Sunday, September 24, 2006

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

Breakthrough in computer chip design eliminates wires in data transmission:

Research slated to appear in the Oct. 2 edition of the Optical Society of America's Optics Express will unveil that researchers have created a new laser-silicon hybrid computer chip that can produce laser beams that will make it possible to use laser light rather than wires to send data between chips, removing the most significant bottleneck in computer design.

New target for cancer therapy identified:

A new target for cancer therapy has been identified by Monash University scientists investigating the cell signalling pathways that turn on a gene involved in cancer development.

Meet the earliest baby girl ever discovered:

The find of an australopithecus afarensis child will help to answer important questions concerning human evolution.

Insulin receptor stops progression of Alzheimer's disease:

A study from Rhode Island Hospital and Brown Medical School shows that you can treat Alzheimer's in its early stages and almost completely halt neurodegeneration. This means that patients with early symptoms could potentially stop the disease before their brains deteriorate.

Enzyme shreds Alzheimer's protein:

An enzyme found naturally in the brain snips apart the protein that forms the sludge called amyloid plaque that is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD), researchers have found. They said their findings in mice suggest that the protein, called Cathepsin B (CatB), is a key part of a protective mechanism that may fail in some forms of AD.

Watching DNA repair in real time:

Direct observations of DNA are giving new insights into how genetic material is copied and repaired.

Lighting up the heart:

For the first time ever, researchers at the University of Bristol have been able to directly measure energy levels inside living heart cells, in real time, using the chemical that causes fireflies to light up.

Self-aligning liquid crystal technique could simplify manufacture of display devices:

A new technique for creating vertical alignment among liquid crystal molecules could allow development of less costly flexible displays and lead to a better understanding of the factors that govern operation of the popular liquid crystal display systems.

Therapeutic role found for carbon monoxide:

In a medical case of Jekyll and Hyde, carbon monoxide -- the highly toxic gas emitted from auto exhausts and faulty heating systems -- has proven effective in treating the symptoms of pulmonary arterial hypertension, an extremely debilitating condition that typically leads to right heart failure and eventual death.

Mirrors in the mind: New studies elucidate how the brain reflects onto itself the actions of others:

In three new independent studies, researchers have deepened our understanding of the remarkable ability of some specialized areas of the brain to activate both in response to one's own actions and in response to sensory cues, such as sight, of the same actions perpetrated by another individual. This ability is thought to be based in the activity of so-called mirror neurons, which have been hypothesized to contribute to skills such as empathy, socialized behavior and language acquisition.

MIT designs 'invisible,' floating wind turbines:

An MIT researcher has a vision: Four hundred huge offshore wind turbines are providing onshore customers with enough electricity to power several hundred thousand homes, and nobody standing onshore can see them. The trick? The wind turbines are floating on platforms a hundred miles out to sea, where the winds are strong and steady.

Iowa State researchers developing more powerful solar cells:

Iowa State researchers have made discoveries in materials science and plasma chemistry that they hope will boost the performance of thin, flexible solar cells manufactured by an Iowa company.



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