Science, Health & Recalls Week of November 24
Science Implies Love Can Last Past Honeymoon
A new study on brain activity implies some people can remain madly in love with each other after years of marriage, Science News reports. The data implied that long-term lovers can exhibit the same brain activity as short-lovers in the “honeymoon” stage. Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York showed long-term lovers a picture of their partner while monitoring their brain activity using fMRI and found activity in a part of the pleasure area of the brain called the ventral tegmental. The data also offered insight into the benefits of staying in a long-term relationship, showing increased levels of activity in a part of the brain associated with calmness and pain suppression. The group presented its results at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience on November 16.
Planets Discovered Out Solar System
Two teams of astronomers have captured images of alien planets outside our solar system, The New York Times reports. Dr. Christian Marois and his team from the Hezberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria, British Columbia recorded three planets circling a star known as HR 8799, and Paul Kalas with his team from the University of California, Berkeley, also found a planet orbiting the star Fomalhaut. The pictures show four likely planets that appear as specks of white, in galaxies trillions of miles away. The achievement opens the door to new investigations of what planets are and how they came to be formed, and raises the possibility of other life forms in the universe.
Engineers Pine Planets For Fuel Alternatives
The limited amount of oil on Earth has bioengineers looking to plants as a fuel for the future, NPR reports. Christopher Somerville and his colleagues at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of California at Berkeley are working on a recipe for converting cellulous into sugar molecules, glucose, which can then be turned into ethanol when combined with yeast, or into liquid fuel. Utilizing plant cellulose as fuel could transform the economy with a less damaging alternative to fossil fuels: carbon from the plants can cycle from the exhaust pipe into the air, back to the plants and then to the fuel again.
DHHS To Open China, India, LatAm Offices
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said announced it will be opening Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offices in China, India, Europe, and Latin America by the end of this year. Increasing the presence of the DHHS overseas will enhance the safety of imported food and medical products, providing greater assurance to American consumers. The company’s Beyond our Borders initiative will ensure that overseas staff will be working with foreign governments and overseeing procedures. The U.S. government recently secured formal approval from the People’s Republic of China to open a Beijing office that will be fully staffed by 2009.
Lack Of HIV Testing Fuels Epidemic
A failure to widely implement routine HIV testing continues to fuel its spread, researchers and experts said at a National Summit by the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research. Recent data show that the healthcare system is routinely missing critical opportunities to identify and treat HIV-infected individuals, although such testing could save years of healthy life and limit the spread of the disease. “When it comes to HIV testing, the health care system is stuck in the past,” Summit co-chair Dr. John G. Bartlett, of The Johns Hopkins University said. There also remain ongoing barriers to testing, including obstructive policies by federal agencies, a lack of funding, information, and trained staff.