Pharmacy researcher grows colonies of microbes in petri dishes and then runs their extracts through the super-conducting magnet of an NMR spectrometer — a key step in analyzing the structures of natural compounds with potentially curative powers.

But lab work is only half of this researcher’s scientific persona. Before she can test them, she has to collect them.

That’s why McPhail periodically undergoes a superhero-like transformation, trading her staid white lab coat for a sleek black wetsuit, strapping on a mask, a scuba tank and a pair of bright-yellow fins. Then, tucking a mesh collection bag and a supply of 1-gallon Ziploc bags into her dive belt, she splashes into some of the planet’s most remote — and sometimes dangerous — waters to collect rare marine organisms. She once bloodied her knuckles on coral cliffs when currents pumped her through a cavernous reef in Panama. On another dive, this one off the coast of Saudi Arabia, she felt a rush of water pressure and glimpsed a big tail out of the corner of her eye. Breathing easy to relax, she was relieved to find herself staring into the curious eyes of a bottlenose dolphin (“like a dog wanting to play”). And in the surging seas of South Africa, she was horrified when she dropped a hard-won specimen. Against all odds she managed to recover the rare organism from the rocky reef, still zipped tightly into its plastic bag. These and the other precious marine organisms she collects around the world may hold the secrets to curing a small child’s brain cancer or a young mother’s malaria.

Penn State: Oil and gas development homogenizing core-forest bird communities
By Jeff Mulhollem
May 21, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Conventional oil and gas development in northern Pennsylvania altered bird communities, and the current massive build-out of shale-gas infrastructure may accelerate these changes, according to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

The commonwealth's Northern Tier -- one of the largest blocks of Eastern deciduous forest in the entire Appalachian region -- is an important breeding area for neotropical migrant songbirds. These diminutive, insect-eating creatures, which breed in Pennsylvania and winter in Central and South America, contribute greatly to the health of forests.

But they are being negatively affected in areas where there are high densities of shallow oil and gas wells, says Margaret Brittingham, professor of wildlife resources, who conducted a study of bird communities in the Allegheny National Forest.


American Society for Microbiology via PhysOrg: Microbes from 1,500-year-old feces support archeological theories
May 20, 2014

By evaluating the bacteria and fungi found in fossilized feces, microbiologists are providing evidence to help support archeologists' hypotheses regarding cultures living in the Caribbean over 1,500 years ago. They report their findings today at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

"Although fossilized feces (coprolites) have frequently been studied, they had never been used as tools to determine ethnicity and distinguish between two extinct cultures. By examining the DNA preserved in coprolites from two ancient indigenous cultures, our group was able to determine the bacterial and fungal populations present in each culture as well as their possible diets," says Jessica Rivera-Perez of the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, who presented the study.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

University of Kentucky: UK Study Underscores Benefits of Clinical Massage Therapy for Chronic Lower Back Pain
By Elizabeth Adams
May 22, 2014

Clinical massage therapy has alleviated chronic lower back pain (CLBP) in patients who participated in a recent University of Kentucky study of complementary therapies.

Researchers in the University of Kentucky Department of Family and Community Medicine recently completed a study pointing to real-world evidence that clinical massage therapy helps reduce symptoms in CLBP patients. The department partnered with 67 primary care providers (PCPs) and 26 massage therapists in urban and rural Central Kentucky to study provider decision-making for complementary treatments and short-term effects of clinical massage and progressive muscle relaxation therapies for CLBP patients.

Through the study, PCPs in five counties referred CLBP patients with point of service cards to community practicing, licensed massage therapists for clinical massage therapy or to a course of patient-administered progressive muscle relaxation therapy. All study therapies were provided to patients free-of-charge. Of the 100 participants in the study, 85 received clinical massage therapy, and 54 percent of those patients reported a clinically meaningful decrease of pain and overall disability.

University of Louisville: Preclinical research shows promise in eliminating second eye surgery
by UofL Today
last modified May 20, 2014 01:01 PM

Promising early preclinical research underway at the University of Louisville could lead to the elimination of a second surgery now commonly needed after retinal surgery.

Shlomit Schaal, MD, associate professor in the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences,nis working with Martin O’Toole, PhD, assistant professor, department of bioengineering, on the project, which is funded by the Coulter Translational Research Partnership at UofL.

The two are studying a new way for patients undergoing retinal surgery–known as “vitrectomy”–to avoid the need to have subsequent surgery to remove cataracts that commonly develop afterward.

