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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ESO observations show first interstellar asteroid is like nothing seen before

ESO observations show first interstellar asteroid is like nothing seen before | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
For the first time ever astronomers have studied an asteroid that has entered the Solar System from interstellar space. Observations from ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile and other observatories around the world show that this unique object was traveling through space for millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system. It appears to be a dark, reddish, highly-elongated rocky or high-metal-content object.
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Imaging technique unlocks the secrets of 17th century artists

Imaging technique unlocks the secrets of 17th century artists | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
The secrets of 17th century artists can now be revealed, thanks to 21st century signal processing. Using modern high-speed scanners and the advanced signal processing techniques, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are peering through layers of pigment to see how painters prepared their canvasses, applied undercoats, and built up layer upon layer of paint to produce their masterpieces.

The images they produce using the terahertz scanners and the processing technique - which was mainly developed for petroleum exploration - provide an unprecedented look at how artists did their work three centuries ago. The level of detail produced by this terahertz reflectometry technique could help art conservators spot previous restorations of paintings, highlight potential damage - and assist in authenticating the old works.
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Recovery of West Coast marine mammals boosts consumption of chinook salmon

Recovery of West Coast marine mammals boosts consumption of chinook salmon | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Recovering populations of killer whales, sea lions and harbor seals on the West Coast have dramatically increased their consumption of chinook salmon in the last 40 years, which may now exceed the combined harvest by commercial and recreational fisheries, a new study finds.

While the recovery of marine mammals represents a conservation success, it creates complex tradeoffs for managers also charged with protecting the salmon they prey on, the study concludes. The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 protects all marine mammals, including whales and pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) within the waters of the United States. and the Endangered Species Act protects nine West Coast populations of chinook salmon.

The study was published today in the journal Scientific Reports. The findings resulted from a collaboration of federal, state and tribal scientists in the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon State University and NOAA Fisheries. The research was designed in part to understand the pressures on chinook salmon consumed by southern resident killer whales, which in contrast to other killer whale populations are endangered and show few signs of recovery.
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What is the computational power of the universe?

What is the computational power of the universe? | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Can a close look at the universe give us solutions to problems too difficult for a computer -- even if we built a computer larger than a planet? Physicist Stephen Jordan reflects on this question in a new NIST video, along with a scientific paper that considers one particular tough problem the universe might answer.
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An atlas of the heart: Proteome of the human heart mapped for the first time

An atlas of the heart: Proteome of the human heart mapped for the first time | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
A healthy heart beats about two billion times during a lifetime - thanks to the interplay of more than 10,000 proteins. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) and the German Heart Centre at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now determined which and how many proteins are present in each type of cardiac cell. In doing so, they compiled the first atlas of the healthy human heart, known as the cardiac proteome.
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Genome of wheat ancestor sequenced

Genome of wheat ancestor sequenced | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Sequencing the bread wheat genome has long been considered an almost insurmountable task, due to its enormous size and complexity. Yet it is vitally important for the global food supply, providing more than 20 percent of the calories and 23 percent of the protein consumed by humans.

Now, an international team of scientists led by researchers at the University of California, Davis, has come a step closer to solving the puzzle by sequencing the genome of a wild ancestor of bread wheat known as Aegilops tauschii, a type of goatgrass.

In the study, published Nov. 15 in the journal Nature, researchers applied a combination of advanced technologies to generate a reference-quality genome sequence for Ae. tauschii, which is highly adaptable and tolerant of diseases. It is also the primary source of genes for the bread-making properties of wheat flour.

The findings will allow researchers to discover new genes that can improve wheat baking quality, resistance to diseases, and tolerance to extreme environmental conditions like frost, drought and salinity.

The effort has already had one practical result: the discovery of two new genes for resistance to a race of wheat stem rust to which there is virtually no resistance in wheat. The genes were transferred from Ae. tauschii into wheat and are now available to wheat breeders.
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The Beautiful Intelligence of Bacteria and Other Microbes

The Beautiful Intelligence of Bacteria and Other Microbes | Fragments of 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,
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Learning from photosynthesis: Synthetic circuits can harvest light energy

Learning from photosynthesis: Synthetic circuits can harvest light energy | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
The green sulfur bacterium makes its home in the chilly waters of the Black Sea. To eke out its lonely existence, this life form scavenges energy from the feeble sunlight available to it at a depth of over 250 feet.

