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Books and JavaScript stored in DNA molecules

Books and JavaScript stored in DNA molecules | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The computers of the future might store data in DNA. George Church of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and colleagues have encoded a 53,400-word book, 11 JPG images and a JavaScript program – amounting to 5.27 million bits of data in total – into sequences of DNA. In doing so, they have beaten the previous record set by J. Craig Venter's team in 2010 when they encoded a 7920-bit watermark in their synthetic bacterium.

 

DNA is one of the most dense and stable media for storing information known. In theory, DNA can encode two bits per nucleotide. That's 455 exabytes – roughly the capacity of 100 billion DVDs – per gram of single-stranded DNA, making it five or six orders denser than currently available digital media, such as flash memory. Information stored in DNA can also be read thousands of years after it was first laid down.

 

Until now, however, the difficulty and cost involved in reading and writing long sequences of DNA has made large-scale data storage impractical. Church and his team got round this by developing a strategy that eliminates the need for long sequences. Instead, they encoded data in distinct blocks and stored these in shorter separate stretches. The strategy is exactly analogous to data storage on a hard drive, says co-author Sriram Kosuri, where data is divided up into discrete blocks called sectors. The team has also applied their strategy in practice. They converted a JavaScript program, and a book co-written by Church, into bit form. They then synthesised DNA to repeat that sequence of bits, encoding one bit at every DNA base. The DNA bases A or C encoded a '0', while G and T encoded a '1'.

 

Because the DNA is synthesised as the data is encoded, the approach doesn't allow for rewritable data storage. A write-only DNA molecule is still suitable for long-term archival storage, though. "I don't want to say rewriting is impossible," says Kosuri, "but we haven't yet looked at that."

 

But the result does show that DNA synthesis and sequencing technologies have finally progressed to the stage where integrating DNA sequence information into a storage medium is a real possibility, says Dan Gibson at the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, California, who was part of Venter's team in 2010. "Cost, speed and instrument size currently make this impractical for general use, but the field is moving fast, and the technology will soon be cheaper, faster and smaller," he says.

 

Original article: Science, DOI:10.1126/science.293.5536.1763c

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Merging biologics with electronics: Grow cyborg tissues with embedded nanoelectronics

Merging biologics with electronics: Grow cyborg tissues with embedded nanoelectronics | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
For the first time, Harvard scientists have created a type of cyborg tissue by embedding a three-dimensional network of functional, biocompatible, nanoscale wires into engineered human tissues.

 

The research addresses a concern that has long been associated with work on bioengineered tissue: how to create systems capable of sensing chemical or electrical changes in the tissue after it has been grown and implanted. The system might also represent a solution to researchers’ struggles in developing methods to directly stimulate engineered tissues and measure cellular reactions.

 

The process of building the networks is similar to that used to etch microchips. Beginning with a two-dimensional substrate, researchers laid out a mesh of organic polymer around nanoscale wires, which serve as the critical sensing elements. Nanoscale electrodes, which connect the nanowire elements, were then built within the mesh to enable nanowire transistors to measure the activity in cells without damaging them. Once completed, the substrate is then dissolved, leaving researchers with a netlike sponge, or a mesh, that can be folded or rolled into a host of three-dimensional shapes. Finally, the networks are porous enough to allow seeding them with cells and encourage those cells to grow in 3-D cultures.

 

Using heart and nerve cells, the Harvard research team successfully engineered tissues containing embedded nanoscale networks without affecting the cells’ viability or activity. Using the embedded devices, the researchers were then able to detect electrical signals generated by cells deep within the tissue, and to measure changes in those signals in response to cardio- or neuro-stimulating drugs.

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Engineers Find Inspiration for New Materials in Piranha-proof Armor

Engineers Find Inspiration for New Materials in Piranha-proof Armor | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

It’s a matchup worthy of a late-night cable movie: put a school of starving piranha and a 300-pound fish together, and who comes out the winner? The surprising answer—given the notorious guillotine-like bite of the piranha—is Brazil’s massive Arapaima fish. The secret to Arapaima’s success lie in its intricately designed scales, which could provide “bioinspiration” for engineers looking to develop flexible ceramics.

