Magma said rising in ancient volcano
ITHACA, N.Y., Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Magma is rising in a Bolivian volcano that last erupted 300,000 years ago, a U.S. research team monitoring the mountain says.
Researchers from Cornell University, part of an international team studying the Uturuncu volcano, say the magma is uplifting rapidly.
"Uturuncu -- a volcano in the Bolivian Andes Mountains -- was thought to be inactive," Cornell geologist Matt Pritchard said in a university release Tuesday. "The region is populated by 'supervolcanoes' that erupted between 1 (million) and 10 million years ago.
"Now the Uturuncu magma is accumulating in the crust and we're observing whether it is moving upward toward the surface," said Pritchard, who is accompanied in the research by Cornell graduate students Jennifer Jay and Scott Henderson.
"Right now, we have no reason to think that an eruption is imminent," he said.
"The area at Uturuncu has had hundreds of shallow earthquakes per year, but the rate of earthquakes increased briefly due to last year's tremors in Chile," Pritchard said. "These characteristics are unusual for a volcano that has not erupted in 300,000 years."
Study: Infants can follow others' thoughts
COLUMBIA, Mo., Nov. 1 (UPI) -- University of Missouri researchers say babies 10 months old can understand the thought processes of others, offering clues to how people acquire knowledge.
"Understanding other people is a key factor in successful communication, and humans start to understand this at a very young age," Yuyan Luo, professor of developmental psychology, said. "Our study indicates that infants, even before they can verbally communicate, can understand the thought processes of other people -- even if the thoughts diverge from what the infants know as truth, a term psychologists call false belief."
Infants in the study were monitored during a common psychological test in which an actor indicated preference for certain objects. Researchers timed the infants' gazes, an indication of infant knowledge, and found they watched longer when the actor's preferences changed.
This led the researchers to believe infants understood how the actor interacted with the objects, a university release said Tuesday.
"When the actor did not witness the removal or addition of the preferred object, the infants seemed to use that information to interpret the person's actions," Luo said. "The infants appear to recognize that the actor's behavior comes from what the actor could see or could not see and hence what the actor thinks, and this finding is consistent with similar false belief studies that involve older children."
Tweets seen as scientific data tool
BRISTOL, England, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- British researchers say they're looking at whether social media could be used to track an event or phenomenon, such as flu outbreaks and rainfall rates.
Although social networks such as Facebook and microblogging services like Twitter have only been around for a short time, they have proved capable of providing snapshots of real life by forming, electronically, public expression and interaction, researchers at the University of Bristol said.
Researchers used posts on Twitter as their input data to investigate two case studies, a university release said Tuesday.
The first case study looked at levels of rainfall in a given location and time using the content of tweets that were geo-tagged to locations.
The second case study collected regional flu-like illness rates from tweets to find out if an epidemic was emerging.
"Twitter, in particular, encouraged their 200 million users worldwide to make their posts, commonly known as tweets, publicly available as well as tagged with the user's location," researcher Nello Cristianini said. "Our research has demonstrated a method, by using the content of Twitter, to track an event, when it occurs and the scale of it.
"This has led to a new wave of experimentation and research using an independent stream of information," he said.
Bacterium's role in gastric cancer studied
CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Nov. 1 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they've discovered how a cancer-causing bacterium attacks a cell's energy infrastructure, ultimately causing the cell to self-destruct.
Helicobacter pylori are the only bacteria known to survive in the human stomach and infection with the bacterium is associated with an increased risk of gastric cancer, scientists at the University of Illinois said.
"More than half the world's population is currently infected with H. pylori," microbiology Professor Steven Blanke said. "And we've known for a long time that the host doesn't respond appropriately to clear the infection from the stomach, allowing the bacterium to persist as a risk factor for cancer."
The researchers have found how the bacteria use a toxin to disrupt a cell's mitochondria, responsible for energy-generation and distribution, to disable the cell and trigger apoptosis, or programmed cell death, a university release said Tuesday.
"One of the hallmarks of long-term infection with H. pylori is an increase in apoptotic cells," Blanke said. "This may contribute to the development of cancer in several ways.
"Hundreds of human diseases and disorders are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, ranging from cancers to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's," Blanke said.
The findings could spur research into other diseases linked to impaired mitochondrial function, he said.