June 21, 2018

STEM News-5th March

Long term stress erodes memory

Sustained stress — such as that experienced in bad marriages or when working for a beastly boss — erodes memory, and the immune system plays a key role, according to a new study.

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Clouds seen on Pluto for the first time

Images released publicly (see bottom image) by the New Horizons team have already shown off Pluto’s surprisingly complex atmosphere, featuring many layers of haze rising above icy mountains. But in emails and images seen byNew Scientist, researchers on the mission discuss the possibility that they have spotted individual clouds, pointing to an even richer atmospheric diversity.

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Water-splitting reaction with 100 percent efficiency

If scientists could find a way to cheaply and easily split water into its molecular parts, it would give us access to an incredibly clean and renewable energy source – hydrogen fuel. When burnt with oxygen, hydrogen fuel produces no emissions, and in theory, it’s simple enough to produce – you just take water and run an electrical current through it to produce hydrogen and oxygen. But at the moment, this process uses up so much electricity to make, it’s not exactly feasible.

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Ghanaian PhD candidate wins top UK prize

A Ghanaian postgraduate student, Justice Moses Aheto, has won a top UK prize for his work on child malnutrition in Ghana.

Mr Aheto is a PhD Candidate in Medicine with the CHICAS research group (Combining Health Information, Computation and Statistics) at Lancaster Medical School in the UK.

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A blind woman has regained her sight following a controversial treatment

Vanna Belton from Baltimore has been blind for more than five years, but after undergoing surgery where stem cells extracted from her bone marrow were injected into her right eye’s retina and left eye’s optic nerve, she has regained some of her sight.

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Individual differences in the brain affect mental ability

Everyone has a different mixture of personality traits: some are outgoing, some are tough and some are anxious. A new study suggests that brains also have different traits that affect both anatomical and cognitive factors, such as intelligence and memory.

The results are published in the journal NeuroImage.

“A major focus of research in cognitive neuroscience is understanding how intelligence is shaped by individual differences in brain structure and function,” said study leader Aron K. Barbey, University of Illinois neuroscience professor and Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology affiliate.

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The hardest language to whisper in

The technical process of how we whisper can actually be more difficult, depending on what language we’re doing it in. When we whisper we only use our breath, rather than the vocal cords and problems generally arise when we have to voice the language, especially when we rely on intonation for meaning.

That means Mandarin Chinese, with its many tonal contrasts, is one of the most difficult languages to understand when whispered.

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Super-rare ‘dragon eggs’ are about to hatch

A rare amphibian is fiercely guarding a clutch of around 50-60 eggs in a water-logged cave near Postojna in southwestern Slovenia, and biologists are nervously anticipating babies.

Nicknamed dragons because of their long, serpentine bodies, olms are a species of blind, aquatic salamanders that eat, sleep, and breed entirely underwater. Despite having a lifespan of around 100 years, olms only lay eggs once or twice a decade, making what’s about to happen a very, very special event.

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