 

The inspiration for this study came from an expedition in the Amazon basin that Marc Meyers, a professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, took years ago. The mechanical and aerospace engineering professor wondered at the Arapaima's armor-like protective scales. How could it live in piranha-infested lakes, where no other animals could survive?

 

Meyers and colleagues set up a lab experiment that pits piranha against Arapaima by using a machine that resembles an industrial-strength hole punch. Piranha teeth were attached to the top “punch,” which was pressed down into Arapaima scales embedded in a soft rubber surface (which mimics the soft underlying muscle on the fish) on the lower “punch.” The teeth can partially penetrate the scale, but crack before they can puncture the muscle. In the case of Arapaima, the ingeniously designed scales serve as peace through strength, allowing them to coexist with piranha when the two are crowded into Amazon basin lakes during the region’s dry season.

 

The combination of hard and soft materials, the researchers note, give the scales several ways to repel the bite. The scales overlap like shingles on the fish, and each scale has a “very hefty mineralized layer on top of it. People living in the Amazon sometimes use the ridged Arapaimas scales (which can be nearly four inches in length) as nail files. The corrugated surface keeps the scales’ thick mineralized surface intact while the fish flexes as it swims. Ceramic surfaces of constant thickness are strained when forced to follow a curved surface, but the corrugations allow the scales to be bent more easily without cracking.

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DNA-damaging E. Coli Strain Causing Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Cancer in Mice

DNA-damaging E. Coli Strain Causing Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Cancer in Mice | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The trillions of microbes in the human gut contribute to obesity and to the risk of diseases such as diabetes. This microbial menagerie — the microbiome — also has a role now in cancer. Mice with inflammatory bowel disease contain higher proportions of toxin-producing bacteria that may lead to colorectal cancer, the researchers say. Moreover, people with colorectal cancer were found to be more likely than healthy people to harbour these bacteria. Researchers have known for decades that microbes can cause cancer. Many viruses turn infected cells cancerous as means of spreading their genetic material.The pathogenic bacterium Helicobacter pylori lies at the root of most of peptic ulcers, which can seed stomach cancers. The latest work, however, indicates that an ordinarily harmless strain of Escherichia coli, a common gut bacterium, can cause cancer when the gut is inflamed.

 

Many humans also harbour bacteria that produce colibactin. The researchers found them in the stools of 20% of 24 healthy people, 40% of 35 people with inflammatory bowel disease and 66% of 21 people with colorectal cancer. But how the colibactin-producing bacteria lead to cancer isn’t clear. Gut inflammation causes colibactin-producing strains to bloom while simultaneously weakening epithelial cells that line the gut, making them more susceptible to DNA damage. If this happens for long enough, a cell will turn cancerous.

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Human melanoma stem cells identified

Human melanoma stem cells identified | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Cancer stem cells are defined by three abilities: differentiation, self-renewal and their ability to seed a tumor. These stem cells resist chemotherapy and many researchers posit their role in relapse. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study recently published in the journal Stem Cells, shows that melanoma cells with these abilities are marked by the enzyme ALDH, and imagines new therapies to target high-ALDH cells, potentially weeding the body of these most dangerous cancer creators.

 

A team of researchers transplanted ALDH+ and ALDH- melanoma cells into animal models, showing the ALDH+ cells were much more powerfully tumorigenic. In the same ALDH+ cells, the group then silenced the gene that creates this protein, finding that with ALDH knocked down, melanoma cells died in cultures and lost their ability to form tumors in animal models. In cell cultures, silencing this ALDH gene also sensitized melanoma cells to existing chemotherapies. When the group explored human tumor samples, they found distinct subpopulations of these ALDH+ cells, which made up about 0.1-0.2 percent of patients' primary tumors. In samples of metastatic melanoma -- the most aggressive form of the disease -- the percentage of ALDH+ cells was greater, even over 10 percent in some tumors, further implying the powerful danger of these cells. The study also shows how the ALDH gene and its protein act to create a cell's stem-like properties.

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Marion Bakker's curator insight, November 25, 2014 6:26 AM

beetje ingewikkeld, maar wel interessant.

