Tech

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2009 — After searching for more than 50 years, scientists finally have discovered a number of new mosquito repellents that beat DEET, the gold standard for warding off those pesky, sometimes disease-carrying insects. The stuff seems like a dream come true. It makes mosquitoes buzz off three times longer than DEET, the active ingredient in many of today's bug repellents. It does not have the unpleasant odor of DEET. And it does not cause DEET's sticky-skin sensation.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2009 — Attention all smokeless tobacco users! It's time to banish the comforting notion that snuff and chewing tobacco are safe because they don't burn and produce inhalable smoke like cigarettes. A study that looked beyond the well-researched tobacco hazards, nitrosamines and nicotine, has discovered a single pinch –– the amount in a portion –– of smokeless tobacco exposes the user to the same amount of another group of dangerous chemicals as the smoke of five cigarettes.

p>CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (August 13, 2009) – A novel technique allows researchers to efficiently and precisely modify or introduce genes into the genomes of human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, according to Whitehead scientists. The method uses proteins called zinc finger nucleases and is described in the August 13 issue of Nature Biotechnology.

For years, scientists have easily swapped genes in and out of mouse ESC or iPS cell genomes, but have had a notoriously difficult time disrupting or inserting genes into their human equivalents.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University and other scientists have taken the first steps toward mapping epigenetic variability in cells and tissues. Mapping the human epigenome, similar to the human genome project in the 1990s, could someday allow for quicker and more precise disease diagnoses and more targeted treatments of many chronic ailments.

Details are published online in the latest edition of PLoS Genetics.

BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL…August 14, 2009 – Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) will combine the scientific and scholarly expertise of their humanities and computer science experts in a new project to analyze degraded Hebrew documents.

RICHLAND, Wash. -- New research shows that air pollution in eastern China has reduced the amount of light rainfall over the past 50 years and decreased by 23 percent the number of days of light rain in the eastern half of the country. The results suggest that bad air quality might be affecting the country's ability to raise crops as well as contributing to health and environmental problems.

The first certified winner of the UC Davis "Western Cooling Challenge" is Coolerado Corp. of Denver. Recent federal tests showed that their five-ton commercial rooftop unit should be able to air-condition a typical big-box store with less than half the energy needed by conventional cooling units.

"Coolerado's entry in the Western Cooling Challenge was the first to take our rigorous tests at the Advanced HVAC Lab at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.," said Mark Modera, director of the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center.

CHICAGO (August 14, 2009)—New research findings published in the August issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons challenge the routine use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a means to improve surgical outcomes in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. Researchers found that women diagnosed with breast cancer who received an MRI were more likely to undergo a mastectomy than breast conserving therapy (BCT), and may face delays in treatment. BCT is the removal of a tumor with a safe margin of normal tissue.

New UC Davis estimates say the federal government's Cash for Clunkers program is paying at least 10 times the "sticker price" to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

While carbon credits are projected to sell in the U.S. for about $28 per ton (today's price in Europe was $20), even the best-case calculation of the cost of the clunkers rebate is $237 per ton, said UC Davis transportation economist Christopher Knittel.

Three Thai orchids have been found to rely on a wide range of fungi to help them take carbon out of the soil instead of producing their own organic carbon. A detailed study of the relationship, published in the open access journal BMC Biology, also features stunning pictures of the plants.