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20Science CiteTrack: Science News This Week

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  • SharifahNR
    Apr 14, 2011
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      Science Online News Summaries Alert: 332 (6027)
      Science/AAAS Webinar: Probing Cancer Pathways: How Chemical Biology
      Can Inform Oncology Research &n-dash; Wednesday, May 3, 2011, at 12 noon
      Eastern Time (9 a.m. PT, 4 p.m. GMT)

      During normal growth and differentiation, maintaining the appropriate
      homeostatic balance in a cell is achieved through the interaction of
      small molecule chemical modulators with proteins involved in cellular
      signaling. Researchers take advantage of these regulatory interactions
      to study signaling pathways, using small molecules both as tools to
      interrogate a pathway and as precursors for drug development. This
      webinar provides an overview of how chemical biology can be used in
      various model systems to advance our understanding of basic cell
      signaling mechanisms and aid in the discovery of novel small molecule
      therapeutics for cancer.
      Ask your questions live during the event!
      Register TODAY: www.sciencemag.org/webinar
      Produced by the Science/AAAS Business Office and sponsored by Promega.

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      SCIENCE News Summaries, Volume 332, Issue 6027
      dated April 15 2011, is now available at:
      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/vol332/issue6027/news-summaries.dtl
      A copy of the "SCIENCE News This Week" section has been appended below.


      SCIENCE News This Week
      April 15 2011, 332 (6027)


      NEWS OF THE WEEK



      This Week's Section

      Follow the links below for a roundup of the week's top stories in science, or download a PDF of the entire section.


      Around the World

      In science news around the world this week, a gene that causes bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics has been found in drinking water in New Delhi, Japan is expanding the evacuation zone around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, U.S. officials have reached an agreement on spending, funding for public agricultural research in sub-Saharan Africa is increasing, and scientists now have two x-ray lasers—almost.

      Newsmakers

      This week's Newsmakers are classical archaeologist Friederike Fless, who last month became the first woman to head the German Archaeological Institute, and Baruch Blumberg, winner of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1976 for discovering the hepatitis B virus and inventing a vaccine against it, who died on 5 April at age 85.

      Random Sample

      In a monthlong exhibition beginning 3 May at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London called "Beyond Entropy," eight interdisciplinary groups explore the second law of thermodynamics in the context of sound, electricity, heat, and gravitational potential energy. And this week's numbers quantify the height of Japan's 11 March tsunami and the percentage of U.S. universities where the average faculty salary decreased in 2010–2011.

      FINDINGS



      Cosmic Feast May Be Producing Universe's Biggest Blast


      Caffeine Fiend? Could Be A Gene Thing


      Sex After a Field Trip Yields Scientific First


      NEWS & ANALYSIS



      Research Holds Up Well In Final 2011 Agreement

      Jeffrey Mervis
      When the dust settles on the spending bill—negotiated just an hour before the federal government would have shut down last week—scientists can breathe more easily. U.S. research agencies were largely spared from deep cuts in current spending. The legislation, up for a vote as Science went to press, would trim $38.5 billion from 2010 budget levels. But it marks a major retreat from the $61 billion cut approved in February by the Republican-led House of Representatives that would have hobbled basic research across the federal government and ravaged energy and climate programs.

      Fukushima Radiation Creates Unique Test of Marine Life's Hardiness

      Sara Reardon
      When radiation readings from water monitors around the leaking Fukushima Daiichi plant began rising this month, spiking at 7.5 million times Japan's legal limit for radioisotopes in public water, government agencies reacted sharply. For the first time in history, the Japanese government set a limit on radiation in seafood and began screening fish. India and China recently banned imports of food products from certain areas of Japan, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began conducting its own radiation screens on seafood imports. Monitoring food makes sense, according to radiation geochemists, but they warn against overreacting to the perceived risk of ocean contamination.

      Outlook Brightens for Plastic Solar Cells

      Robert F. Service
      For years the efficiency of polymer-based solar cells scraped along at a feeble 3% to 5%. But things have improved markedly over the past 2 years. In early April, Mitsubishi Chemical reportedly set a new efficiency record, producing organic solar cells with a 9.2% conversion efficiency. Meanwhile, three other companies—Konarka Technologies, Solarmer Energy Inc., and Heliatek—are now reporting cells with efficiencies greater than 8%. Many researchers in the field are confident that the figure could soon top 10% and possibly reach 15%.

      Chinese Neurosurgeons Quietly Push for Easing of Brain Operation Ban

      Wang Xiao*
      Concerned about reports that many psychiatric patients were not benefiting from psychosurgery, or were even suffering irreparable harm, China's health ministry issued a regulation in 2008 that limits brain surgery to a few conditions for which it is recognized as a last resort. Experimental applications, such as stereotactic ablation for schizophrenia, are forbidden. The problem, scientists say, is the absence of international guidelines. At a World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery meeting last month, researchers and neurosurgeons sought to clarify which brain operations for psychiatric conditions should be allowed and which should be experimental or off-limits. The consensus forged at the meeting—the first such forum since the 1970s—may encourage the health ministry to revise its psychosurgery guidelines. But unscrupulous clinics are casting a shadow on the practice in China.
      * Wang Xiao is a writer in Shanghai.
      * Wang Xiao is a writer in Shanghai.