Plants perform the same remarkable trick, gathering radiant energy from the sun and converting it to biological energy essential for growth. This process—perfected over billions of years—is known as photosynthesis.

Now, Hao Yan and Neal Woodbury from ASU's Biodesign Institute and colleagues from Harvard and MIT, explore new methods to capitalize on Nature's light-harvesting secrets. Their new study outlines the design of a synthetic system for energy gathering, conversion and transport that may point the way to innovations in solar energy, materials science, nanotechnology and photonics.

"This multi-institute collaborative effort demonstrates a nice use of DNA nanotechnology to spatially control and organize chromophores for future excitonic networks," Yan said
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Mirror image: Researchers create higher-quality pictures of biospecimens

Mirror image: Researchers create higher-quality pictures of biospecimens | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Chicago improved the speed, resolution, and light efficiency of an optical microscope by switching from a conventional glass coverslip to a reflective, mirrored coverslip and applying new computer algorithms to process the resulting data.

Hari Shroff, Ph.D., chief of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering's lab section on High Resolution Optical Imaging (HROI), and his team have spent the last few years developing optical microscopes that produce high resolution images at very high speed. After his lab develops these new microscopes, they release the plans and software for free, so any researcher can replicate the advances made at NIH.

This latest microscope builds on previous improvements that Shroff's lab had made with selective plane illumination microscopy (SPIM). The developments are described in a paper published Nov. 13, 2017, in the advance online edition of Nature Communications. SPIM systems differ from traditional microscopes because they use light sheets to excite the sample, only exposing the imaged sample plane to light. Because only the portion of the sample being imaged (rather than the entire sample) is exposed to light, there is less overall damage to the sample. Thus, SPIM systems are gentler than traditional microscopes.
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New mechanisms discovered that bacteria use to protect themselves from antibiotics

New mechanisms discovered that bacteria use to protect themselves from antibiotics | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria evolve mechanisms to withstand the drugs which are used to treat infections.
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The Week's Coolest Space Images

The Week's Coolest Space Images | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Every day satellites are zooming through space, snapping incredible pictures of Earth, the solar system and outer space. Here are the highlights from this week.
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Phosphorescence aims to frighten

Phosphorescence aims to frighten | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Life forms in water, land and air create their own light for various purposes. But what triggers some of these light phenomena and how they are controlled has not been fully understood. Scientists at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg have kept a culture of dinoflagellates for years and tried to find out what occurs within the individual organism that spurs it to flash blue light, known as phosphorescence or bioluminescence.
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How and why blood clots shrink

How and why blood clots shrink | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
In an article published in Nature Communications, researchers at the University of California, Riverside and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine used high-powered microscopy and rheometry -- the measurement of how materials become deformed in response to applied force -- to view the blood clotting process in real time and at the cellular level. The findings will be useful in the development of new therapies for clotting disorders.
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Unexpected atmospheric vortex behavior on Saturn's moon Titan

Unexpected atmospheric vortex behavior on Saturn's moon Titan | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
A new study led by a University of Bristol earth scientist has shown that recently reported unexpected behaviour on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, is due to its unique atmospheric chemistry.

Titan's polar atmosphere recently experiences and unexpected and significant cooling, contrary to all model predictions and differing from the behaviour of all other terrestrial planets in our solar system.

Titan is the largest moon of Saturn, is bigger than the planet Mercury, and is the only moon in our solar system to have a substantial atmosphere.

Usually, the high altitude polar atmosphere in a planet's winter hemisphere is warm because of sinking air being compressed and heated - similar to what happens in a bicycle pump.

Puzzlingly, Titan's atmospheric polar vortex seems to be extremely cold instead.
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Borophene shines alone as 2-D plasmonic material

Borophene shines alone as 2-D plasmonic material | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
An atom-thick film of boron could be the first pure two-dimensional material able to emit visible and near-infrared light by activating its plasmons, according to Rice University scientists.

