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The Password Is G-L-O
Chemists in Israel have designed a molecule that can process a password in a manner similar to electronic keypads found in home security systems. The molecular lock, which resembles an iron-binding compound secreted by bacteria, "opens" when a combination of ultraviolet light and two chemical signals activates its fluorescent molecules. Information carried via the glowing molecules could thereby authorize a user or trigger another process....

Cutting Back, Not Cutting Down
Smokers who cut back on cigarettes may not necessarily be curtailing the amount of toxic substances they inhale. Heavy smokers who light up less often still breathe in at least two times more toxic substances per cigarette than light smokers, according to a study by Doro?thy Hatsukami and her colleagues at the University of Minnesota. Evidently, when heavy smokers puff on fewer cigarettes, they compensate for lower levels of nicotine by inhaling more deeply or longer on each one....

The Long and Short of It
Current understanding divides gamma-ray bursts into those that last less than two seconds and those of longer duration. The latter occur when a massive, young star goes supernova and leaves behind a black hole. The former happen when an old neutron star spirals into a preexisting black hole....

Titanic Lakes of Methane
Methane smog enshrouds Titan, Saturn's mysterious moon. Because of that smog, researchers have surmised that liquid methane should exist on the surface, but probes had failed to find any. Recent radar imaging by the Cassini space probe, however, has now uncovered 75 lake-like areas, some spanning 70 kilometers, near the northern pole...

Back to the Future
The human mind taps into the same parts of the brain while imagining the future as it does when recollecting the past. Neuroscientists at Washington University in St. Louis put 21 volunteers in a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine and asked them to recall or imagine events, such as seeing themselves at a party with Bill Clinton. Eight different regions displayed extra activity--that is, increased blood flow--when dealing with imagining the future, including Brodmann's area, the medial posterior parietal cortex and the posterior cerebellum...

A Gene for Aging Smartly
If you live to 100, as roughly one in every 10,000 people do, you will want both your mind and body intact. A certain gene seems to help accomplish just that. Nir Barzilai of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and his colleagues examined 158 elderly people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Centenarians who passed a 30-question test were two to three times as likely to have a common variant of the so-called CETP gene as those who did not...

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