UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

Broadband used in ocean images

FALMOUTH, Mass., April 2 (UPI) — Two advanced broadband acoustic systems will help oceanographers pinpoint tiny zooplankton even in rough seas, scientists in Massachusetts said.

In terms of acoustics, the systems are equivalent to changing from black-and-white television to high-definition color television, researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said in a release Thursday.

The systems showed highly promising results when tested recently off the U.S. East Coast, researchers Tim Stanton and Andone Lavery recently wrote in the Journal of Marine Science.

The new systems measure sound scattering over a continuous range of frequencies, rather than just a few frequencies.

The advanced broadband ability will aid oceanographers in classifying fish and zooplankton, no matter the turbulence of the water, Stanton and Lavery said. Previously, it was impossible to know whether sound waves were being scattered by high turbulence or by the objects being studied.

Stone Age Scandinavians lactose intolerant

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, April 2 (UPI) — Stone Age hunter-gatherers who lived along the southern coast of Scandinavia 4,000 years ago were unable to digest milk, researchers said.

The findings support a widely held theory that modern Scandinavians descended from people who arrived in the area after the Stone Age population.

Unlike modern Scandinavians, the DNA of the hunter-gathers shows they were lactose intolerant, said researchers at Stockholm University and Uppsala University.

The ability to digest milk is closely associated with the transition from hunter-gatherer populations to agricultural societies, said researcher Anders Gotherstrom.

Gotherstrom is the coordinator of a European Union-funded project focusing on the significance of milk in European prehistory.

“The findings are indicative of what we call ‘gene flow,’ in other words, migration to the region at some later time of some new group of people, with whom we are genetically similar,” Gotherstrom said.

Worm gene could offer clues to human aging

BIRMINGHAM, England, April 2 (UPI) — A gene greatly involved in determining the life span of a laboratory worm could offer clues to aging in people, researchers in Britain said.

The gene DAF-16 helps determine the rate of aging and the average life span of Caenorhabditis elegans and its close evolutionary cousins, researchers at the University of Birmingham said.

The gene is found in many other animals, including humans, said researcher Robin May, who led the study.

May’s team compared longevity, stress resistance and immunity in four related species of worms. In general, high levels of DAF-16 activity correlated with longer life, increased stress resistance and greater immunity against some infections.

Future studies will examine how DAF-16 coordinates a complex network of genes to balance the differing needs of an individual’s immune system over time, May said in Thursday’s edition of PLoS ONE.

Appeals court sides with scientist

LONDON, April 2 (UPI) — A British court says science writer Simon Singh can use what is known as “defense of fair comment” in a libel case brought against him by chiropractors.

The landmark ruling by the Court of Appeals could exempt scientific criticism from claims of defamation by companies or organizations, The Times of London reported Friday.

Singh is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association for a piece he wrote in April 2008 suggesting there was a lack of evidence that chiropractors had successfully treated colic and asthma in children.

The appeals court Thursday overturned a High Court ruling that held Singh’s comments were factual assertions, not expressions of opinion that would allow him to use a “defense of fair comment” to defend himself.

The appeals court said the original ruling threatened to silence scientists and science journalists. The chiropractic association said it may appeal Thursday’s ruling to the Supreme Court.

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Categorized | Fish, Journalists, Other
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