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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Science Scene

A woman with a mate gains more weight

It’s not the dress that makes many women look fat – it’s their boyfriends or girlfriends.

A 10-year study from the University of Queensland in Australia examined the weights of 6,000 women in relationships, single women, and women who had given birth. It showed that women with partners typically gain four more pounds than those without partners.

The weight-gain also increased an average of 20 pounds if the women in relationships gave birth.

Researchers believed the weight-gain relates to altered behavior in a relationship, as opposed to metabolic changes. However, they could not say specifically what behavior changed.

Though the study did not examine men, researchers referenced an earlier study, which found that men gain weight after their wives give birth.

Source: NY Times

Researchers reveal genome of cavity-causing bacteria

Scientists have recently sequenced the genome of Bifidobacterium dentium – a tooth-rotting bacterium so formidable that it is resistant to mouthwash.

Floyd Dewhirst, a microbiologist from the Forsyth Institute in Boston, said that gaining an understanding of B. dentium should ease scientists search for a way to kill it.

When Marco Ventura, a microbiologist at the University of Parma in Italy, began studying B. dentium, it was believed that the Bifidobacterium genus was good for health. But after sequencing B. dentium’s genome, Ventura and his colleagues discovered its adaptations for living in the mouth.

B. dentium produces more enzymes that aid in breaking down sugars than its relatives, and also contains genes that increase their expressions in acidic environments – which helps it survive in dental cavities.

Source: ScienceNOW

NASA to place long distance call

Scientists will soon try to make contact with the Phoenix Mars Lander, which has been stranded on Mars and out of commission since November 2008, when a fierce dust storm deprived the spacecraft of solar power.

NASA opted to wait until temperatures warmed up rather than fight the Martian winter. With the onset of spring, scientists will try to resuscitate the lander – a daunting task.

A sheet of carbon-dioxide frost may have damaged the lander’s solar panels. Without solar power, the lander will be unable to charge its batteries or reboot its electronic systems.

A mission to the Mars surface is both a rare occurrence and significant investment for NASA, taking place about once every five years with expenses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The next mission is planned for fall 2011, and rescuing the fallen Phoenix Lander would provide data during the gap.

Scientists are still eager to find out if the soil from Mars contains organic compounds, such as hydrogen and carbon. The finding of such compounds may indicate life on Mars.

Source: The Arizona Republic

– Compiled by Lauren Steussy and Mike Dorsey

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