That would make the material known as borophene a candidate for plasmonic and photonic devices like biomolecule sensors, waveguides, nanoscale light harvesters and nanoantennas.

Plasmons are collective excitations of electrons that flow across the surface of metals when triggered by an input of energy, like laser light. Significantly, delivering light to a plasmonic material in one color (determined by the light's frequency) can prompt the emission of light in another color.

Models by Rice theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and his colleagues predict that borophene would be the first known 2-D material to do so naturally, without modification.

The lab's simulations are detailed in a paper by Yakobson with lead authors Yuefei Huang, a graduate student, and Sharmila Shirodkar, a postdoctoral researcher, in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Boron is a semiconductor in three dimensions but a metal in 2-D form. That prompted the lab to have a look at its potential for plasmonic manipulation.
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Physicists unify quantum coherence with nonclassicality of light

Physicists unify quantum coherence with nonclassicality of light | Fragments of 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 in quantum information theory and quantum optics: the concept of quantum coherence 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 told Phys.org.

As Jeong explained, 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.
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It Took NASA 300 Hours To Make This Mesmerizing 4k Video Of The Sun

It Took NASA 300 Hours To Make This Mesmerizing 4k Video Of The Sun | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
It’s always shining, always ablaze with light and energy. In the ubiquity of solar output, Earth swims in an endless tide of particles. Every time half of the Earth faces the Sun, we experience the brightness of daytime, the Sun’s energy and light driving weather, biology and more.
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Model sheds new light on pathogen cooperation

Model sheds new light on pathogen cooperation | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
New approaches are needed to control the spread of epidemic diseases, according to the developers of a new model of the way pathogens can 'cooperate'.

Their study examined the ways two pathogens work together, finding that cooperativity between contagion processes is likely to make the spread of contagious infections more severe.

Writing in the New Journal of Physics, the researchers from Shaanxi Normal University in China, the Robert Koch Institute, and Humboldt University, Germany, present an extension of the traditional SIS (Susceptible-Infected-Susceptible) model used for modelling single contagion processes.

Lead author Dr Li Chen, from Shaanxi Normal University, said: "State-of-the-art computational models have become remarkably successful in reproducing observed patterns and predicting the trend of ongoing epidemics."

However, most epidemic models focus on the transmission dynamics of single, pathogenic bacteria or viruses. A variety of infectious diseases exist, however, that interact either directly or indirectly e.g. by altering the susceptibility of the host with respect to infection with another pathogen.

Dr Chen said: "Co-contagion systems, therefore, are still poorly-understood. We wanted to discover what basic dynamic features you could expect in a cooperative contagion process, and the extent to which cooperativity changes the classic outbreak scenario."
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Why can hot water freeze faster than cold water?

Why can hot water freeze faster than cold water? | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
A team of researchers from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, the Universidad de Extremadura and the Universidad de Sevilla have defined a theoretical framework that could explain the Mpemba effect, a counterintuitive physical phenomenon revealed when hot water freezes faster than cold water.
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Graphene water filter turns whisky clear

Graphene water filter turns whisky clear | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Previously graphene-oxide membranes were shown to be completely impermeable to all solvents except for water. However, a study published in Nature Materials, now shows that we can tailor the molecules that pass through these membranes by simply making them ultrathin.

The research team led by Professor Rahul Nair at the National Graphene Institute and School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science at The University of Manchester tailored this membrane to allow all solvents to pass through but without compromising it's ability to sieve out the smallest of particles.

In the newly developed ultrathin membranes, graphene-oxide sheets are assembled in such a way that pinholes formed during the assembly are interconnected by graphene nanochannels, which produces an atomic-scale sieve allowing the large flow of solvents through the membrane.

This new research allows for expansion in the applications of graphene based membranes from sea water desalination to organic solvent nanofiltration (OSN). Unlike sea water desalination, which separate salts from water, OSN technology separates charged or uncharged organic compounds from an organic solvent.

