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June 24, 2010, 10:10 PM CT

New chemical method important to drug design

New chemical method important to drug design
Donald Watson
Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson
University of Delaware scientist Donald Watson is part of a research team that has discovered an easier method for incorporating fluorine into organic molecules, giving chemists an important new tool in developing materials ranging from new medicines to agricultural chemicals.

The research, which is published in the June 25 edition of Science, was led by Stephen Buchwald, the Camille Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Watson worked in Buchwald's lab at MIT as a postdoctoral research associate previous to joining the UD Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as an assistant professor this past September.

About 25 percent of pharmaceuticals contain fluorine, as per Watson, but it's difficult to incorporate the element into drug molecules. Numerous scientists have been working to develop general methods to introduce fluorine atoms into organic molecules under mild reaction conditions.

"The introduction of fluorine atoms into a pharmaceutical compound can have pronounced effects," Watson notes. "They can modulate the uptake of the drug and stabilize it against metabolism by the body, keeping it in a person's system longer and making it more effective".

The chemical method discovered by the research team uses a soluble palladium (a precious metal) catalyst to replace a chlorine atom in an aromatic molecule with a trifluoromethyl (CF3) group, which contains one carbon and three fluorine atoms. The process is highly general and occurs under mild conditions, and appears to become even more economical in the future as less expensive reagents are identified, Watson says.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

March 22, 2010, 8:08 PM CT

Detecting fake wine vintages

Detecting fake wine vintages
To tell whether a certain wine is a fine vintage or a fake, scientists are using traces of radioactive carbon leftover from atomic bomb tests to estimate the age of the beverage.
Two decades of atomic bomb testing in the atmosphere are yielding an unexpected bonus for consumers, researchers reported here today at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). It's a new test to determine whether that Bordeaux or burgundy is from a fine vintage year and commands premium price or actually is a counterfeit vin ordinaire or cheap plonk worth much less.

Graham Jones, Ph.D., who headed the research, said that misrepresenting the vintage the year the wine was made is an ongoing problem. He is with the University of Adelaide, Australia. Some years bring perfect growing conditions for vineyards in a country or region of a country and the grapes produce exceptional wines that command premium prices. In other years, bad weather, such as heavy late-season rains that bloat grapes with water or long hot, dry spells at harvest, means poor quality wines. Some wine experts estimate that up to 5 percent of the fine wine sold today is fake.

"The problem goes beyond ordinary consumers being overcharged for a bottle of expensive wine of a famous winery with a great year listed on the label," Jones pointed out. "Connoisseurs collect vintage wines and prices have soared with 'investment wines' selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars a case at auction".........

Posted by: Nora      Read more         Source

March 15, 2010, 11:42 AM CT

Mobile Phone Service Providers Look To Snare New Customers With Free Gadgets

Mobile Phone Service Providers Look To Snare New Customers With Free Gadgets
As technology in the mobile phone industry has advanced so rapidly over the last 12 months - particularly with the advent of many new smart phones - and with such a large selection of similar handsets available from different manufacturers offering similar features at equally competitive tariffs, mobile phone service providers are now seeking new marketing angles and unique selling points in order to try and differentiate themselves in a highly competitive and largely saturated marketplace.

Some providers are now turning away from the frequently available free handsets, minutes and text bundles that have traditionally provided the bait for snaring new customers and are instead offering a selection of alternative gadgets and tech products such as free HDTVs, Xbox 360s, laptops or a free Nintendo Wii as incentives to attract new business and make them stand out from the crowd. This has proved a logical step for service providers not only from a sales and marketing stance, but also as modern smart phone technology can often be synchronised and used in conjunction with such products in order to further advance the user experience and help them get the most out of their new handsets. Indeed, this integration of technology through a number of electronic mediums is seemingly becoming central to users in the digital era, as telecommunications and social networking begin to merge to provide the user with 24 hour virtual interaction with the world around them – and the telecommunications industry seems to have latched onto this in order to differentiate themselves in a busy and highly competitive yet lucrative marketplace.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

March 10, 2010, 9:17 PM CT

Reduce your overheads with VMware hosting

Reduce your overheads with VMware hosting
Businesses have had a hard time of late with the global recession which has affected all of us in one way or another. Companies are looking for ways to tighten their belts and reduce their overheads and one method that has emerged is the use of VMware hosting solutions for their IT needs.

