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See Inside January 2007

News Scan Briefs

ASTRONOMY
Moon Gas
The moon's reputation as a cold, inactive orb may be undeserved. A new look at Apollo 15 photographs revealed crisp features inside the Ina structure that suggest relative youth. A general absence of asteroid impact craters on the structure's floor also indicates that it is no more than 10 million years old....

PHYSICS
I Don't See the Light
Mere months after making a technologically feasible proposal, researchers have demonstrated a rudimentary example of an invisibility cloak. The device consists of a composite of metal and wires embedded in fiberglass and structured so as to make light behave in weird ways. David Schurig and David Smith of Duke University, along with their colleagues, designed concentric rings of this so-called metamaterial that bend microwave radiation around the innermost ring, like water flowing around a stone....

LONGEVITY
Being Cool for a Longer Life
Warm-blooded animals on calorie-restricted diets live longer--but also feel chilly. Now researchers find lowering the core body temperature alone can extend the lives of mice. Tamas Bartfai, Bruno Conti and their colleagues at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., tricked the brains of transgenic mice into thinking the ambient temperature was too hot so that they lowered their body temperature a few fractions of a degree....

NEUROPSYCHOLOGY
Language Trumps Innate Spatial Cognition
Language seems to override an innate ability to understand spatial relations. Researchers compared Dutch adults and children, who describe a spatial relation from the point of view of the speaker, with a group of adults and children from a hunter-gatherer community in Namibia, who rely on a viewer-independent description of a space. Researchers hid a block under one of five cups in front of them and asked the subjects to find a similar block under their own set of five cups in front of them....

SENSES
Partners in Pain
Three molecules discovered in spider venom may provide a new tool to probe how the receptors on sensory neurons work to produce pain. When researchers injected the purified toxins into the paws of mice, their limbs became inflamed and the animals reacted by licking them and flinching. Mice genetically engineered not to express the receptor, however, did not react when the toxin was administered, according to the study in the November 9 Nature....

MEMORY
Brain Gain
Running a weak electric current through the brains of sleeping student volunteers improved their performance on a word-recall task. Prior to sleep, the students memorized 46 word pairs and, on average, recalled 36.5 of them. After the electrically stimulated sleep, they improved their recall to 41.2 words, compared with just 39.5 words for the group that did not receive the jolt....

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