Amazing Science
802.2K views | +6 today
 
Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Science News
onto Amazing Science
Scoop.it!

The intelligent behavior of the dung beetle (TEDTalks)

A dung beetle has a brain the size of a grain of rice, and yet shows a tremendous amount of intelligence when it comes to rolling its food source -- animal excrement -- home. How? It all comes down to a dance.


Via Sakis Koukouvis
more...
No comment yet.
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!

20,000+ FREE Online Science and Technology Lectures from Top Universities

20,000+ FREE Online Science and Technology Lectures from Top Universities | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

FOR FULL GENOME SEQUENCING CONTACT DIAGNOMICS

(www.diagnomics.com)

Toll Free:1-800-605-8422  FREE
Regular Line:1-858-345-4817

  

 

NOTE: To subscribe to the RSS feed of Amazing Science, copy http://www.scoop.it/t/amazing-science/rss.xml into the URL field of your browser and click "subscribe".

 

This newsletter is aggregated from over 1450 news sources:

http://www.genautica.com/links/1450_news_sources.html

 

All my Tweets and Scoop.It! posts sorted and searchable:

http://www.genautica.com/tweets/index.html

 

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

You can search through all the articles semantically on my

archived twitter feed

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

NOTE: All articles in the amazing-science newsletter can also be sorted by topic. To do so, click the FIND buntton (symbolized by the FUNNEL on the top right of the screen)  and display all the relevant postings SORTED by TOPICS.

 

You can also type your own query:

 

e.g., you are looking for articles involving "dna" as a keyword

 

http://www.scoop.it/t/amazing-science/?q=dna

 

Or 

CLICK on the little

FUNNEL symbol at the

 

==================================================

 

***MOST READS***

• 3D-printing • aging • AI • anthropology • art • astronomy • bigdata • bioinformatics • biology • biotech • chemistry • computers • cosmology • education • environment • evolution • future • genetics • genomics • geosciencesgreen-energy • history • language • mapmaterial-science • math • med • medicine • microscopymost-reads • nanotech • neuroscience • paleontology • photography • photonics • physics • postings • robotics • science • technology • video 

more...
Arturo Pereira's curator insight, August 12, 9:01 AM
The democratization of knowledge!
Nevermore Sithole's curator insight, September 11, 2:42 AM
FREE Online Science and Technology Lectures from Top Universities
Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from DNA and RNA research
Scoop.it!

Can data storage in DNA solve our massive data storage problem in the future?

Can data storage in DNA solve our massive data storage problem in the future? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The latest in high-density ultra-durable data storage has been perfected over billions of years by nature itself.

 

Now ‘Smoke on the Water’ is making history again. This September, it was one of the first items from the Memory Of the World archive to be stored in the form of DNA and then played back with 100% accuracy. The project was a joint effort between the University of Washington, Microsoft and Twist Bioscience, a San Francisco-based DNA manufacturing company.

The demonstration was billed as a ‘proof of principle’ – which is shorthand for successful but too expensive to be practical. At least for now.

 

Many pundits predict it’s just a matter of time till DNA pips magnetic tape as the ultimate way to store data. It’s compact, efficient and resilient. After all, it has been tweaked over billions of years into the perfect repository for genetic information. It will never become obsolete, because as long as there is life on Earth, we will be interested in decoding DNA. “Nature has optimised the format,” says Twist Bioscience’s chief technology officer Bill Peck.

Players like Microsoft, IBM and Intel are showing signs of interest. In April, they joined other industry, academic and government experts at an invitation-only workshop (cosponsored by the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA)) to discuss the practical potential for DNA to solve humanity’s looming data storage crisis.

 

It’s a big problem that’s getting bigger by the minute. According to a 2016 IBM Marketing Cloud report, 90% of the data that exists today was created in just the past two years. Every day, we generate another 2.5 quintillion (2.5 × 1018) bytes of information. It pours in from high definition video and photos, Big Data from particle physics, genomic sequencing, space probes, satellites, and remote sensing; from think tanks, covert surveillance operations, and Internet tracking algorithms. EVERY DAY, WE GENERATE ANOTHER 2.5 QUINTILLION BYTES OF INFORMATION.

 

Right now all those bits and bytes flow into gigantic server farms, onto spinning hard drives or reels of state-of-the-art magnetic tape. These physical substrates occupy a lot of space. Compare this to DNA. The entire human genome, a code of three billion DNA base pairs, or in data speak, 3,000 megabytes, fits into a package that is invisible to the naked eye – the cell’s nucleus. A gram of DNA — the size of a drop of water on your fingertip — can store at least the equivalent of 233 computer hard drives weighing more than 150 kilograms. To store the all the genetic information in a human body — 150 zettabytes — on tape or hard drives, you’d need a facility covering thousands, if not millions of square feet.

 

And then there’s durability. Of the current storage contenders, magnetic tape has the best lifespan, at about 10-20 years. Hard drives, CDs, DVDs and flash drives are less reliable, often failing within five to ten years. DNA has proven that it can survive thousands of years unscathed. In 2013, for example, the genome of an early horse relative was reconstructed from DNA from a 700,000-year-old bone fragment found in the Alaskan permafrost.


Via Integrated DNA Technologies
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

For the first time, a robot passed a medical licensing exam

For the first time, a robot passed a medical licensing exam | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Experts generally agree that, before we might consider artificial intelligence (AI) to be truly intelligent —that is, on a level on par with human cognition— AI agents have to pass a number of tests. And while this is still a work in progress, AIs have been busy passing other kinds of tests.

 

Xiaoyi, an AI-powered robot in China, for example, has recently taken the national medical licensing examination and passed, making it the first robot to have done so. Not only did the robot pass the exam, it actually got a score of 456 points, which is 96 points above the required marks.

