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Current Topic: Science

A Musical Fungus Among Us
Topic: Science 1:43 pm EST, Dec 18, 2005

For several years now, an Australian scientist named Cameron Jones (and a lot of other people) are applying fungus and molds to the playing surface of CD, specifically to play with the mold's audio properties. And you'd be surprised what it sounds like. Rather than muffling the audio, it adds echo, audio holes and glitching, all effects that people pay good money to achieve electronically. Jones and his fellow molecular remixers also use microscopically thin layers of plastics to effect audio, not to mention movies, photography and artwork.

Jones did a one-hour DJ set at a club in which he played only songs which had been altered with fungus, bacteria or synthetic nano-substances. Here are a few MP3 samples from his set, all for download...

This now this is what I call a bio-remix... lol :)

A Musical Fungus Among Us

Topic: Science 9:09 pm EST, Dec 13, 2005

GloFish™ fluorescent fish are beautiful and unique fish that were originally bred to help detect environmental pollutants. It was only recently that scientists realized the public's interest in sharing the benefits of this research. GloFish™ fluorescent fish are safe for the environment and make wonderful pets for new hobbyists and experienced enthusiasts alike.

PETA eat your hart out, this just seems like a bad idea...


Routine Tylenol for nursing home residents with dementia increases activity
Topic: Science 4:54 pm EST, Dec 12, 2005

Nursing homes should consider the potential benefits of routinely giving over-the-counter painkillers to residents who have dementia and are likely to have from chronic pain, Saint Louis University research suggests.

The study, published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, finds that nursing home residents with moderate to severe dementia who were given acetaminophen were more socially active than those who received a placebo.

"Nursing homes may want to consider the potential benefits of some kind of safe, routine, prophylactic analgesic for people with dementia who are at high risk for pain," said John T. Chibnall, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and lead study author.

"The assumption is that people with dementia don't feel pain because they're demented. Actually, they do feel it; they just can't tell you about it. Standard pain assessment requires levels of communication and language comprehension that people with advanced dementia, by definition, do not have."

The Saint Louis University research team included Raymond C. Tait, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, and Bonnie Harman, Ph.D., assistant clinical professor of nursing. The team observed 25 patients who had moderate to severe dementia at two nursing homes over an eight-week period. In addition to receiving their usual psychotropic medications, they routinely were given acetaminophen for four weeks, and a placebo for four weeks.

Routine Tylenol for nursing home residents with dementia increases activity

Physicists Coax Six Atoms into Quantum ‘Cat’ State
Topic: Science 4:46 pm EST, Dec 12, 2005

Scientists at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have coaxed six atoms into spinning together in two opposite directions at the same time, a so-called Schrodinger “cat” state that obeys the unusual laws of quantum physics. The ambitious choreography could be useful in applications such as quantum computing and cryptography, as well as ultra-sensitive measurement techniques, all of which rely on exquisite control of nature’s smallest particles.

Physicists Coax Six Atoms into Quantum ‘Cat’ State

Computer simulation shows buckyballs deform DNA
Topic: Science 4:37 pm EST, Dec 12, 2005

Soccer-ball-shaped "buckyballs" are the most famous players on the nanoscale field, presenting tantalizing prospects of revolutionizing medicine and the computer industry. Since their discovery in 1985, engineers and scientists have been exploring the properties of these molecules for a wide range of applications and innovations.

But could these microscopic spheres represent a potential environmental hazard?

Computer simulation shows buckyballs deform DNA

New Nanosensor Uses Quantum Dots to Detect DNA
Topic: Science 4:37 pm EST, Dec 12, 2005

Using tiny semiconductor crystals, biological probes and a laser, Johns Hopkins University engineers have developed a new method of finding specific sequences of DNA by making them light up beneath a microscope. The researchers, who say the technique will have important uses in medical research, demonstrated its potential in their lab by detecting a sample of DNA containing a mutation linked to ovarian cancer.

The Johns Hopkins team described the new DNA nanosensor in a paper published in the November 2005 issue of the journal Nature Materials.

"Conventional methods of finding and identifying samples of DNA are cumbersome and time-consuming," said Jeff Tza-Huei Wang, senior author of the paper and supervisor of the research team. "This new technique is ultrasensitive, quick and relatively simple. It can be used to look for a particular part of a DNA sequence, as well as for genetic defects and mutations."

The technique involves an unusual blend of organic and inorganic components. "We are the first to demonstrate the use of quantum dots as a DNA sensor," Wang said.

