Fragments of Science
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Fragments of Science
The history, present and future and nature of science and their relationship
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Sounding out quantum dots

Sounding out quantum dots | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Researchers are using microwaves to probe the sounds made by a single electron in a quantum dot.
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One of science’s greatest mysteries deepens: Did humans kill off Neanderthals?

One of science’s greatest mysteries deepens: Did humans kill off Neanderthals? | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Sometime in the late Pleistocene period, humans and Neanderthals are believed to have lived together. Only one species still exists, and people who study human pre-history have battled for decades over the reasons why. One of the more popular theories is that modern humans migrating out of Africa killed off the Neanderthal, because the humans were...
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Space clouds glitter where stars are born

Space clouds glitter where stars are born | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Like shiny gemstones embedded in a rocky matrix, star-forming clouds of dust and gas glimmer within the swirling structures of our galaxy in an infrared image from ESA's Herschel Space Observatory.

The image was acquired as a part of Hi-GAL, a survey mapping the entire plane of the Milky Way in a wide range of infrared light that Herschel was specially designed to detect. The image above is just a small section of a larger version, which in itself is just 1/30th of the entire Hi-GAL survey.

Normally invisible to our eyes, vast filaments of gas and dust fill the plane of the galaxy where stars like our Sun reside. As these cold clouds of interstellar material collapse, they get denser and denser until they eventually form stars, which then blaze with heat and light.

The energy from these newborn stars blasts out into nearby space, illuminating the shrouds of material they were born in as well as ionizing them with shockwaves of radiation.

These ionized 'shock fronts' also release light in wavelengths corresponding to the elements within the clouds, and can also eventually lead to the formation of yet more stars — a continuous cycle of star birth on a galactic time scale."

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Even Before Its Very First Lifeforms, Earth Might Not Have Been So Dead

Even Before Its Very First Lifeforms, Earth Might Not Have Been So Dead | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Researchers present evidence that metabolic processes were occurring even before biological life.
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New naming rules for fungi? Genetic advances spur mycologists to put their kingdom in order

New naming rules for fungi? Genetic advances spur mycologists to put their kingdom in order | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
A rebellion has broken out against the traditional way of naming species in the peculiar, shape-shifting world of fungi.

 

Many fungi are shape-shifters seemingly designed to defy human efforts at categorization. The same species, sometimes the same individual, can reproduce two ways: sexually, by mixing genes with a partner of the same species, or asexually, by cloning to produce genetically identical offspring.

 

The problem is that reproductive modes can take entirely different anatomical forms. A species that looks like a miniature corn dog when it is reproducing sexually might look like fuzzy white twigs when it is in cloning mode. A gray smudge on a sunflower seed head might just be the asexually reproducing counterpart of a tiny satellite dish–shaped thing. Just by looking at them, you’d never know.

 

When many of these pairs were discovered, sometimes decades apart, sometimes growing right next to each other, it was difficult or impossible to demonstrate that they were the same thing. So one species would get two names. Careful observation later suggested that officially different species are actually one, but the pairs of names remained. In fact, it soon became standard mycological practice to name many species twice — once for the sexual form, once for the asexual one.

 

Now, mycologists have a chance to set the record straight. A group of upstart scientists has rebelled against the dual-naming system, arguing that DNA analysis can endow fungi with a one-species, one-name system. Having won a major victory at a recent international scientific congress, they are poised to bring their field into a new era of genetic nomenclature. But however justified genetically, their project is not without perils.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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The molecular secrets of celiac disease

The molecular secrets of celiac disease | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
X-rays from the Australian Synchrotron have revealed the molecular face of celiac disease, paving the way for potential treatments and diagnostics, say researchers.
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Antibiotics from mangroves

Antibiotics from mangroves | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it

"Researchers at the Universiti Teknologi MARA in Malaysia have conducted a study on the mangrove ecosystem to search for actinomycetes bacteria. The mangrove ecosystem is known as a highly productive habitat for isolating actinomycetes, which has the potential of producing biologically active secondary metabolites."

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Original Chaucer manuscript online

Original Chaucer manuscript online | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it

"

More than 600 years ago poet Geoffrey Chaucer died without completing his greatest masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales.

A collection of more than 20 stories written in Middle English in the 14th Century, they show the best and worst of human nature with a humorous touch.

And the earliest manuscript containing his work has been kept at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

Now the priceless collection has been published online for the first time."

