Sunday, November 04, 2007

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

MIT develops 'tractor beam' for cells, more
In a feat that seems like something out of a microscopic version of Star Trek, MIT researchers have found a way to use a "tractor beam" of light to pick up, hold and move around individual cells and other objects on the surface of a microchip.

St. Louis University scientists identify chemical that triggers Parkinson's disease
Researchers at the St. Louis University School of Medicine have discovered the key brain chemical that causes Parkinson's disease -- a breakthrough finding that could pave the way for new, far more effective therapies to treat one of the most common and debilitating neurological disorders.

Scientists discover new way to make water
Scientists at the University of Illinois have discovered a new way to make water. Not only can they make water from unlikely starting materials, such as alcohols, their work could also lead to better catalysts and less expensive fuel cells.

Using nanotech to make Robocops
Engineers in Australia have designed new bullet proof material which actually rebounds the force of a bullet. Bulletproof materials at the moment are designed to spread the force. The use of nanotechnology in design means those in the line of fire can be shot without a flinch.

University of Pittsburgh cardiologists identify new cardiac arrest gene
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, reporting in Circulation have identified a new gene responsible for a rare, inherited form of sudden cardiac arrest, known as Brugada syndrome. Using positional cloning and gene sequencing on an affected family, lead investigator Barry London and colleagues identified a mutation in a previously unstudied gene, GPD1-L, on chromosome 3p24. This mutation impairs the heart's natural electrical ability to beat in a coordinated manner and maintain a stable rhythm.

HU scientist finds way to catch terrorists red-handed
A scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has discovered a way to literally catch terrorists red-handed.A new chemical spray detector developed by Professor Joseph Almog of the Hebrew University's Casali Institute of Applied Chemistry detects the homemade explosive urea nitrate. When sprayed on cotton swabs taken from the hands of a suspect, if they have had recent contact with urea nitrate, the chemical will turn a blood red hue.

Make way for the real nanopod
Make way for the real nanopod and make room in the Guinness World Records. A team of researchers with the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have created the first fully-functional radio from a single carbon nanotube, which makes it by several orders of magnitude the smallest radio ever made.

How one virus uses mimicry to replicate successfully
Both viruses and cancers subvert the growth-control machinery in a cell to serve their own needs. According to a new study, at least one virus uses mimicry to gain access to that machinery.

UV light improving chances of fighting cancer
Scientists at Newcastle University have developed a cancer fighting technology which uses UV light to activate antibodies which very specifically attack tumours.

Natural gas nanotech
Nanotechnology could revolutionize the natural gas industry across the whole lifecycle from extraction to pollution reduction or be an enormous missed opportunity, claim two industry experts writing in Inderscience's International Journal of Nanotechnology. They suggest that nanotechnology could help us extract more fuel and feedstock hydrocarbons from dwindling resources. However, industry inertia and a lack of awareness of the benefits could mean a missed opportunity.

How did chemical constituents essential to life arise on primitive Earth?
Chemists at the University of Georgia have now proposed the first detailed, feasible mechanism to explain how adenine, one of the four building blocks of DNA, might be built up from the combination of five cyanide molecules. The investigation is based on extensive quantum chemical computations over several years.

Purdue creating wireless sensors to monitor bearings in jet engines
Researchers at Purdue University, working with the US Air Force, have developed tiny wireless sensors resilient enough to survive the harsh conditions inside jet engines to detect when critical bearings are close to failing and prevent breakdowns.

Ecologists uncover links between fever and living fast, dying young
Fever is an effective defence against disease, but new research suggests that not all animals use it when exposed to infection. The study, published online in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology, found large differences in fever responses among closely related species of mice and suggests that an animal's reproductive strategy could explain some of this intriguing variation.

Heavier hydrogen on the atomic scale reduces friction
Scientists may be one step closer to understanding the atomic forces that cause friction, thanks to a recently published study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Houston and the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.


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