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Mission impossible? The $1 billion mission to reach the Earth's mantle

Mission impossible? The $1 billion mission to reach the Earth's mantle | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Humans have reached the moon and are planning to return samples from Mars, but when it comes to exploring the land deep beneath our feet, we have only scratched the surface of our planet. This may be about to change with a $1 billion mission to drill 6 km beneath the seafloor to reach the Earth's mantle -- a 3000 km-thick layer of slowly deforming rock between the crust and the core which makes up the majority of our planet -- and bring back the first ever fresh samples.


It could help answer some of our biggest questions about the origins and evolution of Earth itself, with almost all of the sea floor and continents that make up the Earth´s surface originating from the mantle. Geologists involved in the project are already comparing it to the Apollo Moon missions in terms of the value of the samples it could yield.

 

However, in order to reach those samples, the team of international scientists must first find a way to grind their way through ultra-hard rocks with 10 km-long drill pipes -- a technical challenge that one of the project co-leaders Damon Teagle, from the UK's University of Southampton calls, "the most challenging endeavor in the history of Earth science."

 

Their task will be all the more difficult for being conducted out in the middle of the ocean. It is here that the Earth´s crust is at its thinnest at around 6 km compared to as much as 60 km on land. The hole they will drill will be just 30cm in width all the way from the ocean floor to inside the mantle -- a monumental engineering feat. "It will be the equivalent of dangling a steel string the width of a human hair in the deep end of a swimming pool and inserting it into a thimble 1/10 mm wide on the bottom, and then drilling a few meters into the foundations," says Teagle.

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Unusual symbiosis found between algae and nitrogen-fixing bacteria

Unusual symbiosis found between algae and nitrogen-fixing bacteria | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scientists have discovered an unusual symbiosis between tiny single-celled algae and highly specialized bacteria in the ocean. The partnership plays an important role in fertilizing the oceans by taking nitrogen from the atmosphere and "fixing" it into a form that other organisms can use.


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Precise Nanoscale Arrangement of Proteins by Single-Molecule Cut-and-Paste

Precise Nanoscale Arrangement of Proteins by Single-Molecule Cut-and-Paste | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In order to assemble novel biomolecular machines, individual protein molecules must be installed at their site of operation with nanometer precision. LMU researchers have now found a way to do just that. The finely honed tip of the atomic force microscope (AFM) allows one to pick up single biomolecules and deposit them elsewhere with nanometer accuracy. The technique is referred to as Single-Molecule Cut & Paste (SMC&P), and was developed by the research group led by LMU physicist Professor Hermann Gaub. In its initial form, it was only applicable to DNA molecules. However, the molecular machines responsible for many of the biochemical processes in cells consist of proteins, and the controlled assembly of such devices is one of the major goals of nanotechnology. A practical method for doing so would not only provide novel insights into the workings of living cells, but would also furnish a way to develop, construct and utilize designer nanomachines.

 

In a major step towards this goal, the LMU team has modified the method to allow them to take proteins from a storage site and place them at defined locations within a construction area with nanometer precision. “In liquid medium at room temperature, the “weather conditions” at the nanoscale are comparable to those in a hurricane,” says Mathias Strackharn, first author of the new study. Hence, the molecules being manipulated must be firmly attached to the tip of the AFM and held securely in place in the construction area.

 

The forces that tether the proteins during transport and assembly must also be weak enough not to cause damage, and must be tightly controlled. To achieve these two goals, the researchers used a combination of antibodies, DNA-binding “zinc-finger” proteins, and DNA anchors. “We demonstrated the method’s feasibility by bringing hundreds of fluorescent GFP molecules together to form a little green man, like the traffic-light figure that signals to pedestrians to cross the road, but only some micrometers high,” Strackharn explains.

 

With this technique, functional aspects of complex protein machines - such as how combinations of different enzymes interact, and how close together they must be to perform coupled reactions - can be tested directly. A further goal is to develop artificial multimolecular assemblies modeled on natural “cellulosomes”, which could be used to convert plant biomass into biofuels. Strackharn points out the implications: “If we can efficiently build mimics of these ‘enzymatic assembly lines’ by bringing individual proteins together, we could perhaps make a significant contribution to the exploitation of sustainable energy sources.”

