Amazing Science
Follow
483.6K views | +521 today
Amazing Science
Amazing science facts - 3D_printing • aging • AI • anthropology • art • astronomy • bigdata • bioinformatics • biology • biotech • chemistry • computers • cosmology • education • environment • evolution • future • genetics • genomics • geosciences • green_energy • history • language • map • material_science • math • med • medicine • microscopy • nanotech • neuroscience • paleontology • photography • photonics • physics • postings • robotics • science • technology • video
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Soapy taste of coriander: Dislike of herbs traced to genes encoding odor and taste receptors

Soapy taste of coriander: Dislike of herbs traced to genes encoding odor and taste receptors | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers are at the beginning to identify genetic variants behind the mixed reception for the herb Coriandrum sativum, which North American cooks know as cilantro, and their British counterparts call coriander.

 

A genetic survey of nearly 30,000 people posted to the preprint server arXiv.org this week has identified two genetic variants linked to perception of coriander, the most common of which is in a gene involved in sensing smells. Two unpublished studies also link several other variants in genes involved in taste and smell to the preference.

 

Dislike of coriander has long been thought to be a partly inherited trait and not just an artefact of cultural practices and exposure to the herb. Charles Wysocki, a behavioural neuroscientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, says that surveys of hundreds of twins he conducted beginning in the early 2000s at the annual Twins Days festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, suggests that coriander preference is influenced by genes. He found that about 80% of identical twins shared the same preference for the herb. But fraternal twins (who share about half their genome) agreed only about half the time.  The strongest-linked variant lies within a cluster of olfactory-receptor genes, which influence sense of smell. One of those genes, OR6A2, encodes a receptor that is highly sensitive to aldehyde chemicals, which contribute to the flavour of coriander.

 

In 2011, Lilli Mauer, a nutrition scientist at the University of Toronto in Canada, identified variants in a different olfactory receptor gene and a bitter taste receptor gene linked to coriander preference among more than 500 people of European descent. Another research team found an association between coriander taste and several other genes, including a bitter-taste receptor.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

A gas cloud hurtling towards Milky Way's center black hole may harbour young star and planet-forming disk

A gas cloud hurtling towards Milky Way's center black hole may harbour young star and planet-forming disk | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A gas cloud that is careering towards the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way may be the visible trail of a planet-forming disk surrounding a young, low-mass star, astrophysicists propose.

 

Modelling work by Ruth Murray-Clay and Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, suggests that planets can form within the powerful gravitational field of a giant black hole. And it heightens expectations about what astronomers might learn as the cloud nears the galaxy’s biggest black hole — an event expected to cause a spectacular light show that could begin as early as next year.

 

Murray-Clay and Loeb began their study last autumn after hearing one of the first public talks about the gas cloud. The team that discovered it proposed that the cloud formed when gas flowing out from two stars collided. But Murray-Clay and Loeb immediately seized on the idea that the cloud's mixture of gas and ionized dust might come from a planet-forming disk surrounding a single young star. The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it might sound, because a ring of young stars is known to orbit at about 0.03 parsecs (one-tenth of a light year) from Sagittarius A*, the black hole of four million solar masses that lies at the Milky Way’s centre. In star-forming regions throughout the Galaxy, young stars often have planet-spawning disks, and Murray-Clay and Loeb reasoned that those in the region immediately surrounding a black hole might be no different.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

New study: There is enough wind potential on Earth's surface to power human civilization 100 times over

New study: There is enough wind potential on Earth's surface to power human civilization 100 times over | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

At the moment, wind power supplies about 4.1 percent of electric power in the United States. Still a bit player. Yet there’s a whole lot of untapped wind left in the world. Wind whipping through the Great Plains. Wind gusting off the shores. Wind circulating high up in the sky. So what would happen if we tried to harvest all of that wind?

 

We’d have enough energy to power the world. At least in theory. A new study published this week in Nature Climate Change finds that there’s enough wind potential both on the Earth’s surface and up in the atmosphere to power human civilization 100 times over. Right now, humans use about 18 terawatts of power worldwide. And, technically, the study found, we could extract about 400 terawatts of wind power from the Earth’s surface and 1,800 terawatts of power from the upper atmosphere.

