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Science News: January 2005

Author: Nicolas Delerue, Issue: January 2005, Topic: Science

Changing water's boiling point with a magnet

Scientist know very well that the temperature at which water boils depends on 2 parameters: temperature and pressure. A team from Chiba University has shown that strong magnetic fields can also affect the boiling temperature of water. They have measured with a high precision the boiling point of water under a strong magnetic field (6 Tesla) and they have observed that the boiling temperature of water under such conditions increased of 5.6 millikelvin. They believe that this can be explained by the special structure of liquid water where molecules are weakly linked to each other by hydrogen bonds.

More details can be found at http://physicsweb.org/articles/news/8/12/4

Healing Parkinson's disease

Researchers from Kyoto University have successfully treated monkeys with Parkinson's disease using stem cell transplants. Parkinson's disease occurs when the production of "dopamine" declines in the body. Stem cells are able to produce the missing dopamine and thus to heal Parkinson's disease (or at least to attenuate strongly its effects). It remains to be seen how long the effect of the stem cell replacement lasts in the monkeys before any attempt can be made to apply the same technique to humans. Stem cells are produced from fertilized eggs and thus their use raises ethical questions as some people consider that life starts as soon as the eggs are fertilized.

More details at http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=1&id=323775

Gay penguins in Japan

Biologists from the Rikkyo University in Tokyo studying mating habits of penguins in various aquariums in Japan have been surprised to spot many same sex couples. In total more than 20 homosexual pairs have been found in 16 different facilities. The biologists explain this by the fact that in aquariums penguins live in closed communities of 20 birds on average with an uneven number of male and female. The frequency at which homosexuality occurs in the wild is not known as it is very hard to determine the sex of penguins.

Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20041226a6.htm

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