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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 12:08 EDT

Latest National Academy of Sciences Stories

2013-07-10 19:30:57

A collaboration of biologists, engineers, and material scientists at Brown University has found that jagged edges of graphene can easily pierce cell membranes, allowing graphene to enter the cell and disrupt normal function. Understanding the mechanical forces of nanotoxicity should help engineers design safer materials at the nanoscale. Researchers from Brown University have shown how tiny graphene microsheets — ultra-thin materials with a number of commercial...

2013-07-10 19:27:25

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center report the identification of a new cellular source for an important disease-fighting protein used in the body's earliest response to infection. The protein interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) keeps viruses from replicating and stimulates the immune system to produce other disease-fighting agents. Neutrophils, the newly identified cellular source of the protein, are the major component of the pus that forms around injured tissue. The...

2013-07-09 11:39:47

New quasi-experimental research finds major impact of coal emissions on health A high level of air pollution, in the form of particulates produced by burning coal, significantly shortens the lives of people exposed to it, according to a unique new study of China co-authored by an MIT economist. The research is based on long-term data compiled for the first time, and projects that the 500 million Chinese who live north of the Huai River are set to lose an aggregate 2.5 billion years of...

2013-07-09 11:32:02

Carbon capture and storage has been heralded as a new technology for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In an effort to help slow climate change, human-produced carbon dioxide (CO2) is captured at point-source emitters like power stations and sequestered in underground rocks. In porous rocks like sandstone, the CO2 is trapped in tiny spaces or pores, which act like a sponge and soak up the injected fluid. In 2000, one of the first commercial examples of this technology was conducted in...

2013-07-02 00:04:17

Findings a step toward engineering advanced medical treatments Knowing virtually everything about how the body’s cells make transitions from one state to another – for instance, precisely how particular cells develop into multi-cellular organisms – would be a major jump forward in understanding the basics of what drives biological processes. Such a leap could open doors to far-reaching advances in medical science, bioengineering and...

2013-06-27 12:45:55

A new study helps explain how parts of the brain maintain their delicate balance of zinc, an element required in minute but crucial doses, particularly during embryonic development. The study, led at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) by Mark Messerli in collaboration with scientists from the University of California, Davis, shows that neural cells require zinc uptake through a membrane transporter referred to as ZIP12.. If that route is closed, neuronal sprouting and growth are...

2013-06-25 12:33:45

Several studies have shown that how much parents say to their children when they are very young is a good predictor of children’s vocabulary at the point when they begin school. In turn, a child’s vocabulary size at school entry strongly predicts level of success throughout schooling even into high school and college. A new study by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania now shows that early vocabulary improvement is likely to have more to do with the “quality” of the...

2013-06-25 10:49:25

A new chapter in the exploration of microbial life A research team led by Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has discovered that marine microbes are adapted to very narrow and specialized niches in their environment. This may explain why so few of these microbes—usually less than 1%—can be grown for study in the laboratory. By utilizing new genetic tools, the researchers’ new ability to read and interpret genetic information from the remaining 99% will be pivotal in detecting and...

2013-06-11 13:29:45

Thermophiles, humans share ancient machinery used in cell division Biologists from Indiana University and Montana State University have discovered a striking connection between viruses such as HIV and Ebola and viruses that infect organisms called archaea that grow in volcanic hot springs. Despite the huge difference in environments and a 2 billion year evolutionary time span between archaea and humans, the viruses hijack the same set of proteins to break out of infected cells. In...

2013-06-11 13:25:51

Although scientists have known since the middle of the 19th century that the tropics are teeming with species while the poles harbor relatively few, the origin of the most dramatic and pervasive biodiversity on Earth has never been clear. New research sheds light on how that pattern came about. Furthermore, it confirms that the tropics have been and continue to be the Earth's engine of biodiversity. By examining marine bivalves (two-shelled mollusks including scallops, cockles and...