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Nobel Prize In Chemistry Goes To American Researchers

NOBELPRIZE.ORG (Sweden)

Worldcrunch

STOCKHOLM – The 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to two American researchers for their studies on how body cells react to their environments.

Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka were recognized for their “groundbreaking discoveries that reveal the inner workings of an important family of receptors, known as G-protein-coupled receptors,” announced the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

“Your body is a fine-tuned system of interactions between billions of cells,” the Nobel Committee explained. “Each cell has tiny receptors that enable it to sense its environment, so it can adapt to new situations.”

For instance, you hear a loud bang. You are startled, your whole body jumps, your heart pounds. Your brain is sending nerve signals to warn your body. Your adrenal gland has been awakened and it is pumping cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenalin into your body. A multitude of cells have reacted at the same time - thanks to the sensors on the cell surface, they have sensed that something was happening.

These sensors are called receptors. For a long time, scientists have been trying to find these receptors, to understand what they look like and how they send their signals to our cells.

After decades of research, Lefkowitz and Kobilka were able, in 2011, to get an image of the receptor at the moment that it transfers its signal from the outside of the cell to the G-protein on the inside of the cell.

Read more about their groundbreaking research here.

Images courtesy of nobelprize.org.

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Green Or Gone

Tracking The Asian Fishing "Armada" That Sucks Up Tons Of Seafood Off Argentina's Coast

A brightly-lit flotilla of fishing ships has reappeared in international waters off the southern coast of Argentina as it has annually in recent years for an "industrial harvest" of thousands of tons of fish and shellfish.

Photo of dozens of crab traps

An estimated 500 boats gather annually off the coast of Patagonia

Claudio Andrade

BUENOS AIRES — The 'floating city' of industrial fishing boats has returned, lighting up a long stretch of the South Pacific.

Recently visible off the coast of southern Argentina, aerial photographs showed the well-lit armada of some 500 vessels, parked 201 miles offshore from Comodoro Rivadavia in the province of Chubut. The fleet had arrived for its vast seasonal haul of sea 'products,' confirming its annual return to harvest squid, cod and shellfish on a scale that activists have called an environmental blitzkrieg.

In principle the ships are fishing just outside Argentina's exclusive Economic Zone, though it's widely known that this kind of apparent "industrial harvest" does not respect the territorial line, entering Argentine waters for one reason or another.

For some years now, activists and organizations like Greenpeace have repeatedly denounced industrial-style fishing as exhausting marine resources worldwide and badly affecting regional fauna, even if the fishing outfits technically manage to evade any crackdown by staying in or near international waters.

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