Sunday, July 27, 2008

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

Cranberry juice creates energy barrier that keeps bacteria away from cells, study shows
People have long consumed cranberry juice to ward off urinary tract infections, though the exact nature of its action has not been clear. A new study by researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute reveals a key mechanism that may help account for its disease preventing abilities. The juice, the study shows, changes the thermodynamic properties of bacteria, creating an energy barrier that prevents the microorganisms from latching onto cells in the urinary tract.

Scientists solve 30-year-old aurora borealis mystery
UCLA space scientists have identified the mechanism that triggers substorms in space; wreaks havoc on satellites, power grids and communications systems; and leads to the explosive release of energy that causes the spectacular brightening of the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.

Cow power could generate electricity for millions
Converting livestock manure into a domestic renewable fuel source could generate enough electricity to meet up to three percent of North America's entire consumption needs and lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, according to US research published today, Thursday, July 24, in the Institute of Physics' Environmental Research Letters.

Shielding for ambitious neutron experiment
In order to track down the origin of material and antimaterial in the universe, a European research group is measuring the power of the electrical dipole moment of neutrons, which represents a measure for the different physical properties of material and antimaterial. The prerequisite for further, still more accurate measurements is a perfect insulation against electrical and magnetic radiation. Magnetically soft mumetal serves as a material of the new shielding - the design, testing and set-up of which the German Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt is responsible.

Polarized sunglasses see black hole disks
For the first time astronomers have found a way to get a clean view of the elusive disks of matter surrounding supermassive black holes. By using a polarizing filter on the Science and Technology Facility Council's UK Infrared Telescope in Hawaii, they have been able to see through the clouds of dust which surround these black holes.

Telescope embedded in glasses lens promises to make driving easier for visually impaired
Glasses embedded with a telescope promise to make it easier for people with impaired vision to drive and do other activities requiring sharper distance vision. Schepens Eye Research Institute scientists describe the advantages of these innovative glasses over earlier devices in an article published in the May/June issue of Journal of Biomedical Optics, mailed in print form to subscribers this month.

Circadian rhythm-metabolism link discovered
UC Irvine researchers have found a molecular link between circadian rhythms -- our own body clock -- and metabolism. The discovery reveals new possibilities for the treatment of diabetes, obesity and other related diseases.

A new cellular pathway linked to cancer is identified by NYU researchers
In the life of a cell, the response to DNA damage determines whether the cell is fated to pause and repair itself, commit suicide, or grow uncontrollably, a route leading to cancer. In a new study, published in the July 25 issue of Cell, scientists at NYU Langone Medical Center have identified a way that cells respond to DNA damage through a process that targets proteins for disposal. The finding points to a new pathway for the development of cancer and

Licking your wounds: Scientists isolate compound in human saliva that speeds wound healing
A report by scientists from the Netherlands published online in rhe FASEB Journal identifies a compound in human saliva that greatly speeds wound healing. This research may offer hope to people suffering from chronic wounds related to diabetes and other disorders, as well as traumatic injuries and burns. In addition, because the compounds can be mass produced, they have the potential to become as common as antibiotic creams and rubbing alcohol.

Study suggests human visual system could make powerful computer
Rensselaer professor Mark Changizi has begun to develop a technique to turn our eyes and visual system into a programmable computer. His findings are reported in the latest issue of the journal Perception.

Slippery customer: A greener antiwear additive for engine oils
Titanium, a protean element with applications from pigments to aerospace alloys, could get a new role as an environmentally friendly additive for automotive oil, thanks to work by materials scientists from Afton Chemical Corporation and NIST.

Cool! Nanoparticle research points to energy savings
NIST experiments with varying concentrations of nanoparticle additives indicate a major opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of large industrial, commercial, and institutional cooling systems known as chillers.

Scientists suspect omega-3 fatty acids could slow acute wound healing
A recent study shows that popular fish oil supplements have an effect on the healing process of small, acute wounds in human skin. But whether that effect is detrimental, as researchers initially suspected, remains a mystery. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils are widely considered to benefit cardiovascular health and other diseases related to chronic inflammation because of their anti-inflammatory properties. But insufficient inflammation during the initial stage of wound healing may delay the advancement of later stages.

How carrots help us see the color orange
One of the easiest ways to identify an object is by its color -- perhaps it is because children's books encourage us to pair certain objects with their respective colors. Why else would so many of us automatically assume carrots are orange, grass is green and apples are red?

Unique fossil discovery shows Antarctic was once much warmer
Rare find has implication for tracking polar ice cap.

MIT researchers offer glimpse of rare mutant cells
MIT biological engineers have developed a new imaging system that allows them to see cells that have undergone a specific mutation.

Scientists figure out how the immune system and brain communicate to control disease
A new anatomical path through which the brain and the spleen communicate.

Microbes beneath sea floor genetically distinct
Tiny microbes beneath the sea floor, distinct from life on the Earth's surface, may account for one-tenth of the Earth's living biomass, according to an interdisciplinary team of researchers, but many of these minute creatures are living on a geologic timescale.

MIT identifies cells for spinal-cord repair
A researcher at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory has pinpointed stem cells within the spinal cord that, if persuaded to differentiate into more healing cells and fewer scarring cells following an injury, may lead to a new, nonsurgical treatment for debilitating spinal-cord injuries.

Discovery of a mechanism that regulates cell movement
A study by researchers at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), in collaboration with the Instituto de BiologĂ­a Molecular of CSIC, reveal a mechanism that controls the movement of cells in a tissue by regulating cell adhesion. This same mechanism may be defective in diseases such as cancer and metastasis, when tumour cells lose their adhesion to neighbouring cells and migrate through the organism. The results have been published in Nature Cell Biology.


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