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Do ES Stem Cells Prevent Heart Disease?

The promise of stem cells, whether embryonic or adult, is in their power to differentiate into any type of somatic cell.  Although adult stem cells have racked up an impressive number of therapeutic successes,* embryonic (ES) stem cells have only been promised to do so – until now.  In Science Oct. 8,1 Cornell scientists coaxed […]

Great Telescopes Converge on Kepler’s Supernova

The last supernova in our galaxy seen from earth was described October 9, 1604, by Johannes Kepler, a few years before the invention of the telescope.  Now, on the 400th anniversary of that observation, three of NASA’s “Great Observatory” orbiting telescopes – the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope and the Hubble Space […]

Preventing Bird Divorce: Mates Take Different Flights, Arrive Together

A shorebird named the black-tailed godwit presents a puzzle to biologists: “arrival synchrony” (leave it to scientists to give big names to simple concepts).  The males and females of this bird mate for life, but like some humans, live apart for months at a time.  This presents two puzzles: how do they stay apart without […]

How Are Radioactive Dates Determined?

To most of us, the practice of radioactive dating seems like a highly-technical, incomprehensible skill that nevertheless (we are told) yields absolute ages of things.  We don’t know exactly how they arrive at the results, but are led to trust them because very smart people get their answers using hard science with extremely accurate equipment.  […]

Little Tyrannosaur with “Proto-Feathers” Found

National Geographic News wasted no time; a day before a report of another Chinese dinosaur with feathery-like structures was published in Nature,1 they already had color artwork on their news page, trumpeting the title, “T. Rex Cousin Had Feathers.”  Yet Nature itself seemed ho-hum about the announcement.  It was neither the cover story, nor mentioned […]

Modern Cosmology Is Clueless, Astronomy Columnist Says

A letter to the editor in the latest (November) issue of Astronomy tipped us off to something we missed in the July issue.  The subscriber wrote, Kudos to Bob Berman for bringing up the slipperiness of modern cosmology in ‘Theory chaotic’ (July 2004).  He must be one of the first to do so.  As he […]

Professors’ Job Is to Fight Creationism?

According to evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, interviewed in Current Biology1 Oct. 5, Once I learned how to be a professor, I needed new challenges.  It’s our responsibility as American evolutionists to combat creationism, which is far more entrenched here than in the UK. 1Jerry Coyne, Q&A, Current Biology Volume 14, Issue 19, 5 October 2004, […]

Biomimetics Dept: Wear a Pine Cone

EurekAlert says the British are developing new clothes using pine cone technology.  The fabric automatically adjusts to temperature by opening up or closing down, keeping the wearer comfortable in all environments.  “We’ve drawn upon nature,” said one designer of this “fundamental change in clothing.” Makes you wonder how a pine cone figured this out.  The […]

How Plants Send Email: Update

href=”crev07.htm#plant17″>07/13/2001 headline), we reported the startling finding that plants talk to themselves in email.  What’s new in this field?  Is there really an interplant intranet?     In the Oct. 5 issue of Current Biology,1 Norman, Frederick and Sieburth report evidence that a signal molecule named BYPASS1 is sent from the roots to the tips […]

Dating of Crater Rays Needs Overhaul

A dating method relied on by planetary geologists needs drastic revision, according to Planetary Science Research Discoveries (PSRD) scientists at the University of Hawaii.  Crater rays are the streaks that extend radially from impact craters.  Previously, planetary scientists assumed they darken over time under bombardment from the solar wind and can be used as indicators […]

Burnt Bridges, Brownian Ratchets, and Self-Propelled Motors Keep Skin Young Looking

Rock climbers and cavers are familiar with mechanical devices called ascenders that enable them to climb ropes safely and easily.  Ascenders slide up the rope in one direction, but latch onto it tightly when pulled the other direction.  Now imagine the ascender by itself, hanging on the rope, in a flurry of winds blowing in […]

Neandertal Promoted to Fully Human

The myth of the brutish, subhuman Neandertal is apparently almost dead.  Science1 Oct. 1 showed a picture of him in a business suit in an article entitled, “Dressed for Success: Neandertal Culture Wins Respect.”  Michael Balter writes, “respect is growing for Neandertals” as evidence mounts that they made jewelry, wore clothing, and survived a variety […]

Your Eyes Have Automatic Light Meters

Every pupil knows that pupils constrict in bright light and dilate in dim light, but how?  Physiologists had assumed the retina signalled the iris muscles, but now it appears there is an independent mechanism in the iris itself, at least in birds, and probably in mammals, too.  A report in EurekAlert summarizes a finding from […]

Genome of Diatom Reveals Unanticipated Complexity

“Let’s play 20 questions.”: “OK, I’m game.  Animal, vegetable or mineral?” “Yes.” “I give up.” The answer is: a diatom.  Some of the most abundant one-celled organisms in the sea, and essential for regulating the global carbon cycle, diatoms seem to be part animal, vegetable and mineral.  Scientists aren’t sure how to classify them.  They […]

Cosmologist Squirms at Thought of Fine-Tuning

Lawrence Krauss (Case Western Reserve U, Ohio) meant to talk about prospects for distinguishing between sources of so-called dark energy, the mysterious force that appears to be accelerating the expansion of the universe.  But in the process, he opened his soul and revealed feelings, dreams, and nightmares.  First, he states the problem: Dark energy is […]
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