News of the Week:
Yolks of Yore: Oldest Animals Found
Fossilized embryos, found in 570-million-year-old Chinese rocks, provide the earliest record of animal life.
Ayala, F.J., and A. Rzhetsky. 1998. Origin of the metazoan phyla: Molecular clocks confirm paleontological estimates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 95(Jan. 20):606.
Li, C., J. Chen, and T. Hua. 1998. Precambrian sponges with cellular structures. Science 279(Feb. 6):879.
Xiao, S., Y. Zhang, and A.H. Knoll. 1998. Three-dimensional preservation of algae and animal embryos in a Neoproterozoic phosphorite. Nature 391(Feb. 5):553.
Monastersky, R. 1997. Nambian fossils reveal ancient oddities. Science News 152(Nov. 22):326.
______. 1997. Fossil embryos reveal early animals. Science News 152(Nov. 15):319.
Did water carve canyon on Mars?
The first image of a dried-up channel at the bottom of the canyon Nanedi Vallis provides evidence that a steady source of water once flowed on Mars.
The full image is available at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/msss/camera/images/2_2_98_release/8704/8704_small.gif.
Cowen, R. 1997. Postcards from the Red Planet. Science News 152(July 12):20.
Beavers bite trees, benefit baby beetles
When beavers cut down cottonwood trees, they indirectly help cottonwood leaf beetles grow faster and taste nastier.
Martinsen, G.D., E.M. Driebe, and T.G. Whitham. 1998. Indirect interactions mediated by changing plant chemistry: Beaver browsing benefits beetles. Ecology 79(January):192.
Chen, I. 1990. Plants bite back. Science News 138(Dec. 22&29):408.
Karban, R., and J.H. Myers. 1989. Induced plant responses to herbivory. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 20:331.
Wootton, J.T. 1994. The nature and consequences of indirect effects in ecological communities. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 25:443.
How low will we go in fishing for dinner?
Fisheries are propping up yields by harvesting stocks that are increasingly lower down the marine food chain.
Pauly, D., et al. 1998. Fishing down marine food webs. Science 279(Feb. 6).
Dayton, P.K. 1998. Reversal of the burden of proof in fisheries management. Science 279(Feb. 6):821.
Raloff, J. 1997. Overfishing imperils cod reproduction. Science News 151(Feb. 22):124.
______. 1996. Fishing for answers. Science News 150(Oct. 26):268.
______. 1995. Fishing: What we don't keep. Science News 148(Dec. 16):415.
______. 1995. U.N. treaty to aid 'international' fish. Science News 148(Dec. 9):389.
Protein switch curls bacterial propellers
When a bacterium throws its motors into reverse, its flagella change the structure of their protein components.
Yamashita, I. . . . K. Namba. 1998. Structure and switching of bacterial flagellar filaments studied by X-ray fiber diffraction. Nature Structural Biology 5(February):125.
1986. Finding parts for bacterial motors. Science News 130(Nov. 1):281.
Caspar, D.L.D. 1998. Bacterial flagellar coiling explained by slip-and-click strand switching. Nature Structural Biology 5(February):92.
Lipkin, R. 1993. A new twist on bacterial rotary engines. Science News 144(Dec. 11):388.
Strobel, G. 1993. Minimizing molecular motor mysteries. Science News 144(Nov. 13):316.
New Budget Provides Lift for Science
The President's proposed 1999 budget offers significant increases in funding for many, but not all, science agencies.
The president's 1999 budget is detailed at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/budget/index.html.
Cowen, R. 1997. C'est la vie. Science News 284(Nov. 1):284.
Further analysis of the federal science budget is available at http://www.aaas.org/spp/dspp/rd/rdwwwpg.htm.
Mysteries of a massive star
The star Eta Carinae has unexpectedly stopped emitting X rays, which had reached an unprecedented peak.
Cowen, R. 1997. All eyes on Eta Carinae: A new spectacle? Science News 152(Dec. 13):373.
Asteroid impact: Beware the tsunami
An asteroid landing in the middle of the ocean has a greater potential for destruction than an asteroid landing on solid ground.
Hills, J.G., and C. Mader. 1997. Meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Washington, D.C.
Seeing how much stuff sticks to snow
Measuring the total surface area of a volume of snow could help improve determinations of the amount of pollution picked up from the air.
Hoff, J.T., et al. 1998. Measurement of the specific surface area of snow with the nitrogen adsorption technique. Environmental Science & Technology 32(Jan. 1):58.
Cocaine-laced locks tell hairy tales
Pressurized carbon dioxide can selectively dissolve cocaine out of hair as part of a drug-testing process.
Morrison, J.F., et al. 1998. Matrix and modifier effects in the supercritical fluid extraction of cocaine and benzoylecgonine from human hair. Analytical Chemistry 70(Jan. 1):163.
Wu, C. 1997. A green clean. Science News 152(Aug. 16):108.
Blinded by beauty
Extremely handsome people are often mistakenly rated as healthier than their peers.
Kalick, S.M., et al. 1998. Does human facial attractiveness honestly advertise health? Psychological Science 90(January):8.
