Fractals Help Researchers Design Antennas for New Wireless Devices

Antennas for the next generation of cellphones and other wireless communications devices may bear a striking resemblance to the Santa Monica Mountains or possibly the California coastline.
That’s because UCLA researchers are using fractals ? mathematical models of mountains, trees and coastlines ? to develop antennas for next-generation cellphones, cars and mobile communications devices. These antennas need to be miniature and be able to operate at multiple frequencies simultaneously.

New planet detection technique can spot even small worlds around distant stars

An extrasolar planet has been discovered using a new technique that will allow astronomers to detect planets no other current method can. Planets around other stars have been previously detected only by the effect they have on their parent star, limiting the observations to large, Jupiter-like planets and those in very tight orbits. The new method uses the patterns created in the dust surrounding a star to discern the presence of a planet that could be as small as Earth or in an orbit so wide that it would take hundreds of years to observe its effect on its star.

Study holds promise for stroke, schizophrenia treatments

Researchers have discovered a communication link between proteins in the brain that could lead to improved treatments for psychiatric disorders and stroke. The discovery could create the possibility that new antipsychotic medication could be designed to modify the interaction related to cell-to-cell communication to prevent abnormal activity and cell death.

Rigorous, short-term diet-exercise program lowers heart disease risk

Obese men can significantly reduce heart disease risk on a three-week low-fat, high-fiber diet and daily exercise ? even though they may lose only a few pounds, according to research announced today in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Men who consumed a diet high in grains, vegetables and fruit and took brisk daily walks reduced their high blood pressure, a hallmark risk factor for congestive heart failure, kidney disease, coronary artery disease and stroke.

Researchers Determine How ‘Hospital Staph’ Resists Antibiotics

Drug-resistant staph infections are a major concern to health care providers. Hospitals in particular have become home to some strains of Staphylococcus aureus that resist every known antibiotic, including the last-resort vancomycin. But two researchers say they’ve discovered just how so-called “Hospital staph” develops resistance, potentially opening the door for development of new drugs that beat it to the punch.

Diesel cars may promote more global warming than gasoline cars

More auto news. A Stanford researcher has found that although diesel cars obtain 25 to 35 percent better mileage and emit less carbon dioxide than similar gasoline cars, they can emit 25 to 400 times more soot per kilometer. The warming due to soot may more than offset the cooling due to reduced carbon dioxide emissions over several decades. Laws that favor diesel cars over standard gasoline, therefore, may be doing more harm than good.

Freeway living not for the weak of lung

Get a little distance from the matter.In case there was any doubt, researchers in — where else? — Los Angeles have determined that living near a freeway exposes you to a lot more pollution than if you lived further away. Specifically, a UCLA team found people who live, work or travel within 165 feet downwind of a major freeway or busy intersection are exposed to potentially hazardous particle concentrations up to 30 times greater than normal background levels.

Gene therapy appears to help cancer pain

It’s one of those stories that simultaneously gives great hope but also a little dread. Researchers in Pennsylvania say they’ve successfully stimulated the production of a pain-blocking protein in mice by using a modified herpes virus to attach the appropriate genes onto the animals’ DNA. That’s potentially terrific news. If the same technique held true in humans, it could offer a new way to treat the devastating pain associated with some forms of cancer, such as bone cancer. Of course, a hell of a lot of mice were bred specifically develop the extremely painful bone tumors, just so the technique could be tested. It’s no doubt a necessary sacrifice, but one that shouldn’t be overlooked entirely. You don’t have to be a wacko member of PETA to spare a thought for the millions of mice and other lab animals that are sacrificed each year so humans can live healthier lives.

Historic fusion reactor dismantled and packed away

So long, and thanks for all the watts.For the latter part of the 20th century, much of what we knew about plasma fusion came out of Princeton’s Plasma Physics Laboratory. There the massive Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor worked for 15 years, forcing hydrogen atoms together in crazy strong magnetic fields in the search for a sustainable fusion reaction. I wrote a paper about this back in the late 1980s in UC Santa Barbara’s terrific History of the Nuclear Age. Anyhow, the Tokamak was taken offline in 1997, and Princeton says it has now successfully dismantled and removed the leviathan. Just to give you an idea about the machine’s intensity, it was the first to produce more than 10 million watts of fusion power. And in 1995, TFTR attained a world-record temperature of 510 million degrees centigrade — more than 25 times that at the center of the sun.

Incidentally, if you ever wondered what Tokamak means, it’s not — as I once thought — some Native American name or word. It’s actually Russian shorthand describing the squished donut shape of the magnets. To(roidal’naya) kam(era s) ak(sial’nym magnitnym polem), or toroidal chamber with axial magnetic field. Now you know.

Calorie listings don’t encourage overeating, study says

You really don't want to knowLabeling foods “low-fat” is suspected of encouraging consumers to overeat. If that box of Ho-Ho’s claims to be low-fat, heck, why not down the full dozen? But a study from Penn State says the same is not true of the listing of caloric content. “Some studies have shown that people take larger portions of foods labeled ‘low fat’ ? using the label as a license to eat more. This study shows that energy density labels are unlikely to undermine the benefits of offering foods with fewer calories per ounce.”