Seniors’ Memories Might Not Be So Bad, After All

Forget everything you’ve heard about forgetfulness. Researchers at North Carolina State University believe that age-related declines in memory and cognitive functioning may not be as pronounced as once believed. Dr. Thomas Hess, professor of psychology at NC State, says pessimistic notions of changes in mental abilities associated with growing older may in part be attributed to how early studies into cognition and aging were conducted. His findings were outlined in a recent edition of the Journal of Gerontology and chronicled in Science magazine. Hess’ research is part of a three-year study into stereotype threat, aging and memory as part of a $403,000 grant from the National Institute on Aging.

Scientists Use Light to Determine Structure of Heterogeneous Surfaces

Scientists have refined a technique that uses very intense light to determine the structure of chemically heterogeneous surfaces with a submillimeter resolution. The description of the technique and its application to the study of varying densities of surface-bound molecules – each about one thousand times smaller than the diameter of a human hair – appears as the cover story of the January 13, 2003, issue of Applied Physics Letters. “Surfaces with gradually varying structures are being investigated by academia and industry for their potential uses in creating cleaner energy sources, designing chemical and biological sensors, and creating molecular patterns,” said Jan Genzer, a chemical engineer at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and the lead author of the study. “By determining the chemical structure of surfaces covered with films as thin as a few billionths of a meter, scientists and engineers can improve their properties and performance.”

Scientists Find that Ulcer-Causing Pathogen Uses Hydrogen for Energy

In a new study, a microbiologist has discovered that the bacteria associated with almost all human ulcers – one that is also correlated with the development of certain types of gastric cancer in humans – uses hydrogen as an energy source. The finding is novel because most bacteria use sugars and other carbohydrates to grow, says Dr. Jonathan Olson, assistant professor of microbiology at North Carolina State. The human pathogen Helicobacter pylori does not.

Findings Reconfirm Toxicity of Pfiesteria

Well, it's not exactly helping...You’d think everyone could agree that something as grimly named as Pfiesteria would be toxic. It sure sounds toxic. But a researcher in North Carolina has been at the center of controversy for the last several years because of her claim that the organism does in fact harm fish and is responsible for periodic massive kills. A team at her own school, in fact, refuted her claims, saying when they repeated the experiments they were unable to observe the dinoflagellate microbe forming some of its previously reported toxic life-stages. The ball’s back in Dr. JoAnn Burkholder’s court today, with a new study that her team says refutes the findings published last summer stating that Pfiesteria is not toxic to fish or humans.