Sunday, January 13, 2008

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

An 'attractive' man-machine interface
For the first time, magnetism has been used to trigger cellular reactions normally induced by drugs or hormones. The discovery was made possible by getting tiny beads -- 30 nanometers in diameter -- to bind to receptor molecules on the cell surface. When exposed to a magnetic field, the beads become magnets and cluster together through magnetic attraction, pulling receptors along with them mimicking what happens when drugs or other molecules bind to cell receptors.

Nanotechnology innovation may revolutionize gene detection in a single cell
Scientists at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute have developed the worldÂ’s first gene detection platform made up entirely from self-assembled DNA nanostructures. The results, appearing in the Jan. 11 issue of the journal Science, could have broad implications for gene chip technology and may also revolutionize the way in which gene expression is analyzed in a single cell.

'Invisibility cloaks' could break sound barriers
Contrary to earlier predictions, Duke University engineers have found that a three-dimensional sound cloak is possible, at least in theory.

Vast cloud of antimatter traced to binary stars
Four years of observations from the European Space Agency's Integral (INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory) satellite may have cleared up one of the most vexing mysteries in our Milky Way: the origin of a giant cloud of antimatter surrounding the galactic center.

Hubble finds double Einstein ring
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revealed a never-before-seen optical alignment in space: a pair of glowing rings, one nestled inside the other like a bull's-eye pattern. The double-ring pattern is caused by the complex bending of light from two distant galaxies strung directly behind a foreground massive galaxy, like three beads on a string.

Protein in human hair shows promise for regenerating nerves
A protein found in human hair shows promise for promoting the regeneration of nerve tissue and could lead to a new treatment option when nerves are cut or crushed from trauma.

Fighting pollution the poplar way: Trees to clean up Indiana site
Purdue University researchers are collaborating with Chrysler LLC in a project to use poplar trees to eliminate pollutants from a contaminated site in north-central Indiana.

Earth's moving crust may occasionally stop
The motion, formation, and recycling of Earth's crust -- commonly known as plate tectonics -- have long been thought to be continuous processes. But new research by geophysicists suggests that plate tectonic motions have occasionally stopped in Earth's geologic history, and may do so again. The findings could reshape our understanding of the history and evolution of the Earth's crust and continents.

Molecules can block breast cancer's ability to spread
Researchers have identified a specific group of microRNA molecules that are responsible for controlling genes that cause breast cancer metastasis. The study, led by scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, appears in the Jan. 10, 2008, issue of Nature.

Surprise -- cholesterol may actually pose benefits, study shows
Researchers at Texas A&M University have discovered that lower cholesterol levels can actually reduce muscle gain with exercising. Lead investigator Steven Riechman, assistant professor of health and kinesiology, and Simon Sheather, head of the Department of Statistics, along with colleagues from The Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, have recently had their findings published in the Journal of Gerontology.

Evolution of the sexes: What a fungus can tell us
Fungi don't exactly come in boy and girl varieties, but they do have sex differences. In fact, a new finding from Duke University Medical Center shows that some of the earliest evolved forms of fungus contain clues to how the sexes evolved in higher animals, including that distant cousin of fungus, the human.

New treatment boosts bone healing and regrowth
A drug originally used to treat iron poisoning can significantly boost the body's ability to heal and regrow injured bones, according to a new study. Bone density following the new treatment more than doubled. Researchers found new blood vessel growth, necessary for bone healing, was achieved through a cell pathway.

Device prevents potential errors in children's medications
A device designed to eliminate mistakes made while mixing compounds at a hospital pharmacy was 100 percent accurate in identifying the proper formulations of seven intravenous drugs.

Researchers bend light through waveguides in colloidal crystals
Researchers at the University of Illinois are the first to achieve optical waveguiding of near-infrared light through features embedded in self-assembled, three-dimensional photonic crystals. Applications for the optically active crystals include low-loss waveguides, low-threshold lasers and on-chip optical circuitry.

New gene identified for condition that causes blood clots in brain
Researchers have identified a new gene linked to cerebral venous thrombosis, a condition that causes blood clots in the veins of the brain that can lead to stroke. The condition is more common in young and middle-aged women. The research is published in the Jan. 8, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

UCLA scientists restore walking after spinal cord injury
A UCLA study demonstrates that the nervous system can reorganize itself after spinal cord injury and use new pathways to restore the cellular communication required for walking. Published in the January edition of Nature Medicine, the discovery could lead to new therapies for the estimated 250,000 Americans who suffer from paralysis following traumatic spinal cord injuries.

Why it pays to be choosy
Given that cooperative individuals can often be exploited, it is not immediately clear why such behaviour has evolved. A novel solution to this problem has been found by scientists at the University of Bristol, UK, who show that when individuals in a population are choosy about their partners, cooperativeness is rewarded and tends to increase.

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