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March 21 2015

Why Spring Gets About 30 Seconds Shorter Every Year


Spring arrives on Friday, and you might want to make the most of it. The season of flowers and showers actually gets shorter every year by about 30 seconds to a minute, due to astronomical quirks, researchers say.

This year, spring officially starts at 6:45 p.m. EDT on March 20, according to the U.S. National Weather Service (NSW). At that exact moment, which is called the vernal equinox, the Earth's axis will reach a halfway mark, where it points neither toward the sun (as it does on the summer solstice) nor away from the sun (as it does on the winter solstice), said Gavin Schmidt, the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.

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March 21 2015

Growing nickel from trees


Phytomining is a method for literally ‘farming’ metals by growing hyperaccumulator plants and then harvesting the biomass rich in a particular metal. The potential for phytomining is greatest for nickel because of the occurrence of vast areas of ultramafic soils that are naturally enriched in nickel and occur around the world, and also because there are a number of potentially suitable hyperaccumulator species to be used as ‘metal crops’.


Related: Amazon's trees removed nearly a third less carbon in last decade – study

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March 21 2015

Plants Thrive in Psychedelic, Underground Farms


When it comes to the future of farming, could sun and dirt become a thing of the past?

Scientists at the Dutch firm PlantLab are developing agricultural methods that allow plants to flourish in boxes underground rather than in open fields. The psychedelic hydroponic conditions consume less energy, space and water than conventional methods.


Related: Dew-Collecting Greenhouse Grows Veggies in the Desert

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March 21 2015

Some mushrooms glow, and here's why


Did you know that there are mushrooms that actually glow? Aristotle was aware of this intriguing fact more than 2,000 years ago. He also was the first person to ask a simple question in print: Why? Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on March 19 finally have a good answer. The light emitted from those fungi attracts the attention of insects, including beetles, flies, wasps, and ants. Those insect visitors are apparently good for the fungi because they spread the fungal spores around.


Related: Human Bodies Glow, Proving That The World Is Weirder Than We Can Imagine

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March 21 2015

Look, your eyes are wired backwards: here’s why


The human eye is optimised to have good colour vision at day and high sensitivity at night. But until recently it seemed as if the cells in the retina were wired the wrong way round, with light travelling through a mass of neurons before it reaches the light-detecting rod and cone cells. New research presented at a meeting of the American Physical Society has uncovered a remarkable vision-enhancing function for this puzzling structure.

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March 21 2015

The myopia boom


Short-sightedness is reaching epidemic proportions. Some scientists think they have found a reason why.

The southern city of Guangzhou has long held the largest eye hospital in China. But about five years ago, it became clear that the Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center needed to expand.

More and more children were arriving with the blurry distance vision caused by myopia, and with so many needing eye tests and glasses, the hospital was bursting at the seams.

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March 21 2015

Is too much artificial light at night making us sick?


Modern life, with its preponderance of inadequate exposure to natural light during the day and overexposure to artificial light at night, is not conducive to the body's natural sleep/wake cycle.

It's an emerging topic in health, one that UConn Health (University of Connecticut, Farmington, Conn.) cancer epidemiologist Richard Stevens has been studying for three decades.

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March 21 2015

Baking Soda May Alter People's Vision


Bicarbonate, or baking soda, could improve vision, according to a recent study.

Baking soda makes sparkling water sparkle, causes bread to rise, absorbs odors and can be used for cleaning all sorts of stuff, including teeth. In the body, it plays essential roles in buffering pH, aiding in digestion and neutralizing lactic acid produced during physical exertion.

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March 21 2015

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function


Australian researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology that clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques - structures that are responsible for memory loss and a decline in cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.

If a person has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s usually the result of a build-up of two types of lesions - amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles.


Related: No room to think: Depressive thoughts may have a negative effect on working memory

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March 21 2015

What A Man's Hands Say About His Risk For Schizophrenia


Could a simple finger test screen for schizophrenia?

Maybe so, at least in men. New research suggests that the ratio of the length of a guy's index finger to his ring finger may predict his risk for the devastating mental disorder.


Related: Children with symmetrical hands 'are smarter'

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March 21 2015

You are when you eat: Limiting flies to specific eating hours protects their hearts against aging


Limiting flies to specific eating hours protected their hearts against aging, a study has demonstrated. Previous research has found that people who tend to eat later in the day and into the night have a higher chance of developing heart disease than people who cut off their food consumption earlier. "So what's happening when people eat late?" asked a biologist whose research focuses on cardiovascular physiology. "They're not changing their diet, just the time.".

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March 21 2015

Omega-3 fatty acids help improve boys' attention spans, research shows


In boys with and without Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, new research has found that an extra daily dose of Omega-3 fatty acids reduced symptoms of inattention.

The study found that in a small clinical trial involving boys 8 to 14 years old, parents rated their son's ability to pay attention more highly if the child's diet was supplemented for 16 weeks with the long-chain fatty acid than if he got a placebo instead.

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March 20 2015

DEA approves study using MDMA for anxiety in seriously ill patients


The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has approved the first clinical trial using MDMA along with psychotherapy to treat anxiety among people with life-threatening illnesses, researchers told Al Jazeera on Tuesday, adding that public support for the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs is rapidly growing.

Unlike Ecstasy or Molly — names for MDMA sold on the street and often mixed with dangerous adulterants — pure MDMA has been proved “sufficiently safe” when taken a limited number of times in moderate doses, MAPS says on its website.

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March 20 2015

Healthy songs: the amazing power of music therapy


Music therapy has grown from relative obscurity to a practice that is becoming fairly mainstream, largely due to the advocacy of colleagues in the field, along with media coverage of the burgeoning profession. Jodi Picoult came to Berklee College to study music therapy to develop the main character – a music therapist – of her novel Sing You Home. Meanwhile, following the gunshot injury she sustained, Representative Gabby Giffords underwent rehabilitation efforts that included music-based interventions.

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March 20 2015

Interpersonal trust erodes over time in the online world, experts say


When people interact in an Internet community, they experience higher levels of trust initially. But as time passes and more information comes to light about other users, they are more wary, according to new Stanford research.

Technology reduces overall uncertainty and promotes trust between strangers. But at the same time, it erodes some of the serendipity involved in meeting new people.


Related: Trust increases with age; benefits well-being

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March 20 2015

Broken Hearts Can Be A Matter Of Life And Death: The Real Dangers Of Heartbreak


The proverbial broken heart threatens anyone brave enough to put his love and trust into someone else’s hands. It’s that emotional phenomenon your mother warned you about during infamous teen angst years. But what happens when a broken heart is more than just a flood of feelings and actually enters into a physical, sometimes life-threatening state?

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March 20 2015

Beliefs Can Trigger Asthma Attacks


Asthma attacks can be scary and painful—yet some of them may be avoidable if asthma sufferers can alter their expectations. Evidence is mounting that believing an odor or activity will trigger an asthma attack is sometimes all it takes to induce real physical symptoms.

In one recent study, 17 patients with moderate, persistent asthma took whiffs of a nonirritating odorant.

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