Patrick Cox's Tech Digest

DNA Motor ‘Walks’ Along Nanotube, Transports Tiny Particle

December 20, 2013

Purdue University researchers have published results in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, revealing their success in creating a molecular “motor” from DNA material, then using that motor to transport a nanoparticle. Early research shows these DNA-driven “motors” can be controlled and switched on and off. This means there’s potential to transport disease-treating agents and someday change how drugs are delivered to parts of the body that need them.

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Water Seems to Flow Freely on Mars

December 19, 2013

Dark streaks found on the surface of Mars suggest that there may be groundwater flowing from deep under the planet’s crust. But further exploration of these “special regions” is off limits to the average spacecraft because scientists don’t want to contaminate their samples. Where there is water, there may be life.

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Scientists Discover Double Meaning in Genetic Code

December 19, 2013

Since the genetic code was deciphered in the 1960s, scientists have assumed that it was used exclusively to write information about proteins. New findings revealed that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages. One describes how proteins are made, and the other instructs the cell on how genes are controlled.

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Booster of Red Blood Cells Synthesized for First Time

December 19, 2013

A red-blood-cell-stimulating protein hormone known as erythropoietin (EPO) is usually naturally produced by the kidneys. As a therapeutic agent, it’s used to treat anemia resulting from cancer treatment or kidney disease. Incidentally, it was also the “performance enhancing” biological agent of choice for some unsavory championship-level cyclists. Now, however, EPO has been created from scratch by a team at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

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Chikungunya Virus Spreads in the Americas

December 18, 2013

The chikungunya virus has recently been identified on the Caribbean island of St. Martin. Eight years ago the virus, first identified in Africa, spread to Asia, where it infected millions. Only rarely fatal, chikungunya brings the possibility of debilitating joint pain, and if the virus were to jump on a large scale from the Caribbean to the continental US, it could have crushing consequences.

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Scientists Improve Human Self-Control Through Electrical Brain Stimulation

December 18, 2013

Scientists from the University of Texas and the University of California San Diego have demonstrated that “self-control” increases when doing tasks if a specific region of the brain receives a small, imperceptible electrical charge. This research, published recently in The Journal of Neuroscience, could promise new avenues for future treatments.

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Exercise Just as Good as Drugs in War on Major Disease

December 18, 2013

Most people think that victims of strokes and other debilitating ailments can only turn to the power of medication while they recover. However, according to a new study, exercise could be just as effective as some of the best drugs.

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Study: Earth Was Warmer in Roman, Medieval Times

December 17, 2013

“A Swedish study reveals that the Earth was warmer during Roman and Medieval times than it is today, challenging the view that humans have an impact on climate. Scientists debate whether the difference is related to solar activity or normal climate fluctuations…”

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How Connectedness—Not Distance—Predicts the Spread of a Pandemic

December 17, 2013

“Distance isn’t the most important factor to consider when trying to determine how quickly a virus pandemic, for example, could spread between two cities. In some cases, it’s easier for a virus to travel from New York City to Chicago than it is for that virus to make it to Buffalo. New research on airports, travel density, and true distance between two points reveals why…”

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Breakthrough Device Quickens Exercise Recovery and Leads to Better Workouts

December 17, 2013

“A new device designed by two Stanford University biologists promises not only quicker recovery from rigorous exercise routines, but faster compounding of exercise benefits over time. This breakthrough new device could change how the process of thermoregulation is treated in everything from professional sports (several pro teams are already using the device) to standard exercise guidelines…”

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