Afghan city takes action to save ancient minarets
October 19, 2007 10:50 AM - Sayed Salahuddin -Reuters

A group of mediaeval minarets in the Afghan city of Herat could be saved thanks to the closure of a busy road threatening their foundations.

The minarets, standing at more than 100 feet, are all that remain of what was once a brilliantly decorated complex for Islamic learning and devotion on the Silk Road on the outskirts of the western Afghan city.

Texas coastal wind farms advance despite critics
October 19, 2007 10:29 AM - Reuters

Two companies developing more than 600 megawatts of wind generation along the Texas coastline aren't daunted by threats of hurricane damage or opposition from environmentalists and powerful ranching interests, executives said Thursday.PPM Energy, a U.S subsidiary of Iberdrola's Scottish Power unit, and Babcock & Brown are developing two wind farms in Kenedy County, a thinly populated county south of Corpus Christi. Both companies expect to produce power by the end of 2008.

Moon's blue light a coral aphrodisiac, say scientists
October 19, 2007 10:27 AM - Michael Perry -Reuters

Ancient light-sensitive genes may be the trigger for the annual mass spawning of corals shortly after a full moon on the Great Barrier Reef, according to a study by Australian and Israeli scientists.The cryptochromes genes occur in corals, insects, fish and mammals -- including humans -- and are primitive light-sensing pigment mechanisms which predate the evolution of eyes.

Dog DNA study reveals new role for protein
October 19, 2007 10:09 AM - Julie Steenhuysen -Reuters

A family of proteins known to fight off microbes surprisingly also helps determine whether a poodle's coat will be black, white or somewhere in between, U.S. researchers said on Thursday in a finding that may also help explain why people come in different colors and weights.Researchers at Stanford University in California studied the DNA of hundreds of dogs, looking for a gene mutation that controls coat color.

Scientist Watson returns to U.S. over race row
October 19, 2007 10:08 AM - Michael Kahn -Reuters

Nobel Prize-winning DNA authority Dr. James Watson cut short a book tour in Britain on Friday and returned to the United States over racially insensitive comments attributed to him in a British newspaper.The winner of the 1962 Nobel prize for his description of the double helix structure of DNA apologized for his remarks on Thursday at an appearance to promote his new book, saying he did not mean to characterize Africans as genetically inferior.

Scientists find how amber becomes death trap for watery creatures
October 18, 2007 12:20 PM - University of Florida

Shiny amber jewelry and a mucky Florida swamp have given scientists a window into an ancient ecosystem that could be anywhere from 15 million to 130 million years old.

Scientists at the University of Florida and the Museum of Natural History in Berlin made the landmark discovery that prehistoric aquatic critters such as beetles and small crustaceans unwittingly swim into resin flowing down into the water from pine-like trees. Their findings are published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers discover the dawn of animal vision
October 17, 2007 09:29 AM - University of California - Santa Barbara

By peering deep into evolutionary history, scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara have discovered the origins of photosensitivity in animals.

The findings are published in this week’s issue of the scientific journal PLoS ONE. The scientists studied the aquatic animal Hydra, a member of Cnidaria, which are animals that have existed for hundreds of millions of years. The authors are the first scientists to look at light-receptive genes in cnidarians, an ancient class of animals that includes corals, jellyfish, and sea anemones.

India 'Lagging Behind' in Innovation Race
October 16, 2007 06:47 PM - T. V. Padma, SciDevNet

NEW DELHI - India is not realising its potential for innovation, warn experts, because its education and research institutes do not encourage a culture of experimentation and the exchange of ideas between disciplines.

Although India's potential is high, it is not nurturing innovation, Sri Krishna Joshi, scientist emeritus at India's National Physical Laboratory, told delegates at a conference on inventions and innovations in Delhi, India today (15 October).

India's education system "kills any spirit of innovation" by failing to close the gap between industry and academia, said S. Srinavasa Murthy, professor of electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi.

New force-fluorescence device measures motion previously undetectable
October 16, 2007 06:41 PM -

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A hybrid device combining force and fluorescence developed by researchers at the University of Illinois has made possible the accurate detection of nanometer-scale motion of biomolecules caused by pico-newton forces.

“By combining single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer and an optical trap, we now have a technique that can detect subtle conformational changes of a biomolecule at an extremely low applied force,” said U. of I. physics professor Taekjip Ha, the corresponding author of a paper to appear in the Oct. 12 issue of the journal Science.

Smallest Galaxies Give Insight Into Dark Matter
October 16, 2007 06:31 PM -

PASADENA, Calif.--An unusual population of the darkest, most lightweight galaxies known has shed new light on a cosmic conundrum. Astronomers used the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii to show that the recently uncovered dwarf galaxies each contain 99 percent of a mysterious type of matter known as dark matter. Dark matter has gravitational effects on ordinary atoms but does not produce any light. It accounts for the majority of the mass in the universe.

New observations of eight of these galaxies now suggest that the "Missing Dwarf Galaxy" problem--a discrepancy between the number of extremely small, faint galaxies that cosmological theories predict should exist near the Milky Way, and the number that have actually been observed--is not as severe as previously thought, and may have been solved completely.

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