Fishy Smaller Fish

We reported on claims to have found the world’s smallest fish that appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. The aquatic critter measured just 7.9 mm apparently and was found in a peat swamp in Southeast Asia. However, it seems the authors of the paper failed to note that a much, much smaller sexually mature angler fish was reported in the autumn of 2005 at just 6.2 mm to 7.4 mm in length.

So, what’s a few millimetres between friends? The female of the species in question, Photocorynus spiniceps presumably sees the significance, she comes in at a wopping 46 mm (some 7 seven times longer than her mate).

The smaller fish was reported in the journal Ichthyological Research and according to the study, the male is essentially a sexual parasite. He fuses for life to the back of his mate by biting on and turns the female into a hermaphrodite, providing her body with everything she needs to reproduce, she provides the food and navigational skills.

Again, size is everything for this arduous task, male spiniceps have testes so unfeasibly large that they almost fill his entire body cavity, even to the point of crowding out his other internal organs. Still, what fish is going to care about his internal organs when he’s perpetually mating and getting fed in the process?

Discovery of New Elements

A combination of physics and chemistry helped researchers identify the two “new” chemical elements – 113 and 115. The elemental discoveries took place at the Russian nuclear research centre (JNIR) in Dubna in 2003, but ongoing experiments are underway to provide additional evidence.

Heavy elements decay by emitting alpha particles (helium nucleus). American, Russian and Swiss scientists used this decay to prove the existence of elements 115 and its alpha decay product 113. In order to synthesize atoms of element 115 a rotating target disc of americium was bombarded with a calcium beam. Fusion between Americium and calcium produced a detectable quantity of 115 atoms.

However the formation of the atoms was not enough to prove the element’s existence as its atoms only exist for a tenth of a second and are difficult to detect. The radiochemical experiments proved much more successful yielding a provable five times as many atoms.

As expected, element 115 emits an alpha particle to decay to element 113. Four subsequent emissions produce dubnium, element 105. A copper plate was held behind the rotating americium disc to collect all element 115 atoms emitted from the target. The researchers then used liquid chromatography techniques to observe fifteen atoms of dubnium.

The decay pattern of these atoms supported the physics experiments, thus proving the earlier discovery of element 115 and its offspring element 113. All elements below atomic number 113 are already known.

Quite astonishingly a press release today from the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland seemed to imply that these elemental discoveries were recent and that somehow they were down to the PSI. This is, not the case. Dozens of researchers were involved in the discovery, which was reported on Sciencebase and elsewhere in September 2003.

Take a look here for a timeline of elemental discoveries

Fitting Genes to Obesity Problem

Ana Antón Solanas, a research assistant in the Dietetics and Diet Therapy Unit of the University of Navarra, hopes to tailor diet and exercise regimes to women with specific types of obesity. She has received a fellowship from The Danone Institute to investigate the effects of a hypocaloric diet and physical training in the metabolic and hormonal response in a group of obese women.

The women in the study have a genetic difference (a Gln27Glu polymorphism in the beta2adrenergic receptor) that endows them with a greater body mass index despite exercising on a regular basis. Solanas research does not provide an excuse for obesity. “Our goal consists precisely in understanding the reason that women with this trait are more resistant to weight loss,” she says.

The ultimate aim of the research is to understand the characteristics of obesity that vary depending on such genetic polymorphisms and to develop individualized treatments for each obesity type.

“In the future we will be able to create diets and exercise regimens which are genetically adjusted to the individual person,” she adds.

Chemistry World Calendar

If you’re a Chemistry World reader you may have their freebie wallplanner tacked to the pinboard in your lab. But, watch out when you’re booking meetings towards the end of June this year. In their efforts to get as many conference ads into the chart, publisher the Royal Society of Chemistry skips a beat, with Friday June 30 leaping to Wednesday July 1.

Of course, if you’re using the freebie wallplanner from almost any other learned society, you’d know that July 1 is on a Saturday this year.

