Sunday, October 21, 2007

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

Patients should ask surgeons about using honey to heal wounds:
Honey is enjoying a resurgence as a wound-healing solution amid rising concerns about antibiotic resistance and a renewed interest in natural healing. Researchers started to document its success in the early 20th century but the introduction of antibiotics temporary halted its use.

New study: pine bark extract boosts nitric oxide production:
A study to be published in the October edition of Hypertension Research reveals Pycnogenol, an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, helps individuals by enhancing healthy nitric oxide production which leads to an increase in blood flow and oxygen supply to muscles.

X-effect: female chromosome confirmed a prime driver of speciation:
Researchers at the University of Rochester believe they have just confirmed a controversial theory of evolution. The X chromosome is a strikingly powerful force in the origin of new species. Biologists have argued for years whether the X chromosome --the female chromosome in most animals -- plays a special role in the process of speciation. A new study has confirmed that the X chromosome is indeed heavily influential -- and the reason may be nothing like what biologists expected.

Toward world's smallest radio: nano-sized detector turns radio waves into music:
Researchers in California report development of the world's first working radio system that receives radio waves wirelessly and converts them to sound signals through a nano-sized detector made of carbon nanotubes. The 'carbon nanotube radio' device is thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. The development marks an important step in the evolution of nano-electronics and could lead to the production of the world's smallest radio, the scientists say.

Scientists spy enzyme that makes us unique:
Have you ever wondered why you inherited your mother's smile but not your father’s height? Researchers at the Universities of Leeds and Dundee are one step closer to unravelling how nature combines both maternal and paternal DNA to create genetically-unique offspring.

New approach builds better proteins inside a computer:
With the aid of more than 70,000 home computer users throughout the world, Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have, for the first time, accurately predicted the 3-D structure of a small, naturally occurring globular protein using only its amino acid sequence. The accomplishment was achieved with a newly refined computational method for predicting protein structure.

New model predicts more virulent microbes:
Many of the most successful microbes are those that inhabit but do not kill their host. A new mathematical model, devised by a microbiologist renowned for his study of H. pylori and a mathematician, provides the framework for understanding how persistent microbes obtain equilibrium with their human hosts.

Researchers find earliest evidence for modern human behavior in South Africa:
Evidence of early humans living on the coast in South Africa, harvesting food from the sea, employing complex bladelet tools and using red pigments in symbolic behavior 164,000 years ago, far earlier than previously documented, is being reported in the Oct. 18 issue of the journal Nature. The international team of researchers reporting the findings include Curtis Marean, a paleoanthropologist with the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University.

Getting light to bend backwards:
While developing new lenses for next-generation sensors, researchers have crafted a layered material that causes light to refract, or bend, in a manner nature never intended.

Bouncing bucky balls:
A team of researchers at the University of Bologna and the University of Liverpool have carried out detailed molecular dynamics simulations to understand the motion of intriguiingly ball-shaped C60 bucky balls on metal surfaces.

Chemistry turns killer gas into potential cure:
Despite its deadly reputation, the gas carbon monoxide could actually save lives and boost health in future as a result of leading-edge UK research. During Carbon Monoxide Awareness week, EPSRC highlights how researchers are harnessing the gas for beneficial use.

New software advances photo search and management in online systems:
Searching for digital photographs could become easier with a Penn State-developed software system that not only automatically tags images as they are uploaded, but also improves those tags by 'learning' from users' interactions with the system.

Computer solution to delivery problem:
With the gift-giving season almost upon us and increasing concerns about the environmental effects of all those deliveries and pickups, it is timely that researchers should turn their attention to the so-called 'Traveling Salesman Problem.' Writing in a forthcoming issue of the Inderscience publication the International Journal of Logistics Systems and Management, researchers suggest a new approach to cutting journey times of courier services everywhere.



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