What does rolling with slipping look like

05.11.2009

Neurology Right-handed people hold their right arm longer than it is.

Left-handers, on the other hand, feel that both arms are the same length. American psychologists have found this out and report on their study in the journal "Psychological Science". They attribute the asymmetrical body feeling of right-handers to a special structure in the brain. Apparently, in right-handers, a larger region of the brain is reserved for controlling the right arm than for the left. For left-handers, however, there is symmetry. Earlier studies - including measurements of brain waves - had already found that right-handed people had significantly greater asymmetries than left-handed people - and that these had an impact on their sense of touch, body feeling and the assessment of their own extremities. // [tj] //

Microbiology Viruses slide and roll on the cell membrane.

Swiss researchers from Zurich have developed a new method with which they could for the first time follow the smallest movements of viruses live. The researchers explain the method using a soccer ball as an example. A virus can be compared to a football without a pattern, which is why it was not known how it moves exactly. With the new method, a bright light is hung on the ball and the movements can be followed. In detail this means: The virus receives a single fluorescent marking. Then the center of gravity of the virus is determined with a sensitive scattered light method and that of the marking with the help of fluorescence. With these two focal points, the virus can then be observed in real time. And what it showed is this: The virus - the researchers took what is known as Simian Virus 40 - slipped and rolled on the cell membrane, but not only that. Sometimes it stuck or swayed back and forth. Only when it was attached to the cell receptor could the virus penetrate a cell. From this the scientists conclude that the fixation of a virus is influenced by the cell receptors. // [tj] //

Biology Hydrogen peroxide may direct the rhythm of cells.

Just as sleeping and waking are subject to a 24-hour rhythm, many organs and even individual cells also have their own daily rhythm. The body cells can coordinate their rhythms with one another. How exactly this happens was largely unknown. Researchers from California have now investigated to what extent hydrogen peroxide is involved in the processes. They report on their examinations with fruit flies in the specialist magazine "PLoS One". They injected or fed hydrogen peroxide to fruit flies. The animals then became significantly more active than before. If they gave hydrogen peroxide for a longer period of time, this also meant that the normal 24-hour rhythm of the flies was suppressed. According to the researchers, this result suggests that hydrogen peroxide could be the decisive substance that determines the rhythm of individual cells and coordinates the rhythms of different cells with one another. // [tj] //

Geophysics aftershocks can be centuries away.

Researchers have examined seismic activities in the American Midwest and discovered that the small quakes they were able to measure are not harbingers of a major tremor, but rather aftershocks of a catastrophe that occurred almost 200 years ago: the big one 1811 quake in New Madrid. And that - as the researchers explain in the journal "Nature" - is due to the fact that the center of the earthquake was in the middle of a continental plate - which rarely happens. Earthquakes predominantly occur in regions where continental plates of the earth's crust meet. With the help of computer simulations, the researchers had found that depending on the earthquake region, the time of aftershocks at which residual stresses are discharged is different. Residual stresses between continental plates dissipate much faster than in the center of a plate. There, the crack edges of the faults caused by an earthquake move very slowly - up to 100 times slower than at the plate boundaries. That is why aftershocks could still occur centuries later. // [tj] //

Microbiology Bacteria show foresight.

If the environment of bacteria changes very abruptly again and again, the microbes apparently give up the attempt to constantly adapt. Because they would run the risk of not having enough time to adapt and die out. They therefore change their strategy and as a precaution develop several offspring variants at the same time. These are genetically identical, but they use their genes differently and therefore also have a different appearance. In this way, the bacteria increase the likelihood that at least one of these variants is well equipped for the new conditions and will survive. For a long time - as the researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena write in "Nature" - the microorganisms do not need for the change of strategy: In the laboratory, the change took place after only nine generations. // [tj] //

Source: Nature, vol. 462, p. 90

04.11.2009

Biology Fiddler crabs protect their neighbors for sex.

