Giant Radio Jet Coming From Wrong Kind of Galaxy

Giant jets of subatomic particles moving at nearly the speed of light have been found coming from thousands of galaxies across the Universe, but always from elliptical galaxies or galaxies in the process of merging — until now. Using the combined power of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Very Large Array (VLA) and the 8-meter Gemini-South Telescope, astronomers have discovered a huge jet coming from a spiral galaxy similar to our own Milky Way.

Newly identified enzyme reduces bitterness in cheese

A Wisconsin scientist is using new technology to tackle an old problem in cheesemaking – and the solution could mean both a bigger market for the state’s dairy producers and reduced costs for cheesemakers. One of the major expenses in cheesemaking is the cost of storing cheeses as they age and develop their distinctive flavors, says Jim Steele, a food scientist with the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Cheddar takes six months to a year to mature, while Parmesan takes a full year. During that time off-flavors and bitterness, the most common Cheddar defects, may develop. “We’ve identified an enzyme that plays a critical role in reducing bitterness in cheese,” says Steele. “If the bacteria in the starter culture produced this enzyme cheesemakers would save money and ensure a more consistent product.”

Nation’s brightest increasingly shun science

America’s top college graduates increasingly reject careers in science and engineering, researchers have found, raising concerns about America’s technological future. Faced with the prospect of low-paid apprenticeships and training lasting a decade or more ? and constricted job opportunities even after that ? more of the brightest young Americans are instead pursuing the quicker and surer payoffs offered by business and certain professions, according to the Washington study. “With the notable exception of biological sciences, many of the top U.S. students with potential to become scientists are turning toward other career paths,” said one of the study’s co-authors.

When self-image takes a blow, many turn to television as a distraction

Whether you fancy yourself a jet-setting sophisticate or a down-to-earth outdoorsy type, a fast-track corporate star or an all-around nice guy, new research indicates that you probably tune out information that challenges your self-image by tuning in to television. “We each have ways in which we like to perceive ourselves,” said one of the lead researchers. “In many cases self-image is carefully constructed and zealously guarded, and it’s difficult to experience a conflict between who we are and who we would like to be. Television appears to be an effective means of reducing awareness of how we are falling short of our own standards.”

NASA technology could help treat anxiety, migraine and hypertension

An technology developed by NASA to help its astronauts combat motion sickness during space flight will be available in March for a much wider range of human health and performance uses. The technology, which helps an individual control aspects of their autonomal nervous system — which regulates involuntary bodily functions, such as breathing, heartbeat, sweating, blood vessel dilation and glandular secretions — could have use in treating conditions as varied as migraine headache, high blood pressure and panic attacks.

Study points to methods for safe drug dispensing via computer

Researchers have found that a new computer system that uses bar codes to safeguard patients’ medications will work successfully, but not without creating new, serious problems for nurses charged with patient care. “In general, we viewed the system as successful. There are no magic bullet solutions to human error in any setting, and even the best systems will require constant maintenance and flexible redesign after implementation,” said Emily Patterson, a research specialist in Ohio State’s Institute for Ergonomics.

Computer program reveals optimum microstructure for new materials

A Princeton chemist has developed a general mathematical system for designing materials that perform two functions at once, even when the desired properties sometimes conflict with each other. Salvatore Torquato and colleagues used computers to calculate the optimum structure for any material that is a composite of two substances with differing properties. The achievement is the first simple example of a mathematically rigorous method for optimizing the design of multifunctional composites, which are an increasingly common kind of material.

Drug treatment for ADHD sharply cuts risk for future substance abuse

An analysis of all available studies that examine the possible impact of stimulant treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) on future substance abuse supports the safety of stimulant treatment. Using a statistical technique called meta-analysis, the researchers found that medication treatment for children with ADHD resulted in an almost two-fold reduction in the risk of future substance abuse. “We know that untreated individuals with ADHD are at a significantly increased risk for substance abuse. And we understand why parents often ask whether stimulant medications might lead to future substance abuse among their children,” says Timothy Wilens, MD, MGH director of Substance Abuse Services in Pediatric Psychopharmacology, the paper’s lead author. “Now we can reassure parents and other practitioners that treating ADHD actually protects children against alcohol and drug abuse as well as other future problems.”

Blood flow in eyes unaffected by Viagra

When Viagra was introduced in 1999, the drug’s manufacturer warned of a number of visual side effects, including possible nerve damage to the eyes. But a California study rules out some of these risks — even when the drug is taken in high doses. According to Dr. Tim McCulley, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of California at Irvine, blood flow in the eye does not seem to be reduced by even high doses of the popular erectile dysfunction drug. Since Viagra lowers blood pressure overall, there was persistent suspicion that the drug might cause decreased optical blood flow, which can cause nerve damage.

Scientists catch their first elusive ‘dark’ gamma-ray burst

Scientists racing the clock have snapped a photo of a gamma-ray burst event one minute after the explosion, capturing for the first time a particularly fast-fading type of “dark” burst, which comprises about half of all gamma-ray bursts. A gamma-ray burst announces the birth of a new black hole; it is the most powerful type of explosion known, second only to the Big Bang in total energy release. This latest finding may double the number of gamma-ray bursts available for study and rattle a few theories as well, said scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, based on an X-ray image taken by the MIT-built High Energy Transient Explorer (HETE) satellite, the first satellite dedicated to spotting gamma-ray bursts.

GPS technology to help the blind

A new navigation tool to help blind people find their way around city streets is soon to be tested under a European Space Agency project. The hand-held device incorporates ESA’s new satellite navigation technologies into the personal navigator for blind people. At present, satellite navigation based on GPS and without the use of inertial systems, is not accurate enough to guide pedestrians, especially around cities. When few GPS satellites are in view because of tall buildings, positioning accuracy can be little better than 30 to 40 m. ESA’s EGNOS system, however, improves the accuracy of GPS positions to a few metres, making it sensitive enough to locate obstacles in the street.

Possible New Treatment Strategy for Deadly Brain Tumors

Despite advances in neurosurgery and radiation techniques, the prognosis for patients with intracranial glioma remains devastating. Now, researchers have identified a possible new treatment strategy for this common type of malignant brain tumor. Two studies funded in part by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) show that, in a mouse model, neural stem cells (NSCs) can be used to deliver therapeutic agents capable of killing glioma cells and their migrating tumor cells.