Sunday, October 14, 2007

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

'Electromagnetic wormhole' possible with invisibility technology:
The team of mathematicians that first created the mathematics behind the 'invisibility cloak' announced by physicists last October has now shown that the same technology could be used to generate an 'electromagnetic wormhole.'

A tiny pinch from a 'z-ring' helps bacteria cells divide:
In process that is shrouded in mystery, rod-shaped bacteria reproduce by splitting themselves in two. By applying advanced mathematics to laboratory data, a team led by Johns Hopkins researchers has solved a small but important part of this reproductive puzzle.

New molecules discovered that block cancer cells from modifying cell DNA:
Researchers have discovered new small molecules that may prevent prostate cancer cells from turning off normal genes in a process that transforms normal cells into cancer cells. This significant discovery in the field of epigenetics has immediate implications in the development of new diagnostic tests and cancer medications.

Sol-gel inks produce complex shapes with nanoscale features:
New sol-gel inks developed by researchers at the University of Illinois can be printed into patterns to produce 3-D structures of metal oxides with nanoscale features.

MIT links gene to cholesterol:
MIT researchers have discovered a link between a gene believed to promote long lifespan and a pathway that flushes cholesterol from the body. The finding could help researchers create drugs that lower the risk of diseases associated with high cholesterol, including atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and Alzheimer's disease.

Fantastic plastic could cut CO2 emissions and purify water:
A new membrane that mimics pores found in plants has applications in water, energy and climate change mitigation.

Scientists identify brain circuits used in sensation of touch:
The ability to tactually recognize fine spatial details, such as the raised dots used in braille, is especially important to those who are blind. With that in mind, a team of researchers has identified the neural circuitry that facilitates spatial discrimination through touch. Understanding this circuitry may lead to the creation of sensory-substitution devices, such as tactile maps for the visually impaired.

Landmark modeling study at Penn reveals how ferroelectric computer memory works:
A collaboration of University of Pennsylvania chemists and engineers has performed multiscale modeling of ferroelectric domain walls and provided a new theory of behavior for domain-wall motion, the "sliding wall" that separates ferroelectric domains and makes high-density ferroelectric RAM possible.

The difference between fish and humans: scientists answer century-old developmental question:
Embryologists at UCL have helped solve an evolutionary riddle that has been puzzling scientists for over a century. They have identified a key mechanism in the initial stages of an embryo's development that helps differentiate more highly evolved species, including humans, from less evolved species, such as fish. The findings of the research, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, were published online today by the journal Nature.

Mathematicians help unlock secrets of the immune system:
A group of scientists, led by mathematicians, has taken on the challenge of building a common model of immune responses. Their work will radically improve our understanding of the human immune system by allowing all the scientific disciplines working on it to have a common reference point and language.

FSU researchers' material may lead to advances in quantum computing:
Scientists at Florida State University's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and the university's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have introduced a new material that could be to computers of the future what silicon is to the computers of today.

Novel semiconductor structure bends light 'wrong' way -- the right direction for many applications:
A Princeton-led research team has created an easy-to-produce material from the stuff of computer chips that has the rare ability to bend light in the opposite direction from all naturally occurring materials. This startling property may contribute to significant advances in many areas, including high-speed communications, medical diagnostics and detection of terrorist threats.



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