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Erupting Bardarbunga Volcano In Iceland Sits On A Massive Magma Hot Spot

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Ebola's Evolutionary Roots Are Ancient

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Genetically Modified Stem Cells Kill Brain Tumors

There may soon be a new way to use stem cells in the fight against brain cancer. A team has created...

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Japanese scientists have made a micro-sized sewing machine to sew long threads of DNA into shape. The work published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Lab on a Chip demonstrates a unique way to manipulate delicate DNA chains without breaking them.

Scientists can diagnose genetic disorders such as Down's syndrome by using gene markers, or "probes", which bind to only highly similar chains of DNA. Once bound, the probe's location can be easily detected by fluorescence, and this gives information about the gene problem.

Detecting these probes is often a slow and difficult process, however, as the chains become tightly coiled. The new method presented by Kyohei Terao from Kyoto University, and colleagues from The University of Tokyo, uses micron-sized hooks controlled by lasers to catch and straighten a DNA strand with excellent precision and care.


However much popular television chefs like Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay might want to shake up our diets, culinary evolution dictates that our cultural cuisines remain little changed as generations move on, shows new research in the New Journal of Physics.

The research shows that three national cuisines - British, French and Brazilian – are affected by the founder effect which keeps idiosyncratic and nutritionally ambivalent, expensive and sometimes hard to transport ingredients in our diets.

Using the medieval cookery book, Pleyn Delit, and three authoritative cook books from Britain, France and Brazil, the New Penguin Cookery Book, Larousse Gastronomique and Dona Benta respectively, the researchers from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, compiled statistics which could be compared to see how time and distance effect the three different national cuisines.

The economic and psychological term known as “sunk-cost fallacy” is a bias that leads someone to make a decision based solely on a previous financial investment. For example, a baseball fan might attend every game of the season only because he already purchased the tickets. But not everyone would force themselves to brave the pouring rain for a single game in one season simply because they previously paid for the seats.

So who is more likely to commit or avoid the sunk-cost fallacy and why?

A group of researchers at the Technical University of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen have developed models of neural networks that make it possible to simulate how the body protects itself from disease and predict the immune system’s access codes.

The human body has its own natural inbuilt defence mechanism which uses access or “pincodes” to stop microorganisms that invade the body from discovering how the entire human immune system works. Every human being on the planet has their own unique version of this defence mechanism. But the sheer complexity of the immune system has, up until now, also made it difficult for researchers to understand how the immune system functions and develop precise immunological treatments.

Scientists have identified about two dozen genes that control embryonic stem cell fate. The genes may either prod or restrain stem cells from drifting into a kind of limbo, they suspect. The limbo lies between the embryonic stage and fully differentiated, or specialized, cells, such as bone, muscle or fat.

By knowing the genes and proteins that control a cell's progress toward the differentiated form, researchers may be able to accelerate the process – a potential boon for the use of stem cells in therapy or the study of some degenerative diseases, the scientists say.

Their finding comes from the first large-scale search for genes crucial to embryonic stem cells. The research was carried out by a team at the University of California, San Francisco and is reported in a paper in the July 11, 2008 issue of Cell.

European researchers are the first to demonstrate functional components that exploit the magnetic properties of electrons to perform logic operations. Compatible with existing microtechnology, the new approach heralds the next era of faster, smaller and more efficient electronics.

In the 1960s, Henry Moore observed that it took around 18 months for silicon chip manufacturers to shrink their technology and fit twice as many transistors into the same area of silicon.

But Moore's Law is beginning to lose its hold. According to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), devices based on silicon-only technology will soon reach the limits of miniaturization and power efficiency.