Sunday, August 17, 2008

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

Study finds that sleep selectively preserves emotional memories
Research offers new insights into the specific components of emotional memories, suggesting that sleep plays a key role in what we remember -- and what we forget.

Trees, forests and the Eiffel tower reveal theory of design in nature
What do a tree and the Eiffel Tower have in common?

Young children's 'theory of mind' linked to subsequent metacognitive development in adolescence
A new study in the journal Mind, Brain, and Education detects a systematic link between children's "theory of mind" as assessed in kindergarten and their metacognitive knowledge in elementary school.

Nothing stops an expert in the art of living
Researchers discover an antistick layer in plant bugs which allows these insects to live on the surface of sticky insect traps.

Scientists overcome nanotech hurdle
When you make a new material on a nano scale how can you see what you have made? This research shows a newly developed technique to examine tiny protein molecules on the surface of a gold nanoparticle. This is the first time scientists have been able to build a detailed picture of self-assembled proteins on a nanoparticle and it offers the promise of new ways to design and manufacture novel materials on the tiniest scale.

Turning waste material into ethanol
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University have developed a method for converting crop residue, wood pulp, animal waste and garbage into ethanol. The process first turns the waste material into synthesis gas, or syngas, and nanoscale catalysts then convert the syngas into ethanol.

Clemson scientists put a (nano) spring in their step
Electronic devices get smaller and more complex every year. It turns out that fragility is the price for miniaturization, especially when it comes to small devices, such as cell phones, hitting the floor. Wouldn't it be great if they bounced instead of cracked when dropped?

New theory for latest high-temperature superconductors
Physicists from Rice and Rutgers universities have published a new theory that explains some of the complex electronic and magnetic properties of iron "pnictides." In a series of startling discoveries this spring, pnictides were shown to superconduct at high temperatures. The new theory, which appears in this week's issue of Physical Review Letters, explains some of the similarities and differences between pnictides and cuprates, high-temperature superconductors that have been studied for more than 20 years.

Using live fish, new tool a sentinel for environmental contamination
Researchers have harnessed the sensitivity of days-old fish embryos to create a tool capable of detecting a range of harmful chemicals. By measuring rates of oxygen use in developing fish, which are sensitive to contaminants and stressful conditions, the technology could reveal the presence of minute levels of toxic substances before they cause more obvious and substantial harm. It could be used as an early warning system against environmental contamination or even biological weapons, said Purdue University researcher Marshall Porterfield.

NIH scientists find a novel mechanism that controls the development of autoimmunity
Scientists at the NIH have found a mechanism in the immune systems of mice that can lead to the development of autoimmune disease when turned off. The findings shed light on the processes that lead to the development of autoimmunity and could also have implications for the development of drugs to increase the immune response in diseases such as cancer and HIV. The study paper appears online today in the journal Nature.

How flesh-eating bacteria attack the body's immune system
"Flesh-eating" or "Strep" bacteria are able to survive and spread in the body by degrading a key immune defense molecule, according to researchers at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The finding, which could aid in development of new treatments for serious infections in human patients, will be reported in the August 14 issue of the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

Rare case explains why some infected with HIV remain symptom free without antiretroviral drugs
AIDS experts at Johns Hopkins say they have compelling evidence that some people with HIV who for years and even decades show extremely low levels of the virus in their blood never progress to full-blown AIDS and remain symptom free even without treatment, probably do so because of the strength of their immune systems, not any defects in the strain of HIV that infected them in the first place.

Study reveals surprising details of the evolution of protein translation
A new study of transfer RNA, a molecule that delivers amino acids to the protein-building machinery of the cell, challenges long-held ideas about the evolutionary history of protein synthesis.

X-rays use diamonds as a window to the center of the Earth
Diamonds from Brazil have provided the answers to a question that Earth scientists have been trying to understand for many years: How is oceanic crust that has been subducted deep into the Earth recycled back into volcanic rocks? A team of researchers, led by the University of Bristol, working alongside colleagues at the STFC Daresbury Laboratory, have gained a deeper insight into how the Earth recycles itself in the deep earth tectonic cycle way beyond the depths that can be accessed by drilling.

