Sunday, August 12, 2007

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

Can you catch a killer before they commit a crime?:
The US government is hoping to develop scanning systems that can pick out would-be terrorists that are about to enter the US. But the sensors won't be looking for hidden explosives or knives, they will be trained at recognizing human emotions, to detect if someone is hiding an intention to deceive or harm. The US Department of Homeland Security plans to test "Project Hostile Intent" at a handful of US airports, borders and ports as early as 2010.

Locked in glaciers, ancient ice may return to life as glaciers melt:
The DNA of ancient microorganisms, long frozen in glaciers, may return to life as the glaciers melt, according to a paper published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by scientists at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and Boston University. The article is scheduled to appear in the print edition on Tuesday, Aug. 14.

Quantum analog of Ulam's conjecture can guide molecules, reactions:
By creating a quantum mechanical analog of Ulam's conjecture, researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of California have expanded the flexibility and controllability of quantum mechanical systems.

Emory physicist opens new window on glass puzzle:
When most people look at a window, they see solid panes of glass, but for decades, physicists have pondered the mysteries of window glass: Is glass a solid, or merely an extremely slow moving liquid? An Emory University research team led by physicist Eric Weeks has yielded another clue in the glass puzzle, demonstrating that, unlike liquids, glasses aren't comfortable in confined spaces.

A study by the MUHC and McGill University opens a new door to understanding cancer:
An in-depth understanding of the mechanisms that trigger cancer cell growth is vital to the development of more targeted treatments for the disease. An article published in the Aug. 3 issue of Molecular Cell provides a key to these mechanisms that may prove crucial in the future. The paper is co-authored by Dr. Morag Park, director of the MUHC Molecular Oncology Group, and Dr. Kalle Gehring, head of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Laboratory of the McGill University biochemistry department.

Research shows skeleton to be endocrine organ:
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have now identified a surprising and critically important novel function of the skeleton. They've shown for the first time that the skeleton is an endocrine organ that helps control our sugar metabolism and weight and, as such, is a major determinant of the development of type 2 diabetes. The research is published in the Aug. 10 issue of Cell

Evolution is driven by gene regulation:
It is not just what's in your genes, it's how you turn them on that accounts for the difference between species -- at least in yeast -- according to a report by Yale researchers in this week's issue of Science.

Ultrafast laser spectrometer measures heat flow through molecules:
As reported in the Aug. 10 issue of the journal Science, Dana Dlott, engineering professor David Cahill and colleagues at Illinois have now developed an ultrafast thermal measurement technique capable of exploring heat transport in extended molecules fastened at one end to a metal surface.

FSU chemists using light-activated molecules to kill cancer cells:
A key challenge facing doctors as they treat patients suffering from cancer or other diseases resulting from genetic mutations is that the drugs at their disposal often don't discriminate between healthy cells and dangerous ones -- think of the brute-force approach of chemotherapy, for instance. To address this challenge, Florida State University researchers are investigating techniques for using certain molecules that, when exposed to light, will kill only the harmful cells.

Cornell scientists link E. coli bacteria to Crohn's disease:
A team of Cornell University scientists from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have discovered that a novel group of E. coli bacteria -- containing genes similar to those described in uropathogenic and avian pathogenic E. coli and enteropathogenic bacteria such as salmonella, cholera and bubonic plague -- is associated with intestinal inflammation in patients with Crohn's disease in their research paper published July 12 by the ISME Journal: Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology.

In a first, Einstein scientists discover the dynamics of transcription in living mammalian cells:
Transcription -- the transfer of DNA's genetic information through the synthesis of complementary molecules of messenger RNA -- forms the basis of all cellular activities. Yet little is known about the dynamics of the process -- how efficient it is or how long it takes. Now, researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have measured the stages of transcription in real time. Their unexpected findings have fundamentally changed the way transcription is understood.



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