Scitech Briefs

Hot-water worms

Researchers at Harvard have discovered a species of worm that lives in the hottest water on earth, near undersea hot water vents where the temperature is between 122 and 131 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers believe the worms feed, unopposed by any other species, on the bacteria that thrive in high temperatures. Not only can these worms live in such extreme conditions, they prefer them. Temperature gradient experiments showed the worms quickly migrating to hotter water.

Source: CNN

Nanoparticle therapy to treat cancer

Current cancer therapies destroy cancer without regard for surrounding healthy cells. The use of nanoparticle technology could revolutionize cancer treatments by specifically targeting cancer cells and no others. These nanoparticles, loaded with lethal chemicals, adhere to tumor cells and kill them. Further tests are necessary to determine if these treatments are safe for humans.

Source: Scientific American

Pine scent slows climate change

Climate control models may be changing due to a new understanding of pine forests. The scented air of a forest is saturated with 1000 to 2000 particles per cubic centimeter of monoterpenes: derivatives of isoprene exuded by the trees. The particles bounce solar energy back into space. Boreal forests sequester carbon dioxide, but it is difficult to disentangle the effects of these particles from others.

Source: Guardian Unlimited

The science behind violence revealed

Scientists at the National Institutes of Mental Health are researching the biology behind aggressive behavior. Stress-inducing images, such as angry faces and guns pointed toward the viewer, were shown to 100 healthy volunteers. People with angrier reactions showed increased activity in the amygdala, the region of the brain that detects danger, but less activity in the cingulate cortex, which is believed to deal with aggression. This finding may help uncover the science behind violence and anger.

Source: Discover

Women may have a sixth sense

Women can smell fear, and this ability increases performance in mental activities. Men and women were asked to perform word association tasks while smelling sweat-soaked pads from people who had watched either a scary movie or a neutral movie. Overall, women smelling the fear pads performed best. No subject was aware of a fear “scent,” and researchers believe the effect was likely subconscious.

Source: The New York Times

Alternatives to casts developed

Doctors are opting to ditch the traditional plaster cast in favor of more flexible alternatives. They are increasingly using splints, special boots, metal plates, rods, and screws — especially for children. Patients treated with these methods tend to have better physical function during and after their injuries.

Source: Los Angeles Times