Sunday, August 31, 2008

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

Tiny 3-D ultrasound probe guides catheter procedures
An ultrasound probe small enough to ride along at the tip of a catheter can provide physicians with clearer real-time images of soft tissue without the risks associated with conventional X-ray catheter guidance.

Life under the laser
Researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed a unique technology that will allow scientists to look at microscopic activity within the body's chemical messenger system for the very first time, live as it happens.

UBC scientist unveils secret of newborn's first words
A new study could explain why "daddy" and "mommy" are often a baby's first words -- the human brain may be hard-wired to recognize certain repetition patterns.

Exploring the function of sleep
Is sleep essential? Ask that question to a sleep-deprived new parent or a student who has just pulled an "all-nighter," and the answer will be a grouchy, "Of course!" But to a sleep scientist, the question of what constitutes sleep is so complex that scientists are still trying to define the essential function of something we do every night. A study published this week in PLoS Biology by Chiara Cirelli and Giulio Tononi addresses this pressing question.

Scientists unmask brain's hidden potential
New insights into how the brain compensates for loss of sight suggests the brain is more adaptable than previously recognized.

Study says eyes evolved for X-Ray vision
The advantage of using two eyes to see the world around us has long been associated solely with our capacity to see in 3-D. Now, a new study from a scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has uncovered a truly eye-opening advantage to binocular vision: our ability to see through things.

Memory trick shows brain organization
A simple memory trick has helped show UC Davis researchers how an area of the brain called the perirhinal cortex can contribute to forming memories.

Chronic stress alters our genetic immune responseIn the Aug. 15 issue of Biological Psychiatry, researchers shed new light on one link between stress and illness by describing a mechanism through which stress alters immune function.

Sticks and stones: A new study on social and physical pain
According to a new study, words may pack a harder punch that we realize. Psychologists have found that while the pain of physical events may fade with time, the pain of social occurrences can be reinstantiated through memory retrievals.

Queen's researchers provide solution to world's worst mass poisoning case
A solution to the world's worst case of ongoing mass poisoning, linked to rising cancer rates in Southern Asia, has been developed by researchers from Queen's University Belfast.

Caltech scientists discover why flies are so hard to swat
Over the past two decades, Michael Dickinson has been interviewed by reporters hundreds of times about his research on the biomechanics of insect flight. One question from the press has always dogged him: Why are flies so hard to swat? "Now I can finally answer," says Dickinson, the Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology.

New giant clam species offers window into human past
Researchers report the discovery of the first new living species of giant clam in two decades.

Breaking harmful bonds
Everybody loves the way eggs slide off of Teflon pans. Indeed, the carbon-fluorine bond at the heart of Teflon cookware is so helpful we also use it in products from clothing to blood substitutes. But the very strength of the C-F bond also gives it greenhouse gas effects. In Science this week, Brandeis researchers report a catalyst that breaks the C-F bond and converts it to a carbon-hydrogen bond, rendering it harmless to the environment.

'Armored' fish study helps strengthen Darwin's natural selection theory
Shedding some genetically induced excess baggage may have helped a tiny fish thrive in freshwater and outsize its marine ancestors, according to a UBC study published today in Science Express.

Treadmill exercise retrains brain and body of stroke victims
People who walk on a treadmill even years after stroke damage can significantly improve their health and mobility, changes that reflect actual "rewiring" of their brains, according to research spearheaded at Johns Hopkins.

Not all fat is created equal
A Temple University study finds that fat in obese patients is "sick" when compared to fat from lean patients, which could more fully explain the link between obesity and higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Medication slows progression of myopia in children
Daily treatment with a medication called pirenzepine can slow the rate of progressive myopia, or nearsightedness, in children, reports a study in the August issue of the Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

Molecular cubes in the sunlight
A team of Australian and American researchers has developed a catalyst that effectively catalyzes the photooxidation of water. The core of the catalyst is a manganese-containing complex modeled after those found in photosynthetic organisms.

Olive leaf extract can help tackle high blood pressure and cholesterolTaking 1000 mg of a specific olive leaf extract (EFLA 943) can lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension (high blood pressure). These findings came from a "Twins" trial, in which different treatments were given to identical twins. By doing this, researchers could increase the power of their data by eliminating some of the uncertainties caused by genetic variations between individual people.

How 'secondary' sex characters can drive the origin of species
The ostentatious, sometimes bizarre qualities that improve a creature's chances of finding a mate may also drive the reproductive separation of populations and the evolution of new species, say two Indiana University Bloomington biologists.


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