5 New Species of 'Shimmering' Goblin Spider Discovered
Five new species of tiny, shimmering spiders have been discovered in Madagascar, according to a new study. In the study, researchers looked at 326 spider specimens they had previously collected in Madagascar over the course of a few years. "It is a remarkable discovery — a genus comprising a number of species previously unknown to science, unknown to the world," said study author Charles E. Griswold, curator of arachnology at California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. One of the features that distinguishes the members of the new genus from other goblin spiders is the glistening appearance of their miniscule abdomens.
New Peanut Allergy Treatment Shows Promise
Children with peanut allergies who tried a new treatment involving probiotics wound up being able to eat peanuts without suffering an allergic reaction, a new study from Australia says. However, there is reason to be cautious about the study's results, said Dr. Donald Leung, head of pediatric allergy and immunology at National Jewish Health hospital in Denver, who was not involved in the study. In the study, about 30 children under age 10 with a peanut allergy were given increasing amounts of peanut protein along with a dose of probiotics (or "good" bacteria) each day, over the course of 18 months. A second group of 30 children with the same allergies received a placebo (or "dummy pills") for 18 months, although doctors and patients involved in the study did not know which children received which treatment.
Eye-Tracking Tech Could Detect Concussions in Football Players
New eye-tracking technology could help doctors measure the severity of concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which are sometimes difficult to diagnose, researchers say. A team of scientists used the eye-tracking device on both people with brain injuries and healthy people, to measure whether the eyes moved in sync with each other. Many researchers are trying to find a better way to diagnose brain injuries, said Dr. Uzma Samadani, a neurosurgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Doctors have used electroencephalography, or EEG, to diagnose brain injuries for 40 to 50 years, Samadani told Live Science.
Could Super Bowl Outcome Be Influenced By Biological Clocks?
Football fans, take note: The outcome of this weekend's Super Bowl, along with other major sporting events, may depend on whether the players are night owls or early birds, a new study suggests. "Even 1 percent makes the difference between winning a race and losing it," said Roland Brandstaetter, a biologist at the University of Birmingham in England and co-author of the study published today (Jan. 29) in the journal Current Biology. The findings could have big implications for the timing of major sporting events, and how athletes train for them, the researchers said. Previous studies have always found that athletes perform their personal best in the evening, but nobody considered body-clock types properly, Brandstaetter told Live Science.
UK to launch 100,000 genomes project as Obama backs DNA drive
By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Gene research is getting a boost on both sides of the Atlantic, with scientists in England set to launch a project on Feb. 2 to analyze 100,000 entire human genomes and U.S. President Barack Obama backing a big new DNA data drive. Obama will announce the U.S. plan to analyze genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers on Friday as a central part of an initiative to promote so-called precision medicine, officials said. The 100,000 genomes project in England, meanwhile, was first unveiled by the British government two years ago -- but the 11 centers charged with collecting samples will only begin full-scale recruitment from next week. Such large-scale genomic research has become possible because the cost of genome sequencing has plummeted in recent years to around $1,000 per genome.
Asteroid Miners May Get Help from Metal-Munching Microbes
Asteroid mining may become a multispecies affair. The asteroid-mining firm Deep Space Industries (DSI) is investigating the feasibility of injecting bioengineered microbes into space rocks far from Earth, to get a jump on processing their valuable resources. "You could come back [to the asteroids] in 10 to 20 years and have a preprocessed pile of materials," Joseph Grace, of DSI and NASA's Ames Research Center, told Space.com last month at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco. Over time, the microbes — genetically engineered to process metals efficiently — would break down harmful compounds within the asteroid and/or transform resources into different chemical states that are more amenable to extraction.
U.S. proposes effort to analyze DNA from 1 million people
By Toni Clarke and Sharon Begley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers as part of a new initiative to understand human disease and develop medicines targeted to an individual's genetic make-up. At the heart of the initiative, to be announced on Friday by President Barack Obama, is the creation of a pool of people - healthy and ill, men and women, old and young - who would be studied to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. The near-term goal is to create more and better treatments for cancer, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.
Poll shows giant gap between what public, scientists think
WASHINGTON (AP) — The American public and U.S. scientists are light-years apart on science issues. And 98 percent of surveyed scientists say it's a problem that we don't know what they're talking about.
Poll finds gaping chasm in views between U.S. public, scientists
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American scientists and the general public hold vastly different views on key scientific issues including the role of people in causing climate change, the safety of genetically modified food, and evolution, a poll released on Thursday showed. Eighty-seven percent of scientists questioned by the Pew Research Center said human activity was the main cause of global climate change, compared with 50 percent of the public. The issue has become increasing divisive, with some leading conservatives expressing doubt that human activity like the burning of fossils fuels that release greenhouse gases is driving a global warming trend. There was an even bigger chasm over genetically modified foods, with 88 percent of the scientists saying they were safe to eat, compared with 37 percent of the public.
Scientist-Artist Ed Belbruno Stars in Award-Winning Film
This story is a central part of the new documentary, and it's a good example of the ways that art and science intertwine in Belbruno's life – a life that is both unexpected and sometimes unexplainable. Director Jacob Okada, along with producers Adam Morrow and Carylanna Taylor, say they are planning a public release of the film in April. "Painting the Way to the Moon" features interviews with leading astrophysicists who speak highly of Ed Belbruno's scientific work on ballistic orbits (meaning those that use only gravity, rather than fuel, to move around the solar system). From 1985 to 1990, Ed Belbruno was a mathematician working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).