Oregon State University: Poison in the Blood
New treatment could reduce deaths from a hidden killer
By David Stauth
Posted on May 23rd, 2014

They used to call it “blood poisoning,” and the term is still descriptive, if outdated.

Like a poison, it’s fast and often deadly. A modest infection suddenly turns into a whole-body inflammation complete with fever, flushed skin, swelling and hyperventilation. It can hit anyone from an infant to the elderly. It killed at least two U.S. presidents while they were still in office.

The modern term is “sepsis.” That word was actually coined by Hippocrates around 400 B.C. and meant “the process of decay.” As a syndrome leading to multiple organ failure, sepsis is clearly a type of decay. But it’s a pretty quick process, where every hour of delay in administering an antibiotic can raise the mortality rate by another 6 percent. Even with aggressive treatment, 28 to 50 percent of the people diagnosed with sepsis die from it.

“Sepsis is a hidden killer, the one nobody really talks about,” says Adam Higgins, a bioengineer at Oregon State University. “It kills more people in the U.S. every year than AIDS, prostate cancer and breast cancer combined, and you still don’t hear much about it.”

Oregon State University: Raising Spores
Scientists find fungal treasure and start the hunt for new antibiotics
By Nick Houtman
Posted on May 23rd, 2014

In our homes and gardens, fungi are often unwelcome visitors, evidence of plant disease or rot and decay in damp places. They show up as black spots on tomato plants, discolored leaves on zucchinis and scabs on apples. Despite the benefits of these microorganisms — they are nature’s master recyclers — we spray and prune to get rid of them.

But in Michael Freitag’s lab, scientists work hard to grow fungi. Student researchers feed fungal spores — the microscopic seeds of a new generation — with nutritious meals, swirl them gently in Erlenmeyer flasks, propagate fungal colonies in petri dishes and watch hopefully as stunning colors and curious shapes emerge. Freitag’s group has developed more than 400 strains of a species, Fusarium graminearum, that they keep preserved at a frosty  minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit. Each strain is cataloged with a unique “FMF” number, shorthand for “Fusarium Michael Freitag,” and logged in a database.

While known mostly as a pathogen of wheat, corn, barley and other cereal grains, this species turns out to be a treasure trove of potential new antibiotics and other natural compounds. In 2013, based on research conducted in part by undergraduates under the guidance of lab manager Lanelle Connolly, Freitag’s team announced that they had unlocked nearly 1,500 Fusarium genes, accounting for a large part, nearly 14 percent, of its total genome. In short, they have discovered a master switch that opens the door to new compounds with potential use in medicine, agriculture and industry.

Penn State: Pine bark substance could be potent melanoma drug
By Matthew Solovey
May 20, 2014

HERSHEY. Pa. -- A substance that comes from pine bark is a potential source for a new treatment of melanoma, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

Current melanoma drugs targeting single proteins can initially be effective, but resistance develops relatively quickly and the disease recurs. In those instances, resistance usually develops when the cancer cell's circuitry bypasses the protein that the drug acts on, or when the cell uses other pathways to avoid the point on which the drug acts.

"To a cancer cell, resistance is like a traffic problem in its circuitry," said Gavin Robertson, professor of pharmacology, pathology, dermatology, and surgery and director of the Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center. "Cancer cells see treatment with a single drug as a road closure and use a detour or other roads to bypass the closure."

University of Pittsburgh: Pitt Study Shows for First Time How Huntington’s Disease Protein Could Cause Death of Neurons

PITTSBURGH, May 18, 2014 – Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have identified for the first time a key molecular mechanism by which the abnormal protein found in Huntington’s disease can cause brain cell death. The results of these studies, published today in Nature Neuroscience, could one day lead to ways to prevent the progressive neurological deterioration that characterizes the condition.

Huntington’s disease patients inherit from a parent a gene that contains too many repeats of a certain DNA sequence, which results in the production of an abnormal form of a protein called huntingtin (HTT), explained senior investigator Robert Friedlander, M.D., UPMC Professor of Neurosurgery and Neurobiology and chair, Department of Neurological Surgery, Pitt School of Medicine. But until now, studies have not suggested how HTT could cause disease.

“This study connects the dots for the first time and shows how huntingtin can cause problems for the mitochondria that lead to the death of neurons,” Dr. Friedlander said. “If we can disrupt the pathway, we may be able to identify new treatments for this devastating disease.”

