Science News - March 4th, 2008

Sex differences extend into the Brain
What was once speculation is now being confirmed by scientists: the brains of women and men are different in more ways than one.
Discoveries by scientists over the past 10 years have elucidated biological sex differences in brain structure, chemistry and function. “These variations occur throughout the brain, in regions involved in language, memory, emotion, vision, hearing and navigation,” explains Larry Cahill, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine.

Promising New Material For Capturing Carbon Dioxide From Smokestacks
Scientists and engineers in Georgia and Pennsylvania are reporting development of a new, low-cost material for capturing carbon dioxide from the smokestacks of coal-fired electric power plants and other industrial sources before the notorious greenhouse gas enters the atmosphere.

HIV Breakthrough: Protein That Fights Immunodeficiency Identified
A Canada-U.S. research team has solved a major genetic mystery: How a protein in some people's DNA guards them against killer immune diseases such as HIV. In an advance online edition of Nature Medicine, the scientists explain how the protein, FOX03a, shields against viral attacks and how the discovery will help in the development of a HIV vaccine.

Avalanches On Mars Photographed By NASA Spacecraft
A NASA spacecraft in orbit around Mars has taken the first ever image of active avalanches near the Red Planet's north pole. The image shows tan clouds billowing away from the foot of a towering slope, where ice and dust have just cascaded down. More information on: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MRO/main/index.html

We can see in the image a root growing vertically and a root hair cell emerging horizontally.

How Roots Find A Route Around Obstacles In The Soil
Scientists at the John Innes Centre in Norwich have discovered how roots find their way past obstacles to grow through soil. The discovery, described in the forthcoming edition of Science, also explains how germinating seedlings penetrate the soil without pushing themselves out as they burrow.

Enormous Jurassic Sea Predator, Pliosaur, Discovered In Norway
Natural History Museum in Oslo, Norway has announced the discovery of one of the largest dinosaur-era marine reptiles ever found – an enormous sea predator known as a pliosaur estimated to be almost 15 meters (50 feet) feet long.

Liquid Water Found Flowing On Mars? Not Yet
Liquid water has not been found on the Martian surface within the last decade after all, according to new research. The finding casts doubt on the 2006 report that the bright spots in some Martian gullies indicate that liquid water flowed down those gullies sometime since 1999.

Key To Life Before Its Origin On Earth May Have Been Discovered
An important discovery has been made with respect to the mystery of "handedness" in biomolecules. Researchers led by Sandra Pizzarello, a research professor at Arizona State University, found that some of the possible abiotic precursors to the origin of life on Earth have been shown to carry "handedness" in a larger number than previously thought.
Key Molecular Basis Of Cystic Fibrosis Identified Through Computer Simulations
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have identified a key molecular mechanism that may account for the development of cystic fibrosis, which about 1 in 3000 children are born with in the US every year. The findings add new knowledge to understanding the development of this disease and may also point the way to new corrective treatments.

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