The Birmingham News (Birmingham, Ala.: daily  circulation 145,655)
"Young scientists compete in Olympiad at  UAB"
February 19, 2011

 

Nearly 200 students from 13 schools in central Alabama  competed in 23 categories to take home medals and bragging rights in the Science  Olympiad Saturday at UAB. The two top teams will go up against regional winners  later in the year during the state competition. Charlotte Mae Kent and Meredith  Hubbard, both of Birmingham, and Evan Colmenares of Huntsville served as  olympiad directors. They secured funding and grants from Alabama Power, Vulcan  Materials and the Alabama Section of the American Chemical  Society. They found student volunteers to help with registration,  information and judging. They also set up a scholarship to help schools without  an olympiad team start one. "All of our volunteers are passionate about  science," Kent said. "This is a great recruitment tool for UAB."

All Voices (Sacramento, Calif.: 8.5 million monthly  unique users)
"What are the latest superfoods in the US  currently?"
February 20

 

In Sacramento's various whole food and natural food markets,  could "forbidden rice," also known as "black rice" and/or "Chinese black rice"  possibly be replacing blueberries as the supreme superfood for a fraction of the  price and deliver more health benefits? The idea that nationally, black rice  might be replacing blueberries nationally as "the superfood" was announced by  some researchers at American Chemical Society's (ACS) annual fall  meeting, according to an American Chemical Society September 7, 2010  press release. Regardless of whether you ferment your grains for health and to  remove some of the phytic acid or not, this year the idea of super green rice  and black rice are coming to the forefront of the media. And in some Sacramento  vegan restaurants, black rice is on the menu.

Discovery News (Silver Spring, Md.: 11.4 million  monthly unique users)
"Plants In Nuked Soil: Less Talking, More  Growing"
February 18, 2011

 

Plants seem to tolerate the high radiation levels found in the soil  near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. Both soybeans and  flax showed changes in their proteins, but not enough to stop them from thriving  in the soil contaminated by the 1986 disaster. Martin Hajduch of the Slovak  Academy of Science and his colleagues found that only five percent of the flax  seeds' proteins were altered. The proteins involved were related to cell  signaling, or the system cells use to communicate with each other. Exactly what  allows the plants to thrive in the nuked soil is still unclear. The research was  published in the American Chemical Society's journal, Environmental  Science and Technology. Birds haven't been so lucky. Recent research  showed that birds living in the Chernobyl area have significantly smaller brains  than normal.

National Geographic (Washington D.C.: monthly  circulation 8 million)
"Cocaine to Blame for Rain Forest Loss, Study  Says"
February 18, 2011

 

 

Cocaine is destroying lives and tearing homes apart—and not simply  because of drug use. Farming coca, the plant used to make cocaine, has been  linked to rising deforestation rates in Colombian rain forests, a new study  says. What's more, ecologist Liliana M. Dávalos and colleagues have for the  first time quantified indirect deforestation tied to coca farming, such as  clearing land for growing food crops near coca plantations. "In southern  Colombia we found geographically that there is just more probability of losing  the forest close to [coca cultivation]," said Dávalos, of the State University  of New York in Stony Brook. "And the more coca around you, the more forest  you're likely to lose—the sheer amount of coca in the vicinity has an effect."  The new study, published January 11 in the journal Environmental Science  & Technology, charted the pace of Colombian deforestation from 2002  to 2007 using satellite land-cover maps created specifically to monitor illicit  crop growth.

Discovery News (Silver Spring, Md.: 11.3 million  monthly unique users)
"The Pill Off The Hook For River  Estrogen"
February 17

 

 

Until recently, humans took the blame for unusually high levels of  estrogen-like chemicals in rivers, lakes and streams. Some thought it was birth  control pills but other evidence pointed to agricultural wastes. But, new  research suggests a form of algae may be contributing to the problem, which can  cause males of some fish, amphibians, and reptiles change behaviors and even  develop female physical characteristics. Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria,  caused responses in zebrafish similar to those caused by estrogen-like  chemicals, the results of the study were published in the journal  Environmental Science and Technology. The researchers found  that young fish exposed to blue-green algae showed a chemical marker known to  result from estrogen exposure. The marker didn't show up when the fish were only  exposed to the known toxin that the blue-green algae produce. So the scientists  think there must be a previously-unknown chemical released by the algae that  caused the estrogen-like effects. That means that algae blooms, or sudden large  bursts of algae growth, could have even greater health consequences for  animals

