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Research Workshop
Personal space for my research projects. Applying science to social policy. Understanding evidence. Academic sources and scientists.
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Archaeologists Just Uncovered Massive Ancient Ruins Older Than the Pyramids

Archaeologists Just Uncovered Massive Ancient Ruins Older Than the Pyramids | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
And it was under our noses the whole time.
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Scientists discover RNA modifications in some unexpected places

Scientists discover RNA modifications in some unexpected places | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
The so-called central dogma of molecular biology—that DNA makes RNA which makes protein—has long provided a simplified explanation for how genetic information is deciphered and translated in living organisms.
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Early Earth less hellish than previously thought

Early Earth less hellish than previously thought | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
Conditions on Earth for the first 500 million years after it formed may have been surprisingly similar to the present day, complete with oceans, continents and active crustal plates.
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Biggest void in universe may explain cosmic cold spot - space - 03 July 2014 - New Scientist

Biggest void in universe may explain cosmic cold spot - space - 03 July 2014 - New Scientist | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
A cold spot in the big bang's afterglow may be a shadow of the biggest known hole in the cosmos – not a sign of a collision with another universe
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Solar Storms Are Bombarding Earth Now, Amped-up Auroras Possible

Solar Storms Are Bombarding Earth Now, Amped-up Auroras Possible | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
The solar weather is expected to cause significant auroral displays across much of the northern U.S. on Friday night
-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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Worldwide study demonstrates accuracy of genetic analyses

Worldwide study demonstrates accuracy of genetic analyses | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
Physicians envision a future in which genomic data from patients is heavily used to manage care, but experts have questioned the accuracy and reliability of these analyses.
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Superbugs meet their match in rapid genome sequencing

Superbugs meet their match in rapid genome sequencing | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
Close to real-time tracking of deadly superbugs such as MRSA promises to close down outbreaks faster and save lives Continue reading...
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Monarchs and milkweed: Probing the plant, pollinator partnership

Monarchs and milkweed: Probing the plant, pollinator partnership | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
As dwindling populations of monarch butterflies prepared for their annual migration, two undergraduate students in the William & Mary Plant Ecology Lab spent their summer trying to more deeply understand the plants upon which they rely.
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Mimosa Biomimicry Inspires New Adaptive Structures

Mimosa Biomimicry Inspires New Adaptive Structures | Research Workshop | Scoop.it

"Researchers at University of Michigan (U-M) and Penn State University are studying how plants like the Mimosa can change shape, and they’re working to replicate the mechanisms with artificial cells. Currently, their artificial cells are palm-size and larger, but they’re trying to minify them by using microstructures and nanofibers to construct them. They’re also exploring how to replicate the mechanisms by which plants heal themselves."

 

Photo details: Mimosa Putrajaya, Gryffindor, GFDL 2006,  Wikimedia Commons.


Via Miguel Prazeres
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Scientists find mysterious species that defy all classifications of life

Scientists find mysterious species that defy all classifications of life | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
Marine biologists from the University of Copenhagen have discovered two new species that "defy all existing classifications of life." They are rather cute and pretty—like some monsters from a Mario Bros.
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Sugar 'not addictive' says Edinburgh University study - BBC News

Sugar 'not addictive' says Edinburgh University study - BBC News | Research Workshop | Scoop.it


However, people can develop a psychological compulsion to eat. This is driven by the positive feelings that the brain associates with eating, the researchers said.

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Mosquito fact and fiction

Mosquito fact and fiction | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
One of Jason Pitts' favorite stories is about mosquitoes and their strange attraction to Limburger cheese.
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Study ties groundwater to human evolution

Study ties groundwater to human evolution | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
Our ancient ancestors' ability to move around and find new sources of groundwater during extremely dry periods in Africa millions of years ago may have been key to their survival and the evolution of the human species, a new study shows.
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Scientists discover tropical tree microbiome in Panama

Scientists discover tropical tree microbiome in Panama | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
Human skin and gut microbes influence processes from digestion to disease resistance.
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'Squid skin' metamaterials project yields vivid color display

'Squid skin' metamaterials project yields vivid color display | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
The quest to create artificial "squid skin"—camouflaging metamaterials that can "see" colors and automatically blend into the background—is one step closer to reality, thanks to a breakthrough color-display technology unveiled this week by Rice...
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Team finds elusive quantum transformations near absolute zero

Team finds elusive quantum transformations near absolute zero | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
Heat drives classical phase transitions—think solid, liquid, and gas—but much stranger things can happen when the temperature drops.
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Strong Solar Flares This Week a Rare Double Whammy, Scientists Say

Strong Solar Flares This Week a Rare Double Whammy, Scientists Say | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
It has been rare to have two back-to-back solar storms charge toward Earth in recent years
-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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New math and quantum mechanics: Fluid mechanics suggests alternative to quantum orthodoxy

The central mystery of quantum mechanics is that small chunks of matter sometimes seem to behave like particles, sometimes like waves.
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New family of materials for energy-efficient information storage and processing

Hexagonal rare earth ferrites have been demonstrated to exhibit both spontaneous electric and magnetic dipole moments (as a rare case), which may enable couplings of the static electric and magnetic fields in these materials, suggesting application...
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Corrupt DNA Might Be Good for You

Corrupt DNA Might Be Good for You | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
Our bodies are a genetic patchwork, possessing variation from cell to cell. Is that a good thing?
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These Simple Tips Will Make Your Science Visualizations Rock

These Simple Tips Will Make Your Science Visualizations Rock | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
There are so many, many ways to graphically convey scientific data. But depending on how this information is presented, it can be perceived differently by different people — if not completely inaccurately.
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Scientists reset human stem cells to earliest developmental state equivalent to 7-9 days old embryo

Scientists reset human stem cells to earliest developmental state equivalent to 7-9 days old embryo | Research Workshop | Scoop.it

Scientists have successfully ‘reset’ human pluripotent stem cells to the earliest developmental state – equivalent to cells found in an embryo before it implants in the womb (7-9 days old). These ‘pristine’ stem cells may mark the true starting point for human development, but have until now been impossible to replicate in the lab. fThe discovery, published in Cell, will lead to a better understanding of human development and could in future allow the production of safe and more reproducible starting materials for a wide range of applications including cell therapies.

