Amazing Science
954.1K views | +18 today
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
onto Amazing Science!

New Shape-Shifting-Memory Metal Withstands 10 Million Transformations

New Shape-Shifting-Memory Metal Withstands 10 Million Transformations | Amazing Science |

In theory, shape-memory metals ought to be revolutionizing every corner of technology already, from the automotive industry to biotech. These futuristic metals—which can be bent and deformed but pop back to their original shape when heated or jolted with electricity—have already existed for decades. Until now, though, every shape-memory alloy has faced the same glaring issue: they wear out, and fast. Depending on the alloy, the metals will slowly lose their ability to change shape after just a few (or if you're lucky, a few thousand) transformations. That's kept the metals in the lab and out of your car or phone.

Today a team of German and American scientists have stumbled across an alloy of shape-memory metal that just won't quit—not even after being bent and reshaped an astonishing 10 million times, an unparalleled feat.

Manfred Wuttig, a material scientist at the University of Maryland who helped lead the team, said the metal's "fortuitous discovery," was part of a long, frustrating hunt for durable shape-memory metal. As Wuttig and his colleagues detail in a new paper in the journal Science, understanding the secret to this material's hardiness may open the floodgates to a new generation of shape-memory materials that make it into the real world.

"This really is a huge breakthrough, and could make shape-memory alloys much more widely used in everyday technology" says Richard James, a leading shape-memory materials scientist at the University of Minnesota, who was not involved in the research, "I've personally made many, many [shape-memory] alloys that have various super interesting properties, but no one would be able to use them as they last only a few cycles."

The new metal keeps its astounding durability, Wuttig and James agree that scientists now have a platform to test and create new hyper-durable shape-changing alloys. While Wuttig's new alloy was only created in a thin film measuring several hundred micrometers, "the next step is to scale this up into a bulk alloy. But I see no reason why this would be an issue."

This isn't just a steppingstone to bringing shape-shifting materials into everyday products (finally), James says. "We may even start to see all the various applications we've been dreaming about over the last few decades," like biomedical metallic heart-valves or hyper-efficient solar energy converters.

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 • 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!

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

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



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



NOTE: To subscribe to the RSS feed of Amazing Science, copy into the URL field of your browser and click "subscribe".


This newsletter is aggregated from over 1450 news sources:


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

archived Twitter Feeds



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



CLICK on the little

FUNNEL symbol at the





• 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 



Saberes Sin Fronteras OVS's curator insight, November 30, 2014 5:33 PM

Acceso gratuito a documentos de las mejores universidades del mundo

♥ princess leia ♥'s curator insight, December 28, 2014 11:58 AM

WoW  .. Expand  your mind!! It has room to grow!!! 

Arturo Pereira's curator insight, August 12, 2017 9:01 AM
The democratization of knowledge!
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Provably exact artificial intelligence for nuclear and particle physics

Provably exact artificial intelligence for nuclear and particle physics | Amazing Science |

The Standard Model of particle physics describes all the known elementary particles and three of the four fundamental forces governing the universe; everything except gravity. These three forces—electromagnetic, strong, and weak—govern how particles are formed, how they interact, and how the particles decay.


Studying particle and nuclear physics within this framework, however, is difficult, and relies on large-scale numerical studies. For example, many aspects of the strong force require numerically simulating the dynamics at the scale of 1/10th to 1/100th the size of a proton to answer fundamental questions about the properties of protons, neutrons, and nuclei. "Ultimately, we are computationally limited in the study of proton and nuclear structure using lattice field theory," says assistant professor of physics Phiala Shanahan. "There are a lot of interesting problems that we know how to address in principle, but we just don't have enough compute, even though we run on the largest supercomputers in the world."


To push past these limitations, Shanahan leads a group that combines theoretical physics with machine learning models. In their paper "Equivariant flow-based sampling for lattice gage theory," published this month in Physical Review Letters, they show how incorporating the symmetries of physics theories into machine learning and artificial intelligence architectures can provide much faster algorithms for theoretical physics.


