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ACS in the News - January 26, 2010

ACS in the News - January 26, 2010

'ACS in the News' publishes daily articles from newspapers, blogs and magazines about the American Chemical Society and its 38 peer-reviewed journals. Click on the links below to view the published article. The full-text article can also be found in the attached document at the bottom of the page.

San Diego Union Tribune (San Diego, Calif.: daily circulation 296,331)

“Researchers get a handle (ouch) on platypus venom”

January 26, 2010

In “The Nutmeg of Consolation” by Patrick O’Brian, the 14th in his series of maritime novels, the good Dr. Stephen Maturin’s unabashed joy at finally seeing a platypus in Australia is almost immediately tempered by the incapacitating pain he experiences when he is stung by poisonous spurs on the animal’s rear legs. Dr. Maturin could be forgiven if he didn’t know that the platypus is among the few mammals that produce venom (and with platypuses, only the male does). Even those who know about platypus venom do not really know much about it. They know a little more now. Researchers in Japan have identified some of the constituents of the venom that may help make it so painful. Using high-performance liquid chromatography and other techniques, Masaki Kita of the University of Tsukuba, Daisuke Uemura of the Nagoya University and colleagues analyzed venom samples and identified about a dozen peptides, small chains of amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins. Their findings are reported in The Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Okla.: daily circulation 216,441)

“Bookshelf: Author lists frugal health tips; ‘Magical’ makeup was medicine?”

January 26, 2010

There’s more to the eye makeup that gave Queen Nefertiti and other ancient Egyptian royals those stupendous gazes and legendary beauty than meets the eye. Scientists in France are reporting that the alluring eye makeup may have been used to help prevent or treat eye disease by doubling as an infection fighter. Their findings are published in Analytical Chemistry, the American Chemical Society semi-monthly journal. Christian Amatore, Philippe Walter and colleagues said that thousands of years ago, ancient Egyptians used lead-based substances as cosmetics, including an ingredient in black eye makeup. Some Egyptians believed this makeup also had a "magical” role in which the ancient gods Horus and Ra would protect wearers against several illnesses. Until now, modern scientists largely dismissed that possibility, knowing that lead-based substances can be toxic.

Greenbang (London, England: 80,000 monthly readers)

“How do we tackle the resource uncertainty principle?”

January 25, 2010

We face a serious resource problem and, no, it’s not the one you’re thinking of. Yes, energy’s an issue. So is water. And food. And peak metals. And biodiversity. And climate (yes, we consider a liveable climate a natural resource). The list goes on. The challenge that overrides all these is this: Every time we try to solve a problem involving one resource, we have an impact on all the other resources, sometimes for the worse. And when we then try to solve that problem, another one pops up in yet a different area… “As we address global challenges such as climate change and resource availability, we cannot afford to concentrate on each one in isolation,” added Audrey Leath, senior public policy associate at the American Chemical Society. “We must be cognizant of the relationships between them and the trade-offs we’re making.”

Yahoo! News (Sunnyvale, Calif.: 16.6 million monthly unique users)

“Chemical Heritage Foundation to Present Othmer Gold Medal to George M. Whitesides”

January 25, 2010

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) has named George M. Whitesides, winner of the Kyoto Prize and the National Medal of Science, recipient of the 2010 Othmer Gold Medal. The Othmer Gold Medal ceremony and dinner will open the eighth annual Heritage Day on Wednesday, 7 April 2010. "George Whitesides is a man of immense skills and accomplishments—just what an Othmer Gold Medalist should be," said Thomas R. Tritton, president and CEO of CHF. The many awards and honors bestowed on Whitesides include the U.S. National Medal of Science, the Kyoto Prize in Materials Science and Engineering, the Welch Award in Chemistry, the Dan David Prize in Future Science, the American Chemical Society Priestley Medal, the Prince of Asturias Award in Science and Technology, and the Dreyfus Prize in Chemistry. (New York, N.Y.: 3.1 million monthly unique users)

“Tobacco plants tapped to grow solar cells”

January 25, 2010

Tobacco plants could help wean the world from fossil fuels, according to scientists from the University of California, Berkeley. In a paper in the journal ACS Nano Letters, Matt Francis and his colleagues used tobacco plants, infected with a genetically engineered virus, to produce artificial photovoltaic and photochemical cells. The technique is more environmentally friendly than traditional methods of making solar cells and could lead to cheap, temporary and biodegradable solar cells. "Over billions of years, evolution has established exactly the right distances to collect light from the sun and to do so with unparalleled efficiency," said Francis. "We are just trying to mimic these finely tuned systems."

Science Daily (Rockville, Md.: 3.6 million monthly unique users)

“Advanced Engine-Control System Reduces Biodiesel Fuel Consumption and Emissions”

January 25, 2010

Researchers from Purdue University and Cummins Inc. have developed an advanced "closed-loop control" approach for preventing diesel engines from emitting greater amounts of smog-causing nitrogen oxides when running on biodiesel fuels. Operating truck engines on a blend of biodiesel and ordinary diesel fuel dramatically reduces the emission of particulate matter, or soot. However, the most modern and efficient diesel engines burning biodiesel emit up to 40 percent more nitrogen oxides at some operating conditions, and fuel economy declines by as much as 20 percent. Findings are detailed in a research paper that has been posted online and that will appear in an upcoming issue of the American Chemical Society journal Energy & Fuels. Researchers from Purdue and Cummins also authored a related paper regarding soy biodiesel blends that appeared online in October in the same journal.

Midland Daily News (Midland, Mich.: daily circulation 15,689)

“A busy Kid's Day at the Midland Mall”

January 25, 2010

More than 200 children have complete identification kits after attending the 2010 Kids' Day event Saturday sponsored by Big Brothers Big Sisters in the Heart of Michigan. The Michigan Masonic Child ID Program provides parents with a copy of their child's dental impression record as well as a CD containing a photo, video, digital fingerprints and vital information. The Midland-based Centre Masonic Lodge No. 273 supported the project. The event at the Midland Mall also featured fun activities for kids, such as a petting zoo and a hands-on science booth from the American Chemical Society.

… From the Blogs


“New Fabric Could Charge Your iPod”

January 25, 2010

Remember when researchers at Stanford  University turned paper into batteries? Well, they haven’t stopped there. According to TG Daily, engineer Yi Cui and his team have created clothes that can recharge your electronic devices. By injecting the fabric with a carbon nanotube ink, the researchers were able to coax the cloth into holding an electric charge. It’s like wearing a battery. Best of all, the fabric still stretches and moves like normal, and it can even be laundered without losing the ability to hold a charge. (Nano Letters)

Health resource


January 26, 2010

Scientific research into the health benefits of xanthones from mangosteen has been conducted since the 1970s and, although there is still much more work to be done, the results thus far are very promising. Several xanthones have been studied for their efficacy in treating cancer. A paper published in the Journal of Natural Products in 2003 showed that a variety of xanthones from mangosteen were all able to inhibit the growth of human leukemia cells.