Sunday, March 29

Combined Feed (New Scientist)

I have too much fricking work!!! Which means no time for blogging, and you get a combined post with all the coolest most interesting new stuff from

Flowers on the Moon?

A firm that has designed habitats for plants and animals living in microgravity now hopes to grow the first flowers on the moon, the company's founders announced on Friday.

Engineering firm Paragon Space Development plans to build a greenhouse to fly to the moon. It is set to travel on a lunar lander designed by Odyssey Moon, a competitor for the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million contest to send an unmanned lunar rover to the moon. Read more...

Locked Drugs

Future drugs could feature built-in security to prevent them reaching the wrong tissue inside the body, says an international team of biochemists.

The researchers have developed a light-activated "combination lock", a molecule that only becomes active when exposed to two distinct colours of light in the right order. It could provide a way to ensure that small packages of drugs deliver their payload only exactly where and when it is needed, says Joakim Andréasson at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. The lock was developed with colleagues at Arizona State University.

Molecular locks have been made before. But they used chemicals as the trigger, which makes for a sluggish system, says Andréasson, because they diffuse slowly through the body. Using pulses of light is much faster and also allows the lock to be opened and closed repeatedly, because there are no chemical residues to foul the molecular mechanism. Read more...

Artificial Baby Butter Increases Healing

AN ARTIFICIAL version of the buttery coating that protects and nurtures a fetus's developing skin could find a use outside the womb, in speeding up wound healing and treating eczema.

Natural vernix caseosa contains a mixture of fatty compounds that waterproof the fetus. Crucially, it also contains dead cells called corneocytes, which store large amounts of water and ensure that the fetus does not get dehydrated. Vernix may also act as a barrier to infections. Read more...

California Considers Ban on Blacks (cars that it)

News that California may ban the sale of black cars for climate protection reasons raised the hackles of many a petrolhead yesterday.

At the root of the stir was a presentation (pdf) by the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Resources Board (CARB). The Cool Paints initiative suggests that the state should set a minimum level of reflectivity for all car paints and windows.

More reflective vehicles, goes the idea, could stay up to 10 °C cooler in the sunshine state - this in turn could reduce the need to have air conditioning on and thereby cut greenhouse-gas emissions. Read more...

Climate Changes Borders

Italy and Switzerland are planning to redraw their shared alpine border, as global warming is melting the glaciers that originally guided the line. Although peaceful, the move raises fears of future conflicts over shifting borders and resources.

Glaciers and ice fields around the world are melting as temperatures rise, with Europe's high mountains particularly hard hit. Read more...

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