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National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Arden L. Bement Jr. has presented the agency's proposed $6.85 billion budget for fiscal year (FY) 2009, a 13 percent increase over its actual FY 2008 budget. The additional $822.10 million would increase funding for agency programs that advance the frontiers of research and education in science and engineering.

Bement said the increase reflected a growing consensus that the United States needs to invest more resources in basic scientific research if it is to remain a global leader in science and technology. "More than a dozen major studies have now concluded that a substantial increase in federal funding for basic scientific research is critical to ensure the preeminence of America's scientific and technological enterprise," Bement said.

The colugo doesn't fly and is not a lemur but it's still called a "flying lemur" - and it's the champion of all gliding mammals, able to drop from the forest canopy in Malaysia, glide more than the length of two football fields, execute 90-degree turns and then alight gently on a tree trunk.

The colugo looks like a very large squirrel with membranous skin stretching from each limb and even between its toes to catch the wind and work as a parachute. When fully spread, the skin flaps reach the size of a large doormat.

Researchers are discovering how these animals move with the help of a miniature backpack outfitted with accelerometers.

The Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) has released an upgraded version of the IMG/M metagenome data management and analysis system, providing tools for analyzing the functional capability of microbial communities based on their metagenome DNA sequence in the context of reference isolate genomes.

The new version includes five additional metagenome datasets generated from microbial community samples that were the subject of recently published studies, including the metagenomic and functional analysis of termite hindgut microbiota (Nature 450, 560-565, 22 November 2007) and the single cell genetic analysis of TM7, a rare and uncultivated microbe from the human mouth (PNAS, July 17, 2007, vol. 104, no. 29, 11889-11894).

There was a time when you had to be rich to be fat. Now you have to be rich to stay thin, says a new study.

Researchers led by Jennifer L. Black at New York University critically reviewed ninety studies published between 1997 through 2007 on neighborhood determinants of obesity through the PubMed and PsychInfo databases.

They found that neighborhoods with decreased economic and social resources have higher rates of obesity. They also found that residents in low-income urban areas are more likely to report greater neighborhood barriers to physical activity, such as limited opportunities for daily walking or physical activity and reduced access to stores that sell healthy foods, especially large supermarkets.

Turning native ecosystems into “farms” for biofuel crops causes major carbon emissions that worsen the global warming that biofuels are meant to mitigate, according to a new study by the University of Minnesota and the Nature Conservancy.

The carbon lost by converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands outweighs the carbon savings from biofuels. Such conversions for corn or sugarcane (ethanol), or palms or soybeans (biodiesel) release 17 to 420 times more carbon than the annual savings from replacing fossil fuels, the researchers said. The carbon, which is stored in the original plants and soil, is released as carbon dioxide, a process that may take decades.

This “carbon debt” must be paid before the biofuels produced on the land can begin to lower greenhouse gas levels and ameliorate global warming.

A study by psychologists at Stanford, Pennsylvania State University and the University of California-Berkeley says that many Americans subconsciously associate blacks with apes.

In addition, the findings show that society is more likely to condone violence against black criminal suspects as a result of its broader inability to accept African Americans as fully human, according to the researchers.

Co-author Jennifer Eberhardt, a Stanford associate professor of psychology, said she was shocked by the results, particularly since they involved subjects born after Jim Crow and the civil rights movement. "This was actually some of the most depressing work I have done," she said. "This shook me up. You have suspicions when you do the work—intuitions—you have a hunch. But it was hard to prepare for how strong [the black-ape association] was—how we were able to pick it up every time."