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Genome Sequencing Offers Intelligent Treatment Of Cancer And Glimpses Into The Future Of Medicine

Genome Sequencing Offers Intelligent Treatment Of Cancer And Glimpses Into The Future Of Medicine | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A novel method known as whole genome sequencing focuses on genes that drive a cancer, not the tissues or organ where it originates.

 

With a steep drop in the costs of sequencing and an explosion of research on genes, medical experts expect that genetic analyses of cancers will become routine. Just as pathologists do blood cultures to decide which antibiotics will stop a patient’s bacterial infection, so will genome sequencing determine which drugs might stop a cancer.

 

“Until you know what is driving a patient’s cancer, you really don’t have any chance of getting it right,” Dr. Ley said. “For the past 40 years, we have been sending generals into battle without a map of the battlefield. What we are doing now is building the map.”

 

Large drug companies and small biotechs are jumping in, starting to test drugs that attack a gene rather than a tumor type.

 

Leading cancer researchers are starting companies to find genes that might be causing an individual’s cancer to grow, to analyze genetic data and to find and test new drugs directed against these genetic targets. Leading venture capital firms are jumping into the field and getting involved.

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Immortal Avatars: Russian project seeks to create robot with human brain

Immortal Avatars: Russian project seeks to create robot with human brain | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Inspired by director James Cameron’s idea, a Russian businessman has launched his own Avatar project. Hundreds of researchers are involved in creating a prototype of a human-like robot which would be able to contain the human consciousness.

 

The immortality project consists of four stages, and a team of researchers in the Moscow suburb of Zelenograd is currently working on the first one. About 100 scientists are already involved in the initiative, striving to bring the concept together, and Itskov is planning to hire even more during the upcoming stages.


So far, scientists are struggling to complete the Avatar-A, a human-like robot controlled through a brain-computer interface. Itskov served as a prototype for the machine, thus the robot was nicknamed Dima.

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Ultrathin Wafer of Silicon and Gold Focuses Telecom Wavelengths Without Distortion

Ultrathin Wafer of Silicon and Gold Focuses Telecom Wavelengths Without Distortion | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Applied physicists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have created an ultrathin, flat lens that focuses light without imparting the distortions of conventional lenses.


Via LeapMind
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Robot learns self-awareness for the first time

Robot learns self-awareness for the first time | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

“Only humans can be self-aware” - another myth bites the dust. Yale roboticists have programmed Nico, a robot, to be able to recognize itself in a mirror. Why is this important? Because robots will need to learn about themeselves and how they affect the world around them — especially people.

 

Using knowledge that it has learned about itself, Nico is able to use a mirror as an instrument for spatial reasoning, allowing it to accurately determine where objects are located in space based on their reflections, rather than naively believing them to exist behind the mirror.

 

Nico’s programmer, roboticist Justin Hart, a member of the Social Robotics Lab, focuses his thesis research primarily on “robots autonomously learning about their bodies and senses,” but he also explores human-robot interaction, “including projects on social presence, attributions of intentionality, and people’s perception of robots.”

 

Recently, the lab (along with MIT, Stanford, and USC) won a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create “socially assistive” robots that can serve as companions for children with special needs. These robots will help with everything from cognitive skills to getting the right amount of exercise.

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Squid's chromatophores pulsate to the sound of music when connected to an iPod [Video]

Squid's chromatophores pulsate to the sound of music when connected to an iPod [Video] | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Cephalopods like squid and octopuses change their appearance with color-changing cells called chromatophores. The Longfin Inshore squid has 3 different chromatophore colors: Brown, Red, and Yellow. Each chromatophore has tiny muscles along the circumference of the cell that can contract to reveal the pigment underneath.

 

A group at Bakyard Brains used a suction electrode to attach to the squid's fin nerve, then connected the electrode to an iPod nano as our stimulator. The results were both interesting and beautiful. The video [up top] is a view through an 8x microscope zoomed in on the dorsal side of the caudal fin of the squid.

