Scientists Uncover

Transfer of Genetic Material

Between Blood-Sucking Insect

and Mammals

Science(Apr. 30, 2010) — Researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington have found the first solid evidence of horizontal DNA transfer, the movement of genetic material among non-mating species, between parasitic invertebrates and some of their vertebrate hosts.

The findings are published in the April 28 issue of the journal Nature, one of the world’s foremost scientific journals.

Genome biologist Cédric Feschotte and postdoctoral researchers Clément Gilbert and Sarah Schaack found evidence of horizontal transfer of transposon from a South American blood-sucking bug and a pond snail to their hosts. A transposon is a segment of DNA that can replicate itself and move around to different positions within the genome. Transposons can cause mutations, change the amount of DNA in the cell and dramatically influence the structure and function of the genomes where they reside.

“Since these bugs frequently feed on humans, it is conceivable that bugs and humans may have exchanged DNA through the mechanism we uncovered. Detecting recent transfers to humans would require examining people that have been exposed to the bugs for thousands of years, such as native South American populations,” Feschotte said.

Data on the insect and the snail provide strong evidence for the previously hypothesized role of host-parasite interactions in facilitating horizontal transfer of genetic material. Additionally, the large amount of DNA generated by the horizontally transferred transposons supports the idea that the exchange of genetic material between hosts and parasites influences their genomic evolution.

“It’s not a smoking gun, but it is as close to it as you can get,” Feschotte said

The infected blood-sucking triatomine, causes Chagas disease by passing trypanosomes (parasitic protozoa) to its host. Researchers found the bug shared transposon DNA with some hosts, namely the opossum and the squirrel monkey. The transposons found in the insect are 98 percent identical to those of its mammal hosts.

The researchers also identified members of what Feschotte calls space invader transposons in the genome of Lymnaea stagnalis, a pond snail that acts as an intermediate host for trematode worms, a parasite to a wide range of mammals.

The long-held theory is that mammals obtain genes vertically, or handed down from parents to offspring. Bacteria receive their genes vertically and also horizontally, passed from one unrelated individual to another or even between different species. Such lateral gene transfers are frequent in bacteria and essential for rapid adaptation to environmental and physiological challenges, such as exposure to antibiotics.

Until recently, it was not known horizontal transfer could propel the evolution of complex multicellular organisms like mammals. In 2008, Feschotte and his colleagues published the first unequivocal evidence of horizontal DNA transfer.

Millions of years ago, tranposons jumped sideways into several mammalian species. The transposon integrated itself into the chromosomes of germ cells, ensuring it would be passed onto future generations. Thus, parts of those mammals’ DNA did not descend from their common ancestors, but were acquired laterally from another species.

The actual means by which transposons can spread across widely diverse species has remained a mystery.

“When you are trying to understand something that occurred over thousands or millions of years ago, it is not possible to set up a laboratory experiment to replicate what happened in nature,” Feschotte said.

Instead, the researchers made their discovery using computer programs designed to compare the distribution of mobile genetic elements among the 102 animals for which entire genome sequences are currently available. Paul J. Brindley of George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., contributed tissues and DNA used to confirm experimentally the computational predictions of Feschotte’s team.

When the human genome was sequenced a decade ago, researchers found that nearly half of the human genome is derived from transposons, so this new knowledge has important ramifications for understanding the genetics of humans and other mammals.

Feschotte’s research is representative of the cutting edge research that is propelling UT Arlington on its mission of becoming a nationally recognized research institution.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 2nd May 2010

Renewable Energy:

Inexpensive Metal Catalyst

Can Effectively Generate

Hydrogen from Water

Science (May 1, 2010) — Hydrogen would command a key role in future renewable energy technologies, experts agree, if a relatively cheap, efficient and carbon-neutral means of producing it can be developed. An important step towards this elusive goal has been taken by a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley. The team has discovered an inexpensive metal catalyst that can effectively generate hydrogen gas from water.

“Our new proton reduction catalyst is based on a molybdenum-oxo metal complex that is about 70 times cheaper than platinum, today’s most widely used metal catalyst for splitting the water molecule,” said Hemamala Karunadasa, one of the co-discoverers of this complex. “In addition, our catalyst does not require organic additives, and can operate in neutral water, even if it is dirty, and can operate in sea water, the most abundant source of hydrogen on earth and a natural electrolyte. These qualities make our catalyst ideal for renewable energy and sustainable chemistry.”

