Sunday, March 19, 2006

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

Atoms in new state of matter behave like Three Musketeers: All for one, one for all
An international team of physicists has converted three normal atoms into a special new state of matter whose existence was proposed by Russian scientist Vitaly Efimov in 1970.

UCSD project takes fish collection into the digital age
The same medical technology used to image brain tumors and torn knee ligaments is now taking the field of marine biology to a new dimension by allowing anyone with Internet access to examine fish as never before...

...The technology will enable researchers to acquire and process high-resolution data of various fish anatomies that can be placed on the Internet. Using this powerful and versatile imaging tool, scientists, students and anyone in the public will be able to digitally probe and dissect these fishes from a desktop computer anywhere in the world...

Study to test drug's potential to preserve insulin production in newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetics
A drug used to treat lymphoma, rheumatoid arthritis and other immune disorders may enable newly-diagnosed type 1 diabetics to save some of their pancreas function and thereby reduce their susceptibility to long-term complications.

Diabetes research yielding breakthrough success
Canadian researchers become first to identify potential stem cell of insulin-producing pancreas islets and develop process for producing cells in lab for eventual transplants.
Deriving the shape of the Galactic stellar disc
While analysing the complex structure of the Milky Way, an international team of astronomers from Italy and the United Kingdom has recently derived the shape of the Galactic outer stellar disc, and provided the strongest evidence that, besides being warped, it is at least 70 percent more extended than previously thought. Their findings will be reported in an upcoming issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics, and is a new step in understanding the large-scale structure of our Galaxy.

MiRNA fingerprint identified in platelet formation
MiRNA has only recently been acknowledged as an important force in biology. In a new study, scientists at Ohio State University Medical Center have identified a handful of microRNAs (miRNAs) that appear to play a significant role in the development of platelets. They also say some of these same miRNAs, when acting abnormally, may contribute to certain forms of leukemia.

...MiRNA has only recently been acknowledged as an important force in biology. For decades, scientific dogma has held that messenger RNA (mRNA) was responsible for carrying out DNA instructions, or code, for protein production in the cell. Little was known, however, about how cells actually regulated that process. But over the past 10 years, researchers have discovered that miRNA – tiny fragments of RNA typically no more than 20-25 nucleotides in length – also regulates protein synthesis by interfering with mRNA's original instructions. They now know that miRNA helps to regulate many key biological processes, including cell growth, death, development and differentiation....

New satellite data on universe's first trillionth second
Scientists peering back to the oldest light in the universe have new evidence for what happened within its first trillionth of a second, when the universe suddenly grew from submicroscopic to astronomical size in far less than a wink of the eye.

..."It amazes me that we can say anything about what transpired within the first trillionth of a second of the universe, but we can," said Charles L. Bennett, WMAP principal investigator and a professor in the Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics and Astronomy at The Johns Hopkins University. "We have never before been able to understand the infant universe with such precision. It appears that the infant universe had the kind of growth spurt that would alarm any mom or dad." ...

Astronomers report unprecedented double helix nebula near center of the Milky Way
Astronomers report an unprecedented elongated double helix nebula near the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The research is published in the journal Nature.

New technique provides the first full view of the far side of the sun
The hidden face of the sun is fully visible for the first time, thanks to a new technique developed at Stanford University. Only half of the sun--the near side--is directly observable. The far side always faces away from Earth and is therefore out of view. But the new technology allows anyone with a computer to download images of the entire solar surface--an important advance with practical applications for solar storm forecasting.

Molecule targets and kills tumor cells, starves blood supply
A man-made chemical compound called ARC causes tumor cells to die but leaves normal cells unharmed, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago report in a study highlighted in the March 15 issue of Cancer Research. ARC also proved to have strong anti-angiogenic properties, showing promise as an inhibitor of new blood vessel formation in tumors.

Pepper component hot enough to trigger suicide in prostate cancer cells
Capsaicin, the stuff that turns up the heat in jalape.os, not only causes the tongue to burn, it also drives prostate cancer cells to kill themselves, according to studies published in the March 15 issue of Cancer Research.

Transplantation Report 2005
Three-year survival rates for heart and lung transplantion patients have improved dramatically in the last 15 years.

