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Deoxygenating Ballast Water: A Win-Win Solution

By | February 4, 2002

A team of marine scientists report that a novel method for combating ship ballast corrosion may also be a cost-effective way to stem the tide of invasive species that are wreaking havoc on local marine ecosystems around the world.1 The process involves pumping bubbling nitrogen gas into ballast water to remove oxygen, which, in turn, prevents oxidation and rust in the tanks. The depletion of oxygen transforms the ballast water environment into one that is toxic to most aquatic organisms, which a

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Fire Hits UC-Santa Cruz Labs

By | February 4, 2002

A three-alarm fire ravaged two labs at University of California, Santa Cruz, knocking out power and shutting down multiple buildings during the early hours of Jan. 11. The Sinsheimer building where the fire occurred remains closed, displacing approximately 150 researchers who are now scrambling to assess the damage, find new lab space, and salvage whatever is possible. "The upper floor, where the real devastation occurred, is not likely to be back to normal use for six to eight months," says Eli

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Frontlines

By | February 4, 2002

The proper diet for longevity may not be what is eaten, but what is not. University of California, Los Angeles, researchers have reported that the withdrawal of coenzyme Q (Q) from the diet of Caenorhabditis elegans extends the adult life span by almost 60% (P.L. Larsen, C.F. Clarke, "Extension of life-span in Caenorhabditis elegans by a diet lacking coenzyme Q," Science, 295:120-3, Jan. 4, 2002.) Q is found in the respiratory chains of mitochondria and can be obtained from eating anything that

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Happy Birthday, Uncle Charlie

By | February 4, 2002

Besides music, Jack Daniels, and the color orange, Tennessee also signifies opposition to evolution in the minds of many people, especially biologists. By banning the teaching of evolution in its schools, the state set the stage for the famous Scopes monkey trial in 1925, which pitted two giants of American history, William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, in a battle immortalized in books and film. The public controversy over evolution continues to this day, to the consternation of the vast

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HIV Meets Its Maker

By | February 4, 2002

The killer will be turned against itself, if a human trial of gene therapy for AIDS goes forward in a few months, using a vector derived from HIV-1. Biotech startup VIRxSYS Corp. of Gaithersburg, Md., is complying with requests for more information concerning its clinical protocol that were made in October by the National Institutes of Health Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee and the Food and Drug Administration. The candidate drug's inventor, Boro Dropulic, says VIRxSYS has received about $18

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NSF Reaches Out to Young Investigators

By | February 4, 2002

The National Science Foundation gave young investigators interested in plant genomics a New Year's present: money, in the form of a research grant competition just for them. In a statement released on Dec. 28, 2001, Mary Clutter, assistant director of NSF's Biological Sciences Directorate, said the program, called YIA-PGR, "seeks to increase participation of young scientists in [NSF's] plant genome research, especially those at institutions that have not participated in its plant genome research

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Sorting out the Science of Stickiness

By | February 4, 2002

For many animals, to stick is to survive. Nature's varied adhesive structures and substances enable animals to stick to inert substrates, to each other, and even to parts of themselves. An octopus uses its suckers to grab food, a gecko coordinates its highly specialized feet to ascend a wall, and a mussel emits strings of proteinaceous goo to hold fast to a rock in times of turbulence. Insects coordinate their jumping motions by choreographing contact of leg parts. Some species can even multitas

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Alzheimer Research Joins the Mainstream

By | January 21, 2002

In 1977, Alzheimer Disease researcher Peter Davies spoke with some neurologists about his work, which he began a year earlier. "One [neurologist] said, 'This is lovely..., but why don't you work on something that is more common?'" he remembers. Davies says the comment epitomized scientists' then-dismissive attitude about Alzheimer Disease (AD). When Alois Alzheimer first identified this memory-destroying disorder in 1907, his patient was a 50-year-old woman; a very early age, as researchers now

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Frontlines

January 21, 2002

As blood-letting, the aspirin of medieval medicine, fell out of favor, so too did its boon companion, the leech. In the past two decades, however, the slimy, segmented worms squirmed back into hospitals as a treatment for the venous congestion that can occur after reconstructive surgery. Recently, a University of Wisconsin team created a mechanical replacement designed to work as well or better at clearing dead, clotted blood from reattached tissues. The prototype leech sucks blood from a 3-mm w

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Governing the 'Dark Side of Science'

By | January 21, 2002

Recent bioterrorist attacks may not only influence the content of future research studies, but the way those studies are reviewed, monitored, and published. On Dec. 6, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced several new initiatives intended to encourage basic research in bioterrorism-related areas. The initiatives, which expand on old programs and introduce new ones, will not be funded by "new" money, but rather via a reallocation of the $81.6 million in NIAID bioterr

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