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Malaria kills more than one million people each year, most of them young children living in Africa. Now physicists in the UK have shared their computers with biologists from countries including France and Korea in an effort to combat the disease.

Using an international computing Grid spanning 27 countries, scientists on the WISDOM project analysed an average of 80,000 possible drug compounds against malaria every hour. In total, the challenge processed over 140 million compounds, with a UK physics Grid providing nearly half of the computing hours used.

The computers are all part of EGEE (Enabling Grids for E-sciencE), which brings together computing Grids from different countries and disciplines.

Groundhogs and other hibernators take a very sensible approach to winter: They slip into a state of suspended animation and let the worst of the cold weather pass.

The cold prompts profound physiological changes in these animals, causing their normally fast metabolism to come almost to a stop during winter. With metabolism slowed to a crawl, the animal draws on its fat stores sparingly to make it through the winter.

Hibernation has become the focus of interesting physiological research. A hibernating squirrel's heart may fall from 300 beats per minute to just three per minute. Its oxygen consumption can drop to just 2% of normal.

Tricking a key enzyme can soothe over-excited receptors in the brain, say neuroscientists, calling this a possible strategy against stroke, Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Lead author Michel Baudry of the University of Southern California, his graduate student Wei Xu and collaborators from the University of British Columbia outline their technique in the Feb. 1 issue of Neuron.

The researchers injected laboratory mice with a decoy peptide containing a snippet of a receptor that facilitates cell death in neurodegenerative diseases.

British Petroleum announced today that it has selected the University of California, Berkeley, in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to lead an unprecedented $500 million research effort to develop new sources of energy and reduce the impact of energy consumption on the environment.

The funding will create the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), which initially will focus its research on biotechnology to produce biofuels — that is, turning plants and plant materials, including corn, field waste, switchgrass and algae, into transportation fuels.

At a press conference this morning at UC Berkeley, Robert A. (Bob) Malone, chairman and president of BP America Inc., joined California Gov.

"Time" is the most popular noun in the English language, yet how would we tell time if we didn't have access to the plethora of watches, clocks and cell phones at our disposal?

For decades, scientists have believed that the brain possesses an internal clock that allows it to keep track of time. Now a UCLA study in the Feb. 1 edition of Neuron proposes a new model in which a series of physical changes to the brain's cells helps the organ to monitor the passage of time.


The changing colors reflect how a brain cell network evolves over time in response to stimuli. (Credit: Buonomano Lab)