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New AIDS-like disease left scores of people in Asia with AIDS-like symptoms without HIV infection

New AIDS-like disease left scores of people in Asia with AIDS-like symptoms without HIV infection | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers have identified a mysterious new disease that has left scores of people in Asia and some in the United States with AIDS-like symptoms even though they are not infected with HIV.
The patients' immune systems become damaged, leaving them unable to fend off germs as healthy people do. What triggers this isn't known, but the disease does not seem to be contagious.
This is another kind of acquired immune deficiency that is not inherited and occurs in adults, but doesn't spread the way AIDS does through a virus, said Dr. Sarah Browne, a scientist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

 

It's still possible that an infection of some sort could trigger the disease, even though the disease itself doesn't seem to spread person-to-person. The disease develops around age 50 on average but does not run in families, which makes it unlikely that a single gene is responsible, Browne said. Some patients have died of overwhelming infections, including some Asians now living in the U.S., although Browne could not estimate how many.

 

Kim Nguyen, 62, a seamstress from Vietnam who has lived in Tennessee since 1975, was gravely ill when she sought help for a persistent fever, infections throughout her bones and other bizarre symptoms in 2009. She had been sick off and on for several years and had visited Vietnam in 1995 and again in early 2009.

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Phosphorescent (glowing) land species evolved surprisingly recently in evolution

Phosphorescent (glowing) land species evolved surprisingly recently in evolution | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Fireflies, one of the most conspicuous of nocturnal insects, are a relatively recent addition to the twilight world. A new analysis of all bioluminescent species suggests that those living on land might be mere tens of millions of years old – a fraction of the age of bioluminescing marine groups. Bioluminescence serves many purposes, from communication to finding mates, scaring off predators to attracting prey. Yet while many marine species bioluminesce, very few terrestrial animals have evolved the ability. Besides fireflies and a few other insects, only one snail, a few earthworms and a handful of millipedes can produce light.

 

Most marine light-producing animals can trace their origins back to the Devonian period, at least 400 million years ago, wheres bioluminescent animals are all much younger – no more than 65 million years old. It's possible that luminescent species appeared on land only when night life began to diversify, although there are indications that some of the dinosaurs and early birds living before the bioluminescent insects evolved were already nocturnal. Another possibility is that terrestrial species have only recently cracked the problem of disposing of the toxic by-products of bioluminescence – less of an issue in the marine realm where temperatures are often cooler and more stable than in tropical forests.

 

Whatever the reason for the discrepancy, the future for terrestrial bioluminescent species might not be bright. While bioluminescent insects on land have diversified into 13 known species, most of them are known from only a single collected individual. That suggests they are extremely rare and vulnerable to extinction.

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3D model of the Ebola virus

3D model of the Ebola virus | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The Ebola virus and it’s close relative the Marburg virus are members of the Filoviridae family. These viruses are the causative agents of severe hemorrhagic fever, a disease with a fatality rate of up to 90%. The Ebola virus infects mainly the capillary endothelium and several types of immune cells. The symptoms of Ebola infection include maculopapular rash, petechiae, purpura, ecchymoses, dehydration and hematomas.

 

Since Ebola was first described in 1976, there have been several epidemics of this disease. Hundreds of people have died because of Ebola infections, mainly in Zaire, Sudan, Congo and Uganda. In addition, several fatalities have occurred because of accidents in laboratories working with the virus. Currently, a number of scientists claim that terrorists may use Ebola as a biological weapon.

 

In the 3D model presented in this study, Ebola-encoded structures are shown in maroon, and structures from human cells are shown in grey. The Ebola model is based on X-ray analysis, NMR spectroscopy, and general virology data published in the last two decades. Some protein structures were predicted using computational biology techniques, such as molecular modeling.

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New Silk Technology Preserves Heat-Sensitive Drugs for Months without Refrigeration

New Silk Technology Preserves Heat-Sensitive Drugs for Months without Refrigeration | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Researchers at Tufts University School of Engineering have discovered a way to maintain the potency of vaccines and other drugs -- that otherwise require refrigeration -- for months and possibly years at temperatures above 110 degrees F, by stabilizing them in a silk protein made from silkworm cocoons. Importantly, the pharmaceutical-infused silk can be made in a variety of forms such as microneedles, microvesicles and films that allow the non-refrigerated drugs to be stored and administered in a single device.

