sporkme writes: A DARPA-funded research project at UCLA has wrapped up a set of animal trials testing the effects of inhalation of the brain chemical orexin A, a deficiency of which is a characteristic of narcolepsy. From the article:
The monkeys were deprived of sleep for 30 to 36 hours and then given either orexin A or a saline placebo before taking standard cognitive tests. The monkeys given orexin A in a nasal spray scored about the same as alert monkeys, while the saline-control group was severely impaired. The study, published in the Dec. 26 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience, found orexin A not only restored monkeys' cognitive abilities but made their brains look "awake" in PET scans. Siegel said that orexin A is unique in that it only had an impact on sleepy monkeys, not alert ones, and that it is "specific in reversing the effects of sleepiness" without other impacts on the brain.
Researchers seem cautious to bill the treatment as a replacement for sleep, as it is not clear that adjusting brain chemistry could have the same physical benefits of real sleep in the long run. The drug is aimed at replacing amphetamines used by drowsy long-haul military pilots, but there would no doubt be large demand for such a remedy thanks to its apparent lack of side-effects.
sporkme writes: "Physicists from the University of Koblenz in Germany claim to have violated special relativity using quantum tunneling to move microwave photons more than three feet "instantaneously." This would mean that the particles exceeded the speed of light by traversing the space between two prisms at a speed higher than 186,000 miles per second.
sporkme writes: "A new nanocoating material developed by a team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has the lowest level of reflectivity ever seen, or not seen in this case. The amount of light reflected by the composite of silica nanorods and aluminum nitride is almost the same amount reflected by air. From the article:
Schubert and his coworkers have created a material with a refractive index of 1.05, which is extremely close to the refractive index of air and the lowest ever reported. Window glass, for comparison, has a refractive index of about 1.45.
Using a technique called oblique angle deposition, the researchers deposited silica nanorods at an angle of precisely 45 degrees on top of a thin film of aluminum nitride, which is a semiconducting material used in advanced light-emitting diodes (LEDs). From the side, the films look much like the cross section of a piece of lawn turf with the blades slightly flattened.
Suggested applications include increased efficiency in solar cells, more energy-efficient lighting and advances in quantum mechanics. No word yet on invisibility cloaks."
sporkme writes: "A scientist was frustrated when the compound she was working with destroyed her sample of cancer cells. Further research revealed that the substance was surprisingly well suited as a cancer treatment. From the article:
"I made a calculation error and used a lot more than I should have. And my cells died," Schaefer said.
A colleague overheard her complaining. "The co-author on my paper said,' Did I hear you say you killed some cancer?' I said 'Oh', and took a closer look."
They ran several tests and found the compound killed "pretty much every epithelial tumor cell lines we have seen."
Lab test results on hapless mice have resulted in the destruction of colon tumors without making the mice sick. The PPAR-gamma compound is expected to be especially useful in combating treatment-resistant types of cancer."
sporkme writes: "An Australian study has found a link between antisocial behavior and specific genes, independent of parents' emotional influence.
"Our data shows that marital conflict is not a major culprit," said epidemiologist Nick Martin, from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.
"Rows have often been blamed for ratbag behaviour but we've got no evidence to suggest that they are the problem."
Researchers, including several from the US, studied 1,045 pairs of twins and their children to see whether the link between parental fighting and kids' conduct problems was genetic or environmental.
They found that children of an identical twin had the same levels of behavioural problems regardless of whether it was their parent or their parent's identical sibling that had marital rows.
The study was published in the journal Child Development, which is available by subscription."
NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured the image of the 1,490-mile-diameter (2,400-kilometer-diameter) cloud on December 29, 2006. The cloud's presence fits predictions that Titan has a "methane cycle" similar to Earth's water cycle, with bodies of liquid methane evaporating and forming clouds that rain material back down on the surface.
Titan is the only moon that is known to have an atmosphere of significant composition, which in this case is almost entirely nitrogen. The cloud is about half the size of the United States, and the images are astounding."
They mixed molten tin, heated to about 300C, with pieces of a ceramic material called barium titanium — often used as an insulator in electronic components. The particles were each about one-tenth of a millimeter in diameter and were dispersed evenly through the tin using an ultrasonic probe.
The work was done at universities in the United States and Germany."