May 2, 2010

Science for Sunday 5/2/10

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
-Carl Sagan

Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. "When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese -- every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."

We try to avoid HFCS, but it's amazing how prevalent it is in our food.  I only recently realized it was in the brand of bread I was buying.  To further avoid HFCS, I'm working on making us a soda-free family.  We don't keep it in the house, but the kids always want it when we are out.  It's a hard transition because I don't want it to be a "rule."  Instead, I want everyone to understand that there are no benefits to soda and to understand why we should make better choices.  

Since the earthquake in Chile in February 2010, the advanced geodesy research group at the Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) has been helping measure Earth on a global scale. First results indicate that the rotational speed of Earth has become marginally slower and days have become longer by 0.3 microseconds.

It has seemed like the days have just been dragging lately...  O.k., all kidding aside, I love this kind of stuff.  It's so easy to look around and think everything has always been the way it is, and always will be.  Robotson and I were looking at a book he has about the earth a few nights ago.  It showed Pangea and how the land changed just over the course of the time dinosaurs roamed the planet.  I asked him if he thought things were still moving around.  If earthquakes can change the length of our day, and perhaps move the continents even more, who knows what the planet will look like in 10,000 years.  We won't be around to see it, but it's fun to think about. 

Patients with cancer of the bladder who were treated with the substance excreted dead cancer cells in their urine after each treatment, which has given rise to hopes that it can be developed into medication for cancer care in the future.

I think that pretty much says it all.  I've used breastmilk for pink eye, cuts, burns, ear infections, stomach flus, and just as a general remedy to a sick baby.  I'm not terribly surprised that they are still discovering ways in which it can heal.  

Isaac Newton found in the 17th century that a force causes a body to accelerate. The inertial mass of the body is the ratio between force and acceleration, thus, given the same force, a light body is accelerated more strongly than a heavy body. A body's mass is positive, meaning that the acceleration is in the same direction as the force.

Researchers from the Max Born Institute in Berlin have now demonstrated that crystal electrons in extremely high electric fields exhibit a completely different behavior. Their mass even becomes negative. They report in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters that the electron is accelerated within the extremely short time of 100 femtoseconds = 0.000 000 000 000 1 seconds to a speed of 4 million kilometers per hour. Afterwards the electron comes to a stop and even moves backward. This means that the acceleration is in opposite direction to the force, which can only be explained by a negative inertial mass of the electron.


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