news 2011



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Environment - Chemistry - 23.12.2011
Go to work on a Christmas card: UK’s wrapping paper and festive cards could provide energy to send a bus to the moon more than 20 times
If all the UK's discarded wrapping paper and Christmas cards were collected and fermented, they could make enough biofuel to run a double-decker bus to the moon and back more than 20 times, according to the researchers behind a new scientific study. The study, by scientists at Imperial College London, demonstrates that industrial quantities of waste paper could be turned into high grade biofuel, to power motor vehicles, by fermenting the paper using microorganisms.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 20.12.2011
New insight into why locusts swarm
New insight into why locusts swarm
Learning is when you change your behaviour in the light of new experience, and this is what a locust needs to do when it gets caught up in the crowd." —Dr Swidbert Ott from the University of Cambridge Department of Zoology New research has found that a protein associated with learning and memory plays an integral role in changing the behaviour of locusts from that of harmless grasshoppers into swarming pests.

Physics - Chemistry - 30.11.2011
Controlled disorder -- scientists find way to form random molecular patterns
Scientists at The University of Nottingham have discovered a way to control how tiny flat molecules fit together in a seemingly random pattern. The researchers have been studying molecules which resemble tiny rhombus/diamond shaped tiles, with a side length of around 2 nanometres — 2 billionths of a metre.

Chemistry - Life Sciences - 23.11.2011
Spider know-how could cut future energy costs
Spider know-how could cut future energy costs
Scientists at Oxford University and The University of Sheffield have demonstrated that natural silks are a thousand times more efficient than common plastics when it comes to forming fibres. A report of the research is published this week in the journal Advanced Materials . The finding comes from comparing silk from the Chinese silkworm ( Bombyx mori ) to molten high density polyethylene (HDPE) - a material from which the strongest synthetic fibres are made.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 16.11.2011
Schizophrenia linked to memory process
Genetic mutations that cause schizophrenia could be linked to systems in the brain responsible for learning and memory. University researchers from Edinburgh have identified changes to genes - genetic mutations - in patients with schizophrenia who had not inherited the condition. The study, which was carried out with Cardiff University, showed that these mutations occurred among a set of proteins that play a key role in memory function.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 14.11.2011
Transporter 5: solving an ancient mystery of the cell
Transporter 5: solving an ancient mystery of the cell
The discovery by scientists in Cambridge and Alberta of a fifth adaptor protein - a tiny and vital component of many cells -will lay the foundations for a greater understanding of genetic disorders. This fundamental research could impact on the study of diseases where certain molecules fail to get trafficked correctly." —Dr Jennifer Hirst The people who work there call it the Titanic.

Mechanical Engineering - Chemistry - 20.10.2011
Workings of molecular motor revealed
Workings of molecular motor revealed
The structure and function of a 'molecular motor' critical to the functioning of human organs and, when malfunctioning, implicated in cancer, kidney failure, and osteoporosis, has been revealed in unprecedented detail. An international team, led by chemists from Oxford University, has used highly sensitive mass-spectrometry to piece together a picture of how the motor, the energy-converting protein adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthase, interacts with the fatty acids that form the membranes around our cells.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 17.10.2011
Faulty molecular switch can cause infertility or miscarriage
Scientists have discovered an enzyme that acts as a 'fertility switch', in a study published in Nature Medicine today. High levels of the protein are associated with infertility, while low levels make a woman more likely to have a miscarriage, the research has shown. The findings have implications for the treatment of infertility and recurrent miscarriage and could also lead to new contraceptives.

Health - Chemistry - 10.10.2011
Everest expedition suggests nitric oxide benefits for patients in intensive care
The latest results from an expedition to Mount Everest that looked at the body's response to low oxygen levels suggest that drugs or procedures that promote the body's production of a chemical compound called nitric oxide (NO) could improve the recovery of critically ill patients in intensive care. Oxygen is required by all larger organisms, including humans, to survive.

