Science news with a spectral twist

Science news with a spectral twist, first 2011 issue of my now live

  • Fast-track walking pneumonia test – A new approach to testing for a common form of pneumonia using nanorod arrays to boost SERS signals can cut the time to diagnosis from several days to a mere ten minutes, according to research published in the journal Plos One.
  • Conservation conversation – Improving storage and exposure conditions in conservation of artefacts is crucial to suppressing the fading and degradation of dyes and other components of paintings. Researchers have now used several analytical techniques, including attenuated total reflectance infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, reflectance UV-Vis spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and optical microscopy, to investigate different conditions on common pigments
  • MRI by contrast – Magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents are currently designed by modifying their structural and physiochemical properties to improve relaxivity and to enhance image contrast. A new approach based on porous, disk-shaped "nests" for nanotubes could offer a way to improve contrast by increasing relaxivity through the confinement of the contrast agent within nanoporous silicon.
  • Diversity beyond compare – The crystal structure of taxadiene synthase, an enzyme key to terpene biosynthesis in many living organisms, confirms a theoretically predicted link between two enzyme classes in the evolution of compounds such as the natural product anticancer drug Taxol.
  • Metabolic insights into celiac disease – Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder caused by a permanent sensitivity to gluten in genetically susceptible individuals. A nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic approach to the disease could allow accurate and early diagnosis using metabonomics.
  • Well-stacked molecules – Japanese scientist Hiromitsu Maeda of Risumeikan University and his colleagues have turned to the well-known molecular motif of the pyrrole to make a new class of structured materials. By combining planar pyrrole-containing negatively charged complexes with similarly planar, positively charged organic ions they can generate fibres and soft materials, such as supramolecular gels and liquid crystals based on these organic salts.
  • Scientists use Wiimote to measure water evaporation rates – recently published report in the Water Resources Research academic journal describes an experiment undertaken by a team tasked with measuring evaporation rates by monitoring water levels. Rather than use a hypersensitive monitor or a high tech ballast system, they used a Wiimote.