Sunday, February 10, 2008

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

Team develops energy-efficient microchip
Researchers at MIT and Texas Instruments have unveiled a new chip design for portable electronics that can be up to 10 times more energy-efficient than present technology. The design could lead to cell phones, implantable medical devices and sensors that last far longer when running from a battery.

Novel compound may lessen heart attack damage
A novel drug designed to lessen muscle damage from a heart attack has passed initial safety tests at the Duke Clinical Research Institute. Results of the study, available online and to be published in the Feb. 19 issue of the journal Circulation, reflect the first time the drug has been tested in humans.

'Good bacteria' in women give clues for slowing HIV transmission
Beneficial bacteria found in healthy women help to reduce the amount of vaginal HIV among HIV-infected women and might make it more difficult for the virus to spread, boosting the possibility that "good bacteria" might someday be tapped in the fight against HIV.

Europe's most common genetic disease is a liver disorder
The exact origin of the genetic iron overload disorder hereditary hemochromatosis has remained elusive. In a joint effort, researchers from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and the University of Heidelberg, Germany, have now discovered that HH is a liver disease.

Rice scientists make breakthrough in single-molecule sensing
In a study that could lay the foundation for mass-produced single-molecule sensors, physicists and engineers at Rice University have demonstrated a means of simultaneously making optical and electronic measurements of the same molecule. While scientists have used electronic and optical instruments to measure single molecules before, Rice's system is the first that allows both simultaneously -- a process known as "multimodal" sensing -- on a single small molecule. The results appear in Nano Letters.

Researchers discover new battleground for viruses and immune cells
Vaccines have led to many of the world's greatest public health triumphs, but many deadly viruses, such as HIV, still elude the best efforts of scientists to develop effective vaccines against them. An improved understanding of how the immune system operates during a viral infection is critical to designing successful anti-virus vaccines. Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, have added an important dimension to this knowledge.

MIT applies engineering approach to studying biological pathways
An MIT team has used an engineering approach to show that complex biological systems can be studied with simple models developed by measuring what goes into and out of the system.

Racing ahead at the speed of light
Imagine trying to catch up to something moving close to the speed of light - the fastest anything can move -- and sending ahead information in time to make mid-path flight corrections. Impossible? Not quite. Physicists at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, a particle accelerator at the US Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, have achieved this tricky task -- and the results may save the Lab money and time in their quest to understand the inner workings of the early universe.

Nitrogen pollution boosts plant growth in tropics by 20 percent
A study by UC Irvine ecologists finds that excess nitrogen in tropical forests boosts plant growth by an average of 20 percent, countering the belief that such forests would not respond to nitrogen pollution.

Transparent fish to make human biology clearer
Zebrafish are genetically similar to humans and good models for human diseases. Now, researchers in Children's Hospital Boston's Stem Cell Program have bred a zebrafish that is transparent throughout its life, allowing researchers to directly view its internal organs and observe disease processes like tumor growth or engraftment of bone-marrow transplants in a living organism.

DNA 'barcode' identified for plants
A 'barcode' gene that can be used to distinguish between the majority of plant species on Earth has been identified by scientists who publish their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal today (Monday Feb. 4 2008).

'T-ray' breakthrough signals next generation of security sensors
A new generation of sensors for detecting explosives and poisons couldbe developed following new research into a type of radiation known asT-rays, published today (Feb. 3) in Nature Photonics.

Drug fights cystic fibrosis
An experimental drug, PTC124, has proven effective in treating cystic fibrosis in mice, according to a new study. The University of Alabama at Birmingham report adds to a 2007 study on this compound fighting muscular dystrophy, and possibly many hundreds of genetic diseases, the study authors said.

How crystal becomes a conductor
Squeeze a crystal of manganese oxide hard enough, and it changes from an electrical insulator to a conductive metal. In a report published online this week by the journal Nature Materials, researchers use computational modeling to show why this happens.

Computer simulations strongly support new theory of Earth's core
Swedish researchers present in today's Web edition of the journal Science evidence that their theory about the core of the earth is correct. Among other applications, the findings may be of significance for our understanding of the cooling down of the Earth, and of the stability of the Earth's magnetic field.


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