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August 9, 2006, 11:47 PM CT

New Mammal Discovered

New Mammal Discovered Darin A. Croft
Fossils of a new hoofed mammal that resembles a cross between a dog and a hare which once roamed the Andes Mountains in southern Bolivia around 13 million years ago was discovered by Darin A. Croft, assistant professor of anatomy at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a research associate at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

With Federico Anaya from Universidad Autónoma Tomás Frías, Croft reported on the new mammal find named Hemihegetotherium trilobus in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology article, "A New Middle Miocene Hegetotherid (Notoungulata: Typotheria) and a Phylogeny of the Hegetotheriidae." It is named for the distinctive three lobes on its back lower molar teeth.

The animal belonged to a group of animals called notoungulates—hoofed mammals native only to South America. The group originated in South America soon after the dinosaurs went extinct and evolved to include hundreds of species over a span of more than 50 million years; all of them are now extinct. Although most notoungulates were gone before humans got to South America, some of the earliest humans to journey to that continent may have seen the last living notoungulates.........

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August 9, 2006, 11:40 PM CT

Assessment Of Aggressive Boys' Needs

Assessment Of Aggressive Boys' Needs
A decision support system, in form of a checklist with 20 risk- and need factors, complements clinical evaluation of boys between the ages of six and twelve with behavioural problems, according to new research from Karolinska Institutet.

Prolonged aggressive and disruptive behaviour in childhood is a strong risk marker for criminality and mental health problems in adulthood. Early identification of boys with increased risk of problems in the future is therefore important in order to be able to provide specialised initiatives to help them and their families.

Several years ago, help appeared in the form of a checklist called EARL-20B. EARL-20B (Early Assessment Risk List for boys) consists of 20 risk- and need factors, where boys' anti-social behaviour, family, friends and environment are evaluated. Dr. Pia Enebrink, psychologist and researcher at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, is one of the first to investigate how well EARL-20B works for boys between the ages of six and twelve.

"The results show that EARL-20B is reliable and useful in evaluating different risk factors and that it can help us identify the boys who really need help, and focus on the risks and needs with which they require help" , says Dr. Enebrink.

The investigation followed 76 Swedish boys in outpatient child psychiatry, and EARL-20B was compared with standard clinical assessments. The boys were followed up after 6 months and again after 30 months.........

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August 9, 2006, 11:34 PM CT

Kodak pianos? Buick aspirin?

Kodak pianos? Buick aspirin?
Ever heard of Kodak pianos? How about Buick aspirin? While most consumers may correctly infer that these products are not made by the same companies that make the cameras or the automobiles, a new study in the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research presents compelling evidence that well-known brand names are weakened by the existence of imitative brand names even in different product categories. The process is known as trademark dilution.

"Although the FTDA does not require consumer confusion to establish harm from dilution, it appears that the presence of confusion magnifies the amount of harm likely to be incurred by the first user of the brand name (and provides a greater benefit to be enjoyed by the second use of the brand)," write Maureen Morrin (Rutgers University), Jonathan Lee (California State University Long Beach), and Greg M. Allenby (Ohio State University).

The researchers measured trademark dilution by looking at brand-exclusive recall, that is, the proportion of customers who only think of one brand's products when asked about the brand name in question. The researchers found that a single exposure to another, similar logo reduces brand-exclusive recall by one-third, on average.

"The results also indicate a factor not typically considered by the courts, the consumer's relative knowledge about the two product categories involved, also may have an impact on retrieval," add the authors. "When consumers are confused about the sources of two products, or when they believe the two logos are similar in appearance, the first user's category is less likely to be recalled, although the second user's category is more likely to be recalled".........

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August 9, 2006, 11:28 PM CT

Fair price hikes vs. unfair price hikes

Fair price hikes vs. unfair price hikes
A new study from the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research shows that consumers align material goods and services separately when considering explanations for price hikes. Consumers think it is fair to raise the price of a good when the cost of obtaining that good also increases for the vendor, for example with produce during a low-yield season. Similarly, consumers think raising the cost of a service is fair when the cost of providing that service increases. However, consumers do not consider it fair if the price of a good is raised in conjunction with an increase in service cost to the vendor, or vice versa.