VMware hosting can be an especially prudent investment for SMEs with relatively few IT requirements where buying and maintaining a server in house, which may only be using a fraction of its capacity to run the email and data systems, just does not make sense anymore. Plus with an in house server you need an in house IT team to look after it, deal with issues and software updates and you run the risk of downtime if the server breaks down.

What is VMware Hosting

VMware technology allows a server to be compartmentalised, with each compartment acting as a virtual server in its own right and running its own operating system. Hosting companies can offer hosting on server stacks running VMware technology and support the IT requirements of multiple companies on a fraction of the hardware and energy that would be being used if each company were using their own in house systems. As the cost of running and supporting the systems is spread across the clients, the hosting companies can offer the services at much lower cost to each client than if they kept everything in house.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

March 10, 2010, 9:09 PM CT

Low cost Linux virtual hosting

Low cost Linux virtual hosting
Linux is a free open source operating system based on the Unix operating system and is a popular alternative to others (such as Microsoft) due to it's versatility. Additionally, Linux servers which most often run a platform of Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python have become very popular with web developers and in turn many businesses have websites and systems run on this software. In fact, IBM has chosen Linux to be the operating system on their Sequioa supercomputer due to be unveiled in 2011.

Linux virtual hosting has emerged as a service for companies running their IT systems on the Linux platform. It offers them the opportunity to outsource their IT requirements to specialised hosting companies who run virtual servers – server machines which have been compartmentalised, with each compartment running its own operating system and acting as an individual server.

This can be a very low cost solution which can really benefit small to medium businesses who are trying to lower overheads as we emerge from the recent recession. Plus, the nature of the virtual hosting system and the Linux platform allow perfectly for scalability as your business grows. As your needs increase, your hosting company can increase the server space available and add extra software applications, updates etc as you require them.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

Wed, 10 Mar 2010 09:45:26 GMT

Mycorrhizal Networks

Mycorrhizal Networks
Today"s BPotD is the second in the series of BPotD"s contribution to the 2010 UBC Celebrate Research Week.

Lindsay organized today"s entry, selected the links, and introduces Dr. Suzanne Simard:

Dr. Suzanne Simard is a professor with the UBC Faculty of Forestry, where she lectures on and researches the role of mycorrhizae and mycorrhizal networks in tree species migrations with climate change disturbance. Networks of mycorrhizal fungal mycelium have recently been discovered by Professor Suzanne Simard and her graduate students to connect the roots of trees and facilitate the sharing of resources in Douglas-fir forests of interior British Columbia, thereby bolstering their resilience against disturbance or stress and facilitating the establishment of new regeneration.

Dr. Simard writes:

Mycorrhizal fungi form obligate symbioses with trees, where the tree supplies the fungus with carbohydrate energy in return for water and nutrients the fungal mycelia gather from the soil; mycorrhizal networks form when mycelia connect the roots of two or more plants of the same or different species. Graduate student Kevin Beiler has uncovered the extent and architecture of this network through the use of new molecular tools that can distinguish the DNA of one fungal individual from another, or of one tree"s roots from another. He has found that all trees in dry interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) forests are interconnected, with the largest, oldest trees serving as hubs, much like the hub of a spoked wheel, where younger trees establish within the mycorrhizal network of the old trees. Through careful experimentation, recent graduate Francois Teste determined that survival of these establishing trees was greatly enhanced when they were linked into the network of the old trees.Through the use of stable isotope tracers, he and Amanda Schoonmaker, a recent undergraduate student in Forestry, found that increased survival was associated with belowground transfer of carbon, nitrogen and water from the old trees. This research provides strong evidence that maintaining forest resilience is dependent on conserving mycorrhizal links, and that removal of hub trees could unravel the network and compromise regenerative capacity of the forests.

