Sunday, March 12, 2006

Science Sunday: Wrap-up of recent advancements in science from EurekAlert!

Doernbecher researchers to study effectiveness of stem cell transplant in human brain

Doernbecher Children's Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University will begin a Phase I clinical trial using stem cells in the brains of infants and children with a rare, fatal neurodegenerative disorder.

Saturn's moon is source of solar system's largest planetary ring

Saturn's moon Enceladus is the source of Saturn's E-ring, confirms research published today. Writing in the journal Science, scientists show how a plume of icy water vapour bursting out of the South Pole of Enceladus replenishes the water particles that make up the E-ring and creates a dynamic water-based atmosphere around the small moon.

ESA satellite reveals Yellowston's deep secret

Satellite images acquired by ESA's ERS-2 revealed the recently discovered changes in Yellowstone's caldera are the result of molten rock movement 15 kilometres below the Earth's surface, according to a recent study published in Nature.

New study reveals promising osteoporosis treatment

A New York University College of Dentistry professor has developed a calcium phosphate-based supplement that -- even at low concentrations -- significantly improves bone strength and thickness without the side effects of many current drug treatments.

Identifying gems and minerals on Earth and on Mars

Researchers are developing a handheld instrument, much like a tricorder from the "Star Trek" television show, that will allow almost instant identification of minerals. The pocket-sized instrument will go to Mars on the 2009 Mars rover.

Mice with glowing hearts shed light on how hearts develop

Many people have heard of a heart of gold, but what about a heart that glows? Cornell researchers have genetically engineered mice whose hearts fluoresce as they beat. The development gives researchers insights into how hearts develop in living mouse embryos and could improve our understanding of irregular heartbeats.

Hamster study shows how our brains recognize other individuals

Different areas of the brain react differently when recognizing others, depending on the emotions attached to the memory, a team of Cornell research psychologists has found. The team, led by professor of psychology Robert Johnston, has been conducting experiments to study individual recognition, and the results were published in the Dec. 7, 2005, issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Genetically engineered mosquitoes show resistance to dengue fever virus

Researchers have successfully created a genetically engineered mosquito that shows a high level of resistance against the most prevalent type of dengue fever virus, providing a powerful weapon against a disease that infects 50 million people each year.

There's more than meets the eye in judging the size of an object

You can't always trust your eyes. Neuroscientists from the University of Washington and University of Minnesota have found that the first area in the cortex of the human brain and receives information from the eyes processes the perceived size, rather than the actual size, of an object.

Sandia's Z machine exceeds two billion degrees Kelvin

Sandia's Z machine has produced plasmas that exceed temperatures of 2 billion degrees Kelvin -- hotter than the interiors of stars. The unexpectedly hot output, if its cause were understood and harnessed, could eventually mean that smaller, less costly nuclear fusion plants would produce the same amount of energy as larger plants.

Are tougher electronic components on the way?

Researchers have made two durable compounds called noble metal nitrides--one containing iridium and another containing platinum--using extreme temperatures and pressures. Both possess a diamond-like hardness, and some compositions might have very low, nearly superconductive electrical resistance, making these substances potentially valuable to engineers. The strength and durability of these materials could make them viable replacements for the titanium nitrides currently valued by the semiconductor industry.

Genetic perversity: Smoking & gene avert Parkinson's

It has long been known that smoking offers some protection against developing Parkinson's disease and now aQueensland University of Technology PhD researcher has found out part of the reason why.

The dual functions of sight - perception and action - demonstrated for first time

The dissociation in the visual system between two separate functions - one that enables us to identify objects and the other to interact with them - has been clearly demonstrated for the first time in healthy humans by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Study of 2004 tsunami forces rethinking of giant earthquake theory

The Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of Dec. 26, 2004, was one of the worst natural disasters in history, largely because of the devastating tsunami that followed. Now, scientists have discovered that regions of the earth previously thought to be immune to such events may actually be at high risk of experiencing them.

Electrons flying 'backwards' in Saturn's sky

Polar lights are fascinating to look at on Earth. On other planets, they can also be spectacular. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenberg, Lindau, Germany, have now observed Saturn's polar region using the particle spectrometer MIMI, on the Cassini Space Probe. They discovered electrons not only being accelerated toward the planet, but also away from it.

Researchers find ways heat-loving microbes create energy

Curiosity about the microbial world drove Jan Amend, PhD, an associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, to Vulcano Island, Italy, a shallow hydrothermal Shangri-la near Sicily. There, Amend and his collaborators managed to examine the environment in depth, design a gene probe, and discover new life-which could have some big implications for the origin and presence of life on Earth.

Record-breaking luminosity boosts discovery potential at Fermilab's Tevatron collider

The record-breaking performance of the Tevatron collider at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is pushing the search for dark matter, supersymmetric particles and extra dimensions to new limits. Repeatedly smashing peak luminosity records, the Tevatron has created record numbers of proton-antiproton collisions that provide the means to unveil the secrets of the universe.

World's oldest ship timbers found in Egyptian desert

The oldest remains of seafaring ships in the world have been found in caves at the edge of the Egyptian desert along with cargo boxes that suggest ancient Egyptians sailed nearly 1,000 miles on rough waters to get treasures from a place they called God's Land, or Punt. Florida State University anthropology professor Cheryl Ward has determined that wooden planks found in the manmade caves are about 4,000 years old - making them the world's most ancient ship timbers.

Carbon fiber cars could put US on highway to efficiency

Highways of tomorrow might be filled with lighter, cleaner and more fuel-efficient automobiles made in part from recycled plastics, lignin from wood pulp and cellulose.

Nanoparticles create biocompatible capsules

An innovative strategy of mixing lipids and nanoparticles to produce new drug and agricultural materials and delivery vehicles has been developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Scientists find brain function most important to maths ability

Scientists at UCL (University College London) have discovered the area of the brain linked to dyscalculia, a maths learning disability. The finding shows that there is a separate part of the brain used for counting that is essential for diagnosis and an understanding of why many people struggle with maths.



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