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UPI NewsTrack Science and Technology News

Jan. 22, 2013 at 6:58 PM   |   Comments

DNA links early human to present peoples

LEIPZIG, Germany, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Researchers say ancient DNA suggests humans living 40,000 years in China were likely related to many present-day Asians and American Indians.

Scientists sequencing nuclear and mitochondrial DNA extracted from the leg of an early modern human from Tianyuan Cave near Beijing say the Tianyuan human shared a common origin with the ancestors of many present-day Asians and indigenous American peoples, a release from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said Tuesday.

Humans with morphology similar to present-day humans appear in the fossil record across Eurasia between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, but the genetic relationships between these early modern humans and present-day human populations had not yet been established, researchers said.

The genetic profile of the Tianhuan remains reveals this early modern human was related to the ancestors of many present-day Asians and Native Americans but had already diverged genetically from the ancestors of present-day Europeans, they said.

"This individual lived during an important evolutionary transition when early modern humans, who shared certain features with earlier forms such as Neanderthals, were replacing Neanderthals and Denisovans, who later became extinct," researcher Svante Paabo said.

"More analyses of additional early modern humans across Eurasia will further refine our understanding of when and how modern humans spread across Europe and Asia," Paabo said.


Bigger iPhone? Maybe not this year

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Apple is rumored to still be working on a larger iPhone but consumers shouldn't expect to see it this year, Chinese tech news website Digitimes says.

Digitimes had earlier reported Apple was working on a low-cost iPhone with a bigger screen than the 4-inch display of the current iPhone 5, expected to be released in the second half of this year.

The website has backed off that report.

"Previously it was said that Apple would release a lower-cost version of its iPhone with a bigger screen in 2013," Digitimes said Tuesday. "But the sources claimed that Apple is indeed developing an iPhone with a bigger screen, but that will not be among the models to be launched this year."

Yesterday the Commercial Times, a Chinese-language financial newspaper published in Taiwan, had said Apple was developing a lower-cost, 4.8-inch model dubbed the "iPhone Math."

Some experts say "Math" may be a mistranslation of the newspaper report or a code name for another iPhone model in development.

While there are currently three different iPhone models available to consumers, Apple has never introduced more than one new model at a time, after which it offers older models at a reduced price, CNET said.


Men do more scientific fraud than women

NEW YORK, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Male scientists are far more likely to commit fraud than women at all levels on the career ladder from trainees to senior scientists, U.S. researchers say.

An analysis of professional misconduct co-led by a researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York has been published in the online journal mBio.

"The fact that misconduct occurs across all stages of career development suggests that attention to ethical aspects of scientific conduct should not be limited to those in training, as is the current practice," said senior author Arturo Casadevall, a professor of microbiology, immunology and medicine at Einstein.

"Our other finding -- that males are overrepresented among those committing misconduct -- implies a gender difference we need to better understand in any effort to promote the integrity of research," said Casadevall, who is also editor in chief of mBio.

In a previous study, Casadevall found misconduct is responsible for two-thirds of all retractions of scientific papers.

The new study reviewed 228 individual cases of misconduct reported by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity from 1994 through 2012.

An analysis determined fraud was involved in 215 of the 228 cases and overall 65 percent of the fraud cases were committed by males.

While the study did not examine why men are more likely to commit fraud, Casadevall said one possibility is that misconduct may be biologically driven.

"As research has shown, males tend to be risk takers, more so than females, and to commit fraud entails taking a risk," he said.

"It may also be that males are more competitive, or that women are more sensitive to the threat of sanctions. I think the best answer is that we don't know. Now that we have documented the problem, we can begin a serious discussion about what is going on and what can be done about it."


Antibiotics detected in Minnesota lakes

MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- An anti-bacterial agent called triclosan used in many hand soaps has been detected in increasing amounts in several Minnesota freshwater lakes, researchers say.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota say the findings are directly linked to the increasing use of such anti-bacterial soaps and other products over the past decades.

The researchers also reported detecting chemical compounds called chlorinated triclosan derivatives, created when triclosan is exposed to chlorine during wastewater disinfection processes.

When exposed to sunlight both triclosan and its chlorinated derivatives form dioxins that have potential toxic effects in the environment, they said.

Triclosan is added to many consumer products including soaps and body washes, toothpastes, cosmetics, clothing, dish washing liquid and kitchenware.

"It's important for people to know that what they use in their house every day can have an impact in the environment far beyond their home," university engineering Professor William Arnold said. "Consumers need to know that they may be using products with triclosan. People should read product labels to understand what they are buying."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found no evidence triclosan in anti-bacterial soaps and body washes provide any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.

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