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A smartphone in your glasses - another pair of "intelligent" AI glasses emerges as competitor to Google

EPFL scientists are developing a prototype of a pair of “augmented” glasses. You’ll be able to read messages, look at your agenda, and receive a variety of information directly on the lenses.

 

No need to turn to your smartphone to check the time, look at your agenda or the weather forecast, read a text message or map a route in an unfamiliar city. All this information, and much more, will soon be displayed on the lenses of “augmented” glasses via a mini-projector placed on the frames - and on the condition that you’re also wearing a specially designed pair of contact lenses.

 

EPFL scientists in the Laboratory of Photonic Devices are currently working on a prototype that’s similar to the project announced this spring by Google. The applications envisioned for this eagerly awaited invention run the gamut – games, GPS, teaching enhancement, support for the deaf and hard of hearing, and myriad other kinds of augmented reality.

 

The Laboratory is working closely with EPFL start-up company Lemoptix, which specializes in miniaturized projection systems, to develop a high definition micro-projector that will blend discreetly into the right arm of the glasses. From this projector, images and information will be sent to the specially treated glasses lens via holography. This is a process in which the light scattered off of an object is recorded and then later reconstructed in 3D in the absence of the object. In the case of augmented glasses, the hologram will be projected on the lenses in such a way that the image is reflected in the direction of the eye, while the lenses still appear transparent. The user thus can still see through the glasses.

 

Before this invention can be commercialized, however, all these technologies must be refined, tested, and put together. It will likely be between two and five years before we’ll be able to put on a pair of these glasses.

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Scattering genetically-modified Sphagnum moss can help restore climate and fix carbon dioxide

Scattering genetically-modified Sphagnum moss can help restore climate and fix carbon dioxide | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The world's peat bogs are a climate time bomb waiting to go off: they store about 455 gigatonnes of carbon, and are releasing increasing amounts. But according to Chris Freeman of Bangor University, UK, we could turn that around. Peat bogs could be used to geoengineer the climate by removing carbon dioxide from the air.

 

Freeman is trying to develop a genetically modified sphagnum that could boost the amount of carbon stored in peat. Sphagnum naturally produces phenolic compounds that slow the decomposition of the plants that make up peat. Preventing peat decomposition will help keep the carbon it holds locked away. Freeman wants to create a sphagnum that overproduces phenolics, slowing peat decomposition even further.

 

Freeman says the genetically modified sphagnum could store enough carbon each year to offset global transportation emissions. It will take at least 10 years to develop the modified plant.

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Deep Sequencing Reveals A Novel Rhabdovirus Associated With Acute Hemorrhagic Fever in Central Africa

Deep Sequencing Reveals A Novel Rhabdovirus Associated With Acute Hemorrhagic Fever in Central Africa | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Deep sequencing was used to discover a novel rhabdovirus (Bas-Congo virus, or BASV) associated with a 2009 outbreak of 3 human cases of acute hemorrhagic fever in Mangala village, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Africa. The cases, presenting over a 3-week period, were characterized by abrupt disease onset, high fever, mucosal hemorrhage, and, in two patients, death within 3 days. BASV was detected in an acute serum sample from the lone survivor at a concentration of 1.09×106 RNA copies/mL, and 98.2% of the genome was subsequently de novo assembled from ~140 million sequence reads. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that BASV is highly divergent and shares less than 34% amino acid identity with any other rhabdovirus. High convalescent neutralizing antibody titers of >1:1000 were detected in the survivor and an asymptomatic nurse directly caring for him, both of whom were health care workers, suggesting the potential for human-to-human transmission of BASV. The natural animal reservoir host or arthropod vector and precise mode of transmission for the virus remain unclear. BASV is an emerging human pathogen associated with acute hemorrhagic fever in Africa.

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NASA: Rover Finds Further Evidence That A Stream Once Ran Vigorously On Martian Surface

NASA: Rover Finds Further Evidence That A Stream Once Ran Vigorously On Martian Surface | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

NASA's Curiosity rover mission has found evidence a stream once ran vigorously across the area on Mars where the rover is driving. There is earlier evidence for the presence of water on Mars, but this evidence -- images of rocks containing ancient streambed gravels -- is the first of its kind.Scientists are studying the images of stones cemented into a layer of conglomerate rock. The sizes and shapes of stones offer clues to the speed and distance of a long-ago stream's flow.

