Sunday, December 23, 2007

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

Fundamental discovery by Einstein researchers reveals how fat is stored in cells
In discovering the genes responsible for storing fat in cells, scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have answered one of biology's most fundamental questions. Their findings, which appear in the December 17-21 'Early Edition' online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to new strategies for treating obesity and the diseases associated with it.

Stanford's nanowire battery holds 10 times the charge of existing ones
Stanford researchers have found a way to use silicon nanowires to increase the storage capacity of Lithium ion batteries by 10. A laptop that nows runs for two hours on battery could run a stunning 20 hours.

Solar cells of the future
A new material, nano flakes, may revolutionize the transformation of solar energy to electricity.

Metal foam has a good memory
A new class of materials known as "magnetic shape-memory foams" has been developed by two research teams headed by Peter Müllner at Boise State University and David Dunand at Northwestern University, both funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).The foam consists of a nickel-manganese-gallium alloy whose structure resembles a piece of Swiss cheese with small voids of space between thin, curvy "struts" of material.

Traffic jam mystery solved by mathematicians
Mathematicians from the University of Exeter have solved the mystery of traffic jams by developing a model to show how major delays occur on our roads, with no apparent cause. Many traffic jams leave drivers baffled as they finally reach the end of a tail-back to find no visible cause for their delay. Now, a team of mathematicians from the Universities of Exeter, Bristol and Budapest, have found the answer, and published their findings in leading academic journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Squirrels use snake scent
California ground squirrels and rock squirrels chew up rattlesnake skin and smear it on their fur to mask their scent from predators, according to a new study by researchers at UC-Davis.

Why don't we get cancer all the time?
To replace worn-out cells, having the neighboring cell split into two identical daughter cells would seem to be the simplest way to keep bodies from falling apart. Instead, multicellular organisms use a seemingly inefficient, multi-step process to replace lost cells. That longer process is a defense against cancer, according to new research.

'Jekyll and Hyde' bacteria offer pest control clue
New research at the University of York has revealed so-called 'Jekyll and Hyde' bacteria, suggesting a novel way to control insect pests without using insecticides. Scientists in the University's Department of Biology studied the relationship between plant-dwelling insects and the bacteria that live in them -- and discovered an unexpected interaction.

Where the brain makes sense of speech
Researchers have identified regions of the brain where speech sounds are perceived as having abstract meaning, rather than as just a stream of sensory input. They said their identification of the regions demonstrates that the understanding of speech does not just emerge from lower-level processing of speech sounds, but involves a specialized perceptual region.Steven Small and his colleagues published their findings in the Dec. 20, 2007, issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.

Twins study shows genetic basis for face and place recognition
New evidence suggests our brains are hardwired before birth to recognize faces and places. But in contrast, the neural circuitry we use to recognize words develops mainly as a result of experience.

MIT works toward engineered blood vessels
MIT scientists have found a way to induce cells to form parallel tube-like structures that could one day serve as tiny engineered blood vessels.



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