Daily Archives: December 7, 2007

Science News Tidbits: Health

Is infant male circumcision an abuse of the rights of the child? from PhysOrg.com
Circumcision is one of the commonest surgical procedures performed on males. Opponents argue that infant circumcision can cause both physical and psychological harm, while recent evidence shows that circumcision is medically beneficial. Two doctors debate the issue in this week’s BMJ.[]

Even in healthy elderly, brain systems become less coordinated from PhysOrg.com
Some brain systems become less coordinated with age even in the absence of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study from Harvard University. The results help to explain why advanced age is often accompanied by a loss of mental agility, even in an otherwise healthy individual.[]

Research links diet, gardening and lung cancer risk from PhysOrg.com
By simply eating four or more servings of green salad a week and working in the garden once or twice a week, smokers and nonsmokers alike may be able to substantially reduce the risk of developing lung cancer, say researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.[]

Cells use Velcro-like mechanism to keep viruses from spreading from PhysOrg.com
Like mobsters, cells keep their friends close and their enemies — at least some of them — closer. According to new results from HIV researchers at Rockefeller University, one way that human cells prevent certain viruses from raging out of control is by blocking new viral particles from ever leaving an infected cell’s surface. And, they believe, HIV thrives in part because it has evolved the ability to get around this obstacle.[]

Mechanism for regulation of growth and differentiation of adult muscle stem cells is revealed from PhysOrg.com
During muscle regeneration, which is a natural response to injury and disease, environmental cues cause adult muscle stem cells (satellite cells) to shift from dormancy to actively building new muscle tissue.[]

Cognitive “fog” of normal aging linked to brain system disruption from PhysOrg.com
Comparisons of the brains of young and old people have revealed that normal aging may cause cognitive decline due to deterioration of the connections among large-scale brain systems, including a decrease in the integrity of the brain’s “white matter,” the tissue containing nerve cells that carry information, according to a new study co-authored by several researchers from Washington University in St. Louis.[]

Research reveals secrets of alcohol’s effect on brain cells from PhysOrg.com
Alcohol triggers the activation of a variety of genes that can influence the health and activity of brain cells, and new research from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City sheds light on how that process occurs.[]

Safe and effective therapy discovered for patients with protein-losing enteropathy from PhysOrg.com
Researchers at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham Institute) have developed the first model to study intestinal protein leakage in mice, allowing the team to control and replicate both genetic deficiencies and environmental damages in an in vivo setting. Protein-losing enteropathy (PLE) encompasses conditions that involve the abnormal leakage of blood proteins into the digestive tract.[]

UC Davis bird-flu expert calls for changes in early-warning system from PhysOrg.com
The international science community is not doing enough to track the many avian influenza viruses that might cause the next pandemic, a UC Davis researcher says in today’s issue of the journal Nature.[]

Science News Tidbits: Biology

Nanotube-producing bacteria show manufacturing promise from PhysOrg.com
Two engineers at the University of California, Riverside are part of a binational team that has found semiconducting nanotubes produced by living bacteria – a discovery that could help in the creation of a new generation of nanoelectronic devices.[]

New method exploits ancient mechanism to switch genes on and off at will from PhysOrg.com
Since our ancestors first harnessed fire, we’ve used heat to cook burgers, forge steel and power rockets. Now, Rockefeller University researchers are using heat for another purpose: turning genes on and off at will.[]

Science News Tidbits: Climate and Ecology

New research may lead to better climate models for global warming, El Nino from PhysOrg.com
One hundred fifty scientists from more than 40 universities in nine countries are starting a coordinated program aimed at gaining new insights about the Earth’s climate and the complex, interconnected system involving the oceans, the atmosphere and the land.[]

New ambitious project to barcode an entire ecosystem from PhysOrg.com
UC Berkeley researchers are leading an ambitious, first-of-its-kind effort to inventory all non-microbial life on the South Pacific island of Moorea. Supported by a new three-year, $5.2 million grant from the Moore Foundation, the Moorea Biocode Project will turn the island into a model ecosystem that promises to provide insight into the effects of climate change, invasive species, habitat destruction and other global challenges.[]

Wales: Wikipedia OK for Students

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has said teachers who refuse younger students access to the site are “bad educators”.Speaking at the Online Information conference at London’s Olympia, he played down the long-running controversy over the site’s authority.He said young students should be able to reference the online encyclopaedia in their work.Mr Wales said the site, which is edited by users, should be seen as a “stepping stone” to other sources.As long as an article included accurate citations, he said he had “no problem” with it being used as a reference for younger students, although academics would “probably be better off doing their own research”.

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Science News Tidbits: Space, the Final Frontier

SECCHI team obtains images of the solar wind at Earth from PhysOrg.com
Using the Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI) instruments on board NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft, a consortium of scientists has seen, for the first time, large waves of solar material sweeping past Earth.[]

Astronomer detects atmosphere of extra-solar planet from PhysOrg.com
University of Texas at Austin astronomer and Hubble Fellow Seth Redfield has used the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at McDonald Observatory to make the first ground-based detection of the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system.[]

James Webb Space Telescope Testing to Find Infrared Light for Christmas from PhysOrg.com
A model of the James Webb Space Telescope’s Mid-InfraRed Instrument will be tested before Christmas at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, England to ensure the final instrument can see infrared light.[]

Robert Full: Secrets of movement, from geckos and roaches

UC Berkeley biologist Robert Full shares his fascination with spiny cockroach legs that allow them to scuttle at full speed across loose mesh and gecko feet that have billions of nano-bristles to run straight up walls. His talk, complete with wonderful slow-mo video of cockroach, crab and gecko gaits, explains his goal of creating the perfect robotic “distributed foot.”