 

From the size of gravels it carried, we can interpret the water was moving about 3 feet per second, with a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep," said Curiosity science co-investigator William Dietrich of the University of California, Berkeley. "Plenty of papers have been written about channels on Mars with many different hypotheses about the flows in them. This is the first time we're actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars. This is a transition from speculation about the size of streambed material to direct observation of it."

 

The finding site lies between the north rim of Gale Crater and the base of Mount Sharp, a mountain inside the crater. Earlier imaging of the region from Mars orbit allows for additional interpretation of the gravel-bearing conglomerate. The imagery shows an alluvial fan of material washed down from the rim, streaked by many apparent channels, sitting uphill of the new finds.

 

The rounded shape of some stones in the conglomerate indicates long-distance transport from above the rim, where a channel named Peace Vallis feeds into the alluvial fan. The abundance of channels in the fan between the rim and conglomerate suggests flows continued or repeated over a long time, not just once or for a few years.

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Far thinking: Our civilization needs is a billion-year plan...

Far thinking: Our civilization needs is a billion-year plan... | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Lt Col Garretson — one of the USAF’s most farsighted and original thinkers — has been at the forefront of USAF strategy on the long-term future in projects such as Blue Horizons (on KurzweilAI — see video), Energy Horizons, Space Solar Power, the AF Futures Game, the USAF Strategic Environmental Assessment, and the USAF RPA Flight Plan. Now in this exclusive to KurzweilAI, he pushes the boundary of long-term thinking about humanity’s survival out to the edge … and beyond.

 

It isn’t enough just to plan for two or 20, or even the fabled Chinese 100 year periods. We need to be thinking and planning on the order of billions of years. Our civilization needs inter-generational plans and goals that span as far out as we can forecast significant events.

For instance, the most significant near-term external problem we can forecast is that we have only about one billion years before the Earth becomes uninhabitable. Somewhere around that time, our Sun will have expanded and start boiling away our oceans. Truly, as the great space visionary Konstantin Tsiolkovsky foresaw, “Unless mankind leaves the Earth, it will surely die there.”

 

It is a nasty reality that sometimes the solutions to significant problems take time, and last-minute crash programs can fail. It would be a darn shame to end life’s two billion year run (and humanity’s eight million year run) prematurely because of a lack of planning. Moving everyone and everything we value off Earth is likely to take some time. The same is likely to be true for any of the alternatives: uploading most of us to exist “in-silico,” putting a sunshade between Earth and the Sun, moving the Earth, or attempting to control the Sun.

 

The obvious solution available to us today to cope with Earth’s eventual non-inhabitability is to build O’Neill style space colonies from material in the Asteroid belt, which is estimated to have a carrying capacity of 10–100 trillion people (1,000 to 10,000 times our current population on Earth). Of course, to be able to exercise that option, we would need a space policy that recognized survival as the fundamental reason for the space program, with articulated goals of space development and space settlement explicitly stated, and a space program pushing the technology and logistical capabilities to be able to attain those goals.

 

Energy availability is a key constraint to human progress and mobility. Spacefaring and space settlement capabilities would need to be developed before some other crisis (such as peak oil) caused a new and likely irrecoverable dark ages, which would reduce the energy capital available to develop the pre-cursor technologies. Nature has provided humanity a bounty of easy energy in the form of fossil fuels, a sort of ”baby fat” for the Earth to grow to adolescence. Use it well to reach new energy sources and we transcend; use it poorly (use it up) and we collapse.

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Three parents, one baby -- Ethnic debate over 'three-person in-vitro fertilization (IVF)'

Three parents, one baby -- Ethnic debate over 'three-person in-vitro fertilization (IVF)' | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The technique could be used to prevent debilitating and fatal "mitochondrial" diseases, which are passed down only from mother to child. However, the resulting baby would contain genetic information from three people - two parents and a donor woman. Ministers could change the law to make the technique legal after the results of the consultation are known.