In wetter, mixed-species interior Douglas-fir forests, graduate student Brendan Twieg also used molecular tools to discover that Douglas-fir and paper birch (Betula papyrifera) trees can be linked together by species-rich mycorrhizal networks. We found that the mycorrhizal network serves as a belowground pathway for transfer of carbon from the nutrient-rich deciduous trees to nearby regenerating Douglas-fir seedlings. Moreover, we found that carbon transfer was enhanced when Douglas-fir seedlings were shaded in mid-summer, providing a subsidy that may be important in Douglas-fir survival and growth, thus helping maintain a mixed forest community during early succession. This is not a one-way subsidy, however; graduate Leanne Philip discovered that Douglas-fir supported their birch neighbours in the spring and fall by sending back some of this carbon when the birch was leafless. This back-and-forth flux of resources according to need may be one process that maintains forest diversity and stability.

Mycorrhizal networks may be critical in helping forest ecosystems deal with climate change. Maintaining the biological webs that stabilize forests may help conserve genetic resources for future tree migrations, ensure that forest carbon stocks remain intact on the landscape, and conserve species diversity. UBC graduate student Marcus Bingham is finding that maintaining mycorrhizal webs may be more important for the regeneration and stability of the dry than wet interior Douglas-fir forests, where resources are more limited and climate change is expected to have greater impacts. Helping the landscape adapt to climate change will require more than keeping existing forests intact, however. Many scientists are concerned that species will need to migrate at a profoundly more rapid rate than they have in the past, and that humans can facilitate this migration by planting tree species adapted to warm climates in new areas. UBC graduate student Brendan Twieg is starting new research to help us understand whether the presence of appropriate mycorrhizal symbionts in foreign soils may limit the success of tree migrations, and if so, to help us design practices that increase our success at facilitating changes in these forests.

Daniel adds: Some housecleaning bits to add. Dr. Simard noted that a version of today"s BPotD appeared in the Faculty of Forestry"s newsletter Branch Lines, here: Simard, S.W. (2010) Why research matters to the forest systems of BC (PDF). Branch Lines, 20: 4-5. Dr. Simard also contributed the photograph of Cantharellus formosus. The illustration of the fungi and tree is courtesy of Shannon Wright. The schematic of the fungal network is by Kevin Beiler, and was published in: Beiler KJ, Durall DM, Simard SW, Maxwell SA, Kretzer AM. 2010. Architecture of the wood-wide web: Rhizopogon spp genets link multiple Douglas-fir cohorts. New Phytologist, 185: 543-553.

Posted by: Daniel Mosquin      Read more     Source

March 8, 2010, 9:14 AM CT

A high-tech handrest

A high-tech handrest
A prototype of the Active Handrest is shown here with a person using it to manipulate a stylus for writing or drawing. It was developed by University of Utah mechanical engineers as a way to let surgeons, machinists, artists and others precisely control scalpels, tools, brushes and other objects over a wider workspace than normally is possible. The person using the device places an elbow on an elbow rest and the hand on a motorized handrest equipped with a force sensor. The handrest can move any direction within a horizontal plane in response to pressure exerted by the user. A study of the device shows it allows better control of tools than other support devices, and with less fatigue. Motors controlling the device protrude from the lower left and lower right.

Credit: University of Utah.

University of Utah engineers developed a computer-controlled, motorized hand and arm support that will let doctors, artists and others precisely control scalpels, brushes and tools over a wider area than otherwise possible, and with less fatigue.

"We've invented a new device the Active Handrest that's useful for aiding people in performing precision tasks with their hands such as surgery, painting, electronics repair or other tasks that require precise control of the fingertips," says William Provancher, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

A patent on the device is pending, and Provancher says he may form a spin-off company to commercialize it, or may license it to companies that produce touch-feedback devices, make robotic surgery equipment, produce art or refurbish electronics.

Provancher will discuss development and testing of the Active Handrest on March 25, during the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Haptics Symposium in Waltham, Mass. Haptics is to the sense of touch as optics is to the sense of sight.

