Saturday, October 24, 2009

Random Linkage 24/10/09

Smart rat 'Hobbie-J' produced by over-expressing a gene that helps brain cells communicate
‘Over-expressing a gene that lets brain cells communicate just a fraction of a second longer makes a smarter rat, report researchers from the Medical College of Georgia and East China Normal University.’

Algae and Light Help Injured Mice Walk Again
‘In the summer of 2007, a team of Stanford graduate students dropped a mouse into a plastic basin. The mouse sniffed the floor curiously. It didn’t seem to care that a fiber-optic cable was threaded through its skull. Nor did it seem to mind that the right half of its motor cortex had been reprogrammed.’

Killer Algae: Key Player In Mass Extinctions
‘Supervolcanoes and cosmic impacts get all the terrible glory for causing mass extinctions, but a new theory suggests lowly algae may be the killer behind the world's great species annihilations.’

Giant Impact Near India — Not Mexico — May Have Killed Dinosaurs
'A huge, mysterious basin off the coast of India could be the largest, multi-ringed impact crater ever found on Earth. And if a new study is right, this impact may supercede the one that created the Chicxulub crater off Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula as what may have been responsible for killing the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Sankar Chatterjee of Texas Tech University and a team of researchers have been studying a 500-kilometer-wide (300-mile-wide) depression on the Indian Ocean seafloor which was likely created by a bolide perhaps 40 kilometers (25 miles) in diameter. Such an event would have triggered worldwide climate changes, including intensified volcanism, that led to mass extinction.'

New Concept May Enhance Earth-Mars Communication
‘Direct communication between Earth and Mars can be strongly disturbed and even blocked by the Sun for weeks at a time, cutting off any future human mission to the Red Planet. An ESA engineer working with engineers in the UK may have found a solution using a new type of orbit combined with continuous-thrust ion propulsion.’

Moon scientist arrested on spy charges
'A US scientist who had high-level security clearance and was a principal investigator on a current NASA Moon mission has been arrested for attempted espionage.'
(It's not every day that Nature features an espionage story; still, it would be even better if he'd been arrested on the Moon.)


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