Nutraingredients.com (Montpellier, France: 37,500  monthly unique users)
"Cholesterol reduction: A look at the  evidence"
February 15

 

In the second part of our special focus on heart health,  NutraIngredients examines the science that backs up the health benefits of ‘the  big four’ cholesterol reducing ingredients: phytosterols, omega-3s, beta-glucan,  and soy protein... The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) heart health claim for  soy protein established in 1999 states that "25 grams of soy protein a day, as  part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of  heart disease." Currently, 11 other countries have approved health claims for  soy protein's potential to lower blood cholesterol and lower the risk of  coronary heart disease. However, recently the European Food Safety Authority  (EFSA) issued a negative opinion to a health claim submission linking soy  protein and reduced cholesterol – stating that there was not enough evidence of  causation to approve a claim in Europe. A 2008 study suggested that the  cholesterol-lowering effects of soy protein may by located in the liver. The  study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food  Chemistry, reported that soybean protein was found to stimulate the  low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDL-R) transcription in liver cells.

Wired News (San Francisco, Calif.: monthly circulation  531,491)
"Wastewater Could Hold Key to Catching Future Olympic  Cheats"
February 15

 

London’s Olympic Village in June 2008 was but a skeleton outline,  marked by scant concrete pilings. Yet, by the time the opening ceremonies kick  off in the summer of 2012, state-of-the-art educational facilities, health care  clinics, day care centers and health clubs will be dotted across nearly 25 acres  of new parks and open courtyards... A new idea, proposed by University of  Lancaster researchers Athanasios Katsoyiannis and Kevin Jones, suggests that  that the new sewer and wastewater pumping station, nice as they may be, may hold  a grand opportunity. Instead of simply shuttling waste, they could also be used  to blow the whistle on those athletes tainting their feats with  performance-enhancing drugs, aka PEDs. In a new viewpoint paper published in the  journal Environmental Science and Technology, Katsoyiannis and  Jones cite rigorous examples where researchershave monitored illicit drug use by  chemically analyzing wastewater, accurately and reproducibly. Building off this  knowledge — and realizing that athletes are getting consistently better at  cheating the system when it comes time for drug testing prior to competition —  the research team believes that Olympic officials might be better served by  passively monitoring the wastewater that flows from the toilets in the Olympic  Village.

Taiwan Today (Taipei, Taiwan: 75,000 monthly unique  users)
"Academia Sinica researchers demystify cataract  treatment"
February 16

 

An Academia Sinica research team has explained the  biochemical mechanism behind a kind of eye drop containing pirenoxine (PRX) that  has been used for decades to treat cataracts. “Our findings, which offer new  scientific evidence for the use of PRX to treat cataracts, will serve as  reference for future biological research,” said Wu Shih-hsiung, a distinguished  research fellow and deputy director of Academia Sinica’s Institute of Biological  Chemistry, Feb. 16. In the study, the team showed how PRX binds to calcium and  selenite in the lens of the eye, thereby effectively reducing the opacity seen  in the cataract. Unusually high levels of calcium are known to lead to the loss  of transparency in the cortex of the lens, while selenite has been linked to  lens opacity in previous scientific studies, according to the team. Their  research was published in the online edition of the American Chemical Society  journal Inorganic Chemistry Dec. 7, 2010.

South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Ind.: daily  circulation 70,703)
"Brennecke, Kamat included in listing of top 100  chemists"
February 14, 2011

 

Two University of Notre Dame researchers are included in a  new ranking of the top chemists of the past decade. Joan F.  Brennecke, Keating-Crawford Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular  Engineering and director of the Notre Dame Sustainable Energy Imitative, and  Prashant Kamat, Rev. John A. Zahm Professor of Science in the  Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Radiation Lab and concurrent  professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, are on a list of the 100 top  chemists published by the Times Higher Education group. The list is intended to  celebrate the achievements of 100 chemists who achieved the highest citation  impact scores for chemistry papers (articles and reviews) published since  January 2000... A member of AIChE, ACS and the American Society  for Engineering Education, Brennecke is past chair of the Council for Chemical  Research and currently serves on the editorial board of the journal Green  Chemistry... Kamat serves as executive editor of the Journal of Physical  Chemistry A/B/C, a leading publication of the American Chemical  Society. He is a member of the advisory board of the scientific journals  Langmuir, Research on Chemical Intermediates, Interface,  Electrochemical and Solid State Letters and International Journal of  Photoenergy.

