Agriculture
Protecting Cows—and People—from a Deadly Disease
Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Springing forward
Amphibians
Salamanders
Poison Dart Frogs
Toads
Animals
Monkey Math
Copybees
The History of Meow
Behavior
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
Contemplating thought
Internet Generation
Birds
Flightless Birds
Robins
Carnivorous Birds
Chemistry and Materials
Supersonic Splash
The Buzz about Caffeine
Big Machine Reveals Small Worlds
Computers
Batteries built by Viruses
Graphene's superstrength
Hitting the redo button on evolution
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Dino-Dining Dinosaurs
Dino Bite Leaves a Tooth
Teeny Skull Reveals Ancient Ancestor
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
Bugs with Gas
Life under Ice
Petrified Lightning
Environment
A 'Book' on Every Living Thing
Fungus Hunt
Hazy with a Chance of Sunshine
Finding the Past
A Human Migration Fueled by Dung?
Untangling Human Origins
A Long Haul
Fish
Barracudas
Lampreys
Electric Catfish
Food and Nutrition
Allergies: From Bee Stings to Peanuts
Strong Bones for Life
Sponges' secret weapon
GSAT English Rules
Capitalization Rules
Who vs. Whom
Pronouns
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
The Annual GSAT Scholarships
Mastering The GSAT Exam
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Exam Preparation
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
GSAT Mathematics
How a Venus Flytrap Snaps Shut
Math Naturals
GSAT Mathematics Quiz, Teaching Math, teaching anxiety
Human Body
Gut Microbes and Weight
Workouts: Does Stretching Help?
Surviving Olympic Heat
Invertebrates
Dust Mites
Camel Spiders
Tarantula
Mammals
Horses
Manatees
Bulldogs
Parents
Children and Media
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
How children learn
Physics
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Dreams of Floating in Space
Echoes of a Stretched Egg
Plants
Surprise Visitor
City Trees Beat Country Trees
Seeds of the Future
Reptiles
Crocodiles
Boa Constrictors
Box Turtles
Space and Astronomy
Saturn's New Moons
Catching a Comet's Tail
Killers from Outer Space
Technology and Engineering
Toy Challenge
Shape Shifting
Searching for Alien Life
The Parts of Speech
Adjectives and Adverbs
Problems with Prepositions
Pronouns
Transportation
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
Troubles with Hubble
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Weather
Catching Some Rays
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
The solar system's biggest junkyard
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Little Bits of Trouble

If you've kicked around a soccer ball, you may have noticed the pattern on the ball's surface. The ball is stitched together from 12 patches with five sides (pentagons) and 20 patches with six sides (hexagons). About 20 years ago, chemists discovered that carbon can form into molecules with the same shape. They nicknamed them buckyballs. These strong, hollow particles may someday be used to carry medicine or even block the action of certain viruses. Scientists have now found that buckyballs can harm living cells. Research by Eva Oberdörster, a biologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and her team shows that these molecules damage brain cells in fish. Buckyballs belong to a group of materials known as nanomaterials. The prefix "nano" means one-billionth. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter—roughly the width of just five carbon atoms lined up in a row. So, a buckyball is an extremely tiny particle—only a few ten-thousandths of the width of a human hair. To make a nanomaterial, scientists manipulate individual atoms to build molecules of different shapes. Groups of these molecules form materials with particular characteristics, making them suitable for different jobs. For example, some nanomaterials are already being used in makeup and sunscreens. Because buckyballs may someday be used in industry, Oberdörster and her team conducted experiments to find out if the molecules are toxic. The researchers added different quantities of buckyballs to water in a fish tank. After 48 hours, they removed the fish from the tank and checked different parts of the fishes' bodies for damage. Although none of them died, the exposed fish showed 17 times as much damage to brain cells as did fish not exposed to buckyballs. In a separate experiment, Vicki Colvin of Rice University in Houston found that buckyballs damage human cells growing in a lab. But she also found a possible solution to the problem. Coating buckyballs with other kinds of simple molecules appears to make buckyballs safer. Nanomaterial particles come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, so it's not yet known whether they all have the same harmful effects that buckyballs do. It's going to take a lot more experiments to sort out all the possible health effects of these amazing, new materials.—S. McDonagh

Little Bits of Trouble
Little Bits of Trouble








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