A Surface That Never Gets Icy; Tiny Particles Are Killing Us

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Discovered: A surface that is immune to iciness, the health dangers of nano-particles, quit smoking at any age, and low dopamine means high aggression.

  • A surface that doesn't get icy. We know it's June and it's hot out there, so it is hard to imagine the danger of a wintry slippery surface, but just think back to those cold winter days. Now listen to this, science has discovered a coating that makes surfaces immune to slippery ice. The coating, which the researchers have cleverly called SLIPs, causes even the smallest droplets of water to slip off the material, preventing ice sheets from developing. "Unlike lotus leaf-inspired icephobic surfaces, which fail under high humidity conditions, SLIPS-based icephobic materials, as our results suggest, can completely prevent ice formation at temperatures slightly below 0°C while dramatically reducing ice accumulation and adhesion under deep freezing, frost-forming conditions," explains researcher  Joanna Aizenberg. We know it sounds useless during these boiling summer days, but just think long-term here. [Harvard]
  • The little particles that are causing big health problems. The tiniest little particles from all those groundbreaking nano-materials are making us sick. Nano-particles floating around in our air, due to pollution, are leading to the development of auto-immune disorders. When applied to both human cells and mice, nano-tech particles led to transformation of the amino acid arginine into the molecule called citrulline, which can lead to the development of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. "The research establishes a clear link between autoimmune diseases and nanoparticles. Preventing or interfering with the resulting citrullination process looks therefore as a promising target for the development of future preventative and therapeutic approaches in rheumatoid arthritis and possibly other autoimmune conditions," explains professor Yuri Volkov. [Trinity College Dublin]
  • You can quit smoking at any age. Here's some aspirational research for you. Ex-smokers live longer than those who never quit the habit, no matter what age the person quit smoking. Smokers 60 years and older were 83 percent more likely to die at any given age compared with people who never smoked, found the research. And although the link was weaker for those 80 years and older, the researchers found a similar pattern there, too. "Most smokers grossly underestimate their own risks," explains researcher Dr. Prabhat Jha. "Many older smokers misbelieve that they are too old to quit or too old to benefit from quitting." [Reuters]
  • What makes us aggressive? Using a computer game scenario, researchers found that our dopamine levels have a lot to do with the way we react. But, it doesn't correlate the way science expected. "The results of this study were astonishingly opposite of what was previously hypothesized," explains researcher Ingo Vernaleken, M.D. "Subjects with more functional dopaminergic reward-systems were not more aggressive in competitive situations and could concentrate even more on the game. Subjects with lower dopaminergic capacity were more likely to be distracted by the cheating behavior." Expect to see lots of "aggressive" kids perscribed with dopamine enhances, then, right? [Society of Nuclear Medecine]

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