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U.S. researchers

Thinking about eating could help dieting

Pittsburgh -- Thinking in great detail about eating the foods that make you fat could make you want them less, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh asked volunteers to spend a minute and a half imagining methodically chewing and swallowing 30 M&M candies, one after another.

When then presented with a bowl of M&Ms, those volunteers ate about half as many candies as volunteers who imagined eating only three M&Ms, or none at all, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Just thinking about a food can help sate hunger through a process called habituation, the researchers said.

Pacific whales shows evidence of pollution

Lubbock, Texas -- U.S. researchers say they've found evidence of exposure to harmful chemicals and pesticides in Pacific Ocean-dwelling sperm whales.

Researchers from Texas Tech University tested tissues from whales from all five Pacific regions for DDT, the fungicide hexachlorobenzene, and 30 types of polychlorinated biphenyls, known to cause endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity, a university release said Wednesday.

"Our findings provide a unique baseline for global assessment of pollution exposures and sensitivity in the sperm whale, a globally distributed and threatened species," Celine Godard-Codding, an assistant professor at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech, said.

Research: Plants can 'remember' winter

Austin, Texas -- U.S. researchers say they've identified a molecule that helps plants "remember" winter and wait until sprint to bloom at the best time.

University of Texas researchers say the timing of blooming is critical to ensure pollination and is important for crop production, a university release said Tuesday.

One way for plants to recognize it's spring and not just a warm spell during winter is that they "remember" they've gone through a long enough period of cold, the researchers say.

"Plants can't literally remember, of course, because they don't have brains," Sibum Sung, assistant professor of molecular cell and developmental biology, says. "But they do have a cellular memory of

Milestone reached in disease research

Evanston, Ill. -- U.S. researchers say they've reached a major milestone in ongoing efforts to wipe out some of the world's most lethal diseases.

Scientists at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute and Northwestern University have experimentally determined three-dimensional protein structures from a number of bacterial and protozoan pathogens, which could potentially lead to new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics to combat deadly infectious diseases, a Northwestern release said Tuesday.

Some of the structures solved by the researchers come from well-known organisms like the H1N1 flu virus and those that cause plague, cholera and rabies, the release said.

Universe may have more stars than thought

New Heaven, Conn. -- The observable universe may hold as many as three times the number of stars previously estimated by astronomers just a year ago, U.S. researchers say.

Astronomers at Yale University said a particular kind of galaxy may contain 10 times more red dwarf stars than thought, which would triple the number of stars in the universe as a whole, the Christian Science Monitor reported Wednesday.

The Yale researchers surveyed eight huge elliptical galaxies selected from two vast galaxy clusters 53 million to 321 million light-years from Earth.

Surveys of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, have found red dwarfs outnumber sun-like stars by about 100 to 1, Yale astronomer Pieter van Dokkum said.

Color-changing 'blast badge' developed

Philadelphia-- U.S. researchers say they've developed a color-changing patch soldiers could wear on their uniforms to show the severity of their exposure to explosions.

University of Pennsylvania scientists say calibrating the color change to the intensity of the explosion could provide immediate information on possible injury to the brain and the need for medical intervention, a university release said.

"We wanted to create a 'blast badge' that would be lightweight, durable, power-free, and perhaps most important, could be easily interpreted, even on the battlefield," Douglas H. Smith, professor of neurosurgery, said.

Blast-induced traumatic brain injury has been described as the "signature wound" of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Color-changing 'blast badge' developed

University Park, Pa. -- U.S. researchers say they've developed a color-changing patch soldiers could wear on their uniforms to show the severity of their exposure to explosions.

University of Pennsylvania scientists say calibrating the color change to the intensity of the explosion could provide immediate information on possible injury to the brain and the need for medical intervention, a university release said.

"We wanted to create a 'blast badge' that would be lightweight, durable, power-free, and perhaps most important, could be easily interpreted, even on the battlefield," Douglas H. Smith, professor of neurosurgery at Penn State, said.

Ancient Egyptian lake as big as Lake Erie

Washington -- A dry, sand-covered region of Egypt was home 100,000 years ago to a lake as large as one of the Great Lakes, U.S. researchers say.

Radar images taken from the space shuttle confirm that a lake wider than Lake Erie once existed a few hundred miles west of the Nile River, ScienceNews.org reported.

From the time it first appeared about 250,000 years ago, the lake in Egypt's Tushka region would have grown and shrunk periodically until finally drying up about 80,000 years ago, researchers say.

Quick cancer cell test developed

Champaign, Ill. -- A tissue-imaging technique developed by U.S. researchers could produce almost instant biopsy test results in searching for cancer cells, scientists say.

Scientists at the University of Illinois demonstrated the novel microscopy technique, called nonlinear interferometric vibrational imaging, on rat breast-cancer cells and tissues.

It produced easy-to-read, color-coded images of tissue, outlining clear tumor boundaries, with more than 99 percent accuracy in less than five minutes, a university release said.

Current diagnostic methods, which can take a day more to produce results, are also subjective, based on visual interpretation of the shape and structure of cells, the researchers say.

Brain breaks down vision into color, shape

Nashville -- A brain area critical to vision has regions that respond separately to color and to shape, U.S. researchers say, furthering our understanding of perception.

Vanderbilt University researchers found though these regions are physically separate, they work together to process visual information, ScienceDaily.com reported.

"In vision, objects are defined by both their shape and their surface properties, such as color and brightness," Anna Roe, professor of psychology, said.

"For example, to identify a red apple, your visual system must process both the shape of the apple and its color," she said.