"We are using machine learning not to analyze large amounts of data, but to accelerate first-principles theory in a way which doesn't compromise the rigor of the approach," Shanahan says. "This particular work demonstrated that we can build machine learning architectures with some of the symmetries of the Standard Model of particle and nuclear physics built in, and accelerate the sampling problem we are targeting by orders of magnitude."


Shanahan launched the project with MIT graduate student Gurtej Kanwar and with Michael Albergo, who is now at NYU. This month's paper is one in a series aimed at enabling studies in theoretical physics that are currently computationally intractable. "Our aim is to develop new algorithms for a key component of numerical calculations in theoretical physics," says Kanwar. "These calculations inform us about the inner workings of the Standard Model of particle physics, our most fundamental theory of matter. Such calculations are of vital importance to compare against results from particle physics experiments, such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, both to constrain the model more precisely and to discover where the model breaks down and must be extended to something even more fundamental."

Julio Retamales's comment, September 27, 12:11 PM
Provably or Probably?
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

NASA/ESA: New Hubble Data Suggests There is an Ingredient Missing from Current Dark Matter Theories

NASA/ESA: New Hubble Data Suggests There is an Ingredient Missing from Current Dark Matter Theories | Amazing Science |

Observations by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have found that something may be missing from the theories of how dark matter behaves. This missing ingredient may explain why researchers have uncovered an unexpected discrepancy between observations of the dark matter concentrations in a sample of massive galaxy clusters and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed in clusters. The new finding indicates that some small-scale concentrations of dark matter produce lensing effects that are 10 times stronger than expected.


Dark matter is the invisible glue that keeps stars, dust, and gas together in a galaxy. This mysterious substance makes up the bulk of a galaxy's mass and forms the foundation of our Universe's large-scale structure. Because dark matter does not emit, absorb, or reflect light, its presence is only known through its gravitational pull on visible matter in space. Astronomers and physicists are still trying to pin down what it is.


Galaxy clusters, the most massive and recently assembled structures in the Universe, are also the largest repositories of dark matter. Clusters are composed of individual member galaxies that are held together largely by the gravity of dark matter. "Galaxy clusters are ideal laboratories in which to study whether the numerical simulations of the Universe that are currently available reproduce well what we can infer from gravitational lensing," said Massimo Meneghetti of the INAF-Observatory of Astrophysics and Space Science of Bologna in Italy, the study's lead author.


"We have done a lot of testing of the data in this study, and we are sure that this mismatch indicates that some physical ingredient is missing either from the simulations or from our understanding of the nature of dark matter," added Meneghetti. "There's a feature of the real Universe that we are simply not capturing in our current theoretical models," added Priyamvada Natarajan of Yale University in Connecticut, USA, one of the senior theorists on the team. "This could signal a gap in our current understanding of the nature of dark matter and its properties, as these exquisite data have permitted us to probe the detailed distribution of dark matter on the smallest scales."


The distribution of dark matter in clusters is mapped by measuring the bending of light -- the gravitational lensing effect -- that they produce. The gravity of dark matter concentrated in clusters magnifies and warps light from distant background objects. This effect produces distortions in the shapes of background galaxies which appear in images of the clusters. Gravitational lensing can often also produce multiple images of the same distant galaxy. The higher the concentration of dark matter in a cluster, the more dramatic its light-bending effect. The presence of smaller-scale clumps of dark matter associated with individual cluster galaxies enhances the level of distortions. In some sense, the galaxy cluster acts as a large-scale lens that has many smaller lenses embedded within it.


Hubble's crisp images were taken by the telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys. Coupled with spectra from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT), the team produced an accurate, high-fidelity, dark-matter map. By measuring the lensing distortions astronomers could trace out the amount and distribution of dark matter. The three key galaxy clusters, MACS J1206.2-0847, MACS J0416.1-2403, and Abell S1063, were part of two Hubble surveys: The Frontier Fields and the Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble (CLASH) programs.


