Showing posts from October, 2011

Hearing Voices?

Voice recognition. Conceptual computer artwork of voice patterns (jagged waveforms, red), a circuit diagram and a human brain, representing computer voice recognition and speech synthesis.
Credit: Mehau Kulyk / Photo Researchers, Inc.
In the news:
"Telling the Story of the Brain's Cacophony of Competing Voices"
By Benedict Carey
New York Times online:

mRNA Matters

In the news:
"Brain gene activity changes through life"
By Laura Sanders
ScienceNews web edition: 10/27/2011

Computer artwork of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), which consists of groups of three nucleotide bases that code for different amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. At lower right is a representation of ribosomes, which are found in cells (outside of the nucleus) and attach to the mRNA to read this code.
Credit: Jean-Francois Podevin / Photo Researchers, Inc.

Global Warming is Real

In the news:
"The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism"
By Richard Muller October 21, 2011

Various types of extreme weather that can be attributed to the effects of global warming (clockwise from left: flooding, hurricane, winter storm, drought/desertification). Credit: Robin Treadwell / Photo Researchers, Inc.

Aging Genomes

"No shortage of dangerous DNA"
Science News
By Tina Hesman Saey Web edition : Monday, October 17th, 2011
Scanning electron micrograph of a human chromosome from a cultured lymphocyte showing spiral structure, prepared using the ototo (osmium impregnation) technique. Magnification 25,000x @ 5x7(inches).Credit: Biophoto Associates / Photo Researchers, Inc.

Plagued DNA (Yersinia pestis)

"With the full genome now in hand, the
researchers hope to recreate the microbe itself so as to understand what made the Black Death outbreak so deadly. "
Scientists Solve Puzzle of Black Death’s DNA (
By Nicholas Wade
Published in the New York Times on October 12, 2011

The cause of bubonic plague (the Black Death of the Middle Ages)
was yersinia pestis. The yersinia- bacteria are rod-shaped, non-motile,
Gram-negative bacilli. Yersinia pestis is primarily carried by the fleas of rats.
Transfer to humans occurs when such fleas feed on human blood.
Infection is rapid, causing swollen lymph nodes and leading to septicaemia
and pulmonary infection. Extensive control measures
against rats and their fleas have eliminated the plague from Europe,
but it still occurs in other regions of the world. SEM.

Credit: Dr. Gary Gaugler / Photo Researchers, Inc.

Cloning Stem Cells?

"A form of cloning has been used to create personalised embryonic stem cells in humans, say researchers." Human 'cloning' makes embryonic stem cells (BBC News)

Color enhanced scanning electron micrograph of a human embryonic stem cell (HESC). HESCs are pluripotent, they are able to differentiate into any of the 200 cell types in the human body. The type of cell they mature into depends upon the biochemical signals received by the immature cells. This ability makes HESCs a potential source of cells to repair damaged tissue in diseases such as Parkinson's and insulin-dependent diabetes. HESCs could also be used to grow organs for transplant that would not be rejected. However, research using HESCs is controversial as it requires the destruction of an embryo. Credit: BSIP / Photo Researchers, Inc.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 was awarded to Dan Shechtman "for the discovery of quasicrystals".

Computer model of a quasicrystal generated by the addition of nine equally-spaced particles behaving like waves (showing wave-particle duality).
Credit: Eric Heller / Photo Researchers, Inc.