- -07-17-05 Ice Shelf Collapse Reveals Extreme Life Forms (MSNBC News)
"The collapse of a giant ice shelf in Antarctica has revealed a thriving ecosystem half a mile below the sea."
"Despite near freezing and sunless conditions, a community of clams and a thin layer of bacterial mats are flourishing in undersea sediments."
"Since light could not penetrate the ice or water, these organisms do not use photosynthesis to make energy. Instead, these extreme creatures get their energy from methane, Domack said today." 7-05
- -09-10-05 Genes Suggest Brain Still Evolving (Scientific American)
"The size and complexity of the human brain sets us apart from other creatures. Now results published in the current issue of the journal Science suggest that the evolution of our gray matter is ongoing."
"The research, led by Bruce T. Lahn of the University of Chicago, focused on two genes called microcephalin and ASPM."
"The microcephalin variant arose about 37,000 years ago; the ASPM one just 5,800 years ago, the team reports." 9-05
- -10-10-05 Glowing Mosquitoes to Fight Malaria (BBC News)
"A protein that makes the sex glands and sperm of male mosquitoes glow could help reduce malaria infection rates, UK scientists say."
"They used the protein to tag male mosquito larvae, the genes of which can be manipulated to make them infertile."
"As malaria is spread only by female mosquitoes, the scientists hope sending such sterile males into the wild could help kill off infective populations." 10-05
- -11-17-05 Gorilla Using Tools (CBS News)
"A young gorilla in a Congo sanctuary is smashing palm nuts between two rocks to extract oil, surprising and intriguing scientists who say they have much to learn about what gorillas can do, and about what it says about evolution."
"It had been thought that the premeditated use of stones and sticks to accomplish a task like cracking nuts was restricted to humans and the smaller, more agile chimpanzees." 9-05
- -11-30-05 French Doctors Transplant a Face (CBS News)
"French doctors on Wednesday claimed a world-first partial face transplant, saying a nose, lips and chin were grafted onto a 38-year-old woman disfigured by a dog bite. " 11-05
- -12-09-05 "Mirror Neurons" Associated with Communication Impairment (Scientific American)
"More than one in 500 children have some form of autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control. All autistic children suffer from an impaired ability to communicate and relate to others, but some of them are able to socially interact to a greater degree than their peers. A recent study of a group of these so-called high functioning autistics suggests the neurological basis for their social impairment."
"Neuroscientist Mirella Dapretto of the University of California Los Angeles and her colleagues surveyed the brains of 10 autistic children and an equal number of nonautistic children as they watched and imitated 80 different faces displaying either anger, fear, happiness, sadness or no emotion."
"The autistic children differed from their peers in only one respect: each showed reduced activity in the pars opercularis of the inferior frontal gyrus--a brain region located near the temple." 12-05.
- -12-09-05 Dog Genome Decoded to Help Study Human Diseases (Scientific American)
"Because each breed represents an isolated group with discrete traits that can be linked to distinct genes--and because different breeds suffer from some of the same maladies that afflict humans, such as allergies or certain types of cancer--the dog's genome should help isolate the genetic roots of such diseases, proving dogs' utility to humanity once more." 12-05.
- -12-11-05 Bacteria Adapt by Swapping Genes (Scientific American)
"Bacteria, like all organisms, have to make a living in an ever changing world. They face shifting climates, varying food supplies and--horror of horrors--antibiotics. How do they adapt? According to the results of a new study, simply by copying the successful innovations of their relatives."
"The team revealed that the bacteria do this by using a process known as horizontal gene transfer, in which a cell passes genetic information to another cell that is not its offspring." 12-05
- -12-11-05 Ice Core Extends Climate Record 650,000 Years (Scientific American)
"Researchers have recovered a nearly two-mile-long cylinder of ice from eastern Antarctica that contains a record of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane--two potent and ubiquitous greenhouse gases--spanning the last two glacial periods. Analysis of this core shows that current atmospheric concentrations of CO2--380 parts per million (ppm)--are 27 percent higher than the highest levels found in the last 650,000 years." 12-05
- -12-11-05 NASA Looking to Savant for Answers (Guardian Unlimited)
Kim Peek "knows 9,000 books off by heart; he can direct people around US cities from maps he has memorised years ago; and he has total recall of the dates of all major world events."
