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Dr. Berend Stoel from the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), in collaboration with renowned luthier Terry Borman, has put classical violins in a CT scanner and discovered that the homogeneity in the densities of the wood from which the classical violins were made may explain their superior sound production.

Experts are fascinated by the fact that classical Cremonese violins from the famous masters such as Stradivari (1644 – 1737) and Guarneri del Gesu (1698 – 1744) are still unparalleled in their abilities of tonal expressiveness and projection. 300 years of technological advancement has not provided substantial improvements towards paralleling the achievements of the classical Cremonese violin makers.

Lilacs, though native to East Asia and Southeast Europe, were brought to North America by the first settlers and were sold in American nurseries as early as 1800. The oldest living lilacs in North America may be those at the Governor Wentworth estate in Portsmouth, N.H., believed to have been planted around 1750. In 1767, Thomas Jefferson recorded his method of planting lilacs in his garden book, and in 1785, George Washington noted that he had transplanted lilacs in his garden. Today, over two million lilacs are sold annually in the U.S., accounting for over $13 million in wholesale sales.

Lilacs are a part of U.S. history and in honor of that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently developed and introduced three new cultivars of lilacs. Honoring the patriotic role lilacs have played in U.S. history, the new shrubs have been dubbed 'Betsy Ross', 'Old Glory', and 'Declaration.'

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has sequenced the equivalent of 300 human genomes in just over six months, reaching a staggering 1,000,000,000,000 letters of genetic code that will be read by researchers worldwide and aiding in the quest to understand the role of genes in health and disease.

The amount of data is remarkable: every two minutes, the Institute produces as much sequence as was deposited in the first five years of the international DNA sequence databases, which started in 1982.

The Institute has major roles in projects such as The 1000 Genomes Project, The International Cancer Genome Consortium and the second round of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, all of which will depend on DNA sequence to uncover genetics variants that are important for human disease. Next-generation sequencing is also enabling the Institute's own research portfolio.

Recipe to recover more quickly from exercise: Finish workout, eat pasta, and wash down with five or six cups of strong coffee.

Glycogen, the muscle's primary fuel source during exercise, is replenished more rapidly when athletes ingest both carbohydrate and caffeine following exhaustive exercise, new research from the online edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology shows. Athletes who ingested caffeine with carbohydrate had 66% more glycogen in their muscles four hours after finishing intense, glycogen-depleting exercise, compared to when they consumed carbohydrate alone, according to the study, published by The American Physiological Society.

In a follow-up to research showing that psilocybin, a substance contained in "sacred mushrooms," produces substantial spiritual effects, a Johns Hopkins team reports that those effects appear to last more than a year. Writing in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the Johns Hopkins researchers note that most of the 36 volunteer subjects given psilocybin, under controlled conditions in a Hopkins study published in 2006, continued to say 14 months later that the experience increased their sense of well-being or life satisfaction.

Psilocybin, a plant alkaloid, exerts its influence on some of the same brain receptors that respond to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Mushrooms containing psilocybin have been used in some cultures for hundreds of years or more for religious, divinatory and healing purposes.

The guidelines caution against giving hallucinogens to people at risk for psychosis or certain other serious mental disorders. Detailed guidance is also provided for preparing participants and providing psychological support during and after the hallucinogen experience. These "best practices" contribute both to safety and to the standardization called for in human research.

Adult cells of mice created from genetically reprogrammed cells can be triggered via drug to enter an embryonic-stem-cell-like state, without the need for further genetic alteration, a discovery which promises to bring new efficiencies to embryonic stem cell research, according to a report in Nature Biotechnology.

In the current work, Marius Wernig and Christopher Lengner, post-doctoral researchers in Whitehead Member Rudolf Jaenisch's lab, made mice created in part from the embryonic-stem-cell-like cells known as IPS cells. The IPS cells were created by reprogramming adult skin cells using lentiviruses to randomly insert four genes (Oct4, Sox2, c-Myc and Klf4) into the cells' DNA. The IPS cells also were modified to switch on these four genes when a drug trigger, doxycycline, is added to the cells.