 

The Tufts findings address a serious obstacle to the effective use of life-saving pharmaceuticals: keeping them cold. Most vaccines, enzymes, and antibodies and many antibiotics and other drugs require constant refrigeration from manufacture to delivery to maintain their effectiveness.

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Methane on Mars is not necessarily an indication for life

Methane on Mars is not necessarily an indication for life | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Exposure of the Murchison meteorite to ultraviolet radiation is found to produce methane, suggesting a possible explanation for a substantial fraction of recently estimated Martian atmospheric methane.

 

It was a sensation when scientists discovered methane in Mars’ atmosphere nine years ago. Many saw the presence of the gas as a clear indication of life on the inhospitable planet, as on Earth methane is produced predominantly by biological processes. Others assumed geological processes, such as volcanoes, to be the cause. What has been missing until now is proof of where the methane actually comes from, however. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz and the universities in Utrecht and Edinburgh have now been able to show that methane escapes from a meteorite if it is irradiated with ultraviolet light under Martian conditions. Since meteorites and interplanetary dust from space, which carry along carbonaceous compounds, continuously impact on the Martian surface, the researchers conclude that high-energy UV radiation triggers the release of methane from the meteorites.

 

Since scientists identified larger quantities of methane in the Martian atmosphere in 2003, there has been much speculation about its source. The best-known hypothesis states that microorganisms produce the methane, and is thus an indication of life on the red planet. Another hypothesis assumes the source to be geological methane sources in Mars’ interior. To date, none of the theories has been able to conclusively explain the large quantity of 200 to 300 tonnes of methane annually which are produced on Mars, according to projections.

 

Without an expedition to Mars and with nothing more than a meteorite to help them, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz and the universities in Utrecht and Edinburgh have now found a major source. “Methane is produced from innumerable, small micro-meteorites and interplanetary dust particles that land on the Martian surface from space,” explains Frank Keppler, lead author of the study now published in the research journal Nature. “The energy is provided by the extremely intense ultraviolet radiation,” adds the atmospheric chemist.

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Skin has an internal clock - Krüppel-like-factor 9 (Klf9) playing a key role

Skin has an internal clock - Krüppel-like-factor 9 (Klf9) playing a key role | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Circadian clocks govern a wide range of cellular and physiological functions in various organisms. Recent evidence suggests distinct functions of local clocks in peripheral mammalian tissues such as immune responses and cell cycle control. However, studying circadian action in peripheral tissues has been limited so far to mouse models, leaving the implication for human systems widely elusive. In particular, circadian rhythms in human skin, which is naturally exposed to strong daytime-dependent changes in the environment, have not been investigated to date on a molecular level. A research team has now presented a comprehensive analysis of circadian gene expression in the human epidermis. Whole-genome microarray analysis of suction-blister epidermis obtained throughout the day revealed a functional circadian clock in epidermal keratinocytes with hundreds of transcripts regulated in a daytime-dependent manner. Among those, the group identified a circadian transcription factor, Krüppel-like factor 9 (Klf9), that is substantially up-regulated in a cortisol and differentiation-state-dependent manner. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments showed strong antiproliferative effects of Klf9. Putative Klf9 target genes include proliferation/differentiation markers that also show circadian expression in vivo, suggesting that Klf9 affects keratinocyte proliferation/differentiation by controlling the expression of target genes in a daytime-dependent manner.

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Genetics Study Finds Father’s Age – Not Mother’s – Critical to New Mutations Passed to Offspring

Genetics Study Finds Father’s Age – Not Mother’s – Critical to New Mutations Passed to Offspring | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
To better understand the cause of new hereditary mutations, the deCODE team sequenced the genomes of 78 Icelandic families with offspring who had a diagnosis of autism or schizophrenia. The team also sequenced the genomes of an additional 1,859 Icelanders, providing a larger comparative population.

 

On average, the investigators found a two mutation per-year increase in offspring with each one-year increase in age of the father. The average age of the father in the study was 29.7 years old. Also, when specifically examining the genomes of families with autism and schizophrenia, the authors identified in offspring mutations in genes previously implicated in the diseases. They also identified two genes, CUL3 and EPHB2, with mutations in an autism patient subgroup.

