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March 21, 2007, 4:59 AM CT

Educational video increases knowledge

Educational video increases knowledge
An educational and motivational video, designed to increase emotional well-being and use of adaptive devices in low vision patients increased knowledge but did not change behavior or emotions, says Schepens Eye Research Institute researchers in a study in the March Issue of Optometry & Vision Science.

"While our video clearly succeeded in increasing patients' knowledge of macular degeneration and the availability of adaptive devices and techniques, it did not change their emotional response to their disease or motivate them to make changes that could improve their quality of life," says Dr. Eli Peli, senior scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and senior author of the study The Impact of a Video Intervention on the Use of Low Vision Assistive Devices. "These findings suggest that patients need more than a video to encourage them to make changes and improve their feelings about their plight," he adds.

More than one million Americans and millions more worldwide suffer from low vision caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which destroys the tiny center of the retina known as the macula. It is the leading cause of (legal) blindness among European-descended people older than 65 years. Without assistive devices and adaptive behaviors, sufferers of AMD are often unable to perform daily tasks such as reading, writing, driving, and face recognition, which can cause a loss of self-esteem, employment, independence and social interaction. Low vision patients experience emotions ranging from depression to despair and might even entertain thoughts about suicide. "And, while a number of useful assistive devices and adaptive techniques exist, patient and doctor awareness of these possibilities is alarmingly low," says Peli.........

Posted by: Nora      Read more         Source


March 19, 2007, 9:30 PM CT

Most Energetic Form Of Light

Most Energetic Form Of Light
n 2002, when astronomers first detected cosmic gamma rays - the most energetic form of light known - coming from the constellation Cygnus they were surprised and perplexed. The region lacked the extreme electromagnetic fields that they thought were required to produce such energetic rays. But now a team of theoretical physicists propose a mechanism that can explain this mystery and may also help account for another type of cosmic ray, the high-energy nuclei that rain down on Earth in the billions.

The new mechanism is described in a Physical Review Letters paper published online on March 20. The theoretical study was headed by Thomas Weiler, professor of physics at Vanderbilt, working with Luis Anchordoqui at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; John Beacom at Ohio State University; Haim Goldberg at Northeastern University; and Sergio Palomares-Ruiz at the University of Durham.

Existing methods for producing cosmic gamma rays require the ultra-strong electromagnetic fields found only in some of the most extreme conditions in the universe, such as stellar explosions and regions surrounding the massive black holes found at the core of many galaxies. So they couldn't explain how a "starburst" region in the Cygnus galaxy dominated by young, hot, bright stars could produce such energetic rays. The newly proposed mechanism, however, shows how two constituents present in such an area - fast-moving nuclei found in stellar winds and ultraviolet light - can interact to produce cosmic gamma rays.........

Posted by: Edwin      Read more         Source


March 15, 2007, 9:17 PM CT

Enhanced Genome Data Management System

Enhanced Genome Data Management System
As interest in the rising number of newly characterized microbial genomes mounts, powerful computational tools become critical for the management and analysis of these data to enable strategies for such challenges as harvesting the potential of carbon-neutral bioenergy sources and coping with global climate change.

The Integrated Microbial Genomes (IMG) data management system developed by the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) addresses this challenge with the release of version 2.1. Released on the two-year anniversary of its launch, the content of IMG 2.1 is updated with new microbial genomes from National Center for Biotechnology Informations (NCBI) Reference Sequence collection (RefSeq) latest release, Version 21. Other enhancements feature model eukaryotic genomes, including several well-characterized yeast species, and plasmids, the double-stranded circular DNA molecules independent of any sequenced microbessignificantly expanding the utility of the system for comparative genome analysis.

"Over two very productive years the community has adopted IMG as a mainstay genome analysis tool and have supported and contributed to the continuous growth and improvement of the system," said Nikos Kyrpides, head of DOE JGIs Genome Biology program and IMGs scientific lead.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


March 15, 2007, 9:15 PM CT

Water Quantity Around Mars South Pole

Water Quantity Around Mars South Pole
The amount of water trapped in frozen layers over Mars' south polar region is equivalent to a liquid layer about 11 metres deep covering the planet.

