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Weighing Trees - Now With Lasers

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Though the New York governor recently made a pretense of banning fracking in the state (it was...

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'Erasing' drug-associated memories may prevent recovering drug abusers from relapsing, researchers at the University of Cambridge have said. The team, led by Professor Barry Everitt, was able to reduce drug-seeking behaviors in rats by blocking a brain chemical receptor important to learning and memory during the recall of drug-associated memories. Their research, which was funded by the Medical Research Council, was reported in the 13 August issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

The Cambridge scientists found that by disrupting or erasing memories associated with drug use during recall, they could prevent the memories from triggering relapses and drug taking.

Researchers have discovered an unusual molecule that is essential to the atmosphere's ability to break down pollutants, especially the compounds that cause acid rain. It's the unusual chemistry facilitated by this molecule, however, that will attract the most attention from scientists.

Somewhat like a human body metabolizing food, the Earth's atmosphere has the ability to "burn," or oxidize pollutants, especially nitric oxides emitted from sources such as factories and automobiles. What doesn't get oxidized in the atmosphere falls back to Earth in the form of acid rain.


While invasive electrode recordings in humans show long-term promise, non-invasive techniques can also provide effective brain-computer interfacing (BCI) and localization of motor activity in the brain for paralyzed patients with significantly reduced risks and costs as well as novel applications for healthy users.

Two issues hamper the ease of use of BCI systems based on non-invasive recording techniques, such as electroencephalography (EEG):

Researchers testing the long-held theory that therapeutic massage can speed recovery after a sports injury have found early scientific evidence of the healing effects of massage.

The scientists have determined that immediate cyclic compression of muscles after intense exercise reduced swelling and muscle damage in a study using animals.

Though they say it's too soon to apply the results directly to humans in a clinical environment, the researchers consider the findings a strong start toward scientific confirmation of massage's benefits to athletes after intense eccentric exercise, when muscles contract and lengthen at the same time.

Scientists from the Wageningen University Laboratory of Plant Physiology and an international team of scientists have discovered a new group of plant hormones, the so-called strigolactones. This group of chemicals is known to be involved in the interaction between plants and their environment.

They now say that strigolactones, as hormones, are also crucial for the branching of plants. The discovery will soon be published in Nature and is of great importance for innovations in agriculture. Examples include the development of cut flowers or tomato plants with more or fewer branches. These crops are of major economic and social importance worldwide.


Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) and the University of Lovaina (UCL) in Belgium, have presented a technique that, using two video cameras to capture human movement, makes it possible to recognize body movements and display them in three dimension on a computer, according to the journal Multimedia Tools & Applications.

The method can be applied to the development of interactive video games in which gestures are made with the hands and feet.

Engineer Pedro Correa, from the UCL Telecommunications and Teledetection Laboratory, told SINC that, together with professor Ferran Marqués's unit at the UPC, they have developed algorithms that tackle the problem of gesture recognition “in the least invasive way possible, since it does not require wearing any special suit or receivers, using a simple video camera to film the body's movement”.