Sci/tech

Fluorescence discovered in key marine creature
November 1, 2007 01:01 PM -

Fluorescent proteins found in nature have been employed in a variety of scientific research purposes, from markers for tracing molecules in biomedicine to probes for testing environmental quality. Until now, such proteins have been identified mostly in jellyfish and corals, leading to the belief that the capacity for fluorescence in animals is exclusive to such primitive creatures. Green fluorescent proteins were discovered in amphioxus, a fish-like animal found in coastal areas. Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have discovered fluorescent-light emitting features in an evolutionarily important marine organism and say such a capacity may be much more prevalent across the animal kingdom than previously believed.

Privacy groups seek "do not track" Web list
November 1, 2007 12:25 PM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nine privacy and consumer organizations asked the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday to create a "do not track" list for Internet users who don't want their online activities tracked, stored and used by advertising networks. Such a list would function much like the FTC's "do not call" registry that consumers can join to prevent telemarketing phone calls, according to the groups, which include the Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Consumer Federation of America. Internet advertising companies and marketers increasingly are collecting information about individuals' Web activities and preferences so as to tailor their advertising messages.

Cat's eye view of DNA sheds light on human disease
November 1, 2007 09:58 AM - Maggie Fox -Reuters

The first full genetic map of a cat -- a domestic pedigreed Abyssinian -- is already shedding light on a common cause of blindness in humans and may offer insights into AIDS and other diseases, researchers reported on Wednesday. And the cat genome shows some surprising qualities that cats and humans appear to have uniquely in common, the researchers report in the journal Genome Research.

Galaxy Warriors toys sold at Family Dollar recalled
October 31, 2007 03:27 PM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - About 380,000 "Galaxy Warriors" toy figures sold by Family Dollar Stores Inc are being recalled because the surface paints contain excessive levels of lead, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Wednesday. The Chinese-made toys, space figures about 4.5 inches tall that come accessories, were sold at Family Dollar stores throughout the United States from January 2006 through October 2007 and distributed by Henry Gordy International Inc, the agency said.

Google phone could be tough sell to U.S. carriers
October 31, 2007 01:22 PM - Sinead Carew - Analysis

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Google Inc, which is used to dominating the Web search advertising business, may find negotiating its way into the cell phone market a tougher task. Dealing with America's largest mobile companies, which keep control of devices and features, could force the Web search leader to make concessions that cut into future revenue from wireless, an area Google has long said would be key to growth. So far no U.S. carrier has confirmed working with Google on a new mobile platform. No. 2 U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless is in active talks about putting Google applications on phones it offers, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Want to Stop Superbugs? Clean up Hospitals: Study
October 31, 2007 01:20 AM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hospitals seeking to keep patients from picking up infections should focus as much on cleaning up invisible germs as on removing the visible dirt, a British doctor argued on Tuesday.

Clean hands can only go so far in protecting patients from infection if doorknobs, bed rails and even sheets are covered with bacteria and viruses, Dr. Stephanie Dancer of South General Hospital in Glasgow writes in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

But other infection experts differed on whether clean equipment and telephones affect a patient's biggest risk of acquiring a "superbug" such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

Solar panel on space station rips while opening
October 30, 2007 02:18 PM - Jeff Franks -Reuters

A solar power panel ripped as it was being unfurled from a newly reinstalled girder on the International Space Station on Tuesday, forcing NASA to halt the operation and throwing expansion plans into doubt.

Hubble sees the graceful dance of 2 interacting galaxies
October 30, 2007 10:19 AM - ESA/Hubble Information Centre

A pair of galaxies, known collectively as Arp 87, is one of hundreds of interacting and merging galaxies known in our nearby Universe. Arp 87 was originally discovered and catalogued by astronomer Halton Arp in the 1970s. Arp’s Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies is a compilation of astronomical photographs using the Palomar 200-inch Hale and the 48-inch Samuel Oschin telescopes.

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.

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