 

About one in 200 children are born with faulty mitochondria - the tiny power stations which provide energy to every cell in the body. Most show little or no symptoms, but in the severest cases the cells of the body are starved of energy. It can lead to muscle weakness, blindness, heart failure and in some cases can be fatal. Mitochondria are passed on from the mother's egg to the child - the father does not pass on mitochondria through his sperm. The idea to prevent this is to add a healthy woman's mitochondria into the mix.

 

Two main techniques have been shown to work in the laboratory, by using a donor embryo or a donor egg. However, mitochondria contain their own genes in their own set of DNA. It means any babies produced would contain genetic material from three people. The vast majority would come from the mother and father, but also mitochondrial DNA from the donor woman.

This would be a permanent form of genetic modification, which would be passed down through the generations.

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Earth's Inconstant Magnetic Field And The Drift Of The Magnetic North Pole

Earth's Inconstant Magnetic Field And The Drift Of The Magnetic North Pole | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Our planet's magnetic field is in a constant state of change, say researchers who are beginning to understand how it behaves and why.

 

Every few years, scientist Larry Newitt of the Geological Survey of Canada goes hunting. He grabs his gloves, parka, a fancy compass, hops on a plane and flies out over the Canadian arctic. Not much stirs among the scattered islands and sea ice, but Newitt's prey is there--always moving, shifting, elusive. His quarry is Earth's north magnetic pole. Scientists have long known that the magnetic pole moves. James Ross located the pole for the first time in 1831 after an exhausting arctic journey during which his ship got stuck in the ice for four years. No one returned until the next century. In 1904, Roald Amundsen found the pole again and discovered that it had moved--at least 50 km since the days of Ross.

 

The pole kept going during the 20th century, north at an average speed of 10 km per year, lately accelerating "to 40 km per year," says Newitt. At this rate it will exit North America and reach Siberia in a few decades. Keeping track of the north magnetic pole is Newitt's job. "We usually go out and check its location once every few years," he says. "We'll have to make more trips now that it is moving so quickly." Earth's magnetic field is changing in other ways, too: Compass needles in Africa, for instance, are drifting about 1 degree per decade. And globally the magnetic field has weakened 10% since the 19th century. When this was mentioned by researchers at a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union, many newspapers carried the story. A typical headline: "Is Earth's magnetic field collapsing?" Probably not. As remarkable as these changes sound, "they're mild compared to what Earth's magnetic field has done in the past," says University of California professor Gary Glatzmaier.

 

Sometimes the the whole magnetic field of Earth completely flips. The north and the south poles swap places. Such reversals, recorded in the magnetism of ancient rocks, are unpredictable. They come at irregular intervals averaging about 300,000 years; the last one was 780,000 years ago. Are we overdue for another? No one knows.

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Robert T. Preston's curator insight, June 2, 2013 11:18 AM

The magnetic North Pole is ever on the move, and always has been.  See where it's been, where it's headed, and get a glimpse into why.

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Continuous Habitable Zones and Habitable Worlds around White Dwarf Stars?

Continuous Habitable Zones and Habitable Worlds around White Dwarf Stars? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Not all that long ago we assumed habitable planets needed a star like our Sun to thrive, but that view has continued to evolve.

 

Not all that long ago we assumed habitable planets needed a star like our Sun to thrive, but that view has continued to evolve. M-class red dwarfs may account for as many as 80 percent of the stars in our galaxy, making habitable worlds potentially more numerous around them than anywhere. And let’s extend our notion of habitability to what Luca Fossati (The Open University, UK) and colleagues call a Continuous Habitable Zone (CHZ). Now things really get interesting, for a red dwarf evolves slowly, so planets could have a CHZ with surface water for billions of years.

 

But what about white dwarfs? Stellar evolution seems to rule out habitable worlds around them because we normally think of stars entering their red giant phase and destroying their inner planets enroute to becoming a white dwarf. But can a new planetary system emerge from the wreckage? We’ve already found planets orbiting close to the exposed core of a red giant (KOI 55.01 and KOI 55.02), showing that the end of main sequence evolution isn’t necessarily the end of planetary survival. We’ve also found evidence in the metallic lines in the spectra of white dwarfs for rocky bodies close to such stars, a kind of ‘pollution’ thought to be caused by the accretion of small, rocky worlds or perhaps planetesimals.

