Science News: Week of October 4, 2009

Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of October 4, 2009.

Americans, Israeli Win Nobel Chemistry Prize: Americans Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas Steitz and Israeli Ada Yonath won the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for mapping ribosomes.

Ballerina tyrannosaur unearthed in Mongolia: The largely intact skeleton of Alioramus altai was excavated from 65-million-year-old rocks in the Gobi desert in Mongolia.

To read the study:

Brusatte, S., Carr, T., Erickson, G., Bever, G., & Norell, M. (2009). A long-snouted, multihorned tyrannosaurid from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906911106

Genome sequence published for important biofuels yeast: A strain of yeast that thrives on turning sugar cane into ethanol for biofuel has had its genome completely sequenced by researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

Heart disease: B-vitamin pills have no effect: B-vitamin supplements should not be recommended for prevention of heart disease, say scientists. A Cochrane Systematic Review has shown these supplements do not reduce the risk of developing or dying from the disease.

Largest known planetary ring discovered: A newly discovered planetary ring can run circles around all the others. The gossamer band of dust encircles Saturn and has a measured diameter of about 24 million kilometers, or 200 times the diameter of the planet.

Souped-up stem cells rescue damaged limbs: Already prized as engines of repair, stem cells have now been engineered to contain a gene that enhances their healing properties by summoning extra blood vessels to newly formed tissue.

Study finds how bacteria combat mercury: U.S. scientists say they’ve found how bacteria convert methyl mercury into a less-toxic form, allowing the bacteria to survive in mercury-rich environments.

To read the study:

Parks, J., Guo, H., Momany, C., Liang, L., Miller, S., Summers, A., & Smith, J. (2009). Mechanism of Hg?C Protonolysis in the Organomercurial Lyase MerB Journal of the American Chemical Society, 131 (37), 13278-13285 DOI: 10.1021/ja9016123

Vaccine-like shots fight cocaine addiction: Vaccine-like shots to keep cocaine abusers from getting high also helped them fight their addiction in the first successful rigorous study of this approach to treating illicit drug use.