 

This robot, developed by leading Chinese AI company iFlytek Co., Ltd., has been designed to capture and analyze patient information. Now, they’ve proven that Xiaoyi could also have enough medical know-how to be a licensed practitioner.

 

Local newspaper China Daily notes that this is all part of the country’s push for more AI integration in a number of industries, including healthcare and consumer electronics. China is already a leading contender on the global AI stage, surpassing the United States in AI research, in an ultimate effort to become a frontrunner in AI development by 2030. The country’s determination, driven by the realization that AI is the new battleground for international development, could put the U.S. behind China in this worldwide AI race.

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

Amish Mutation in PAI-1 Protects Against Diabetes and May Extend Life

Amish Mutation in PAI-1 Protects Against Diabetes and May Extend Life | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Amish men and women who carried a genetic mutation appeared to be in better cardiovascular health and had longer telomeres, a barometer of longevity.

 

The findings, published on Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, shed light on the processes underlying cellular aging and could lead to new therapies for chronic diseases, some experts say. The researchers are planning at least one follow-up trial that will recreate the effects of the mutation so they can study its impact on obese people with insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

 

The mutation described in the new paper affects a mysterious protein called plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, or PAI-1, that is known primarily for its role in promoting blood clotting. The mutation was first identified in 1991 in a secluded Amish farming community in Berne, Ind. An estimated 5 percent of the community carries the mutation, which causes them to produce unusually low levels of PAI-1.

 

Scientists have long suspected that PAI-1 has other functions outside of clotting that relate to aging. Dr. Douglas Vaughan, a cardiologist at Northwestern medical school, noticed, for example, that mice that had been genetically engineered to produce high levels of the protein age fairly quickly, going bald and dying of heart attacks at young ages. People who have higher levels of the protein in their bloodstreams also tend to have higher rates of diabetes and other metabolic problems and to die earlier of cardiovascular disease.

 

Dr. Vaughan took a team of 40 researchers to their town, set up testing stations in a recreation center, and spent two days doing extensive tests on 177 members of the community, many of whom arrived by horse and buggy. The researchers pored over birth and death records and took extensive genealogical histories. They drew blood, did ultrasounds of their hearts, and rigorously examined their cardiac and pulmonary function.

 

“Some of the young men we collected blood from fainted because they had never had a needle stick in their life,” said Dr. Vaughan, who is chairman of medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “These people live sort of an 18th century lifestyle and generally don’t take advantage of modern medicine. But they were so gracious and courteous and cooperative.”

 

What Dr. Vaughan and his colleagues discovered was striking. Amish carriers of the mutation live on average to age 85, about 10 years longer than their peers. Among the Amish who did not have the mutation, the rate of Type 2 diabetes was 7 percent. But for carriers of the mutation, the rate was zero, despite leading the same lifestyle and consuming similar diets. Tests showed that carriers of the mutation had 28 percent lower levels of insulin, a hormone whose chronic elevation can lead to Type 2 diabetes. “Diabetes is something that develops more as we age,” Dr. Vaughan said. “This is a terrific indicator that the mutation actually protected them from a metabolic consequence of aging.”

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

Blood Pressure Control by a Secreted FGFBP1 (Fibroblast Growth Factor–Binding Protein)

Blood Pressure Control by a Secreted FGFBP1 (Fibroblast Growth Factor–Binding Protein) | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In the fast-paced world of drug discovery, repurposing existing FDA-approved drugs is a logical strategy, as it not only can save time and money but can ultimately save lives since drugs can get to patients much quicker. It is incumbent upon researchers to explore all potential treatment possibilities for various compounds, even when they seem unlikely—as investigators from Georgetown University Medical Center have just discovered. The research team found that drugs designed to halt cancer growth may offer a new way to control hypertension.

 

Findings from the new study—published today in Hypertensionin an article entitled “Blood Pressure Control by a Secreted FGFBP1 (Fibroblast Growth Factor–Binding Protein)”—could offer a real advance in hypertension treatment because although a number of high blood pressure drugs are now available, they work by different mechanisms that are not suited for all patients.

 

The Georgetown team uncovered that fibroblast growth factors, or FGFs, involved in increasing blood vessel growth so that cancer can grow, also have a systemic effect on blood pressure. Moreover, results from the new study suggest that just as oncologists use FGF inhibitors to control cancer, clinicians may be able to use FGF inhibitors to regulate blood pressure and control disease associated with hypertension.

 

"It's rare that a single class of drugs can be used for such different conditions, but that is what our study strongly suggests," noted senior study investigator Anton Wellstein, M.D., Ph.D., professor of oncology and pharmacology at Georgetown University School of Medicine and a researcher at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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

Zika virus-related nerve damage is caused by the body's immune response to the virus

Zika virus-related nerve damage is caused by the body's immune response to the virus | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The immune system’s response to the Zika virus, rather than the virus itself, may be responsible for nerve-related complications of infection, according to a Yale study. This insight could lead to new ways of treating patients with Zika-related complications, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, the researchers said.

 

In mice models lacking a key antiviral response, infection with Zika virus causes paralysis and death. To understand the mechanism, a research team led by immunobiologist Akiko Iwasaki examined the spread of infection in these mice.

 

The research team found that when the Zika infection spreads from the circulating blood into the brain, immune cells known as CD8 T cells flood the brain. While these T cells sharply limit the infection of nerve cells, they also trigger Zika-related paralysis, the researchers said.

 

The immune cells that are generated by infection start attacking our own neurons,” Iwasaki said. “The damage is not occurring through the virus infection, but rather the immune response to the virus.”