"Kim - now 54 - was born with a malformed cerebellum, at the base of his brain, and lacks a corpus callosum, the thick bundle of nerves that normally connects the brain's two hemispheres. As a child he was assumed to be suffering from severe mental retardation." 12-05
- -12-11-05 New Theory Rejects Single-Ancestor Doctrine (Scientific American)
"Instead of one universal evolutionary tree, picture a three-trunk stand sharing a communal root system. A new theory of cellular evolution published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences rejects Charles Darwin’s Doctrine of Common Descent—the idea that all organisms are derived from a single primordial ancestor. Instead, Carl Woese of the University of Illinois-Champaign proposes that the three cell types that comprise life on earth arose from three forms of proto cells that swam together in a dense genetic soup, freely sharing their DNA."
"Indeed, such DNA swapping was the driving force in the evolution of unicellular organisms, Woese argues. Biologists have traditionally credited this so-called horizontal gene transfer with just a minor role in cellular evolution. But Woese asserts that only by sharing their genes—or evolutionary inventions, as he calls them—could simple cellular organizations have given rise to more complex cell designs. In the beginning, he says, primitive cells 'did not have stable genealogical records.' But eventually, these lines—including the three that spawned all extant life forms—reached what Woese terms the "Darwinian threshold," the point at which a lineage matures to genetic stability. Here the cellular organization became fixed, leading to a traceable cell line via reproduction. 'Crossing a Darwinian threshold leads to a more solidified, organized cellular design,' he explains." 12-05
- -12-16-05 Gene Found for White or Brown Skin (MSNBC News)
"Finding a gene behind skin pigmentation may be a big step in science, but researchers caution it has no implications for understanding race." 12-05
- -08-01-05 Possible 10th Planet Found (International Herald Tribune)
"Astronomers announced Friday that they had found a lump of rock and ice that is larger than Pluto and the farthest known object in the solar system."
"The discovery will probably rekindle debate over the definition of what is a planet and whether Pluto still merits the designation. The new object - as yet unnamed, but temporarily known as 2003 UB313 - is now 9 billion miles, or almost 14.5 billion kilometers, away from the Sun, or 97 times as far away as the Earth and about three times Pluto's current distance from the Sun. Its 560-year elliptical orbit brings it as close as 3.3 billion miles. Pluto's orbit ranges between 2.7 billion and 4.6 billion miles." 7-05
- Astronomers Discuss Changing Earth's Orbit (CNN)
Describes a plan, which must be put into place within 3.5 billion years, to move the Earth's orbit gradually away from the sun as the Sun becomes hotter. Talk about planning ahead... 2-01
- Human Cloning Advanced for Treating Disease (BBC News)
"South Korean scientists have cloned 30 human embryos to obtain cells they hope could one day be used to treat disease."
"The resulting embryos were then grown up to produce so-called stem cells that can divide into any tissue in the body."
"The aim is to use the cells to replace ones that have failed in patients with problems such as Alzheimer's disease." 2-4.
- Senate Leader Supports Stem Cell Research (ABC News)
"In exclusive interview with 'GMA,' Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist explained his decision to break with President Bush for the first time, and throw his support behind a bill that would expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research."
"Frist said only embryos that would otherwise be discarded should be used for the research. Those that could be adopted or implanted would not be used."
"Frist is not the first Republican to support stem cell research. Republican Sen. Arlen Spector of Pennsylvania, who suffers from advanced stage Hodgkins lymphoma, supports the research, as does former first lady Nancy Reagan." 7-05
- X-Ray Technology to Improve View of Universe (BBC News)
"The researchers have successfully tested a small prototype which if scaled up could be a million times more powerful than today's observatories."
"Professor Cash said a fully scaled-up version of the design could resolve a region the size of a dinner plate on the surface of the Sun." 8-04