Science Channel - InSCIder

16 Mar

This Week in Science! March 11 to March 16

The effect of a specific pattern of carbon monoxide molecules on free-flowing electrons atop a copper surface. Image Credit: Hari Manoharan/Stanford University.
Image: Hari Manoharan, Stanford University.

Molecular Graphene Heralds New Era of 'Designer Electrons'—Researchers from Stanford University and the U.S. Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have created the first-ever system of "designer electrons" -- exotic variants of ordinary electrons with tunable properties that may ultimately lead to new types of materials and devices. [Link]


Evolutionary Surprise: Developmental 'Scaffold' for Vertebrate Brain Found in Brainless Marine Worm—The origin of the exquisitely complex vertebrate brain is somewhat mysterious. "In terms of evolution, it basically pops up out of nowhere. You don't see anything anatomically like it in other animals," says Ariel Pani, an investigator at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole and a graduate student at the University of Chicago. [Link]

Researchers Send 'Wireless' Message Using a Beam of Neutrinos—A group of scientists led by researchers from the University of Rochester and North Carolina State University have for the first time sent a message using a beam of neutrinos -- nearly massless particles that travel at almost the speed of light. The message was sent through 240 meters of stone and said simply, "Neutrino." [Link]

Evidence Builds That Meditation Strengthens the Brain—Earlier evidence out of UCLA suggested that meditating for years thickens the brain (in a good way) and strengthens the connections between brain cells. Now a further report by UCLA researchers suggests yet another benefit. [Link]

Some Mammals Used Highly Complex Teeth to Compete With Dinosaurs—Conventional wisdom holds that during the Mesozoic Era, mammals were small creatures that held on at life's edges. But at least one mammal group, rodent-like creatures called multituberculates, actually flourished during the last 20 million years of the dinosaurs' reign and survived their extinction 66 million years ago. [Link]

Scientists Identify Neural Activity Sequences That Help Form Memory, Decision-Making—Princeton University researchers have used a novel virtual reality and brain imaging system to detect a form of neural activity underlying how the brain forms short-term memories that are used in making decisions. [Link]

Voters Favor Deep-Voiced Politicians—Candidates with lower-pitched voices may get more votes in the 2012 election. A new study by biologists and a political scientist shows that both men and women prefer political candidates with deeper voices. The results also suggest that biology -- not just partisanship or ideology -- can shape voters' choices. [Link]

Killer Silk: Making Silk Fibers That Kill Anthrax and Other Microbes in Minutes—A simple, inexpensive dip-and-dry treatment can convert ordinary silk into a fabric that kills disease-causing bacteria -- even the armor-coated spores of microbes like anthrax -- in minutes, scientists are reporting in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. They describe a range of potential uses for this new killer silk, including make-shift curtains and other protective coatings that protect homes and other buildings in the event of a terrorist attack with anthrax. [Link]

Believing the Impossible: No Evidence for Existence of Psychic Ability Found—Research failing to find evidence for the existence of psychic ability has been published, following a year of industry debate. The report is a response by a group of independent researchers to the 2011 study from social psychologist Daryl Bem, purporting the existence of precognition -- an ability to perceive future events. [Link]

Revisiting LSD as a Treatment for Alcoholism—Several decades ago, a number of clinics used LSD to treat alcoholism with some success. But until now, no research has pulled together the results of these trials to document exactly how effective LSD was. Now a new meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of the drug, available in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, published by SAGE, provides evidence for a clear and consistent beneficial effect of LSD for treating alcohol dependency. [Link]

Scientists Tap the Cognitive Genius of Tots to Make Computers Smarter—People often wonder if computers make children smarter. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are asking the reverse question: Can children make computers smarter? And the answer appears to be 'yes.' [Link]

Torturing Kids in the name of Science (funny). [Link]

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