Tag Archives: stanford university

Not so ‘evil’: Finance study makes case for hedging

The overuse of financial contracts known as derivatives – which were designed to help companies hedge against risk – was widely blamed for triggering the economic crisis of 2008. None other than Warren Buffet has attacked derivatives as “time bombs – both for the parties that deal in them and the economic system.”

But now, for the first time, researchers have found that hedging can increase firm value. (more…)

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Mutual benefits: Stressed-out trees boost sugary rewards to ant defenders

ANN ARBOR — When water is scarce, Ecuador laurel trees ramp up their investment in a syrupy treat that sends resident ant defenders into overdrive, protecting the trees from defoliation by leaf-munching pests.

The water-stressed tropical forest trees support the production of more honeydew, a sugary excretion imbibed by the Azteca ants that nest in the laurels’ stem cavities. In return, ant colonies boost their numbers and more vigorously defend the life-sustaining foliage. (more…)

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Ultracold Big Bang experiment successfully simulates evolution of early universe

Physicists have reproduced a pattern resembling the cosmic microwave background radiation in a laboratory simulation of the Big Bang, using ultracold cesium atoms in a vacuum chamber at the University of Chicago.

“This is the first time an experiment like this has simulated the evolution of structure in the early universe,” said Cheng Chin, professor in physics. Chin and his associates reported their feat in the Aug. 1 edition of Science Express, and it will appear soon in the print edition of Science. (more…)

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New Biochip Holds Great Promise for Quickly Triaging People after Radiation Exposure

Berkeley Lab scientists have helped to develop a tiny chip that has big potential for quickly determining whether someone has been exposed to dangerous levels of ionizing radiation.

The first-of-its-kind chip has an array of nanosensors that measure the concentrations of proteins that change after radiation exposure.

Although still under development, the technology could lead to a hand-held device that “lights up” if a person needs medical attention in the aftermath of an incident involving radiation. Initial tests on mice found that the technology only requires a drop of blood, measures radiation dose in minutes, and yields results up to seven days after exposure. (more…)

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Some volcanoes ‘scream’ at ever-higher pitches until they blow their tops

It is not unusual for swarms of small earthquakes to precede a volcanic eruption. They can reach a point of such rapid succession that they create a signal called harmonic tremor that resembles sound made by various types of musical instruments, though at frequencies much lower than humans can hear.

A new analysis of an eruption sequence at Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano in March 2009 shows that the harmonic tremor glided to substantially higher frequencies and then stopped abruptly just before six of the eruptions, five of them coming in succession. (more…)

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Exercise reorganizes the brain to be more resilient to stress

Physical activity reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function, according to a research team based at Princeton University.

The researchers report in the Journal of Neuroscience that when mice allowed to exercise regularly experienced a stressor — exposure to cold water — their brains exhibited a spike in the activity of neurons that shut off excitement in the ventral hippocampus, a brain region shown to regulate anxiety. (more…)

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A Neural Basis for Benefits of Meditation

Mindfulness meditation training in awareness of present moment experience, such as body and breath sensations, prevents depression and reduces distress in chronic pain. In a new paper, Brown University scientists propose a neurophysiological framework to explain these clinical benefits.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Why does training in mindfulness meditation help patients manage chronic pain and depression? In a newly published neurophysiological review, Brown University scientists propose that mindfulness practitioners gain enhanced control over sensory cortical alpha rhythms that help regulate how the brain processes and filters sensations, including pain, and memories such as depressive cognitions. (more…)

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Engineered Immune Cells Resist Infection from Hiv and Could Ultimately Replace Drug Therapy

AUSTIN, Texas — Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and the Stanford University School of Medicine have found a novel way to engineer key cells of the immune system so they remain resistant to infection from HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The study, which was published this week in Molecular Therapy, describes the use of a kind of molecular scissors to cut and paste a series of HIV-resistant genes into T cells, specialized immune cells targeted by the virus. (more…)

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