This new estimate comes from mapping the thickness of the dusty ice by the Mars Express radar instrument that has made more than 300 virtual slices through layered deposits covering the pole. The radar sees through icy layers to the lower boundary, which in places is as deep as 3.7 kilometres below the surface.

"The south polar layered deposits of Mars cover an area as wide as a big portion of Europe. The amount of water they contain has been estimated before, but never with the level of confidence this radar makes possible," said Dr. Jeffrey Plaut of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena (California), co-Principal Investigator for the radar and lead author of the study.

The instrument, named the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS), is also mapping the thickness of similar layered deposits at the north pole of Mars.

Our radar is doing its job extremely well, said Prof. Giovanni Picardi of the University of Rome La Sapienza, Principal Investigator for the instrument. MARSIS is showing to be a very powerful tool to probe underneath the Martian surface, and its showing how our teams goals such as probing the polar layered deposits - are being successfully achieved, he continued. Not only MARSIS is providing us with the first ever views of Mars subsurface at those depths, but the details we are seeing are truly amazing. We are expecting even greater results when we will have concluded an on-going, sophisticated fine-tuning of our data processing methods. These should enable us to understand even better the surface and subsurface composition.........

Posted by: Edwin      Read more         Source


March 12, 2007, 9:41 PM CT

Investing In Carbon Capture Research

Investing In Carbon Capture Research
The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, along with partners from Innoventures Canada (I-CAN), today announced funding for a project correlation to the initial development of the I-CAN Centre for the Conversion of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), at the Economic Club in Calgary.

Under the leadership of the Alberta Research Council, the Saskatchewan Research Council, Manitobas Industrial Technology Centre and a Quebec industrial research centre (Centre de recherche industrielle du Qubec), the I-CAN Centre for the Conversion of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) will help develop microalgae systems that could capture up to 100 million tonnes of CO2 from industrial sources, such as coal-fired plants and oil sands projects. The microalgae, a valuable source of biomass, would then be converted into a range of industrial products and by-products such as renewable natural gas, hydrogen and biofuels.

"This project is a great example of our Governments commitment to finding new and promising projects that will help take Canada to the next level of understanding carbon capture, storage and use," said Minister Lunn. "It builds on our ecoENERGY Initiatives, including the Task Force announced last week by the Prime Minister. We are serious about delivering real results to Canadians and reducing greenhouse gas emissions".........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


March 11, 2007, 8:46 PM CT

Fermions do not travel together

Fermions do not travel together
Fermions tend to avoid each other and cannot "travel" in close proximity. Demonstrated by a team at the Institut d'optique (CNRS/Universit Paris 11, Orsay-Palaiseau), this result is described in detail in the January 25, 2007 issue of Nature. It marks a major advance in our understanding of phenomena at a quantum scale.

For a number of years, the theory of quantum mechanics stipulated that certain particles, the fermions , were incapable of "travelling" in close proximity. For example, in a jet of identical particles, the theory supposed that the distance between them was always greater than a given value, called the "correlation length".

Researchers in the Charles Fabry Laboratory at the Institut d'optique, working with a team from the Free University in Amsterdam, have recently shown that this "anti-bunching" property, which it had never been possible to demonstrate hitherto, does indeed exist. It is as if the particles repel each other, even though interactions between them are negligible. In fact, this "anti-bunching" is due to quantum interferences which forbid the probability of finding two very close particles.

To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers compared the behaviour of fermions with that of bosons , under identical conditions. Amongst the latter, the same interferences led on the contrary to a "bunching" effect, and thus an increased probability of finding two particles together.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


March 6, 2007, 3:49 PM CT

Light-activated compound silences nerves

Light-activated compound silences nerves A compound that halts nerve cell activity only when exposed to light glows in this image of two nerve cells.
Credit: Washington University School of Medicin
Brain activity has been compared to a light bulb turning on in the head. Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have reversed this notion, creating a drug that stops brain activity when a light shines on it.

