24 May, 2010 – This Week in Science


Build Your Own Bacteria
Scientists have created a completely synthetic organism by copying the genome a certain species of bacteria, thereby paving the way for a new method of creating bacteria that will do specific tasks such as clean up oil spills.

Poo Power
Fuel from municipal sludge is now within a few cents of being cost-effective for use. Treatment plants are looking to microorganisms that can produce higher amount of usable fuel.

The Antelope that Cried Wolf
Topi Antelopes in southwest Kenya have observed male scientists lying to increase their chances of getting females to mate with them.

Whats the Matter with Matter and Antimatter?
Researchers at The National Accelerator looking at 8 years of data are observing the decay of neutral beta mesons. As these particles decay they turn into either a matter particle or an antimatter particle, in a ratio that scientists predicted would be 50:50. However, they found that there is an asymmetry of 1%.

Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?
….. We still don’t know. The Interphone Study Group analyzed individuals with incidences of brain cancer and their self reported cell phone use for over ten years. They found results that could be interpreted to say that cell phone actually protects you from cancer. There are issues with this study however, since self reporting is never entirely accurate, and the radiation from cell phones has changed over time.

Learning by Osmosis
In a study looking at people in both China and the US found that the level of education children attain is linked less to their country of residence or the education level of their parents, than to the number of books in the household.

Brainy Bacteria
A common soil bacteria appears to have the ability to not only boost your mood but to also make you smarter (or at least better at mazes). So far the effects have only been studied in mice.


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