Biologists have long puzzled as to how female crabs manage to defend their territories against much better armed and stronger male invaders. Australian researchers have now discovered that male neighbors come to their aid. As the scientists report in the "Biology Letters", the males defend the territories of their neighbors only against male intruders, not against female ones. Presumably they are simply interested in surrounding themselves with females in order to increase their chances of mating. // [be] //

Biology All birds are gray even at dusk.

Birds need about five to twenty times more light to see colors than humans. They lose this ability every day shortly after sunset - and thus earlier than any other vertebrate group studied. Swedish researchers discovered this in behavioral experiments. In the "Journal of Experimental Biology" they were surprised by their results, since birds have a much more pronounced color vision during the day than humans and other animals. // [be] //

Medicine At the end of pregnancy, folic acid increases the risk of asthma.

Folic acid taken before conception and during the first few weeks of pregnancy protects the unborn child from severe malformations. If women take the drug later in pregnancy, between the 16th and 30th week, they increase the risk of asthma in their offspring by 30 percent. This is the result of a study by Australian researchers published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. They examined 550 women and their children. The researchers emphasize that folic acid is extremely important in preventing severe disabilities such as an open back. However, since the substance is very biologically active, it must be treated with caution. // [be] //

Paleontology The oldest relative of T. rex slumbered in the museum for decades.

British and German researchers have discovered a 165 million year old skull in the archives of the Natural History Museum in London. Your research, presented in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, suggests that the fossil is the oldest known relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex. According to the researchers, the Proceratosaurus was up to four meters smaller than its descendant, but otherwise looked very similar. The skull had already been discovered during construction work in Gloucestershire in 1910 and was later brought to the museum, but was then forgotten. // [be] //

Biology 80 percent of the European fish stocks are threatened.

This was announced by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation at a conference on marine nature conservation in Stralsund. Improvements were only seen in the designated protected areas. In addition to shipping and fishing, the researchers believe that the construction of offshore wind farms, electricity and natural gas lines and the increasing extraction of gravel from the seabed are also causing pollution for fish. // [be] //

Astronomy Mercury contains even more iron than expected.

The investigation of the American space probe Messenger shows. According to the measurements of the probe, the iron on the surface is in combination with the element titanium. According to NASA, this connection is unusual and could allow conclusions to be drawn about the history of the formation of Mercury. // [be] //

Biology Drunk fruit flies help solve the riddle of alcohol tolerance.

American researchers have discovered a network of genes in fruit flies that is linked to adaptation to alcohol consumption. They had made fruit flies drink alcohol, measured the time until the animals lost control of their movements and at the same time looked to see which genes were active. The corresponding genes are also found in humans. As the researchers write in the journal "Genetics", these genes could explain why some people tolerate alcohol better than others. // [be] //

03.11.2009

Paleontology Thug tyrannosaurs fought regularly.

The dinosaurs sometimes suffered serious injuries during arguments with their peers. This is the result of an analysis by American paleontologists who discovered a healed bone fracture and scars on a skeleton of a young // Tyrannosaurus rex //. As the researchers write in the journal "Palaios", the injury was not fatal, but healed. Only a crooked nasal bone and a tooth pattern in the jawbone remained. They assume that struggles like this were part of growing up. Something similar can be observed in crocodiles today. // [mst] //

Behavioral research lions killed fewer people than expected.

In 1898, two lions are said to have eaten up to 135 people in what is now Kenya. The pair of lions abducted men several times at night in a workers camp on the Tsavo River. The predators could only be shot after nine months. In order to finally clarify how many victims there were, researchers from California analyzed the hair and bones of the two big cats. They present their results in the proceedings of the US Academy of Sciences. After investigating the proportions of nitrogen and carbon isotopes, they come to the conclusion that the lions only ate 35 people in the last six months of their lives. The researchers also saw that one of the animals had an injury to its jaw and, possibly for this reason, dodged the comparatively easy-to-grasp human prey. // [mst] //

Biology researchers decipher the genome of the domestic pig.

