SciTech Briefs

Engineered fabric may help prevent fashion fraud

A new type of thread with properties invisible to the naked eye may be used to end designer knockoffs. Christian Müller at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, made a semitransparent thread that has certain optical properties, allowing only particular polarizations to pass through. When the threads are woven together, they create a fabric that looks purple to the naked eye, but reveals purple and pink patterns under polarized light.

Müller believes the thread could be used to create logos to place on items to thwart knockoff attempts. He is also hoping to develop threads for electronically enhanced textiles that would allow clothes to change color via electric charge.

Source: New Scientist

Compound in red wine could fight prostate cancer

Resveratrol, a compound found in grape skins and red wine, may make prostate cancer cells more susceptible to radiation treatment. When Michael Nicholl, an assistant professor of surgical oncology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, introduced resveratrol to prostate cancer cells, it increased the activity of two proteins that work together to kill cancer cells. Following radiation treatment, up to 97 percent of the cancer cells had been killed, which is a much higher percentage than usual.

A glass of red wine won’t kill cancer, though — the dosage of resveratrol necessary to yield these results is so large, current attempts to ingest that much resveratrol would result in uncomfortable side effects. Nicholl said a more effective delivery method will need to be developed.

Source: Science Daily

Farming reaches new heights with vertical farms

The sky is the limit with the opening of Singapore’s first commercial vertical farm. Entrepreneur Jack Ng has already sold half a ton of his Sky Greens bok choy and Chinese cabbage, which grow indoors inside 120 slender, 30-foot towers. The aluminum towers are in the shape of an A-frame, with trays of vegetables stacked inside them; a belt rotates the trays so that all the vegetables are able to receive equal amounts of sunlight, airflow, and irrigation.

Advocates of vertical farming say that it is an efficient, economical way to grow fresh produce in urban environments. Some agricultural scientists argue, however, that the limited amount of sunlight the plants receive will make them grow more slowly, offsetting any other advantages in efficiency that vertical farming might offer.

Source: NPR

ADHD medicine affects the brain’s reward system

Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have been studying the way the brain processes risk versus reward. The research, based on a new mathematical model of the part of the brain that registers reward and punishment, indicates that ADHD drugs lessen the signals regarding expected punishment or consequence.

Drugs like Ritalin contain dopamine, a chemical found in the brain that scientists believe motivates us to repeat actions that have previously been associated with reward. The researchers were able to calculate the effects that different dosages of Ritalin would have on the brain’s reward system.

Source: Science Daily,