Sunday, March 11, 2007

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

Researchers learn what sparks plant growth:
A secret long held by plants has been revealed by Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers. The new discovery, which builds on more than a decade of painstaking surveillance of cellular communication between different types of plant tissues, shows clearly for the first time how plants "decide" to grow.

NT researchers discover breakthrough in malaria treatment:
An article published in the prestigious international journal the Lancet by researchers from the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin has revealed a breakthrough in the battle to treat malaria -- a disease which effects 40 percent of the world's population.

Metacognition: Faced with a test, rats can check their knowledge first:
Researchers have found evidence that rats are capable of metacognition -- that is, they can possess knowledge of their own cognitive states. This ability, which can also be thought of as the capacity to assess or reflect on one's own mental processes, was previously only recognized in humans and other primates.

Study finds antibiotic resistance in poultry even when antibiotics were not used:
A surprising finding by a team of University of Georgia scientists suggests that curbing the use of antibiotics on poultry farms will do little -- if anything -- to reduce rates of antibiotic resistant bacteria that have the potential to threaten human health.

Bacterium could treat PCBs without the need for dredging:
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered a tiny bacterium that could one day transform the way we remove polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from our environment. The organism could be the key to developing methods that help detoxify commercial PCB compounds on site -- without the need for dredging.

Nothing to do with it:
Intuitively, one would think that firms should keep their transactions with customers as brief and efficient as possible. However, new research from the March issue of the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that by adding unnecessary but straightforward steps -- called "superfluous choices" -- at early stages of the buying process, marketers can increase not only customer satisfaction, but also brand loyalty.

Major gene study uncovers secrets of leukemia:
Investigators at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have discovered previously unsuspected mutations that contribute to the formation of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cancer in children. The discovery not only suggests novel methods for treating pediatric ALL, but also provides a roadmap for the identification of unsuspected mutations in adult cancers.

Mine runoff continues to provide clues to microbial diversification:
Pink slime at the surface of water trickling through an old mine in California is proving to be a treasure for researchers in their quest to learn more about how bacterial communities exist in nature.

Unlocking the secrets of high-temperature superconductors:
Although it was discovered more than 20 years ago, a particular type of high-temperature (Tc) superconductor is regaining the attention of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory. Brookhaven researchers have learned how to "grow" better samples of LBCO, a cuprate superconductor containing lanthanum, barium, copper and oxygen, and will discuss their most recent findings about the material at the March meeting of the American Physical Society.

UC Davis researchers use heated nanoprobes to destroy breast cancer cells in mice:
In experiments with laboratory mice that bear aggressive human breast cancers, UC Davis researchers have used hot nanoprobes to slow the growth of tumors -- without damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Dietary copper may ease heart disease:
Including more copper in your everyday diet could be good for your heart, according to scientists at the University of Louisville Medical Center and the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center. Their studies show that giving copper supplements to mice eased the stress on their over-worked hearts by preventing heart enlargement. The study will be published online on March 5 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.



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