That comes from a press release from the University of Illinois. The now 98 percent sequenced pig belongs to the Duroc breed. So far, the genome has only shown the sequence of the genetic components. In order to find genes that are important for breeding or medical research, the genome must first be analyzed. The geneticists hope that the results will lead to advances in agriculture and medicine as well as insights into the evolution of domestic pigs. // [mst] //

Medicine Every day 4,000 young children die of pneumonia.

Although the disease is easy to treat with inexpensive antibiotics, 1.8 million children under the age of five worldwide die from it every year. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death for young children. This emerges from a report by the UN Children's Fund Unicef ​​and the World Health Organization (WHO). Pneumonia deaths are often the result of malnutrition, poverty and inadequate or even lack of access to health services. // [mst] //

Astronomy A cosmic delivery room generates enormous amounts of radiation.

An international team of researchers has measured extremely high-energy gamma radiation with energies of over 700 billion electron volts from the galaxy M82, twelve million light years away in the constellation of the Great Bear. For the first time, astronomers were able to prove a suspected connection: Cosmic areas with a high rate of star births accelerate the high-energy radiation in space through stellar winds and supernova explosions. As the researchers report in the journal "Nature", M82 is one of the galaxies in the center of which an above-average number of new stars are formed from interstellar matter. In the galaxy M82, the rate of exploding stars is 30 times higher and young stars are born ten times faster than in the Milky Way. // [mst] //

Atomic energy dispute in France over the safety of the EPR reactor.

A debate has broken out in France about the safety of the new generation of nuclear reactors. The regulatory authorities of France, Great Britain and Finland are calling for an improvement to the European pressurized water reactor in Flamanville in the north of France. Above all, it is necessary to make the control system of the reactor independent of the normal operating system in an emergency, according to a joint statement. The nuclear company Areva, however, emphasizes that the safety of the reactor is not endangered and that solutions are being worked on. // [mst] //

Zoology Amphibians are most threatened.

This emerges from the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN published today. Accordingly, of the almost 48,000 animal and plant species examined, more than 17,000 are threatened with extinction, and amphibians in particular suffer from human-made environmental conditions. This is a significant increase compared to the previous survey in the middle of this year. The goal set for the coming year of reducing the loss of biodiversity will not be achieved, the report says. // [mst] //

02.11.2009

Biology A defective gene keeps fruit flies slim.

Developmental biologists at the University of Bonn have discovered a gene in fruit flies that plays an important role in regulating fat metabolism. The researchers report that fruit fly larvae in which the gene was defective lost their storage fat. They christened the previously unknown hereditary disposition with the name "slim". Since mammals have a similar group of genetic makeup, the so-called "Lass genes", the scientists hope to be able to develop new preparations against obesity. First, however, the exact function of the gene family must be researched and their role in regulating lipid metabolism. // [mawi] //

Biology The biofilm defends itself.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have studied the communication strategies of // Pseudomonas aeruginosa // bacteria in biofilms. It was already known that the bacteria communicate with one another via what is known as quorum sensing. In the journal “Microbiology”, the Danish researchers now report that the bacteria use signal molecules to warn each other of attacks by the immune system. They then form a kind of protective shield against the immune cells. The bacteria also release substances that are deadly for the attacking immune cells. Pseudomonas bacteria cause chronic and particularly persistent infections of the respiratory tract in humans. The researchers now want to develop active ingredients that specifically disrupt communication between the bacteria. These could be helpful supplements to traditional antibiotics. // [mawi] //

Medicine Deep brain stimulation can help with the most severe depression.

Researchers from Cologne and Bonn evaluated the data of ten patients with the most severe depression that they had treated with the help of deep brain stimulation. In five of the ten patients, the deep brain stimulation significantly improved the condition, the researchers found. With deep brain stimulation, electrodes are planted in the brain. Certain areas of the brain can be specifically influenced via the electrodes. After a year of treatment, the electrical stimulation is just as strong as it was at the beginning, according to the scientists. Some patients could have returned to work. Neither medication nor psychotherapy had been able to help the patients in the long term. The Bonn researchers will publish their results shortly in the journal "Biological Psychiatry". // [mawi] //

Zoology The oldest spider web in the world is around 140 million years old.