P2P Bit Torrent Kazaa

…you name it, the file swappers will have tried it. From the early days of usenet via chat rooms to the distributed torrent systems, file sharing is still thriving with users sharing everything from music and software to images and movies. According to a report on scenta, court action against file-sharers across the world has not reduced illegal downloading.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industries (IFPI) claims that it is “containing” the problem. However, as more people are broadband-enabled, the problem seems only likely to get worse.

Indeed, the report says, file-sharing has remained at the same level for two years despite 20,000 legal proceedings in seventeen countries. It’s almost an unstoppable torrent one might say.

Meanwhile, if you wanted to find out what all the fuss is about, but don’t want to risk the likes of spyware-ridden Kazaa, check out this full software download site.

Scientific Media News Release Service

Exposing yourself – Have you recently made an important discovery? Is your research now in press or accepted for publication? Does your research deserve to reach as wide an audience as possible?

Exposing yourself – Have you recently made an important discovery? Is your research now in press or accepted for publication? Does your research deserve to reach as wide an audience as possible?

If you answered, “Yes!” to any of these questions, then we can can help you create a news release that will grab the science headlines. The release can then be placed in the hands of science writers and journalists safe in the knowledge that the facts are straight and your results are highlighted not hyped. Your work could make the headlines in popular science magazines, papers, websites and many other outlets the world over, providing useful support for those funding applications that ask, “So what?”

Contact us immediately for increased exposure!

When you hear your paper is accepted get in touch with us right away. Tell us briefly the purpose of your study, the reasons you think non-specialists and non-scientists will find it interesting, and whether there are any particular aspects of the work we should bear in mind when writing about the research. We can then tailor appropriate questions to you to get to the heart of the story and prepare the news release.

You can make the most of the process by sending us a preprint in advance (PDF is best, but Word and other formats are fine) and be assured that we will adhere strictly to any embargo conditions laid down by the journal in question. You can also assist in the preparation of the release by highlighting other pertinent references in the field. Any images that might be used to improve the visual impact of the release could also be suggested at this stage. The more information you provide the more we will have to create an accurate and exciting summary of your work. You may wish to list two or three relevant websites, including your own, that would help journalists who follow up the story. Most importantly, tell us how your findings might affect people in their every day lives or whether applications might ultimately be developed from it.

Please be aware that we will breach no journal embargoes and will work in conjunction with your institute’s press office or public relations department as appropriate. We will prepare a draft of the news release and return it to you for editing and approval. We will also coordinate with your news office as necessary to ensure the news reaches the widest possible media audience to coincide with the date of publication.

The 雷竞技官网 Science Writer partnership has been in the business for sixteen years writing for many markets including daily papers, magazines, websites and others including Science, New Scientist, American Scientist, Nature, and Proc Natl Acad Sci. We also have extensive experience of creating attention-grabbing news releases for the likes of the Institute of Physics and publicity materials for the National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society, Argonne National Laboratory, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), PSIgate, and Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC). Senior partner 雷竞技官网 is a qualified chartered chemist and a member of the US National Association of Science Writers and the Association of British Science Writers. The Partnership also includes experienced proof-reader and editor Tricia Cross BS Dip RSA who ensures each news release is crafted with precision to reflect your science in the best possible light.

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Scientific Research in the Past

If you’re about to complete your degree in science and contemplating your future, then one area of science that is persistently digging up the past could be worth investigating. Check out our feature article on scientific research in the past.

Even if that doesn’t provide you with career inspiration, then take a look at our Science Jobs channel.

Keep Eating your Greens

“Research has shown that most essential nutrient deficiencies can be eliminated by small increases in diversity in the diet,” says Dr Emile Frison, Director General of IPGRI (the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute). He stresses that “this has important implications for the health and nutrition of people living in the West, but it is even more important for people living in developing countries.”

The bottom line is that you should put away those health food supplements and simply make sure you eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. But, isn’t this the fundamental advice that we’ve all known for years – “an apple a day,” “eat your greens”, “a rolling stone…”. Okay, that last one doesn’t fit, but the idea of fruit and veg being good for you, and more specifically, better for you than the contents of a pile of blister packs and little plastic bottles, is not just received wisdom, it’s pretty much been demonstrated again and again in scientific studies.

