Sunday, July 23, 2006

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

Gas escaping from ocean floor may drive global warming:

Gas escaping from the ocean floor may provide some answers to understanding historical global warming cycles -- and provide information on current climate changes according to a team of UCSB scientists. The findings are reported in the July 20 on-line version of the scientific journal, Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Remarkable and unexpected support for this idea occurred when divers and scientists observed and videotaped a massive blowout of methane from the ocean floor near Santa Barbara.

UCLA scientists strengthen case for life more than 3.8 billion years ago:

Ten years ago, an international team of scientists reported evidence, in a controversial cover story in Nature, that life on Earth began more than 3.8 billion years ago -- 400 million years earlier than previously thought. A UCLA professor who was not part of that team and two of the original authors now report in that the evidence is stronger than ever.

Reversing and accelerating the speed of light:

Physicist Costas Soukoulis and his research group at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory on the Iowa State University campus are having the time of their lives making light travel backwards at negative speeds that appear faster than the speed of light.

Hopkins researchers develop new tool to watch real-time chemical activity in cells:

Attempts to identify potential drugs that interfere with the action of one particular enzyme linked to heart disease and similar health problems led scientists at Johns Hopkins to create a new tool and new experimental approach that allow them to see multiple, real-time chemical reactions in living cells.

Atomic-resolution structure of a ribozyme yields insights into RNA catalysis and the origins of life:

Scientists have obtained a near-atomic resolution image of the three-dimensional shape of the hammerhead ribozyme. The results show a ribozyme structure in which the atoms are uniquely arranged and poised for catalysis in the context of an intricately twisted and folded segment of RNA.

Bubbles go high-tech to fight tumors:

Bubbles: You've bathed in them, popped them, endured bad song lyrics about them. Now, University of Michigan researchers hope to add a more sophisticated application to the list -- gas bubbles used like corks to block oxygen flow to tumors, or to deliver drugs.

'Micro-boxes' of water used to study single molecules:

NIST researchers have demonstrated the use of water droplets as minuscule boxes for small numbers of biomolecules. The unusually simple containment method may enable easier experiments on single molecule dynamics and perhaps lead to the development of molecule-sorting devices that might be used for medical screening or biotechnology research.

Novel nano-etched cavity makes leds 7 times brighter:

Researchers at NIST have made semiconductor light-emitting diodes (LEDs) more than seven times brighter by etching nanoscale grooves in a surrounding cavity to guide scattered light in one direction. The novel nanostructure, which may have applications in areas such as in biomedical imaging where LED brightness is crucial, is described in the July 17 issue of Applied Physics Letters

New study supports findings that periodontal bacteria may be linked to heart disease:

The presence of specific bacteria and combinations of bacteria in periodontal pockets might be an explanation for the relationship between periodontal disease and acute coronary syndrome (ACS), according to a new study published in the Journal of Periodontology.

Possible birthplace of malignant brain tumors identified:

Researchers have found that abnormal stimulation of a cellular trigger that normally regulates replenishment of brain cells in adults causes invasive tumor-like growths in mice. Removing the abnormal stimulation causes the growths to regress -- a finding the researchers said suggests a possible treatment for the lethal, aggressive brain tumors called malignant gliomas.

Study confirms males/females use different parts of brain in language & visuospatial tasks:

Differences in the way men and women perform verbal and visuospatial tasks have been well documented in scientific literature, but findings have been inconsistent as to whether men and women actually use different parts of their brains. But a new study published in the journal Brain and Language, which accounted for and corrected these methodological factors, confirmed that men and women do indeed use different parts of their brains when processing both language and visuospatial information.

Molecular DNA switch found to be the same for all life:

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have shown that the core machinery for initiating DNA replication is the same for all three domains of life -- Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya.



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