Culture

Scientists at Stanford University and Japan's National Institute of Informatics have created a new highly sensitive infrared spectrometer. The device converts light from the infrared part of the spectrum to the visible part, where the availability of superior optical detectors results in strongly improved sensing capabilities. The research will appear in the Nov. 24 issue of Optics Express, the Optical Society's open access journal.

More than half of people diagnosed with high blood pressure do not have it under control and many more go undiagnosed, according to research carried out at the University of Warwick.

Professor Franco Cappuccio from Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick led the only UK team to participate in a European study examining awareness, treatment and control of high blood pressure, or hypertension. Hypertension is an important cause of serious diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers at the University of Delaware have provided what is believed to be the first experimental evidence that plants can take up nanoparticles and accumulate them in their tissues

The laboratory study, which involved pumpkin plants, indicates a possible pathway for nanoparticles to enter the food chain. The research also reveals a new experimental approach for studying nanoparticles and their potential impacts.

Dishonesty may be more widespread in the animal kingdom than previously thought. A team of Australian ecologists has discovered that some male fiddler crabs "lie" about their fighting ability by growing claws that look strong and powerful but are in fact weak and puny. Published this week in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology, the study is the first direct evidence that crabs "bluff" about their fighting ability.

Every day 85 Americans die by suicide and hundreds of thousands more make attempts every year. The vast majority of recent studies on suicide have focused on identifying psychiatric risk factors. However, a new study by Temple University Sociology Professor Matt Wray, published online this month in Social Science and Medicine, explores time and place as factors in suicide by closely analyzing the patterns of suicide in a single geographic area—Las Vegas—over a 30 year period.

It is well known that plants growing under unfavourable conditions are generally smaller than those growing in stress-free conditions: indeed it is estimated that in the US, abiotic stress reduces the yield of agricultural crops by an average of 22%. A spectacular example of the effect of stress – in this case, repeated wounding – on plant growth is given by bonsai trees, in which every aspect of their stature, including height, girth, and size of leaves, is uniformly reduced to as little as 5% of that of their untreated sister trees.

The well-documented worldwide decline in the number of bees and other pollinators is not, at this stage, limiting global crop yields, according to the results of an international study published in the latest edition of the respected science journal, Current Biology.

Co-author, CSIRO Entomology's Dr Saul Cunningham, says however that the study detected warning signs that demand for pollinators is still growing and some highly pollinator-dependant crops are suffering.

Exposure to prolonged temperature elevation reduces antifungal activity of a contact lens solution that was implicated in the epidemic of the eye infection Fusarium keratitis that occurred between 2004 and 2006, according to a report in the November issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Setting sail on the Pacific, a University of Delaware-led research team has embarked on an extreme adventure that will find several of its members plunging deep into the sea to study hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor.

The team, which will be conducting research in environments that include scalding heat, high pressure, toxic chemicals and total darkness, is part of the National Science Foundation-funded "Extreme 2008: A Deep-Sea Adventure."

Researchers at Cornell University recently made a major breakthrough when they invented a method to test and demonstrate a long-held hypothesis that some very, very small metal particles work much better than others in various chemical processes such as converting chemical energy to electricity in fuel cells or reducing automobile pollution.