 

Immune-mediated nerve damage underlies Guillen-Barré syndrome, which affects some people infected with the Zika virus. The study findings suggest that suppressing the immune response might be an approach to treating the syndrome, which causes weakness, tingling, and, in rare cases, paralysis.

 

Read the full paper in Nature Microbiology.

 

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

Deep in The Ocean, There's a 'Shadow Zone' Where The Water Is 2,000 Years Old

Deep in The Ocean, There's a 'Shadow Zone' Where The Water Is 2,000 Years Old | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The oldest water in the ocean didn't reach its advanced years by accident. Deep in the North Pacific, a vast stretch of submerged ocean is trapped in a kind of stasis between powerful currents and the sea floor, and for the ancient waters caught in this airless 'shadow zone', it's almost like time stands still.

 

"What we have found is that at around 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) below the surface of the Indian and Pacific Oceans there is a 'shadow zone' with barely any vertical movement that suspends ocean water in an area for centuries," says oceanographer Casimir de Lavergne from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

 

"Carbon-14 dating had already told us the most ancient water lied in the deep North Pacific. But until now we had struggled to understand why the very oldest waters huddle around the depth of 2 kilometers."

more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Medical Education & Science
Scoop.it!

Schizophrenia originates early in pregnancy, 'mini-brain' research suggests

Schizophrenia originates early in pregnancy, 'mini-brain' research suggests | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Symptoms of schizophrenia usually appear in adolescence or young adulthood, but new research reveals that the brain disease likely begins very early in development, toward the end of the first trimester of pregnancy. The finding opens up a new understanding of this devastating disease and the potential for new treatment possibilities in utero.

Recent research published in Translational Psychiatry by scientists from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo and other institutions show that schizophrenia actually might have fetal beginnings. 

The findings provide powerful evidence that schizophrenia begins early in fetal development, said Michal K. Stachowiak, PhD, lead author and professor in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences at UB. "This disease has been mischaracterized for 4,000 years," he said, referring to the first time a disease believed to be schizophrenia was described in the 1550 BC Egyptian medical text, the Ebers Papyrus.
 
"After centuries of horrendous treatment, including even the jailing of patients, and after it has been characterized as everything from a disease of the spirit or moral values or caused by bad parental influence (a concept that appeared in psychiatric textbooks as recently as 1975) we finally now have evidence that schizophrenia is a disorder that results from a fundamental alteration in the formation and structure of the brain," Stachowiak said.

The research builds on previous work by Stachowiak and his colleagues showing that although hundreds of different genetic mutations may be responsible for schizophrenia in different patients, they all converge in a single faulty genomic pathway called the Integrative Nuclear FGFR 1 Signaling (INFS) pathway, which the UB researchers reported on earlier this year. But when and how dysregulation of that pathway occurred and how it affected brain development was unknown.

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

Lab mice's ancestral ‘Eve’ gets her genome sequenced

Lab mice's ancestral ‘Eve’ gets her genome sequenced | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Effort aims to help scientists understand how generations of inbreeding have altered the genetics of research rodents.

 

Adam and Eve, a pair of black mice, lived for less than two years and never left their home at the Jackson Laboratory (JAX) in Bar Harbor, Maine. But since they were bred in 2005, their progeny have spread around the globe: the pair’s living descendants, which likely number in the hundreds of thousands. They are members of the most popular strain of mice used in biomedical research, which was created nearly a century ago.

 

Now, researchers at JAX are reconstructing Eve’s genome in the hopes of better understanding — and compensating for — the natural mutations that occur in lab mice over the course of generations. These genetic changes can cause unanticipated physiological effects that can confound experiments. Related substrains of lab mice can differ in their taste for alcohol or their sensitivity to insulin, for example, and researchers suspect that such differences between supposedly identical mice lines have hampered some areas of research.

 

The scientists who founded JAX created Adam and Eve’s breed, which is called C57BL/6, in 1921. To keep the mice as genetically similar as possible, researchers have repeatedly bred brothers with sisters for nearly a century — and sold the resulting offspring to customers around the world. But this strategy created a genetic bottleneck: every generation, between 10 and 30 new mutations pop up and are passed down to offspring. This ‘genetic drift’ quickly accumulates over the years, says Laura Reinholdt, a geneticist at JAX. The genomes of the C57BL/6 mice that the lab sells today have thousands of genetic differences from the mouse reference genome, which was created in 2002 from three mice from the substrain C57BL/6J. The genome is used as a template for researchers developing genetically modified mice.

 

Other suppliers have inadvertently created divergent substrains of C57BL/6 mice when they’ve bought rodents from JAX and bred them over several generations. Although most mutations go unnoticed, some occur in genes that affect a mouse's appearance or physiology. In 2016, mouse supplier Envigo in Somerset, New Jersey, found that C57BL/6 mice at 6 of its 19 breeding facilities around the world had acquired a mutation in a gene related to the immune system. The company notified the researchers that bought these mice, and asked customers to specify which location they preferred to source mice from in the future, given that the company’s stocks were no longer identical.

 
more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Fragments of Science
Scoop.it!

The Beautiful Intelligence of Bacteria and Other Microbes

The Beautiful Intelligence of Bacteria and Other Microbes | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Bacterial biofilms and slime molds are more than crude patches of goo. Detailed time-lapse microscopy reveals how they sense and explore their surroundings.

