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Your brain on speed: Walking doesn’t impair thinking, multitasking

May 8, 2014 2:04 pm | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

When we're strolling down memory lane, our brains recall just as much information while walking as while standing still—findings that contradict the popular science notion that walking hinders one's ability to think. Univ. of Michigan researchers at the School of Kinesiology and the College of Engineering examined how well study participants performed a very complex spatial cognitive task while walking versus standing still.

Scientists create first living organism that transmits unnatural DNA “letters”

May 8, 2014 12:41 pm | News | Comments

Scripps Research Institute scientists have engineered a bacterium whose genetic material includes an added pair of DNA “letters,” or bases, not found in nature. The cells of this unique bacterium can replicate the unnatural DNA bases more or less normally, for as long as the molecular building blocks are supplied.

Health insurers just say no to marijuana coverage

May 8, 2014 10:27 am | by Tom Murphy - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Patients who use medical marijuana for pain and other chronic symptoms can take an unwanted hit: Insurers don't cover the treatment, which costs as much as $1,000 a month. Once the drug of choice for hippies and rebellious teens, marijuana in recent years has gained more mainstream acceptance for its ability to boost appetite, dull pain and reduce seizures in everyone from epilepsy to cancer patients.

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Astronomers create first realistic virtual universe

May 7, 2014 2:43 pm | News | Comments

Move over, Matrix, astronomers at MIT/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies in Germany have done you one better. They have created the first realistic virtual universe using a computer simulation called "Illustris." Illustris can recreate 13 billion years of cosmic evolution in a cube 350 million light-years on a side with unprecedented resolution.

Nanocellulose sponges to combat oil pollution

May 6, 2014 11:10 am | News | Comments

A new, absorbable material could be of assistance in future oil spill accidents. A chemically modified nanocellulose sponge, the light material developed at a research laboratory in Europe absorbs the oil spill, remains floating on the surface and can then be recovered. The absorbent can be produced in an environmentally friendly manner from recycled paper, wood or agricultural by-products.

Soy sauce molecule may unlock drug therapy for HIV patients

May 6, 2014 7:49 am | News | Comments

For HIV patients being treated with anti-AIDS medications, resistance to drug therapy regimens is commonplace. Often, patients develop resistance to first-line drug therapies, such as Tenofovir, and are forced to adopt more potent medications. Virologists at the Univ. of Missouri now are testing the next generation of medications that stop HIV from spreading, and are using a molecule related to flavor enhancers found in soy sauce.

Stimulated mutual annihilation could make positronium gamma-ray lasers a reality

May 2, 2014 2:50 pm | News | Comments

Twenty years ago, Bell Labs physicists proposed that a gamma-ray laser could be made from a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) of positronium, the simplest atom made of both matter and antimatter. Now that BECs are available, theorists at the Joint Quantum Institute have turned their attention to the possibility of constructing a positronium gamma-ray laser, which is possible through something called stimulated mutual annihilation.

Self-healing smart beads detect and repair corrosion

May 2, 2014 2:41 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Battelle have developed a tiny bead that not only detects corrosion but delivers a payload to help heal the microscopic cracks that rust creates. Called the Battelle Smart Corrosion Detector, the beads look like a fine, whitish powder that can be mixed with coatings used to protect pipelines and other critical infrastructure subject to corrosion. Self-activating, they release a proprietary chemical that fills cracks.

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Experimental drug prolongs life span in mice

May 2, 2014 11:30 am | by Marla Paul, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Northwestern Medicine scientists have newly identified a protein’s key role in cell and physiological aging and have developed—in collaboration with Tohoku Univ. in Japan—an experimental drug that inhibits the protein’s effect and prolonged the lifespan in a mouse model of accelerated aging. The rapidly aging mice fed the experimental drug lived more than four times longer than a control group.

Undersea warfare: Viruses hijack deep-sea bacteria at hydrothermal vents

May 2, 2014 9:04 am | News | Comments

Microbiologists have recently studied unseen armies of viruses and bacteria as they wage war at hydrothermal vents more than a mile beneath the ocean's surface. They have found that viruses infect bacterial cells to obtain tiny globules of elemental sulfur stored inside the bacterial cells. Instead of stealing this bounty, the viruses force the bacteria to burn their valuable sulfur reserves, then use the unleashed energy to replicate.

Scientists urge delay in destroying last smallpox

May 1, 2014 5:24 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

More than three decades after the eradication of smallpox, U.S. officials say it's still not time to destroy the last known stockpiles of the virus behind one of history's deadliest diseases. The world's health ministers meet later this month to debate, again, the fate of vials held under tight security in two laboratories—one in the U.S. and one in Russia.

Researchers find the accelerator for molecular machines

May 1, 2014 12:04 pm | News | Comments

The principle behind molecular machines is that one must apply some kind of stimulus in order to make it move. A team of researchers from Denmark and the U.S. have been investigating this type of nanoscale structure to determine how to make various parts move. What they have found is unusual: pieces actually go faster when the distance between the starting and stopping point is longer than if it is shorter.

