AlphaGalileo's Top 10 for 2016

The items that generated the most interest on our site and some of the media interest that they generated.

1. "A force of nature": an acoustic analysis of Freddie Mercury’s voice, news release from Taylor & Francis (Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology) - 18 April 2016

Freddie Mercury, lead singer of legendary rock band, Queen, gave the world one of the most famous and recognisable singing voices in music history. But how did he manage to achieve such vocal range? A new study in Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology set out with the ambitious task of analysing Mercury’s voice. By selecting archive recordings, as well as using a rock singer to imitate, a team of Austrian, Czech and Swedish authors discovered some interesting findings about the voice once described as “a force of nature with the velocity of a hurricane.”

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2. Molecular experiment reverses evolution in birds obtaining a dinosaur-like lower leg, news release from Universidad de Chile on 07/03/16 

Molecular experiment reverses evolution in birds obtaining a dinosaur-like lower leg

After millions of years of evolution, birds still retain characteristics of their dinosaurs ancestors in embryonic stages. Evidence? Researchers from Brazil and Chile managed to recover a dinosaur-like lower leg and published their results this week in the academic journal “Evolution”.

Evolution-bird

 

3.  Smelly Socks and Sweaty Shirts: Why Your Laundry Stinks, and How to Stop It, release from Elsevier on 19/05/16

Scientists identify the molecules that make our clothes smell. Dirty laundry smells bad because of certain chemicals called volatile organic compounds, which can’t always be washed out on an eco-friendly 20˚C cycle, according to a new study in the Journal of Chromatography A.

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4. Why prostate cancer is more aggressive in obese patient, release from CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange) on 12/01/16

Obesity has direct consequences on health and is associated with the onset of aggressive cancers, but the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are little known. Researchers from the Institut de Pharmacologie et he Biologie Structurale (CNRS/Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier)  have recently elucidated one of these mechanisms in prostate cancer, one of the most common cancers in men: in obese patients, the adipose tissue surrounding the prostate gland facilitates the propagation of tumor cells outside the prostate. A patent has been filed for these results, which open new avenues for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Cancer CNRS

 

5. Despite their small brains – ravens are just as clever as chimps, release from Lund University on 26/04/16

A study led by researchers at Lund University in Sweden shows that ravens are as clever as chimpanzees, despite having much smaller brains, indicating that rather than the size of the brain, the neuronal density and the structure of the birds’ brains play an important role in terms of their intelligence.

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6.  First tomatoes and peas harvested on Mars and moon soil simulant, release from Wageningen University & Research on 08/03/16

The second experiment on how to grow crops on Mars and moon soil simulant have given a surprising outcome. As a result of what the researchers of Wageningen University & Research centre in the Netherlands learned from their first experiments, they were able to grow ten different crop species. Tomatoes, peas, rye, garden rocket, radish and garden cress were harvested. “The total above ground biomass produced on the Mars soil simulant was not significantly different from the potting compost we used as a control”, says researcher Dr Wieger Wamelink. The goal of the experiments is to provide the basis for growing crops on Mars and on the moon, in order to feed the first settlers.

Mars tomatoes

 

7. New theory of gravity might explain dark matter, release from Universiteit van Amsterdam on 08/11/16

A new theory of gravity might explain the curious motions of stars in galaxies. Emergent gravity, as the new theory is called, predicts the exact same deviation of motions that is usually explained by inserting dark matter in the theory. Prof. Erik Verlinde, renowned expert in string theory at the University of Amsterdam and the Delta Institute for Theoretical Physics, just published a new research paper in which he expands his groundbreaking views on the nature of gravity.

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8. XX protection against age-related mutations, release from Asociación RUVID on 21/07/16

Researchers at the University of Valencia's Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology have put the 'unguarded X hypothesis' to the test and confirmed that differences in lifespan between the sexes, a widespread phenomenon in nature, may indeed be due to the protective effect of having two copies of the X chromosome.

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9. A man’s bests friend: study shows dogs can recognise human emotion, release from University of Lincoln on 11/01/16

Dogs can recognise emotions in humans by combining information from different senses – an ability that has never previously been observed outside of humans, a new study published today reveals. For the first time, researchers have shown that dogs must form abstract mental representations of positive and negative emotional states, and are not simply displaying learned behaviours when responding to the expressions of people and other dogs.

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10. Intelligent scalpel locates cancerous tumors in the brain, release from Investigación y Desarrollo on 01/04/16

Removing a brain tumor is a delicate task, if not done properly it can have catastrophic consequences, such as brain damage, motor impairment or failure in controlling a vital organ function. In order to make this work more precise, the Mexican David Oliva Uribe designed, at Brussels, Belgium, a "smart scalpel" that determines whether an area is healthy or tumorous.

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