 

Intelligence is not a quality to attribute lightly to microbes. There is no reason to think that bacteria, slime molds and similar single-cell forms of life have awareness, understanding or other capacities implicit in real intellect. But particularly when these cells commune in great numbers, their startling collective talents for solving problems and controlling their environment emerge. Those behaviors may be genetically encoded into these cells by billions of years of evolution, but in that sense the cells are not so different from robots programmed to respond in sophisticated ways to their environment. If we can speak of artificial intelligence for the latter, perhaps it’s not too outrageous to refer to the underappreciated cellular intelligence of the former.

 

Under the microscope, the incredible exercise of the cells’ collective intelligence reveals itself with spectacular beauty. Since 1983, Roberto Kolter, a professor of microbiology and immunobiology at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Microbial Sciences Initiative, has led a laboratory that has studied these phenomena. In more recent years, it has also developed techniques for visualizing them. In the photographic essay book Life at the Edge of Sight: A Photographic Exploration of the Microbial World (Harvard University Press), released in September, Kolter and his co-author, Scott Chimileski, a research fellow and imaging specialist in his lab, offer an appreciation of microorganisms that is both scientific and artistic, and that gives a glimpse of the cellular wonders that are literally underfoot.

 

Imagery from the lab is also on display in the exhibition World in a Drop at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. That display will close in early January but will be followed by a broader exhibition, Microbial Life, scheduled to open in February, 2018.


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

Where did valence electrons go? Decades-old mystery solved!

Where did valence electrons go? Decades-old mystery solved! | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The concept of "valence" - the ability of a particular atom to combine with other atoms by exchanging electrons - is one of the cornerstones of modern chemistry and solid-state physics.

 

Valence controls crucial properties of molecules and materials, including their bonding, crystal structure, and electronic and magnetic properties. Four decades ago, a class of materials called "mixed valence" compounds was discovered. Many of these compounds contain elements near the bottom of the periodic table, so-called "rare-earth" elements, whose valence was discovered to vary with changes in temperature in some cases. Materials comprising these elements can display unusual properties, such as exotic superconductivity and unusual magnetism.

 

But there's been an unsolved mystery associated with mixed valence compounds: When the valence state of an element in these compounds changes with increased temperature, the number of electrons associated with that element decreases, as well. But just where do those electrons go?

 

Using a combination of state-of-the-art tools, including X-ray measurements at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS), a group led by Kyle Shen, professor of physics, and Darrell Schlom, the Herbert Fisk Johnson Professor of Industrial Chemistry in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, have come up with the answer.

 

Their work is detailed in a paper, "Lifshitz transition from valence fluctuations in YbAl3," published in Nature Communications. The lead author is Shouvik Chatterjee, formerly of Shen's research group and now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

To address this mystery, Chatterjee synthesized thin films of the mixed-valence compound of ytterbium - whose valence changes with temperature - and aluminum, using a process called molecular beam epitaxy, a specialty of the Schlom lab. The group then employed angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) to investigate the distribution of electrons as a function of temperature to track where the missing electrons went.

 

"Typically for any material, you change the temperature and you measure the number of electrons in a given orbital, and it always stays the same," Shen said. "But people found that in some of these materials, like the particular compound we studied, that number changed, but those missing electrons have to go somewhere."

 

It turns out that when the compound is heated, the electrons lost from the ytterbium atom form their own "cloud," of sorts, outside of the atom. When the compound is cooled, the electrons return to the ytterbium atoms. "You can think of it as two glasses that contain some water," Shen said, "and you're pouring back and forth from one to the other, but the total amount of water in both glasses remains fixed." "These findings point toward the importance of valence changes in these material systems. By changing the arrangement of mobile electrons, they can dramatically influence novel physical properties that can emerge," said Chatterjee.

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

Towards wearable gallium nitride gas sensors in fabrics

Towards wearable gallium nitride gas sensors in fabrics | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A transfer technique based on thin sacrificial layers of boron nitride could allow high-performance gallium nitride gas sensors to be grown on sapphire substrates and then transferred to metallic or flexible polymer support materials. The technique could facilitate the production of low-cost wearable, mobile and disposable sensing devices for a wide range of environmental applications.

 

Transferring the gallium nitride sensors to metallic foils and flexible polymers doubles their sensitivity to nitrogen dioxide gas, and boosts response time by a factor of six. The simple production steps, based on metal organic vapor phase epitaxy (MOVPE), could also lower the cost of producing the sensors and other optoelectronic devices.

 

Sensors produced with the new process can detect ammonia at parts-per-billion levels and differentiate between nitrogen-containing gases. The gas sensor fabrication technique was reported November 9 in the journal Scientific Reports.

 

"Mechanically, we just peel the devices off the substrate, like peeling the layers of an onion," explained Abdallah Ougazzaden, director of Georgia Tech Lorraine in Metz, France and a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). "We can put the layer on another support that could be flexible, metallic or plastic. This technique really opens up a lot of opportunity for new functionality, new devices - and commercializing them."

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

Researchers develop flexible, stretchable photonic devices

Researchers develop flexible, stretchable photonic devices | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers at MIT and several other institutions have developed a method for making photonic devices — similar to electronic devices but based on light rather than electricity — that can bend and stretch without damage. The devices could find uses in cables to connect computing devices, or in diagnostic and monitoring systems that could be attached to the skin or implanted in the body, flexing easily with the natural tissue.

 

The findings, which involve the use of a specialized kind of glass called chalcogenide, are described in two papers by MIT Associate Professor Juejun Hu and more than a dozen others at MIT, the University of Central Florida, and universities in China and France. The paper is slated for publication soon in Light: Science and Applications.

 

Hu, who is the Merton C. Flemings Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, says that many people are interested in the possibility of optical technologies that can stretch and bend, especially for applications such as skin-mounted monitoring devices that could directly sense optical signals. Such devices might, for example, simultaneously detect heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and even blood pressure.