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Cougars show how to survive extinction

Cougars show how to survive extinction | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Finicky eaters usually do not survive mass extinction events, suggests a new study on prehistoric big cats.
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Tiniest insects now in digital 3D colour

Tiniest insects now in digital 3D colour | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
A new colour 3D modelling system developed in Australia is digitising even the tiniest insects to help researchers study them better.
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Ancient Rome was bigger than previously thought, archaeologists find

Ancient Rome was bigger than previously thought, archaeologists find | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Archaeologists have discovered that the Ancient Roman neighbourhood of Ostia was far bigger than previously thought, extending over the River Tiber
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In Mediterranean marble, secrets of the global carbon cycle « New Phoenix

In Mediterranean marble, secrets of the global carbon cycle « New Phoenix | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it

Carbon — the basis for life — is present in the earth, seas, sky, and every living creature. Geologists have long known that significant amounts of carbon are stored as calcium carbonate in certain rocks, such as marble, and returned to the atmosphere through volcanic eruptions. But how calcium carbonate from rocks transforms into carbon dioxide gas has been unclear.


Via Christian Allié
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Christian Allié's curator insight, April 23, 5:19 AM

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The discovery of calcium carbonate dissolution did not fit the conventional hypotheses for how carbon dioxide is released from subducted rocks. Devolatilization reactions, which consume or produce water and produce more limited amounts of carbon dioxide, were thought to be the main method of carbon dioxide release from minerals in subduction zones. But these reactions could not account for the large carbon dioxide losses observed in the rock samples, leading Ague and Nicolescu to challenge the conventional wisdom.

Other recent research, including detailed studies of the chemistry of subduction zone fluids, had suggested that other types of reactions might be responsible for carbon dioxide production in subduction zones. What was lacking were field examples suitable for testing hypotheses of carbon dioxide reaction, the researchers said. Ague and Nicolescu argue that the carbon-depleted marbles they found in Greece constitute an important window into how chemical reactions operate to release carbon dioxide from Earth’s deep interior.

Said Ague, “The new hypothesis of carbonate mineral dissolution survived multiple rigorous tests, which was exciting because it can account for geologic relationships that have remained enigmatic for a long time.”

The paper is titled “Carbon dioxide released from subduction zones by fluid-mediated reactions.”

Carbon dioxide released from subduction zones by fluid-mediated reactions : Nature Geoscience : Nature Publishing Group.


Source:

Yale University.

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Unravelling How Planaria Regenerate: Cut into 279 tiny pieces, each one regenerates to a full worm

Unravelling How Planaria Regenerate: Cut into 279 tiny pieces, each one regenerates to a full worm | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Researchers have begun teasing apart the genes behind regeneration.

 

Planarian flatworms are one of nature's little wonders. Although their 'cross-eyed' appearance is endearing, their real claim to fame comes from their regenerative ability. Split a planarian down the middle and you'll soon have two cross-eyed critters staring back at you; cut one up and each piece will regenerate an entire flatworm. How do they pull of such an incredible feat? In 2011, researchers discovered that planarian regeneration depends on the activity of stem cells ('neoblasts') distributed throughout the flatworm's body, but important questions about the process have remained unanswered. Are certain stem cells responsible for each organ? What activates the stem cells when regeneration is needed? An enterprising team of scientists at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research has brought us closer to answering these questions by developing a new technique to study planarian regeneration and using it to discover some of they genes involved.

Regeneration isn't a uniquely planarian trait; starfish are well-known for growing back lost body parts, and even humans can regenerate to some extent (think of a wound healing). Planarians certainly excel at it, though; a flatworm can recover from being cut up into a staggering 279 tiny pieces, each of which regenerates into a new worm! Here's a fun conundrum for those inclined to such things: which worm, if any, can claim to be the 'original worm'? What if it were only two pieces instead of over 200? Would it make a difference if the two pieces were different sizes?

 

Using this technique, which they termed 'chemical amputation', the team induced lesions in planaria and investigated which genes were activated over the course of the regeneration process. The pharynx lacks neoblasts, but cells near the wound quickly start dividing and regenerate the amputated organ. To identify genes which were interesting, the team combined two screening approaches. First, a microarray picked out genes which were active during regeneration, providing a list of 356 candidates. Next, the team used RNAi to block the activity of each gene in amputated flatworms and checked whether the pharynx still regenerated. This narrowed the list down to twenty genes, which the team divided into different sets. Some genes affected stem cells in general, other affected feeding behaviour, and a handful directly affected the development of the pharynx. Of these, the transcription factor FoxA seemed to play the greatest role in regenerating the pharynx.

The team next looked at how regeneration went wrong in planaria with FoxA knocked down. They found that stem cells still migrated to the wound site and multiplied there, but the resulting outgrowth failed to become a pharynx. They also tried amputating the tails or heads of FoxA knock-downs, which then successfully regenerated. "Targeting FoxA completely blocked pharynx regeneration but had no effect on the regeneration of other organs," said Adler in a press release. “Currently, we think that FoxA triggers a cascade of gene expression that drives stem cells to produce all of the different cells of the pharynx, including muscle, neurons, and epithelial cells.” FoxA is known to play a role in specifying the pharynx in the sea anemone and in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, as well regulating the development of the intestine in vertebrates, so it makes sense that it's a central player in pharynx regeneration in planaria. More importantly, its identification can serve as a wedge to pry apart the details of regeneration; coupled with the other genes picked up in this study, it offers an exciting opportunity to expand our understanding of this important process.

