Welcome to science bullets, the "other people's suggestions" issue. All the links below were pointed out to me by other people, primarily my fellow Ars writing staff. Read on for a sense of what they find interesting.
Hunting down OCD: Previous studies using twins and families have suggested there is a genetic component to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. A large collaborative group has now scanned the genomes of 219 families with members suffering from OCD. They found four regions that looked promising, though none appear to reach the standard which scientists use to indicate that a gene is definitively linked to a specific location on a chromosome. Increasing the number of people enrolled in the study, and focusing on these regions may help pin things down a bit more definitively.The evolution of nuclear power: The New Scientist has an article describing the use of genetic algorithms in designing nuclear power plants. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Lab have found that if you feed a supercomputer a basic design and let it test variations through a process designed to mimic evolution, the designs that come out include, "some systems we would just never have thought of." The process is turning out to be very flexible, too, as you can set the survival factors of a design according to your needs, allowing the same process to also produce a compact reactor for a potential NASA mission.Feel the techno-buzz: Wired has a bizarre story about people implanting magnets in their skin in order to sense the presence of magnetic fields, including those produced by electronics. The author had the procedure performed on himself, only to have it end with infection and the shards of the shattered magnet permanently stuck in his finger. I'm not entirely convinced it's science, but it certainly sounds like an experiment of some sort.Spongy nano-tech: Over at Technology Review, there's an overview of attempts to improve the production of miniscule structures. The researchers are getting ideas by looking at something we don't tend to think of as having all that much structure: the sponge. Some species of sponge apparently form a glass-like structure to via an enzymatic process. After learning a bit about the principles behind the reaction that builds the structure, some attempts have managed to use similar techniques to build thin films with wire-like projections out of a number of different materials.Springing an enzymeinto action: Pysicists can play with DNA, too. A group at UCLA have engineered a protein complex that has its activity regulated by a molecular spring formed by DNA. The complex is normally shut down by an inhibitory protein, which they connected to the rest of the complex with a strand of DNA. By adding in a complementary strand of DNA, they could force the linker to extend, pushing the inhibitor away, and activating the complex.The Universe is a dusty place: And we're not just talking about my apartment! But where's all the dust coming from? Since dust is composed of heavy elements, supernovae have been a good bet, but they haven't been cooperative. Dust doesn't form until a couple of years after the explosion, by which time the light's faded, and the area's hard to observe. But the combination of a nearby supernova and the Spitzer space telescope has let astronomers take a look. And the dust, as hoped, was there.