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  • Moving silicon atoms in graphene with atomic precision
    [NEWS] toma.susi@univie.ac.at 43-664-527-3054 University of Vienna @univienna Richard Feynman famously posed the question in 1959: is it possible to see and manipulate individual atoms in materials? For a time his vision seemed more science fiction than science, but starting with…
  • Last decade's slow-down in global warming enhanced by an unusual climate anomaly
    [NEWS] elena.verdesoto@ec.europa.eu European Commission Joint Research Centre A hiatus in global warming ongoing since 2001 is due to a combination of a natural cooling phase, known as multidecadal variability (MDV) and a downturn of the secular warming trend. The exact causes of the latter, unique in the entire observational recor…
  • The ozone hole has stabilized -- some questions remain
    [NEWS] Stefan.Reimann@empa.ch 41-792-847-791 Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) Ozone report of the United Nations After the detection of the ozone-depleting properties of CFCs in the 1970s, data from satellite measurements in 1985 startled mankind. A huge hole had been discovered over the …
  • New 3-D imaging techniques may improve understanding of biofuel plant material
    [NEWS] onepress@plos.org PLOS Imaging of cryo-immobolized plant tissue reveals never-seen-before details of plant cell walls Comparison of 3D TEM imaging techniques reveals never-seen-before details of plant cell walls, according to a study published September 10, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Purbasha Sarkar fro…
  • In one of nature's innovations, a single cell smashes and rebuilds its own genome
    [NEWS] mgnkelly@princeton.edu 609-258-5729 Princeton University www.twitter.com/Princeton Life can be so intricate and novel that even a single cell can pack a few surprises, according to a study led by Princeton University researchers. The pond-dwelling, single-celled organi…



  • Our Ears Help Us See

    Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Researchers have discovered that the visual cortex in the brain uses auditory information to help create visual images. Sound waves detected by the ears and visual clues processed by the eyes are used to create visual images in order to predict what may happen in the future.

    According to lead researcher Lars Muckli, "Sounds create visual imagery, mental images, and automatic projections. So, for example, if you are in a street and you hear the sound of an approaching motorbike, you expect to see a motorbike coming around the corner. If it turned out to be a horse, you'd be very surprised." The researchers monitored brain activity in the early visual cortex of participants in the study. The individuals were asked to listen to sounds without being able to see anything. It was discovered that the early visual cortex was being activated in the absence of visual stimulation.

    Learn more about this study:

    Our Ears Help Us See originally appeared on About.com Biology on Thursday, May 29th, 2014 at 15:33:18.

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  • Red Wine Could Help Prevent Cavities

    Credit: John Kasawa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Could red wine help prevent cavities? A recent study presented in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that red wine and grape seed extract are effective at destroying bacteria biofilm. Biofilm is a slimy substance that protects bacteria from antibiotics, chemicals, and other substances that are hazardous to the microbes. As bacteria feed on sugars present in the mouth, they produce acid which destroys tooth enamel and creates cavities.

    In the study, the researchers exposed cavity producing bacteria biofilms to red wine with and without alcohol, as well as to red wine with grape seed extract. The results showed that all three solutions were effective at killing bacteria. The researchers state that while brushing with toothpaste does get rid of cavity causing bacteria, its effects are limited.

    Learn more about this study:

    Red Wine Could Help Prevent Cavities originally appeared on About.com Biology on Monday, May 26th, 2014 at 14:06:44.

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  • How Pathogenic Bacteria Colonize Vegetables

    E. coli Bacteria
    Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH

    James Hutton Institute researchers have identified the process by which E. coli bacteria infect plant products. An E. coli O157:H7 bacterium uses its flagellum, a long protrusion used for movement, to pierce through the plant cell wall. The attached bacterium is then able to colonize the surface of the vegetable. Eating these infected plants could cause food poisoning.

    According to researcher Dr. Nicola Holden, "This work shows the fine detail of how the bacteria bind to plants. We think this mechanism is common to many food-borne bacteria and shows that they can exploit common factors found in both plants and animals to help them grow." Bacteria that remain on the surface of the plant can be removed by washing, however some bacteria are also able to gain access to the internal portions of the plant. The researchers contend that this information is valuable as it demonstrates that E. coli O157:H7 don't just move passively through the food chain, but aggressively interact with plants and animals.

    Learn more about this study:

    How Pathogenic Bacteria Colonize Vegetables originally appeared on About.com Biology on Friday, May 23rd, 2014 at 15:11:19.

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  • Dangerous Bacteria on Aircraft Cabin Surfaces

    Image Credit: Vera Kratochvil / Public Domain Images

    Two dangerous types of bacteria, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and E. coli, are able to survive on airplane cabin surfaces for as long as a week. Researchers tested several surfaces including armrests, plastic tray tables, and cloth and leather seat pockets. When the surfaces were exposed to bacteria under conditions similar to those on an airplane, the bacteria were able to survive for days.

    According to researcher Kiril Vaglenov, "Our data show that both of these bacteria can survive for days on the selected types of surfaces independent of the type of simulated body fluid present, and those pose a risk of transmission via skin contact." MRSA and E. coli can cause serious illness if a person becomes infected by these germs. This study underscores the importance of developing and applying effective disinfection techniques in aircraft cabins.

    Learn more about this study:

    Dangerous Bacteria on Aircraft Cabin Surfaces originally appeared on About.com Biology on Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 at 19:11:55.

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  • Why Octopuses Don't Get Tangled in Their Tentacles

    Octopus
    Albert Kok/Wikimedia Commons

    Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers have made an interesting discovery that helps answer the question of why an octopus doesn't get tangled up in its tentacles. Unlike the human brain, the octopus brain does not map out the coordinates of its appendages. As a result, octopuses don't know where their arms are exactly. To prevent the octopus's arms from grabbing the octopus, its suckers will not attach to the octopus itself. The researchers state that an octopus produces a chemical in its skin that temporarily prevents the suckers from grabbing.

    According to the researchers, "The results so far show, and for the first time, that the skin of the octopus prevents octopus arms from attaching to each other or to themselves in a reflexive manner. The drastic reduction in the response to the skin crude extract suggests that a specific chemical signal in the skin mediates the inhibition of sucker grabbing." It was also discovered that an octopus can override this mechanism when necessary, as evidenced by its ability to grab an amputated octopus arm.

    Learn more about this study:

    Why Octopuses Don't Get Tangled in Their Tentacles originally appeared on About.com Biology on Friday, May 16th, 2014 at 08:26:35.

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