 

Even the most optimistic near-term projections for wind power, however, tend to be more restrained. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy released a comprehensive report estimating that wind power could provide, at most, 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030. And for that to happen, the cost of wind power would have to keep plunging, the number of turbines built would have to steadily increase by about 14 percent each year, and utilities would have to build new transmission lines to accommodate the extra energy.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Gentle robotic tentacles can pick up flowers

Gentle robotic tentacles can pick up flowers | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Ask a typical robot to pick up a delicate object and it is likely to crush the thing between its clumsy metal mitts. That is why George Whitesides and colleagues at Harvard University have been developing a series of "soft" robots with a lighter touch. Their latest creation is a robotic tentacle that can twist around a flower without damaging it.

 

The tentacle is made from flexible plastic containing three air channels that run along the entire limb. Selectively pumping air into these channels causes the tentacle to bend, allowing it to curl around objects with a light grip. Splitting the air channels into multiple sections lets separate parts of the tentacle bend in different directions, producing a full 3D range of movement - previous robotic tentacles have been limited to curling in just one direction.

 

Whitesides's team also experimented with adding a video camera, syringe or suction cup to the end of the tentacle, making it more useful than a simple grabbing arm. The cheap and soft technology behind the tentacle make it ideal for working with fragile objects or manoeuvring in confined and hazardous spaces. The need for air channels makes it difficult to scale the tentacles down, though, limiting them to robots that are at least a few centimetres in size.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Pregnant males and pseudopenises: Complex sex in the animal kingdom

Pregnant males and pseudopenises: Complex sex in the animal kingdom | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Think sex and gender are simple? Nature says otherwise. Sex—one small word with huge implications. To most humans, being male or female implies a certain set of inseparable biological and sociological characteristics, but the natural world around us is rarely so black and white. For every characteristic that we associate with a particular sex, the animal kingdom harbors at least one surprising exception; concepts that we believe are inextricably linked are uncoupled, and even reversed, in other species.

 

Appearances can be deceiving - The spotted hyena may have one of the most arresting sexual incongruities in the animal kingdom. Female hyenas possess what scientists call "pseudopenises," since they so closely mimic male penises. These female organs are fully erectile, can be up to seven inches long, and are accompanied by a “pseudoscrotum.” Stranger still, a female hyena must urinate, copulate, and give birth through her pseudopenis. No wonder that, for centuries, people thought hyenas were hermaphrodite—watching a mom with a large penis nurse her babies can be a little confusing.

 

In a different kind of genital reversal, many males in the animal kingdom lack a penis entirely. In more than 97 percent of bird species, males have no external sex organ at all; instead, both males and females have vents called "cloacas." In these species, mating involves the romantic-sounding “cloacal kiss,” where the two birds line up their genital vents for the transfer of sperm.

 

 

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

New Cancer Study Points to Tighter Pairing of Drugs and Patients - Treatment Within Reach?

New Cancer Study Points to Tighter Pairing of Drugs and Patients - Treatment Within Reach? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The first large and comprehensive study of the genetics of a common lung cancer has found that more than half the tumors from that cancer have mutations that might be treated by new drugs that are already in the pipeline or that could be easily developed. For the tens of thousands of Americans with that cancer — squamous cell lung cancer — the results are promising because they could foretell a new type of treatment in which drugs are tailored to match the genetic abnormality in each patient, researchers say.

 

The study is part of the Cancer Genome Atlas, a large project by the National Institutes of Health to examine genetic abnormalities in cancer. The study of squamous cell lung cancer is the second genetic analysis of a common cancer, coming on the heels of a study of colon cancer. The work became feasible only in the past few years because of enormous advances in DNA sequencing that allow researchers to scan all the DNA in a cell instead of looking at its 21,000 genes one at a time. The result has been a new comprehension of cancer as a genetic disease, defined by DNA alterations that drive a cancer cell’s growth, instead of a disease of a particular tissue or organ, like a breast, the prostate or a lung.

 

The new study compared tumor cells from 178 squamous cell lung cancer patients with the patients’ normal cells. More than 60 percent of the tumors had alterations in genes used to make enzymes that are particularly vulnerable to the new crop of cancer drugs. Many of the drugs are already available or are being tested on other cancers. These enzymes function like on-off switches for cell growth, said Dr. Roy S. Herbst of Yale Cancer Center, who was not an author of the new study. When they are mutated, the switches are stuck in an on position. About a dozen companies, Dr. Herbst added, have drugs that block these mutated enzymes.

