Sunday, March 25, 2007

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

World first in medical robotics:
Some 40 years after the release of the classic science fiction movie Fantastic Voyage, researchers in the NanoRobotics Laboratory of École Polytechnique de Montréal's Department of Computer Engineering and Institute of Biomedical Engineering have achieved a major technological breakthrough in the field of medical robotics. They have succeeded for the first time in guiding, in vivo and via computer control, a microdevice inside an artery, at a speed of 10 centimetres a second.

Making mice with enhanced color vision:
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and their colleagues have found that mice simply expressing a human light receptor in addition to their own can acquire new color vision, a sign that the brain can adapt far more rapidly to new sensory information than anticipated.

MIT biologists solve vitamin puzzle:
Solving a mystery that has puzzled scientists for decades, MIT and Harvard researchers have discovered the final piece of the synthesis pathway of vitamin B12-the only vitamin synthesized exclusively by microorganisms.

MIT: Lack of fuel may limit US nuclear power expansion:
Limited supplies of fuel for nuclear power plants may thwart the renewed and growing interest in nuclear energy in the United States and other nations, says an MIT expert on the industry.

Synthetic production of potential pharmaceuticals dramatically simplified by Scripps research team:
A team of researchers at the Scripps Research Institute has developed new techniques that dramatically reduce the time, complexity, and cost of synthesizing natural products with pharmaceutical potential. The work dislodges previously entrenched beliefs in the organic chemistry field about how such products must be produced, and could help to advance and expand the use of natural products in drug discovery programs

Moral judgment fails without feelings:
Individuals with damage to a part of the frontal lobe make ruthless decisions when confronted with moral dilemmas that cause others to waver.

Mechanics meets chemistry in new way to manipulate matter:
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found a novel way to manipulate matter and drive chemical reactions along a desired direction. The new technique utilizes mechanical force to alter the course of chemical reactions and yield products not obtainable through conventional conditions.

Researchers master one of the largest, most complicated mathematical structures:
Ever since 1887, when Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie discovered the mathematical group called E8, researchers have been trying to understand the extraordinarily complex object described by a numerical matrix of more than 400,000 rows and columns.

New technique developed for tracking cells in the body:
Scientists' inability to follow the whereabouts of cells injected into the human body has long been a major drawback in developing effective medical therapies. Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins have developed a promising new technique for noninvasively tracking where living cells go after they are put into the body. The new technique, which uses genetically encoded cells producing a natural contrast that can be viewed using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), appears much more effective than present methods used to detect injected biomaterials.

Do you need sex to be a species?:
New analyses of genetic and morphological data reveal that the bdelloid rotifers, a famous asexual group, have diversified into distinct species and that sex is not a necessary condition for speciation.



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