 

Photonics devices process light beams directly, using systems of LEDs, lenses, and mirrors fabricated with the same kinds of processes used to manufacture electronic microchips. Using light beams rather than a flow of electrons can have advantages for many applications; if the original data is light-based, for example, optical processing avoids the need for a conversion process.

But most current photonics devices are fabricated from rigid materials on rigid substrates, Hu says, and thus have an “inherent mismatch” for applications that “should be soft like human skin.” But most soft materials, including most polymers, have a low refractive index, which leads to a poor ability to confine a light beam.

 

Instead of using such flexible materials, Hu and his team took a novel approach: They formed the stiff material — in this case a thin layer of a type of glass called chalcogenide — into a spring-like coil. Just as steel can be made to stretch and bend when formed into a spring, the architecture of this glass coil allows it to stretch and bend freely while maintaining its desirable optical properties.

 

“You end up with something as flexible as rubber, that can bend and stretch, and still has a high refractive index and is very transparent,” Hu says. Tests have shown that such spring-like configurations, made directly on a polymer substrate, can undergo thousands of stretching cycles with no detectable degradation in their optical performance. The team produced a variety of photonic components, interconnected by the flexible, spring-like waveguides, all in an epoxy resin matrix, which was made stiffer near the optical components and more flexible around the waveguides.

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

Just How Little Do We Know about the Ocean Floor?

Just How Little Do We Know about the Ocean Floor? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Less than 0.05 percent of the ocean floor has been mapped to a level of detail useful for detecting items such as airplane wreckage or the spires of undersea volcanic vents

 

Unlike mapping the land, we can’t measure the landscape of the sea floor directly from satellites using radar, because sea water blocks those radio waves. But satellites can use radar to measure the height of the sea’s surface very accurately. And if there are enough measurements to subtract the effects of waves and tides, satellites can actually measure bumps and dips in the sea surface that result from the underlying landscape of the ocean floor.

Where there’s a large underwater mountain or ridge, for example, the tiny local increase in gravity resulting from its mass pulls sea water into a slight bump above it. If instead there is an ocean trench, the weaker local gravity produces a comparative dip in the ocean surface.

 

Reading those bumps and dips in the sea’s surface is an astounding feat of precision measurement, involving lasers to track the trajectory of the measuring satellite and inevitably a lot of maths to process the data. The new map uses data from the Cryosat-2 and Jason-1 satellites and shows features not seen in earlier maps using data from older satellites. The previous global map of the ocean floor, created using the same techniques and published in 1997, had a resolution of about 20km.

 

So we do actually have a map of 100% of the ocean floor to a resolution of around 5km. From that, we can see the main features of its hidden landscape, such as the mid-ocean ridges and ocean trenches – and, in that sense, the ocean floor is certainly not “95% unexplored”. But that global map of the ocean floor is admittedly less detailed than maps of Mars, the Moon, or Venus, because of our planet’s watery veil.

 

NASA’s Magellan spacecraft mapped 98% of the surface of Venus to a resolution of around 100 meters. The entire Martian surface has also been mapped at that resolution and just over 60% of the Red Planet has now been mapped at around 20m resolution. Meanwhile, selenographers have mapped all of the lunar surface at around 100 meter resolution and now even at seven meter resolution.

more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Fragments of Science
Scoop.it!

Physicists unify quantum coherence with nonclassicality of light

Physicists unify quantum coherence with nonclassicality of light | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Physicists have demonstrated that two independently developed concepts—quantum coherence and the nonclassicality of light—both arise from the same underlying resources. The ability to explain seemingly distinct phenomena within a single framework has long been a fulfilling aspiration in physics, and here it may also have potential applications for quantum information technologies.


The physicists, Kok Chuan Tan, Tyler Volkoff, Hyukjoon Kwon, and Hyunseok Jeong, at Seoul National University, have published a paper on their work in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters. "The results unify two well-known yet independently developed notions inquantum information theory and quantum optics: the concept of quantumcoherence that was recently developed based on the framework of quantum resource theories, and the notion of nonclassicality of light that has been established since the 1960s based on the quantum theory of light," Jeong explains.

 

As Jeong stated, an important question in physics is how to draw the line between "quantum" and "classical" and how to quantify the degree of "quantum." In their new work, the physicists developed a procedure that quantifies the amount of coherence in a superposition of coherent states. This information essentially tells how "quantum" vs. how "classical" these states are, which is useful for many quantum information tasks.

 

In the process of doing this, the scientists found that the same resource that measures coherence can also be used to measure the nonclassicality of light. This finding helps to explain some previous observations, such as that both coherence and nonclassical light can be converted to quantum entanglement. As the new results show, this is because nonclassical light may be interpreted as a form of coherence.

 

"I think it is always interesting to apply new ideas to old concepts to see if we can get additional insight," Tan said. "In this case, the resource theory of coherence is a relatively new tool available to the community while nonclassical light is, comparatively speaking, a much older concept from a mature field of study. By providing a connection between the two concepts, our hope is to be able to create synergy, where the tools and insights we gain from coherence can be used to achieve greater insight into the inner workings of nonclassical light and vice versa. For instance, our work suggests that the fact that both coherence and nonclassical light can both be converted to entanglement is no mere accident."


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

Fruit Fly Brains Could Help AI Perform Much Better Content Searches

Fruit Fly Brains Could Help AI Perform Much Better Content Searches | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
The neural architecture of a fruit fly brain is better at some types of searches than computers today.

 

The content you see on the internet is increasingly becoming tailored to you: Music based on your favorite jams, shopping suggestions corresponding to your recent purchases, and television shows similar to your most beloved episodes.