Karunadasa holds joint appointments with Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division and UC Berkeley’s Chemistry Department. She is the lead author of a paper describing this work that appears in the April 29, 2010 issue of the journal Nature, titled “A molecular molybdenum-oxo catalyst for generating hydrogen from water.” Co-authors of this paper were Christopher Chang and Jeffrey Long, who also hold joint appointments with Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley. Chang, in addition, is also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

Hydrogen gas, whether combusted or used in fuel cells to generate electricity, emits only water vapor as an exhaust product, which is why this nation would already be rolling towards a hydrogen economy if only there were hydrogen wells to tap. However, hydrogen gas does not occur naturally and has to be produced. Most of the hydrogen gas in the United States today comes from natural gas, a fossil fuel. While inexpensive, this technique adds huge volumes of carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Hydrogen can also be produced through the electrolysis of water — using electricity to split molecules of water into molecules of hydrogen and oxygen. This is an environmentally clean and sustainable method of production — especially if the electricity is generated via a renewable technology such as solar or wind — but requires a water-splitting catalyst.

Nature has developed extremely efficient water-splitting enzymes — called hydrogenases — for use by plants during photosynthesis, however, these enzymes are highly unstable and easily deactivated when removed from their native environment. Human activities demand a stable metal catalyst that can operate under non-biological settings.

Metal catalysts are commercially available, but they are low valence precious metals whose high costs make their widespread use prohibitive. For example, platinum, the best of them, costs some $2,000 an ounce.

“The basic scientific challenge has been to create earth-abundant molecular systems that produce hydrogen from water with high catalytic activity and stability,” Chang says. “We believe our discovery of a molecular molybdenum-oxo catalyst for generating hydrogen from water without the use of additional acids or organic co-solvents establishes a new chemical paradigm for creating reduction catalysts that are highly active and robust in aqueous media.”

The molybdenum-oxo complex that Karunadasa, Chang and Long discovered is a high valence metal with the chemical name of (PY5Me2)Mo-oxo. In their studies, the research team found that this complex catalyzes the generation of hydrogen from neutral buffered water or even sea water with a turnover frequency of 2.4 moles of hydrogen per mole of catalyst per second.

Long says, “This metal-oxo complex represents a distinct molecular motif for reduction catalysis that has high activity and stability in water. We are now focused on modifying the PY5Me ligand portion of the complex and investigating other metal complexes based on similar ligand platforms to further facilitate electrical charge-driven as well as light-driven catalytic processes. Our particular emphasis is on chemistry relevant to sustainable energy cycles.”

This research was supported in part by the DOE Office of Science through Berkeley Lab’s Helios Solar Energy Research Center, and in part by a grant from the National science Foundation.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 2nd May 2010

High-Altitude Metabolism Lets Mice

Stay Slim and Healthy

on a High-Fat Diet

ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2010) — Mice that are missing a protein involved in the response to low oxygen stay lean and healthy, even on a high-fat diet, a new study has found.

“They process fat differently,” said Randall Johnson, professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego, who directed the research, which is published in the April 15 issue of the journal Cell Metabolism. While their normal littermates gain weight, develop fatty livers and become resistant to insulin on a high fat diet, just like overweight humans do, the mutant mice suffered none of these ill effects.

The protein, an enzyme called FIH, plays a key role in the physiological response to low levels of oxygen and could be a new target for drugs to help people who struggle with weight gain. “The enzyme is easily inhibited by drugs,” Johnson said.

Because the protein influences a wide range of genes involved in development, the scientists were surprised that its deletion improved health.

“We expected them to die as embryos,” said Na Zhang, a graduate student in Johnson’s lab and lead author of the study. “Then we saw they can survive for a long time.”

“From the beginning I noticed that these mice are smaller, but not sick. These mice seem to be healthy,” Zhang said. The lean mice have a high metabolism, and a common check for insulin resistance, a symptom of diabetes, revealed a super sensitivity to insulin.

“We fed the mice with a very high fat diet — 60 percent fat — just to see how they would respond,” Zhang said. “Mutants can eat a lot, but they didn’t gain a lot of weight. They are less fatty around their middles compared with their littermates.”