Texas A&M: The fungus among us: How engineered baker’s yeast may crack the code for new treatments
by Jeremiah McNichols
May 23, 2014

Vytas Bankaitis, Ph.D.Candida. Athlete’s foot. Aspergillosis. Black mold. From the pesky to the deadly, fungi and other eukaryotic parasites may get less press than viruses and bacteria, but they’re nothing to sneeze at. In part, their very real danger is due to how much we have in common with them. But thanks to a lab-engineered strain of simple baker’s yeast, researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine are optimistic about new strategies to cure human ailments caused by fungal pathogens.

“Fungi, as life forms, are more like us than bacteria are, and that poses treatment problems” said Vytas Bankaitis, Ph.D., a researcher in the college’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine. “These organisms are eukaryotes, as are humans, which means that they share structures like nuclei and mitochondria, and their biochemical architectures are very similar to ours. Because they’re less foreign, we can’t kill them as easily. Drugs directed against eukaryotic pathogens aren’t good at discriminating between the fungus and its host.”

Texas A&M: “Battle of the bulge” may be linked to body clock in immune cells
Researchers at Texas A&M have found unhealthy eating habits - especially late at night - can disrupt the body clock in immune cells and lead to the development of metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity.
by Holly Lambert
May 19, 2014

It’s all in the timing, according to Texas A&M researchers who have confirmed disruption of the internal biological clock plays a key role in the development of metabolic diseases, including obesity and diabetes. Their study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, suggests a high-fat diet alters the timing of our body clock, particularly in immune cells that are involved in mediating inflammation in obesity.

Our “body clock” is located in virtually all cells and controls circadian rhythms, 24-hour cycles that tell our bodies when to sleep and regulate many physiological processes, including inflammation and metabolism. When our circadian rhythms are disrupted, sleeping patterns and metabolism become unbalanced, notes study authors David Earnest, Ph.D., professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine’s Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics and Chaodong Wu, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. With combined interests in sleep cycles and nutrition, the duo has jointly explored effects of unhealthy eating on circadian rhythms for a number of years.

“Under normal conditions, circadian clocks help maintain the anti-inflammatory function of immune cells and keep metabolism functioning properly,” said Earnest. “With a high-fat diet, the circadian clock is dysregulated, which intensifies inflammation and fat deposition and leads to systemic insulin resistance and glucose intolerance.”


University of Arkansas: 'Bottom-Dollar Effect' Influences Consumer Satisfaction With Products, Study Finds
Research demonstrates satisfaction depends on time of purchase
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A new study by a marketing researcher at the University of Arkansas confirms the so-called “bottom-dollar effect,” which is when a consumer’s satisfaction for a product decreases as the consumer’s budget is exhausted.

The study by Robin Soster, assistant professor of marketing in the Sam M. Walton College of Business, demonstrated that consumers experience significant differences in satisfaction based solely on their budget status or financial condition at the time of purchase, rather than the quality of the product or how much it costs.

While the relationship between the pain of spending and satisfaction with the purchase has been tested in other ways, this research is the first to empirically link budgets, spending pain and satisfaction, as participants purchased, consumed and evaluated actual products.

Oregon State University: Cows Show Stress
Simulated wolf attacks produce trauma
By Nick Houtman
Posted on May 24th, 2014

The “ecology of fear” isn’t limited to wild animals. Livestock that have encountered wolves experience stress that may affect their health and productivity.

In experiments at Oregon State’s Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC) in Burns, cows were exposed to the sounds of howling wolves and to German shepherds prowling outside an enclosure. Those cows that had previously encountered wolves on the range showed higher levels of stress than those that had not had such encounters.

University of Pittsburgh: Rhythmic Bursts of Electrical Activity from Cells in Ear Teach Brain How To Hear, Says Pitt Team

PITTSBURGH, May 21, 2014 – A precise rhythm of electrical impulses transmitted from cells in the inner ear coaches the brain how to hear, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. They report the first evidence of this developmental process today in the online version of Neuron.

The ear generates spontaneous electrical activity to trigger a response in the brain before hearing actually begins, said senior investigator Karl Kandler, Ph.D., professor of otolaryngology and neurobiology, Pitt School of Medicine. These patterned bursts start at inner hair cells in the cochlea, which is part of the inner ear, and travel along the auditory nerve to the brain.

“It’s long been speculated that these impulses are intended to ‘wire’ the brain auditory centers,” he said. “Until now, however, no one has been able to provide experimental evidence to support this concept.”

University of Pittsburgh: Students Swayed by ‘Relaxing, Fun’ Image of Hookah Smoking Ignore Health Harms

PITTSBURGH, May 20, 2014 – Educational campaigns meant to dissuade college students from initiating hookah tobacco smoking may be more successful if they combat positive perceptions of hookah use as attractive and romantic, rather than focusing solely on the harmful components of hookah tobacco smoke, a new University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study found.

