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World’s biggest geoengineering experiment ‘violates’ UN rules

October 17, 2012

Geoengineering with bloom : high concentrations of chlorophyll in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska

Controversial U.S. businessman’s iron fertilization off west coast of Canada contravenes two UN conventions.

Russ George, a controversial California businessman, dumped about 100 tons of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean as part of a geoengineering scheme off the west coast of Canada in July, a Guardian investigation reveals.

Lawyers, environmentalists and civil… read more

A robotic exoskeleton for space and Earth

October 17, 2012

x1_robotic_exoskeleton

A robotic exoskeleton called X1 has been developed by NASAThe Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), and Oceaneering Space Systems.

The 57-pound device is a robot that a human could wear over their body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints.

In the inhibit mode, the robotic device would be used as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg… read more

Armchair astronomers find planet in four-star system

October 17, 2012

planet_four_stars

A joint effort of citizen scientists and professional astronomers has led to the first reported case of a planet orbiting twin suns that are orbited by a second distant pair of stars.

Aided by volunteers using the Planethunters.org website, a Yale-led international team of astronomers identified and confirmed discovery of the phenomenon, called a circumbinary planet in a four-star system.

Only six… read more

High-carb foods associated with cognitive impairment: Mayo Clinic study

Those 70-plus who ate food high in fat and protein fared better cognitively, research showed
October 17, 2012

swirl

People 70 and older who eat food high in carbohydrates have nearly four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, and the danger also rises with a diet heavy in sugar, Mayo Clinic researchers have found.

Those who consume a lot of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates are less likely to become cognitively impaired, the study found.

Researchers tracked 1,230 people ages… read more

New drugs counter neural inflammation in Parkinson’s

October 17, 2012

Illustration of Parkinson's disease (credit: William Richard Gowers)

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have identified a set of experimental drugs called LRRK2 inhibitors that may go beyond symptom relief to directly counter the inflammation and nerve cell death at the root of Parkinson’s.

These effects have been suggested in mouse and cell culture studies meant to approximate human disease.

Most Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients are still treated with a 42-year-old drug called L-DOPA, which… read more

Less-invasive method of brain stimulation helps patients with Parkinson’s disease

October 17, 2012

EMCS

Electrical stimulation using extradural electrodes — placed underneath the skull but not implanted in the brain — is a safe approach with meaningful benefits for patients with Parkinson’s disease, reports the October issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

The technique, called extradural motor cortex stimulation (EMCS), may provide a less-invasive alternative to electrical deep brain stimulation (DBS) for some patients with the… read more

Planet found in star system nearest Earth

Earth-mass exoplanet found orbiting Alpha Centauri B
October 17, 2012

centauri_planet

European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system — the star system nearest Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun.

The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Alpha Centauri is one of… read more

How sleep deprivation poses risks to physical and mental health

How sleep deprivation impacts dementia, different types of memory, and learning
October 17, 2012

Sleep deprivation effects (credit: Wikipedia)

One in five American adults show signs of chronic sleep deprivation, making the condition a widespread public health problem. Sleeplessness is related to health issues such as obesity, cardiovascular problems, and memory problems.

New findings presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience Tuesday report the important role sleep plays, and the brain mechanisms at work as sleep shapes memory, learning, and behavior.

The findings show… read more

Neural-like stem cells from muscle tissue may hold key to cell therapies for neurodegenerative diseases

October 17, 2012

neuronalstemcells

Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have taken the first steps to create neural-like stem cells from muscle tissue in animals.

“Reversing brain degeneration and trauma lesions will depend on cell therapy, but we can’t harvest neural stem cells from the brain or spinal cord without harming the donor,” said Osvaldo Delbono, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine at Wake… read more

How ‘normal’ prion proteins in the brain actually aid learning and memory

October 17, 2012

Fluorescence images of primary hippocampal neurons showing the distribution of prion proteins in untreated (left) and siRNA-treated cells. Scale bar equals 10 microns.

Scientists from the University of Leeds have found that the protein called prion helps our brains to absorb zinc, which is believed to be crucial to our ability to learn and the well-being of our memory.

The findings published on Tuesday 16 October in Nature Communications (open access) show that prion protein regulates the amount of zinc in the brain by helping cells absorb it… read more

New techniques stretch carbon nanotubes, make stronger composites

October 17, 2012

Researchers used a rotating spool

North Carolina State University researchers have developed new techniques for stretching carbon nanotubes (CNT) and using them to create carbon composites that can be used as stronger, lighter materials in everything from airplanes to bicycles.

By stretching the CNT material before incorporating it into a composite for use in finished products, the researchers straighten the CNTs in the material, which significantly improves its tensile strength — and… read more

Stacked graphene layers used to create novel electronic and photonic devices

October 17, 2012

Multilayer cake that works as a nanoscale electric transformer

Graphene and associated one-atom-thick crystals offer the possibility of a vast range of new materials and devices by stacking individual atomic layers on top of each other, new research from The University of Manchester shows.

In a report published in Nature Physics, a group led Dr Leonid Ponomarenko and Nobel prize-winner Professor Andre Geim has assembled individual atomic layers on top of each… read more

Paging Dr. Watson: artificial intelligence as a prescription for health care

October 18, 2012

(Credit: IBM)

“It’s not humanly possible to practice the best possible medicine. We need machines,” said Herbert Chase, a professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University and member of IBM’s Watson Healthcare Advisory Board, Wired Science reports.

“A machine like [IBM's Watson], with massively parallel processing, is like 500,000 of me sitting at Google and Pubmed, trying to find the right information.”

Yet though Watson is clearly a powerful tool,… read more

Craig Venter imagines a world with printable life forms

October 18, 2012

organovobioprinter

Craig Venter imagines a future where you can download software, print a vaccine, inject it, and presto! Contagion averted.

“It’s a 3-D printer for DNA, a 3-D printer for life,” Venter said at the inaugural Wired Health Conference in New York City, Wired Science reports.

The geneticist and his team of scientists are already testing out a version of his digital biological converter, or “teleporter.”… read more

A ‘student-centered’ approach to science education

October 18, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

A group of educational researchers at Florida State University are drawing widespread attention after their paper measuring the superior results of a more “student-centered” approach to teaching science was published in the pre-eminent journal Science.

The stakes are extraordinarily high, so it is critical that the United States find more effective ways of teaching the so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) in K-12 classrooms, said the paper’s… read more

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