Student entrepreneurs: New sensor will help guarantee freshness
Grocers, florists and even pharmacists may soon have a better way to monitor the quality of the products they get from suppliers: a sensor that will tell how long before a product spoils or passes its expiration date.

10.2 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in 2005 - up 11 percent
More than 10.2 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed in the United States in 2005, up 11 percent from 2004, according to statistics released today by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). In addition, more than 5.4 million reconstructive plastic surgery procedures were performed last year, reports the ASPS.

Century of data shows intensification of water cycle but no increase in storms or floods
A review of the findings from more than 100 peer-reviewed studies shows that although many aspects of the global water cycle have intensified, including precipitation and evaporation, this trend has not consistently resulted in an increase in the frequency or intensity of tropical storms or floods over the past century. The USGS findings, which have implications on the effect of global climate change, are published today in the Journal of Hydrology.

Neuroscientists discover new cell type that may help brain maintain memories of smells
Neuroscientists have discovered a new cell type in the part of the brain that processes our sense of smell. This new cell type, the Blanes cell (pronounced blon - es), is a member of a group of previously unstudied brain cells. Blanes cells have unusual properties which may help the brain maintain memories of smells and also opens a new approach to understanding the basis of memory impairments in Alzheimer's disease. The paper appears in the March 16 issue of the journal Neuron.

UCR researchers grow bone cells on carbon nanotubes
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have published findings that show, for the first time, that bone cells can grow and proliferate on a scaffold of carbon nanotubes.

Evolution in action: Why some viruses jump species
Researchers studying strains of a lethal canine virus and a related human virus have determined why the canine virus was able to spread so quickly from cats to dogs. Their findings may lead to a new understanding of the critical molecular factors that permit viruses to jump from one species to another.

Molecule by molecule, new assay shows real-time gene activity
Chemists at Harvard University have developed the first technique providing a real-time, molecule-by-molecule "movie" of protein production in live cells. Their direct observation of fluorescently tagged molecules in single cells -- providing striking real-time footage of the birth of individual new protein molecules inside -- greatly increases scientists' precision in probing genetic activity.

U of M researchers identify cause of memory loss
Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School and the Minneapolis VA Medical Center have for the first time identified a substance in the brain that is proven to cause memory loss. This discovery in mice gives drug developers a target for creating drugs to treat memory loss in people with dementia.

Rare Chinese frogs communicate by means of ultrasonic sound
First came word that a rare frog (Amolops tormotus) in China sings like a bird, then that the species produces very high-pitch ultrasonic sounds. Now scientists say that these concave-eared torrent frogs also hear and respond to the sounds.

Saved by 'sand' poured into wounds
QuikClot is a sand-like material developed for the military which when poured into a wound can stop bleeding within seconds - saving lives. New advances in this material and the development of new substances could soon see blood clotting treatments being acceptable for ambulance crews, surgeons or ultimately to use by individuals at home in their first aid kits.

Greenhouse theory smashed by biggest stone
A new theory to explain global warming was revealed at a meeting at the University of Leicester (UK) and is being considered for publication in the journal "Science First Hand". The controversial theory has nothing to do with burning fossil fuels and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. According to Vladimir Shaidurov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the apparent rise in average global temperature recorded by scientists over the last hundred years or so could be due to atmospheric changes that are not connected to human emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of natural gas and oil. Shaidurov explained how changes in the amount of ice crystals at high altitude could damage the layer of thin, high altitude clouds found in the mesosphere that reduce the amount of warming solar radiation reaching the earth's surface...

Researchers simulate complete structure of virus -- on a computer
When Boeing and Airbus developed their latest aircraft, the companies' engineers designed and tested them on a computer long before the planes were built. Biologists are catching on. They've just completed the first computer simulation of an entire life form -- a virus.

Researchers link human papillomavirus (HPV) to common skin cancer
Human papillomavirus (HPV) may be a risk factor in developing squamous cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer, according to research led by Dartmouth Medical School. The study, published in the March 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, used new technology to detect antibodies from a strain of HPV on skin cancer samples.

Ultra-clean coal - could the price now be right to help fight climate change?
A new chemical process for removing unwanted minerals from coal could lead to reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power stations.



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