Entire star cluster thrown out of its galaxy

May 1, 2014 10:49 am | News | Comments

The galaxy known as M87 has a fastball that would be the envy of any baseball pitcher. It has thrown an entire star cluster toward us at more than two million miles per hour. The newly discovered cluster, which astronomers named HVGC-1, is now on a fast journey to nowhere. Its fate: to drift through the void between the galaxies for all time.

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Engineers grow functional human cartilage in lab

April 30, 2014 2:50 pm | by Holly Evarts, Columbia Engineering | News | Comments

Researchers in New York have been able to, for the first time, generate fully functional human cartilage from mesenchymal stem cells by mimicking, in vitro, the developmental process of mesenchymal condensation. While there has been great success in engineering pieces of cartilage using young animal cells, no one has, until now, been able to reproduce these results using adult human stem cells from bone marrow or fat.

Unique floating lab showcases “aliens of the sea”

April 30, 2014 7:38 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Leonid Moroz, neurobiologist at the Univ. of Florida, is on a quest to decode the genomic blueprints of fragile marine life in real time, on board the ship where they were caught. His ocean-going laboratory contains a genome sequencing machine secured to a tabletop. Genetic data is beamed via satellite to a supercomputer at the Univ. of Florida, which analyzes the results in a few hours and sends it back to the boat.

Resolving the structure of a single biological molecule

April 28, 2014 12:48 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in the U.K. have applied “soft-touch” atomic force microscopy to large, irregularly arranged and individual DNA molecules. In this form of microscopy, a miniature probe is used to feel the surface of the molecules one by one, rather than seeing them. In this way they have determined the structure of DNA from measurements on a single molecule, and found that the structure is more irregular than previously thought.

Nissan develops first "self-cleaning" car prototype

April 28, 2014 11:00 am | Videos | Comments

Washing a car can be a costly and time-consuming chore. The European model of Nissan’s Note will be the first car to wear a new type of paint which could make car washes obsolete. The paint has been engineered to be super-hydrophobic and oleophobic, meaning it repels both water and oils. The tests may result in an aftermarket application.

World’s smallest magazine cover

April 25, 2014 1:47 pm | Videos | Comments

IBM scientists have developed a new tool inspired by hieroglyphics. The core of the technology is a tiny, heatable silicon tip with a sharp apex 100,000 times smaller than a sharpened pencil. Working like a 3-D printer it “chisels” away material by local evaporation. They have used this invention to make a magazine cover for National Geographic that is just 11 by 14 micrometers in size.

Cancer researchers to create live tumors with 3-D printer

April 25, 2014 1:31 pm | News | Comments

Using a mixture of cervical cancer cells and a hydrogel substance that resembles an ointment balm, Drexel Univ.’s Wei Sun can print out a tumor model that can be used for studying their growth and response to treatment. This living model will give cancer researchers a better look at how tumors behave and a more accurate measure of how they respond to treatment.

Traces of recent water on Mars

April 25, 2014 9:40 am | News | Comments

The southern hemisphere of Mars is home to a crater that contains very well-preserved gullies and debris flow deposits. According to a recent study by geology experts in Sweden, the geomorphological attributes of these landforms provide evidence that they were formed by the action of liquid water in geologically recent time.

Study: Statins may lead some patients to pig out

April 24, 2014 9:22 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Ten years of U.S. data suggest cholesterol-lowering statins are giving patients a license to pig out. Calorie and fat intake increased among statin users during the decade—an indication that many patients might be abandoning heart-healthy lifestyles and assuming that drugs alone will do the trick, the study authors said.

The science of champagne fizz

April 23, 2014 11:18 am | News | Comments

The importance of fizz, more technically known as effervescence, in sparkling wines and champagnes is not to be underestimated—it contributes to the complete sensory experience of a glass, or flute, of fine bubbly. A scientist has now closely examined the factors that affect these bubbles, and he has come up with an estimate of just how many are in each glass.

Today’s Antarctic region once as hot as California, Florida

April 22, 2014 8:20 am | by Eric Gershon, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Parts of ancient Antarctica were as warm as today’s California coast, and polar regions of the southern Pacific Ocean registered 21st-century Florida heat, according to scientists using a new way to measure past temperatures. The findings underscore the potential for increased warmth at Earth’s poles and the associated risk of melting polar ice and rising sea levels, the researchers said.

Gecko-like adhesives now useful for real world surfaces

April 21, 2014 3:12 pm | News | Comments

The ability to stick objects to a wide range of surfaces such as drywall, wood, metal and glass with a single adhesive has been the elusive goal of many research teams across the world, but now a team of Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst inventors describe a new, more versatile version of their invention, Geckskin, that can adhere strongly to a wider range of surfaces, yet releases easily, like a gecko's feet.

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

April 21, 2014 4:21 am | by Jennifer Agiesta - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they express bigger doubts as concepts that scientists consider to be truths get further from our own experiences and the present time, an Associated Press-GfK poll found. Americans have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 billion years ago.

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