Obese people develop a “fatty liver,” and so did the wild type littermates. The fat mice also developed high blood cholesterol with elevated levels of the “bad” type, LDL. In lean mutants, LDL increased much less.

“All of these observations support that the modified mice have better metabolic profiles,” Zhang said.

The genetic manipulations disabled the FIH gene entirely. “In every tissue, in every cell, the protein is gone,” Zhang said. But the scientists wanted to know what part of the mouse physiology was responsible for the changes, so they created new mice in which the FIH protein was deleted only in specific tissues: the nervous system or the liver.

Mice that were missing FIH only from their nervous system showed most of the same effects. “But if it was only deleted in the liver, then no.” Zhang said.

Though smaller, the mutant mice eat and drink 30 to 40 percent more than wild-type mice.

“Where do those calories go? To heat generation and an increased heart rate.” Johnson said. They also breathe heavily compared with normal mice, taking in 20 to 40% more air. “This deep breathing is like exercise for them.”

The FIH protein is part of a wide system that responds to low levels of oxygen. The mice behave as if they are breathing thin air. When people travel to higher altitudes, they breathe heavily for a few days, then adjust by producing more oxygen-carrying blood cells. “These mice never adjust to the apparent low oxygen,” Johnson said. “They stay in this acute phase of hypoxic response their whole lives.”

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 19th April 2010

Natural Solar Collectors

On Butterfly Wings

Inspire More Powerful Solar Cells

ScienceDaily (Feb. 5, 2009) — The discovery that butterfly wings have scales that act as tiny solar collectors has led scientists in China and Japan to design a more efficient solar cell that could be used for powering homes, businesses, and other applications in the future.

In the study, Di Zhang and colleagues note that scientists are searching for new materials to improve light-harvesting in so-called dye-sensitized solar cells, also known as Grätzel cells for inventor Michael Grätzel. These cells have the highest light-conversion efficiencies among all solar cells — as high as 10 percent.

The researchers turned to the microscopic solar scales on butterfly wings in their search for improvements. Using natural butterfly wings as a mold or template, they made copies of the solar collectors and transferred those light-harvesting structures to Grätzel cells. Laboratory tests showed that the butterfly wing solar collector absorbed light more efficiently than conventional dye-sensitized cells. The fabrication process is simpler and faster than other methods, and could be used to manufacture other commercially valuable devices, the researchers say.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 15th April 2010

Detecting Deadly Chemicals

Computer Scientists Develop

Portable Evidence-Gathering Tool

December 1, 2006 — Investigators on a crime scene can now use a new tool for collecting chemical or biological samples. The sampler gun collects samples on a cotton pad — eliminating direct contact with anything harmful, as well as risk of contaminating evidence — a GPS system to record the samples’ location, a camera that snaps pictures for evidence, and a digital voice recorder and writing pad for taking notes.

Whether it’s a murder, a break-in, or an anthrax scare, investigators trying to solve a crime are burdened with collecting delicate, sometimes toxic evidence.

Mention white powder and mail, and who can forget the deadly anthrax scare that swept America? Jennifer Greenamoyer remembers it well. “This is the building where they sort the mail, and this building was contaminated and was the first building to be closed,” she says.

Greenamoyer was a congressional staffer during anthrax scare. “Even though I didn’t necessarily feel like I was exposed or I was kind-of at risk — you knew that other people in the building had been.”

She was safe, but there’s still danger to investigators going back inside to collect samples for analysis. A new device, called the Hands-Off Sampler Gun, eliminates the risk of collecting toxic materials.

“You don’t get exposed yourself to the potential agent, anthrax, and you’re also not contaminating the sample media,” computer scientist Torsten Staab, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, tells DBIS.

Traditional ways of gathering harmful chemicals use many gadgets. This device puts several technologies into one, easy-to-use gun.

Developed by computer scientists, the Hands-Off Sampler Gun has a cotton pad that grabs chemicals to eliminate direct contact with anything harmful. A GPS system tracks the location of a chemical and the investigator. It also includes a camera that snaps pictures for evidence and a voice recorder and writing pad to take digital notes. The all-in-one device is important to identify a chemical and its risk factor and make sure everything is safe for everyone.

