Body keeping tally of past drug use

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John McLean, above left, with graduate student Cody Goodwin, and John Wikswo, right, are leading a team of researchers looking for biological signatures that indicate past exposures to cocaine, alcohol, and other drugs of abuse. “In essence, we are hitting these cells with a hammer to hear how they ring and to determine if those that have been exposed to a drug ring differently,” says Wikswo. (Credit: Steve Green)

VANDERBILT—An research team is trying to determine if an individual’s white blood cells retain chemical memories of exposure to drugs—like cocaine and alcohol—that can be read reliably and unambiguously.
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Earth & Environment - Nov 12, 2009 - 0 Comments

Watching glaciers slide—in a freezer

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Neal Iverson worked with a team of engineers to develop a machine that can simulate how glaciers slide across their beds. At the bottom of the machine is a hydraulic press that can create pressures equal to those beneath a glacier 1,300 feet thick. (Credit: Bob Elbert)

IOWA STATE—A walk-in freezer in Iowa may help scientists understand how glaciers react to climate change and contribute to rising sea levels. Continue…

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Health & Medicine - Nov 12, 2009 - 0 Comments

Clearing away insomnia’s mental fog

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Researchers have discovered that sleep deprivation in mice affects an important molecular pathway in the hippocampus, a region of the brain known to be important for memory and learning. Their findings could present a new approach to treating the memory and learning deficits of insomnia.

PENN—Deficits caused by sleep deprivation, including an inability to focus, learn, or memorize, may be reversible by reducing a specific enzyme that builds up in the brain’s hippocampus. Continue…

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Science & Technology - Nov 11, 2009 - 0 Comments

Virtual crashes sound like the real thing

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Whether metal or plastic, objects made up of thin shells have a characteristic way of making noise that can be simulated by a computer to synthesize sound for animated films and virtual reality. As virtual environments become more realistic and immersive, the researchers point out, computers will have to generate sounds that match the behavior of objects in real time. (Credit: James Lab/Cornell University)

CORNELL—When you kick over a garbage can, it doesn’t make a pure, musical tone. That’s why the sound is so hard to synthesize. Now computer scientists have developed a practical method to generate the crashing and rumbling sounds of objects made up of thin “harmonic shells.” Continue…

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