BBC News (London, England: 55 million monthly unique  users)
"Van Gogh paintings 'degraded by UV-driven  reaction'"
February 14

 

Scientists have identified why the bright yellows  in some of Vincent van Gogh's paintings have turned brown. A complex chemical  reaction is behind the deterioration of the works. The finding is a first step  to understanding how to stop some of the Dutch master's most famous paintings  from fading over time. The results, published in the journal Analytical  Chemistry, suggest shielding the affected paintings as much as possible  from UV and sunlight. Sunlight can penetrate only a few micrometres into the  paint, but over this short distance, the researchers found it could trigger a  hitherto unknown chemical reaction turning chrome yellow into brown pigments,  altering the original composition. The scientists employed a microscopic X-ray  beam to reveal a complex chemical reaction taking place in the incredibly thin  layer where the paint meets the varnish.

Taken from the New York Times (New York, N.Y.: daily circulation  876,638)
"Q & A: Is Ripeness All?"
February 7,  2011

 

Q. How much nutritional loss is there from underripe fruit?  A. There is a significant change in nutritional value as a fruit or vegetable  ripens, but ripeness may not be the major factor in nutrition, said Jennifer  Wilkins of the division of nutritional sciences of the Cornell University  College of Human Ecology. The change in value varies with factors like variety  and post-harvest handling, she said. For example, a 2004 study of blackberries  in The Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry found that the  level of anthocyanin pigments, which may have antioxidant benefits, increased  more than fourfold as Marion blackberries went from underripe to overripe (to  317 milligrams per 100 grams, from 74.7 milligrams); for another variety,  Evergreen, they rose a bit more than twofold (to 164 milligrams from 69.9).  While antioxidant activities also increased with ripening, they did not show  such a significant change. And another nutrient class, phenolics, actually  decreased slightly.

Taken from the Examiner.com (Denver, Colo.: 18.9 million monthly  unique users)
"A healthy vegan diet reduces heart disease  risk"
February 8, 2011

 

 

Vegans have the edge when it comes to heart disease.  Research shows that those who shun all animal products are likely to have lower  blood cholesterol levels and less hypertension. Vegan diets are also higher in  phytochemicals and nutrients that may reduce heart disease risk. A recent paper  from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China looked at several factors in  plant-based diets that affect heart disease. And while most media sources got  the conclusions wrong, the paper stated clearly that vegans have a “generally  low risk of cardiovascular disease.” But there is room for improvement in any  diet, and the analysis, published in theJournal of Agricultural and  Food Chemistry, suggested that vegans who have low intakes of vitamin  B12 and possibly omega-3 fats could lose out on the benefits of healthful  plant-based eating. Inadequate B12 is associated with elevated levels of  homocysteine, an amino acid that is linked to increased heart disease.

Taken from the Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, Calif.: daily  circulation 723,181)
"Wood-burning fires: cozy,  unhealthy"
February 8, 2011

 

 

 

Health news to keep in mind as a particularly cold winter  wends on: Crackling logs in a fireplace might warm the heart and the toes. A  toasty fire might even be good for the soul. But a new study in Chemical  Research in Toxicology, a journal of the American Chemical Society,  reminds readers that wood smoke is not particularly good for human bodies.  Danish researchers showed that tiny particles from wood smoke damaged the DNA in  human cells in culture. Another study, published Monday in the Archives of  Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found that smoke from burning heating coal  has negative health effects as well. Three-year-olds in the Czech Republic  living in homes that used coal as fuel for cooking and/or heating were 1.3  centimeters shorter, on average, than peers in homes that used other fuels, the  study found. Wood burning was not associated with shorter stature. About half of  the world's households use solid fuels such as wood and coal for indoor heating  and cooking, the paper reported -- noting that the products of coal consumption  are similar to those in cigarette smoke.