The Sampler Gun could also be made useful for collecting evidence, like bloodstains at crimes scenes. “We have all the information at the end, electronically. It could be wirelessly transmitted from the field to the laboratory,” Staab says.

The FBI plans on field testing the device with its Hazardous Response Unit early next year.

BACKGROUND: Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory are developing a Hands-Off Sampler Gun that would automate the otherwise expensive and time-consuming process of maintaining a proper chain of custody for forensic evidence collected at crime scenes. This will help keep evidence from being mishandled and ensure more credible evidence for jurors. The gun is being marketed initially for forensic biology applications, but could also prove valuable to counter-terrorism efforts.

HOW IT WORKS: When a crime scene investigator locates evidence such as a blood stain, the Hands-Off Sampler Gun collects the sample with its universal sample-media adaptor. Thee investigator never has to touch the sample directly, and thereby avoids the potential for contaminating that sample. Once the sample has been collected, the investigator can testify in court that it was collected properly.

PROVING IT: The investigator will have proof to back up his or her testimony, because an onboard, 3D accelerometer — a type of sensor that detects force — records the sampling pattern, which proves that the sample was blotted, wiped or scraped properly. The gun’s force detector measures and records the pressure the investigator applies and compares it to the force necessary for proper collection of, for example, certain biological (DNA) samples. The gun also automatically records the sample’s location with internal Global Positioning System (GPS), measures the ambient temperature and takes a digital picture of the sample being collected. And here is an incorporated barcode reader and audio recorder to further establish proper chain of custody. All this information can be easily downloaded to a desktop computer through standard interfaces.

WHAT ARE MEMS: Accelerometers are an example of microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS), devices that integrate electronic and moving parts onto a microscopic silicon chip. This integration makes such devices ideal for sensor technology. The term MEMS was coined in the 1980s. A MEMS device is usually only a few micrometers wide; for comparison, a human hair is 50 micrometers wide. Among other everyday applications, MEMS-based sensors are used in cars to detect the sudden motion of a collision and trigger release of the airbag. They are also found in ink-jet printers, blood pressure monitors, and projection display systems.

For more information, please contact:

Juli Gandasatria, Sr. Technology Program Manager
Office of Technology Transfer and Commercialization
Phone: 909-537-7758 / Fax: 909-537-7450

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 8th April 2010

March 7: 1876 : Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone

On this day in 1876, 29-year-old Alexander Graham Bell receives a patent for his revolutionary new invention–the telephone.

The Scottish-born Bell worked in London with his father, Melville Bell, who developed Visible Speech, a written system used to teach speaking to the deaf. In the 1870s, the Bells moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where the younger Bell found work as a teacher at the Pemberton Avenue School for the Deaf. He later married one of his students, Mabel Hubbard.

While in Boston, Bell became very interested in the possibility of transmitting speech over wires. Samuel F.B. Morse’s invention of the telegraph in 1843 had made nearly instantaneous communication possible between two distant points. The drawback of the telegraph, however, was that it still required hand-delivery of messages between telegraph stations and recipients, and only one message could be transmitted at a time. Bell wanted to improve on this by creating a “harmonic telegraph,” a device that combined aspects of the telegraph and record player to allow individuals to speak to each other from a distance.

With the help of Thomas A. Watson, a Boston machine shop employee, Bell developed a prototype. In this first telephone, sound waves caused an electric current to vary in intensity and frequency, causing a thin, soft iron plate–called the diaphragm–to vibrate. These vibrations were transferred magnetically to another wire connected to a diaphragm in another, distant instrument. When that diaphragm vibrated, the original sound would be replicated in the ear of the receiving instrument. Three days after filing the patent, the telephone carried its first intelligible message–the famous “Mr. Watson, come here, I need you”–from Bell to his assistant.

Bell’s patent filing beat a similar claim by Elisha Gray by only two hours. Not wanting to be shut out of the communications market, Western Union Telegraph Company employed Gray and fellow inventor Thomas A. Edison to develop their own telephone technology. Bell sued, and the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld Bell’s patent rights. In the years to come, the Bell Company withstood repeated legal challenges to emerge as the massive American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) and form the foundation of the modern telecommunications industry.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 11th March 2010






Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 8th Sept 2009





This idea aims to provide medical attention to old incapacitated people who cannot intimate the hospitals about their health in case of a serious heart attack.