"We show that inherent differences between goods and services can exert a large influence on perceived fairness," write Lisa E. Bolton (University of Pennsylvania) and Joseph W. Alba (University of Florida). "Goods provide consumers with a link between the offering and the vendor's costs, such as the material costs to a manufacturer or cost of goods sold to a retailer".

When the price of a good goes up but material costs do not, consumers infer greater profits and less fair prices. Services do not have material costs such as the price for raw material to serve as a price comparison point against the price to consumers.

Thus, less tangible cost increases such as overhead are not necessarily deemed fair reasons for producers to increase prices. It seems that consumers feel that some costs are aligned with service and not with the material good, and "in the face of increased costs, not all efforts to maintain profit are viewed equally".........

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August 9, 2006, 11:26 PM CT

new mobile robot that balances and moves on ball

new mobile robot that balances and moves on ball Ralph Hollis and Ballbot
Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed a new type of mobile robot that balances on a ball instead of legs or wheels. "Ballbot" is a self-contained, battery-operated, omnidirectional robot that balances dynamically on a single urethane-coated metal sphere. It weighs 95 pounds and is the approximate height and width of a person. Because of its long, thin shape and ability to maneuver in tight spaces, it has the potential to function better than current robots can in environments with people.

Ballbot's creator, Robotics Research Professor Ralph Hollis, says the robot represents a new paradigm in mobile robotics. What began as a concept in his home workshop has been funded for the last two years with grants from the National Science Foundation.

Hollis is working to prove that dynamically stable robots like Ballbot can outperform their static counterparts. Traditional, statically stable mobile robots have three or more wheels for support, but their bases are generally too wide to move easily among people and furniture. They can also tip over if they move too fast or operate on a slope.

"We wanted to create a robot that can maneuver easily and is tall enough to look you in the eye," Hollis said. "Ballbot is tall and skinny, with a much higher center of gravity than traditional wheeled robots. Because it is omnidirectional, it can move easily in any direction without having to turn first".........

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August 9, 2006, 11:19 PM CT

High Blood Sugar May Cause Cognitive Impairment

High Blood Sugar May Cause Cognitive Impairment
A four-year study of elderly women has observed that chronically elevated blood sugar is linked to an increased risk of developing either mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia.

The study was the first to investigate the association over time between glycosylated hemoglobin - a long-term measure of blood sugar - and the risk of cognitive difficulties, and the first to investigate that association in people without diabetes. It appears in the Volume 10, Number 4 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging.

"We already know there's a correlation between diabetes and cognitive problems," says lead author Kristine Yaffe, MD, a staff doctor at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and a professor of psychiatry, neurology, and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco. "We were interested in what this measurement would tell us about a group of women with and without diabetes who were followed for four years. Nobody has really looked at that before".

The glycosylated hemoglobin test measures the percentage of hemoglobin - the oxygen-bearing protein in red blood cells - that is bound to glucose. Unlike the standard diabetic blood sugar test, which measures blood sugar at the moment of testing, glycosylated hemoglobin is considered an accurate measure of blood sugar levels over the course of two to four months preceding the test. A result of seven percent or less indicates good long-term blood sugar control.........

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August 9, 2006, 10:24 PM CT

Genetic Snooze Button Governs Timing Of Spring Flowers

Genetic Snooze Button Governs Timing Of Spring Flowers
In the long, dark days of winter, gardeners are known to count the days until spring. Now, researchers have learned, some plants do exactly the same thing.

Addressing researchers here today (Aug. 9) at a meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists, University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Richard Amasino described studies that have begun to peel back some of the mystery of how plants pace the seasons to bloom at the optimal time of year.

"Flowering at the right time is all about competition," says Amasino, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and UW-Madison professor of biochemistry.

Amasino and colleagues have studied, in particular, the behaviors of biennial plants, which require long periods of exposure to the cold to initiate flowering in the spring. What they have found reveals some of the complex interplay of genes and environment and provides hints that, one day, it may be possible to exert precise control over flowering, a process essential for plant reproduction and fruiting and that has enormous implications for agriculture.

Flowers are the reproductive organs of plants and are responsible for forming seeds and fruit. As their name implies, biennials complete their life cycles in two years, germinating, growing and overwintering the first year. The second year, the plants flower in the spring and die back in the fall.........

