Science News - April 26th

Cereal Mothers: Babies' Sex Linked to Moms' Breakfast Calories
British researchers say a new study shows that would-be moms who skip breakfast are more likely to have girls than boys.

Want a son? Pack on the calories. Biologist Fiona Mathews of the University of Exeter in England and her colleagues surveyed 740 first-time mothers on their pre-pregnancy eating habits and found that 56 percent of those on high-calorie diets had sons, compared with 45 percent of those on leaner menus.But it wasn't only calories that contributed; specific foods also appear to play a role, say researchers. "Prior to pregnancy, breakfast cereal, but no other item, was strongly associated with infant sex," the researchers write in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. "Women producing male infants consumed more breakfast cereal than those with female infants."The reason is a mystery, but Mathews speculates that glucose may be key. This type of sugar, converted by the human body into energy, is a by-product of the breakdown of carbohydrates such as those in breakfast cereal. Women who do not eat breakfast tend to have low levels of glucose, and other studies have shown that glucose enhances the growth of male fetuses in vitro.

The Defense Department today launched a five-year, Army-led cooperative effort to leverage cutting-edge medical technology to develop new ways to assist servicemembers who’ve suffered severe, disfiguring wounds during their wartime service.

The newly established Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, known by the acronym AFIRM, will serve as the military’s operational agency for the effort, Dr. S. Ward Casscells, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference. A key component of the initiative is to harness stem cell research and technology in finding innovative ways to use a patient’s natural cellular structure to reconstruct new skin, muscles and tendons, and even ears, noses and fingers, Casscells said.

It's far from the first time a researcher has enlisted the help of his own family or kids, but MIT's Deb Roy's latest endeavor looks to be a bit more ambitious than most, as he's aiming to do nothing short of understand how children learn language. To do that, Roy and his wife installed 11 video cameras and 14 microphones throughout their house to record just about every moment of their son's first three years. That, obviously, also required a good deal of computing power, which came in the form of a temperature-controlled data-storage room consisting of five Apple Xserves and a 4.4TB Xserve RAID (you can guess why Apple's profiling 'em), along with an array of backup tape drives and robotic tape changes (and an amply supply of other Macs, of course). While the project is obviously still a work in progress, they have apparently already developed some new methods for audio and video pattern recognition, among other things, and it seems they'll have plenty of work to sift through for years to come, with the project expected to churn out some 1.4 petabytes of data by the end of year three.

Ancient Praying Mantis Found in Amber
Julian Ryall in Tokyofor National Geographic News
April 25, 2008
An 87-million-year-old praying mantis found encased in amber in Japan may be a "missing link" between mantises from the Cretaceous period and modern-day insects.
The fossil mantis measures 0.5 inch (1.4 centimeters) from its antennae to the tip of its abdomen.

Although the forelegs, head, and antennae appear to be well preserved, the wings and abdomen have been badly crushed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Clicky Web Analytics