Taken from New Scientist (London, England: weekly circulation  170,000)
"Spaghetti junction bridges gaps in broken  spines"
February 10, 2011

 

Inspired by hollow spaghetti called bucatini, researchers in Italy have  developed implants that help spinal cords regrow. Rats with spinal cord injuries  recovered mobility in their hind legs, raising hope that the approach might one  day help people with paraplegia. The "bucatini project" is one of several around  the world pioneering biodegradable scaffolds to bridge spinal cord injuries.  Along with scar tissue, one of the main barriers to healing is the development  of fluid-filled cysts at the site of the injury over the ensuing months. The  idea of the implants is to create tiny conduits to guide formation of new nerve  fibres, or axons, across this fluid-filled space. "These tubes provide the  reference points for the cells, and tissue starts to build up," says Angelo  Vescovi of the University of Milan-Bicocca... Vescovi and Gelain found that new  nerve fibres had grown all the way through many of the microscopic channels.  Some had also grown between the tubes, together with all the other types of  supporting cells that nerves need for survival. New blood vessels had also  grown, providing a blood supply (ACS Nano)

Taken from USA Today (McLean, Va.: daily circulation 1.8  million)
"Study: Tiny LED holiday bulbs contain lead,  arsenic"

 

Small holiday LED bulbs, marketed as eco-friendly alternatives to  traditional light bulbs, contain lead, arsenic and a dozen other potentially  hazardous substances, reports a study released Thursday. The low-intensity red  LEDs (light emitting diodes) in Christmas lighting strands had up to eight times  the amount of lead allowed under California law, and while the white bulbs had  less lead than the colored ones, they had high levels of nickel, according to a  team of researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and the University  of California, Davis. "I didn't expect this full range of chemicals to leach  out," said study co-author Oladele Ogunseitan, chairman, of UC Irvine's  Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention. He said the research,  published in the January 2011 issue of Environmental Science &  Technology, is the first to examine LEDs for toxic chemicals.

Taken from Medical News Today (U.K.: 1.1 million monthly unique  users)
"Fast, Simple Test For Detecting Cholera Rampaging In  40 Countries May Be On The Horizon"
February 10,  2011

 

 

 

With cholera on the rampage in Haiti and almost 40 other  countries, scientists are reporting the development of a key advance that could  provide a fast, simple test to detect the toxin that causes the disease. The  report appears in ACS' journal Bioconjugate Chemistry. Cholera  affects more than 200,000 people annually, mainly in developing countries, and  causes about 5,000 deaths. Many involve infants, children, and the elderly. The  scientists describe a key advance toward a better, faster test. The new method  uses specially prepared nanoparticles of iron oxide, each barely 1/50,000th the  width of a single human hair, coated with a type of sugar called dextran. To  achieve this, they looked for specific characteristics of the cholera toxin  receptor (GM1) found on cells' surface in the victim's gut, and then they  introduced these features to their nanoparticles. When the magnetic  nanoparticles are added to water, blood, or other fluids to be tested, the  cholera toxin binds to the nanoparticles in a way that can be easily detected by  instruments. The test hardware can be turned into portable gear that health care  workers could use in the field, the scientists say.

john simpson

Glow in the dark science

Posted by john simpson Feb 14, 2011

Taken from The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.: daily  circulation 218,796)
"Glow in the dark science"

 

 

One more reason to want to protect life on Earth, even an  insect. Researchers are using an enzyme that helps fireflies glow for medical  imaging. From an American Chemical Society press release: Bruce  Branchini and colleagues describe a need for new medical imaging agents that  emit near-infrared light — the light rays that "night vision" technology  detects, enabling soldiers to see in the dark. Those rays penetrate deeper into  the body and could give doctors a better way of detecting the proteins involved  in blood clotting. Scientists already use luciferase, the enzyme that makes  lightning bugs glow, in laboratory research.

Taken from Science Daily
"Nanosilver: A New Name -- Well-Known  Effects"

 

 

Nanosilver is not a new discovery by nanotechnologists -- it has been  used in various products for over a hundred years, as is shown by a new Empa  study. The antimicrobial effects of minute silver particles, which were then  known as "colloidal silver," were known from the earliest days of its use.  Numerous nanomaterials are currently at the focus of public attention. In  particular silver nanoparticles are being investigated in detail, both by  scientists as well as by the regulatory authorities. The assumption behind this  interest is that they are dealing with a completely new substance. However, Empa  researchers Bernd Nowack and Harald Krug, together with Murray Heights of the  company HeiQ have shown in a paper recently published in the journal  Environmental Science & Technology that nanosilver is by no  means the discovery of the 21st century. Silver particles with diameters of  seven to nine nm were mentioned as early as 1889. They were used in medications  or as biocides to prevent the growth of bacteria on surfaces, for example in  antibacterial water filters or in algaecides for swimming pools.

