An Australian mathematician has thrown 15 years of accepted scientific practice out the window by discovering a design flaw in a key component of the Atomic Force Microscope. His finding will force a rethink into the design and use of an instrument that has become a cornerstone of scientific measurement and analysis. Dr John Sader, at University of Melbourne’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Particulate Fluids Processing Centre, used established mechanical principles to prove that the popular V-shaped cantilever inadvertently degrades the performance of the instrument, and delivers none of its intended benefits.
Studying mice, scientists have successfully prevented a molecular event in brain cells that they’ve found is required for storing spatial memories. Unlike regular mice, the engineered rodents quickly forgot where to find a resting place in a pool of water, the researchers report in the March 7 issue of the journal Cell. The experiments are believed to be the first to prove that subtly altering the chemistry of a certain protein can profoundly affect a brain cell’s ability to respond to external stimulation, a process called neuronal plasticity, long thought to underlie learning and memory.
Tiny motor proteins delivering vital nutrients along the length of nerves are a target for two common chemicals known for their neurotoxicity, says a Medical College of Georgia researcher. Acrylamides – used in water purification, paper manufacturing, mining and recently found in potato chips, French fries, baked cereals and other carbohydrates cooked at high temperatures – and hexanes — an organic solvent used in glues, paints and shoe manufacturing – can shut down these motor proteins, says Dr. Dale W. Sickles, MCG neurotoxicologist.
While studying mice with a mutant gene whose counterpart causes inherited glaucoma in humans, researchers have discovered a second gene mutation that worsens the structural eye defect that causes this type of glaucoma. The newly discovered gene mutation affects production of L-DOPA. The researchers suggest that it might be feasible to prevent glaucoma by administering L-DOPA, which is used in treating Parkinson’s disease.
A child who is overweight and unfit may already be on the road to developing insulin resistance, an early sign of diabetes, researchers reported today at the American Heart Association’s 43rd Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention. Insulin sensitivity is a measure of how well the body responds to insulin, a hormone that transports carbohydrates from the blood into cells where they are turned into energy. High insulin sensitivity means the body is responding well to insulin. Low insulin sensitivity ? also called insulin resistance ? is often a precursor to diabetes.
Increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may lead to a rise in the number of annual extreme precipitation events in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which in turn could increase the frequency of flooding in California, a NASA-funded study finds.
For five years now, a University of Cincinnati team has been piecing together the fragments of three little-known, prehistoric Native American cultures that left behind immense earthworks that rival Stonehenge in their astronomical accuracy. Most of these sites ? an extant example being Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio ? survived close to two millennia before they were gouged out or cultivated in the 19th century or paved over for development in the 20th century. And that’s where the extensive, national team, led by architect John Hancock of the Center for the Reconstruction of Historic Sites at UC, comes in.
A chemical widely used in industry and present in ground water supplies, has now been found in the semen fluid of infertile men, reports a Queen’s University research scientist. Dr. Poh-Gek Forkert’s study of male mechanics who use trichloroethylene (TCE) in the workplace shows the presence of TCE in their seminal fluid. The team’s findings are reported in the March issue of the international journal, Drug Metabolism and Disposition.
A close relative of a common little-understood human virus that causes an estimated 23 million episodes of intestinal illness, 50,000 hospitalizations and 300 deaths each year has been discovered in mice. The finding by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is reported in the March 7 issue of the journal Science. Discovery of the new virus, known as murine norovirus 1 (MNV-1), may lead to a better understanding of its disease-causing cousins known as Norwalk viruses, or human noroviruses (HNVs). HNVs cause 90 percent of epidemic viral gastroenteritis worldwide, including those that sweep through cruise ships, nursing homes and military encampments causing debilitating diarrhea and vomiting.
U.S. soldiers walk down a trail in a war zone. One of them pulls out a hand-held electronic device and points it at a native plant. The readings on the device indicate the plant was exposed to nerve gas sometime in the last 48 hours, allowing the soldiers to don protective gear before they suffer a lethal dose. Although such a device does not exist, it’s not as far-fetched as it may sound. As concerns grow over the threat of bioterrorism and weapons of mass destruction, university researchers are working on an early warning system — the figurative canary in the mineshaft — that could be as unobtrusive and ubiquitous as plants in a landscape.
A Duke University ecologist is leading an international scientific reassessment of the causes and effects of desertification, a term he said has been subject to misinterpretation and oversimplification. In a new book he co-edited, and as organizer of a new ARIDnet research network that will study desertification worldwide, James F. Reynolds is seeking to better explain the interconnected factors that cause sensitive dry land environments to sometimes degrade to points of no return.