These “similarity searches” drive custom content, and they’re pretty tricky to do correctly and quickly.

 

That is, for computers at least. Fruit flies, on the other hand, seem to be pretty good at them. A new study in the journal Science takes a look at how fruit flies quickly and efficiently sort out and identify different smells. Their neural architecture is so well-designed in fact, that it could hold the key to more effective similarity searches.

 

For brains, especially human brains, this kind of recognition isn’t too difficult, according to Saket Navlakha, assistant professor in Salk’s Integrative Biology Laboratory and lead author of the new paper. Many animals perform similarity searches all the time. “For example, you might see someone and be like, ‘That guy reminds me of my uncle.’ Or you might hear a song and be like, ‘That band sounds like Nirvana.’ Or you might smell a perfume and be like, ‘That smell reminds me of an orange,’” Navlakha explains.

 

He says in each of these instances we’re comparing new stimuli to an existing database of information stored in our brains. It would be much the same with animals in the wild — seeing a red berry may trigger a similarity search to other red berries to indicate that it might be poisonous. “It’s quite a general problem faced by many species,” says Navlakha.

 

The problem of categorizing and understanding new information is a little trickier for computers — you’ve likely received an automated suggestion for a movie or product that seemed way off base. That’s because when most computers analyze data to categorize items, they pare down the information to work more efficiently. Computers assign a kind of digital shorthand, called a “hash,” to each item. From there, hashes are compared and matched with other, similar hashes, a process known as called locality-sensitive hashing. The simplified hashes make searching through thousands, if not millions, of other items faster and easier.

 

Fruit flies, however, have a mechanism in their brains that performs similarity searches in a very different way. Specifically, they expand the stimuli information, as opposed to compressing and simplifying it. When fruit flies first sense an odor, 50 neurons fire in a combination unique to that smell. But instead of simplifying that information as computer programs would, the flies’ brains then send that information to a total of 2,000 neurons. With more neurons in play, the fly’s brain is able to give each smell a more unique label, meaning that it’s easier to categorize.

 

The flies then pare this information down to the top five percent or so of neural signals, effectively sorting out only the most salient information. This creates a pattern similar to a digital hash that the fly can then use to identify scents and respond accordingly.

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

As Earth's rotation slows, 2018 could see a spike in large earthquakes

As Earth's rotation slows, 2018 could see a spike in large earthquakes | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Every so often, the Earth’s rotation slows by a few milliseconds per day. This is inconsequential to the average human, and causes only mild annoyance to the people whose job it is to measure Earth’s rotation with great precision.

 

That may be about to change, if the hypothesis set out by two geologists proves true. In a study published in Geophysical Research Letters earlier this year, Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado and Rebecca Bendick of the University of Montana predict that, because of Earth’s slowing rotation, the world will see a significant spike in large earthquakes in 2018.

 

To make this prediction, Bilham and Bendick studied every earthquake since 1900 that recorded more than 7.0 on the moment magnitude scale. They found that approximately every 32 years, there is an uptick in these large quakes. The only factor that strongly correlates is a slight slowing of the Earth’s rotation in a five-year period before the uptick.

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

Exoplanet hunters rethink search for alien life

Exoplanet hunters rethink search for alien life | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Astronomers expand ideas of how chemistry and geology could affect chances for life on other worlds.

 

Steve Desch can see the future of exoplanet research, and it’s not pretty. Imagine, he says, that astronomers use NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to scour the atmosphere of an Earth-mass world for signs of life. Then imagine that they chase hints of atmospheric oxygen for years — before realizing that those were false positives produced by geological activity instead of living things.

 

Desch, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University in Tempe, and other planet hunters met from 13-17 November in Laramie, Wyoming, to plot better ways to scout for life beyond Earth. Many are starting to argue that habitability — having liquid water on a planet’s surface — is not the factor that should guide exoplanet exploration. Instead, the scientists say, the field should focus on the chances of detecting alien life, should it exist. “Planets can be habitable and not have life with any impact,” Desch told researchers at the meeting.

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

Whales switch from right to left-handed when diving for food

Whales switch from right to left-handed when diving for food | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Ambidextrous behavior by “right-handed” blue whales has surprised scientists studying the huge creatures’ feeding habits.

Like many other animals, blue whales display laterality, or “handedness” – generally a bias towards the right. But a study using video cameras attached to the backs of whales has shown how they switch laterality when feeding.

 

Over a period of six years, the team attached suction “tags” fitted with video cameras, hydrophones and motion sensors to the backs of 63 blue whales off the coast of southern California. The tags were designed to detach after several hours and float to the surface, so they could be recovered and their data downloaded.

 

Blue whales are famous for their dramatic “lunge feeding” acrobatics close to the ocean surface. As they launch themselves upwards into swarms of the tiny crustaceans, called krill, on which they feed, the whales execute 360 degree barrel rolls. And according to the video evidence, they almost always roll to the left. This is in marked contrast to the way they normally feed at greater depths, when they execute 90-degree right-handed side rolls.

 

Rolling to the left while lunge feeding allows the blue whale’s dominant right eye to target smaller patches of krill more effectively, suggests US lead researcher Ari Friedlaender, at Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute. “We were completely surprised by these findings, but when considering the means by which the whales attack smaller prey patches, the behaviour really seems to be effective, efficient, and in line with the mechanisms that drive their routine foraging behaviours,” he says. It was the first known example of an animal altering handedness to adjust to the context of a performed task.

 

Journal reference: Current Biology, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.10.023

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

Researchers find the first methane-producing microbe that thrives in an oxygen-rich environment

Researchers find the first methane-producing microbe that thrives in an oxygen-rich environment | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A study of a Lake Erie wetland suggests that scientists have vastly underestimated the number of places methane-producing microbes can survive—and, as a result, today’s global climate models may be misjudging the amount of methane being released into the atmosphere.

