Sunday, June 17, 2007

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

Human activities increasing carbon sequestration in forests:
Human-caused nitrogen deposition has been indirectly "fertilizing" forests, increasing their growth and sequestering major amounts of carbon, a new study in the journal Nature suggests. To some degree, this is offsetting carbon dioxide emissions.

Improving plants' abilities to cope with saline conditions:
A method for increasing plants' tolerance to salt stress and thus preventing stunted growth and even plant death has been developed by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The method has significant consequences for dealing with soil salinization, which is an acute problem for a wide range of crops in different regions of the world, including Israel.

Progress toward an antitumor vaccine:
A team led by Horst Kunst at the University of Mainz has found a way to bind a molecule that is typical for tumors to a carrier protein without irritating the immune system. As they report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, their method is based on an immunocompatible connection by way of a sulfur atom, namely, a thioether.

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover:
Biologists at McMaster University have found that plants get competitive when forced to share their plot with strangers of the same species, but they're accommodating when potted with their siblings. It's the first time the ability to recognize and favor kin has been revealed in plants.

Bacteria ferry nanoparticles into cells for early diagnosis, treatment:
Researchers at Purdue University have shown that common bacteria can deliver a valuable cargo of "smart nanoparticles" into a cell to precisely position sensors, drugs or DNA for the early diagnosis and treatment of various diseases.

Mars -- Red Planet once blue planet:
New evidence confirms oceans on Mars -- pole shift led to deformed shorelines.

Matter flashed at ultra speed:
Using a robotic telescope at the ESO La Silla Observatory, astronomers have for the first time measured the velocity of the explosions known as gamma-ray bursts. The material is travelling at the extraordinary speed of more than 99.999 percent of the velocity of light, the maximum speed limit in the universe.

Physicist cracks women's random but always lucky choice of X chromosome:
A University of Warwick physicist has uncovered how female cells are able to choose randomly between their two X chromosomes and why that choice is always lucky.

Making new teeth:
A network comprising Activin, BMP, FGF and Follistatin regulate incisor stem cell proliferation in the niche and account for asymmetric organogenesis.

2 qubits in action, new step towards the quantum computer:
Researchers at Delft University of Technology have succeeded in carrying out calculations with two quantum bits, the building blocks of a possible future quantum computer. The Delft researchers are publishing an article about this important step towards a workable quantum computer in this week's issue of Nature.



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