influenza A

While You Were at the Bench: Week 38

In case you were glued to your lab bench, here is a roundup of this week in science.

United States science budgets will be cut by 8.2% starting January 2nd, 2013 unless Congress gets its act together and approves a budget to drastically reduce spending.  This means NIH and NSF budgets could be trimmed by 2.5 billion and 551 million respectively.  Ouch!

Noncontact atomic force microscopy developed by IBM scientists has allowed detection of individual chemical bonds within a single molecule.  This has important implications for graphene structures and devices.  Where can I preorder tickets for that space elevator?  For those without access, view a summary of the article here.

Just in time for flu season, researchers have unraveled the crystal structure of the human protein responsible for neutralizing the influenza A virus.  This could lead to the development of a universal flu vaccine.

After controlling for caloric intake and hours spent watching television (among a plethora of other factors), researchers found that children and adolescents with the highest levels of urinary bisphenol A (BPA) were 2.6 times more likely to be obese compared with those who had the lowest urinary concentrations.  And people think I’m over protective for limiting my daughter’s exposure to BPA.  A synopsis of the article can be found here.

In the coming months, an estimated 200 papers authored by anaesthesiologist Yoshitaka Fujii, formerly of Toho University in Tokyo are expected to be retracted due to data fabrication.  It’s unfortunate that such an important aspect of medical research has been rocked by hundreds of retractions these past 3 years.

After outfitting bumblebees with miniature radar antenna and tracking their movements, researchers determined how bumblebees use trial-and-error to quickly determine the shortest distance between objects.  Algorithms describing these learning patterns could be used in robotics for exploring unfamiliar terrain.   Now if we can just get sharks with some frickin laser beams.

Try to stay out of the lab and enjoy your weekend.

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