 

The conditions on planets orbiting close to a cool white dwarf might be relatively benign. What Fossati and team show is that the cooling process in these stars slows down as their effective temperature approaches 6000 K, producing a habitable zone that can endure up to eight billion years. And it turns out that white dwarfs offer advantages M-dwarfs do not, providing a stable luminosity source without the flare activity we associate with younger M-class stars. As you would expect, a cool white dwarf has a habitable zone close to the star, ten times closer than for M-dwarfs. One recent study has used this to argue that a Mars-sized planet in the white dwarf CHZ would be detectable with today’s ground-based observatories even for faint stars.

 

But there are other options including polarized light that may be used to detect a planet with an atmosphere around a white dwarf. Normally, starlight is unpolarized, but when light reflects off a planetary atmosphere, the interactions between the light waves and the molecules in the atmosphere cause the light to become polarized. The paper notes that the polarization due to a terrestrial planet in the CHZ of a cool white dwarf would be larger than the polarization signal of a comparable planet in the habitable zone of any other type of star except brown dwarfs. Analyzing polarization is thus a viable way to detect close-in rocky planets around white dwarfs.

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Kepler Spacecraft's data visualized: an interactive exploration of Earth-like exoplanets

Kepler Spacecraft's data visualized: an interactive exploration of Earth-like exoplanets | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

inShare Data visualization artist Jer Thorp has teamed up with Oblong Industries to create an interactive, gestural visualization of the data sent back by NASA's Kepler spacecraft. Kepler has returned quite a bit of data on its mission to find earth-like exoplanets in other parts of the Milky Way galaxy, and Thorp's open-source data visualization software and Oblong Industries' gestural control technology have come together to turn this data into a stunning 3D environment. Users can explore the exoplanets using natural gestures and — with the flick of a wrist — the data can be sorted and analyzed for patterns and trends.

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Pale blue dot or not? What the color of alien worlds can tell us

Pale blue dot or not? What the color of alien worlds can tell us | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Most people are familiar with the pale blue dot image of Earth taken by Voyager in 1990. Its blueness is significant, of course, because it is Earth’s abundant liquid water that makes it look that way. But if you looked at the light that is reflected from Earth carefully, you would see several interesting features. One, caused by vegetation, is called “red edge”. Green plants absorbs a lot of red light creating a big, sudden jump in reflectivity in the red bit of the visible light spectrum. An alien, if it could get a good look, would be able to tell than Earth had plenty of vegetation because of this red edge.

 

Hajime Kawahara at Tokyo Metropolitan University and Yuka Fujii at the University of Tokyo in Japan describe how they created 2D maps of what the light from an Earth-like planet would look like with various features on its surface. By watching a planet over time their technique is able to build up a more detailed image – a blue marble, rather than a pale blue dot. Maps like these may one day provide us with an indication of what the environment is like on a faraway exoplanet.

 

They note, however, that the characteristics of vegetation (or any organism with chlorophyll) could vary depending on their planet’s host star. The signature of chlorophyll near a hot star could have a blue, rather than red, edge to protect a plant’s leaves from overheating. Or on a planet that orbits a cool, dim star chlorophyll may appear black as it tries to absorb as much light as possible across the whole range of the visible spectrum.

 

A day where we have to use these techniques to decide which of an abundance of potential Earth 2.0s to travel to seems a long, long way away. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start daydreaming about which we will aim for first.

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Videos of machine learning, artificial intelligence and playful machines

Videos of machine learning, artificial intelligence and playful machines | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
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Biologists find that hu Schlafen 11 inhibits strongly replication of HIV virus inside infected cells

Biologists find that hu Schlafen 11 inhibits strongly replication of HIV virus inside infected cells | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Biologists at UC San Diego found that a gene called Human Schlafen 11 produces a protein that inhibits the replication of HIV in infected human cells by blocking the ability of the host cell to synthesize viral proteins.

 

Some people with HIV develop AIDS rapidly and others can be HIV positive for decades and never really develop any symptoms of the disease," said Michael David, a professor of biology at UC San Diego, who headed the research team. "It's still unclear why that is, but one possibility is that the genetic variations in this protein, like in many other viral restriction factors, account for the differences in the susceptibility to the virus.

