Hacking the genome, how diamonds aren’t forever, and anemones with personality

Tim’s blog

This week on radio, Tim Thwaites is talking about hacking the genome; rebooting the heart; anemones with personality; how diamonds aren’t forever; and more…

Hacking the genetic code—Genetic engineers have invented a new way of quickly, precisely and thoroughly rewriting the genome of living bacteria. And that means we can change life at its most fundamental level to suit our own purposes.—Science

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20694-e-colis-genetic-code-has-been-hacked.html

Diamond disappears in sunlightIt might be among the hardest materials known—but place a diamond in a patch of sunlight, and it starts to lose atoms, according to Sydney physicists. The rate of loss isn’t really enough to damage diamond rings. The process could be useful to researchers working to tap the exceptional optical and electric properties of diamonds—Optical Materials Express

A Nature story on this topic can be found at http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110715/full/news.2011.421.html

A less shocking way to reset the heart—The standard treatment for cardiac arrest might make good television, but having up to 1000 volts pumped into your chest is a seriously painful experience. Two biophysicists, an American and a German, have found that a series of small electric shocks may be just as effective at restoring the heart’s rhythm as one large jolt. Only tested so far in beagles, they are optimistic it will also work in humans—Nature

A Science story on this topic can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/07/a-less-shocking-way-to-reset-a-b.html?ref=hp

Eating away at the genetic diversity of fishOverfishing is damaging the genetic diversity of fish to a greater degree than expected, US ecologists have found, leaving at-risk species vulnerable—New Scientist

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20699-overfishing-eats-away-at-genetic-diversity-of-fish.html

Sluggish movement at altitude as partly in the mind—At high altitude, even the fittest mountaineer’s ability to move freely can vanish into the thin air. But it’s not just the fault of your muscles, British physiologists have found. The drop-off in athletic performance in low oxygen conditions may be mostly in the mind—the brain kicking in to prevent potentially dangerous overexertion.—Journal of Applied Physiology

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20693-sluggish-movement-at-altitude-is-partly-a-brain-effect.html

Space telescope to create radio ‘eye’ bigger than earth—A Russian space telescope conceived during the Cold War has been launched this week. When it reaches an orbit almost as far away as the Moon, RadioAstron will synchronise with antennas on the ground forming the biggest telescope yet built—the equivalent of a dish almost 30 times the diameter of the Earth.—New Scientist

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20705-space-telescope-to-create-radio-eye-larger-than-earth.html

Dark energy fingerprints found in ancient radiationUntil now, the strongest evidence for dark energy, which is credited with speeding up the rate of expansion of the Universe, has come from studying supernovae. But now its fingerprints have been glimpsed in the oldest recorded radiation, says an American astronomer.—Physical Review Letters

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20702-darkenergy-fingerprints-found-in-ancient-radiation.html

Anemones have personality—Animals are considered to have personality when individuals display consistent differences in behaviour. On this definition anemones show more personality than most other animals tested in the wild.—PLoS ONE

A Science story on this topic can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/07/scienceshot-anemones-have-person.html?ref=hp

Close your eyes to win—To win at rock, paper, scissors, try closing your eyes. It could help you control an unconscious urge to imitate your opponent, thereby causing endless draws, British researchers have found.—Science

A Science story on this topic can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/07/scienceshot-rock-paper-scissors.html?ref=hp