"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Good Solar, Safe Cellphones, and Tasteful Memory 

The US Department of Energy (DOE) says that one of their contractors, Boeing-Spectrolab, has managed to produce a solar panel with about 40% efficiency, more than triple the efficiency of current commercial panels (10-12%). Assuming that the system is useful on a marketable scale, this will have a MAJOR impact on energy use and production, worldwide. Hopefully this technology will lead to even more advances, allowing us to start using solar for just about everything.

Everything, that is, including your cell phone charger. Which you'll be using, because it seems that cell phone use (even over as long as 10 years) does not cause tumors. I feel like the jury's still probably out on this one, but since I only wish I could give up my cell at this point (they are addictive, no?), I'll take it as good news.

The bad news, for me at least, is that yet another study has shown how important sleep is to memory consolidation. Using a novel measurement technique, Max Planck researchers have found evidence that memories are 'moved' from the hippocampus to the cortex during sleep. More interesting is their finding that the cortex seems to actively control this transfer, though I'm not clear on how.

Also in the brain department, UK researchers have found that different antidepressants seem to alter taste bud sensitivity. The serotonin agonist paroxetine increased sensitivity to sweetness, and the noradrenergic
reboxetine increased sensitivity to sour flavors. Strange!

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