Agriculture
Watering the Air
Where Have All the Bees Gone?
Making the most of a meal
Amphibians
Frogs and Toads
Newts
Tree Frogs
Animals
Cacophony Acoustics
Red Apes in Danger
Putting a Mouse on Pause
Behavior
Wired for Math
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Video Game Violence
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Turkeys
Doves
Ospreys
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Heaviest named element is official
Supersonic Splash
Small but WISE
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The science of disappearing
Batteries built by Viruses
Galaxies far, far, far away
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Have shell, will travel
Battling Mastodons
Ancient Critter Caught Shedding Its Skin
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Earth
Ice Age Melting and Rising Seas
Earth's Poles in Peril
Springing forward
Environment
Shrinking Fish
An Ocean View's Downside
Island Extinctions
Finding the Past
Words of the Distant Past
Preserving Ancient Warrior Paint
Watching deep-space fireworks
Fish
Hammerhead Sharks
Sturgeons
Perches
Food and Nutrition
Food for Life
A Pepper Part that Burns Fat
Chocolate Rules
GSAT English Rules
Problems with Prepositions
Subject and Verb Agreement
Who vs. That vs. Which
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Results of GSAT are in schools this week
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GSAT Mathematics
Deep-space dancers
Math is a real brain bender
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
Human Body
From Stem Cell to Any Cell
Germ Zapper
Prime Time for Broken Bones
Invertebrates
Hermit Crabs
Corals
Lice
Mammals
African Gorillas
Foxes
Little Brown Bats
Parents
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Children and Media
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Physics
Spin, Splat, and Scramble
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Project Music
Plants
Seeds of the Future
Making the most of a meal
Flower family knows its roots
Reptiles
Asp
Crocodiles
Reptiles
Space and Astronomy
Super Star Cluster in the Neighborhood
A Puffy Planetary Puzzle
The two faces of Mars
Technology and Engineering
Sugar Power for Cell Phones
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
Smart Windows
The Parts of Speech
What is a Verb?
What is a Preposition?
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Transportation
Tinkering With the Basic Bike
Reach for the Sky
Flying the Hyper Skies
Weather
Catching Some Rays
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
Science loses out when ice caps melt
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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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