Sunday, August 03, 2008

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

The power of Peter Piper: How alliteration enhances poetry, prose and memory
From nursery rhymes to Shakespearian sonnets, alliterations have always been an important aspect of poetry whether as an interesting aesthetic touch or just as something fun to read. But a new study suggests that this literary technique is useful not only for poetry but also for memory.

UCF professor develops vaccine to protect against black plague bioterror attack
A University of Central Florida researcher may have found a defense against the black plague, a disease that wiped out a third of Europe's population in the Middle Ages and which government agencies perceive as a terrorist threat today.

New schizophrenia genes uncovered
Researchers have discovered new genes linked to schizophrenia, it has been revealed.In two papers published in Nature today, scientists identify four mutated gene regions that may hold the key to producing new tailor-made drugs to treat the devastating mental illness.

Nanojewels made easy
Researchers at three universities have collaborated on development of a method that mimics nature's way of producing dazzling colors at the nanoscale level.Their work demonstrates how such a method can be used to produce new materials, and how different nanoparticles of various sizes can produce "nanojewels" that display different optical properties.The discovery opens potential for applications in photonics, drug delivery, special coatings, sensors and microfluidics.

Life in a bubble
Hundreds of insect species spend much of their time underwater, where food may be more plentiful. MIT mathematicians have now figured out exactly how those insects breathe underwater.

Cholesterol-lowering drug boosts bone repair
Lovastatin, a drug used to lower cholesterol and help prevent cardiovascular disease, has been shown to improve bone healing in an animal model of neurofibromatosis type 1. The research, reported today in the open access journal BMC Medicine, will be of great interest to NF1 patients and their physicians.

New insight on superconductors
An important advance in understanding how the electrons in some materials become superconducting has been made by researchers from UC Davis, the Los Alamos National Laboratory and UC Irvine.

Smart contact lenses
"Smart" contact lenses that measure pressure within the eye and dispense medication accordingly could be made possible using a new material developed by biomedical engineers at UC Davis

Nanoparticles + light = dead tumor cells
Medical physicists at the University of Virginia have created a novel way to kill tumor cells using nanoparticles and light. The technique, devised by Wensha Yang, an instructor in radiation oncology at the University of Virginia, and colleagues Ke Sheng, Paul W. Read, James M. Larner and Brian P. Helmke, employs quantum dots. Quantum dots are semiconductor nanostructures, 25 billionths of a meter in diameter, which can confine electrons in three dimensions and emit light when exposed to ultraviolet radiation.

Researchers discover cell's 'quality control' mechanism
Researchers in Japan and Canada have discovered a key component of the quality control mechanism that operates inside human cells -- sometimes too well. The breakthrough has significant implications for the development of new treatments for cystic fibrosis and some other hereditary diseases, the researchers say. Their results were published July 25 in the journal Science.

Scientists determine strength of 'liquid smoke'
Researchers have created a 3-D image of a material referred to as "liquid smoke."

Hip bone density helps predict breast cancer risk
Bone density provides information that may help more accurately determine the risk of developing breast cancer.

Fungus foot baths could save bees
One of the biggest world wide threats to honey bees, the varroa mite, could soon be about to meet its nemesis. Researchers at the University of Warwick are examining naturally occurring fungi that kill the varroa mite. They are also exploring a range of ways to deliver the killer fungus throughout the hives from bee fungal foot baths to powder sprays.

Compound that helps rice grow reduces nerve, vascular damage from diabetes
Researchers have found that a compound that helps rice seed grow, springs back into action when brown rice is placed in water overnight before cooking, significantly reducing the nerve and vascular damage that often result from diabetes.

Caltech bioengineers develop 'microscope on a chip'
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have turned science fiction into reality with their development of a super-compact high-resolution microscope, small enough to fit on a finger tip. This "microscopic microscope" operates without lenses but has the magnifying power of a top-quality optical microscope, can be used in the field to analyze blood samples for malaria or check water supplies for giardia and other pathogens, and can be mass-produced for around $10.

Hey fever! The surprise benefit of allergies
Long-suffering victims of allergies such as asthma and hay fever might enjoy a surprise benefit, according to research led by the University of New South Wales.

Scientists demonstrate highly directional semiconductor lasers
(Harvard University) Applied scientists at Harvard University in collaboration with researchers from Hamamatsu Photonics in Hamamatsu City, Japan, have demonstrated, for the first time, highly directional semiconductor lasers with a much smaller beam divergence than conventional ones. The innovation opens the door to a wide range of applications in photonics and communications. Harvard University has also filed a broad patent on the invention.


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