The research, supported by the National Cancer Institute, examined the sequence of events around which university students first smoke tobacco from a hookah, also known as a water pipe, in an effort to determine the driving factors behind the decision. It will be published in the June issue of the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research and is online now. Because hookah tobacco smoking exposes the user to substantial amounts of toxicants such as carbon monoxide, nicotine, carcinogens and tar, initiation of this behavior is of concern.

“It was surprising to learn that college students, even when they were aware of the health dangers associated with hookah tobacco smoking at baseline, still went on to use a hookah for the first time,” said lead author Jaime Sidani, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior research specialist in the Program for Research on Media and Health (PROMH) at Pitt. “However, students who had less positive attitudes toward hookah smoking were significantly less likely to initiate. This suggests that countering positive attitudes may be at least as effective as emphasizing harm in preventing initiation of hookah tobacco smoking.”


The Hindu Business Line (India): Once upon a time in Rakhigarhi
Priyanka Kotamraju

A 10-foot-wide lane separates the twin Haryana villages of Rakhi-khas and Rakhi-shahpur. “Well, it is nine feet in some parts and 11 in others but mostly it’s 10 feet,” observes Wazir Chand Saraooe, a retired schoolteacher with a proclivity for precision. The hamlets are among the most important sites of the Harappan civilisation outside Mohenjodaro. Clubbed together as Rakhigarhi by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the area has also emerged as the largest Harappan site, spread over 350 hectares at last count. A recently concluded excavation has also gathered more evidence to support the theory that the origins of the 5,000-year-old civilisation can be found here.

Asian Age (India): Remains of burnt ancient city found in Chandigarh
By Rabindra Nath Choudhury
May 23, 2014

Remnants of a burnt ancient city, believed to be dating back to 2nd century BC, have been found in an archaeological site in Tarighat, nearly 30 km from here. The “gutted settlement” reminds one the famed Roman city of Pompeii that got buried under 13-20 feet of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Science Network Western Australia: GIS technology verifies Caesar and Helvetii history
Written by  Geoff Vivian

AN INTERNATIONAL team is using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) modelling to assess Julius Caesar’s account of his war with a Celtic tribe.

According to Caesar, more than a quarter of a million Helvetii were settled in the Swiss plateau before they decided to abandon their territory and invade Gaul in 58 BCE.

In his Gallic Wars he says the Helvitii were running out of food.

UWA archaeologist Tom Whitley is developing a GIS model to test Caesar’s population estimate and is testing geophysical techniques to see if they can detect signs of the migration and war.

Polish Press Agency: Discovery of Polish scientists in a medieval monastery in Sudan

Dozens of previously unknown inscriptions and drawings on the wall of the church and adjoining largest so far identified Nubian sanitary complex of this period have been discovered by Polish scientists in al-Ghazali in northern Sudan.

This is the result of a three-month mission of Polish archaeologists and conservators, completed in March.

This year, archaeologists began excavations east of one of the two medieval churches. In many Byzantine sacral complexes, this was a burial site of the most accomplished members of the community.

Peruvian Times: Authorities Find Pre-Inca Site in Northern Piura Region
May 20, 2014 2:18 pm

Authorities in the north coast region of Piura say they have uncovered an important pre-Inca site that was built by the Tallan culture, according to news reports.

Western Digs: Ceremonial ‘Axis’ Road Discovered in Heart of Ancient City of Cahokia
Posted by Blake de Pastino on May 19, 2014

After more than 85 years of study and speculation, recent digs have confirmed the presence of a ceremonial road running through the heart of Cahokia, the largest prehistoric city north of Mexico, archaeologists report.

The broad, elevated road, known as a causeway, extends for at least a kilometer through the center of the ancient city, which is situated just east of modern-day St. Louis.

LiveScience via Huffington Post: 18th Century Artifacts Unearthed In Caribbean Linked To Spiritual Practices
by Owen Jarus

Archaeologists working on two small Caribbean islands have found artifacts intentionally buried beneath two 18th-century plantation houses.

They appear to have been placed there for their spiritual power, protecting the inhabitants against harm, said John Chenoweth, a professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, in an interview with Live Science.

SunLive (New Zealand): City’s first buildings unearthed

Historic remains of one of Tauranga City's earliest buildings – a bakery dating back to the 1870s – has been unearthed at Masonic Park on The Strand.

