Sunday, August 10, 2008

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

Antarctic fossils paint a picture of a much warmer continent
National Science Foundation-funded scientists working in an ice-free region of Antarctica have discovered the last traces of tundra -- in the form of fossilized plants and insects -- on the interior of the southernmost continent before temperatures began a relentless drop millions of years ago.

NYU researchers demonstrate activity of mebendazole in metastatic melanoma
Researchers at the NYU Cancer Institute and the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology have identified mebendazole, a drug used globally to treat parasitic infections, as a novel investigational agent for the treatment of chemotherapy-resistant malignant melanoma.

'Edible optics' could make food safer
Tufts University scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to design biologically active, biodegradable optical devices -- made from silk and requiring no refrigeration -- with many applications in medicine, health, the environment and communications. For example, edible optical sensors could detect harmful bacteria in a bag of produce, and be consumed right along with the food if it were safe.

Robotics research: Enhancing the lives of people with disabilities
Robots may be the solution for people with disabilities who are struggling to regain the use of their limbs, thanks to a research team that includes engineers and students from Rochester Institute of Technology.

Anything but modest: The mouse continues to contribute to humankind
"Big things come in small packages," the saying goes, and it couldn't be more true when discussing the mouse. This little creature has become a crucial part of human history through its contributions in understanding human genetics and disease. In a review published in Disease Models & Mechanisms, genetics researchers from Yale University School of Medicine and Fudan University School of Life Sciences discuss the history and future of mice as a model organism.

New step forward in search for solution to infection puzzle
Scientists at the University of York have helped to reveal more about the way bacteria can attach to human tissues. The researchers studied the way a protein found on the surface of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus binds to a human protein called fibronectin. Their discovery is an important step in understanding how bacteria attach to the surface of blood vessels during infection.

Scientists a step closer to producing fuel from bacteria
Scientists at the University of Sheffield have shown how bacteria could be used as a future fuel. The research, published in the journal Bioinformatics, could have significant implications for the environment and the way we produce sustainable fuels in the future.

Researchers unveil vital key to cancer
University of Manchester scientists have uncovered the 3-D structure of Mps1 -- a protein that regulates the number of chromosomes during cell division and thus has an essential role in the prevention of cancer -- which will lead to the design of safer and more effective therapies.

I can, automatically, become just like you
No one likes to be excluded from a group: exclusion can decrease mood, reduce self-esteem and feelings of belonging, and even ultimately lead to negative behavior (e.g., the shootings at Virginia Tech). As a result, we often try to fit in with others in both conscious and automatic ways. Psychologists studied people's tendency to copy automatically the behaviors of others in order to find out how this mimicry can be used as an affiliation strategy.

Water is 'designer fluid' that helps proteins change shape, scientists say
According to new research, old ideas about water behavior are all wet.Ubiquitous on Earth, water also has been found in comets, on Mars and in molecular clouds in interstellar space. Now, scientists say this common fluid is not as well understood as we thought.

Rochester physicist's quantum-'uncollapse' hypothesis verified
In 2006, Andrew Jordan, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, together with Alexander Korotkov at the University of California, Riverside, spelled out how to exploit a quantum quirk to accomplish a feat long thought impossible, and this week a research team at the University of California at Santa Barbara has tested the theory, proving it correct.

Quantum chaos unveiled?
A University of Utah study is shedding light on an important, unsolved physics problem: the relationship between chaos theory -- which is based on 300-year-old Newtonian physics -- and the modern theory of quantum mechanics. The study demonstrated a fundamental new property -- what appears to be chaotic behavior in a quantum system -- in the magnetic "spins" within the nuclei or centers of atoms of frozen xenon.

Study finds connections between genetics, brain activity and preference
A team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital has used brain imaging, genetics and experimental psychology techniques to identify a connection between brain reward circuitry, a behavioral measurement of preference and a gene variant that appears to influence both.

Caltech neurobiologists discover individuals who 'hear' movement
Individuals with synesthesia, or cross-activated senses, perceive the world differently from others, with some perceiving numbers or letters as having colors or days of the week as possessing personalities. Now, researchers at Caltech have discovered a type of synesthesia in which individuals hear sounds when they see things move or flash. The scientists say auditory synesthesia, which had never been identified, may represent an enhanced form of how the brain normally processes visual information.

Hot peppers really do bring the heat
Researchers have found that capsaicin, the active chemical in chili peppers, can induce thermogenesis, the process by which cells convert energy into heat.

New technology could lead to camera based on human eye
Digital cameras have transformed the world of photography. Now new technology inspired by the human eye could push the photographic image farther forward by producing improved images with a wider field of view. Northwestern University and University of Illinois researchers have figured out an effective way to transfer electronics from a flat surface to a curved one. Like the human eye, the curved surface can then act as the focal plane array of a camera.

Recipe for cell reprogramming adds protein
Embryonic-like stem cells can be efficiently generated using a natural signaling molecule instead of the virally delivered cancer-causing gene c-Myc.The results represent progress in overcoming hurdles to the potential use of reprogrammed cells for stem-cell-based therapies in humans.

Researchers report periodontal disease independently predicts new onset diabetes
Periodontal disease may be an independent predictor of incident type 2 diabetes, according to a study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. While diabetes has long been believed to be a risk factor for periodontal infections, this is the first study exploring whether the reverse might also be true, that is, if periodontal infections can contribute to the development of diabetes.

Improved reaction data heat up the biofuels harvest
In a new paper, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have detailed some of the most fundamental processes involved in extracting sugars from biomass. Their findings should help engineers to improve their process designs in order to extract the maximum amount of fuel from a given measure of biomass.

Back to the Future: psychologists examine children's mental time traveling abilities
Researchers have recently explored how children comprehend the future and ways that this understanding can be affected by, for example, their current physiological state.

When neurons fire up: Study sheds light on rhythms of the brain
A new study by neuroscientists at Indiana University and the University of Montreal models the random synchronization of neuron activation. The findings expand scientists' understanding of brain rhythms, both reoccurring and random, and shed light on the decades-old mystery of how the brain learns temporal patterns.

Vitamin C injections slow tumor growth in mice
High-dose injections of vitamin C, also known as ascorbate or ascorbic acid, reduced tumor weight and growth rate by about 50 percent in mouse models of brain, ovarian and pancreatic cancers, researchers from the National Institutes of Health report in the August 5, 2008, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers traced ascorbate's anti-cancer effect to the formation of hydrogen peroxide in the extracellular fluid surrounding the tumors. Normal cells were unaffected.

A new look at how memory and spatial cognition are related
In a study that sheds new light on how memory and spatial cognition are related to each other in the brain, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Veteran Affairs San Diego Healthcare System studied memory-impaired patients as they navigated their environment.

Human brains pay a price for being big
Metabolic changes responsible for the evolution of our unique cognitive abilities indicate that the brain may have been pushed to the limit of its capabilities. Research published today in BioMed Central's open access journal Genome Biology adds weight to the theory that schizophrenia is a costly by-product of human brain evolution.

World's smallest snake found in Barbados
The world's smallest species of snake has been discovered on the Caribbean island of Barbados. The species -- which is as thin as a spaghetti noodle and small enough to rest comfortably on a U.S. quarter --was discovered by Blair Hedges, an evolutionary biologist at Penn State. Hedges and his colleagues also are the discoverers of the world's smallest frog and lizard species, which too were found on Caribbean islands.


Post a Comment

<< Home