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Science: Auto-tuned

By | February 5, 2010

It's Carl Sagan like you've never heard him: his digitized, remixed voice sounds more like something emanating from a radio tuned to a pop music station than from a TV playing a public television documentary. Footage of the scientist in his award-winning PBS series linkurl:Cosmos;http://www.hulu.com/cosmos mingles with stunning computer animations depicting complex scientific concepts. This is all part of a novel project called linkurl:Symphony of Science,;http://www.symphonyofscience.com/index.

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RNA repeats protect DNA

By | February 4, 2010

Repeat untranscribed DNA sequences are generally thought to be genetic junk at best, harmful at worst, but in ribosomes they are essential to repairing DNA damage, according to a study published this week in Science. Ribosomal protein complex Image: Wikimedia Commons Ribosomal DNA (rDNA) codes for the RNA that makes up a major component of ribosomes, the site of protein synthesis. Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) comprises 80% of the RNA found in a typical cell and is highly conserved from bacteria to hum

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Sperm motility secrets revealed

By | February 4, 2010

Reproductive biologists have identified the mechanism that triggers sperm's race to the egg, reports a study in Cell today. Stained sperm cells(Blue, nucleus; red, mitochondria; green, Hv1protein localized in the sperm flagellum) Image: Yuriy KirichokBy measuring the electrical current passing through the sperm cell membrane, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, identified a channel that releases a flood of protons from a sperm cell, initiating its trip up the fallopian

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Mapping methylation

By | February 3, 2010

With the Human Genome Project largely complete, scientists are turning to variation in the epigenome and beginning to map chemical modifications of DNA that affect gene expression. Two recent studies that provide the first comprehensive maps of human DNA methylation -- one of the most commonly studied epigenetic modifications -- and a new initiative that aims to generate 1,000 more are a testament to this new focus in genetics research. Image: Wikimedia commons, NationalHuman Genome Research In

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Quantum photosynthesis

By | February 3, 2010

Biologists have traditionally left quantum theory to physicists. But the complicated interactions between matter and energy predicted by quantum mechanics appears to play a role in photosynthesis, according to a study published this week in Nature -- affecting how energy from the sun makes its way to a cell's reaction centers before being converted to chemical energy that powers cellular functions. Cryptophye algae from the ocean(species Rhodomonas)Image: Dr. Tihana Mirkovic,University of Toron

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Peer review trickery?

By | February 2, 2010

Leading stem cell researchers are accusing some scientists of abusing the peer-review system, writing unreasonable or obstructive reviews and delaying the publication of high quality science. Image: Wikimedia commonsTwo researchers -- Robin Lovell-Badge, who spoke in a personal capacity, and Austin Smith, from the University of Cambridge -- linkurl:told the BBC;http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8490291.stm that sometimes scientists might write negative reviews of the work or request ad

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Stimulus funds harbor hidden costs

By | February 2, 2010

When the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) doled out $10 billion to the National Institutes of Health and $3 billion to the National Science Foundation last year, many hailed it as a triumph for the US research enterprise. But the money, it turns out, comes with strings attached: keeping up with ARRA's administrative requirements is costing institutions thousands in increased overhead and may be compromising or delaying other initiatives and projects at the nation's leading research

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News in a nutshell

By | February 1, 2010

Pharma research jobs on the chopping blockAnnouncements of job loss in big pharma continue, with the UK press saying that GlaxoSmithKline will soon announce 4,000 layoffs, nearly half in R&D. linkurl:(The Guardian);http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/health/article7010418.ece AstraZeneca said last week it would cut 8000 jobs, 3,500 of them in R&D, and noted plans to outsource more of its research and trim the number of disease areas on which the company focuses. linku

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NIH gets $1 bil boost in 2011 budget

By | February 1, 2010

A $1 billion boost for NIH announced in the 2011 budget this morning (Feb 1) has quelled fears that US President Barack Obama's proposed non-security discretionary spending freeze would decrease budgets at federal science agencies. Image: Revisorweb via WikimediaCommonsNumbers released from the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) tell of slight increases in the budgets of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science, and the Nationa

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$10 billion for vax research

By | January 29, 2010

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said today (January 29) that they will donate $10 billion over the next 10 years to develop vaccines and deliver them to the world's poorest countries. The donation, announced at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, is the foundation's largest contribution to vaccine research and distribution, more than doubling the $4.5 billion sum it has given over the last five years. Image: Wikimedia commonsWith the money, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates hopes to ra

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