Sunday, April 02, 2006

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

Cincinnati surgeons report new treatment for often-fatal injury
University of Cincinnati (UC) surgeons have developed a new, minimally invasive method for repairing a common and deadly form of aortic injury--an advance that could help reduce the number of deaths caused by auto accidents and major falls.

Coal-based jet fuel poised for next step
A jet fuel comparable to Jet A or military JP 8, but derived from at least 50 percent bituminous coal, has successfully powered a helicopter jet engine, according to a Penn State fuel scientist.

Scientists discover new gene responsible for spread of cancer
Scientists at the University of Liverpool have identified a new gene that causes the spread of cancer. Professor Philip Rudland, Dr Guozheng Wang and Dr Roger Barraclough from the University's Cancer and Polio Research Fund Laboratories have discovered an additional member of the S100 family of protein genes - S100P - that causes the spread of cancerous cells from an original tumour to other parts of the body.

Parents need to be educated about HPV vaccinations for daughters
Parents of young girls may soon be offered the opportunity to have their daughters immunised against a sexually transmitted virus that is the major cause of cervical cancer, Professor Henry Kitchener told the 4th International Conference on Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Medicine.

New materials for high efficiency organic solid state lighting
A new organic molecule developed by PNNL scientists may significantly improve the efficiency of organic solid state lighting. Direct conversion of electricity to light in "solid state" thin films of organic molecules occurs in organic light emitting devices which can be far more efficient than conventional "incandescent" light bulbs.

VCU researchers develop new method for synthesis of nanomaterials
Virginia Commonwealth University chemists, using a simple, commercial microwave oven, have developed a new method for the synthesis of nanomaterials that can control the dimensions and properties of rods and wires that are just one billionth of a meter in size.

Evidence of estrogen and progesterone hormone allergy has been discovered by Texas researchers
Some women with menstrual cycle disorders like asthma and migraine headaches may be experiencing allergies to their own estrogen and progesterone hormones, Texas researchers have discovered.

Subsurface bacteria release phosphate to convert uranium contamination to immobile form
In research that could help control contamination from the radioactive element uranium, scientists have discovered that some bacteria found in the soil and subsurface can release phosphate that converts uranium contamination into an insoluble and immobile form.

Chemical reaction research to improve instruments for analysis of samples from outer space
Researchers have identified a new test case that could be used for evaluating extraterrestrial samples for evidence of life. The new test could ultimately allow the use of simpler analytical instrumentation on future space missions.

Measuring electrical arcs at the micrometer scale
A new device and technique have been developed by National Institute of Standards and Technology researchers for measuring "breakdown" voltage.--the voltage required to produce electrical arcs when electrodes are 400 nanometers to 45 micrometers apart. The advance could be useful in microelectronics, such as in the design of microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS), in which arcing could cause device failure.

Friction-reduction recipe: Add two atoms and lots of heat
Get molecules moving, atom bumping against atom, and friction is bound to follow. Or does it? Surprising Brown University and University of Southern California research shows that under certain conditions in liquids, molecular motion destroys - rather than creates - friction. The work, published in Science, may rewrite the rulebook for chemical reactions.

When the heat is on, droplets, particles in a fluid ride on a cushion of vapor -- and never touch
When a tiny droplet of cold fluid mixes with a high-temperature solid particle, a vapor layer forms between them, and they never actually touch. Ohio State University researchers have performed the first accurate computer simulation of this small-scale phenomenon. Ultimately, this knowledge could enable engineers to boost the efficiency of chemical plants, power plants, and oil refineries, or any place where hot particles and cold fluid mix.

Using probes to control chemistry - molecule by molecule
Using probes originally designed to detect and image topographical features on surfaces, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have demonstrated the ability to initiate and spatially localize chemical reactions on the submicron scale. Such "site-selective" chemistry could lead to new ways to etch small-scale electronic circuits, the development of extremely sensitive chemical sensors, as well as a better understanding and control of chemical reactions such as those used to convert sunlight into electricity in solar cells.

Why are letters and other human visual signs shaped the way that they are?
In a new study forthcoming in the May 2006 issue of The American Naturalist, researchers from the California Institute of Technology explore the hypothesis that human visual signs have been cross-culturally selected to reflect common contours in natural scenes that humans have evolved to be good at seeing.

How a locust's eardrum could lead to tiny microphones
Being able to hear the smallest of noises is a matter of life or death for many insects, but for the scientists studying their hearing systems understanding how insect ears can be so sensitive could lead to new microphones able to capture and analyse extremely faint sounds.

New hope for tissue regeneration and joint repair
A new study is the first to identify periosteal cells as MSCs, with multipotent properties at the single cell level and the potential to regenerate cartilage, muscle, and bone in patients with inflammatory and degenerative rheumatic diseases.

Rising to the challenge of managing bandwidth
Emerging mobile services are demanding an ever-increasing amount of bandwidth, but the radio spectrum for third generation (3G) and beyond systems is in short supply. Algorithms developed by European researchers are helping operators better manage their precious bandwidth resources.

Pain killer fights breast cancer by targeting key enzyme
A pain-killing medication appears to halt the production of an enzyme that is key to a common form of breast cancer, a new study using tissue cultures suggests. The drug is called nimesulide. In laboratory experiments on breast cancer cells, scientists found that derivatives of nimesulide stopped the production of aromatase, the enzyme implicated in estrogen-dependent breast cancer. This form of breast cancer is the most common kind of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

Carnegie Mellon study sets benchmark properties for popular conducting plastic
Steadily increasing the length of a purified conducting polymer vastly improves its ability to conduct electricity, report researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, whose work appeared March 22 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Their study of regioregular polythiophenes establishes benchmark properties for these materials that suggest how to optimize their use for a new generation of diverse materials, including solar panels, transistors in radio frequency identification tags, and light-weight, flexible, organic light-emitting displays.

Promise shown for data encryption and data storage using holograms
The rapidly developing digital age demands greater processing power, data storage and data encryption for computer based technologies. Recent developments point towards optical information processing as a great leap forward.

Researchers get neurons and silicon talking
European researchers have created an interface between mammalian neurons and silicon chips. The development is a crucial first step in the development of advanced technologies that combine silicon circuits with a mammal's nervous system.

UC Davis study shows grape seed extract may be effective in reducing blood pressure
Grape seed extract lowered the blood pressure of patients who participated in a UC Davis study of the benefits of the supplement on people with high blood pressure.



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