"The Active Handrest would benefit surgeons and other medical personnel, artists, machinists, workers performing pick-and-place tasks, or anyone requiring dexterous control of tools," Provancher wrote in a paper prepared for the meeting.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

February 26, 2010, 11:42 PM CT

A Guide to Choosing from Different Types of Headsets

A Guide to Choosing from Different Types of Headsets
Technology is so advanced these days that life is becoming more and more effortless with each passing day. Take for example the recent introduction of G4 Bluetooth by Cardo Systems. These little devices are basically designed for bikers so that they can converse with each other while riding on the same bike or on different bikes. Hence, even bikers also can keep in touch with each other while riding bikes. There are different types of headsets available in the market today. There are user specific headsets and you can choose the one that suits all your requirements. The following list will help you decide which one would be best suited to you and will fulfill all your needs.

Business and Telephone Headsets

Headsets for home or business purposes come with wired or wireless features. Today the wireless varieties come with noise cancelling technologies and hence, they are apt for business environments. You can easily use them during long important conversations so that you don’t miss any minute details in noisy environments. At the same time the wireless ones come in very handy in your home as well as in the office as you can perform other tasks and carry on a telephonic conversation simultaneously.

VOIP Headsets........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

February 24, 2010, 9:55 PM CT

Still haven't found the right web hosting provider for your website?

Still haven't found the right web hosting provider for your website?
One of the reasons why a lot have been setting up their own websites either for personal or for business is that there’s just so many options to choose from these days. But sometimes, the more choices there are, the more confusing it is to actually choose the right provider.

If you don’t want to spend much or to spend at all on a hosting provider, then you might be looking for something like a free hosting package. Although, there are a lot of web hosts who offer free hosting, not all of them are quite nice neither for your website nor worth your time. Some web hosts actually put annoying ads, even pop-ups on your site in exchange for the free service they provide. Your site may look very unprofessional and you’re not even going to get any share from it either. And others are just simply not capable enough of providing you a good and reliable hosting.

Doteasy, on the other hand, is one of the leading domain name registrars that also provide web hosting services. What sets them apart from other web hosts is that they offer really low prices without sacrificing the quality of service they provide. Their unlimited hosting plan which is perfect for a business website starts at only $9.95 per month. And if you want to first test how reliable their service is, you can actually try out their free web hosting package which is completely free. No set up fee and no monthly fee. Aside from that, they currently have a promo which lets their customers register for any domain name for only $5.95 and already get a free hosting package with it. ........

Posted by: Milan      Read more         Source

February 18, 2010, 9:56 PM CT

Stitching together lab-on-a-chip

Stitching together lab-on-a-chip
Cotton thread, shown in this close-up image, provides a simple way to transport fluids for low-cost "lab-on-a-chip" tests for detecting disease and other purposes.

Credit: Wei Shen

Researchers in Australia are reporting the first use of ordinary cotton thread and sewing needles to literally stitch together a microfluidic analytical device microscopic technology that can transport fluids for medical tests and other purposes in a lab-on-a-chip. The chips shrink room-sized diagnostic testing equipment down to the size of a postage stamp, and promise revolutionary applications in medicine, environmental sensing, and other areas. Their study is in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, a monthly journal.

Wei Shen and his colleagues note that the development of low-cost "lab-on-a-chip" diagnostic tests has become an attractive area of research. Existing devices require etching microscopic channels onto slivers of silicon, glass, ceramics, or metal in a costly, complicated process. The researchers set out to find an alternative, and did so with cotton thread, which wicks fluids along its tiny fibers.

They stitched thread into paper to form microfluidic sensors capable of detecting and measuring substances released in the urine of patients with several human medical conditions. "The fabrication of thread-based microfluidic devices is simple and relatively low cost because it requires only sewing needles or household sewing machines," the report said. "Our results demonstrate that thread is a suitable material for fabricating microfluidic diagnostic devices for monitoring human health, environment and food safety, particularly for the population in less-industrialized areas or remote regions".........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

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