New Nanosensor Uses Quantum Dots to Detect DNA

Modified Atkins diet effectively treats childhood seizures
Topic: Science 4:34 pm EST, Dec 12, 2005

A modified version of a popular low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet is nearly as effective at controlling seizures as the highly restrictive ketogenic diet, Johns Hopkins Children's Center researchers report.

"Our findings suggest relatively good efficacy compared to the ketogenic diet," said Eric Kossoff, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. "With 20 patients, our study wasn't large enough to say patients and physicians should replace the proven, but highly restricted ketogenic diet, but the results are encouraging and intriguing."

The common elements in both the ketogenic and Atkins diets are relatively high fat and low carbohydrate foods that alter the body's chemistry. The ketogenic diet mimics some of the effects of starvation, in which the body first uses up glucose and glycogen before burning stored body fat. In the absence of glucose, the body produces ketones, a chemical by-product of fat that can inhibit seizures. Children who remain seizure-free for two years on the ketogenic diet often can resume normal eating without the return of seizures.

Modified Atkins diet effectively treats childhood seizures

Performing monkeys in Asia carry viruses that could jump species to humans
Topic: Science 4:33 pm EST, Dec 12, 2005

Some urban performing monkeys in Indonesia are carrying several retroviruses that are capable of infecting people, according to a new study led by University of Washington researchers. The results indicate that contact with performing monkeys, which is common in many Asian countries, could represent a little-known path for viruses to jump the species barrier from monkeys to humans and eventually cause human disease. Performing monkeys are animals that are trained to produce tricks in public.

While scientists have conducted extensive research on primate-to-human viral transmission in Africa, where they believe HIV originated, few have researched this topic in Asia.

"People aren't looking at Asia, and they need to do so, because viruses are emerging on that continent," explained Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel, leader of the study and a research scientist in the Division of International Programs at the UW's Washington National Primate Research Center. "There is a large, diverse population of primates there, and a huge human population in dense urban centers, so there's the potential for viral transmission across the species barrier."

The study's authors are urging more research on the different settings in Asia where people have contact with non-human primates – zoos, animal markets, monkey forests, pet ownership, and urban street performances. Most previous research on viral transmission has focused on bushmeat hunting and consumption, a practice in which local residents hunt wild monkeys for food. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS in humans, is believed to have originated as a primate virus and jumped the species barrier to humans when African bushmeat hunters came into contact with blood from infected animals.

Performing monkeys in Asia carry viruses that could jump species to humans

Trust-building hormone short-circuits fear in humans
Topic: Science 4:31 pm EST, Dec 12, 2005

A brain chemical recently found to boost trust appears to work by reducing activity and weakening connections in fear-processing circuitry, a brain imaging study at the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has discovered. Scans of the hormone oxytocin's effect on human brain function reveal that it quells the brain's fear hub, the amygdala, and its brainstem relay stations in response to fearful stimuli. The work at NIMH and a collaborating site in Germany suggests new approaches to treating diseases thought to involve amygdala dysfunction and social fear, such as social phobia, autism, and possibly schizophrenia, report Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, M.D., Ph.D., NIMH Genes Cognition and Psychosis Program, and colleagues, in the December 7, 2005 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

"Studies in animals, pioneered by now NIMH director Dr. Thomas Insel, have shown that oxytocin plays a key role in complex emotional and social behaviors, such as attachment, social recognition and aggression," noted NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, M.D.. "Now, for the first time, we can literally see these same mechanisms at work in the human brain."

"The observed changes in the amygdala are exciting as they suggest that a long-acting analogue of oxytocin could have therapeutic value in disorders characterized by social avoidance," added Insel.

Tell the truth now... trust me... :)

Trust-building hormone short-circuits fear in humans

How the neuron sprouts its branches
Topic: Science 4:26 pm EST, Dec 12, 2005

Neurobiologists have gained new insights into how neurons control growth of the intricate tracery of branches called dendrites that enable them to connect with their neighbors. Dendritic connections are the basic receiving stations by which neurons form the signaling networks that constitute the brain's circuitry.

Such basic insights into neuronal growth will help researchers better understand brain development in children, as well as aid efforts to restore neuronal connections lost to injury, stroke or neurodegenerative disease, said the researchers.

In a paper published in the Dec. 8, 2005, issue of Neuron, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Michael Ehlers and his colleagues reported that structures called "Golgi outposts" play a central role as distribution points for proteins that form the building blocks of the growing dendrites.

Besides Ehlers, who is at Duke University Medical Center, other co-authors were April Horton in Ehlers' laboratory; Richard Weinberg of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.; Bence R�cz in Weinberg's laboratory; and Eric Monson and Anna Lin of Duke's Department of Physics. The research was sponsored by The National Institutes of Health.

How the neuron sprouts its branches

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