      Tennessee House Bill Opens Door to Challenges to Evolution, Climate Change

      Jeffrey Mervis
      Last week, the Tennessee House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved an innocuous-sounding measure allowing science teachers in the state to help their students "develop critical thinking skills." The legislation, which specifically mentions the teaching of "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning," is expected to become law next month after the state Senate embraces an identical version and the governor signs it. Scientists say HB 368, and the corresponding Senate bill, SB 893, would actually have the opposite effect on critical thinking by introducing nonscientific beliefs into science classes and by undermining the principles of scientific inquiry.

      A Sign of New Particles or General Restlessness?

      Adrian Cho
      Last week, news spread that scientists in the United States may have spotted a bit of matter unlike any seen before. But even as they contemplate the implications, physicists are taking the result with a grain of salt. The supposed signal could be an experimental artifact, caution the researchers who found it. And if a new particle is there, physicists may have to perform theoretical contortions to explain why they didn't spot it before.

      Frightening Risk of Marfan Syndrome, and Potential Treatment, Elucidated

      Jennifer Couzin-Frankel
      The biggest risk for patients with Marfan syndrome, a genetic condition that weakens connective tissue throughout the body, including in the lungs, the skeleton, and the cardiovascular system, is a ruptured aorta, which can kill them. Five years ago, a blood pressure drug called losartan was found to virtually erase the risk of aneurysms. In this week's issue of Science, on pages 358 and 361, researchers parse the molecular cascades that lead to aneurysms in Marfan syndrome, shedding light on why losartan looks so promising and potential avenues for the development of new treatments.

      NEWS FOCUS



      Uncertain Future for Tropical Ecology

      Craig Simons*
      Paraecologists—locals trained to do the nuts and bolts of ecology research—are an example of excellent science on a shoestring. By hiring and training locally, scientists can boost productivity and cut costs, all while supporting conservation. Over the past 2 decades, paraecologists have discovered thousands of species and churned out hundreds of peer-reviewed articles. Although most paraecologists start with little science knowledge, some have gone on to earn advanced degrees and take key positions in national forest management and conservation. But paraecologists may be a vanishing breed; money woes are threatening the concept of local, long-term hiring for field research.
      * Craig Simons is a writer in Beijing.
      * Craig Simons is a writer in Beijing.

      Do Jumping Genes Spawn Diversity?

      Gretchen Vogel
      In theory, the behavior of inbred mice reared and housed under seemingly identical conditions should be as similar as their perfectly matched genes. But, to the frustration of researchers, the rodents don't act like exact copies of each other. Of the possible explanations for such differences, researchers have found evidence for a particularly unexpected one: jumping genes in the brain. Formally known as transposable elements, they are small bits of genetic material that can move around the genome. They have generally been seen as troublemakers; when they jump, they can land in places that cause mutations or otherwise skew the expression of important genes. But some researchers argue that such changes might have a positive side, helping to generate diversity in brain cells. Such diversity might be important in brain development, they think, providing the raw material for building a flexible organ able to react to new environments and situations. And because a transposable element creates a slightly different genome each time it moves, it could explain why genetically "identical" mice aren't identical after all. It's far from a proven idea, but it has started to gain attention among geneticists who study jumping genes.

      Asteroid Model Shows Early Life Suffered a Billion-Year Battering

      Life was hard on early Earth, but geologists and planetary scientists at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference reported evidence of even more biotic stress several billion years ago: a prolonged pummeling by huge asteroids that would have dwarfed the one that killed off the dinosaurs. The known impact beds suggest that there was a large impact every 40 million years on average in the Archean eon—the time from 3.8 billion years ago to 2.5 billion years ago—not every 500 million years, as has lately been the case.

      Prime Science Achieved at Asteroid

      A crippled Hayabusa spacecraft barely made it back to Earth last June, and it returned only a wisp of a sample from Itokawa, the asteroid it visited in 2005. But at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Japanese researchers announced that the little spacecraft that could has scored a solid scientific success. Detailed analyses of the sample—the first ever returned from an asteroid—have confirmed the oft-contentious claim that the most common type of meteorite falls to Earth from a class of asteroids long cloaked by a mysterious discoloration.

      Snapshots From the Meeting

      Richard A. Kerr
      Snapshots from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference include briny flows and new crater-forming meteorite hits on Mars.

      A Badly Battered Vesta Awaits Dawn's Arrival

      Richard A. Kerr
      Planetary scientists are waiting eagerly for July, when the Dawn spacecraft is due to arrive at asteroid Vesta. The asteroid belt's second-most-massive body has had quite a complicated life. It melted early on to form an iron core and rocky mantle and crust, spewed volcanic outpourings, and then suffered a massive impact. Now, a group of impact modelers argued at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference that the object that crashed into Vesta and reshaped its geology was eight times as massive as previously thought.
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      Science/AAAS Webinar: Probing Cancer Pathways: How Chemical Biology
      Can Inform Oncology Research &n-dash; Wednesday, May 3, 2011, at 12 noon
      Eastern Time (9 a.m. PT, 4 p.m. GMT)

      During normal growth and differentiation, maintaining the appropriate
      homeostatic balance in a cell is achieved through the interaction of
      small molecule chemical modulators with proteins involved in cellular
      signaling. Researchers take advantage of these regulatory interactions
      to study signaling pathways, using small molecules both as tools to
      interrogate a pathway and as precursors for drug development. This
      webinar provides an overview of how chemical biology can be used in
      various model systems to advance our understanding of basic cell
      signaling mechanisms and aid in the discovery of novel small molecule
      therapeutics for cancer.
      Ask your questions live during the event!
      Register TODAY: www.sciencemag.org/webinar
      Produced by the Science/AAAS Business Office and sponsored by Promega.
       




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