Scientists at the Scottish Crop Research Institute in Dundee are attempting to create blackcurrants that are vitamin C rich. The study aims to increase vitamin C levels and fruit quality by altering plant starch deposits.
I was sorry to learn that the Quarry Visitor Center at Dinosaur National Monument has been closed indefinitely because of safety concerns. The center houses a large and active fossil quarry where visitors can see dinosaur remains preserved in a massive and tilted slab of rock in the Morrison Formation.
I visited the monument for the first time a couple years back, and I have to admit, it wasn’t the easiest place to get to. The park is located in the extreme border region of northern Utah and Colorado, and expands for 210,000 acres through both states, although the visitor center sets on the Utah side. But despite its isolated location, the trip was well worth it, especially for someone with my fascination in all things dinosaur. Besides the quarry containing literally hundreds of dinosaur bones, the center contained a preparation laboratory, exhibits, and a bookstore. And the geology in the surrounding park area was spectacular.
But structural problems, dating back to before the visitor center first opened in 1958, have finally shut the building down. Even as the site was under construction cracks had begun appearing in the parking lot, and over the years, the center’s support beams became flexed under stress, and gaps more than a foot wide appeared as the building shifted away from the quarry wall.
Throughout its nearly half-century of existence supplemental supports were added to help anchor the structure and reinforce the gallery deck, but recent inspections revealed new safety and health concerns, and the decision was made to close it indefinitely.
That’s too bad, as the center presented a very unique opportunity to see an active dinosaur quarry. I just hope it doesn’t take too long to reopen it.
Exhibits, fossils, and programs presented by park rangers will still be available at the outdoor entrance building near Jensen, Utah. But the Quarry Visitor Center was definitely the main attraction, and local officials fear that tourism will suffer from the closing.
Thinking and remembering depends upon chemical reactions within and between brain cells. With age, certain needed chemicals are deficient, and learning and memory loss occurs.
Ampakines (the drug used in this study) were developed in the early 1990s by UC researchers, including Lynch, to treat age-related memory impairment and may be useful for treating a number of central nervous system disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.
In the ampakine-treated rats, there was a significant increase in the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein known to play a key role in memory formation. They also found an increase in long-term potentiation (LTP), the process by which the connection between the brain cells is enhanced and memory is encoded.
“Ampakines work in two important ways to improve learning and memory,” Lauterborn said. “They directly stimulate the connection between nerve cells, which has an immediate effect of boosting LTP. But they also increase the presence of this important protein, BDNF, that can stay in the body and keep boosting memory after the drug has worn off.”
Read more in the University of California, Irvine press release.
And that could speed up global warming with 'incalculable consequences', says alarming new research. Studies by the blue-chip Woods Hole Research Centre, carried out in Amazonia, have concluded that the forest cannot withstand more than two consecutive years of drought without breaking down. And that process, which would be irreversible, could begin as early as next year.
For those who'd like some perspective, the Amazon rainforest represents half the rainforests in the world. It encompasses 1.2 billion acres, or 1.875 million square miles. That's 3.25% of the planets land mass. That’s a huge chunk of land. So if this report is accurate, it’s far from being insignificant.
The Amazon now appears to be entering its second successive year of drought, raising the possibility that it could start dying next year. The immense forest contains 90 billion tons of carbon, enough in itself to increase the rate of global warming by 50 per cent.
Read more from The Independent (U.K.), July 23, 2006
The brief headache we sometimes get while eating or drinking cold substances is referred to as a brain freeze, ice cream headache, freezie, and frozen brain syndrome. And its occurrence can in fact be described scientifically.
There are varying explanations for the ice cream headache, but most sources agree that cold stimulation of the roof of the mouth and/or the throat stimulates the high concentration of nerves in the area. This results in dilation of blood vessels in the brain, which in turn causes an acute headache.
The pain begins within seconds after the cold item is consumed and reaches its peak after 30-60 seconds. Occasionally these headaches last for 2-5 minutes.
Other Interesting Brain Freeze Facts
Ice cream headaches are more likely to occur in the summer than in the winter.
Some studies have found that people who are more susceptible to migraines are also more likely to get ice cream headaches. One study found that an ice cream headache occurred in 93 percent of regular migraine sufferers, but in only 31 percent of the control group. However, other studies have found that migraine suffers are not more likely to get ice cream headaches.
The most interesting solution I found was to put your tongue on the roof of your mouth to quickly warm the area. I’m not sure how well it works. I’ll have to try it the next time my brain freezes.
Scientists have found a small molecule that can be used to extend the lifespan of mammalian cells. The research reported in the July issue of Nature Chemical Biology showed that the synthetic organic molecule CGK733 blocks the machinery that senses DNA damage. They found that CGK733 could extend the lifetime of cultured cells by about 20 doublings and could actually rescue cells that were already senescent. Senescent cells are cells that can stay alive but have stopped dividing.
Prof. Kim Tae-kook at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and his associates developed a technology dubbed MAGIC, short for magnetism-based interactive capture. This state-of-the-art magnetic nano-probe technology uses fluorescent materials to check whether any drug can mix with targeted proteins inside the cell.
Read more in The Korea Times or in Nature Chemical Biology press release and abstract.
First noticed in 2002, the dead zone is larger this year than in previous years.
What is a dead zone? It's an large area of water that's very low in oxygen and can't support life. (Scientists call this "hypoxia.") Dead zones are caused by the explosive growth of tiny aquatic plants called phytoplankton. When the phytoplankton die, they are decomposed by bacteria. Massive numbers of bacteria use up the oxygen in the water. Any animals that can swim out of the low-oxygen water--like many fish--do so. Others--some fish, many crabs, and others--suffocate because they can't get enough oxygen to live.
In this case, the phytoplankton blooms are caused when north winds cause upwelling in the water column. The cooler water is rich in nutrients, providing a feast for the phytoplankton. When the wind dies down, the upwelling stops, and many phytoplankton die a natural death. Their decomposition results in water that is deadly because it lacks oxygen needed for life.
This year, the upwelling started in April, stopped in May, and started up again in June. The off-and-on upwelling creates a thick mat of organic material that rots and uses up the oxygen in the water. Then, when a new upwelling occurs, the oxygen-depleted water moves toward shore, killing the plants and animals that can't get out of its way.
So, why the upwelling? Jane Lubchenco, professor of marine ecology at Oregon State University and a member of the Pew Oceans Commission, told the Associated Press:
"We are seeing wild swings from year to year in the timing and duration of the winds that are favorable for upwelling. ... This increased variability in the winds is consistent with what we would expect under climate change."
Global warming is also the suspect in dead zones off Namibia, South Africa, and Peru.
(The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi River is caused by agricultural runoff containing fertilizers. The river carries all those nutrients into the Gulf, creating algal blooms that use up all the oxygen.)
Gill tested blood from 39 duck hunters for antibodies that would prove infection by any of a dozen kinds of bird-based influenza. Several hunters had antibodies to H1, H2, and H3 strains, which have adapted to humans and are now routinely seen in people. But one hunter tested positive for H11N9, which is not seen in humans.
The hunter was a healthy, 39-year-old man who'd been hunting since he was 8 and kills or handles hundreds of birds a year. He'd never shown any symptoms of illness.
Also, Gill found H11N9 antibodies in the blood of two Iowa Department of Natural Resources workers. Both had been banding ducks for years.
None of the infected men had any history of working with domesticated birds--an established source of bird flu transmission to humans. Instead, these cases appear to be the first documented of humans getting viruses from wild birds.