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LLNL researchers care about the environment too. To keep Mother Nature safe while we blow stuff up, they have added unique green solvents (ionic liquids) to an explosive called TATB (1,3,5-triamino-2,4,6-trinitrobenzene) and improved the crystal quality and chemical purity of the material.

Most explosives belong to a general class of materials called molecular crystals, which have become important building blocks in a number of other applications ranging from drugs, pigments, agrochemicals, dyes and optoelectronics. Many of these materials, including TATB, are bound together by a strong network of hydrogen-bonds. This extended network often makes these materials nearly insoluble in common organic solvents, leading to poor quality and limited size crystals, which in turn hinders progress in many technological applications.

The advantage of using two eyes to see the world around us has long been associated solely with our capacity to see in 3-D. Now, a new study from a scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has uncovered a truly eye-opening advantage to binocular vision: our ability to see through things.

Most animals — fish, insects, reptiles, birds, rabbits, and horses, for example — exist in non-cluttered environments like fields or plains, and they have eyes located on either side of their head. These sideways-facing eyes allow an animal to see in front of and behind itself, an ability also known as panoramic vision.

Humans and other large mammals — primates and large carnivores like tigers, for example — exist in cluttered environments like forests or jungles, and their eyes have evolved to point in the same direction. While animals with forward-facing eyes lose the ability to see what's behind them, they gain 'X-ray vision', according to Mark Changizi, assistant professor of cognitive science at Rensselaer, who says eyes facing the same direction have been selected for maximizing our ability to see in leafy environments like forests.


Researchers conducting a study in mice have discovered that the brain must create new nerve cells for either exercise or antidepressants to reduce depression-like behavior. In addition, the researchers found that antidepressants and exercise use the same biochemical pathway to exert their effects.

These results might help explain some unknown mechanisms of antidepressants and provide a new direction for developing drugs to treat depression, said Dr. Luis Parada, chairman of developmental biology and senior author of a study in the Aug. 14 issue of the journal Neuron.

Transplantation of insulin-producing cell islets, so-called islets of langerhans is an appealing strategy for treatment of type 1 diabetes. But it turns out that these are short-lived, and the procedure needs to be repeated.

Now researchers at Linköping University and Uppsala University in Sweden can show that accumulation of protein aggregatess, amyloid, in the transplanted cells may be causing their death.

Until now it was not known why this insulin production ceases. The discovery now being published in The New England Journal of Medicine may change the course of diabetes research.

Just when you think modern technology reveals all, Mother Nature throws out a few surprises. According to a Wildlife Conservation Society(WCS) report, two surprisingly large populations of globally threatened primates have been found in Cambodia.

The report counted 42,000 black-shanked douc langurs along with 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in Cambodia's Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, an estimate that represents the largest known populations for both species in the world.

The two primate species are found in much lower numbers at other sites in Cambodia and in Vietnam. Prior to the recent discovery in the Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, the largest known populations were believed to be in adjacent Vietnam, where black-shanked douc langurs and yellow-cheeked crested gibbons hover at 600 and 200 respectively. The total population of the two species remains unknown.

You may be wondering how something can be endangered if the population is unknown. Science has no answer for that.


Observations of ice coverage in the Arctic from space began 30 years ago so it's inflammatory to talk about record lows in such a short period of time but two consecutive years near this 'record' still merit some concern.

Because the extent of ice cover is usually at its lowest about mid-September, this year's minimum could still fall and set another record low.

Envisat observations from mid-August depict that a new record of low sea-ice coverage could be reached in a matter of weeks. The animation above is a series of mosaics of the Arctic Ocean created from images acquired between early June and mid-August 2008 from the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) instrument aboard Envisat. The dark grey colour represents ice-free areas while blue represents areas covered with sea ice.