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Cool Jobs: People with a taste for chemistry | Science News for Kids

Cool Jobs: People with a taste for chemistry | Science News for Kids | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it
Chemists contribute to food flavorings, fuel extraction and everything in between...

 

People have always looked to chemistry as a means to improve lives. Some 500 to 1,500 years ago, European chemists of the Middle Ages attempted to unlock the key to living forever. Some of these scientists, then known as alchemists, also tried to find a single cure for all diseases and a way to transform cheap metals into gold.

Today chemistry can be linked to the creation of just about every product in society — from sneakers and electronics to medicines and food flavorings. And chemistry is being used to tackle our most pressing problems, such as climate change and the increasing demand for energy to keep cars and trucks running and laptops humming.

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Fracking fuels energy debate | Science News for Kids

Fracking fuels energy debate | Science News for Kids | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it
The hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of deep shale deposits is unearthing a lot of natural gas — and controversy...

 

In the 2010 documentary Gasland, Colorado resident Mike Markham strikes a cigarette lighter next to his kitchen faucet. He turns on the tap and waits a beat. Whoosh! A fireball shoots from the flowing stream.

 

It’s a dramatic scene in a film about a technology being used to unleash huge new supplies of natural gas.

Josh Fox, the movie’s director and writer, argues that the tap water flames were likely fueled by methane, the energetic molecule that makes up most of the fuel known as natural gas. Fox suggested the methane had leaked into Markham’s water supply as energy companies were extracting the fuel from nearby underground deposits.

 

Energy companies gained access to that gas through a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. This technology has the potential to open up new underground reservoirs of an important fossil fuel that burns more cleanly than coal or oil.

 

Fox and other critics argue, however, that fracking also introduces new and potentially dangerous environmental risks. The gas industry and a number of scientists counter that fracking is not new and that, if done appropriately, poses no major risks.

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F.D.A. Bans BPA From Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups

F.D.A. Bans BPA From Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it
The agency’s decision to prohibit the industrial chemical bisphenol A in baby bottles and children’s drinking cups came upon the request of the chemical industry.

 

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that baby bottles and children’s drinking cups could no longer contain bisphenol A, or BPA, an estrogen-mimicking industrial chemical used in some plastic bottles and food packaging.

 

Manufacturers have already stopped using the chemical in baby bottles and sippy cups, and the F.D.A. said that its decision was a response to a request by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade association, that rules allowing BPA in those products be phased out, in part to boost consumer confidence.

 

But the new prohibition does not apply more broadly to the use of BPA in other containers, said an F.D.A. spokesman, Steven Immergut. He said the decision did not amount to a reversal of the agency’s position on the chemical. The F.D.A. declared BPA safe in 2008, but began expressing concerns about possible health risks in 2010.

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Bees Solve Complex Problems Faster Than Current Supercomputers

Bees Solve Complex Problems Faster Than Current Supercomputers | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it
In a landmark 2010 study, researchers found that bumblebees were able to figure out the most efficient routes among several computer-controlled "flowers," quickly solving a complex problem that even stumps supercomputers. We already know bees are pretty good at facial recognition, and researchers have shown they can also be effective air-quality monitors.

 

Bumblebees can solve the classic "traveling salesman" problem, which keeps supercomputers busy for days. They learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers even if they find the flowers in a different order, according to the British study.

 

The traveling salesman problem is a problem in computer science; it involves finding the shortest possible route between cities, visiting each city only once. Bees are the first animals to figure this out, according to Queen Mary University of London researchers.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Study identifies how muscles are paralyzed during sleep

Study identifies how muscles are paralyzed during sleep | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it

Two powerful brain chemical systems (GABA and glycin) work together to paralyze skeletal muscles during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, according to new research in the July 11 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The finding may help scientists better understand and treat sleep disorders, including narcolepsy, tooth grinding, and REM sleep behavior disorder.

 

During REM sleep — the deep sleep where most recalled dreams occur — your eyes continue to move but the rest of the body’s muscles are stopped, potentially to prevent injury. In a series of experiments, University of Toronto neuroscientists Patricia L. Brooks and John H. Peever, PhD, found that the neurotransmitters gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glycine caused REM sleep paralysis in rats by “switching off” the specialized cells in the brain that allow muscles to be active. This finding reversed earlier beliefs that glycine was a lone inhibitor of these motor neurons.

