Saturday, July 09, 2011

Science Watch (July 2011)

Picture of the Month
Tearing Apart: To begin with, this isn't a penguin but a cell in the separation process of cellular divisions. It was previously understood that only microtubules were responsible for pulling apart cells but this recent 3-D image shows that some unknown filaments also have an integral role in cellular division. (Photo: American Association for Advancement of Science)
Weevils have nuts and bolts for knees!
A research report published in Science magazine explains the Papuan Weevil's knee structure to resembles something that was restricted to hardware stores up till now, a nut and a bolt!
Using X-ray microtomography (which is just a fancy way of saying super zooming), the researchers found that the weevils turned their spiral legs in threaded sockets with the help of effector muscles, much like screwing a nut in a bolt. This helped them to find footholds in their habitat; which is full of leaves and twigs.
Well, discoveries like this give solidity to the fact that nature is, in fact, the best engineer of all.

'Printing' Blood Vessels
A California based bio-tech company, Organavo, recently stated that it has constructed the first synthetic, natural blood vessel. This may sound as an oxymoron but this blood vessel is synthetic in name alone as it uses entirely human cells for its construction; endothelial cells for lining the internal walls, smooth muscle cells for regulating blood pressure and fibrous cells for structural support and endurance.
The whole process is done in a '3D printer' where tiny robotic arms gel together the cells in an orderly fashion at the rate of 0.1 inch\minute. The newly synthesized vessel is then acclimatized to its subsequent job by allowing some stuff like blood plasma to flow through it for around a month.
Such vessels can have a great impact on how bypass surgeries are done. The surgeons can now cut that part of finding functional veins from the patient's own body, making the operation a lot easier.

The Crocodile on Steroids
The skull belonging to the 'most colossal of all sea monsters' was recently unveiled at the Dorset County Museum in the UK. It measures 2.4m and is 95% complete. Although the rest of the body of Pliosaur is not yet found and may never be found but according to estimates it may measure 15-18m from tip to tail: just imagine yourself standing face to face with this will die before those razor sharp teeth start shredding you!!

Buried Mountains
Gamburtsev Mountains, may sound like just another mountain range on Earth but in reality they are the most unique of them all because they lie below the surface of the Earth! With peaks going up to 9000 feet, valleys dotted with an interconnected lake system and a sheet of Antarctic ice for a sky it is without doubt the most peculiar mountain system ever discovered.
Although they were uncovered by a Russian seismic survey in 1950 but research work was very limited until University of Columbia geophysicist Robin Bell took to studying the mountains and has revealed some fascinating news including the obfuscated origin of this range. "Normally mountains arise when you have smashed together continents, from volcanoes or subduction zones," Bell says. "But none of these exciting things happened under Antartica for a long time. That is the mystery."

One Liners
Pakistan became the sixth country in the world, and the first Muslim state to map the genome of one of its citizens.
The Atlantis became the last shuttle to be launched into space on July 8th 2011 at 3:29 p.m GMT. 
Researchers working at a Leicester residential home have found that anti-microbials containing silver are capable of killing bacteria with an efficiency of 94%.
Australian researchers at the University of New Castle have developed a nitric oxide cream that increases the time taken by deadly snake venom to reach the blood stream by 50%.

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