Download 101 Things You Don't Know About Science and No One Else Does by James Trefil Physics Professor PDF

By James Trefil Physics Professor

James Trefil takes the reader on an exciting travel around the borders of present clinical knowledge-from astronomy to genetics, from info expertise to cosmology, the nice contested questions that preoccupy researchers this present day and may develop into headlines the next day. In stylish, witty three-page summations, Dr. Trefil "makes feel of technology for the remainder of us" (Washington Post).

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Later, using a technique called positron emission tomography (PET), molecules containing a radioactive oxygen isotope were injected into a person's bloodstream. Over a period of several minutes, the oxygen isotope would undergo radioactive decay and emit particles called positrons, which could be detected outside the body. Watching a PET scan, you could see regions of the brain ''light up" as they drew more blood for their tasks. More recently, radioactive markers have been attached to molecules that are known to interact only with certain types of receptors in specific cells.

These two effects acting together mean that the human immune system is constantly facing new kinds of viruses. This is one reason why you have to be inoculated against new forms of influenza virus every year. It also is one reason why a virus that was previously confined to monkeys, for example, can suddenly shift over and start infecting humans. In the days before widespread travel, a particularly deadly virus could devastate or even wipe out the population in a small areathink of the 1995 outbreak of Ebola virus in Zaire.

This is the cerebral cortex, the outer covering of the brain. Today, using a new technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), scientists are learning how this quintessentially human organ works. It's hard to overestimate the importance of this particular breakthrough. Not so long ago, the only way you could investigate brain function was to inject a radioactive isotope into an animal, kill it, and section the brain tissue. You could then examine how the isotope had accumulated in various regions and deduce which sections of the brain had been active.

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