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ACS in the News - January 20, 2010

ACS in the News - January 20, 2010

'ACS in the News' publishes daily articles from newspapers, blogs and magazines about the American Chemical Society and its 38 peer-reviewed journals. Full-text links to the articles below can also be found in the attached document. (New York, N.Y.: 3.1 million monthly unique users)
“World's tiniest hot rod spurs nanotechnologies”
January 19, 2010

[Science360 News Service (Arlington, Va.) also covered the story.]

Researchers have built a new super-small "nanodragster" that improves on prior nanocar designs and could speed up efforts to craft molecular machines. "We made a new version of a nanocar that looks like a dragster," said James Tour, a chemist at Rice University who was involved in the research. "It has smaller front wheels on a shorter axle and bigger back wheels on a longer axle." The miniscule vehicle is about 50,000 times thinner than a human hair and is pushed along by heat or an electric field. By learning how to drive nanovehicles, Tour hopes to pave the way for small but technologically useful structures, such as electronics, that could be built atom-by-atom. The research appeared in a recent issue of the journal Organic Letters.

San Diego Union-Tribune (San Diego, Calif.: daily circulation 296,331)
“Eureka! Daily discoveries for the scientifically bent”
January 19, 2010

That fabulously heavy, black eye makeup sported by Queen Nefertiti and other ancient Egyptians may have provided more than just a stunning royal gaze. Researchers now suggest the lead-based cosmetics also doubled as infection-fighters, treating and maybe even preventing some eye diseases. Modern science has shown that some components of the cosmetics, such as nitric oxide, are stimulants to the body’s immune system. (Analytical Chemistry)

Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.: daily circulation 155,540)
“Quick Takes: Smells like overeating”
January 19, 2010

"Now with anti-hunger aroma!" probably isn't the most appealing label to put on a package of chips, but some researchers say it could be the key to fighting obesity. Food chemists in the Netherlands are looking at developing foods that release certain aromas during chewing, particularly aromas that trigger those areas of the brain that signal the sensation of fullness. The study focused on "retronasal aromas," which are released while food is being chewed. It's a field of research still in its early stages, but scientists know that perception of these aromas varies from person to person. More studies need to be done, according to lead researcher Rianne Ruijschop at NIZO Food Research, but she suggests that commercial foods be made with more of these aromas. The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Associated Content (Denver, Colo.: 8.4 million monthly unique users)
“The Blue Fruit that Enhances Memory”
January 19, 2010

Is your memory not what it used to be? It's not surprising. You start losing brain cells as early as your twenties, but you may not notice it until years later when you start having problems remembering people's names and coming up with a particular word. Usually these memory "glitches" are more inconvenient than they are serious. But what if there were a food that could help enhance memory and eliminate those annoying memory blunders? A new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that drinking blueberry juice may help offset the minor memory glitches that occur with aging. When researchers gave a group of nine older people (average age 70's) blueberry juice each day, they showed significant improvements in their ability to recall words. To top it off, they also experienced an improvement in mood and slightly low glucose levels.

Natural News (Toronto, Canada: 300,580 monthly unique users)
“Ancient Chinese Herbal Remedy More Powerful At Killing H1N1 Than Prescription Antivirals”
January 19, 2010

An ancient Chinese remedy that was used to fight the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic may prove effective against the H1N1 swine flu, according to a study conducted by researchers from Kaohsiung Medial University in Taiwan and published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Natural Products. The plant is known by the scientific name Ferula assa-foetida, but is known colloquially in many regions as "Dung of the Devil" due to the foul smell of its sap. It grows mostly in Iran, Afghanistan and China, and has been traditionally used to treat everything from the flu and children's colds to asthma, bronchitis, constipation, flatulence, and epilepsy. (New York, N.Y.: 2 million monthly unique users)
“Clean and Green”
January 20, 2010

I grew up in a house where my mom bragged you could eat off the floors. Now, I find dust bunnies that rival the size of real ones and have acquired a pesky habit of holding on to stuff I no longer want or need. I'm determined to do things differently in 2010. Don't get me wrong. I am cluttered, but my place is pretty clean. It's just clean in a different way than what I grew up with and many folks are used to. My parents' house was wiped down with bleach and other harsh chemicals, while mine is cleaned with eco-friendly products… This legislation is even more urgent now that a 2008 study published in Environmental Science & Technology by Dr. Mustafa Odabasi indicated for the first time that sodium hypochlorite and the cleaning agents (known as surfactants) and fragrances contained in several household cleaning products react within the product to create chlorinated volatile organic compounds, which I detailed in an earlier post. The study says these chlorinated compounds are released when we clean, that most of them are toxic and probable carcinogens and that the indoor air concentrations increase anywhere from eight to 1,170 times during the use of products that contain bleach. (Evergreen, Va.: 1.1 million monthly unique users)
“Graphene-Based Nanomat Could Lead to Next-Generation Catalysts”
January 19, 2010

Researchers have found a new use for graphene, the single-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms that resembles chicken wire. Ever since graphene was first observed in 2004, its large surface area, excellent mechanical strength, and high electrical conductivity have intrigued scientists and opened up new areas of exploration… In their recent study, Ian Lightcap, Thomas Kosel, and Prashant Kamat of the University of Notre Dame have demonstrated that graphene can be used as a multifunctional catalyst mat. As a catalyst mat, two-dimensional graphene can hold particles that act as catalysts to speed up or slow down the rate of chemical reactions. The findings may pave the way for the development of next-generation catalyst systems, as well as advances in chemical and biological sensors. The study is published in a recent issue of Nano Letters.

… From the Blogs

Audubon Guides
“A Burning Problem: Toxic Flame Retardants Found in Peregrine Falcons”
January 18, 2010

What do your computer and a peregrine falcon have in common? For most of us in rural New England, it unfortunately isn’t speed. Rather it is polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), a group of chemicals used as flame retardants… Over 100 falcon eggs from across New England like those collected by Faccio have been analyzed by a team of scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William and Mary, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Federation. They found unusually high levels of PBDEs. Two eggs collected in New Hampshire exhibited “extremely high levels” of total PBDEs, concentrations that “rival the highest PBDE burdens reported in wildlife to date,” wrote the authors in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Interesting finds
“From the Ancient Amazonian Indians: ‘Biochar’ as a Modern Weapon Against Global Warming”
January 18, 2010

Scientists are reporting that “biochar” — a material that the Amazonian Indians used to enhance soil fertility centuries ago — has potential in the modern world to help slow global climate change. Mass production of biochar could capture and sock away carbon that otherwise would wind up in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Their report appears in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a bi-weekly journal.