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When lasers illuminate material it usually warms up, so laser beams are used for cutting sheet steel, for welding or even as scalpels. But this effect can also be reversed. When the frequency of the laser beam makes the irradiated material just not absorbing its light and slightly more energy (of the photons, as physicists call the light particles) is needed for that, this photons “take” this missing energy from the oscillation energy of the material’s atoms.

Such oscillation energy (“phonons”) is equivalent to the vibration of atoms which is also called temperature and which is slightly reduced by this: the material is cooled down. A team of scientists from Technische Universität Dortmund and Ruhr-Universität Bochum has just carried out the first detailed experimental study regarding this process (known as “photoluminescence up-conversion”) in semiconductor nanostructures. Based on this, the development of a vibration-free cooling of semiconductors might be possible.

A research team of scientists from Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands has succeeded in further unravelling and manipulating the glycosylation of proteins in plants.

The scientists expect that this knowledge will allow plants to be applied more often in the production of therapeutic proteins, an important type of medicine.

The discovery fits in with technology developed by the Wageningen UR research institute Plant Research International for the production of biopharmaceuticals in plants.

Proteins in plants, animals and people are equipped with various sugar chains in a process known as glycosylation. The sugar chains are of significance to the functioning of many proteins.

Rates of sexually transmitted infections have doubled among the over 45 population in less than a decade, reveals research in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Sexual behavior studies tend to ignore older age groups and focus on young people, say the authors. The period of analysis spanned eight years between 1996 and 2003 inclusive. Researchers monitored the numbers of sexually transmitted infections (STI) diagnosed in 19 sexual health clinics and reported to the Health Protection Agency's Regional Surveillance Unit in the West Midlands.

In total, 4445 STI episodes were identified among people aged 45 and older during that time. Most of these were in straight men and women.

Astronomers recently announced that they have found a novel explanation for a rare type of super-luminous stellar explosion that may have produced a new type of object known as a quark star.

Three exceptionally luminous supernovae explosions have been observed in recent years. One of them was first observed using a robotic telescope at the California Institute of Technology's (Caltech) Palomar Observatory.

Data collected with Palomar's Samuel Oschin Telescope was transmitted from the remote mountain site in southern California to astronomers via the High-Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Nearby Supernova Factory research group at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory reported the co-discovery of the supernova, known as SN2005gj.


When tomatoes ripen in our gardens, we watch them turn gradually from hard, green globules to brightly colored, aromatic, and tasty fruits. This familiar and seemingly commonplace transformation masks a seething mass of components interacting in a well-regulated albeit highly complex manner.

For generations, agriculturalists and scientists have bred tomatoes for size, shape, texture, flavor, shelf-life, and nutrient composition, more or less, one trait at a time. With the advent of molecular biology, mutagenesis and genetic transformation could produce tomatoes that were more easily harvested or transported or turned into tomato paste. Frequently, however, optimizing for one trait led to deterioration in another. For example, improving flavor could have a negative effect on yield.

A Low Carbon Society (LCS) is defined by proponents as one that will make an equitable contribution to the global effort of reducing greenhouse gases to a safe level, combining both a high level of energy efficiency and security.

They say the results of modelling activities and workshops have demonstrated that reducing global carbon emissions by 50% is technologically and economically feasible. Energy efficiency, consumer responses and the choice of technologies for electricity generation play crucial roles in cutting CO2 levels.

Thus they say the LCS is not a utopian vision, but is both technically and economically achievable and they publish their findings from the Japan-UK Low Carbon Society project in a special edition of Climate Policy.