 

References:

Adler C, et al. Selective amputation of the pharynx identifies a FoxA-dependent regeneration program in planaria. eLife 3:e02238. (2014) doi:10.7554/eLife.02238


Rossant J. Genes for Regeneration. eLife 3:e02517. (2014) doi:10.7554/eLife.02517


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Ganymede a 'club sandwich' of ocean layers

Ganymede a 'club sandwich' of ocean layers | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Jupiter's moon Ganymede may possess ice and liquid oceans stacked up in several layers raising the chances that this distant icy world harbours life.
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Ancient Egyptians transported pyramid stones over wet sand

Ancient Egyptians transported pyramid stones over wet sand | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Physicists from the FOM Foundation and the University of Amsterdam have discovered that the ancient Egyptians used a clever trick to make it easier to transport heavy pyramid stones by sledge. The Egyptians moistened the sand over which the sledge moved. By using the right quantity of water they could ...
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Far-off planet a spinning dynamo

Far-off planet a spinning dynamo | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it

"Scientists have for the first time measured the rotation of a planet in another solar system — a juvenile, gassy giant spinning at a breakneck 90,000 kilometres per hour.

Orbiting a star about 63 light years from Earth, Beta Pictoris b is more than 16 times larger and 3000 times more massive than our planet, but its days last only eight hours.

"Beta Pictoris b spins significantly faster than any planet in the solar system" — at a rate of about 25 kilometres per second, a team of Dutch astronomers write in the journal Nature."

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How Liquid Metal Can Be Used to Fix Nerve Damage

How Liquid Metal Can Be Used to Fix Nerve Damage | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Chinese researchers created a temporary liquid metal bridge between nerves of dead frogs that could conduct electrical pulses.
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Galactic red light stops star birth

Galactic red light stops star birth | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
A galaxy's ability to make new generations of stars is directly related to the size of its central bulge, according to a new study.
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MERS virus antibodies identified

MERS virus antibodies identified | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Scientists have found natural human antibodies to the newly-emerging Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus.
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Galactic red light stops star birth

Galactic red light stops star birth | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
A galaxy's ability to make new generations of stars is directly related to the size of its central bulge, according to a new study.
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Liquid spacetime: A very slippery superfluid, that's what spacetime could be like

Liquid spacetime: A very slippery superfluid, that's what spacetime could be like | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it

What if spacetime were a kind of fluid? This is the question tackled by theoretical physicists working on quantum gravity by creating models attempting to reconcile gravity and quantum mechanics. Some of these models predict that spacetime at the Planck scale (10-33cm) is no longer continuous – as held by classical physics – but discrete in nature. Just like the solids or fluids we come into contact with every day, which can be seen as made up of atoms and molecules when observed at sufficient resolution. A structure of this kind generally implies, at very high energies, violations of Einstein's special relativity (a integral part of general relativity).

 

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Ancestor of ancient flying reptiles found

Ancestor of ancient flying reptiles found | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Scientists say they have found a fossil that represents the oldest known example of a lineage of advanced flying reptiles.
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Archaeologists Explore Ancient Roman Forum of Philippopolis

Archaeologists Explore Ancient Roman Forum of Philippopolis | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it

"Located in south central Bulgaria, the city of Plovdiv, known to many as the "Eternal City of Bulgaria", is among the oldest cities in Europe, with evidence of human settlement going back 6,000 years. Established first as the Thracian settlement of Eumolpia, today its ancient remains near the city center are most often identified with the name Philippopolis by archaeologists. That was the name given to the city after it was Hellenized within the Macedonian Empire under Philip II during the 4th century, B.C.E. But its most visible ancient remains took shape when the city was absorbed into the orbit of ancient Rome during the 1st century B.C.E. - 1st century C.E., the time period of Augustus. It was during this time when the great monumental structures, such as the Theater, Stadium, Treasury, Thermae, Odeon, and other associated structures of its central Forum, were built.   

A team of archaeologists under the auspices of the RSF Archaeological Trust and the Plovdiv archaeological museum are now exploring an unexcavated area of the Forum, hoping to shed additional light on the character and uses of the complex, its phases of construction, and what may have stood there before its construction."

 

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Quantum Entanglement Drives the Arrow of Time, Scientists Say | Simons Foundation

Quantum Entanglement Drives the Arrow of Time, Scientists Say | Simons Foundation | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
A new theory explains the seemingly irreversible arrow of time while yielding insights into entropy, quantum computers, black holes, and the past-future divide.
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10 Epic Microbiology Photos

The top ten photos from Nikon's 2013 Photomicrography competition. What would you want to see photographed under a microscope? http://www.nikonsmallworld.com...

Via Shift Soil
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