A once-dead gene in elephants that came back to life about 59 million years ago when the animals' ancestors started getting bigger has been linked to their ability to fend off cancer, according to findings published online by Cell Reports. The LIF6 gene works with the TP53 gene, signaling damaged cells to destroy themselves before they turn into cancer cells, researchers say.
Targeting the brain with well-timed electric shocks while subjects are asleep may give memory a boost, a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests. Participants wore stimulation caps that monitored their brain activity and delivered zaps when the subjects' brains exhibited slow-wave oscillations, and their ability to find previously viewed hidden targets in new scenes improved, suggesting a memory boost.
The big toe was among the last things to evolve on the feet of human ancestors as they transitioned to bipedalism, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "The big toe could still be used for grasping, as our ancestors spent a fair amount of their time in the trees, before becoming fully committed to walking on the ground," said study leader Peter Fernandez.
Alveolar macrophages, immune cells found in the lungs, can be damaged by vaping, according to findings published in Thorax. Researchers tested lung tissue in eight nonsmokers and found that exposure to vapor from e-cigarette liquid over a 48-hour period was toxic to the lung cells, spurring the release of inflammatory cytokines and inhibiting phagocytosis.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale has received a pair of grants totaling about $425,000. The National Science Foundation's $180,000 grant will go to quantum computing research, while the Department of Health and Human Services awarded $244,850 to a study of Sertoli cells.
Tanner High School in Alabama recently completed renovations for a technical center where students can take career development courses in fields such as agriculture and family consumer science. The school also plans by this spring to complete a commercial greenhouse, which students will run.
Sioux City school district in Iowa has received a $400,000 donation from Seaboard Triumph Foods to help develop their career academy program. This program offers college credit and certifications in such fields as industrial technology, health science and consumer science.
A collaboration among groups and agencies -- including the UN Foundation's Girl Up and the US State Department -- is organizing science, technology, engineering, art and math programs for secondary-school girls in several countries. Following the Women in Science camps, participants are expected to spread their learning to others through workshops, science fairs and other activities in their home countries.
Craigslist founder Craig Newmark has pledged $1 million in matching funds for science, technology, engineering and math projects posted by teachers on the fundraising site DonorsChoose. Most of the money will fund classroom projects of less than $1,000, but Newmark set aside $100,000 for STEM programs for girls and another $50,000 for STEM projects generating Twitter interest.
A recent survey from the American Staffing Association found that 68% of respondents believe that apprenticeships and other job programs make individuals more employable than getting a college degree. About 90% of respondents said apprenticeships can help prepare job seekers for new careers and allow them to learn a new trade.