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga were called in to investigate after contractors working on the renovation project, next to The Pheonix, discovered historic artefacts on May 9.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Oregon State University: No Stone Unturned
Archaeologists on the trail of earliest Americans at Cooper’s Ferry
By Nick Houtman
Posted on May 22nd, 2014

It may have been late afternoon after the sun had set below the canyon rim on a cloudless summer day. Or early morning, as dew still clung to grasses by the fast-flowing stream. At this place along the lower Salmon River thousands of years ago, someone laid four stone projectile points side by side in a shallow pit. It’s likely that bones, stone tools and what archaeologists call “debitage” (stone chips and flakes) had been tossed in earlier. With hands probably calloused from a lifetime of pounding, carving and cutting with rock, this person covered the pit and topped it with round cobblestones to mark the spot.

We’ll never know who left those precious points. Was it a man or a woman? An artisan skilled in making razor-sharp blades from local rocks? Maybe a young hunter who was heading up the canyon in search of deer to feed his family.

It’s a good bet that someone planned to return and retrieve them. These people, whose ancestors may have migrated from Asia at the edge of an ice sheet or along a coastal waterway, needed such weapons to survive. Points made from local rocks —obsidian, chert, basalt — comprise the business end of darts most likely thrown with a device known as an “atlatl” (similar to the ball-throwing sticks some people use to exercise their dogs). But these four points, the result of hours of meticulous flaking and retouching, remained underground. Dust from the nearby plateau blew year by year through the steep-sided canyon and buried them ever deeper. Archaeologists think they remained there for more than 13,000 years until a graduate student dug them up in 1997. He found them at the bottom of a pit nearly 10 feet below the surface.

That student was Loren Davis, now an associate professor of anthropology at Oregon State University. With OSU students and other researchers, he has embarked on a journey to learn more about the people who made those artifacts.


Reuters: Little kiwi, huge extinct elephant bird were birds of a feather
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON Fri May 23, 2014 6:36am IST

They might be the odd couple of the bird world.

Scientists on Thursday identified the closest relative of New Zealand's famed kiwi, a shy chicken-sized flightless bird, as the elephant bird of Madagascar, a flightless giant that was 10 feet (3 meters) tall and went extinct a few centuries ago.

The surprising findings, based on DNA extracted from the bones of two elephant bird species, force a re-evaluation of the ancestry of the group of flightless birds called ratites that reside in the world's southern continents, they added.

The group, which boasts some of the world's largest birds, includes emus and cassowaries in Australia, rheas in South America, ostriches in Africa and kiwis in New Zealand. Ratites that have disappeared in recent centuries include the moa of New Zealand and the elephant bird.


Science Magazine: Prehistoric Trash May Have Protected Peru’s Coastline
Heather Pringle

In 1532, Francisco Pizarro led an expedition of battle-hardened Spanish soldiers on a fateful journey, from the desert coast of northern Peru to the highland Inca city of Cajamarca. A civil war had just ended in the Inca Empire, and Pizarro and a party of fewer than 200 men marched eastward to capitalize on the turmoil.

The ensuing Spanish conquest of the Inca had a profound effect on the region’s indigenous people, but a new paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that it also had an unexpected impact on the land itself. Before the Spaniards arrived, inhabitants of the arid northern Peruvian coast clad massive sand dune–like ridges with an accidental form of “armor”: millions of discarded mollusk shells, which protected the ridges from erosion for nearly 4700 years and produced a vast corrugated landscape that “is visible from space,” says archaeologist Dan Sandweiss of the University of Maine, Orono, one of the paper’s authors.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


Oregon State University: A Nuclear Bond
A Polish university partners with Oregon State to build clean-energy capacity
By Lee Sherman
Posted on May 23rd, 2014

Soon after the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown in Ukraine, nuclear energy in neighboring Poland ground to a halt. As the disaster and its aftermath fueled fears of fallout around the world, Poland’s first nuclear plant, then half-built, was scrapped. For the next three decades, Poland remained wedded to coal.

Now, that’s about to change.

In January, Poland revived its nuclear-energy ambitions when the government pledged to build two nuclear reactors, bringing the first one online as soon as 2024. Oregon State University is a partner in realizing Poland’s new nuclear energy initiative. Since 2010, OSU’s Department of Nuclear Engineering and the Warsaw University of Technology (WUT) have been exchanging faculty, students, computer power and expertise across the continents. A joint-degree program is in the works.

Temple University: Temple chemists develop a way to make lithium batteries safer, cheaper
May 21, 2014

Lithium ion batteries, central to powering most modern technology such as laptop computers, cell phones, hybrid vehicles and even solar-energy storage, are potentially dangerous—the liquid electrolytes used in the manufacturing of those batteries can be volatile.

