Agriculture
Making the most of a meal
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Treating peanut allergy bit by bit
Amphibians
Newts
Toads
Poison Dart Frogs
Animals
Jay Watch
Spotting the World's Leggiest Animal
Chicken Talk
Behavior
Mice sense each other's fear
Hitting the redo button on evolution
Sugar-pill medicine
Birds
Lovebirds
Doves
Rheas
Chemistry and Materials
Small but WISE
The Taste of Bubbles
Graphene's superstrength
Computers
The Book of Life
Games with a Purpose
New eyes to scan the skies
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Watery Fate for Nature's Gliders
Supersight for a Dino King
The bug that may have killed a dinosaur
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Killer Space Rock Snuffed Out Ancient Life
The Pacific Ocean's Bald Spot
Meteorites may have sparked life on Earth
Environment
Flu river
Nanosponges Soak Up Pollutants
Little Bits of Trouble
Finding the Past
Oldest Writing in the New World
Ancient Cave Behavior
The Puzzle of Ancient Mariners
Fish
Pygmy Sharks
Whale Sharks
Skates and Rays
Food and Nutrition
Sponges' secret weapon
Chew for Health
Making good, brown fat
GSAT English Rules
Pronouns
Adjectives and Adverbs
Who vs. That vs. Which
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Ministry of Education Announces 82 GSAT Scholarships for 2010
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Mathematics
Setting a Prime Number Record
Detecting True Art
A Sweet Advance in Candy Packing
Human Body
Nature's Medicines
Fighting Off Micro-Invader Epidemics
Heavy Sleep
Invertebrates
Cockroaches
Mollusks
Krill
Mammals
African Jackal
Dalmatians
Miniature Schnauzers
Parents
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Physics
Project Music
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Dreams of Floating in Space
Plants
Making the most of a meal
Sweet, Sticky Science
When Fungi and Algae Marry
Reptiles
Crocodiles
Chameleons
Komodo Dragons
Space and Astronomy
Black Holes That Burp
World of Three Suns
Return to Space
Technology and Engineering
Beyond Bar Codes
Weaving with Light
Squeezing Oil from Old Wells
The Parts of Speech
Problems with Prepositions
Adjectives and Adverbs
Pronouns
Transportation
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Robots on the Road, Again
Middle school science adventures
Weather
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
Science loses out when ice caps melt
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
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Little Bits of Trouble

If you've kicked around a soccer ball, you may have noticed the pattern on the ball's surface. The ball is stitched together from 12 patches with five sides (pentagons) and 20 patches with six sides (hexagons). About 20 years ago, chemists discovered that carbon can form into molecules with the same shape. They nicknamed them buckyballs. These strong, hollow particles may someday be used to carry medicine or even block the action of certain viruses. Scientists have now found that buckyballs can harm living cells. Research by Eva Oberdörster, a biologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and her team shows that these molecules damage brain cells in fish. Buckyballs belong to a group of materials known as nanomaterials. The prefix "nano" means one-billionth. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter—roughly the width of just five carbon atoms lined up in a row. So, a buckyball is an extremely tiny particle—only a few ten-thousandths of the width of a human hair. To make a nanomaterial, scientists manipulate individual atoms to build molecules of different shapes. Groups of these molecules form materials with particular characteristics, making them suitable for different jobs. For example, some nanomaterials are already being used in makeup and sunscreens. Because buckyballs may someday be used in industry, Oberdörster and her team conducted experiments to find out if the molecules are toxic. The researchers added different quantities of buckyballs to water in a fish tank. After 48 hours, they removed the fish from the tank and checked different parts of the fishes' bodies for damage. Although none of them died, the exposed fish showed 17 times as much damage to brain cells as did fish not exposed to buckyballs. In a separate experiment, Vicki Colvin of Rice University in Houston found that buckyballs damage human cells growing in a lab. But she also found a possible solution to the problem. Coating buckyballs with other kinds of simple molecules appears to make buckyballs safer. Nanomaterial particles come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, so it's not yet known whether they all have the same harmful effects that buckyballs do. It's going to take a lot more experiments to sort out all the possible health effects of these amazing, new materials.—S. McDonagh

Little Bits of Trouble
Little Bits of Trouble








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