 

Because Human Schlafen 11 specifically blocks synthesis of HIV proteins, the researchers are conducting further studies to see if variations in the Human Schlafen 11 gene can be correlated with disease progression in HIV infected individuals. If that turns out to be the case, the discovery could one day lead to the development of a diagnostic test for HIV infected individuals that would inform them of their likelihood of developing AIDS or, better yet, the development of a therapeutic drug that would prevent HIV infected individuals from ever developing AIDS.

 

"If it's possible for the human cell to inhibit the synthesis of viral programs without affecting the synthesis of cellular proteins, it's possible that at some point a drug can do that, too," said David. "But our discovery is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot more work to be done. Whether this will have diagnostic or therapeutic value remains to be seen."

 

Human Schlafen 11 is member of a family of six genes in humans and nine genes in mice that are induced in mammalian cells in response to various kinds of infection, specifically infections that result in the release of anti-viral proteins called interferons. The first Schlafen gene was discovered in mice at UC San Diego in 1998 by Steve Hedrick, a professor of biology.

 

Genes of the Schlafen family, first discovered in mouse, are expressed in hematopoietic cells and are involved in immune processes. Previous results showed that they are candidate genes for two major phenomena: meiotic drive and embryonic lethality (DDK syndrome). However, these genes remain poorly understood, mostly due to the limitations imposed by their similarity, close location and the potential functional redundancy of the gene family members.

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Hundreds of biochemical analyses on a single microfluidic device

Hundreds of biochemical analyses on a single microfluidic device | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scientists at EPFL and the University of Geneva have developed a microfluidic device smaller than a domino that can simultaneously measure up to 768 biomolecular interactions.

 

Inside our cells in the body, molecules are constantly binding and separating from one another. It’s this game of constant flux that drives gene expression asides essentially every other biological process. Understanding the specific details of how these interactions take place is thus crucial to our overall understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of living organisms. There are millions of possible combinations of molecules, however; determining all of them would be a Herculean task.

 

Various tools have been developed to measure the degree of affinity between a strand of DNA and its transcription factor. They provide an indication of the strength of the affinity between them. Commercial devices, however, have one main drawback: many preliminary manipulations are necessary before an experiment can be carried out, and even then, the experiment can only focus on a dozen interactions at a time.

 

As part of his doctoral research at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Sebastian Maerkl designed a device that he named “MITOMI” — a small device containing hundreds of microfluidic channels equipped with pneumatic valves. The new version, “k-MITOMI,” was developed in the context of the SystemsX.ch RTD DynamiX in cooperation with the University of Geneva.

 

k-MITOMI has 768 chambers, each one with a valve that allows DNA and transcription factors to interact in a very carefully controlled manner. “In traditional methods, we generally manage to determine if an interaction takes place or not, and then we restart the experiment with another gene or another transcription factor,” Maerkl explains. “Our device goes much further, because it allows us to measure the affinity and kinetics of the interaction.”

 

The strength of the device lies in a sort of “push-button” in its microreactors. A protein substrate is immobilized on the device; above it circulates a solution containing DNA moelcules. The push-button is activated at regular intervals of a few milliseconds, trapping protein-DNA complexes that form on the surface of the device. “Then we close the lid, and fluorescence reveals the exact number of bound molecules,” explains Maerkl. “We can also observe how long these molecules remain bound.”

 

http://tinyurl.com/d79bwwb

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Molecular factors, unique ecological environment make Bhut Jolokia world’s hottest chilli

Molecular factors, unique ecological environment make Bhut Jolokia world’s hottest chilli | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A molecular study carried out by Indian defense researchers indicates that molecular characters and the unique ecological environment of North East India make Bhut Jolokia distinct from other closely related chilli species and keep it world’s hottest. Locally known as “Bhut Jolokia”, this pepper variety found in the North Eastern parts of India and is considered as the hottest chilli in the world.

 

Bhut Jolokia has grabbed the title ‘world’s hottest chilli’ from the Red Savina Habanero found in Canada, when it was found that Jolokia is at least two times hotter than it in terms of 'Scoville Heat units' which is the measurement of hotness in chillies.