Taken from the Sacramento Bee
"Popular Infant Juices Contain Too Much Fluoride,  Research Shows"

 

 

Commonly-consumed infant fruit juices contain fluoride, some  at levels higher than recommended for public water supplies which can damage  teeth, according to research to be presented on March 17, 2011 at the  International Association for Dental Research annual meeting in San Diego.  Ninety samples of three different flavors (apple, pear and grape) from three  manufacturers were tested. All contained fluoride at concentrations ranging from  0.11 to 1.81 parts per million (ppm). "Children who consume excessive amounts of  juice per day may be ingesting more fluoride than the recommended daily intake,"  the researchers report. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human  Services recommended lowering "optimal" water fluoride levels to 0.7 ppm to  decrease the epidemic of fluoride-discolored teeth (dental fluorosis) afflicting  over 41% of adolescents. Many cities are complying; some consider ending  fluoridation. "Fluoride is neither a nutrient nor required for healthy teeth.  Studies show fluoride ingestion doesn't reduce tooth decay," says Beeber.  Researchers found fluoride in chicken products frequently eaten by children but  not listed on labels, e.g. pureed chicken, chicken sticks, and luncheon meat  made with mechanically-separated chicken. Fluoride-containing bone-dust  invariably gets into the finished product (Journal of Agricultural and  Food Chemistry).

Taken from The Express
"Curries and health: why you should spice up your  life"

 

 

Fans of Indian food have always known there’s nothing like a  good curry to fend off the winter blues. Now one pioneering chef has claimed to  have invented a dish that can help cure seasonal colds too. Gurpareet Bains,  author, chef and nutritional therapist (www.indiansuperfood.com), says healthy  volunteers who ate his fenugreek-based recipe twice a week between October and  December remained cold-free, while those who already had the sniffles reported  “immediate improvement”. He adds: “Weight for weight, spices are the most  antioxidant-rich foods on the planet. In other words, by adding a few more  flavours to what you are already eating, you can boost its nutritional value.  “Unbeknown to a great many of us, spices are also the key ingredients contained  in many over-the-counter medicines. Chilli is an essential ingredient in many  rubs used for muscle and joint aches... A team at Ireland’s Cork Cancer Research  Centre found that gullet cancer cells in the lab started to digest themselves  within 24 hours of being treated with curcumin, a key constituent of turmeric.  Dr Sharon McKenna, lead author of the 2009 study, said: “Scientists have known  for a long time that natural compounds have the potential to treat faulty cells  that become cancerous and we suspect that curcumin might have therapeutic  value.” Another study published in America’s Journal of Agricultural and  Food Chemistry builds on previous work examining turmeric’s  anti-arthritic properties. The effectiveness of the treatment on lab rats  depended on the concentration of curcumin in the spice.

Taken from CENtral Science's Terra Sigillata
"IYC launch: All in all, I’d rather be in  Philadelphia"

 

 

Today marks the beginning of the International Year  of Chemistry (IYC), a year-long world celebration of chemistry and its  contributions to improving the human condition. I’m really hoping that this  celebration brings attention to the fact that chemicals are everywhere – WE are  chemicals – and raises a level of public awareness to address chemophobia. Here  are the details from the press release: U.S. Launches International Year of  Chemistry on Feb. 1 in Philadelphia, Pa., with World-Renowned Chemistry Experts  Discussing Global Issues. Who: Panelists include the following chemical  engineering, science and business leaders: * Andrew Liveris, President, CEO and  Chairman, The Dow Chemical Company. * Ellen Kullman, Chair and CEO, DuPont. *  Janet Hering, Director, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and  Technology. When: Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. Panel Discussion begins at 10:00 a.m.  EST, followed by a reception at Noon. The event will stream live online at:  http://tinyurl.com/IYCWebcast. This event is  presented by the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) in collaboration with the  American Chemistry Council (ACC), the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and the United  States National Committee for IUPAC at the National Academy of Sciences.