Sci/tech

Elevated nitric oxide in blood is key to high altitude function for Tibetans
October 30, 2007 10:12 AM - Case Western Reserve University

How can some people live at high altitudes and thrive while others struggle to obtain enough oxygen to function?

The answer for Tibetans who live at altitudes around 14,000 feet is increased nitric oxide (NO) levels. High levels of NO circulate in various forms in the blood and produce the physiological mechanisms that cause the increased blood flow that maintains oxygen delivery despite hypoxia—low levels of oxygen in the ambient air and the bloodstream. Researchers from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic report that Tibetans have 10 times more NO and have more than double the forearm blood flow of low-altitude dwellers. The findings from a comparison of NO levels in the high and low altitude dwellers are reported in the article, “Higher Blood Flow and Circulating NO Products Offset High-altitude Hypoxia among Tibetans,” in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Brain scans of obese show hunger hormone at work
October 29, 2007 11:19 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Giving the body's natural appetite suppressant to morbidly obese volunteers de-activated their brain's response to tasty food -- and the new brain activity lasted for as long as the hormone was delivered, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

They said their imaging tests show some of the brain circuits activated by leptin, a hormone that helps control appetite, and may lead to new and better treatments for obesity, the researchers wrote in their report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"While they were off leptin they got really hungry when they saw pictures of high-calorie food, and that was associated with high activation in a part of the brain that is related to food craving," said Edythe London of the University of California Los Angeles, who led the study.

UV light may offer "double whammy" for cancer
October 29, 2007 11:14 PM - Michael Kahn, reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Using ultraviolet light may one day offer a "double whammy" to kill cancer cells by better focusing antibody-based drugs and triggering the body's own defenses to eliminate tumors, researchers said on Tuesday.

In two studies with mice, a British team cloaked antibodies -- the immune system proteins that tag germs and cancer cells for elimination -- with an organic oil that blocked them from reacting until illuminated with ultraviolet light.

The researchers used engineered immune system proteins called monoclonal antibodies. They are made to home in on proteins known to be overactive in tumor cells.

Honduras finds radioactive material in container
October 29, 2007 11:11 PM -

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras authorities have found strong traces of radioactive material in a Hong Kong-bound shipping container carrying steel debris from an Atlantic coast port, officials said on Monday.

During a security scan on Sunday, officials detected high readings of radioactivity emanating from the container at the Puerto Cortes port, 115 miles north of Honduras' capital, Tegucigalpa.

"We immediately declared an alert and have seized the container for inspection," Edwin Araque, the manager of Honduras' port authority, said on Monday.

GE says smart panel to cut power bills
October 29, 2007 11:06 PM - Timothy Gardner, Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Electric Co said it is developing a control panel that should allow homeowners to trim rising utility bills by helping manage power and water consumption.

The "eco-dashboard" will be available in December in new home developments in southern and western U.S. states, areas where power and water supplies are particularly stressed, Juan de Bedout, a renewable energy specialist at GE's global research center in Niskayuna, New York said late last week.

AIDS virus invaded U.S. from Haiti: study
October 29, 2007 10:36 PM - Will Dunham, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The AIDS virus invaded the United States in about 1969 from Haiti, carried most likely by a single infected immigrant who set the stage for it to sweep the world in a tragic epidemic, scientists said on Monday.

Michael Worobey, a University of Arizona evolutionary biologist, said the 1969 U.S. entry date is earlier than some experts had believed.

The timeline laid out in the study led by Worobey indicates that HIV infections were occurring in the United States for roughly 12 years before AIDS was first recognized by scientists as a disease in 1981. Many people had died by that point.

Expert: Burma's Junta No Match For Internet
October 29, 2007 10:57 AM - Barry Bergman, UC berkeley

Berkeley, California - Darren Zook, a UC Berkeley political scientist and Southeast Asia scholar, says there is one huge difference between today's protests in Burma and those of nearly two decades ago: the Internet. The military has arrested thousands of dissidents, many of them Buddhist monks, and estimates of the dead range from dozens to hundreds; Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the past 18 years in detention, remains under house arrest. Yet the ability of a relatively few determined activists inside Burma to connect with the outside world has turned the current turmoil into a teachable moment on a global scale.

New technique can detect biological, chemical and explosive agents
October 29, 2007 10:35 AM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

LIVERMORE, Calif. — Airplane passengers and baggage could one day soon be quickly screened by a machine that can detect explosive, chemical and biological agents all at the same time. A team of California researchers have conceptually proven that a three-in-one machine, or “universal point detection system,” can be achieved, said George Farquar, a postdoctoral fellow and physical chemist at the Lab’s Glenn T. Seaborg Institute.

The device is under development at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California.

Solar Power for New Moroccan Rail Line.
October 29, 2007 09:32 AM - , Private Landowner Network

Aside from walking or bicycling or perhaps traveling by electric car, taking the train is often considered the most energy efficient and low emission way to get around. But, determining exactly how efficient or how emission free is a difficult calculation - many questions need to be answered first.

What's the brain got to do with education?
October 29, 2007 09:17 AM - University of Bristol

Quite a lot - according to teachers in a recent survey commissioned by The Innovation Unit and carried out by researchers at the University of Bristol. Although current teacher training programmes generally omit the science of how we learn, an overwhelming number of the teachers surveyed felt neuroscience could make an important contribution in key educational areas. The research was undertaken to inform a series of seminars between educationalists and neuroscientists organised by the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

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