All such old peoples would be provided with an E-Band which would consist of  pulse rate detecting equipment.

This equipment would consist of a pulse rate detecting sensor and a microprocessor. The sensor would constantly monitor the pulse rate of the patient and at regular intervals send the pulse rate as input to the microprocessor.

The microprocessor would be so programmed so that it generates a high output if appreciable fall or rise in the pulse rate is observed.

This output would be in turn connected to the transmitter attached to the walking stick used by the patient. As soon as the transmitter receives a high signal, it would transmit data signals consisting of a certain bit combination which would be unique for each patient, to the nearest hospital.


The hospital would be provided with the receiver in order to receive the signals and depending bit pattern in the signal, the location of the victim can be easily identified and in this way immediate medical attention can be given to the patient.

For power supply, Batteries and a switch connection is provided in the walking stick. Whenever the switch is switched on the entire circuitry would perform the above mentioned functionality. The market acquiring capacity of this product would be immense as this only requires a normal pulse detecting sensor and a microprocessor which are quite easily available and a small interface circuit between them.


Again the transmitter also is an easily available component and connection also does not require a lot of hardware. Apart from this the idea involves the usage of some minor hardware such as wiring to provide dc power and to send the microprocessor output to the transmitter and a battery and switch connection.

In the hospital a receiver is required in order to receive the transmitted signals and determine the location of the patient depending on bit pattern. And the cost involved surely is worth saving a life.

Meet the Entrant,

Ch.Pawan Kumar Murty

Profession: Student
My Website:…
Number of times entering contest previously: 0
Design Tools:
Pencil and Paper
Ch.Pawan’s favorite design tool:
Microsoft because it offers a very lucid style and at the same time all the facilities
Ch.Pawan’s hobbies and activities:
My favourite hobby is playing table tennis other activities include:Dancing(western),reading novels
Hardware used for design:

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 8th Sept 2009



One of the greatest challenges for humanity has always been the inevitability of deteriorating health, the aging process and of death being the final outcome. Many have searched for the proverbial fountain of youth and all have failed, until now.

Forever is a process by which the physical age of living animals can be reversed.

It makes death as a result of aging a thing of the past and is a breakthrough in health a million times more effective than most any other treatment.

Forever makes sustained life possible and opens up the reality of extended space exploration and colonization.

Fifty per cent of the solution is capturing the real problem.

Upon observation, new cells get created through two means, mitosis and through the actions of the pituitary gland.

Mitosis involves existing cells and cell division.

The pituitary secretes hormones that actually create new living cells.

Upon obeservation cells die through two means, due to a limit on the number of times a cell can divide called Hayflicks Limit and they also die due to environmental means such as physical damage, toxins, and disease.

Since the pituitary becomes less active in producing new cells as we age and since more and more cells reach their cell reproduction limit it can be observed that the cell population of living cells decreases over time.

It can also be observed that we age over time.

Three questions arise from this:

1…Is there a correlation between a decrease in cell population and the fact that we age?

2…Can we test it or prove that such a correlation exists?

3…If it proves that there is a correlation can we produce a product or process to reverse aging that is doable and practical?

If you wanted to test the above hypothesis, if you could inhibit or stop new cell growth in some way where the result was an increased aging rate then you could say this hypotheseis was accurate.

God has already done the test; See photo below. The picture is of John Tacket, 15, of Bay City,Michegan. The disease he has is called Progeria which is rapid aging.


Most children who have it do not live past thirteen years and have bodies that are phsically in their 90’s.

It has been identified that progeria is caused by a particular gene. Doctors know to look for that gene when a child is born because the baby is underweight as this gene inhibits cell growth!

We are alive because of living cells. No living cells, no life.

When we are born we are being turned into corpses as the amount of living cells decrease.

The soltion is to increase the living cell population and is as follows:

a) Take out healthy living cells

b) Extend the length of tails(telomeres) on these cells.(Hayflicks Limit only exists due to the shortening of these

c) Make thousands of copies

d) Reintroduce these new cells back into the doner

e)Repeat a-c on other cells. See diagram #2 for outline.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 8th Sept 2009