Sunday, August 20, 2006

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

How secondhand smoke injures babies' lungs:

UC Davis researchers today described in unprecedented biochemical andanatomical detail how cigarette smoke damages the lungs of unborn andnewborn children.

Artificial muscles may enable more life-like color displays:

Scientists have unveiled a new technology that could lead to video displays that faithfully reproduce a fuller range of colors than current models, giving such a life-like viewing experience that it could be hard to go back to your old TV. The invention, based on fine-tuning light using microscopic artificial muscles, could turn into competitively priced consumer products in eight years, the scientists say.

Anthrax detector developed:

Anthrax spores can be specifically recognized thanks to a new immunological approach that has been developed by a team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Z├╝rich, the Swiss Tropical Institute, and the University of Bern.

3-D forms link antibiotic resistance and brain disease:

The story of what makes certain types of bacteria resistant to a specific antibiotic has a sub-plot that gives insight into the cause of a rare form of brain degeneration among children, according to investigators at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Molecules spontaneously form honeycomb network featuring pores of unprecedented size:

UC Riverside chemists have discovered a new way in which nature creates complex patterns: the assembly of molecules with no guidance from an outside source. Potential applications of the finding are paints, lubricants, medical implants and processes where surface-patterning at the scale of molecules is desired.

UC Davis study finds brain cell regulator is volume control, not on/off switch:

UC Davis researchers have discovered that proteins that regulate brain-cell activity by controlling the flow of potassium ions behave more like volume controls on stereos rather than on/off power switches.

FSU biologists uncover mechanisms that shape cells for better or worse:

In a landmark study, biologists at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla., have uncovered a specific genetic and molecular mechanism that causes cell polarity -- the asymmetric shape or composition critical to a cell's proper functioning. Their findings in fruit fly eggs may help to clarify how muscular dystrophy and some cancers develop in humans.

Newly discovered gene may hold clues to evolution of human brain capacity:

Scientists have discovered a gene that has undergone accelerated evolutionary change in humans and is active during a critical stage in brain development. Although researchers have yet to determine the precise function of the gene, the evidence suggests that it may play a role in the development of the cerebral cortex and may even help explain the dramatic expansion of this part of the brain during human evolution.

UA physicist discovers exotic superconductivity:

A University of Arizona physicist has discovered that strong magnetic fields change the basic properties of electrons flowing through superconductors.

New light microscope may help unlock some of cells' secrets:

A microscopy technique pioneered with the help of Florida State University's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Fla. has led to the development of a new light microscope capable of looking at proteins on a molecular level.

New type of optical microscopy attains near-molecular resolution:

A new type of microscopy invented by Xiaowei Zhuang and colleagues at Harvard University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute delivers spatial resolution more than 10 times better than that of conventional optical microscopes, putting scientists tantalizingly close to the first crisp, ultra-resolution, real-time imaging of living biomolecules and cells.The new technique can currently resolve objects as small as 20 nanometers, or 20 billionths of a meter, a resolution Zhuang says could be pushed, with further improvements, to molecular scale.

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