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SCIENCE
April 20, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
DNA and RNA molecules are the basis for all life on Earth, but they don't necessarily have to be the basis for all life everywhere, scientists have shown. Researchers at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, England, demonstrated that six synthetic molecules that are similar to - but not exactly like - DNA and RNA have the potential to exhibit "hallmarks of life" such as storing genetic information, passing it along and undergoing evolution. The man-made molecules are called "XNAs.
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HEALTH
December 16, 2010 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
Children born to mothers who live close to freeways have twice the risk of autism, researchers reported Thursday. The study, its authors say, adds to evidence suggesting that certain environmental exposures could play a role in causing the disorder in some children. "This study isn't saying exposure to air pollution or exposure to traffic causes autism," said Heather Volk, lead author of the paper and a researcher at the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
SCIENCE
July 17, 2010 | By Rachel Bernstein, Los Angeles Times
Malaria kills nearly 1 million people a year, but it has a weakness — to infect humans, it needs mosquitoes. In a potential step toward eradicating the disease, researchers report that they have developed a genetically engineered breed of mosquito that cannot be infected by the malaria-causing parasite. Genetically-modified mosquitoes are far from ready for use in the field, but the researchers achieved an unprecedented 100% blockage of the Plasmodium parasite, highlighting the promise of this approach, according to their study.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 3, 2014 | By Hector Tobar
We all know that reading a novel can transport you, delight you and intrigue you while you're reading it. Now, thanks research by scientists at Emory University, we know that immersing yourself in a novel causes measurable physical changes in the brain that can be detected up to five days after the reader closes the book. The Emory researchers, in a paper for the journal Brain Connectivity, compared the effect to “muscle memory.” "The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist," neuroscientist Gregory Berns said, according to a report in the journal Science Codex . "We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else's shoes in a figurative sense.
SCIENCE
April 7, 2014 | Mary MacVean
Are the millions of dollars spent to try to reverse childhood obesity a good investment? One answer might be found in the cost if the condition goes unchecked: about $19,000 per obese child in lifetime medical costs, researchers reported Monday. That's $14 billion just for the obese 10-year-olds in the United States, according to researchers at the Duke Global Health Institute and the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore. They reported their results in the journal Pediatrics.
SCIENCE
December 12, 2013 | By Karen Kaplan
Scientists know that the best way to make a vodka martini is to mix the ingredients with a thin wooden spoon -- it combines the ingredients effectively without raising the drink's temperature the way a metal stirrer would. So why would James Bond, the world's most sophisticated martini drinker, routinely order his cocktail “shaken, not stirred”? A trio of British medical researchers believe they have the answer: The heavy-drinking 007 most likely suffered from an alcohol-induced tremor that forced him to shake his martinis.
NEWS
October 30, 2013 | By Mary MacVean
It's not just what you eat but where and how you eat that seems to affect obesity, say researchers who looked at the effects of family dinner rituals. Families who frequently ate dinner in the kitchen or dining room had significantly lower body mass indices for adults and children, compared with families who ate elsewhere, including in front of the television, the researchers wrote. “Family meals and their rituals might be an underappreciated battleground to fight obesity,” the researchers wrote in the journal Obesity, published Wednesday.
SCIENCE
April 22, 2014 | By Mary MacVean
African American high school students and boys in low- to middle-income families reported short, fragmented sleep, and that could play a role in their health risks, researchers reported Monday. Anyone who's ever lived with a teenager knows they often don't get the eight to nine hours of sleep the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends. Researchers writing in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics looked at one group of young people - those in a lower socioeconomic community.
AUTOS
January 7, 2013 | By Jerry Hirsch
American drivers appear to be slowly getting fuel economy religion. The average fuel economy for all vehicles sold last year climbed by 1.3 miles per gallon, or 6%, to a record high of 23.8 mpg,  according to University of Michigan researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle. The fuel economy of cars people purchased over the last year increased even though gas prices have dipped slightly. AAA said the average price of a gallon of regular gas stood at $3.297 as of Monday, compared with $3.371 a year ago. PHOTOS: Best car values for fuel economy Since 2008, the first full year of monitoring by Sivak and Schoettle, fuel economy has risen 14% -- from 20.9 mpg. On a monthly basis, fuel economy in December was 23.9 mpg, a slight drop from 24.1 mpg in November.
SCIENCE
June 27, 2012 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
A 2-million-year old hominid from South Africa had a very unusual diet, an international team of researchers has found. Instead of living on grasses and wild animals from the nearby savannas, like modern humans and pre-humans that have previously been studied, Australopithecus sediba lived on bark, woody tissues, fruits and other plants found almost exclusively in forests, like modern chimpanzees. That diet may be one reason why the species died out, researchers said. A. sediba was first discovered in 2008 in a pit at the Malapa Cave about 30 miles north of Johannesburg.
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