Beta-Carbolines Could Reduce Alcoholics’ Impulse to Drink

A new animal study is offering hope that a class of compounds called beta-carbolines could treat alcoholism without many of the unwanted side effects caused by current therapies.

Beta-carboline compounds offer great promise for the treatment of alcoholism. Image credit: Imagens Evangelicas / CC BY 2.0.
“Alcoholism is a major problem in the United States. Alcohol abuse costs almost $220 billion to the U.S. economy every year. That’s a shocking number. We need a better treatment right now,” said study lead author Phani Babu Tiruveedhula from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
The exact causes of alcoholism are not well understood, but scientists explain that the urge to drink is related to the brain’s pleasure centers. They have found that alcohol triggers t… Read more

3D Boron Nitride Could Help Keep Gadgets Cool

A team of researchers at Rice University has completed the first analysis of how 3D boron nitride might be used as a tunable material to control heat flow in small electronics.

A 3D structure of hexagonal boron nitride sheets and boron nitride nanotubes could be a tunable material to control heat in gadgets. Image credit: Rouzbeh Shahsavari / Navid Sakhavand / Rice University.
In its 2D form, hexagonal boron nitride (otherwise known as white graphene) looks just like the atom-thick form of carbon known as graphene. One well-studied difference is that the hexagonal boron nitride is a natural insulator, where perfect graphene presents no barrier to electricity. But like graphene, the hexagonal boron nitride is a good conductor of heat, which can be quantified in the form of phonons.
“Typically in all el… Read more

Researchers Build Water Droplet-Based Computer

A group of bioengineers led by Dr Manu Prakash of Stanford University has developed a synchronous computer that operates using the physics of moving water droplets.

Stanford University bioengineers have developed a computer that operates on water droplets. Image credit: Kurt Hickman.
Because of its universal nature, the water-droplet computer can theoretically perform any operation that a conventional electronic computer can crunch, although at significantly slower rates. Dr Prakash’s team, however, has a more ambitious application in mind.
“We already have digital computers to process information. Our goal is not to compete with electronic computers or to operate word processors on this. Our goal is to build a completely new class of computers that can precisely control and manipulate ph… Read more

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