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Lost in space

By | January 1, 2009

Few people possess a perfect sense of direction. Some need a GPS just to find their wits. Then there's Patient 1. Patient 1, as Giuseppe Iaria and his colleagues refer to her in an online article in Neuropsychologia(doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.08.021), doesn't even try to drive because she gets turned around in her own neighborhood. Family and friends accompany her almost every

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Smells funny?

By | January 1, 2009

Scanning electron micrograph of the head of a female Anopheles gambiae mosquito, indicating the olfactory appendages (antennae, maxillary palps and proboscis) Credit: Courtesy of LJ Zwiebel, colorization by Dominic Doyle / Vanderbilt University" />Scanning electron micrograph of the head of a female Anopheles gambiae mosquito, indicating the olfactory appendages (antennae, maxillary p

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Baghdad hack

By | December 1, 2008

A dust cloud in Iraq." />A dust cloud in Iraq. It was over 50°C (130°F) outside when Mark Lyles slipped on his flak jacket, helmet and goggles, grabbed his N95 dust mask, and climbed aboard a Blackhawk helicopter at the US Central Command Zone in Iraq four years ago. The prop blades kicked up a fine grit that would hang in the air for days. Lyles knew that these particles, finer than talcum

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Better late than never

By | December 1, 2008

Alfred Russel Wallace" />Alfred Russel Wallace One hundred and fifty years ago, British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace wrote an essay describing some of his ideas on the origin of new species and survival of the fittest species in an environment. Knowing that Charles Darwin had been kicking around some similar ideas, Wallace sent him a copy so the two might compare notes. Darwin, who indeed had for

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The crabby entrepreneur

By | December 1, 2008

John King in a diving dry suit preparing to plunge from the deck of the Viking Rover into the Unga Strait (circa 1976). Credit: Courtesy of John King" />John King in a diving dry suit preparing to plunge from the deck of the Viking Rover into the Unga Strait (circa 1976). Credit: Courtesy of John King The Bering Sea was angry that day. The Viking Rover, an Alaskan fishing boat, was pitching and yawing in violent swells. John King, an

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The isotope diet

By | December 1, 2008

Seventeen years ago, a pair of climbers in the Italian Alps stumbled on a leathery corpse hunched in a pool of melting ice. At first they thought the body was fresh, but the copper ax, wooden bow and quiver of 14 arrows spoke of a man from another time. The iceman, affectionately dubbed Ötzi, was the oldest frozen body (5,300 years) ever found. It would take almost

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A frog's foe

By | November 1, 2008

A strawberry poison frog at La Selva. Credit: Courtesy of Pete Carmichael" />A strawberry poison frog at La Selva. Credit: Courtesy of Pete Carmichael On a humid summer afternoon, Steven Whitfield, a wildlife researcher at Florida International University, leaves the extensive trail system at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica and wades deeper into the rainforest. "I'll watch out for snakes for you," he says.

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Drug wars

By | November 1, 2008

Temperatures outside Nomura bank in London climbed into the high summertime registers as six biotech executives in dark suits filed into windowless rooms. The men were immediately segregated into two groups and told they had two days to turn a university spin-out into a billion dollar public company. Oh, and the two groups were competing against each other in a biotech "wargame," and wo

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Immunize thyself

By | November 1, 2008

Do these school kids hold the secret to a malaria vaccine? Credit: Courtesy of Arlene Dent" />Do these school kids hold the secret to a malaria vaccine? Credit: Courtesy of Arlene Dent Mud-brick, thatch-roofed school houses in small villages that cling to rugged mountainsides in Papua New Guinea - this was the topic of conversation between two malaria researchers at a Philadelphia restaurant during a

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Morph mystery

By | November 1, 2008

Some proteins may morph from one structure to another - in this case, a cube-like structure can switch to a tetrahedal shape. Credit: SOURCE: Eileen Jaffe / Fox Chase Cancer Center" />Some proteins may morph from one structure to another - in this case, a cube-like structure can switch to a tetrahedal shape. Credit: SOURCE: Eileen Jaffe / Fox Chase Cancer Center For years, Fox Chase Cancer Center researcher Eileen Jaffe's findings on the behavior of

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