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Haute culture

By | July 30, 2010

As a young student in 1989, fashionista Suzanne Lee hated science. After years of suffering through labs and tests in high school, the 19 year old Brit fled for art school, soon snuggling into a world of silk, seams, and buckles. But in 2003, while researching a book on future technologies of fashion, Lee bumped into a scientist at an art gallery in London. The chance meeting led to a discussion on the fashion industry's lack of sustainability, and how science, once Lee's arch-nemesis, might be


'Identical' cells? Not so much

By | July 29, 2010

Genetically identical cells may be far more different than previously believed. Published this week in linkurl:Science,; researchers find striking variation in levels of gene expression among individual, genetically identical E. coli, seemingly the result of simple chance. "The paper is quite rich," said linkurl:Sanjay Tyagi,; a molecular biologist at New Jersey Medical School who was not involved in the research. "People thi


Ocean life support dwindling

By | July 28, 2010

Phytoplankton, which are responsible for half of the world's primary production and are the basis of all marine ecosystems, have been declining for more than 100 years, perhaps the result of rising sea temperatures, according to a study published in this week's Nature -- a cause for concern about the health of the Earth's oceans. A number of marine diatom cells, animportant group of phytoplankton in the oceans.Image: Harry Taylor,courtesy of Nikon Small world"It is troubling," said marine scien


Tasty transgenics

By | July 28, 2010

AquaBounty Technologies made big news when they announced they were getting close to approval for their fast-growing transgenic salmon, but this isn't the only transgenic project with its eyes on our food supply.


Q&A: Do we need stem cell bank?

By | July 27, 2010

Among stem cell policy changes instituted since U.S. President Barack Obama took office, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) made a linkurl:controversial move; to not renew funding of a key stem cell bank established at the linkurl:WiCell Institute; in Wisconsin. Many scientists worry that without a national center to distribute human embryonic stem cell lines to researchers, the availability, cost and quality of cell line


Top 7 papers in neuroscience

By | July 27, 2010

#1 Neurons complete hippocampus loop There's a new, important function for a once-obscure cell population in the brain: CA2 pyramidal neurons, a subset of cells in the hippocampus, form a link between electrical inputs and outputs in the hippocampus. V. Chevaleye et al., "Strong CA2 pyramidal neuron synapses define a powerful disynaptic cortico-hippocampal loop," linkurl:Neuron,;,f1000m,isrctn 66:560-72, 2010. linkurl


Totipotent art

By | July 23, 2010

Some biologists see the beauty in their work. More than a few artists draw inspiration from the natural world. But stem cell researcher and artist linkurl:Ariel Ruiz i Altaba; successfully integrates the worlds of art and science, creating biology-inspired art while keeping up with the daily rigors of scientific research. "Eclipse" from Ruiz i Altaba'sPossible to Forget seriesImage: linkurl:Ariel Ruiz i Altaba; "Mostly for someone to be prof


Insect gut has mind of its own

By | July 22, 2010

In at least one species of caterpillar, the gut appears to slide freely back and forth, untethered to the surrounding tissue - an unusual mechanism that might help the insect digest food while it crawls up stems in search of its leafy meals.__Manduca sexta__ is a tobacco plant predator and amodel organism in neurophysiologyImage:Salzbrot via Wikimedia Commons"What they're describing here, as far as I know, has never been described in any other animal," said zoologist linkurl:Michael LaBarbera,;h


Video: When peat goes POP

By | July 22, 2010

When nature calls, and kingdom Plantae is whipped into a reproductive fervor, peat moss doesn't merely release its spores -- it explodes them. For the first time ever, researchers using ultra high speed video have recorded in exquisite detail the volatile burst of spore capsules in several species of __Sphagnum__ moss, and they've noted quirks of fluid dynamics, called "vortex rings," previously associated only with animals or machines. (For example, when squid and jellyfish propel themselves th


Meet 100-year-old salamander

By | July 21, 2010

A blind, cave-dwelling amphibian appears to live for more than 100 years, an inexplicable feat that may eventually (when explained) provide insights into aging in other species. The "human fish", or olm. Scientific Name: Proteus anguinusImage: Yann VoituronBut first, scientists have to unravel the mystery of how the species -- known as "human fish" -- achieves such longevity. "We cannot, at this time, say how this animal manages to survive such a long time," said eco-physiologist linkurl:Yann


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