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Latest Brown University Stories

Springy Tendons Key To Frogs' Amazing Leaps
2011-11-17 04:08:54

The secret to frogs´ superlative jumping lies in their tendons. Researchers at Brown University, filming frogs jumping at 500 frames per second with special X-ray technology, show that the frog's tendon stretches as it readies its leap and then recoils, much like a spring, when the frog jumps. The finding could explain how other animals are exceptional leapers. Results appear in Biology Letters. Some species of frogs and many other animals are able to jump far beyond what appear to be...

2011-11-07 11:44:27

MAP kinase resolved well enough to spot potentially unique drug target In many pharmaceutical company and university laboratories, scientists are looking closely at kinase complexes because the enzymes play key roles in essential cell functions. By taking unusual steps to examine a kinase complex, researchers at Brown University and the National Institutes of Health have found a sought-after prize: an unprecedentedly detailed description of its structure complete with a rare location...

Skin And Eyes Use Similar Mechanism For Sun Protection
2011-11-04 05:45:22

A group of scientists at Brown University in Rhode Island discovered that the skin and eyes use the same molecular mechanism to protect themselves from the UV light. The discovery was reported in the journal Current Biology. The scientists discovered that the cells that create melanin - melanocytes - contain rhodopsin, a photosensitive receptor used in the eye to detect light. They also discovered that the body produces melanin to protect the cells much quicker than previously suspected....

Researchers Complete Mollusk Evolutionary Tree
2011-10-27 04:47:06

Mollusks have been around for so long (at least 500 million years), are so prevalent on land and in water (from backyard gardens to the deep ocean), and are so valuable to people (clam chowder, oysters on the half shell) that one might assume scientists had learned everything about them. “Here´s this big, diverse group of animals, and we don´t know how they were related to each other,” said Casey Dunn, an evolutionary biologist at Brown University who specializes in...

Image 1 - Land Animals Suffered Catastrophic Losses After Permian Period
2011-10-26 06:31:51

The cataclysmic events that marked the end of the Permian Period some 252 million years ago were a watershed moment in the history of life on Earth. As much as 90 percent of ocean organisms were extinguished, ushering in a new order of marine species, some of which we still see today. But while land dwellers certainly sustained major losses, the extent of extinction and the reshuffling afterward were less clear. In a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B,...

Progress Towards Developing Plants That Accommodate Climate Change
2011-10-07 08:47:21

The genetic basis of a plant's adaptability to climate is identified The ability to promote agricultural and conservation successes in the face of rapid environmental change will partly hinge on scientists' understanding of how plants adapt to local climate. To improve scientists' understanding of this phenomenon, a study in the Oct. 7, 2011 issue of Science helps define the genetic bases of plant adaptations to local climate. The National Science Foundation partly funded the study,...

Southern California's Tectonic Plates Revealed In Detail
2011-10-07 03:52:56

Rifting is one of the fundamental geological forces that have shaped our planet. Were it not for the stretching of continents and the oceans that filled those newly created basins, Earth would be a far different place. Yet because rifting involves areas deep below the Earth's surface, scientists have been unable to understand fully how it occurs. What is known is that with rifting, the center of the action lies in the lithosphere, which makes up the tectonic plates and includes the crust...

2011-10-06 11:26:25

Researchers at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island have developed a way to extract information about gene expression from fertile human egg cells without hurting them. Expendable ℠polar bodies´ in the cells reflect much the same information as the eggs themselves, researchers have determined. Given the stakes of in vitro fertilization, prospective parents and their doctors need the best information they can get about the eggs they will extract,...

2011-10-05 22:15:14

Blacks refuse shots more often, are offered shots less often At the beginning of the 2011-12 flu season, a new study finds that the proportion of nursing home patients who get a shot remains lower than a national public health goal and that the rate is lower for blacks than for whites. The disparity persists even within individual nursing homes, said researchers at Brown University, who investigated the disparity and some of the reasons behind it. "One reason you would potentially see a...

Image 1 - Mercury Has Widespread Flood Volcanism
2011-09-29 13:23:32

NASA announced on Thursday that its MESSENGER spacecraft has found new evidence that flood volcanism has been widespread on Mercury. New data from the spacecraft reveals that 6 percent of Mercury's total surface is covered by volcanic plains. "Analysis of the size of buried ℠ghost' craters in these deposits shows that the lavas are locally as thick as 2 kilometers" (or 1.2 miles), James Head of Brown University, the lead author of one of the reports published in Science, said in a...


Word of the Day
humgruffin
  • A terrible or repulsive person.
Regarding the etymology of 'humgruffin,' the OED says (rather unhelpfully) that it's a 'made-up word.' We might guess that 'hum' comes from 'humbug' or possibly 'hum' meaning 'a disagreeable smell,' while 'gruffin' could be a combination of 'gruff' and 'griffin.'