 

Epidemiological studies in Iceland show the risk of both schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders increases significantly with father’s age at conception, and that the average age of father’s in Iceland (now 33 years-old) at the time a child is conceived is on the rise. The authors noted that demographic change of this kind and magnitude is not unique to Iceland, and it raises the question of whether the reported increase in autism spectrum disorder diagnosis is at least partially due to an increase in the average age of fathers at conception.

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Mara's curator insight, May 1, 2013 3:55 PM

Interesting.

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Interactive Graphic: Drake equation - How many alien civilizations exist in our galaxy alone?

Interactive Graphic: Drake equation - How many alien civilizations exist in our galaxy alone? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Play with our interactive graphic to work out how many intelligent civilizations there could be in our universe.

 

Today, we live in an age of exploration, where robots on Mars and planet-hunting telescopes are beginning to allow us to edge closer to an answer.

 

While we wait to establish contact, one technique we can use back on Earth is an equation that American astronomer Frank Drake formulated in the 1960s to calculate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations may exist in the Milky Way galaxy.

 

It is not a rigorous equation, offering a wide range of possible answers. Instead it is more a tool used to help understand how many worlds might be out there and how those estimates change as missions like Kepler, a telescope that is currently searching for Earth-like planets, begin to discover more about our universe.

 

Until ground-based observations, space telescopes and planet-roving robots uncover any tell-tale signs of life, what better way to speculate on how many intelligent alien civilizations may exist than to explore the universe with our interactive version of the equation.

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Helium 3 mining the moon possibly as soon as 2024

Helium-3 (He-3) is a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium with two protons and one neutron. The Perfect Fuel of the Future. The abundance of helium-3 is thought to be greater on the Moon (embedded in the upper layer of regolith by the solar wind over billions of years) and the solar system's gas giants (left over from the original solar nebula), though still low in quantity (28 ppm of lunar regolith is helium-4 and from 0.01 ppm to 0.05 ppm is helium-3).

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Panspermia, Von Neumann Probes, and the Fermi Paradox - Where are we from?

Panspermia, Von Neumann Probes, and the Fermi Paradox - Where are we from? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Did life on Earth arrive from outer space? Are we spawned by Von Neumann Probes sent from distant solar systems? Here’s pro and con arguments for both possibilities.

 

Panspermia: The theory that life on the earth originated from microorganisms or chemical precursors of life present in outer space and able to initiate life on reaching a suitable environment.

 

Von Neumann Probe: Hypothetical space probes capable of self-replication.

 

Fermi Paradox: The apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for, or contact with, such civilizations.

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A ‘Google’ for chemistry invents best path to new compounds in seconds

A ‘Google’ for chemistry invents best path to new compounds in seconds | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Giantic network links all known compounds and reactions together. 

 

Northwestern University scientists have connected 250 years of organic chemical knowledge into one giant computer network called Chematica — a chemical “Google” on steroids.

 

A decade in the making, the software optimizes syntheses of drug molecules and other important compounds, combines long (and expensive) syntheses of compounds into shorter and more economical routes, and identifies suspicious chemical recipes that could lead to chemical weapons.

 

The number of possible synthetic pathways leading to the desired target of a synthesis can be astronomical (10E19 pathways within five synthetic steps).

 

The Chematica network comprises some seven million chemicals connected by a similar number of reactions. A family of algorithms that searches and analyzes the network allows the chemist at his or her computer to easily tap into this vast compendium of chemical knowledge. And the system learns from experience, as more data and algorithms are added to its knowledge base.

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Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Historic Minimum

Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Historic Minimum | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
According to data just now available, the total surface area of the summertime Arctic Sea that is covered in ice has reached the lowest point ever recorded.

 

Every (northern) summer the sea ice in the Arctic melts to some degree, reaching a minimum around the middle of September. Over the last several years, the amount of ice at this minimal point has been lower than previously recorded. Accurate records go back only a few decades, so this shift in ice cover reflects only the most recent period of Anthropocentric Global Warming (AGW).