 

The study also found a real surprise, Dr. Meyerson said, something that had not previously been seen in any cancer. About 3 percent of the tumors had a gene mutation that might allow them to evade the immune system. By coincidence, an experimental drug that unleashes the immune system was recently tested in lung cancer patients. Some of those who did not respond might have the mutation, he said.

 

Now the challenge is to put the findings to clinical use. A Pfizer drug, crizotinib, which targets a rearranged gene in some adenocarcinomas, entered clinical trials in 2008 for lung cancers with the rearrangement. The results were reported in 2009 and were published in 2010. Crizotinib was approved in 2011 for patients with the gene rearrangement. The rearrangement is so rare that about 1,500 patients were tested to find 82 whose cancer had it. They were the ones included in the study. For Pfizer, the experience was transformative. “The old way of doing clinical trials where patients are only tied together by the organ where their cancer originated, those days are passing,” said Dr. Mace Rothenberg, senior vice president of Pfizer oncology.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Research Reveals Chimps Can Create Local Social Traditions

Research Reveals Chimps Can Create Local Social Traditions | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

By using five years of observation on neighboring communities of chimpanzees at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia, an international team of scientists has shown that chimpanzees are not only capable of learning from one another, but also use social information to form and maintain local traditions.

 

The specific behavior that the team focused on was the ‘grooming handclasp,’ a behavior where two chimpanzees clasp onto each other’s arms, raise those arms up in the air, and groom each other with their free arm. This behavior has only been observed in some chimpanzee populations. The question remained whether chimpanzees are instinctively inclined to engage in grooming handclasp behavior, or whether they learn this behavior from each other and pass it on to subsequent generations.

 

At Chimfunshi, wild- and captive-born chimpanzees live in woodlands in some of the largest enclosures in the world. The team collaborated with local chimpanzee caretakers in order to collect and comprehend the detailed chimpanzee data. Previous studies suggested that the grooming handclasp might be a cultural phenomenon, just like humans across cultures engage in different ways of greeting each other. However, these suggestions were primarily based on observations that some chimpanzee communities handclasp and others don’t – not whether there are differences between communities that engage in handclasping. Moreover, the early observations could have been explained by differences in genetic and/or ecological factors between the chimpanzee communities, which precluded the interpretation that the chimpanzees were exhibiting ‘cultural’ differences.

 

A new study shows that even between chimpanzee communities that engage in the grooming handclasp, subtle yet stable differences exist in the styles that they prefer: one chimpanzee group highly preferred the style where they would grasp each other’s hands during the grooming, while another group engaged much more in a style where they would fold their wrists around each other’s wrists.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Microbes around hot undersea volcanoes uptake hydrogen and carbon dioxide and exhale methane

Microbes around hot undersea volcanoes uptake hydrogen and carbon dioxide and exhale methane | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In 2012, scientists completed a first-ever study with detailed data on the limits of life that thrives deep in the cracks of hot undersea volcanoes, places called hydrothermal vents. The microbes that live in the ocean depths inhale hydrogen and carbon dioxide and exhale methane. There is a tremendous, enormous amount of microbial biomass living within the Earth’s crust in the sediments. Some estimates are that it’s about 1/3 of the total biomass. Others have suggested that it may even rival the biomass that’s living on the surface of the planet.

 

Astrobiologists think that if there is life in our solar system, say, on Mars, or on Europa, then it’s going to be similar kinds of life. Life that’s independent of sunlight and life that’s independent of oxygen. So by understanding the life and the constraints on the life that lives in these hydrothermal environments, it gives us some idea of what to expect we can expect on these other planets and how we might be able to model this life, using computer models.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Hubble has spotted an ancient fully-formed galaxy that shouldn't exist

Hubble has spotted an ancient fully-formed galaxy that shouldn't exist | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The galaxy BX442 is so large, so fully-formed, that astronomers say it shouldn't exist at all. It's called a "grand-design" spiral galaxy, and unlike most galaxies of its kind, this one is very old. According to a new study conducted by researchers using NASA's Hubble Telescope, it dates back roughly 10.7-billion years — and that makes it the most ancient spiral galaxy we've ever discovered.