Now, two Temple chemists have developed a way of creating a solid electrolyte that might reduce the battery’s volatility without decreasing its conductivity or increasing its costs.

Texas A&M: Working Smarter, Not Harder: Pragmatic Approaches to Biofuels
by Angel Futrell
May 18, 2014

What happens when the world runs out of petroleum fuel?

Petroleum fuels are a finite resource. Though there are differing opinions on when exactly these fuels will run out, there is no question that they will eventually be depleted. Thankfully, Dr. Sandun Fernando, an associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, is on a quest to extend the life of petroleum oils in the most economically and energy efficient ways possible.

Dr. Fernando and his lab are finding unconventional ways to turn biomass, such as trees and algae, into biofuels. These fuels are then compatible and even comparable to petroleum fuels like gasoline.


University of Oregon: UO physicist Majewski receives DOE Early Career Award

Stephanie A. Majewski, an experimental particle physicist at the University of Oregon, is among 35 U.S. scientists chosen to receive funding under the U.S. Department of Energy's Early Career Research Program.

Stephanie MajewskiThe now five-year-old program is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to select researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. This year's recipients come from 18 universities and 17 of the DOE's national laboratories.


Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory:Berkeley Lab Researchers Help Discover Rare Form of Iron Oxide in Ancient Chinese Pottery
Kate Greene
May 14, 2014

New analysis of ancient Jian wares reveals the distinctive pottery contains an unexpected and highly unusual form of iron oxide. This rare compound, called epsilon-phase iron oxide, was only recently discovered and characterized by scientists and so far has been extremely difficult to create with modern techniques.

“What is amazing is that the ‘perfect synthesis conditions’ for epsilon-phase iron oxide were encountered 1000 years ago by Chinese potters,” says Catherine Dejoie, scientist at Berkley Lab’s Advanced Light Source and ETH Zurich. The study, published May 13 in Scientific Reports, could lead to an easier, more reliable synthesis of epsilon-phase iron oxide, enabling better, cheaper magnetic materials including those used for data storage.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

University of Houston: UH Researchers Find Definitive Evidence of How Zeolites Grow
A Breakthrough Technique Allowed Them to Track Crystal Growth in Real Time
By Jeannie Kever
May 15, 2014

Researchers have found the first definitive evidence of how silicalite-1 (MFI type) zeolites grow, showing that growth is a concerted process involving both the attachment of nanoparticles and the addition of molecules.

Both processes appear to happen simultaneously, said Jeffrey Rimer, an engineering professor at the University of Houston and lead author of a paper published Thursday in the journal Science.

He said a second component to the research could have even more lasting impact. He and researcher Alexandra I. Lupulescu used a new technique allowing them to view zeolite surface growth in real time, a breakthrough Rimer said can be applied to other types of materials, as well.

Science Crime Scenes

Culture 24 (UK): Skeleton executed by sword blows to head poses questions on Norman Conquest
By Ben Miller
21 May 2014 | Updated: 22 May 2014

A brutally-murdered man, executed by six sword blows to the back of the skull during a vicious 11th century battle on hospital grounds in Sussex, is compelling archaeologists to reconsider Norman war burials after becoming the first ever skeleton to be related to the 1066 invasion.

Originally discovered during a dig at a former medieval hospital more than 20 years ago, the individual has been carbon dated to within 28 years of 1063.

Luxor Times Magazine on Blogspot: An attempt to smuggle antiquities inside a copy of Tut Ankh Amon's mask

Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of Antiquities said that the Ministry of Antiquities in cooperation with the customs at Express Mail Service in Attaba (Cairo) aborted am attempt to smuggle ancient Egyptian antiquities.

The mail service personnel noticed the heavy weight of a package were to be sent to Switzerland.

Agence France Presse via The Global Post: Trio buried alive hunting Paraguay treasure
Agence France-Presse
May 19, 2014 9:49pm May 19, 2014 9:49pm

Three men hunting for legendary treasure in Paraguay were trapped deep underground and assumed dead after the earth suddenly caved in around them, police said Monday.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Oregon State University: Private Eyes
Americans’ personal data are under scrutiny by government spy agencies, commercial search engines and a vast rabble of phishers, sniffers and black-hat hackers
By Lee Sherman
Posted on May 23rd, 2014

Just about every child has lain in the grass, looked up at the clouds and traced the shapes of lambs, castles and pirate ships. But these days, there’s a new kind of cloud, one made not of droplets but of data — one that conjures images far less benign than the “bows and flows of angel hair” Joni Mitchell sang about in a simpler age.

