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See Inside December 2006

News Scan Briefs

PHYSICS
Light-Matter Teleportation
Physicists recently teleported information stored in a beam of light into a cloud of atoms, without destroying the sensitive quantum state, a feat essential for future quantum computers and cryptography systems. Eugene Polzik and his colleagues at the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark first entangled the laser and atoms into sharing a complementary quantum state by shining a strong laser beam onto a cloud of cesium atoms.

A second weak laser pulse, which stored the information to be teleported, was then mixed with the strong light beam, and their combined amplitudes and phases were measured....

PSYCHOLOGY
Brain Zaps for Generosity
In the ultimatum game two players are offered a set amount of money. If they agree on how to divvy it up, they will keep that money for themselves. If they don't, neither will get anything....

BIOTECH
Blood Blocker
Bleeding on the battlefield and in routine surgery is controlled by a number of different products, all of which have drawbacks, such as the potential for excessive heat, blood clots and allergic reactions. But a new biodegradable protein solution able to stanch bleeding in mere seconds appears to also be nontoxic and long-lasting in animals. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Hong Kong developed a liquid made from short proteins, or peptides, that could repair severed optic nerves in hamsters and control brain bleeding in mice, as well as oozing from other types of wounds....

ASTRONOMY
A Reason for a Moonless Venus
One of biggest mysteries in the solar system is why Venus has no moon. A new model proposes that our sister planet may in fact have had a moon but that it was destroyed. At an October meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Alex Alemi and David Stephenson of the California Institute of Technology suggested Venus underwent not one large impact, like the collision thought to have formed Earth's moon, but two....

BIOLOGY
Moles' Cancer Brake
Most moles harbor mutations that can trigger deadly skin cancer, but many do not fulfill any cancerous destiny. Researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor pinpointed a series of mechanisms that prevent cells in a particular type of mole from continuing to divide, despite having various mutations and tumor-promoting oncogenes. The scientists found that the endoplasmic reticulum, the organelle inside cells that folds amino acids into proteins, can sense the presence of oncogenes and stop its protein folding, thereby shutting down the cancerous cell prematurely....

EXTINCTIONS
Earth's Precession, Species Procession
Mammal species do not seem to last very long in the grand scheme of things, persisting for an average of 2.5 million years, according to the fossil record. By studying the fossilized teeth of rodents from over a span of 22 million years, Jan van Dam of Utrecht University and his colleagues found that rodent species rise and fall in cycles that closely match variations in Earth's orbit. The cycle between an elliptical and circular orbit and a change in the tilt of Earth's axis combined to create periods in which our planet did not tilt very much as it revolved around the sun, thereby eliminating seasons and resulting in less climatic variability....

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