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Another piece of the jigsaw in understanding how neutron stars work has been put in place following the discovery by scientists of the origin of the high energy emission from rotation-powered pulsars.

Pulsar systems containing neutron stars accelerate particles to immense energies, typically one hundred times more than the most powerful accelerators on Earth. Scientists are still uncertain exactly how these systems work and where the particles are accelerated.

Now a team of researchers from the UK and Italy, led by Professor Tony Dean of the University of Southampton, has detected polarized gamma-ray emission from the vicinity of the Crab Nebula - one of the most dramatic sights in deep space. By using spectroscopic imaging and measuring the polarization - or the alignment - of the waves of high energy radiation in the gamma-ray band, they have shown that these energetic photons originate close to the pulsar.

If you live in Melbourne, Australia or even Sydney and are concerned that climate change will make your great cities ripe for a cane toad invasion, fear no more.

Yes, that is one of the many doomsday scenarios out there about climate change, but according to research recently published in Ecography by Dr Michael Kearney from the University of Melbourne and collaborators from Australia and the USA, the cane toad’s march will grind to a halt once it is physically too cold for the toads to hop.

Don't be too disappointed. There is still a chance that the LHC will doom the world, likely in December 2012, but it will not be cane toads coming out of black holes to subjugate us, it will be Mayans.

Worldwide, there are between 50 and 70 volcanoes that erupt each year but due to the long gaps between eruptions it is difficult to pin down what triggers volcano behavior.

A team from Durham University and the University of Leeds, studied crystal formations from a volcano in Santorini, Greece, to calculate the timescale between the trigger of volcanic activity and the volcano’s eruption.

These crystals from the lava were able to tell them about the triggers for the volcano, they say, and could help civil defense agencies better prepare in the future.

Engineers at Georgia Tech have used skin cells to create artificial bones that mimic the ability of natural bone to blend into other tissues such as tendons or ligaments. The artificial bones display a gradual change from bone to softer tissue rather than the sudden shift of previously developed artificial tissue, providing better integration with the body and allowing them to handle weight more successfully.

"One of the biggest challenges in regenerative medicine is to have a graded continuous interface, because anatomically that's how the majority of tissues appear and there are studies that strongly suggest that the graded interface provides better integration and load transfer," said Andres Garcia, professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Researchers at the Ruhr University in Bochum (RUB) say they have discovered the secret of electron heating in low temperature plasmas.

The Bochum researchers at the Center of Excellence “Plasma Science and Technology” (CPST) at the Ruhr University say this is the answer to a question which has been puzzling scientists for decades; why the electrons in such plasmas are so hot.

The answer: the non-linear behavior of the boundary sheath causes the electric current flowing in the plasma to oscillate. This results in an increase of the electrical current, and thus in the heating of the plasma. This previously unknown mechanism called “non-linear electron resonance heating” is the subject of a report by researchers in Physical Review Letters.

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered the earliest form of human blood stem cells and deciphered the mechanism by which these embryonic stem cells replicate and grow. They also found a surprising biological marker that pinpoints these stem cells, which serve as the progenitors for red blood cells and lymphocytes.

The research reported today used federally approved embryonic stem cell lines.

The biochemical marker, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), is well known for its role in the regulation of blood pressure, blood vessel growth, and inflammation. ACE inhibitors are already widely used to treat hypertension and congestive heart failure, and the findings are, the researchers say, likely to hold promise for developing new treatments for heart diseases, anemias, leukemia and other blood cancers, and autoimmune diseases because they show for the first time that ACE plays a fundamental role in the very early growth and development of human blood cells.