30 August 2006

Interesting Briefs

Most of you have heard of the Solar Tower to be built in Australia to tap the sun's energy in rising warm air. But have you heard of the Downdraft Energy Tower concept--the mirror image of the solar tower? The downdraft energy tower uses energy from falling cool air to drive turbine generators. Hat tip to Peswiki.

Scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaigne have identified a small molecule that triggers procaspase-3 to become caspase-3, to trigger cell apoptosis. The compound is tagged PAC-1, and if introduced into cancer cells containing procaspase-3 in sufficient quantities, can cause the cancer cell to commit suicide. The scientists screened 20,000 different compounds to find one with the potency of PAC-1.

Researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and MIT have found a protein kinase (m zeta) that establishes synaptic memory (LTP) in brain neurons. Interfering with the molecule, PKM zeta, can actually erase memories that have already been formed. Further research into PKM zeta could lead to better treatments for Alzheimer's, PTSD, phantom limb pain, neurogenic pain, and other neurologic conditions. Hat tip: What's Next in Scitech.

A new paper suggests that boys learn better from male teachers than female teachers. This is bad news for boys, since 80% of public school teachers in the US are female. This may be the reason why more and more boys are dropping out of school, surrendering the college campuses to their girl classmates. Christina Hoff Sommers may have been onto something big after all.

Technology Review presents a short interview with energy storage scientist Yet-Ming Chiang, presenting some general areas of development in new battery storage technology. Energy storage is the main bottleneck to larger scale use of renewable technologies, as well as an important requirement in the quest to improve reliabiity, efficiency, and functionality of the electrical energy grid.
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Blogger Audacious Epigone said...

Regarding the paper on pedagogy: Anecdotally, my three favorite pre-college teachers have all been males. Come to think of it, four of my top five university professors have also been men. Has that been your personal experience?

Wednesday, 30 August, 2006  
Blogger al fin said...

c41: Yes, it seems I have learned better from male teachers myself. It may be less important to understand the reasons for the phenomenon, than to take the necessary steps to get more qualified male teachers out there.

Michael: thanks for the comment.

Thursday, 31 August, 2006  

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