Scientists use old enemy to K.O. cancer
Chemists are pulling cancer onto a sucker punch by getting infected cells to drop their guard -- according to research published today. They are using the metal ruthenium as a catalyst to a cancer-busting reaction which calls up an old cellular enemy -- oxidants -- as an ally.

Strange molecule in the sky cleans acid rain, scientists discover
Researchers have discovered an unusual molecule that is essential to the atmosphere's ability to break down pollutants, especially the compounds that cause acid rain.It's the unusual chemistry facilitated by this molecule, however, that will attract the most attention from scientists.A technical paper describing the molecule is published this week in a special edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Towards zero training for brain-computer interfacing
While invasive electrode recordings in humans show long-term promise, noninvasive techniques can also provide effective brain-computer interfacing and localization of motor activity in the brain for paralyzed patients with significantly reduced risks and costs as well as novel applications for healthy users. However, two issues hamper the ease of use of BCI systems based on noninvasive recording techniques, such as electroencephalography

Complex decision? Don't sleep on it
Neither snap judgements nor sleeping on a problem are any better than conscious thinking for making complex decisions, according to new research. The finding debunks a controversial 2006 research result asserting that unconscious thought is superior for complex decisions, such as buying a house or car. If anything, the new study suggests that conscious thought leads to better choices.

New metamaterials that bend light backwards bring invisibility cloaks 1 step closer
UC Berkeley scientists have for the first time engineered 3-D bulk materials that can reverse the natural direction of visible and near-infrared light, a development that could help form the basis for higher resolution optical imaging, nanocircuits for high-powered computers, and, to the delight of science-fiction and fantasy buffs, cloaking devices that could render objects invisible to the human eye.

Computer simulates thermal stress
A new simulation method has made it possible to predict in record time when and where heavily stressed engine components are likely to fail. Car manufacturers can thereby significantly reduce the time for developing new engine components.

Scientists find elephant memories may hold key to survival
A recent study by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London suggests that old female elephants and perhaps their memories of distant, life-sustaining sources of food and watermay be the key to survival during the worst of times.

Key to treating cancer may be finding its original cell
Cancer biologists are turning their attention to the normal cells that give rise to cancers, to learn more about how tumor growth might be stopped at the earliest opportunity.

Maelstrom quashes jumping genes
Scientists have known for decades that genes called transposons can jump around the genome in a cell. This jumping can be dangerous, especially when it arises in cells that produce eggs and sperm. Although nature developed a mechanism to quash this genetic scrambling, how it works has remained a mystery. Now scientists have identified a key protein that suppresses jumping genes in mouse sperm and found that the protein is vital to sperm formation.

CSHL neuroscientists glimpse how the brain decides what to believe
New research by neuroscientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory suggests that the estimation of confidence that underlies decisions may be the product of a very basic kind of information processing in the brain, shared widely across species and not strictly confined to those, like humans, that are self-aware.

Designer RNA fights high cholesterol, researchers find
Small, specially designed bits of ribonucleic acid (RNA) can interfere with cholesterol metabolism, reducing harmful cholesterol by two-thirds in pre-clinical tests, according to a new study by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in collaboration with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In scientific first, Einstein researchers correct decline in organ function associated with old age
As people age, their cells become less efficient at getting rid of damaged protein -- resulting in a buildup of toxic material that is especially pronounced in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders

New bacterial species found in human mouth
Scientists have discovered a new species of bacteria in the mouth. The finding could help scientists to understand tooth decay and gum disease and may lead to better treatments, according to research published in the August issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

Self-assembling polymer arrays improve data storage potential
(University of Wisconsin-Madison) A new manufacturing approach holds the potential to overcome the technological limitations currently facing the microelectronics and data-storage industries, paving the way to smaller electronic devices and higher-capacity hard drives.

1 Comments:

Blogger Graham_Cliff said...

http://porkopolis.blogspot.com/2008/08/science-sunday-wrap-up-of-recent_17.html
Scientists overcome nanotech hurdle
When you make a new material on a nano scale how can you see what you have made?

You normally employ electron microscopy - either TEM or STEM. Have you heard of these techniques? Graham Cliff.

August 18, 2008 at 6:34 AM  

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