Sci/tech

Clarity in muddy debate over mud
December 13, 2007 03:20 PM - Indiana University Bloomington Newswire

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Geologists have long thought muds will only settle when waters are quiet, but new research by Indiana University Bloomington and Massachusetts Institute of Technology geologists shows muds will accumulate even when currents move swiftly. Their findings appear in this week's Science.

This may seem a trifling matter at first, but understanding the deposition of mud could significantly impact a number of public and private endeavors, from harbor and canal engineering to oil reservoir management and fossil fuel prospecting.

Without insulating ice, Arctic waters warm 5 C
December 13, 2007 01:34 PM - Sandra Hines, University of Washington

Seattle, Washington - Record-breaking amounts of ice-free water have deprived the Arctic of more of its natural "sunscreen" than ever in recent summers. The effect is so pronounced that sea surface temperatures rose to 5 C above average in one place this year, a high never before observed, says the oceanographer who has compiled the first-ever look at average sea surface temperatures for the region.

Asian desert dust found over western United States
December 13, 2007 01:14 PM - Vince Stricherz, University of Washington Newswire

Seattle, Washington - It has been a decade since University of Washington scientists first pinpointed specific instances of air pollution, including Gobi Desert dust, traversing the Pacific Ocean and adding to the mix of atmospheric pollution already present along the West Coast of North America.

Now a UW researcher is finding that dust from the Gobi and Taklimakan deserts in China and Mongolia is routinely present in the air over the western United States during spring months. "We are interested in Asian dust that comes across the Pacific because particles can have an impact on health, as well as on visibility," said Emily Fischer, a UW doctoral student in atmospheric sciences.

Growing chronic disease will hit poor nations
December 13, 2007 12:58 PM - Naomi Antony, SciDevNet

Developing countries will be severely hit by a growing epidemic of chronic noncommunicable diseases (CNCDs), say the authors of a new series launched by The Lancet this week (4 December). CNCDs include heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer — diseases that are often seen as secondary to the threat of infectious disease in the developing world. But experts say CNCDs are becoming an increasing danger, and low- and middle-income countries must take action now.

Countries 'ill prepared' as bird flu risk continues
December 13, 2007 12:54 PM - T. V. Padma, SciDevNet

NEW DELHI - Many countries continue to be plagued by poor bird flu surveillance and diagnosis capacity, and weak national preparedness plans, experts have warned.

The third global progress report of the United Nations System Influenza Coordination (UNSIC) and the World Bank is released this month (December). It warns that the risk of global influenza pandemic is as great in late 2007 as it was in mid-2005, when the first cases began to emerge.

Fund targets emissions cuts in peatlands conservation
December 13, 2007 12:54 PM - Catherine Hornby, Reuters

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch company BioX Group and environment body Wetlands International launched a fund at a U.N climate meeting in Bali this week that aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by investing in restoration of peatlands.

China and Mexico team up to fight wheat disease
December 13, 2007 12:46 PM - Arturo Barba, SciDevNet

MEXICO CITY - Two agricultural research organisations have agreed to collaborate on research to combat wheat diseases and develop climate change-resistant wheat varieties using traditional methods of breeding.The agreement, between the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, was signed last week.

Gliese 581: 1 planet might indeed be habitable
December 13, 2007 12:42 PM - A&A

More than 10 years after the discovery of the first extrasolar planet, astronomers have now discovered more than 250 of these planets. Until a few years ago, most of the newly discovered exoplanets were Jupiter-mass, probably gaseous, planets. Recently, astronomers have announced the discovery of several planets that are potentially much smaller, with a minimum mass lower than 10 Earth masses: the now so-called super-Earths

Subliminal Smells Bias Perception About a Person's Likeability
December 13, 2007 12:29 PM - Northwestern University Newswire

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Anyone who has bonded with a puppy madly sniffing with affection gets an idea of how scents, most not apparent to humans, are critical to a dog's appreciation of her two-legged friends. Now new research from Northwestern University suggests that humans also pick up infinitesimal scents that affect whether or not we like somebody.

Biocapture surfaces produced for study of brain chemistry
December 13, 2007 12:24 PM - Penn State

A research team at Penn State has developed a novel method for attaching small molecules, such as neurotransmitters, to surfaces, which then are used to capture large biomolecules. By varying the identity and spacing of the tethered molecules, researchers can make the technique applicable to a wide range of bait molecules including drugs, chemical warfare agents, and environmental pollutants. Ultimately, the researchers also hope to identify synthetic biomolecules that recognize neurotransmitters so that they can fabricate extremely small biosensors to study neurotransmission in the living brain.

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