Agriculture
Flush-Free Fertilizer
Protecting Cows—and People—from a Deadly Disease
Keeping Bugs Away from Food
Amphibians
Salamanders
Salamanders and Newts
Newts
Animals
Eyes on the Depths
Assembling the Tree of Life
Hearing Whales
Behavior
Training Your Brain to Feel Less Pain
Making Sense of Scents
Mice sense each other's fear
Birds
Pelicans
Carnivorous Birds
Doves
Chemistry and Materials
Batteries built by Viruses
Atom Hauler
A Framework for Growing Bone
Computers
Programming with Alice
Games with a Purpose
Music of the Future
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Watery Fate for Nature's Gliders
From Mammoth to Modern Elephant
Teeny Skull Reveals Ancient Ancestor
E Learning Jamaica
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
Groundwater and the Water Cycle
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Coral Islands Survive a Tsunami
Environment
Island Extinctions
Forests as a Tsunami Shield
The Wolf and the Cow
Finding the Past
Big Woman of the Distant Past
An Ancient Childhood
Your inner Neandertal
Fish
Manta Rays
Sting Ray
Mako Sharks
Food and Nutrition
Allergies: From Bee Stings to Peanuts
Chew for Health
Packing Fat
GSAT English Rules
Problems with Prepositions
Who vs. That vs. Which
Who vs. Whom
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
How are students placed after passing the GSAT exam
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
GSAT Mathematics
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
Math and our number sense: PassGSAT.com
Human Body
A Long Haul
Workouts: Does Stretching Help?
Cell Phones and Possible Health Hazards
Invertebrates
Shrimps
Crabs
Cockroaches
Mammals
Bloodhounds
Raccoons
Blue Bear
Parents
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
How children learn
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Physics
Dreams of Floating in Space
One ring around them all
Black Hole Journey
Plants
A Change in Leaf Color
Nature's Alphabet
Bright Blooms That Glow
Reptiles
Lizards
Iguanas
Crocodiles
Space and Astronomy
Roving the Red Planet
Saturn's New Moons
Sounds of Titan
Technology and Engineering
Spinach Power for Solar Cells
Space Umbrellas to Shield Earth
A Clean Getaway
The Parts of Speech
What is a Verb?
Pronouns
Problems with Prepositions
Transportation
Robots on a Rocky Road
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Ready, unplug, drive
Weather
In Antarctica watch the heat (and your step)
Antarctica warms, which threatens penguins
A Dire Shortage of Water
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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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