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Wireless signals can stunt plant growth

A Danish science experiment by a group of 9th-graders has gained worldwide interest, after they showed that wireless signals can stunt plant growth.

Five girls from Hjallerup Skole, a primary education school in Denmark, began the experiment after noticing that when they slept with their cellphones near their heads overnight, they had trouble focusing the next day, according to Danish News site DR.
The resources weren’t available to conduct an experiment around wireless signals affecting brain activity, so instead the girls decided to monitor the growth of plants near WiFi routers - and the results were a bit shocking.

Six trays containing the seeds of a garden cress herb were placed in a room without a WiFi router, and six trays were placed in a different room and next to two WiFi routers which, according to the girls’ calculations, emitted about the same type of radiation as an ordinary cellphone, reports DR.

During the 12 days of the experiment, the seeds in the six trays away from the WiFi routers grew normally, while the seeds next to the routers did not. In fact, the project photos show that many of the seeds placed near the routers turned brown and died.  “This has sparked quite a lively debate in Denmark regarding the potential adverse health-effects from mobile phones and WiFi-equipment,” Kim Horsevad, biology teacher at Hjallerup Skole told ABC News.

Horsevad said that some of the local debate over the experiment has been over whether the negative effects were due to the cress seeds drying from the heat emitted by the computer/WiFi routers used in the experiment.

But she explained that the students kept the cress seeds in both groups sufficiently moist during the whole experiment, and the temperatures were controlled thermostatically.
Loving parents can switchoff risky genes

A new research has suggested that parenting could help protect babies from dangerous genes.

Australian scientists, who have recorded widespread changes in switches controlling gene activity in twins they studied from birth to 18 months old, noted that a healthy diet, loving parents and appropriate stimulation could “switch off” genes that present a risk of physical and mental illness.

It's the first 1000 days that matter most, the scientists stated, according to News.com.au.
In a phenomenon known as epigenetics, these switches are thought to control healthy development, but can be changed by environmental factors such as diet, lifestyle and toxic chemicals.

Surprisingly, the scientists found some twins can become more epigenetically similar over time.

They believe this could be because they might have been in different sacs in the womb and then experience the same home environment.

Their research published in the journal Genome Biology demonstrted gene switches change rapidly after birth.

“The research will help us work out the extent to which early environments can change our genes and how one day we may be able to change them back,” said Dr Jeff Craig from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne.

Insecticide-coated mosquito nets to eradicate malaria

 A University of Florida entomologist wants to improve mosquito netting by coating it with insecticide toxic only to mosquitoes.

The insecticide would work by interfering with an enzyme found in the nervous systems of mosquitoes and many other organisms, called acetylcholinesterase.
Entomologist Jeff Bloomquist, a professor in UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute and its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said that existing insecticides target the enzyme but affect a broad range of species. Acetylcholinesterase helps regulate nervous system activity by stopping electrical signaling in nerve cells. If the enzyme can’t do its job, the mosquito begins convulsing and dies.  The research team’s goal is to develop compounds perfectly matched to the acetylcholinesterase molecules in malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, he said.

“We want to shut down the enzyme, but only in target species,” Bloomquist said.
Bloomquist and colleagues at Virginia Tech, where the project is based, are trying to perfect mosquito-specific compounds that can be manufactured on a large scale and applied to mosquito netting and surfaces where the pests might land.
It will take at least four to five years before the team has developed and tested a compound enough that it’s ready to be submitted for federal approval, Bloomquist said.

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