American scientists share Nobel Prize
Three American scientists were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday for their work in cell biology.
Elizabeth Blackburn of UCSF, Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins University and Jack Szostak of Massachusetts General Hospital will split the prize money of $1.4 million. The trio made an important discovery regarding the ends of chromosomes, with possible implications to the studies of cancer and aging.
The discovery, made 20 years ago, shed light on the fact that the ends of chromosomes, called telomeres, get shorter after each time a cell divides. The scientific community didn’t originally believe the discovery would have any practical applications, but it turns out that telomeres can actually limit the number of times a cell can divide – something potentially beneficial to the study of cancer cell growth.
Drs. Blackburn and Greider are only the ninth and tenth women to ever win the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine since its inception in 1901.
UC San Diego professor helps science meet art
In Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio stands a scene almost out of Ghostbusters: Dr. Maurizio Seracini leads an international team of scientists with lasers, radar, ultraviolet light and infrared cameras to try and uncover a lost Leonardo da Vinci painting.
Using technology that the renaissance man himself would have enjoyed taking a look at, Seracini – a professor of engineering at UC San Diego – identified the hiding place of the fresco by firing neutrons at the wall.
“The Battle of Anghiari” is the largest painting by da Vinci, and also one that vanished after the artist abandoned working on it in 1506. It was then covered by another art piece by artist Giorgio Vasari.
The neutron-beam technique detects neutrons that bounce back after running into hydrogen atoms, which occur in organic materials that da Vinci used in painting, such as linseed oil. Another device can detect gamma rays to locate sulfur, tin and white prime layer – common in the materials da Vinci used in his fresco painting.
If Seracini is granted permission, he hopes to complete his analysis within a year. A removal of the Vasari wall will follow to extract the “Battle of Anghiari” piece.