 

Interestingly, the name Bhut Jolokia hints a ghostly bite, which actually leaves the victim burning for at least 30 minutes without subsiding. It is being used by local people for a variety of purposes like making spicy food, to prepare medicines and even in smoke bombs to keep wild elephants away.

 

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8 New-Species Discovered in Peru, Among Them a New Monkey

8 New-Species Discovered  in Peru, Among Them a New Monkey | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
A night monkey, enigmatic porcupine, and small-eared shrew are among the unusual mammals found during a recent expedition.

 

A new species of night monkey (pictured) was found during an expedition to northern Peru's Tabaconas Namballe National Sanctuary, scientists announced recently. A team of Mexican and Peruvian biologists found this "new heaven of unknown biodiversity" during a 2009-2011 expedition, according to a press statement.

 

Rarely seen and little-studied, night monkeys are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and endangered by the Peruvian government, making the new discovery especially notable.

 

The as yet unnamed new species was found close to the border of Ecuador, said expedition co-leader Gerardo Ceballos, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Compared with two other species of night monkey in the region, the new one has a more uniform color and smaller skull.

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Electronic Implant That Dissolves in the Body

Electronic Implant That Dissolves in the Body | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Tufts University, and others have created fully biodegradable electronics that could allow doctors to implant medical sensors or drug delivery devices that dissolve when they're no longer needed. The transient circuits can be programmed to disappear after a set amount of time based on the durability of their silk-protein coating

 

"You want the device to serve a useful function, but after that function is completed, you want it to simply disappear by dissolution and resorption into the body," says John Rogers, a physical chemist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and senior author on the study, recently published in Science.

 

The authors demonstrate this possibility with a resorbable device that can heat the area of a surgical cut to prevent bacterial growth. They implanted the heat-generating circuit into rats. After three weeks, the authors examined the site of the implant and found that the device had nearly completely disappeared, leaving only remnants of the silk coating, which is eliminated more slowly than the silicon and magnesium of the circuit itself.

 

http://tinyurl.com/c9sfrea

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New material may replace silicon - Norwegian researchers make semiconductors from graphene

New material may replace silicon - Norwegian researchers make semiconductors from graphene | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The method involves growing semiconductor-nanowires on graphene. To achieve this, researchers “bomb” the graphene surface with gallium atoms and arsenic molecules, thereby creating a network of minute nanowires. The result is a one-micrometre thick hybrid material which acts as a semiconductor. By comparison, the silicon semiconductors in use today are several hundred times thicker. The semiconductors’ ability to conduct electricity may be affected by temperature, light or the addition of other atoms.

 

Graphene is the thinnest material known, and at the same time one of the strongest. It consists of a single layer of carbon atoms and is both pliable and transparent. The material conducts electricity and heat very effectively. And perhaps most importantly, it is very inexpensive to produce.

 

“Given that it’s possible to make semiconductors out of graphene instead of silicon, we can make semiconductor components that are both cheaper and more effective than the ones currently on the market,” explains Helge Weman of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Dr Weman is behind the breakthrough discovery along with Professor Bjørn-Ove Fimland.

 

“A material comprising a pliable base that is also transparent opens up a world of opportunities, one we have barely touched the surface of,” says Dr Weman. “This may bring about a revolution in the production of solar cells and LED components. Windows in traditional houses could double as solar panels or a TV screen. Mobile phone screens could be wrapped around the wrist like a watch. In short, the potential is tremendous.”

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Research shows bee 'flight plans', scientists are astonished by the power of the insects' tiny brains

Research shows bee 'flight plans', scientists are astonished by the power of the insects' tiny brains | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scientists tracking the flight of the bumblebee have been astonished by the power of the insects' tiny brains. Let loose to find their way among five artificial flowers in a one kilometre-wide field, the bees quickly learned which routes were the most efficient. In a surprisingly short time they drew up "flight plans" that allowed them to navigate around the flowers while using as little energy as possible.


"The speed at which they learn through trial and error is quite extraordinary for bumblebees as this complex behaviour was thought to be one which only larger-brained animals were capable of," said lead scientist Professor Lars Chittka, from Queen Mary, University of London.