 

"The fact that this galaxy exists is astounding," said University of Toronto's David Law, lead author of the study. "Current wisdom holds that such ‘grand-design' spiral galaxies simply didn't exist at such an early time in the history of the universe."

 

The hallmark of a grand design galaxy is its well-formed spiral arms, but getting into this conformation takes time. When astronomers look at most galaxies as they appeared billions and billions of years ago, they look clumpy and irregular. A 10.7-billion-year-old entity, BX442 came into existence a mere 3-billion years after the Big Bang. That's not a lot of time on a cosmic time scale, and yet BX442 looks surprisingly put together. So much so, in fact, that astronomers didn't believe it at first, chalking their unusual observation up to the accidental alignment of two separate galaxies. But further investigations, conducted at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, revealed BX442 to be the real thing.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Researchers develop technique to remotely control cockroaches

Researchers develop technique to remotely control cockroaches | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a technique that uses an electronic interface to remotely control, or steer, cockroaches.

 

The new technique developed by Bozkurt's team works by embedding a low-cost, light-weight, commercially-available chip with a wireless receiver and transmitter onto each roach (they used Madagascar hissing cockroaches). Weighing 0.7 grams, the cockroach backpack also contains a microcontroller that monitors the interface between the implanted electrodes and the tissue to avoid potential neural damage. The microcontroller is wired to the roach's antennae and cerci. The cerci are sensory organs on the roach's abdomen, which are normally used to detect movement in the air that could indicate a predator is approaching – causing the roach to scurry away. But the researchers use the wires attached to the cerci to spur the roach into motion. The roach thinks something is sneaking up behind it and moves forward. The wires attached to the antennae serve as electronic reins, injecting small charges into the roach's neural tissue. The charges trick the roach into thinking that the antennae are in contact with a physical barrier, which effectively steers them in the opposite direction.

 

 

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Sharks 'learn' skills by watching each other

Sharks 'learn' skills by watching each other | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Sharks have the ability to learn from each other's behaviour, US scientists have found.  The team compared the performance of inexperienced juvenile sharks working with both trained and untrained partners. The results showed that sharks working with trained partners could complete tasks more quickly and successfully.

The study is thought to be the first to demonstrate social learning in any cartilaginous fish.

 

The evidence came from a task-based experiment with juvenile sharks conducted in an underwater pen. The pen contained an "indicator zone" which functioned as the start area. In the other corner was a "target zone" in which there was a black and white marker that could be covered or exposed by the scientists. When the sharks swam into the indicator zone, the target was exposed. By swimming into the target zone and bumping the black and white target they earned a piece of barracuda, which was lowered into the pool. Members of each group were then paired up with "naive", untrained sharks and the pairs were introduced to the pool, observed and filmed. The study then isolated those sharks that had observed the demonstrators to see how they performed on their own. The juveniles that had been paired with "demonstrator sharks" completed a greater number of trials more quickly than those with untrained partners.

 

Social learning has already been widely demonstrasted among other species and animal groups including corvids, chimps and bats.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Chemistry of Turning an Animal Transparent

Chemistry of Turning an Animal Transparent | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Discovered last year by researchers at Japan’s Riken Brain Science Institute, "Scale" is made from compounds commonly found in the biology lab, like urea and the detergent Triton X. Scale’s low cost means it can be used much more widely than previously developed sample-clearing agents, and it allows scientists to see deeper into tissue than ever before. The discovery enabled the Riken team to produce some of the most detailed maps of brain neurons ever published.

more...
No comment yet.
Suggested by Enrique Ferro
Scoop.it!

Arctic ice loss adding equivalent to 20 additional years of greenhouse gas emissions

Arctic ice loss adding equivalent to 20 additional years of greenhouse gas emissions | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Melting of white Arctic ice, currently at its lowest level in recent history, is causing more absorption. Thirty years ago there was typically about eight million square kilometres of ice left in the Arctic in the summer, and by 2007 that had halved, it had gone down to about four million, and this year it has gone down below that. The volume of ice in the summer is only a quarter of what it was 30 years ago and that's really the prelude to this final collapse.