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Created from wood pulp, nanocrystalline cellulose is world's new wonder material

Created from wood pulp, nanocrystalline cellulose is world's new wonder material | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Stronger than steel, cheap, and made from renewable wood pulp, nanocrystalline cellulose is a nanomaterial that's set to take the technological world by storm. THE hottest new material in town is light, strong and conducts electricity. What's more, it's been around a long, long time.

 

Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), which is produced by processing wood pulp, is being hailed as the latest wonder material. Japan-based Pioneer Electronics is applying it to the next generation of flexible electronic displays. IBM is using it to create components for computers. Even the US army is getting in on the act, using it to make lightweight body armour and ballistic glass.

 

To ramp up production, the US opened its first NCC factory in Madison, Wisconsin, on 26 July, marking the rise of what the US National Science Foundation predicts will become a $600 billion industry by 2020.

 

So why all the fuss? Well, not only is NCC transparent but it is made from a tightly packed array of needle-like crystals which have a strength-to-weight ratio that is eight times better than stainless steel. Even better, it's incredibly cheap. The US facility is the second pilot production plant for cellulose-based nanomaterials in the world. The much larger CelluForce facility opened in Montreal, Canada, in November 2011 and is now producing a tonne of NCC a day.

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For mitochondria, bigger is not better: Optimal length of mitochondria essential for preventing Alzheimer

For mitochondria, bigger is not better: Optimal length of mitochondria essential for preventing Alzheimer | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Goldilocks was on to something when she preferred everything "just right." Harvard Medical School researchers have found that when it comes to the length of mitochondria, the power-producing organelles, applying the fairy tale's mantra is crucial to the health of a cell. More specifically, abnormalities in mitochondrial length promote the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

 

Tau-related diseases are caused when tau, a protein most commonly found in neurons, malfunctions. Tau binds to microtubules in cells, a process known as stabilization. This binding is necessary so the microtubules can help maintain cell structure and aid in intracellular processes such as transporting molecules. When tau is defective, most often due to changes introduced during protein synthesis, it can accumulate in neurofibrillary tangles, one of the primary markers of Alzheimer's.

 

Normally, one mitochondrion will split into two, two mitochondria will join into one, and that's a critical process for the health and stability of the mitochondria. This mitochondrial dynamic happens continuously in almost all cells. Interruption of this process leads to cell death, and loss of nerve cells in the brain results in loss of function -- memory loss and difficulty in comprehension and coordination." The presence of defective tau, then, interrupts the functioning of mitochondria and contributes to neurodegeneration.

 

This recent study shows that, in addition to tau, two other key proteins influenced the neurodegenerative process: DRP1, which helps in the fission of mitochondria, and actin, which is essential to maintaining cell structure and movement. A previous study in Feany's lab had shown that the presence of defective tau hampers the activity of actin. With this knowledge, the researchers were able to piece together the relationship among the three proteins. DRP1 and actin are interdependent: the regulatory state of actin is essential for DRP1 and mitochondria to come together, thus preserving mitochondrial dynamics. But the presence of defective tau harms this relationship, rendering DRP1 incapable of maintaining mitochondrial dynamics, which ultimately leads to neurodegeneration.

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Saturn's Titan is Capable of Creating Molecules that are Constituents of DNA even without Water

Saturn's Titan is Capable of Creating Molecules that are Constituents of DNA even without Water | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Saturn's moon Titan has many of the components for life without liquid water. But the orange hydrocarbon haze that shrouds the planet's largest moon could be creating the molecules that make up DNA without the help of water – an ingredient widely thought to be necessary for the molecules formation according to a 2011 international study.

 

Paul Davies, a leading authority in astrobiology, director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science and co-director of the ASU Cosmology Initiative, says: "To the best of our knowledge, the original chemicals chosen by known life on Earth do not constitute a unique set; other choices could have been made, and maybe were made if life started elsewhere many times."


Researchers warn however that although Titan's atmosphere is creating these molecules, that doesn't mean that the molecules are combining to form life, But the finding could entice astrobiologists to consider a wider range of extrasolar planets as potential hosts for at least simple forms of organic life, the team of scientists from the US and France suggests.

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