1993. The shape of evolution. Science News 144(Aug. 21):120.
Pennisi, E. 1995. Imperfect match. Science News 147(Jan. 28):60.
Genetic hint of psychosis
An as-yet-unspecified gene appears to contribute to the psychotic symptoms that characterize schizophrenia.
Brzustowicz, L.M., et al. 1997. Use of a quantitative trait to map a locus associated with severity of positive symptoms in familial schizophrenia to chromosome 6p. American Journal of Human Genetics 61(December):1388.
Bower, B. 1995. Schizophrenia yields new gene clues. Science News 148(Nov. 4):292.
'Feathered' dinosaur makes debut
Chinese scientists describe a dinosaur covered with downy fibers.
Chen, P., Z. Dong, and S. Zhen. 1998. An exceptionally well-preserved theropod dinosaur from the Yixian formation of China. Nature 391(Jan. 8):147.
Monastersky, R. 1997. A fowl fight. Science News 152(Aug. 23):120.
Another dinosaur sells for millions
A North Carolina museum pays $3 million for a rare dinosaur skeleton.
Monastersky, R. 1997. Psst . . . Wanna buy a T. rex? Science News 152(Dec. 13):382.
Liquid Bose-Einstein condensate found
A new analysis of data obtained years ago confirms a decades-old suspicion that a measurable fraction of the atoms in liquid helium form a Bose-Einstein condensate.
Wyatt, A.F.G. 1998. Evidence for a Bose-Einstein condensate in liquid 4He from quantum evaporation. Nature 391(Jan. 1):56.
Griffin, A. 1998. Condensate forced out of hiding. Nature 391(Jan. 1):25.
Peterson, I. 1996. Viewing, jiggling a novel state of matter. Science News 149(May 25):327.
Wu, C. 1995. Physics 'Holy Grail' finally captured. Science News 148(July 15):36.
Whither heapeth the dancing sands?
A computer model has predicted the patterns formed by granular materials on vibrating surfaces.
Bizon, C., et al. 1998. Patterns in 3D vertically oscillated granular layers: Simulation and experiment. Physical Review Letters 80(Jan. 5):57.
Peterson, I. 1996. Shaken bead beds show pimples and dimples. Science News 150(Aug. 31):135.
Staging Germ Warfare in Foods
Science harnesses bacteria to fend off food poisoning and spoilage
An unusual group of bacterial proteins that can kill harmful germs may be added to foods or their packages.
Bacteriocins: The 'competitive edge in nature.' 1997. Food Safety Consortium Newsletter 7(Summer):1. Available online at http://www.uark.edu/depts/fsc.
Chen, Y. . . . T.J. Montville. 1997. Functional characterization of pediocin PA-1 binding to lipsomes in the absence of a protein receptor and its relationship to a predicted tertiary structure. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 63(February):524.
Coventry, M.J. . . . B.E. Davidson, et al. 1997. Detection of bacteriocins of lactic acid bacteria isolated from foods and comparison with pediocin and nisin. Journal of Applied Microbiology 83:248.
Degnan, A.J. . . . J.B. Luchansky. 1997. Evaluation of lactic acid bacterium fermentation products and food-grade chemicals to control Listeria monocytogenes in blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) meat. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 60(September):3198.
Degnan, A.J., A.E. Yousef, and J.B. Luchansky. 1992. Use of Pediococcus acidilactici to control Listeria monocytogenes in temperature-abused vacuum-packaged wieners. Journal of Food Protection 55(February):98.
Jack, R.W., et al. 1996. Characterization of the chemical and antimicrobial properties of piscicolin 126, a bacteriocin produced by Carnobacterium piscicola JG126. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 62(August):2897.
Klaenhammer, T.R. 1993. Genetics of bacteriocins produced by lactic acid bacteria. Federation of European Microbiological Societies Microbiology Reviews 12:39.
Raloff, J. 1996. Sponges and sinks and rags, oh my! Science News 150(Sept. 14):172.
______. 1996. Tracking and tackling foodborne germs. Science News 149(May 25):326.
Wan, J., et al. 1997. Inhibition of Listeria monocytogenes by piscicolin 126 in milk and Camembert cheese manufactured with a thermophilic starter. Journal of Applied Microbiology 82:273.
Yousef, A.E. 1991. Behavior of Listeria monocytogenes in wiener exudates in the presence of pediococcus acidilactici H or pediocin AcH during storage at 4 or 25 degrees Celsius. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 57(May):1461.
Light from the Early Universe
Discerning patterns in galaxies from long ago
After finding some 440 galaxies so distant that the light they emit takes 12 billion years to reach Earth, astronomers are beginning to identify patterns in the distribution of visible matter in the early universe.
Steidel, C.C., et al. 1998. A large structure of galaxies at Redshift z~3 and its cosmological implications. Astrophysical Journal 492(Jan. 10):428.
Cowen, R. 1998. The cosmos' fate: World without end. Science News 153(Jan. 3):4.
______. 1996. Found: Primeval galaxies. Science News 149(Feb. 24):120.
Table of Contents - 2/7/98