One more time Monday i here right on schedule. Science talk returns to brighten your day with selections from science sites across the globe. New discoveries, new takes on old knowledge, and other bits of news are all available for the perusing in today's information world. Today's tidbits include scientists distinguish individual molecular for the first time, Mars rover Opportunity reveals new geological mystery, ultrasound may enhance the skin penetration of drugs,X-rays unravel the mysterious degradation of a Van Gogh painting, radiation enhanced chips could lead to low cost security imaging systems, and Little Ice Age led to migration of island hopping Arctic foxes.
Pull up that comfy chair and grab a spot on the porch. There is always plenty of room for everyone. Another session of Dr. Possum's science education, entertainment, and potluck discussion is set to begin.
Scientists using a procedure called noncontact atomic force microscopy were able to distinguish individual molecular bonds for the very first time.
The individual bonds between carbon atoms in such molecules differ subtly in their length and strength. All the important chemical, electronic, and optical properties of such molecules are related to the differences of bonds in the polyaromatic systems. Now, for the first time, these differences were detected for both individual molecules and bonds. This can increase basic understanding at the level of individual molecules, important for research on novel electronic devices, organic solar cells, and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). In particular, the relaxation of bonds around defects in graphene as well as the changing of bonds in chemical reactions and in excited states could potentially be studied.As the Mars rover, Opportunity, continues to explore the planetary surface a new geological mystery has arrived.
Spherical objects concentrated at an outcrop Opportunity reached last week differ in several ways from iron-rich spherules nicknamed "blueberries" the rover found at its landing site in early 2004 and at many other locations to date.The road to pain free vaccination and other drug delivery may be on the horizon as scientists report the use of ultrasound to aid drug penetration of the skin.
Opportunity is investigating an outcrop called Kirkwood in the Cape York segment of the western rim of Endeavour Crater. The spheres measure as much as one-eighth of an inch (3 millimeters) in diameter. The analysis is still preliminary, but it indicates that these spheres do not have the high iron content of Martian blueberries.
The researchers tested their new approach using pig skin and found that it boosted permeability much more than a single-frequency system. First, they delivered the ultrasound waves, then applied either glucose or inulin (a carbohydrate) to the treated skin. Glucose was absorbed 10 times better, and inulin four times better. “We think we can increase the enhancement of delivery even more by tweaking a few other things,” (researcher) Schoellhammer says.Over the course of years the color of some flowers in the Van Gogh painting, Flowers in a blue vase, has changed from bright yellow to a grey-orange.
Such a system could be used to deliver any type of drug that is currently given by capsule, potentially increasing the dosage that can be administered. It could also be used to deliver drugs for skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis, or to enhance the activity of transdermal patches already in use, such as nicotine patches.
Ultrasound transdermal drug delivery could also offer a noninvasive way for diabetics to control their blood sugar levels, through short- or long-term delivery of insulin, the researchers say. Following ultrasound treatment, improved permeability can last up to 24 hours, allowing for delivery of insulin or other drugs over an extended period of time.
To identify what had happened, the museum took two microscopic paint samples – each only a fraction of a millimetre in size - from the original painting and sent them to (researcher) Janssens for a detailed investigation. The scientists studied the samples using powerful X-ray beams at the ESRF and at DESY's PETRA III, revealing their chemical composition and internal structure at the interface between varnish and paint. To their surprise, they did not find the crystalline cadmium sulphate compounds that should have formed in the oxidation process. "It emerged that the sulphate anions had found a suitable reaction partner in lead ions from the varnish and had formed anglesite," explains DESY scientist Gerald Falkenberg. Anglesite (PbSO4) is an opaque compound that was found nearly everywhere throughout the varnish. "The source of the lead probably is a lead-based siccative that had been added to the varnish," adds Falkenberg.The X-ray vision of Superman comics may be on the horizon as radiation enhanced chips offer possible imaging with radiation amounts lower than cellphones.
Unlike X-ray technology which penetrates the body, the chip is designed to see only through materials such envelopes, clothing, or luggage, stopping at the human skin. Because the chip works with radiation levels that are lower than those of a cell phone, it circumvents health concerns. And the chip can also produce a more accurate depiction of concealed objects, an advantage over common metal detectors which aren't very specific or sensitive.Homeland Security must be happy about this news.
An Ice Age allowed the colonization of Iceland by Arctic foxes when an ice bridge formed.
While Iceland’s approximately 10,000 strong arctic fox population is not at risk, the researchers added that increasing isolation from the rest of the Arctic, caused by warmer temperatures and a lack of sea ice, could further differentiate the island’s population from their mainland relatives.
Ancient arctic foxes also crossed sea ice during previous ice ages to reach Iceland well before human settlement in the 9th Century. Warmer temperatures then melted the sea ice and isolated the ancient foxes on the island before the Little Ice Age reconnected Iceland to the mainland.
The Little Ice Age saw temperatures plummet in the 16th to 19th Centuries across large parts of Europe and North America in particular, and rivers such as the Thames were frequently frozen enough to support ice skating and winter festivals.
Knucklehead's Photo of the Week
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Other Worthy Stories of the Week
The Salton Sea saga
Extreme life forms might be able to survive on eccentric exoplanets
Public maps out an A to Z of galaxies
A bit of world history is better understood with the examination of a Roman military camp dating back to the conquest of Gaul
Researchers develop a rapid method to measure carbon footprints
Facebook boosts voter turnoutBoiling water without bubbles
How bees decide what to be
Solar and wind energy may stabilize the power grid
Physicists induce high temperature superconductivity in a semiconductor using Scotch tape
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