 

“The study’s findings are relevant to anyone who has ever watched a sleeping pet twitch, gotten kicked by a bed partner, or has known someone with the sleep disorder narcolepsy,


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Geneticists evolve fruit flies with the ability to count - it took 40 generations of selective breeding

Geneticists evolve fruit flies with the ability to count - it took 40 generations of selective breeding | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it

The research team, made up of geneticists from Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada and the University of California, repeatedly subjected test flies to a 20-minute mathematics training session. The flies were exposed to two, three or four flashes of light, with two or four flashes coinciding with a shake of the container the flies were kept in. Following a pause, the flies were again subjected to the flashing light, however none prepared themselves for a repeat of the shake since they could not discern a difference between two, three or four flashes. That is, until the key 40th generation of descendants were put to the test.

 

The findings back-up the theory that numerical skills such as mental arithmetic are ancient constructs. Some of the more unusual natural fans of numeracy include salamanders, newborn chicks and mongoose lemurs, all of which have demonstrated basic skills in the lab. The humble fruit fly -- which has been a popular experimental tool for geneticists since the early 1900s, its brief life span making it evolve faster -- is the first example of a test subject gaining the skills through evolution, however.


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The Great Mass Extinctions - The Time When The Earth Nearly Died

Permian Extinction 250 Millions years ago, which caused extinction of 95% of all living species in both animals & plants life. This extinctions was slow and took nearly 80000 years in 3 stages:

 

1- Increase in world temperature by 5 degrees Centigrade casued by super lengthy eruptions of Siberian Trapes

 

2-melting the frozen resoviours of Methan gas in the seabeds and releasing Carbon 12 (C12), which is a green house gas and raised sea temp by anothre 5 degrees, and that casued

 

3-world temp raised 10 degrees and that caused the mass extinctions

 

it took Earth millions of years to recover and after 20 millions years from then Dinosaurs first appeared.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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World's first single atom photo using highest-resolution LIGHT microscopy

World's first single atom photo using highest-resolution LIGHT microscopy | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it

In an international scientific breakthrough, a Griffith University research team has been able to photograph the shadow of a single atom for the first time. "We have reached the extreme limit of microscopy; you cannot see anything smaller than an atom using visible light," Professor Dave Kielpinski of Griffith University's Centre for Quantum Dynamics in Brisbane. "We wanted to investigate how few atoms are required to cast a shadow and we proved it takes just one," Professor Kielpinski said. At the heart of this Griffith University achievement is a super high-resolution microscope, which makes the shadow dark enough to see. No other facility in the world has the capability for such extreme optical imaging. Holding an atom still long enough to take its photo, while remarkable in itself, is not new technology; the atom is isolated within a chamber and held in free space by electrical forces.


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The laser-powered bionic eye that gives a 576-pixel grayscale vision to the blind

The laser-powered bionic eye that gives a 576-pixel grayscale vision to the blind | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it

The Bio-Retina developed by Nano Retina costs around $60,000 and is a vision-restoring sensor that is actually placed inside the eye, on top of the retina. The operation only takes 30 minutes and can be performed under local anesthetic.

 

Basically, with macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, the light-sensitive rods and cones in your retina stop working. The Bio-Retina plops a 25×23-resolution (576-pixel!) sensor right on top of your damaged retina, and 576 electrodes on the back of the sensor implant themselves into the optic nerve. An embedded image processor converts the data from each of the pixels into electrical pulses that are coded in such a way that the brain can perceive different levels of grayscale.The best bit, though, is how the the sensor is powered. The Bio-Retina system comes with a standard pair of corrective lenses that are modified so that they can fire a near-infrared laser beam through your iris to the sensor at the back of your eye. On the sensor there is a photovoltaic cell that produces up to three milliwatts — not a lot, but more than enough.

 

Human trials of Bio-Retina are slated to begin in 2013 — but US approval could be a long time coming. European approval is predicted to occur much earlier. Multiple research groups are working on bionic eyes with even more electrodes and much higher resolution. A lot of work is being done on understanding how the retina, optic nerve, and brain process and perceive images


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1 million frames per second slow motion video of bullet impacts (by Werner Mehl)

Slow Motion video of bullet impacts made by Werner Mehl from Kurzzeit. These are by far the best slow motion bullet impacts available anywhere. Watch for the hollow point rounds in the ballistics gel.


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You Are Not A Drug - Around 20% of the Human Genome is under Patent today

You Are Not A Drug - Around 20% of the Human Genome is under Patent today | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it

Up to 20 per cent of the human genome is under a patent today, preventing innovative medical research into life-threatening illnesses. If successful, a new Bill to ban gene patenting may put a stop to that.

