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Latest Washington University Stories

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2009-12-18 14:00:00

Nanotechnology has already made it to the shelves of your local pharmacy and grocery: nanoparticles are found in anti-odor socks, makeup, makeup remover, sunscreen, anti-graffiti paint, home pregnancy tests, plastic beer bottles, anti-bacterial doorknobs, plastic bags for storing vegetables, and more than 800 other products. How safe are these products and the flood of new ones about to spill out of labs across the world? A group of researchers at Washington University is devising instruments...

2009-12-09 01:18:33

An international group of anthropologists offers a new theory about the diffusion of maize to the Southwestern United States and the impact it had. Published the week of Dec. 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study, co-authored by Gayle Fritz, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues*, suggests that maize was passed from group to group of Southwestern hunter-gatherers. These people took advantage...

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2009-12-07 11:25:00

Washington University physicists are closing in on the origin of cosmic rays A thin rain of charged particles continually bombards our atmosphere from outer space. The mysterious particles were first detected 100 years ago but until 10 years ago when a new type of telescope began to come online physicists weren't sure where the "cosmic rays" came from or how they were generated. They suspected the particles were accelerated by supernova shockwaves, but suspicions aren't proof. Imaging...

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2009-12-07 08:43:09

A mathematical model of a simple circuit in a chicken brain raises fundamental questions about our understanding of neural circuitry The Web site Neuroanthropology asks visitors to complete this quote, "One of the difficulties in understanding the brain is "¦". In addition to the typical facetious remarks, such as "so few of us seem to have one" and "the damn thing is smart enough to realize what you are doing, and contrary enough to change the way it reacts just to spite...

2009-12-05 14:28:43

New study shows research participants are wary of high-paying experiments The findings from a study published this month by the journal Social Science and Medicine have implications for informed consent in human subjects research and the debate over research participation incentives. Cynthia Cryder, assistant professor of Marketing at the Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis, is the lead author of the study, "Informative Inducement: Study Payment as a Signal of Risk". Her...

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2009-11-01 14:58:52

A gold nanocage covered with a polymer is a smart drug delivery system In campy old movies, Lucretia Borgia swans around emptying powder from her ring into wine glasses carelessly left unattended. The poison ring is usually a confection of gold filigree holding a cabochon or faceted gemstone that can be broken to empty the ring's contents. It is invariably enormous "” so large it is rather odd nobody seems to notice it. Lucretia would have given her eyeteeth for the "smart capsule"...

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2009-09-23 07:08:03

Sometimes to see something properly, you have to stand farther back. This is true of Chuck Close portraits where a patchwork of many small faces changes into one giant face as you back away. It may also be true of the frogs of Central America, where the pattern of extinctions emerges clearly only at a certain spatial scale. Everyone knows that frogs are in trouble and that some species have disappeared, but a recent analysis of Central American frog surveys shows the situation is worse than...

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2009-09-10 07:48:35

Alexis Webb enters a small room at Washington University in St. Louis with walls, floor and ceiling painted dark green, shuts the door, turns off the lights and bends over a microscope in a black box draped with black cloth. Through the microscope, she can see a single nerve cell on a glass cover slip glowing dimly. The glow tells her the isolated nerve cell is busy keeping time. Webb, a graduate fellow in the Neuroscience Ph.D. Program, working with Erik Herzog, Ph.D., associate professor...

2009-08-11 10:17:06

Accumulating carbon and nitrogen stable isotope data from fossil humans in Europe is pointing towards a significant shift in the range of animal resources exploited with the spread of modern humans into Europe 40,000 years ago.Both the preceding Neandertals and the incoming modern humans regularly and successfully hunted large game such as deer, cattle and horses, as well as occasionally killing larger or more dangerous animals. There is little evidence for the regular eating of fish by the...

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2009-07-17 12:35:00

A lunar geochemist at Washington University in St. Louis says that there are still many answers to be gleaned from the moon rocks collected by the Apollo 11 astronauts on their historic moonwalk 40 years ago July 20. And he credits another WUSTL professor for the fact that the astronauts even collected the moon rocks in the first place. Randy L. Korotev, Ph.D., a research professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences, has studied lunar samples and their...