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http://feeds.arstechnica.com/~r/arstechnica/index/~3/-xBN-_lBLAQ/story01.htm

The idea that organisms can stably inherit characteristics they acquire during their lifetimes was discarded a long time ago; the fact that it doesn’t seem to happen was a big strike against the pre-Darwinian idea about evolution. But over the last few decades, that idea has been making a bit of a comeback. We’ve identified a few forms of epigenetic inheritance—primarily chemical modifications of DNA—that can be changed during the life of an organism but can still be passed down to its progeny. There’s clear evidence that this sort of inheritance is used in plants, and there are a few hints that it could influence significant traits in animals.Yesterday, Nature Neurosciencepublished a paper that provides the strongest evidence yet that an acquired trait can be passed down for several generations in mice. Animals that were trained to associate a specific smell with pain produced progeny that also were sensitive to the smell—even when their entire role in producing the next generation was limited to being a sperm donor.The paper itself inadvertently indicates just how radical this idea is. Early in its introduction, the authors (Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler) write, “An important, but often ignored, factor that influences adult nervous systems is exposure of parents to salient environmental stimuli before the conception of their offspring.” Well, yes, it has been ignored. But that’s largely because nobody had any evidence that it actually happens.

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jones_supa writes “An EU citizen uses around 200 plastic bags per year. That’s too much, says the EU. But wasting plastic bags is not just a European problem. Countries around the world are struggling with the issue, and it especially affects growing economies such as Asia. Some Southeast Asian countries don’t even have the proper infrastructure in place to dispose of the bags properly. The problems for the environment are many. Plastic bags usually take several hundred years until they decay, thereby filling landfills, while animals often mistake the plastic for food and choke to death. Additionally they are a major cause of seaborne pollution, which is a serious hazard for marine life. This autumn, EU started ambitious plans which aim to reduce usage 80% by 2017. Some countries have already applied measures to slow plastic bag use: England has added a 5p charge to previously free bags, and in Ireland the government has already imposed a tax of 22 euro cents ($0.29) per plastic bag. The EU Environment Commissioner, Janez Potonik, said, ‘We’re taking action to solve a very serious and highly visible environmental problem.'”

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Doctors and scientists have long known that infants have fragile immune systems. They lack a robust defense system against invading pathogens, developing one as they age. In general, this suggested that the infant immune system simply needs time to get stronger. But new research indicates that infants’ immune response is actively being held down by immunosuppressive cells.Some precursors to red blood cells are marked by the protein CD71. Doctors at the Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati found that, in human umbilical cord blood and newborn mice, these cells make an enzyme called arginase-2 that actively inhibits the immune response. When they transferred immune cells from newborns into adult mice, they found that the cells themselves were fully functional and capable of ramping up an immune response in the adult environment. This shows that the key is how the immune cells are regulated, not whether the infant immune cells themselves are immature.

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A new five-year pilot study has shown that lifestyle changes, like an improved diet, exercise, and stress management, may help reverse aging processes at the cellular level. But as exciting as this finding is, we’re still far from the proverbial fountain of youth.

The study, which now appears in The Lancet Oncology, was conducted by a pair of heavy hitting scientists, namely Dean Ornish — who’s made a career of demonstrating the benefits of comprehensive lifestyle changes in diet, exercise, stress management, and social support — and Elizabeth Blackburn, who won the Nobel Prize for her discovery of telomeres and their relation to the aging process.

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http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/dPT8xXaGyr8/scientifically-accurate-finding-nemo-would-be-horrifyin-1169760550

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http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/4/4587546/costa-rica-pushes-to-close-public-zoos-return-some-caged-animals-to-wild

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/LLDigcl64CI/story01.htm

http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/06/to-kill-cheetahs-use-agility-and-acceleration-not-top-speed/