 

In the journal Nature Communications, researchers at The Ohio State University and their colleagues describe the discovery of the first known methane-producing microbe that is active in an oxygen-rich environment.

 

Oxygen is supposed to be toxic to such microbes, called methanogens, but the newly namedCandidatus Methanothrix paradoxum thrives in it. In fact, 80 percent of the methane in the wetland under study came from oxygenated soils. The microbe’s habitat extends from the deepest parts of a wetland, which are devoid of oxygen, all the way to surface soils.

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

MIT Researchers Develop Nanoparticles that Deliver the CRISPR genome-editing system

MIT Researchers Develop Nanoparticles that Deliver the CRISPR genome-editing system | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
In a new study, MIT researchers have developed nanoparticles that can deliver the CRISPR genome-editing system and specifically modify genes in mice.

The team used nanoparticles to carry the CRISPR components, eliminating the need to use viruses for delivery.

Using the new delivery technique, the researchers were able to cut out certain genes in about 80 percent of liver cells, the best success rate ever achieved with CRISPR in adult animals.

“What’s really exciting here is that we’ve shown you can make a nanoparticle that can be used to permanently and specifically edit the DNA in the liver of an adult animal,” says Daniel Anderson, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES).

One of the genes targeted in this study, known as Pcsk9, regulates cholesterol levels. Mutations in the human version of the gene are associated with a rare disorder called dominant familial hypercholesterolemia, and the FDA recently approved two antibody drugs that inhibit Pcsk9.

However these antibodies need to be taken regularly, and for the rest of the patient’s life, to provide therapy. The new nanoparticles permanently edit the gene following a single treatment, and the technique also offers promise for treating other liver disorders, according to the MIT team.
more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from DNA and RNA research
Scoop.it!

Pigments on synthetic DNA circuits can harvest light energy

Pigments on synthetic DNA circuits can harvest light energy | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Novel structures made with DNA scaffolds could be used to create solar-powered materials.

 

By organizing pigments on a DNA scaffold, an MIT-led team of researchers has designed a light-harvesting material that closely mimics the structure of naturally occurring photosynthetic structures.

 

The researchers showed that their synthetic material can absorb light and efficiently transfer its energy along precisely controlled pathways. This type of structure could be incorporated into materials such as glass or textiles, enabling them to harvest or otherwise control incoming energy from sunlight, says Mark Bathe, an associate professor of biological engineering at MIT.

 

“This is the first demonstration of a purely synthetic mimic of a natural light-harvesting circuit that consists of densely packed clusters of dyes that are precisely organized spatially at the nanometer scale, as found in bacterial systems,” Bathe says. One nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or 1/10,000 the thickness of a human hair.

 

Bathe is one of the senior authors of the new study, along with Alan Aspuru-Guzik, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University, and Hao Yan, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Arizona State University. Lead authors of the paper, which appears in the Nov. 13 issue of Nature Materials, are former MIT postdoc Etienne Boulais, Harvard graduate student Nicolas Sawaya, and MIT postdoc Rémi Veneziano. 


Via Integrated DNA Technologies
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

These are the world’s smartest fish

These are the world’s smartest fish | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The East African cichlid fish Julidochromis transcriptus, a tiny fish no more than seven centimetres long, is able to recognize unfamiliar individuals just by looking at their eyes.

 

This stripped little fish lives hidden among rocks in Lake Tanganyika, one of the world oldest and largest freshwater lakes.

 

According to a recent study when another fish comes around, a simple look at the patterns around the eyes of the newcomer reveals if it is a friend or a stranger. Similar results have been found for another species living in this lake. The cichlid fishNeolamprologus pulcher uses face colour patterns to identify different individuals.

 

Another fish able to identify individuals by their faces is the Japanese rice fish (Oryzias latipes). A recent study showed that this little fish has evolved a complex way to deal with faces, similar to the way human process face patterns.

 

Humans and primates can easily identify any objects, even if they are upside down, but when it comes to faces, things get more complicated. “The neural pathway used for discriminating faces is different from other objects in mammals, and when faces are upside-down, our brain considers them as non-face objects and we cannot discriminate them as fast as right-up faces,” says Mu-Yun Wang at the University of Tokyo, Japan. And it seems like the brain of the Japanese rice fish works this way too.

 

“Medaka fish also delays face recognition when the faces are upside-down, and it is possible that they also have specific brain region for processing faces, just like us humans,” Wang says. “As research efforts continue, we are finding out more and more about the cognitive abilities of fish, and learning that there are many cases where the abilities of fish rival other vertebrates,” says Alex Jordan at the Max Planck Institute Department of Collective Behaviour in Konstanz, Germany.

 

“The long-held idea of a three-second memory for fish will slowly recede under the weight of evidence from studies like these as time goes on,” he adds.

 

But face recognition is just one of the many skills fish have.

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

Acetabularia alga can grow to 10 cm (4 inches) and is a single cell

Acetabularia alga can grow to 10 cm (4 inches) and is a single cell | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

If I asked you what was the experimental basis for the central dogma of biology (DNA makes RNA makes Protein), you would be likely to mention the classical findings that the transforming principle was DNA (Avery et al.) or that phages transfer DNA to the host (Hershey & Chase). However, it is unlikely that you even have heard that the precept was earlier derived from studies with a unicellular marine alga, Acetabularia. If so, you would miss the remarkable biology that made it possible to carry out this work. Here is why: Acetabularia is such a large cell that it can be readily handled with one's hands.  It can be amputated into pieces that can be grafted together and its nucleus transplanted as easily as walking in the park.