But, there is perhaps more we can do to improve even a diet rich in fresh fruit and veg, according to an IPGRI press release.

Scientists at the Catholic University in Leuven (KUL), Belgium, are working with IPGRI and partners to improve the nutritional qualities of staple foods such as the banana. “There are orange-fleshed varieties in the South Pacific that deliver the complete daily requirement for vitamin A in one banana,” says Professor Rony Swennen, director of the International Transit Centre at KUL. “We’re working to ensure that other people who depend on bananas can get the same level of nutrition from their crops, instead of having to use supplements.”

Supplements can help address specific deficiencies in essential nutrients, but a diet that is diverse offers a more holistic approach to nutrition and health. Buckwheat and finger millet, for example, reduce the risk of heart disease. Other plants contain compounds that can improve the body’s ability to assimilate nutrients and to defend itself against illness. Fenugreek, for instance, contains compounds that help the body to respond to insulin, and leafy vegetables contain antioxidant carotenoids that can prevent damage to cells and tissues. These findings are particularly significant for the developing world’s poor.

IPGRI has launched an initiative to improve the health, nutrition and livelihoods of people in the developing world by promoting dietary diversity. For example, IPGRI has been promoting the use of millets as a way to improve the income and nutrition of farmers in Tamil Nadu, in the south of India. Millets can thrive in marginal conditions, making them easier to grow and better for the environment. They are also nutritious and therefore a healthy option for urban dwellers.

“Affluent consumers are not the only ones who need to combat diabetes, obesity and other diet-related diseases,” explains Frison. “The poor in developing countries increasingly face the same problems and the solutions are the same for them.” The message is clear: diversity is a powerful source of good nutrition and thus, better health.

Promise of a Rain Garden

According to a report due to appear in the journal Environmental Science & Technology on February 15, properly designed rain gardens can trap and retain almost all common pollutants from urban storm water runoff. The finding could have a huge impact on improving water quality and ensuring that potentially harmful pollutants are remediated into less harmful compounds.

Most important, however, is that rain gardens are affordable and easy to design, say the authors, Michael Dietz and John Clausen of the University of Connecticut.

The gardens mimic the natural water cycle that existed before roads and other impervious surfaces. As the water collects and soaks into the rain garden, it infiltrates the ground rather than draining directly into sewers or waterways.

More than half the rainwater falling on a typical city block leaves as runoff, according to EPA info, this runoff contains metals, oils, fertilizers and putatively harmful particulate matter. The Connecticut team reckons shallow depressions in the earth landscaped with hardy shrubs and plants such as chokeberry or winterberry surrounded by bark mulch – so-called rain gardens – offer a very simple and esthetically pleasing solution to this problem.

A PDF file explaining more about rain gardens was previously available at

Say NO to Straddling Molecules

“Imagine you are standing, John Wayne style, on the backs of two runaway horses pulling a stagecoach. You try to bring the horses to a stop but instead the harnesses break, the horses separate, and an unlucky passenger gets thrown from the stage.”

That’s how the latest chemistry news release from Sandia National Laboratories. Poetic in its own way, I suppose, but couldn’t they have got the scientist in question Carl Hayden to put on a ten-gallon hat for the photo shoot at least?

The news release goes on to explain how he and colleagues at SNL and the National Research Council in Ottawa, Canada, and elsewhere, straddled a molecule by, in effect, standing on pair after pair of joined nitric oxide molecules (NO dimers) and watching as each pair split after being excited by an ultrashort laser pulse.

The researchers not only measured the direction of each separating NO molecule but also the direction and energy of an electron spat out as each molecular break up occurred. The electron reveals the quantum energy levels of the dimer as it separates.

Then, computer back calculations from the final speeds and angles provided the team with a way to reconstruct the event and so “see” the exact path the electron and each dimer fragment had taken, exactly as though they had ridden on the dimers as they split.

The detailed experimental results, reported in Science, allow the team to test the computational methods used for combustion and atmospheric modelling involving NO.