Sunday, June 03, 2007

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

Soils offer new hope as carbon sink:
The huge potential of agricultural soils to reduce greenhouse gases and increase production at the same time has been reinforced by new research findings from the NSW Department of Primary Industries'. Trials of agrichar -- a product hailed as a savior of Australia's carbon-depleted soils and the environment -- have doubled and, in one case, tripled crop growth when applied at the rate of 10 tons per hectare. Agrichar is a black carbon byproduct of a process called pyrolysis.

Researchers create new nanotechnology field:
Researchers have created a novel way to control the quantum state of an electron's spin.

Arithmetic is child's play:
Children are able to solve approximate addition or subtraction problems involving large numbers even before they have been taught arithmetic, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Nottingham and Harvard University.

Cigarette smoke alters DNA in sperm, genetic damage could pass to offspring:
The science has long been clear that smoking causes cancer, but new research shows that children could inherit genetic damage from a father who smokes.

Cellular message movement captured on video:
Fluorescent video microscopy reveals the dynamic behavior of a protein found in focal adhesions, cell-surface regions rich with receptors for growth factors and points of attachment with the outside world.

How to rip and tear a fluid:
In a simple experiment on a mixture of water, soap and salt, researchers have shown that a knife-like object slides through the mixture at slow speeds as if it were a liquid, but at faster speeds rips it up as if it were a rubbery solid. The research provides new insights into how such materials, which share properties of everyday materials like blood, switch from being like a solid to being like a liquid.

Math that powers spam filters used to understand how brain learns to move our muscles:
A team of biomedical engineers has developed a computer model that makes use of more or less predictable "guesstimates" of human muscle movements to explain how the brain draws on both what it recently learned and what it's known for some time to anticipate what it needs to develop new motor skills.

Researchers discover inherited mutation for leukemia:
Researchers have discovered the first inherited gene mutation that increases a person's risk for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, one of the most common forms of the disease. The study shows that the inherited mutation greatly reduces the gene's protective activity. Furthermore, a second kind of change occurs later that turns the gene off altogether, leading to leukemia. This latter alteration is a chemical change that is not inherited.

Bringing order to 'what if?':
The University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute is creating a tool that will speed and help make more consistent the complex task of quantifying risk estimates to guide policymakers, working through the DHS-funded Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events.

Single spinning nuclei in diamond offer a stable quantum computing building block:
Surmounting several distinct hurdles to quantum computing, physicists at Harvard University have found that individual carbon-13 atoms in a diamond lattice can be manipulated with extraordinary precision to create stable quantum mechanical memory and a small quantum processor, also known as a quantum register, operating at room temperature. The finding brings the futuristic technology of quantum information systems into the realm of solid-state materials under ordinary conditions.

For many insects, winter survival is in the genes:
Many insects living in northern climates don't die at the first signs of cold weather. Rather, new research suggests that they use a number of specialized proteins to survive the chilly months. These so-called "heat-shock proteins" ensure that the insects will be back to bug us come spring.

Nanoscale imaging reveals unexpected behaviors in high-temperature superconductors:
Recent discoveries regarding the physics of ceramic superconductors may help improve scientists' understanding of resistance-free electrical power. Tiny, isolated patches of superconductivity exist within these substances at higher temperatures than previously were known, according to a paper by Princeton scientists, who have developed new techniques to image superconducting behavior at the nanoscale.



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