US scientists have identified the first biochemical marker linked to sleep loss, an enzyme in saliva known as amylase, which increases in activity when sleep deprivation is prolonged. The researchers hope to make amylase the first of a panel of biomarkers that will aid diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders and may one day help assess the risk of falling asleep at the wheel of a car or in other dangerous contexts. The study appears in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Carrying out a detailed computer simulation of the formation of the Milky Way, astronomers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have shown that the first generation of stars which have never been observed by scientists should be distributed evenly throughout our galaxy. The results, which are published in the latest issue of the Astrophysical Journal, have dealt a blow to the long-standing view that the earliest stars might all be contained in regions near the centre of our galaxy, where they are very hard to observe.
The remains of the ancient apeman, once thought to be a key link in the evolution of mankind, have now been shown to be 400,000 years too young to be a part of mans family tree. According to earlier estimates, the remains of the apeman were three to four million years old. The apeman, dubbed Little Foot, were discovered in a cave complex at Sterkfontein by a local South African team in 1997. The study was conducted by researchers at University of Leeds and Liverpool University and published in the journal Science.