Researchers at UCLA have used an ultrasound treatment to stimulate neurons in the thalamus of a coma patient, leading to a marked improvement in his condition. Once verified with other patients, it’s possible that the method could provide a low-cost treatment for severe brain injuries.
One year ago, Patrick Hardison underwent the world's most extensive face transplant. The severely-burned Mississippi firefighter had lost most his facial and head features in the line of duty in 2001, but 15 years later the change is nothing short of dramatic.
For decades, it has been thought that the key factor in determining whether a planet can support life was its distance from its sun. In our solar system, for instance, Venus is too close to the sun and Mars is too far, but Earth is just right. That distance is what scientists refer to as the "habitable zone," or the "Goldilocks zone."
It also was thought that planets were able to self-regulate their internal temperature via mantle convection—the underground shifting of rocks caused by internal heating and cooling. A planet might start out too cold or too hot, but it would eventually settle into the right temperature.
A new study, appearing in the journal Science Advances, suggests that simply being in the habitable zone isn't sufficient to support life. A planet also must start with an internal temperature that is just right.
"If you assemble all kinds of scientific data on how Earth has evolved in the past few billion years and try to make sense out of them, you eventually realize that mantle convection is rather indifferent to the internal temperature," said Jun Korenaga, author of the study and professor of geology and geophysics at Yale. Korenaga presents a general theoretical framework that explains the degree of self-regulation expected for mantle convection and suggests that self-regulation is unlikely for Earth-like planets.
"The lack of the self-regulating mechanism has enormous implications for planetary habitability," Korenaga said. "Studies on planetary formation suggest that planets like Earth form by multiple giant impacts, and the outcome of this highly random process is known to be very diverse."
Such diversity of size and internal temperature would not hamper planetary evolution if there was self-regulating mantle convection, Korenaga said. "What we take for granted on this planet, such as oceans and continents, would not exist if the internal temperature of Earth had not been in a certain range, and this means that the beginning of Earth's history cannot be too hot or too cold."
The NASA Astrobiology Institute supported the research. Korenaga is a co-investigator of the NASA "Alternative Earths" team, which is organized around the principle of understanding how the Earth has maintained a persistent biosphere through most of its history, how the biosphere manifests in "biosignatures" on a planetary scale, and how reconstructing this history can inform the search for life within and beyond the solar system.
More than one million people have now had their genome sequenced, or its protein-coding regions (the exome). The hope is that this information can be shared and linked to phenotype — specifically, disease — and improve medical care. An obstacle is that only a small fraction of these data are publicly available:
Human genomics: A deep dive into genetic variationAnalysis of protein-coding genetic variation in 60,706 humansProtective gene offers hope for next blockbuster heart drug
In an important step, we report this week the first publication from the Exome Aggregation Consortium (ExAC), which has generated the largest catalogue so far of variation in human protein-coding regions. It aggregates sequence data from some 60,000 people. Most importantly, it puts the information in a publicly accessible database that is already a crucial resource (http://exac.broadinstitute.org).
There are challenges in sharing such data sets — the project scientists deserve credit for making this one open access. Its scale offers insight into rare genetic variation across populations. It identifies more than 7.4 million (mostly new) variants at high confidence, and documents rare mutations that independently emerged, providing the first estimate of the frequency of their recurrence. And it finds 3,230 genes that show nearly no cases of loss of function. More than two-thirds have not been linked to disease, which points to how much we have yet to understand.
The study also raises concern about how genetic variants have been linked to rare disease. The average ExAC participant has some 54 variants previously classified as causal for a rare disorder; many show up at an implausibly high frequency, suggesting that they were incorrectly classified. The authors review evidence for 192 variants reported earlier to cause rare Mendelian disorders and found at a high frequency by ExAC, and uncover support for pathogenicity for only 9. The implications are broad: these variant data already guide diagnoses and treatment (see, E. V. Minikel et al. Sci. Transl. Med. 8, 322ra9; 2016 and R. Walsh et al. Genet. Med. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/gim.2016.90; 2016).
These findings show that researchers and clinicians must carefully evaluate published results on rare genetic disorders. And it demonstrates the need to filter variants seen in sequence data, using the ExAC data set and other reference tools — a practice widely adopted in genomics.
The ExAC project plans to grow over the next year to include 120,000 exome and 20,000 whole-genome sequences. It relies on the willingness of large research consortia to cooperate, and highlights the huge value of sharing, aggregation and harmonization of genomic data. This is also true for patient variants — there is a need for databases that provide greater confidence in variant interpretation, such as the US National Center for Biotechnology Information’s ClinVar database.
