SciNews – Thursday, May 19, 2016

Alzheimer’s link to tau protein; genetic links to educational attainment; Fort McMurray and underlying factors; futuristic transportation technology; physicists love smashing things together; Mercury’s landscape mapped; essential ingredient for life may have formed in space  – just a few of the themes in today’s eclectic collection of SciNews.  Share these stories with your students and get them excited about science.

SciNews is published twice weekly. Stay tuned for more.

7308778_s from 123rfBiology

Brain imaging links Alzheimer’s decline to tau protein. Science Daily

Using a new imaging agent that binds to tau protein and makes it visible in positron emission tomography (PET) scans, scientists have shown that measures of tau are better markers of the cognitive decline characteristic of Alzheimer’s than measures of amyloid beta seen in PET scans.  Read more…

Genetic links to educational attainment identified. Science Daily

Researchers have identified 74 areas of the human genome associated with educational attainment. It is well known that social and other environmental factors influence education, but these findings suggest that large genetics analyses may be able to help discover biological pathways as well.  Read more…


13698187_s from 123rf

Overlapping factors set stage for Fort McMurray wildfire, scientists say.  Globe and Mail

Even fire scientists are stunned by the scale of disruption and damage wrought by an out-of-control wildfire that swept into Fort McMurray, Alta., on Tuesday. But when it comes to the underlying factors that allowed the blaze to become so severe so quickly, experts say larger forces are at play and there is a growing risk of similar events occurring across the northwest.  Read more…


18685938_s from 123rf

Hyperloop One technology tested successfully in Nevada desert. CBC

Hyperloop One, a Los Angeles company working to develop futuristic transportation technology, conducted a successful test of its high speed transportation technology Wednesday in the desert outside Las Vegas.

The seconds-long, outdoor demonstration by Hyperloop One featured what appeared to be a blip of metal gliding across a small track before disappearing into a cloud against the desert landscape.  Read more…

Physicists smash particle imitators. Science News

Physicists of all stripes seem to have one thing in common: They love smashing things together. This time-honored tradition has now been expanded from familiar particles like electrons, protons, and atomic nuclei to quasiparticles, which act like particles, but aren’t.  Read more…

Earth and Space Science12693495_s from 123rf

Mercury’s stunning landscape mapped. Science News

Mercury has never looked better. Volcanic plains, craters, mountains and valleys are showcased in the first complete topographic map of the innermost planet, released May 6.

Stitched together from over 100,000 images taken by NASA’s now-defunct MESSENGER spacecraft, the global catalog of landscapes provide data that researchers can use to better understand the history and inner workings of the scorched world. Researchers also used X-ray data to map changes in chemical composition from place to place.  Read more…

Key sugar for life on Earth could have formed in space. Science News for Students

An essential ingredient for life as we know it might have formed in space. Later, it might have rained down on a young Earth. That’s the finding of a new study.

The ingredient is the simple sugar ribose (RY-bose). It is a crucial piece of the chemical machinery inside cells. This sugar can form when a blend of ices are blasted with ultraviolet radiation. That’s what Cornelia Meinert and her colleagues reported April 8 in Science. Meinert is a chemist at University Nice Sophia Antipolis in France.  Read more…

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