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Posted on Tuesday, July 02 - 2013

Incidents involving a fatal amoebic organism that dines on your brain are on the increase in the US.Known by it"s scientific name, Naegleria fowleri, the brain-eating amoebas are generally very rare but thanks to warmer temperatures seem to be experiencing a rise in numbers. Found in fresh water, the organisms can be inhaled by swimmers, making their way in to the brain of the victim and dining on their cerebral fluid. Invariablythis turns out to be fatal and to date there is no known effective treatment.While such cases are still extremely unusual, there is concern among experts that an increase in numbers of the organism could lead to a greater number of fatalities in the future.

"You could certainly say itís a concern of ours," said Jonathan Yoder of the CDC. "Weíre still trying to understand this." "Itís a fatal infection without an effective treatment, and one that strikes in a decidedlygruesome manner: An amoebic organism lurking in water is inadvertently inhaled during a swim on a hot summerís day."  

View: Full article |  Source: The Verge  

Views : 320

Posted on Sunday, June 23 - 2013

Scientists have discovered evidence that plants are capable of complex mathematical calculations.The startling revelation relates to the way in which plants carry out calculations each night in order to ration their stores of starch until the Sun comes up. To do this, they divide the amount of starch by the number of hours left until the morning, thus allowing them to avoid starvation. The find is the first known example of such calculations being conducted innature without the use of brain cells."The capacity to perform arithmetic calculation is vital for plant growth and productivity," said biologist Prof Alison Smith.

"The calculations are precise so that plants prevent starvation but also make the most efficient use of their food. If the starch store is used too fast, plants will starve and stop growing during the night. If the store is used too slowly, some of it will be wasted." "In order to keep themselves going in the absence of sunlight, plants performdivision equations throughout the night to ration their stores of starch until the moment the sun reappears."  

View: Full article |  Source: Telegraph  

Views : 328

Posted on Friday, June 14 - 2013

Wildfires beneath the jungle canopy are proving more destructive than human deforestation.Previously undetectable below the trees, the extent of the fires has only now been revealed thanks to a new satellite imaging technique. Unlike fires that sweep across the Amazon"s grassy areas, the "understory" wildfires can burn undetected and cause massive damage. Between 1999 and 2010 it is believed that33,000 square miles of forest was burned in this way, an area larger that the State of South Carolina."Amazon forests are quite vulnerable to fire, given the frequency of ignitions for deforestation and land management at the forest frontier, but we"ve never known the regional extent or frequency of these understory fires," said researcher Doug Morton.

"A new satellite imaging technique has allowed scientists to see Amazonian fires burningbeneath the jungle canopy, called "understory fires," which were previously difficult to detect."  

View: Full article |  Source: Live Science  

Views : 341

Posted on Friday, May 31 - 2013

With a global decline in pollinators, many plant species will either have to adapt or face extinction.The issue is of particular importance due to the potential for food shortages if certain types of crops are unable to be pollinated. Some flowering plants could adapt by either evolving a strategy to self-pollinate or to forge tighter bonds with the pollinators that do remain while othersthat fail on both counts could end up disappearing entirely."For (some) plant populations adaptation to pollinator decline could not be possible at all because of the lack of genetic variance," said researcher Pierre-Olivier Cheptou.

"We don"t know what proportion of flowering plants could indeed adapt to the loss of pollinators." "The global decline in pollinators - both wild and domesticated - has scientists wondering if plants willadapt or die -- and the fate of a lot of our food hangs in the balance."  

View: Full article |  Source: Discovery News  

Views : 284

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