For this new cloud, the best imaginary shape might be a giant pair of eyes.

“In human history, there’s never been more surveillance of individuals by the state and by private corporations than there is today,” said Oregon State University historian Christopher McKnight Nichols in April when he appeared on National Public Radio’s Philosophy Talk.

University of Pittsburgh: Designing Defenses Against Cyberbullying
Pitt-led research team develops recommendations for countering cruel online behavior through better design features on social media sites
Research paper wins Microsoft Research’s Lee Dirks Best Paper Award at iConference 2014

May 20, 2014

PITTSBURGH—Social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be fertile ground for cruel and inappropriate online behavior among young people. Unlike traditional bullying in schoolyards or other public places, cyberbullying can happen at anytime and cruel messages can remain viewable for indeterminate amounts of time, leaving subjects of harassment and intimidation without refuge. Leanne BowlerLeanne Bowler

An information science research team, led by University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences Professor Leanne Bowler, has studied the issue of cyberbullying among adolescents and young adults—and developed seven recommendations for website design features that could mitigate online bullying behaviors.

A research paper on their work, titled “Developing Design Interventions for Cyberbullying: A Narrative-Based Participatory Approach,” was recently honored with Microsoft Research’s prestigious Lee Dirks Best Paper Award after Bowler’s team presented it at iConference 2014, an international gathering of information science professionals and scholars in Berlin, Germany, in March. Bowler’s collaborators are Pitt graduate student Eleanor Mattern and former Pitt faculty member Cory Knobel, an assistant adjunct professor of informatics at the University of California at Irvine.

Science, Space, Health, Environment, and Energy Policy

Philadelphia Inquirer: President's House still a soggy mess
By Stephan Salisbury, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: May 23, 2014

Nearly four years after its supposed completion, the President's House commemorative site on Independence Mall is so plagued with chronic leaks, water pooling, and moisture drenching the ruins of George Washington's and John Adams' executive mansion that Independence Park may have to cover the site to protect the archaeological remains.

While the memorial, at Sixth and Market Streets, is within the park's confines, the city managed its construction with the understanding that it would turn over a finished, functioning President's House to the park's care.

That day has never come.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Penn State: Study: U.S. defense industry must adjust strategy for coming decade
By Victoria Fryer
May 21, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Looming changes to the U.S. defense landscape may call for adjustments in product development, operations and global strategy, according to Terrence Guay, clinical professor of international business at the Penn State Smeal College of Business.

In a recent analysis for The CIP (Center for Infrastructure Protection) Report, Guay outlined three primary factors precipitating that shift: imminent U.S. defense budget cuts, a U.S. military transition from traditional weaponry to technological dominance and continued changes in the global arms market.

Science Education

Eastern Daily Press (UK): What links the Norfolk Broads with the land of the pharaohs?
Mark Nicholls

Ancient scarabs and amulets will go on show at a famed Norfolk Broads residence next Saturday. Mark Nicholls explores the link between Egyptian artefacts and the historic property.

The cooling breeze drifting aboard the dabeayah as it sailed south along the River Nile to Luxor must have come as a welcome relief from the intensity of the Egyptian sun.

Aboard the private vessel admiring the view with his daughters Helen and Ethel, was Norwich mustard king Jeremiah Colman. A third daughter, Florence, focused her camera and recorded the adventure.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

University of Georgia: UGA team places third in national weather forecasting competition
May 20, 2014

Athens, Ga. - A team of students in the University of Georgia's atmospheric sciences program recently placed third overall in the 2014 WxChallenge competition, an online weather forecasting competition for students, faculty and alumni of collegiate atmospheric science programs.

UGA's final standings—just behind first- and second-place winners Penn State University and the University at Albany, State University of New York—placed them among several universities that lead the nation in the atmospheric sciences. The UGA team ranked just above the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

"Our WxChallenge team has placed in the top five in the nation in four out of the past six years," said associate professor John Knox, who serves as the team manager. "I think this level of performance reflects the high quality of our students and our atmospheric sciences curriculum at UGA—and our students' dedication to improving their ability to forecast the weather."

University of Oregon: UO museum invites visitors to 'Explore Oregon'

The University of Oregon's Museum of Natural and Cultural History (MNCH) is set to open "Explore Oregon" and welcome the public to the new 2,755-square-foot exhibition hall devoted to the state's natural history and geology.