Chemistry - Health - 06.10.2011
Understanding lethal synthesis
Understanding lethal synthesis
The chemical reaction which makes some poisonous plants so deadly has been described by researchers at the University of Bristol in a paper published today in Angewandte Chemie. Professor Adrian Mulholland in the School of Chemistr y and colleagues successfully analyzed why a particular toxic product originating from sodium fluoroacetate (a colourless salt used as a rat poison) is formed in an enzyme.

Chemistry - Economics - 30.09.2011
Recipe for
Recipe for “perfect plastic”
Researchers find recipe for "perfect plastic” Researchers have solved a long-standing problem that could revolutionise the way new plastics are developed. The breakthrough, involving researchers at Durham University and the University of Leeds, will allow experts to create the 'perfect plastic' with specific uses and properties by using a high-tech 'recipe book'.

Chemistry - Life Sciences - 20.09.2011
Organisms avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
Organisms avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
Scientists have discovered how living organisms – including humans – avoid poisoning from carbon monoxide generated by natural cell processes. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that can prove fatal at high concentrations; the gas is most commonly associated with faulty domestic heating systems and car fumes, and is often referred to as 'the silent killer'.

Chemistry - Life Sciences - 12.09.2011
Scientists take first step towards creating ’inorganic life’
Lee Cronin [mp4] Scientists at the University of Glasgow say they have taken their first tentative steps towards creating 'life' from inorganic chemicals potentially defining the new area of 'inorganic biology'. Professor Lee Cronin, Gardiner Chair of Chemistry in the College of Science and Engineering, and his team have demonstrated a new way of making inorganic-chemical-cells or iCHELLS.

Chemistry - Physics - 16.08.2011
Carbon nanotube structures changed by ’attack’ from within, researchers discover
A team of researchers has shown for the first time that chemical reactions at the nano-level which change the structure of carbon nanotubes can be sparked by an 'attack' from within. The discovery challenges previous scientific thinking that the internal surface of the hollow nanostructures is chemically unreactive, largely restricting their use to that of an inert container or a 'nano-reactor' inside which other chemical reactions can take place.

Chemistry - Physics - 08.08.2011
Scientists pioneer new method for nanoribbon production
PA 239/11 Research involving scientists from The University of Nottingham is pioneering a new method of studying and making molecules. The work, reported , could pave the way for the production of nanomaterials for use in a new generation of computers and data storage devices that are faster, smaller and more powerful.

Environment - Chemistry - 05.08.2011
Molecular study shows unexpected effects of toxin
Scientists from the University of Birmingham studying the effects of the widely-used pesticide fenitrothion, have discovered unexpected cell damage in a common freshwater fish, roach, exposed to the toxin. With colleagues from the universities of Exeter and Sussex the researchers exposed male roach to the pesticide for 28 days then studied the metabolites in their cells.

Chemistry - Environment - 18.07.2011
New light on otter mystery
New light on otter mystery
The solitary and mysterious lives of British otters are being uncovered by Cardiff scientists - thanks to help from the public. Otters were already understood to use scent as their main means of communication. However, little was known about what information was communicated or the social functions of the scent.

Health - Chemistry - 14.07.2011
Diesel particles pose heart risks
Tiny chemical particles emitted by diesel exhaust fumes could raise the risk of heart attacks, research has shown. University scientists have found that ultrafine particles produced when diesel burns are harmful to blood vessels. They can increase the chances of blood clots forming in arteries, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

Chemistry - Physics - 01.07.2011
DNA cages 'can survive inside living cells'
DNA cages 'can survive inside living cells'
Scientists at Oxford University have shown for the first time that molecular cages made from DNA can enter and survive inside living cells. The work, a collaboration between physicists and molecular neuroscientists at Oxford, shows that artificial DNA cages that could be used to carry cargoes of drugs can enter living cells, potentially leading to new methods of drug delivery.

Chemistry - Life Sciences - 01.07.2011
Pigment patterns from the prehistoric past
Pigment patterns from the prehistoric past
An international collaboration led by researchers at The University of Manchester has for the first time revealed chemical traces of pigments in bird, fish and squid fossils, some over 100 million years old. Publishing their findings in Science , the researchers have been able to show a remarkable relationship between copper and pigment within exceptionally preserved feathers and other soft tissues.
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