The unexpected result, reported online in Nature Neuroscience, turned several lights on in researchers' heads.

"This is daydreaming at this point, but we might one day combine this drug with a small implanted light to stop seizures," says senior author Steven Mennerick, Ph.D. associate professor of psychiatry and of anatomy and neurobiology. "Some current experimental epilepsy treatments involve the implanting of an electrode, so why not a light?".

The new compound activates the same receptor used by many anesthetics and tranquilizers, making it harder for a brain cell to respond to stimulation. Mennerick and colleagues including lead author Larry Eisenman, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology, tested the drug on cells in culture set up to behave like they were involved in a seizure, with the cells rapidly and repeatedly firing. When they added the new drug and shone a light on the cells, the seizure-like firing pattern calmed.

If the drug is adapted for epilepsy, Mennerick notes, it is most likely to help in cases where seizures consistently originate from the same brain region. Theoretically, doctors could keep a patient on regular doses of the new drug and implant a small fiber optic light in the dysfunctional region. The light would activate the drug only when seizure-like firing patterns started to appear.........

Posted by: Nora      Read more         Source


March 6, 2007, 4:50 AM CT

LED name badge

LED name badge
Because a handwritten "Hi, my name is. " nametag is so last century. The Infrared LED Name Badge lets you program up to 8 different messages, each with its own customisable appearance like scrolling direction or font size. You can have your name flashing in lights or, if it's used in a work environment, maybe some kind of message of the day.

The badge comes packaged with its own message input software, so adding or updating new messages (via a USB cable) is straightforward enough. And there's even a handy magnetic clip so it can be stuck onto a fridge or anywhere you'd like to leave your own flashing LED message.

Available for $39 from Gadget.brando.com.hk. Via Technabob........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


March 5, 2007, 9:56 PM CT

Reconstructing Migration Of Avian Flu Virus

Reconstructing Migration Of Avian Flu Virus
UC Irvine scientists have combined genetic and geographic data of the H5N1 avian flu virus to reconstruct its history over the past decade. They observed that multiple strains of the virus originated in the Chinese province of Guangdong, and they identified a number of of the migration routes through which the strains spread regionally and internationally.

By knowing where H5N1 strains develop and migrate, health officials can better limit the spread of the virus by strategically intervening. Local vaccinations can be better administered by using strains from regions that have repeatedly contributed to infections.

"If you can control the virus at its source, you can control it more efficiently," said Walter Fitch, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology in the School of Biological Sciences at UCI and co-author of the study. "With a road map of where the strain has migrated, you're more likely to isolate the strain that you should be using to make the vaccine".

The study appears this week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This research offers the first statistical analysis detailing the geographic distribution of influenza A H5N1, the bird flu strain. While prior work informally identified H5N1 strains by location, the UCI analysis is the first to systematically track the migration of H5N1 through its evolutionary history, adding new details that identify the relative importance of the geographic and evolutionary advances the virus makes.........

Posted by: Nora      Read more         Source


March 5, 2007, 8:53 PM CT

New Coating Is Virtual Black Hole

New Coating Is Virtual Black Hole
Scientists have created an anti-reflective coating that allows light to travel through it, but lets almost none bounce off its surface. At least 10 times more effective than the coating on sunglasses or computer monitors, the material, which is made of silica nanorods, may be used to channel light into solar cells or allow more photons to surge through the surface of a light-emitting diode (LED).

Publishing in the March 1, 2007, Nature Photonics, lead author Jong Kyu Kim and a team from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., reveal how they crafted the coating, which reflects almost as little light as do molecules of air.

Guided by National Science Foundation-supported electrical engineer Fred Schubert, the scientists developed a process based on an already common method for depositing layers of silica, the building block of quartz, onto computer chips and other surfaces.

The method grows ranks of nanoscale rods that lie at the same angle. That degree of the angle is determined by temperature. Under a microscope, the films look like tiny slices of shag carpet.

By laying down multiple layers, each at a different angle, the scientists created thin films that are uniquely capable of controlling light. With the right layers in the right configuration, the scientists believe they can even create a film that will reflect no light at all.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


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