 

The polar ice cap acts as a giant parasol, reflecting sunlight back into the atmosphere in what is known as the albedo effect. But white ice and snow reflect far more of the sun's energy than the open water that is replacing it as the ice melts. Instead of being reflected away from the Earth, this energy is absorbed, and contributes to warming.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Virgin births seen in wild vipers - parthenogenesis in a sexually reproducing species

Virgin births seen in wild vipers - parthenogenesis in a sexually reproducing species | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
It usually takes two snakes — a female and a male — to make a litter of baby copperheads. But research now shows that copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix) and their venomous cousins cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus) don’t always require a partner to establish the next generation. These vipers are capable of virgin births.

 

For some vertebrates, parthenogenesis — asexual reproduction in which embryos develop without fertilization — is the norm. The New Mexico whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus neomexicanus), for example, is an all-female species that reproduces without any genetic contribution from a male.

 

But in zoos and aquariums, zoologists have begun to document the strange phenomenon of facultative parthenogenesis: females of species that usually reproduce sexually, delivering offspring without mating. Surprise pregnancies have been documented among birds, sharks, snakes and Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis), but until now, only in captivity.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Mathematician Claims Proof of Connection between Prime Numbers

Mathematician Claims Proof of Connection between Prime Numbers | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A Japanese mathematician claims to have the proof for the ABC conjecture, a statement about the relationship between prime numbers that has been called the most important unsolved problem in number theory. If Shinichi Mochizuki's 500-page proof stands up to scrutiny, mathematicians say it will represent one of the most astounding achievements of mathematics of the twenty-first century. The proof will also have ramifications all over mathematics, and even in the real-world field of data encryption.

 

The ABC conjecture, proposed independently by the mathematicians David Masser and Joseph Oesterle in 1985 but not proven by them, involves the concept of square-free numbers, or numbers that cannot be divided by the square of any number. (A square number is the product of some integer with itself).

 

Mochizuki, a mathematician at Kyoto University, has proved extremely deep theorems in the past, lending credence to his claim that he has the proof for ABC.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Researchers Reveal a Chemotherapy-Resistant Cancer Stem Cell as the “Achilles' Heel” of Cancer

Researchers Reveal a Chemotherapy-Resistant Cancer Stem Cell as the “Achilles' Heel” of Cancer | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Resistance to chemotherapy is a frequent and devastating phenomenon that occurs in cancer patients during certain treatments. Unfortunately, tumors that initially respond to chemotherapy eventually become resistant to it, contributing to tumor progression and death. The study reveals that these new cancer “stem” cells, which have not been differentiated into more specific cell types, are capable of multiplying despite being exposed to chemotherapy, while differentiated cells die.


Led by Carlos Cordon-Cardo, MD, PhD, Chair of Pathology, and Josep Domingo-Domenech, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology at Mount Sinai, the research team generated cellular models of drug resistance by treating prostate tumor cell lines with increasing doses of the common chemotherapy drugs, including docetaxel. They identified a cell population expressing markers of embryonic development. In addition, these cells displayed cancer stem cell functions, including the capacity to initiate tumor cell growth. Next, the team evaluated human tissue samples of prostate cancer and found that patients with more aggressive or metastatic tumors had more of these cancer “stem” cells.

 

The study also defines a new therapeutic strategy for patients with prostate cancer, consisting of a combination of standard chemotherapy and two pharmacological agents that inhibit key signaling pathways associated with embryonic development and cell differentiation. Results showed that chemotherapy eliminated differentiated tumor cells, whereas the signaling pathway inhibitors selectively depleted the cancer stem cell population. Some of these inhibitors are already in clinical trials, and some are FDA-approved.

more...
Jooyeon Cho's curator insight, January 8, 2013 12:47 AM

By studying stem cells and getting to know how they work better, scientists were able to discover how we can use the acquired information to diagnose and treat illnesses. This article is about a new discovery of a subpopulation of cancer stem cell like cells which will lead to development of new tests allowing early cancer diagnosis, prognostic tests and new therapeutic strategies.

Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

CERN’s Higgs boson discovery passes peer review, becomes actual science | ExtremeTech

CERN’s Higgs boson discovery passes peer review, becomes actual science | ExtremeTech | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
CERN’s announcement on July 4 — that experiments performed by the Large Hadron Collider had discovered a particle that was consistent with the Higgs boson — has passed a key step towards becoming ratified science: Its findings have been published in the peer-reviewed journal Physics Letters B.

