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UK astronomers have produced the most sensitive infrared map of the distant Universe ever undertaken. Combining data over a period of three years, they have produced an image containing over 100,000 galaxies over an area four times the size of the full Moon. Some of the first results from the project were presented by Dr Sebastien Foucaud from the University of Nottingham at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Belfast.

Due to the finite speed of light, these observations allow astronomers to look back in time over 10 billion years, producing images of galaxies in the Universe's infancy. The image is so large and so deep that thousands of galaxies can be studied at these early epochs for the first time. By observing in the infrared, astronomers can now peer further back in time, since light from the most distant galaxies is shifted towards redder wavelengths as it travels through the expanding Universe.

In research published in Nature, researchers at Rockefeller University and the University of Tokyo state that insects have adopted a strategy to detect odors that is radically different from those of other organisms -- an unexpected and controversial finding that may dissolve a dominant ideology in the field.

They state that insects use fast-acting ion channels to smell odors, a major break with current ideology, and that this means Darwin's tree of life will need to be redrawn.

Since 1991, researchers assumed that all vertebrates and invertebrates smell odors by using a complicated biological apparatus much like a Rube Goldberg device. For instance, someone pushing a doorbell would set off a series of elaborate, somewhat wacky, steps that culminate in the rather simple task of opening the door.

The amount of oxygen available to a baby in the womb can affect their susceptibility to developing particular diseases later in life. Research presented at the annual Society for Endocrinology BES meeting in Harrogate shows that your risk of developing cardiovascular disease can be predetermined before birth, not only by your genes, but also by their interaction with the quality of the environment you experience in the womb.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge, led by Dr Dino Giussani, examined the role that oxygen availability in the womb plays in programming your susceptibility to different diseases. His group found that babies that don’t receive enough oxygen in the womb (e.g. due to pre-eclampsia or placental insufficiency) are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease when they are adult.

What do you learn by looking at the spines of hundreds of Finnish twins? If you are the international team of researchers behind the Twin Spine Study, you find compelling proof that back pain problems may be more a matter of genetics than physical strain.

The findings of the Twin Spine Study, an ongoing research program started in 1991, have led to a dramatic paradigm shift in the way disc degeneration is understood. Last month a paper presenting an overview of the Twin Spine Study’s multidisciplinary investigation into the root causes of disc degeneration received a Kappa Delta Award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, arguably the most prestigious annual award in musculoskeletal research.

Prostate tumors grew more quickly in mice who exercised than in those who did not, leading to speculation that exercise may increase blood flow to tumors, according to a new study by researchers in the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center (DCCC) and the Duke Prostate Center.

“Our study showed that exercise led to significantly greater tumor growth than a more sedentary lifestyle did, in this mouse model,” said Lee Jones, Ph.D., a researcher in the DCCC and senior investigator on this study. “Our thought is that we may, in the future, be able to use this finding to design better drug delivery models to more effectively treat prostate cancer patients, and those with other types of cancer as well.”

Combustion without flames can be used to build much more efficient industrial gas turbines for power generation than are used in current models and produce almost no polluting emissions, say
Mohamed Sassi of The Petroleum Institute in Abu Dabi and colleagues Mohamed Hamdi and Hamaid Bentîcha, at the National School of Engineers of Monastir.

They explain that flameless combustion, or more precisely flameless oxidation (FLOX), has become a focus of industrial research. It has, they say, the potential to avoid one of the major noxious pollutants from gas turbines, NOx, or nitrogen oxides.

In flameless combustion, the oxidation of fuel occurs with a very limited oxygen supply at very high temperature. Spontaneous ignition occurs and progresses with no visible or audible signs of the flames usually associated with burning. The chemical reaction zone is quite diffuse, explains Sassi, and this leads to almost uniform heat release and a smooth temperature profile. All these factors could result in a much more efficient process as well as reducing emissions.