 

In Washington DC, Dr. James Watson is arguing for his great discovery, the double helix structure of DNA, to be freed from its restrictive bonds. Not the sugar and phosphate bonds that form the backbone of our genetic code but from bonds of different, but equally intricate, kind: patent monopolies.

 

In Sydney, Yvonne D’arcy, a woman with breast cancer, has her day in court. Five days in fact, signifying the importance of her case. D’arcy, along with Cancer Voices Australia, is challenging not only a particular patent monopoly but the decades-old practice of Australia’s patent office, IP Australia, to award patent monopolies over isolated human genes.

 

Connecting these two cases is the right of individuals to access their genetic information and the democratic diffusion of knowledge about what makes us… us.

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Science of Fireworks

5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Science of Fireworks | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it
These iconic symbols of Independence Day celebrations are also a marvel of modern science and engineering...
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Scientists spark new interest in the century-old Edison battery (7/3/2012)

Scientists spark new interest in the century-old Edison battery (7/3/2012) | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it
Stanford scientists have dramatically improved the performance of Thomas Edison's nickel-iron battery. The enhanced device could be used in electric vehicles, much as Edison originally envisioned.
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Cool Jobs: Studying what you love | Science News for Kids

Cool Jobs: Studying what you love | Science News for Kids | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it
Researchers study the same animals that fascinated them as kids...

 

Wayne Maddison was 13 years old when he fell in love. Standing on the shore of Lake Ontario in Canada, he noticed a mat of grass float by. On top of the mat was a spider about the size of a dime, with metallic green jaws. “She looked up at me,” recalls Maddison. “So of course I looked down at her and I thought, Wow!” Intrigued by her looks, Maddison wanted to know more about this colorful species.

Maddison took the spider home, fed her and named her Phiddy. When she later laid eggs, Maddison raised one of the babies. Before long, he was looking for more spiders and drawing pictures of them. Today, Maddison is a biologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, where he studies spiders full-time. He even travels to remote jungles around the world, searching for new species.

Maddison is not the only scientist who has turned a childhood pet into a research career. Michael Dorcas, like many herpetologists — scientists who study reptiles and amphibians — was that 10-year-old kid who could usually be found nestling some snake in his pocket. Now a scientist at Davidson College in North Carolina, “I have figured out how to do as an adult what I enjoyed doing as a kid,” he says: catching and studying snakes.

Here’s a look at three scientists who are lucky enough to spend their adult lives working in fields that first captivated them in childhood.

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Where Does the Sugar in Poached Peaches Go?

Where Does the Sugar in Poached Peaches Go? | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it
Peaches lose almost all their sweetness when poached, but the water remains bland. The culprit? Osmosis.
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Amazing Photos of Human Eyes

Amazing Photos of Human Eyes | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it

Incredible photo series by Suren Manvelyan features extremely detailed close-ups of human eyes.


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Lobster Colors Explained By Genetics

Lobster Colors Explained By Genetics | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it

Genetics are mostly the cause of the odd colorations. Blue, in particular, is a genetic defect in that the lobsters are producing more of a certain protein than normal. Combined with their normal pigmentation, it forms a blue color. But they turn red when they’re boiled, like the rest. The more orange ones [when they’re alive] are an expression of the lack of that protein, so they’re only showing this carotenoid pigment, and it’s bright red, like how they look when they’re boiled.

 

The only lobsters that don’t turn red in the pot are albinos, sometimes referred to as “crystal” lobsters. Just as lobsters aren’t all the same color, neither are they necessarily only one color. “Calico” lobsters, as they’ve been called, display mottled shells, usually comprising black and orange. The odds of a calico lobster is 1 in 30 million.


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iRounds Social Network Helps Doctors Get Second Opinions

iRounds Social Network Helps Doctors Get Second Opinions | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it
When Dr. Rafael Lugo posted photos of a rare tumor to iRounds — a social network for doctors — he received immediate feedback from specialists nationwide and ultimately referred his patient to the appropriate doctor for treatment.

 

“Medicine is very much a team sport,” said Lugo, who is one of the 30,000 doctors currently on iRounds.

 

The new platform — which launched in February by Doximity, the largest online professional physician network — is being touted as a Twitter for doctors. iRounds gives physicians a community to discuss cases, ask for second opinions and engage in spontaneous dialogue with peers in real time.