 

Back in July, both the CMS and ATLAS teams — teams of scientists tasked with analyzing the data produced by the CMS and ATLAS detectors — announced that they’d discovered a new elementary particle. CERN did not say that this was the Higgs boson, the so-called God particle, but as the Standard Model of particle physics only has one undiscovered particle remaining, it probably is the Higgs boson. Following CERN’s announcement, both the CMS and ATLAS teams submitted their findings to Physics Letters B — and today, both of their research papers have passed peer review by the scientific community, effectively becoming… science.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

The ‘shiniest’ living thing in nature is an African fruit - welcome to the world of structural colors

The ‘shiniest’ living thing in nature is an African fruit - welcome to the world of structural colors | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Unique blue fruit’s colour does not fade even after a century!

 

The ‘brightest’ thing in nature, the Pollia condensata fruit, does not get its blue color from pigment but instead uses structural color – a method of reflecting light of particular wavelengths- new research reveals. This obscure little plant has hit on a fantastic way of making an irresistible shiny, sparkly, multi-colored, iridescent signal to every bird in the vicinity.

 

Most colors around us are the result of pigments. However, a few examples in nature – including the peacock, the scarab beetle and now the Pollia condensata fruit – use structural colors as well. Fruits are made of cells, each of which is surrounded by a cell wall containing cellulose. However, the researchers found that in the Pollia condensata fruit the cellulose is laid down in layers, forming a chiral (asymmetrical) structure that is able to interact with light and provide selective reflection of only a specific color. As a result of this unique structure, it reflects predominately blue light. The scientists also discovered that each individual cell generates color independently, producing a pixelated or pointillist effect (like those in the paintings of Seurat). This color is produced by the reflection of light of particular wavelengths from layers of cellulose in the cell wall. The thickness of the layers determines which wavelength of light is reflected. As a result, some cells have thinner layers and reflect blue; others have thicker layers and reflect green or red.

 

Because of how it is created, the color of the Pollia condensata fruit does not fade. The researchers found that samples of the fruit in herbarium collections dating back to the 19th century were as colorful and shiny as ones grown today.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

First All-optical Switch Out Of Cadmium Sulfide Nanowires

First All-optical Switch Out Of Cadmium Sulfide Nanowires | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Computers may be getting faster every year, but those advances in computer speed could be dwarfed if their 1’s and 0’s were represented by bursts of light, instead of electricity. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have made an important advance in this frontier of photonics, fashioning the first all-optical photonic switch out of cadmium sulfide nanowires. Moreover, they combined these photonic switches into a logic gate, a fundamental component of computer chips that process information. The research team began by precisely cutting a gap into a nanowire. They then pumped enough energy into the first nanowire segment that it began to emit laser light from its end and through the gap. Because the researchers started with a single nanowire, the two segment ends were perfectly matched, allowing the second segment to efficiently absorb and transmit the light down its length. “Putting switches together lets you make logic gates, and assembling logic gates allows you to do computation,” Piccione said. “We used these optical switches to construct a NAND gate, which is a fundamental building block of modern computer processing.” “We see a future where ‘consumer electronics’ become ‘consumer photonics".

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Absence of Bim and Puma lead to accumulation of self-reactive immune cells attacking many different organs

Absence of Bim and Puma lead to accumulation of self-reactive immune cells attacking many different organs | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have discovered that a pair of molecules work together to kill so-called ‘self-reactive’ immune cells that are programmed to attack the body’s own organs. The finding is helping to explain how autoimmune diseases develop.

 

Autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis, develop when immune cells launch an attack on the body’s own cells, destroying important body organs or structures. Around one in 20 Australians is affected by autoimmune conditions, most of which are chronic illnesses with no cure.