 

Most cells are clearly too small for such luxuries. To enjoy them, we must turn to the outliers in range of sizes, that is, to giant cells. So, how big can cells get? The champion seems to be another a marine alga,Caulerpa, which can reach 3 meters in length. It is multinucleated, which seems almost like cheating (consider acellular slime molds, which can also reach enormous sizes, and othercoenocytic organisms). Incidentally, Caulerpas are edible and are called sea grapes in Okinawa (海葡萄 or umi-budō). Also multinucleated are the xenophyophores, foraminifera-like protists that live in the ocean at depths below 500 meters and reach 15 cm across (and which were mentionedhere earlier). Among the largest uninucleated single cells are the foraminifera called Nummulites, which can reach 5 cm in diameter, and a marine ameba called Gromia spherica.

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

Superfluid helium could reveal lightweight WIMPs

Superfluid helium could reveal lightweight WIMPs | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Overlooked mass range is observable with a new approach.

 

Dark matter surveys conducted until now have focused largely on high-mass particles, and are relatively insensitive to candidates lighter than 10 GeV/c2, or about ten times the mass of the proton. Some recent theories have proposed WIMPs with masses below this threshold, so with a view to filling this observational gap, Humphrey Maris, George Seidel and Derek Stein at Brown University conceived a detector model that could extend the lower mass limit by three or four orders of magnitude.

 

The team decided on 4He for the detector mass since it receives more energy per collision than heavier targets, and the low internal radioactivity minimizes false positive results. When dark matter particles interact with the target, recoiling helium atoms are expected to trigger phonons and rotons – quasiparticle excitations – which, in superfluid 4He, can propagate without scattering. When these excitations reach the surface of the superfluid, helium atoms are expelled by quantum evaporation.

 

A similar technique was developed a decade ago by Maris, Seidel and colleagues at Brown University for the HERON neutrino detector. In that experiment, evaporated helium atoms were deposited on a silicon wafer calorimeter suspended above the superfluid, causing a measurable increase in temperature. "This worked fine if a large amount of energy was deposited in the liquid thereby producing many rotons and many atoms," explains Maris. "But the method was inadequate for the detection of the small number of atoms that would be evaporated if the energy deposit was by a dark matter particle with, for example, a mass of 1 MeV."

Single-atom sensitivity

The novelty of the new approach lies in the device’s sensitivity to individual atoms. This makes the minimum detectable transferable kinetic energy (the energy imparted to a helium nucleus by a dark matter collision) equal to the binding energy of a helium atom to the liquid. Since no existing large-area calorimeter could be sensitive to such tiny energies, individual helium atoms ejected at low speed can only be detected if they are first accelerated significantly.

 

The trick proposed by the team at Brown University is to have evaporated atoms pass near to arrays of positively charged, sharp metal tips. Strong local electric fields ionize the helium, and the resulting positive ions are accelerated toward a cathode at energies within the range detectable by current calorimeters.

 

"The addition of the field ionization opens up the possibility of detecting energy deposits into the helium that are smaller by a factor of about 10,000 than in the previous work that we did. This will make it possible to detect dark matter in a mass range far below what has been previously achieved," Maris told physicsworld.com. Assuming the Standard Halo Model of dark matter distribution – in which the galaxy is permeated uniformly by WIMPs of a single type, and the local galactic escape velocity is the maximum particle speed allowed – the researchers expect such single-atom sensitivity to translate to a detectable dark matter particle mass of 0.6 MeV/c2, or less than a thousandth the mass of a proton.

more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Daily Magazine
Scoop.it!

Beyond good vibrations: New insights into metamaterial magic

Beyond good vibrations: New insights into metamaterial magic | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
If invisibility cloaks and other gee-whiz apps are ever to move from science fiction to science fact, we'll need to know more about how these weird metamaterials actually work. Michigan Tech researcher Elena Semouchkina has gone back to basics and shed more light on the physics behind the magic.

 

Metamaterials offer the very real possibility that our most far-fetched fancies could one day become real as rocks. From invisibility cloaks and perfect lenses to immensely powerful batteries, their super-power applications tantalize the imagination. That said, so far "tantalize" has been the operative word, even though scientists have been studying metamaterials for more than 15 years.

 

"Not many real metamaterial devices have been developed," says Elena Semouchkina, an associate professor of electrical engineering at Michigan Technological University. Soldiers can't throw invisibility cloaks over their shoulders to elude sniper fire, and no perfect lens app lets you see viruses with your smartphone. In part, that's because traditionally, researchers overly simplify how metamaterials actually work. Semouchkina says their complications often have been ignored.

 

So she and her team set about investigating those complications and discovered that the magic of metamaterials is driven by more than just one mechanism of physics. A paper describing their research was recently published online by the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.

 

Metamaterials may seem complex and futuristic, but the opposite is closer to the truth, says Semouchkina. Metamaterials ("meta" is the Greek word for "beyond") are engineered materials that have properties not found in nature. They are typically built of multiple identical elements fashioned from conventional materials, such as metals or nonconductive materials. Think of a Rubik's cube made of millions of units smaller than the thickness of a human hair.

 

These designer materials work by bending the paths of electromagnetic radiation—from radio waves to visible light to high-energy gamma rays—in new and different ways. How metamaterials bend those paths—a process called refraction—drives their peculiar applications. For example, a metamaterial invisibility cloak would bend the paths of light waves around a cloaked object, accelerating them on their way, and reunite them on the other side. Thus, an onlooker could see what was behind the object, while the object itself would be invisible.


Via THE OFFICIAL ANDREASCY
more...
No comment yet.