Climate change portion of the Explore Oregon exhibition The grand-opening celebration kicks off with a public reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, May 30, and continues with an open-house celebration from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, May 31–June 1. Both events are free and will take place at the museum, 1680 E. 15th Ave.

The "Explore Oregon" exhibition combines cutting-edge scientific displays with works of art that bring Oregon's deep past to life. The "Explore Oregon" hall, which doubles the museum's public exhibition space, represents a major expansion of the museum's natural history offerings and complements its longstanding focus on the state's cultural history.

Oregon State University: Big Data Crunch
The demand for data analysts is exploding
By Sastry Pantula
Posted on May 23rd, 2014

1.9 billion. That’s the number of results turned up by a Google search on the term “big data.”

However you measure it — in gigabytes, search results or truckloads — the data deluge is growing every minute. It comes at us nonstop in statistics, pictures, texts, videos, tweets, clicks and posts. Understanding what big data is, how it is transforming the world and what to do with it is essential for tomorrow’s leaders. Those with expertise in analyzing large datasets will drive advances in productivity, innovation and global collaboration.

So what exactly is big data? The more accurate term might be “bigger data.” We’ve been analyzing data for years. It’s the speed, variety and volume that are novel. In our digital world, data are no longer contained in databases. They’re generated instantly every time we make a purchase, click “like” on Facebook or make a phone call.

Portland State University: Starting young with a love of healthy fish
Author: Christina Williams
Posted: May 23, 2014

“Who’s had salmon before?” Portland State community health researcher Betty Izumi asks her small and wiggly audience.

One toddler arm is raised, another is tentative, a third looks at his toes.

“Who knows where salmon comes from?” Izumi poses.

“’Laska!” comes the confident reply.

The 3-year-old student at PSU’s Helen Gordon Child Development Center is a well-informed pioneer. She and her classmates are the first to be studying salmon in a curriculum for pre-schoolers developed by Izumi’s Harvest for Healthy Kids program.

Penn State: Medical students may benefit from social media guidance
By Cara Karper
May 22, 2014

HERSHEY, Pa. -- Medical students use social media extensively, but medical schools may need to offer more guidance in potential pitfalls, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

"We assessed how medical students engage with social media platforms like Facebook and found that they have a pretty sophisticated understanding of its risks and benefits," said Daniel R. George, assistant professor of humanities. He and Dr. Michael J. Green, professor of humanities, conducted two studies that report findings from a survey of 2,109 medical students nationwide.

In the first study, researchers asked students how they and their peers would and should respond to eight hypothetical scenarios involving Facebook. The scenarios focused on ethical issues including privacy, the patient-doctor relationship and relationships with peers.
In the second study, published in BMJ Postgraduate Medical Journal, the researchers examined what students believe about the ways residency programs use Facebook in their admission processes.

Science is Cool

The Art Newspaper: Prehistoric hunting scenes unearthed in Spanish cave
Threat of vandalism puts ancient paintings at risk
By Belén Palanco. Web only
Published online: 23 May 2014

A series of hunting scenes dating from 7,000 years ago have been found by archaeologists on the six-metre long wall of a small cave in the region of Vilafranca in Castellón, eastern Spain—but it is being kept a secret for now.

A layer of dust and dirt covered ten figures, including bulls, two archers and a goat. The murals were exposed to harsh weather but the paintings pigments have not seriously deteriorated.

Cambridge University (UK): Discovering the artists of the Eastern Sahara

The identification of rock art found in Farafra as Neolithic adds substance to the argument that Egypt drew on cultural influences from Africa as well as the Near East.  At a talk tonight (19 May, 2014) archaeologist Dr Giulio Lucarini will talk about his fieldwork in the Egyptian Western Desert and show images of newly-identified Neolithic drawings to a public audience for the first time.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Oregon State University: Designing Engineers
Rapid prototyping by computer could speed product development
By Nick Houtman
Posted on May 23rd, 2014

What if the Wright Brothers had tested their flying machine on a computer before launching it on a North Carolina beach? They could have drastically shortened the time from idea to working prototype.

As part of a $320 million U.S. government initiative, researchers in Oregon State’s Design Engineering Laboratory will apply the time-saving benefits of computer design and testing to new manufacturing products and processes.

“In design, the idea is to fail early and often, so that we succeed sooner,” says Matt Campbell, professor of mechanical engineering and a leader in the initiative. “Our digital tools will predict performance and where failure will occur, and reduce or eliminate the need for costly prototypes. Then we’ll use 3-D printers and other tools to automate and streamline actual manufacturing.”

Originally posted to Overnight News Digest on Sat May 24, 2014 at 09:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos and SciTech.

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