Puma and Bim are so-called ‘BH3-only’ proteins that make cells die by a process called apoptosis. Defects in apoptosis proteins have been linked to many human diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. Until now, there has been debate about how important the death of self-reactive cells is as a protection against autoimmune diseases. A recent study found that Puma and Bim lead to self-reactive immune cells accumulating and attacking many different body organs, causing various autoimmune diseases.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Not so moist Mars: Clays may come from lava, not ancient water

Not so moist Mars: Clays may come from lava, not ancient water | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Hunting for Martians may be a tougher task than predicted. Clays, long thought to be a sure sign of a warmer and wetter past on the Red Planet, could merely signal earlier volcanic activity – which would have made some regions on Mars less favourable for life. Clay layers found across Mars suggest that during the Noachian period, from about 4.2 billion to 3.5 billion years ago, the planet was warm enough to host liquid water – necessary for life as we know it. Scientists thought Mars clays could have formed in one of two ways: through soil interacting with standing water on the surface, or from water bubbling up from below via hydrothermal vents.  But a new analysis of Martian meteorites hints that some clays may not have formed the way we think at all. Alain Meunier from the University of Poitiers in France has found that some Mars minerals from the Noachian period are a good chemical match to clays at the Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia, which formed from cooling of water-rich lava. What's more, these ancient Martian clays can be up to hundreds of metres thick, which is more likely to be associated with lava flows than soil interacting with water. One way to confirm where Mars clays came from is to check the soil texture with a high-resolution microscope. NASA's Curiosity rover has spent about a month in Gale Crater near the Martian equator, which holds a wealth of clay minerals. Curiosity has an onboard microscope, but it's not quite good enough to make the distinction. In general, Gale Crater's morphology – the fact that "it was a big deep hole in the ground" – fits better with the theory that it was a lake, not a volcano.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Brainport vision device helps blind man to see with his tongue

Erik Weihenmayer is the first blind person to climb Everest and the Seven Summits, experiments in collaboration with the Brainport Vision Device, a revolutionary new technology enabling a blind person to see with his tongue. Mounted on Erik's head is a small video camera which translates visual information to a credit card-size tongue display. Four-hundred tiny pixels present electrical patterns on his tongue, which Erik's brain then interprets as a visual picture in three-dimensional space. He uses the device to read words and numbers on note cards, to play tic-tac-toe and stone-paper-scissors with his daughter, and to rock climb. To learn more about Erik, go to www.TouchTheTop.com .

 

http://tinyurl.com/pwz3vm

more...
Mihaela Cristina Radoi's curator insight, January 19, 2014 9:02 AM

A blind person climbed the Seven Mountains (including Kilimanjaro and Everest) using the Brainport Vision Device, a technology enabling a blind person to see with his tongue. There are no frontieres, if there is will. 

Katherine Martinez's comment, February 24, 2014 10:55 PM
This is about a blind men who uses a machine that connects to the tongue to make out patterns so that he can see. This is truly amazing. We have this now, imagine what other things we'll invented in the future. Maybe one day we can make the deaf hear without a cochlear implant.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

ENCODE explorer: A landmark in the understanding of the human genome

ENCODE explorer: A landmark in the understanding of the human genome | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Nature ENCODE: Explore the wealth of information about the project's key findings and numerous integrative analyses. Access the collected papers by exploring the thematic threads that run through them, with topics such as DNA methylation, RNA or machine learning.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

As Droughts Extend, Crops Wither

As Droughts Extend, Crops Wither | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

This summer’s heat and rainlessness, which rivals the devastating 1988 drought, has left crops withering in the fields and farmers trying to calculate their losses. An analysis by The New York Times looks at the widely varying effects of this summer’s heat and drought on crops critical to the nation’s farm economy.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Closing in on the Border Between Primordial Plasma and Ordinary Matter

Closing in on the Border Between Primordial Plasma and Ordinary Matter | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scientists taking advantage of the versatility and new capabilities of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), an atom smasher at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, have observed first glimpses of a possible boundary separating ordinary nuclear matter, composed of protons and neutrons, from the seething soup of their constituent quarks and gluons that permeated the early universe some 14 billion years ago. Though RHIC physicists have been creating and studying this primordial quark-gluon plasma (QGP) for some time, the latest preliminary data come from systematic studies varying the energy and types of colliding ions to create this new form of matter under a broad range of initial conditions, allowing the experimenters to unravel its intriguing properties.

 

"2012 has been a banner year for RHIC, with record-breaking collision rates, first collisions of uranium ions, and first asymmetric collisions of gold ions with copper ions,” said Samuel Aronson, Director of Brookhaven National Laboratory. “These unique capabilities demonstrate the flexibility and outstanding performance of this machine as we seek to explore the subtle interplay of particles and forces that transformed the QGP of the early universe into the matter that makes up our world today.”

more...
No comment yet.