Researchers at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg have discovered a particular molecule, named Dickkopf-1 or Dkk1, that seems to have a positive effect on cognition in the elderly. Typically, as humans (and rats) age, they produce fewer neurons, which inhibits cognitive abilities. But when Dkk1 is blocked, older rats tested just as well as younger rats on memory and recognition tests.
Water, oxygen and now sugar molecules have been found floating around in space, in the right place and at the right moment to wind up on newly forming planets. Astronomers have found sugar molecules around a star for the first time, using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array.
While most people end up crafting stick figures in boring meetings, Graham Richards of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) was doodling when he thought making "a molecular structure with three hexagonal rings above two others would make for an interesting synthetic challenge."
In an attempt to make casual daydreamers feel even worse, Richards and a team of chemists from the RSC, University of Warwick, and IBM Research–Zurich got to work, synthesizing and photographing olympicene with remarkable resolution.
A group of scientists at the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology have created a new scale (and process for weighing) that increases the accuracy of small-scale, um, scales to new heights. Their new scale, which uses short nanotubes at very low temperatures, was able to measure the vibration of items down to a single yoctogram, one septillionth of a gram. For some (possible helpful) scale (that word again!), a single proton weighs 1.7 yoctograms. The scale could be used in the future for medical diagnostics as well as research. [via Nature]
Ohio State University researchers have captured the first-ever images of atoms moving within a molecule using a novel technique that turns one of the molecules own electrons into a kind of flash bulb. The technique has yielded a new way of imaging molecules, but could one day help scientists to intimately control chemical reactions at the atomic scale.
This is a molecule, and the circles represent how the electrical charge is distributed inside it.
It's a glimpse of the forces that bind molecules together, essentially. This picture is a major breakthrough for nanotechnologists — understanding how charge is arranged inside molecules could help research in anything from solar energy to biology.
IBM researchers made this image using a new technique called Kelvin probe force microscopy, a different version of the more familiar atomic force microscopy that already gave us the first pictures of a molecule three years ago.
Clara Lazen is the discoverer of tetranitratoxycarbon, a molecule constructed of, obviously, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon. It's got some interesting possible properties, ranging from use as an explosive to energy storage. Lazen is listed as the co-author of a recent paper on the molecule. But that's not what's so interesting and inspiring about this story. What's so unusual here is that Clara Lazen is a ten-year-old fifth-grader in Kansas City, MO.
One of the hallmarks of living things is self-replication, the ability to make new copies of biological structures. Scientists have harnessed this ability in several ways, using DNA and viruses to organize materials for things like solar panels. But inducing artificial self-replication, which would enable new types of self-fabricating materials, has proven more difficult.