Sunday, October 08, 2006

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

Ohio University researchers create improved magnetic-semiconductor sandwich:

Researchers at Ohio University have created an improved magnetic semiconductor that solves a problem spintronics scientists have been investigating for years.

New wood-plastic composites to boost industry, help use waste products:

Wood science researchers in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University have developed new wood-plastic composites that are stronger and less expensive than any similar products now available -- a major breakthrough for this growing industry.


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Fantastic Voyage: A new nanoscale view of the biological world:

Echoing the journey through the human body in "Fantastic Voyage," doctors might soon be able to track individual donor cells after a transplant, or to find where and how much of a cancer treatment drug there is within a cell. New technology described in a study published today in the open access journal, Journal of Biology makes it possible to image and quantify molecules within individual mammalian or bacterial cells.

Rice's single-pixel camera takes high-res images:

Using new mathematics and a silicon chip covered with hundreds of thousands of bacterium-sized mirrors, Rice University engineers have designed a time-multiplexed camera that takes high-resolution images with a single photodiode. Today's battery-hungry megapixel cameras contain millions of photodiodes, but Rice's camera creates an image by capturing one pixel of light several thousands of times in succession. The research will be presented October 11 at Frontiers in Optics 2006 in Rochester, New York.

First quantum teleportation between light and matter:

Researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching and the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen have succeeded in transferring a quantum state of light to a material object -- an ensemble of atoms.

Natural anti-viral enzyme helps keep cancer cells alive, researchers find:

A molecule that cells normally use to fight viruses is also involved in keeping cancer cells alive, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered.

Study identifies possible mechanism for brain damage in Huntington's disease:

Researchers from the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease have identified a possible mechanism underlying how the gene mutation that causes Huntington's disease leads to the degeneration and death of brain cells.

Animals resistant to drunken behavior offer clues to alcoholism's roots:

Animals with a remarkable ability to hold their liquor may point the way toward the genetic underpinnings of alcohol addiction, two separate research teams reported in the October 6, 2006 issue of the journal Cell. Earlier studies have shown that people with a greater tolerance for alcohol have a greater risk of becoming alcoholics, according to the researchers.

Human brain region functions like digital computer, says CU-Boulder professor:

A region of the human brain that scientists believe is critical to human intellectual abilities surprisingly functions much like a digital computer, according to psychology Professor Randall O'Reilly of the University of Colorado at Boulder. The finding could help researchers better understand the functioning of human intelligence.

Scientists show drug can counteract muscular dystrophy in mice:

Scientists at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and other institutions have demonstrated for the first time that a single drug can rebuild damaged muscle in two strains of mice that develop diseases comparable to two human forms of muscular dystrophy.

Method could help carbon nanotubes become commercially viable:

Carbon nanotubes are intriguing new materials, but a fundamental problem relating to their synthesis has limited their widespread commercial use. Current methods for synthesizing the materials produce mixtures of tubes that differ in their diameter and twist. Now Northwestern University researchers have developed a new method for sorting single-walled carbon nanotubes. The method works by exploiting subtle differences in the buoyant densities of carbon nanotubes as a function of their size and electronic behavior.

UD scientists use carbon nanotube networks to detect defects in composites:

University of Delaware researchers have discovered a means to detect and identify damage within advanced composite materials by using a network of tiny carbon nanotubes, which act in much the same manner as human nerves.

Uncovering DNA's 'sweet' secret:

How nature arrived at the final structure of DNA has been a long-standing mystery. Recently, Vanderbilt University Medical Center researcher Martin Egli and colleagues reported the X-ray crystal structure of homo-DNA, an artificial analog of DNA containing a six-carbon sugar in the backbone instead of the usual five-carbon sugar. The structure provides key insights into why nature might have "preferred" the five-carbon sugars.

Fighting cancer with aspirin?:

When looking for new weapons in the war on cancer, scientists should turn to their medicine cabinets for an age-old remedy -- aspirin. Scientists at the University of Newcastle have determined that aspirin has cancer-fighting effects extending beyond Cox inhibitors. This finding, appearing in the October 2006 issue of the FASEB Journal, allows researchers to pursue new lines of investigation that could ultimately yield a new type of cancer-fighting drug.

Looking for new approaches to target antibiotic-resistant bacteria:

Infection with Entercoccus faecalis can cause bacterial endocarditis, an infection of the heart valves that if not treated with antibiotics results in death. The number of infections with antibiotic-resistant E. faecalis is increasing. So, researchers are looking for alternative strategies for treating individuals who become infected with this bacterium. Now, a new study has identified proteins that are required for E. faecalis to cause endocarditis in rats and that might make good vaccine candidates.

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