“U” astronomer links black holes with galaxies

University astronomer Douglas Richstone has found that galaxies and black holes are almost always found together.

Over the past decade, Richstone and his team of researchers have found black holes in all but one of the 30 spiral galaxies they have surveyed.

The holes are found in the center of galaxies, where their gravitational pull will cause abrupt changes in the velocity of nearby stars.

It is these changes that alerted Richstone of the frequency of black holes.

Human response to drugs linked to genetics

Genetics may be the cause for peoples” bodies responding differently to the same drug, University Prof. Wendell Weber said last week.

Small genetic mutations, called polymorphisms, can make a drug harmful to one person that may be helpful to someone else. The mutations have been linked to defects in the production of drug-metabolizing enzymes and the prevention of drugs from passing through cell membranes.

With the recent completion of the human genome project, pharmacogeneticists are hoping that future drugs can be prescribed based upon a person”s genetic code.

Researchers create self-fixing synthetic material

Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a synthetic material that can repair itself when cracked or broken.

The material, which contains microencapsulated healing agents and catalysts, could be used in areas such as microelectronics and aerospace engineering.

The idea for a self-repairing material was spawned by the biological process in which damage to tissue and other parts of the body results in an automatic healing response from the body.

In the most recent test, the self-healing material was able to recover as much as 75 percent of its original strength. This ability of the material to heal cracks in its structure will enable it to last longer and require less outside maintenance.

MIT tests socially interactive robot

Kismit, the first robot that can interact with humans using human-like habits, is currently being tested at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.

By mimicking humans over time, Kismit can apply what it sees and learns to be able to interact socially with humans. The robot uses a wide spectrum of facial expressions, head positions and tones of voice.

Researchers at MIT are continually evolving Kismit with new sensors and software to help it learn more. Eventually, the researchers want Kismit to be the first robot to learn and develop from its surroundings. In the future, researchers expect the robot will become more capable and independent.

Genetic defect linked to chronic lung disease

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children”s Center and Children”s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati have discovered a gene that can be linked to lung disease in infants and adults.

Research teams led by Johns Hopkins neonatologist Lawrence M. Nogee and Jeffrey A. Whitsett identified a mutation in the surfactant protein C gene linked to a group of chronic lung disorders.

Compiled by Daily Staff Reporter Susan Luth.

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