The threads of the cobweb are enclosed in amber. British amateur geologists found the amber a few years ago on the southern English chalk coast near the port city of Hastings. Researchers from Oxford University report on the find in the Journal of the Geological Society. The threads came from a species of spider that resembled the garden spider. There were even sticky droplets hanging from the spider web threads, which were used to catch prey. According to the researchers, Hastings amber was created shortly before the first flowering plants developed. Thus it is proven that spiders already existed in the time of the dinosaurs. // [mawi] //

Space travel SMOS has started successfully.

A Russian launcher launched the European SMOS satellite from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia this morning, the European Space Agency Esa said in Paris. 70 minutes after the launch, SMOS was disconnected from the rocket. A little later, the South African control station near Johannesburg received the first signals. The satellite will measure the salinity of the oceans and the moisture of the land areas for three years. Science hopes the mission will provide new information about the exchange of water on earth. The 658 kilogram satellite is a Franco-Spanish development for Esa. // [mawi] //

Biology The genome of the cucumber has been deciphered.

The genome of the cucumber consists of 350 million building blocks, write researchers from the Beijing Genome Institute in the journal "Nature Genetics". It is therefore somewhat smaller than the genome of the rice plant. It contains significantly fewer sequence repetitions than other plant genomes. It is the seventh plant species whose genome has been sequenced. // [mawi] //

30.10.2009

Technology Touch-sensitive wallpapers can control heating and televisions.

Engineers have been working for a long time to make it easier to use networked devices in the home. Some of them hope to be able to operate devices in the future using switches embedded in walls; The disadvantage, however, is that the monitors required for this are very expensive both to buy and to operate. Researchers at MIT in Boston have now developed a cheap alternative: a wallpaper consisting of several paper and metal foils. The foils follow different patterns and are subject to a weak direct current. If they are touched, they close or open a contact and can switch devices on or off. The researchers did not want to comment on whether this development will one day be salable. // [gät] //

Climate China is likely to overtake the US in climate protection.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington is convinced of this to the “New Scientist”. The WRI is a think tank that deals with environmental issues. His employees are now reporting that China is in the process of overtaking the United States in terms of climate protection. The country is on the way to decoupling energy consumption and economic growth. Energy consumption per dollar generated is expected to decrease by 20 percent by 2010; according to WRI, China will achieve this goal. By 2020, the government plans to cover 15 percent of its electricity needs from wind and solar energy, and the coal-fired power plants in the country are currently working with a better efficiency than those in the USA: while the western coal-fired power plants have been working at an average efficiency of 33 percent have stopped, Far Eastern ones now reach an average of 35 percent. // [gät] //

Technology Russia is apparently planning a nuclear-powered spaceship.

The Associated Press reports, citing the head of the Russian space agency, Anatoly Perminov. According to this, Russia wants to develop a nuclear-powered spaceship that could reach planets like Mars faster and more efficiently than rocket-powered capsules. Perminov put the cost at 17 billion rubles, the equivalent of around 400 million euros. According to a report by the New Scientist, the project would be a model of profitability at these costs. For example, the USA has so far spent three billion dollars on the conventional Orion capsule, which does not need any protection against radioactive radiation, that is a good two billion euros. In addition, all projects to operate larger nuclear reactors in space were quickly stopped again. Western experts therefore doubt that Roskosmos is serious about the project. You see in the announcement an attempt to find cooperation partners. // [gät] //

Medicine All people should be vaccinated against the flu.

Researchers from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are convinced in the journal Science that it would slow down the rapid adaptation of the virus to the body's own defenses. The scientists base their belief on several experiments with mice vaccinated and unvaccinated against influenza viruses. The experiments showed two things, according to the researchers: On the one hand, the viruses protect themselves from the immune system by sticking more firmly to their host cells. On the other hand, the protein with which the viruses attach to the cells mutates more quickly when it is transferred from vaccinated to unvaccinated mice and back. The vaccine protection against flu could therefore work better if everyone were vaccinated, according to the researchers. // [gät] //