By John P. Roche

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive form of malignant brain cancer. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons estimates that GBM causes 52 percent of primary brain tumors and 17 percent of primary plus metastasized brain tumors. More than 20,000 primary brain tumors are diagnosed in the United States each year, so improved treatment and monitoring of brain cancer is a critical medical need. New research from Vikas Berry and Ankit Mehta and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago discovered a powerful new tool that might be able to help fill this need—sheets of carbon atoms called graphene.

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land-plants

By John P. Roche

Carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere from numerous processes, including plant and animal respiration, changes in land use, and combustion of fossil fuels. Carbon is removed from the atmosphere by additional processes, including absorption into oceans and uptake via photosynthesis by plants on land. A recent study by Trevor Keenan of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and colleagues found that since 2002, there has been a pause in the rate of increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, and that this pause may be caused by an increase in carbon sequestration by land plants.

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Iceland photo

By John P. Roche

Teams of scientists around the world are investigating potential ways to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. This can be done in two ways: (1) by reducing the release of new CO2, via energy efficiency and use of non-carbon-based energy sources, or (2) by removing CO2 that is in the atmosphere or about to be released to the atmosphere, via sequestering carbon in plants, in soil, or in underground geological formations.

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By John P. Roche

An intriguing part of the carbon cycle is that the concentration of carbon dioxide fluctuates up and down in the atmosphere seasonally each year. In the Northern Hemisphere, as carbon is taken up by plants via photosynthesis during the growing season from April to October, carbon dioxide concentration decreases. Then, when there is a net release of carbon from plants during the winter months from November to March, carbon dioxide increases.

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PLGA-infiltrated RVC foam

 

By John P. Roche

Carbon has four valence electrons, allowing it to form four bonds with itself, which makes it uniquely versatile as a material. Carbon can bind to itself to form substances that include diamond, which is a solid three-dimensional crystal; graphene, which is a two-dimensional sheet of pure carbon; and carbon nanotubes, which are sheets of carbon folded in upon themselves to form cylinders. Each of these forms of carbon has myriad practical uses. Yet another form of carbon with important practical applications is glassy carbon, also called vitreous carbon.

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