SciTech Briefs

Skin cancer drug reverses Alzheimer’s

Researchers at Case Reserve University’s School of Medicine recently gave large doses of Bexarotene, a drug that treats skin cancer, to mice that showed signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Within 72 hours, the mice showed improvements in memory and an over 50 percent decrease of amyloid beta, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s in the brain.

Before giving the mice Bexarotene, the researchers allowed the mice to walk into a cage where they were given an electrical shock. After receiving a dose of Bexarotene, the mice showed improvements in memory by remembering the previous shock and not entering the cage. The researchers are hopeful that these results could be the origins to a complete cure for Alzheimer’s.

Source: Science magazine

Kodak stops digital camera production

Kodak has announced that it will no longer produce digital cameras, as the company tries to monetize after its recent bankruptcy. However, Kodak isn’t completely exiting the digital camera field, as the company may instead license its brand name to other camera makers.

In addition, the company has decided to cease production of pocket video cameras and digital frames. With Kodak cameras receiving less demand than Fuji and other brands of cameras, it is seeing a higher need to diversify. This phasing out of Kodak’s dedicated capture devices business will occur during the first half of 2012. Despite these cuts, the company will continue to honor product warranties and continue to offer product service and help.

Source: CNN

Is Venus’ rotation slowing down?

Venus’ rotation on its axis seems to be slowing down, according to recent measurements. In the 1990s, NASA’s Magellan probe measured the Venusian day to be 243 Earth days, but the European Space Agency’s Venus Express orbiter recently found the planet’s rotational period to be 6.5 minutes slower. This difference may prevent scientists looking to send rovers over to the planet from accurately predicting the location of features on the Venusian surface.

Scientists speculate that the cause may be friction from weather systems, or that gravitational interactions between the Earth and Venus might be manipulating the planet’s angular momentum. Another possibility is that the Magellan probe might have recorded the Venusian rate of rotation when the planet was rotating faster than normal.

Source: Science magazine

Google announces new music device

Google representatives recently announced a prototype “entertainment device” that will make the company more involved in consumer electronics. In May 2011 the device was merely announced as possible project, but last week the company filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission to test the device.

The device is said to be a music hub of sorts that can be hooked up to speakers or to a stereo and stream digital files stored in Google Music or on other devices. The device can also be connected to smartphones or tablets, allowing multiple linked devices to play music at the same time in multiple locations. The device would run on the Android platform.

Source: The New York Times

Hackers attack CIA, other sites

The CIA’s website was hacked in a distributed denial of service attack by the group Anonymous last Friday afternoon. Hacker groups such as this have been attacking a series of law enforcement agencies and government websites. As soon as the website was rendered inaccessible, one of the Twitter accounts associated with Anonymous read, “ DOWN. #UMAD?#Anonymous.”

It took several hours to bring the CIA website back up, but it only took minutes for other government sites that had been attacked in the past, like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to reboot. Anonymous has been attacking sites like the U.S. Department of Justice, Universal Music Group, and the U.S. Copyright Office in response to the recent FBI raid on the filesharing site MegaUpload.

Source: RT News

Lethal form of protein identified

Scientists from the Florida campus of the Scripps Research Institute have identified a highly toxic protein that causes severe neuron degradation and eventually results in death. The protein acts similarly to the prions that cause mad cow disease, but it is more than 10 times more deadly than currently identified toxic proteins.

The scientists learned that the protein’s high toxicity arises largely from its unique structure, alluding that similar proteins may play a key role in other disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson diseases.

Source: Science Daily