Scientists Discover a Way to Synthesize Coenzyme
This is Science Today. Most people don't think about
taking a compound called Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ, as
part of their daily nutrition. But according to
biochemist Bruce Lipshutz of the University of California,
Santa Barbara, although our bodies produce it, it's
just as important a supplement as Vitamin C.
The more people understand how important this
is, I think it will catch on further. Without CoQ10
in our cells, we would have no life as we know it.
It's responsible for respiration. It's part of the
respiratory chain that brings energy to our cells,
the currency of life.
Today CoQ is only manufactured in Japan, but Lipshutz
has discovered a way to synthesize the coenzyme
that would make it readily available to Americans
in a cheaper, more purified form.
Lipshutz: Much of the chemistry surrounding
this process is pretty inexpensive. And if we can
get the raw materials to be processed and purified
for an economically attractive number, then we can
get this to the point where it becomes viable.
For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.
A Study of Fear May Lead to New Behavior Therapies
This is Science Today. Fear is a primal response and
because of this, it's one of the hardest senses for
people with fear anxiety to control. But behavioral
scientists at UCLA have discovered repeated exposure
to a fear trigger with few breaks in between is more
effective than shorter exposures over a longer period
of time. Dr. Mark Barad co-led the study.
We use a model in which we make mice mildly afraid
by giving them a mild foot shock paired with a tone,
a sound, and then we get rid of that fear by playing
the sound repeatedly to the mice and so as they hear
the sound without getting any more shocks, they become
less fearful of that sound.
This finding is part of a range of studies being conducted
on fear extinction.
We're interested in how people ultimately get over
their fears and we study a model for the kind of psychotherapy
that's done to get animals over their fear called
extinction and fear conditioning. In fact, this is
the model that inspired behavior therapy.
For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.
Neutron Star Theory Gains NASA Support
This is Science Today. Neutron stars are the spinning,
very compact remains of a more massive, exploded star.
Physics professor Lars Bildsten of the University
of California, Santa Barbara, developed a theory about
the rotation rates of a neutron star, which recently
received NASA support.
Many of these neutron stars are actually in binaries,
where they are orbiting if you will, another star
- much like the Sun. And those two stars orbiting
each other are orbiting so close, the neutron star
and a star like the Sun - that matter from the normal
star is pulled off by the tidal field, forms a disc
of matter around the neutron star and when that matter
hits the neutron star, it forces it to spin up.
The question left is what halts that spin up? Bildsten
theorized the matter around the star causes it to
slightly deform and send out ripples, or gravitational
waves and these essentially set a 'speed limit' on
the neutron star's rotation rate. While NASA supports
the theory, the definitive test is about six years
away. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.
A Handheld Nuclear Detector Soon Available
This is Science Today. Portable devices and other
advanced technologies used to detect nuclear materials
are under development at the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory's Radiation Detection Center. Simon Labov,
who directs the center, says they've adapted astrophysics
technologies used at the Lab and applied them to these
portable nuclear detectors.
That's the great thing about having a science
laboratory like this where it's not just - the Lawrence
Livermore Laboratory is not just a weapons laboratory,
just a national security laboratory - we have all
kinds of scientific things going on here and it makes
a huge difference.
The Radiation Detection Center is working on a whole
suite of portable devices that use germanium - a detecting
material that needs to be cooled by liquid nitrogen.
You don't want to be carrying this big heavy thing
with liquid nitrogen pouring out. So we developed
several versions of an instrument that uses an electromechanical
cooler - basically a little refrigerator.
Labov says this instrument is now being commercialized
and will soon be available. For Science Today, I'm
A Call for More Testing of Mercury in Commercial Fish
This is Science Today. Mercury is a toxic metal that
is released into the air from power plants and certain
industrial processes. It stays in the air for quite
a while, giving it a chance to precipitate out into
the water with the rain, where it then builds up in
fish. Amy Kyle, an environmental health researcher
at the University of California, Berkeley, says this
process is called bioaccumulation.
Once it gets into fish, it just stays there. It's
not eliminated very fast, so fish can have concentrations
of mercury in their tissue that can be hundreds of
thousands or a million times higher than in the water.
And people are exposed to mercury, particularly methyl
mercury, which is the type we're concerned about here
- by eating fish.
a study that found that 8 percent of American women
of childbearing age have levels of blood mercury that
are higher than recommended by the EPA.
So it is a public health need to do some more testing
of commercial fish and give women some good advice
about what are the lower mercury fishes in their area.
It will also vary from area to area.
Today, I'm Larissa Branin.