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August 9, 2006, 10:17 PM CT

Antioxidants against tick-borne illness

Antioxidants against tick-borne illness Ixodid tick
For hikers, campers and others who enjoy the outdoors, summer can bring concerns about tick bites and related illnesses such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Researchers are investigating the role that antioxidants -- alpha-lipoic acid and potentially others like green tea and vitamins C and E, for example might play in preventing or treating the deadly rickettsia bacteria.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, part of the National Institutes of Health, awarded the University of Rochester Medical Center $2 million for a five-year study of the antioxidant theory. The grant caps more than a decade of rickettsia research led by Sanjeev Sahni, Ph.D.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most frequently reported illness in the United States caused by the rickettsia bacteria, which is transmitted by tick parasites. It usually afflicts otherwise healthy adults and children who are bitten by wood ticks or dog ticks. The illness can become life threatening if left untreated, and spotted fever can be difficult for physicians to diagnose because the earliest signs mimic less-serious viral illnesses. Limiting exposure to ticks is the best way to prevent the disease. If it does develop, in most cases doctors can treat it with antibiotics. Typhus is another rickettsial disease spread by lice or fleas. Although less common, typhus remains a threat in crowded jails and in other poor hygienic environments.........

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August 9, 2006, 10:11 PM CT

Arctic Coring Expedition Yield New Clues

Arctic Coring Expedition Yield New Clues Arctic Sea Ice 04/03/01
For the second time in as many months, the IODP Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX) is making news with new analysis of ocean-floor sediments. In the Aug. 10 issue of Nature, an article authored by several of the expedition scientists summarizes their findings: more evidence that the Arctic was extremely warm, unusually wet, and ice-free up to the time the last massive amounts of greenhouse gases were released into the Earth's atmosphere - a period calculated to have occurred 55 million years ago, and known as the Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM.

Researchers have long recognized that a massive release of greenhouse gases, probably carbon dioxide or methane, occurred during the PETM. Surface temperatures also rose in many places by as much as 15 degrees Fahrenheit in the (relative) geological instant of about 100,000 years.

Arctic sediment samples were largely unavailable until 2004, when ACEX scientists recovered the first deep-ocean sediment samples from beneath the ice-laden waters near the North Pole. ACEX, only the second scientific expedition to be conducted by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (established in late 2003), recovered 339 meters of subseafloor sediment samples.

"Building a picture of ancient climatic events is a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and what ACEX allowed us to do was fill in a blank section of the PETM picture," said Gerald Dickens, a Rice University geochemist and co-author, who conducted the initial, shipboard chemical analyses of all the ACEX core samples.........

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August 9, 2006, 10:03 PM CT

West Coast Crustacean Found In Atlantic Waters

West Coast Crustacean Found In Atlantic Waters This Dungeness crab, a West Coast species, was caught by Captain Lou Williams of the Orin C two miles east of Thatcher Island, Massachusetts, on July 19. It's about 18 cm wide. Photo / Brandy Wilbur, MIT Sea Grant
MIT researchers have confirmed the first sighting of a Dungeness crab in the Atlantic Ocean. The male, whose species is common on North America's West Coast, was caught off Thatcher Island, Massachusetts, on July 19 by Lou Williams, captain of the fishing vessel Orin C.

The origin of the crab is not known. One possibility is that it may have been purchased from a live seafood market and released. The size of the crab (18 cm) and its gender suggest it most likely arrived as an adult exotic species. Also known as invasive species or bioinvaders, exotic species are of concern because they can establish themselves in a new ecosystem, where they can proliferate and push out native species.

The crab was caught while Williams was gillnetting for groundfish at 45 fathoms. Suspecting the crab to be a Dungeness, he took it to Brandy Wilbur, aquaculture specialist for MIT Sea Grant, and Eric Sabo, educator at the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center, for verification.

After distributing photographs of the crab to several scientists, the researchers received confirmation of the species, Cancer magister, from several experts: Julie Barber, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries; Thomas C. Shirley, Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi; David Tapley, Salem State College; and Richard Strathmann and Eugene Kozloff, the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories.........

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