Human pluripotent stem cells, which have the potential to become any of the cells and tissues in the body, can be made in the lab either from cells extracted from a very early stage embryo or from adult cells that have been induced into a pluripotent state.

However, scientists have struggled to generate human pluripotent stem cells that are truly pristine (also known as naïve). Instead, researchers have only been able to derive cells which have advanced slightly further down the developmental pathway. These bear some of the early hallmarks of differentiation into distinct cell types – they’re not a truly ‘blank slate’. This may explain why existing human pluripotent stem cell lines often exhibit a bias towards producing certain tissue types in the laboratory.

Now researchers led by the Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council (MRC) Cambridge Stem Cell Institute at the University of Cambridge, have managed to induce a ground state by rewiring the genetic circuitry in human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. Their ‘reset cells’ share many of the characteristics of authentic naïve embryonic stem cells isolated from mice, suggesting that they represent the earliest stage of development.

“Capturing embryonic stem cells is like stopping the developmental clock at the precise moment before they begin to turn into distinct cells and tissues,” explains Professor Austin Smith, Director of the Stem Cell Institute, who co-authored the paper. “Scientists have perfected a reliable way of doing this with mouse cells, but human cells have proved more difficult to arrest and show subtle differences between the individual cells. It’s as if the developmental clock has not stopped at the same time and some cells are a few minutes ahead of others.”

The process of generating stem cells in the lab is much easier to control in mouse cells, which can be frozen in a state of naïve pluripotency using a protein called LIF. Human cells are not as responsive to LIF, so they must be controlled in a different way that involves switching key genes on and off. For this reason scientists have been unable to generate human pluripotent cells that are as primitive or as consistent as mouse embryonic stem cells.

The researchers overcame this problem by introducing two genes – NANOG and KLF2 – causing the network of genes that control the cell to reboot and induce the naïve pluripotent state. Importantly, the introduced genes only need to be present for a short time. Then, like other stem cells, reset cells can self-renew indefinitely to produce large numbers, are stable and can differentiate into other cell types, including nerve and heart cells.

By studying the reset cells, scientists will be able to learn more about how normal embryo development progresses and also how it can go wrong, leading to miscarriage and developmental disorders. The naïve state of the reset stem cells may also make it easier and more reliable to grow and manipulate them in the laboratory and may allow them to serve as a blank canvas for creating specialised cells and tissues for use in regenerative medicine.

Professor Smith adds: “Our findings suggest that it is possible to rewind the clock to achieve true ground state pluripotency in human cells. These cells may represent the real starting point for formation of tissues in the human embryo. We hope that in time they will allow us to unlock the fundamental biology of early development, which is impossible to study directly in people.” - See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/scientists-reset-human-stem-cells-to-earliest-developmental-state#sthash.4gxh2MI9.dpuf


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Activating gene in key organ systems slows aging process throughout the body

Activating gene in key organ systems slows aging process throughout the body | Research Workshop | Scoop.it

With a typical lifespan of around six weeks, the common fruit fly is one animal that could benefit from a slowing of the aging process. And that's just what a team of biologists at UCLA have achieved by activating a gene called AMPK. Possibly of more interest to us higher life forms is the researchers' belief that the discovery could help delay aging and age-related diseases in humans.

AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) is an enzyme that acts as a metabolic master switch and is activated in response to low cellular energy levels. It has previously been shown to activate a cellular process known as autophagy, which protects against aging by enabling cells to degrade and discard old, damaged "cellular garbage" before it damages cells. Although AMPK is also found in humans, it is not usually activated at a high level.

The UCLA research team found that increasing the amount of AMPK in the intestines of common fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) increased their lifespan by around 30 percent, up from the typical six weeks to around eight weeks. Importantly, the fruit flies stayed healthier for longer as well, with the beneficial effects not restricted to the organ where it was activated.

"We have shown that when we activate the gene in the intestine or the nervous system, we see the aging process is slowed beyond the organ system in which the gene is activated," said David Walker, an associate professor of integrative biology and physiology at UCLA and senior author of the research.

"A really interesting finding was when Matt (lead author of the study, Matthew Ulgherait) activated AMPK in the nervous system, he saw evidence of increased levels of autophagy in not only the brain, but also in the intestine,” adds Walker. "And vice versa: Activating AMPK in the intestine produced increased levels of autophagy in the brain – and perhaps elsewhere, too."


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After tracking seismic shifts, researchers say a major quake may occur off the coast of Istanbul

After tracking seismic shifts, researchers say a major quake may occur off the coast of Istanbul | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
When a segment of a major fault line goes quiet, it can mean one of two things: The "seismic gap" may simply be inactive—the result of two tectonic plates placidly gliding past each other—or the segment may be a source of potential earthquakes,...
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Scientific balloon set to measure gamma rays from the Crab Pulsar

Scientific balloon set to measure gamma rays from the Crab Pulsar | Research Workshop | Scoop.it
Starting today at NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, space scientists from the University of New Hampshire will attempt to launch a football-field-sized balloon carrying a one-ton instrument payload that will...
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