Published: Thursday 30 November 2006

for the broken hearts: Researchers in North Carolina say zebrafish may hold the key to understanding repairs of the heart. Researchers at Duke University said when they removed a portion of the fish's heart they saw that stem cells formed inside the wound interact with the wound's protective cell layer to regenerate functional heart tissue, Science said. Duke scientists said the research with zebrafish could provide a model to aid researchers revive what they believe is this dormant regenerative capacity in mammals, leading to therapies for human hearts damaged by disease.

calcium to track brain:
If you want to see what the 10 billion neurons in a person's brain are doing, a good way to start is to track calcium as it flows into neurons when they fire. Professor Alan Jasanoff at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's McGovern Institute for Brain Research has developed a new nano-sized calcium-sensing contrast agent that is detectable by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners, machines that can be used for detailed noninvasive brain imaging. The new agent, which incorporates extra-strength molecular-sized magnets, results in large MRI contrast changes capable of producing very high-resolution images.

liquid diamond: A Z machine designed by the Sandia national laboratory, a US-based nuclear security administration facility, has turned a diamond sheet into a pool of liquid by creating pressures more than 10 million times that of the atmosphere at sea level. The object of the experiment was to better understand the characteristics of diamond under the extreme pressure it would face when used as a capsule for a BB-sized pellet intended to fuel a nuclear fusion reaction. The experiment is another step in the drive to release enough energy from fused atoms to create unlimited electrical power for humanity.

test tube koalas: Three of the eight koala babies produced by artificial insemination have made their first public appearance at an Australian nature preserve. The koala joeys were conceived as a part of developing the first koala sperm bank, said University of Queensland officials. They were conceived through a technology that uses sperm mixed with a solution that extends the sperm's shelf-life, the university said. Steve Johnston, reproductive biologist, said with the technology koala semen can be shipped across Australia and eventually overseas.

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