Science News: Week of July 5, 2009

Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of July 5, 2009.

Aquatic deer yield evolution clue: Two mouse-deer species in Asia have been discovered swimming underwater, providing further clues to the origin of whales.

Carbohydrate acts as tumor suppressor: Scientists at Burnham Institute for Medical Research have discovered that specialized complex sugar molecules that anchor cells into place act as tumor suppressors in breast and prostate cancers.

To read the study:

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0904515106

Clean fuels could reduce deaths from ship smokestacks by 40,000 annually: Rising levels of smokestack emissions from oceangoing ships will cause an estimated 87,000 deaths worldwide each year by 2012—almost one-third higher than previously believed, according to the second major study on that topic. The study says that government action to reduce sulfur emissions from shipping fuel (the source of air pollution linked to an increased risk of illness and death) could reduce that toll. The study is in the current issue of ACS’ Environmental Science and Technology, a semi-monthly publication.

To read the study:

Environmental Science & Technology, 43 (13), 4776-4782 DOI: 10.1021/es803224q

CU-Boulder study shows brain’s immune system may cause chronic seizures: Chronic seizures caused by traumatic head injuries may result from chemicals released by the brain’s immune system attempting to repair the injured site, according to a study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Hurricane Katrina: Phone home: Tel Aviv University research finds cell phone towers can help predict the next big flood.

Interplanetary internet gets permanent home in space: A new protocol which could one day handle deep-space communications is now being tested aboard the International Space Station.

Is obesity an oral bacterial disease?: In this climate of concern over the increasing prevalence of overweight conditions in our society, investigators have focused on the possible role of oral bacteria as a potential direct contributor to obesity.

To read the study:

Goodson, J., Groppo, D., Halem, S., & Carpino, E. (2009). Is Obesity an Oral Bacterial Disease? Journal of Dental Research, 88 (6), 519-523 DOI: 10.1177/0022034509338353

Moribund burying beetle getting a new lease on life: Once, the American burying beetle – known for the unusual subterranean habits that inspired its name – was found throughout the Northeast. But the beetles have largely vanished from the region, except for a population that lives on Block Island off Rhode Island.

New monkey discovered in Brazilian Amazon: Researchers have discovered a new sub-species of monkey in a remote part of the Amazon rain forest, a U.S.-based wildlife conservation group said on Tuesday.

Scientists create human sperm from stem cells: For the first time, researchers have generated germ cells from embryonic stem cells.

UN: $1B needed against swine flu: The United Nations may need more than $1 billion this year to help poor countries fight the swine flu pandemic.

What does a drug that extends life in mice mean for humans?: A drug called rapamycin, used in organ-transplant patients, has been found to extend the life of aging mice.

When recycling is bad for the environment: Recycling plastic is tricky business, and many plastics are better off as garbage.

World’s largest ocean observatory takes shape: Canada is taking the world on a 25-year non-stop research expedition—into the deep ocean. Over the next two-and-a-half months, a team of scientists and marine engineers are completing the installation off British Columbia of NEPTUNE Canada, the world’s largest and most advanced cabled ocean observatory.