 

Tiny radar transponders mounted on the bees' backs were used to plot where the insects were flying. The artificial flowers were fitted with motion-triggered webcams, as well as landing platforms containing a drop of sugar solution to simulate nectar. To prompt the bumblebees to visit all five flowers, each sucrose drop was only big enough to fill one fifth of a bee's crop. The flowers, arranged in a pentagon, were also far enough apart to be out of reach of each other from a bee perspective.

 

"Using mathematical models, we dissected bees' learning process and identified how they may decipher this optimal solution without a map," said fellow Queen Mary's scientist Dr Mathieu Lihoreau, co-author of the study reported in the online journal Public Library of Science Biology. "Initially, their routes were long and complex, revisiting empty flowers several times. But, as they gained experience, the bees gradually refined their routes through trial and error. "Each time a bee tried a new route it increased its probability of reusing the new route if it was shorter than the shortest route it had tried before. Otherwise the new route was abandoned and another was tested. "After an average of 26 times each bee went foraging, which meant they tried about 20 of the 120 possible routes, they were able to select the most efficient path to visit the flowers, without computing all the possibilities."

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adam gray brooks's curator insight, February 17, 6:31 PM

this article was about bumblebees brains and how quickly they learn which routes are the most efficient ones to take so they use less energy getting nectar.

 

i didn't know that bees could learn quickly  

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Organism with 7 different sexes - not only male and female

Organism with 7 different sexes - not only male and female | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The single-celled organism "Tetrahymena thermophila" has not two but seven sexes, and each one can mate with any of the others, which opens up the field of sexual attraction considerably. Unfortunately, they all look alike. What's more, the different sexes are not equally common – thanks to the peculiar way each individual's sex is determined.

http://tinyurl.com/6xeoymh

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NASA: Hubble Sees Red Giant Blow a Bubble

NASA: Hubble Sees Red Giant Blow a Bubble | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Camelopardalis, or U Cam for short, is a star nearing the end of its life. As stars run low on fuel, they become unstable. Every few thousand years, U Cam coughs out a nearly spherical shell of gas as a layer of helium around its core begins to fuse. The gas ejected in the star’s latest eruption is clearly visible in this picture as a faint bubble of gas surrounding the star.

 

U Cam is an example of a carbon star, a rare type of star with an atmosphere that contains more carbon than oxygen. Due to its low surface gravity, typically as much as half of the total mass of a carbon star may be lost by way of powerful stellar winds. Located in the constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe), near the North Celestial Pole, U Cam itself is much smaller than it appears in this Hubble image. In fact, the star would easily fit within a single pixel at the center of the image. Its brightness, however, is enough to saturate the camera's receptors, making the star look much larger than it is.

 

The shell of gas, which is both much larger and much fainter than its parent star, is visible in intricate detail in Hubble’s portrait. This phenomenon is often quite irregular and unstable, but the shell of gas expelled from U Cam is almost perfectly spherical.

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Myostatin knock-out "Mighty Mice" Made Mightier

Myostatin knock-out "Mighty Mice" Made Mightier | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The Johns Hopkins scientist who first showed that the absence of the protein myostatin leads to oversized muscles in mice and men has now found a second protein, follistatin, whose overproduction in mice lacking myostatin doubles the muscle-building effect.

 

While mice that lack the gene that makes myostatin have roughly twice the amount of body muscle as normal, mice without myostatin that also overproduce follistatin have about four times as much muscle as normal mice.

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Visualizing a Full Day of Airplane Paths over the USA

Visualizing a Full Day of Airplane Paths over the USA | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

At any given moment, there can be 30,000 manmade objects in the sky above us: Planes, helicopters, satellites, weather balloons, space debris, and other diverse technologies. They watch, they guide, they protect, they communicate, they transport, they predict, they look out into the stars. In less than 100 years, the deep blue has become a complex web of machinery.

 

Our lives are closely tied to these networks in the sky, but a disjunction has occurred between us and the aerial technologies we use every day. We rarely consider the hulking, physical machines that have now become core to our lifestyle. By not being aware of the hardware we use every day, we may also not be aware of the social, economic, cultural, and political importance of these technologies. By visualizing them, it may lead to a better understanding of the forces that are shaping our future.

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