Random Samples

Edited by Constance Holden

Scientists' Personalities

The results of the "first-ever psychological profile of life science researchers" indicate that most of them tend to be assertive ("leader") and data-oriented ("organizer"). Many are highly creative ("explorer"), but few belong in the "enthusiast" category, which seems to be a catchall for unambitious team players. Based on the usual polarities personality tests favor— that is, with many items revealing whether you are a logical versus intuitive thinker—the survey used a series of questions cooked up by the Science Advisory Board, a virtual community of biomedical researchers. (Take the test at scienceboard.net/s/s151/ ?u=99156290&p=3933EEC0)

Unloading Biosphere

The Texas-based company that owns Biosphere 2 intends to sell the glass-enclosed facility designed to simulate Earth's environment. According to Martin Bowen, vice president of Decisions Investments Corp. (DIC), "we are seeking a right buyer who can keep the project going for the long term."

Built in the 1980s by Texas billionaire Edward Bass, Biosphere 2, located in Oracle, Arizona, was supposed to replicate in a closed environment various ecosystems found on Earth. Problems such as oxygen leaks frustrated those plans even after Columbia University took over managing the project in 1996. The school decided to walk away in 2003.

DIC won't reveal its asking price for the facility but says it is open to a joint venture. This spring the company and the National Academy of Sciences are hosting a meeting in Washington, D.C., with experts from the government and academia to discuss the future of the 1.27-hectare technological marvel."We don't know what uses Biosphere 2 can have in the future," says Bowen. "That is something we want to explore."

Ring Around a Moon?

This is the closest picture ever taken of ^

Saturn's moon lapetus—a composite of images caught on New Year's Eve by the

Huygens-Cassini mission to Saturn and its big moon Titan. It reveals for the first time a striking feature: a 20-kilometer- \

wide ridge, rising as high as 13 kilometers, that appears to girdle the planet almost exactly along its equator. It could be a *

mountain belt or it could be a crack welled up, according to NASA officials. But no one has an explanation for its regularity.

Iapetus, 1436 kilometers in diameter, holds other mysteries. Almost half the moon is a heavily cratered region called Cassini Regio that is covered with dark material that scientists haven't been able to identify—it could have erupted out of the moon's interior, but it also might be debris from impact events on other, dark satellites. Because the darkness gets spottier at the poles, the new image supports the notion that it's from fallout.

Gambling as Addiction

A new study lends support to what many experts believe—that compulsive gambling is like drug addiction.

Gamblers and drug addicts describe similar cravings and highs.To see if each group's brains have similar abnormalities, a team led by Christian Büchel, a neurologist

Egging on the reward system.

at the University Medical Center HamburgEppendorf in Hamburg, Germany, used functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare the brains of 12 compulsive slot machine players and 12 controls while both groups engaged in a simple gamble: choosing one of two face-down playing cards. They gained or lost a euro depending on whether the card was red or black.

Buchel's team found that winners showed increased blood flow to the ventral striatum, a key part of the brain's reward system that involves the neurotransmitter dopamine. But the gamblers exhibited significantly less blood flow than did the controls, indicating a more sluggish reward system, the researchers report online 9 January in Nature Neuroscience.

The result fits with the notion that gamblers compensate for deficiencies in their brain reward systems by overdoing and getting hooked. Addiction researcher Eric Nestler, a psychiatrist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, says this looks like the "tolerance" to reward seen in drug addicts that leads to the need for increasingly higher doses. But he says it would be useful to determine whether gamblers also experience "sensitization"—which involves greater responses to rewarding effects of the drug and which "may be the more critical feature" in addiction.

Random Samples

Supplements For Diabetics

Supplements For Diabetics

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