What's the buzz.

What's the buzz.

Neutral dust can get charged on its own

Scientists have explained how lightning can occur even in the driest deserts — neutral dust can gain an electrical life of its own, according to a new theory.
It has long been known that clouds of neutral particles can sometimes gain a net charge, which can cause even the driest sand to generate lightning, and sugar refineries and coal-processing plants can experience unexpected explosions.
While most researchers have ascribed such events to static build-up, but Troy Shinbrot, a physicist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, was wondering how could sand and dust, which do not conduct electricity under normal conditions, generate fields strong enough to spark massive lightening bolts?

“These materials are insulators under very dry conditions, so where are the charges coming from?”After mulling over it for weeks, Shinbrot developed a theory.
By Shinbrot’s own admission, the idea of neutral particles charging through the act of neutralizing “just didn’t seem right”. But when he began modelling his theoretical sand particles, he found that the idea held up.

Fatty fish may help treat male infertility
Besides keeping the heart healthy, omega-3 fatty acids may also have implications for treating male infertility, say researchers.Fatty fish are a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

“In our experiment, we used ‘knockout’ mice that lacked the gene responsible for an enzyme important in making docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In the absence of DHA, male mice are basically infertile, producing few if any misshaped sperm that can’t get where they need to go,” said Manabu Nakamura, a U of I associate professor of food science and human nutrition.“We looked at sperm count, shape, and motility and tested the breeding success rate, and the mice lacking DHA simply were not able to breed,” said Manuel Roqueta-Rivera, a U of I doctoral student who also worked on the study.
In the DHA-deficient knockout mice, sperm counts were extremely low. The sperm that were produced were round instead of elongated and they were unable to move well, he said.But, when DHA was introduced into the diet, fertility was completely restored.

Stress can make tumours grow bigger
A new research suggests that hormones produced during periods of stress accelerate the growth of tumours. Chronic stress has recently been implicated as a factor that may increase the growth rate of tumours. However, the mechanisms underlying this effect have not been determined.

Now, Anil Sood and colleagues, in the University of Texas, have generated data using human ovarian cancer cell lines and tumour specimens that indicate that stress hormones, especially norepinephrine and epinephrine, can contribute to tumour progression in patients with ovarian cancer.

Anoikis is the process by which cells are triggered to die when separated from their surrounding matrix and neighbouring cells. Tumour cells that spread to other sites somehow escape anoikis.