Feb 2, 2009
My latest science news updates are now available on SpectroscopyNOW.com and ChemWeb.com, covering a wide range topics from date rape drug analysis to DNA that behaves parasitically and could underpin speciation and evolution:
Date rape analysis – Raman spectroscopy can be used to identify the date rape drug GHB and its precursor GBL in spiked drinks even if they’re in different types of drink or containers included coloured glass, plastic beakers, and polythene sample bags.
Parasitic genetic mobility – A stretch of DNA behaves like a parasite in the genome causes health problems but could explain certain aspects of evolution and speciation. The crystal structure of its protein reveals much about our ancient past and our possible futures
Nano MRI – Researchers at IBM working with a team at Stanford University have demonstrated MRI with a volume resolution 100 million times better than possible conventional systems. The technology could herald single-cell MRI and even allow protein interactions to be imaged clearly.
Getting inside bacteria with spectroscopy – Solid-state spectroscopy has been used for the first time to investigate large membrane proteins in bacteria, allowing researchers to investigate exactly how the sensory organs of these single-celled organisms function.
Ammonia caught on film – A sensor based on a composite plastic that conducts electricity (related to the materials used in OLED displays) can detect the poisonous gas ammonia very selectively and be ready to use again within seconds, unlike similar devices.
Taking the lead – Magnetic nanoparticles that can soak up lead from aqueous solutions, or even a blood sample, might be used to treat lead poisoning, but could have more immediate applications in diagnostics, biomedical research and environmental science.
The Alchemist discovers how to improve analytical chemistry by keeping things cool, how to improve anticancer therapy by lowering the dose and increasing frequency, and how to reduce lime scale in hot water appliances. Also this week a fall in air pollution has improved the life expectancy of Americans, melamine sentences have been passed in China, and pioneering global warming research earns geochemist Wallace Broecker one of the biggest cash prizes in science.