As an example, Manchester scientists demonstrated that graphene-oxide membranes can be designed to completely remove various organic dyes as small as a nanometre dissolved in methanol.
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Neutrons probe oxygen-generating enzyme for a greener approach to clean water

Neutrons probe oxygen-generating enzyme for a greener approach to clean water | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
A new study sheds light on a unique enzyme that could provide an eco-friendly treatment for chlorite-contaminated water supplies and improve water quality worldwide.

An international team of researchers led by Christian Obinger from the University of Vienna used neutron analysis at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, x-ray crystallography and other techniques to study the chlorite dismutase enzyme. This naturally occurring protein can break down chlorite, an industrial pollutant found in groundwater, drinking water and soils, into harmless byproducts, but its catalytic process is not well understood. Understanding how the bacterial enzyme converts chlorite into chloride and oxygen could open possibilities for future applications in bioremediation and biotechnology.

The results, published in ACS Catalysis, also contribute to fundamental research on the enzyme's ability to produce oxygen. Oxygen generation is incredibly rare in nature, once thought possible only by photosynthesis, so the enzymatic activity of chlorite dismutase has attracted interest from the scientific community beyond its environmental applications for clean water.

Exactly how chlorite dismutase works at a molecular level to break down chlorite has been debated since the enzyme was discovered in 1996. The complexity of the enzyme's molecular structure and the difficulty of studying proteins with experimental methods present inherent challenges for researchers.
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Improving the neuron factory—new modulator of stem cell identity found

Improving the neuron factory—new modulator of stem cell identity found | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Since their discovery in 2006, induced pluripotent stem cells are a glimmer of hope for many diseases. But further research of the complex regulation of pluripotent stem cell identity is unexpectedly difficult. A team of researchers at the Cluster of Excellence CECAD has now found an efficient way to produce neurons from pluripotent stem cells. Their research was published in Nature Communications.

As the origin of multicellular organisms, pluripotent stem cells can differentiate into all the cell types of the body. These cells can replicate indefinitely in culture and, therefore, are considered immortal. The gold standard of pluripotency is the embryonic stem cell (ESC). Somatic cells such as skin cells can be reprogrammed to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that share similar characteristics with ESCs. As such, pluripotent stem cells hold a great promise for regenerative medicine as a potential source of healthy differentiated cells, including neurons. Moreover, these cells represent an invaluable resource to investigate human development and disease in the relevant cells (neurons) affected in disorders such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's or Parkinson's.

Neuronal differentiation protocols of pluripotent stem cells are usually expensive and generate a mixture of neuronal cells and other cell types. By knocking down a single gene, the team led by David Vilchez was able to produce neurons with 100 percent efficiency. "By silencing one single protein with the gene-editing method CRISPR, the cells spontaneously differentiate into neurons. That's a much faster way to increase neurogenesis." In natural conditions, this factor, CSDE1, prevents differentiation and keeps the cells in a pluripotent state. "This could be a very powerful mechanism to have pure populations of neurons and to facilitate a better understanding of neurodegenerative diseases."
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Saving Zimbabwe's snakes | All media content | DW | 02.11.2017

Saving Zimbabwe's snakes | All media content | DW | 02.11.2017 | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
At the Victoria Falls Snake Park, handlers are teaching local kids about snake behaviour and trying to raise interest for the protection of these slithering animals — hopefully making such encounteres less scary.
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Sulphuric acid was the bedrock of the Industrial Revolution

Sulphuric acid was the bedrock of the Industrial Revolution | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
But sulphuric acid (H2SO4) has many more less gruesome uses, and is in fact the backbone of the modern chemical industry and the most commonly used of all acids.

People have known about the sulphate minerals of iron and copper since ancient times, when they were referred to as vitriol.

Our ancestors used vitriol for metallurgical and medical purposes, but learnt much later that vitriol could also be used to make strong acid. The discovery is often attributed to the Muslim alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan (ca. 721 to 815 CE), who became known as Geber and whose writings were known around 1300 CE.
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NTU Singapore scientists create 'tracking' nanoagents to illuminate very small diseased tissues

NTU Singapore scientists create 'tracking' nanoagents to illuminate very small diseased tissues | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Polymer nanoagents that can 'light up' tiny areas of diseased tissues that conventional methods fail to detect, have been created by a research team led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
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