Symantec writes: Cybercriminals are using clickbait, promising a video showing Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton exchanging money with an ISIS leader, in order to distribute malicious spam emails. The email's subject announces “Clinton Deal ISIS Leader caught on Video,” however there is no video contained in the email, just malware. Adding to the enticement, the email body also discusses voting, asking recipients to “decide on who to vote [for]” after watching the non-existent clip. Attached to the email is a ZIP archive, containing a Java file. Make the mistake of opening the Java file (in the mistaken belief that you are going to see a controversial video) and you will be infecting your computer with the Adwind backdoor Trojan horse. It's not unusual for criminals to use these kind of disguises to make their malicious emails more tempting to click on, and we've seen attacks like this during previous presidential election campaigns. Expect more of the same, and be on your guard.
With various “de-extinction” projects in the works right now, researchers have published a paper analyzing the ecological benefits, risks and responsibilities of reintroducing once-extinct species into modern ecosystems.
Small balloons made from one-atom-thick material graphene can withstand enormous pressures, much higher than those at the bottom of the deepest ocean, scientists at the University of Manchester report.
This is due to graphene's incredible strength - 200 times stronger than steel. The graphene balloons routinely form when placing graphene on flat substrates and are usually considered a nuisance and therefore ignored. The Manchester researchers, led by Professor Irina Grigorieva, took a closer look at the nano-bubbles and revealed their fascinating properties.
These bubbles could be created intentionally to make tiny pressure machines capable of withstanding enormous pressures. This could be a significant step towards rapidly detecting how molecules react under extreme pressure.
Writing in Nature Communications, the scientists found that the shape and dimensions of the nano-bubbles provide straightforward information about both graphene's elastic strength and its interaction with the underlying substrate.
The researchers found such balloons can also be created with other two-dimensional crystals such as single layers of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) or boron nitride.
They were able to directly measure the pressure exerted by graphene on a material trapped inside the balloons, or vice versa.
To do this, the team indented bubbles made by graphene, monolayer MoS2 and monolayer boron nitride using a tip of an atomic force microscope and measured the force that was necessary to make a dent of a certain size.
These measurements revealed that graphene enclosing bubbles of a micron size creates pressures as high as 200 megapascals, or 2,000 atmospheres. Even higher pressures are expected for smaller bubbles.
Among bacteria’s many attributes, perhaps one of its most overlooked yet important ones is its ability to propel itself via flagellum, a unique appendage hanging off its end. This mechanism is a perfect example of a naturally occurring, biological wheel.
Now, for the first time, scientists were able to take a high resolution, 3D look at these wheels at work, using an electron microscope. Their work was published online yesterday in the journal, PNAS.
A flagella is like a tiny tail at the end of the bacteria, allowing it to move through various mediums. It generates torque (that's twisting force) from stators, a ring of structures around the motor part of the organ. These act as the wheel providing the power.
The amount of torque varies depending on the number of stators, which result in varying degrees of power. Different bacteria have different numbers of stators. For example, as New Scientist points out, the motor of Campylobacter has enough force to drive itself through your intestines, resulting in a bad case of food poisoning.
At the same time, another bacteria that the scientists looked at, which is closely related to Vibrio cholerae (the bacteria that produce cholera), have a motor that only has a moderate degree of power.
This variety, as well as the fact that flagellum has evolved independently multiple times, adds evidence to the fact that it evolved gradually via natural selection, rather than intelligent design. To capture these images, a team of researchers, headed by Morgan Beeby at Imperial College London, used a technique called electron cryotomography. That's where you first freeze the bacteria, then use an electron microscope to capture images of it from various angles, finally stitching the resulting images together into one 3D composite.
Aside from the beautiful novelty of these images, researchers could study them to develop better motors for nano-robots, or to design better antibiotics that target the flagellum specific to a certain bacteria.
Sharing your scoops to your social media accounts is a must to distribute your curated content. Not only will it drive traffic and leads through your content, but it will help show your expertise with your followers.
How to integrate my topics' content to my website?
Integrating your curated content to your website or blog will allow you to increase your website visitors’ engagement, boost SEO and acquire new visitors. By redirecting your social media traffic to your website, Scoop.it will also help you generate more qualified traffic and leads from your curation work.
Distributing your curated content through a newsletter is a great way to nurture and engage your email subscribers will developing your traffic and visibility.
Creating engaging newsletters with your curated content is really easy.