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#ESOF2012 – 'Synthetic Life coming' - ‘We are in the digital age of biology’: Dr. Craig Venter

#ESOF2012 – 'Synthetic Life coming' - ‘We are in the digital age of biology’: Dr. Craig Venter | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it

In his 1953 ‘What is Life?’ lecture at TCD, Schrödinger presented his ideas on how hereditary information could be encoded in a chemical structure, which he termed aperiodic crystal, in living cells. He then went on to pen a book in 1944 with the same title – What is Life?. As the story goes, Schrödinger’s book was cited by James Watson and Francis Crick as one of the inspirations that ultimately led to them unravelling the structure of DNA in 1953. Their breakthrough led to Watson, Crick and Maurice Wilkins being awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or Medicine in 1962.

 

And, Nobel Laureate Watson was also present at TCD last night to hear Venter give a 21st-century perspective on advancements in genetic research spanning the past 70 years, making the occasion even more profound.

 

As for Venter, he is known for being one of the leading scientists of the 21st century, as he has repeatedly pushed the boundaries in the field of genomics. The list of his scientific achievements are too long to mention here, but to give you an idea, he and his team at the Institute for Genomic Research (now part of J Craig Venter Institute), which he founded, decoded the genome of the first free-living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae, in 1995.


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Turning skin cells into brain cells helps understand Huntington's degeneration disease

Turning skin cells into brain cells helps understand Huntington's degeneration disease | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it

Johns Hopkins researchers, working with an international consortium, say they have generated stem cells from skin cells from a person with a severe, early-onset form of Huntington’s disease (HD), and turned them into neurons that degenerate just like those affected by the fatal inherited disorder. The general midlife onset and progressive brain damage of HD are especially cruel, slowly causing jerky, twitch-like movements, lack of muscle control, psychiatric disorders and dementia, and — eventually — death.

 

By creating “HD in a dish,” the researchers say they have taken a major step forward in efforts to better understand what disables and kills the cells in people with HD, and to test the effects of potential drug therapies on cells that are otherwise locked deep in the brain. Although the autosomal dominant gene mutation responsible for HD was identified in 1993, there is no cure. No treatments are available even to slow its progression.


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First it was smallpox, now a tropical infection poised to become second human disease ever eradicated

First it was smallpox, now a tropical infection poised to become second human disease ever eradicated | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it

Scientists are on the verge of killing off a parasite (Dracunculus medinensis) that had plagued the human race since ancient times. Cases of Guinea worm disease have fallen by 99 per cent from 3.5million cases in 1986 to 1,060 in 2011. The disease has affected the poorest communities in Africa and is now found in just South Sudan, Mali, Ethiopia, and Chad.

 

The guinea worm makes his home in the fat layer of the human skin and sometimes pokes through it to lay eggs. The well known medical symbol -  the "staff of Aesculap" - is representing the former practice to remove the worm slowly using a little stick to wrap the worm around without breaking it in order to avoid infection if a part of the worm is left inside the body.


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Nanoparticle Completely Eradicates Hepatitis C Virus

Nanoparticle Completely Eradicates Hepatitis C Virus | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it

Researchers at the University of Florida (UF) have developed a nanoparticle that has shown 100 percent effectiveness in eradicating the hepatitis C virus in laboratory testing. The nanoparticle, dubbed a nanozyme, consists of a backbone made from gold nanoparticles and a surface with two biological components. One biological component is an enzyme that attacks and destroys the mRNA, which provides the recipe for duplicating the protein that causes the disease. The other biological part is the navigator, if you will. It is a DNA oligonucleotide that identifies the disease-related protein and sends the enzyme on course to destroy it.


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Genetically engineered bacteria kill malaria parasite but do no harm to insect host or human

Genetically engineered bacteria kill malaria parasite but do no harm to insect host or human | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it

Researchers modified the bacterium, Pantoea agglomerans, to secrete proteins that are toxic to the malaria parasite but not to its insect or human hosts.

 

Jacobs-Lorena - a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health - and his colleagues found that their engineered P. agglomerans strains inhibited development of the deadliest human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, and rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei by up to 98 percent within the mosquito. The proportion of mosquitoes carrying parasites decreased by up to 84 percent.

 

Many types of bacteria live in the digestive tracts of both humans and mosquitoes. The specific function of most of them is not known, but they do provide an opportunity for fighting a disease that kills more than 800,000 people worldwide each year.

 


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Meet the students chosen to represent the United States in the International Chemistry Olympiad

Meet the students chosen to represent the United States in the International Chemistry Olympiad

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The Benefits of Daydreaming

The Benefits of Daydreaming | WCHS Science Education | Scoop.it
A new study indicates that daydreamers are better at remembering information in the face of distraction...
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