To the team's surprise, in addition to the dramatic arcs and elongated features of distant galaxies produced by each cluster's gravitational lensing, the Hubble images also revealed an unexpected number of smaller-scale arcs and distorted images nested near each cluster's core, where the most massive galaxies reside. The researchers believe the nested lenses are produced by the gravity of dense concentrations of matter inside the individual cluster galaxies. Follow-up spectroscopic observations measured the velocity of the stars orbiting inside several of the cluster galaxies  to thereby pin down their masses. "The data from Hubble and the VLT provided excellent synergy," shared team member Piero Rosati of the Università degli Studi di Ferrara in Italy, who led the spectroscopic campaign. "We were able to associate the galaxies with each cluster and estimate their distances."

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Auto-antibodies against type I interferons in patients with life-threatening COVID-19

Auto-antibodies against type I interferons in patients with life-threatening COVID-19 | Amazing Science |

Interindividual clinical variability in the course of SARS-CoV-2 infection is immense. A new report demonstrates that at least 101 of 987 patients with life-threatening COVID-19 pneumonia have neutralizing IgG auto-Abs against IFN-ω (13 patients), the 13 types of IFN-α (36), or both (52), at the onset of critical disease; a few also had auto-Abs against the other three type I IFNs. The auto-Abs neutralize the ability of the corresponding type I IFNs to block SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro. These auto-Abs were not found in 663 individuals with asymptomatic or mild SARS-CoV-2 infection and were present in only 4 of 1,227 healthy individuals. Patients with auto-Abs were aged 25 to 87 years and 95 were men. A B cell auto-immune phenocopy of inborn errors of type I IFN immunity underlies life-threatening COVID-19 pneumonia in at least 2.6% of women and 12.5% of men.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Covid-19 Long-Term Effects: Some Patients Need Very Long-Term Care

Covid-19 Long-Term Effects: Some Patients Need Very Long-Term Care | Amazing Science |

Like many other illnesses, Covid-19 can cause enduring problems. Some victims report serious symptoms weeks and months after infection, even many who were never ill enough to be hospitalized. Nearly 100 different long-term problems, detailed in the chart below, were reported to Indiana University Medical School researcher Natalie Lambert, in a survey of more than 1,500 patients. Some of these issues go well beyond typical Covid-19 symptoms.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

The New York Times: Coronavirus Vaccine Progress Tracker

The New York Times: Coronavirus Vaccine Progress Tracker | Amazing Science |
A look at all the vaccines that have reached trials in humans.

Vaccines typically require years of research and testing before reaching the clinic, but scientists are racing to produce a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine by next year. Researchers are testing 40 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, and at least 92 preclinical vaccines are under active investigation in anima


Work began in January with the deciphering of the SARS-CoV-2 genome. The first vaccine safety trials in humans started in March, but the road ahead remains uncertain. Some trials will fail, and others may end without a clear result. But a few may succeed in stimulating the immune system to produce effective antibodies against the virus.


Here is the status of all the vaccines that have reached trials in humans, along with a selection of promising vaccines still being tested in cells or animals. For an overview of different Covid-19 treatments, see NYT's Coronavirus Drug and Treatment Tracker.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

New Calculation Refines Comparison of Matter with Antimatter

New Calculation Refines Comparison of Matter with Antimatter | Amazing Science |

Theorists publish improved prediction for the tiny difference in kaon decays observed by experiments.


A new calculation performed using the world's fastest supercomputers allows scientists to more accurately predict the likelihood of two kaon decay pathways, and compare those predictions with experimental measurements. The comparison tests for tiny differences between matter and antimatter that could, with even more computing power and other refinements, point to physics phenomena not explained by the Standard Model.


Scientists first observed a slight difference in the behavior of matter and antimatter—known as a violation of “CP symmetry”—while studying the decays of subatomic particles called kaons in a Nobel Prize winning experiment at Brookhaven Lab in 1963. While the Standard Model of particle physics was pieced together soon after that, understanding whether the observed CP violation in kaon decays agreed with the Standard Model has proved elusive due to the complexity of the required calculations.


The new calculation gives a more accurate prediction for the likelihood with which kaons decay into a pair of electrically charged pions vs. a pair of neutral pions. Understanding these decays and comparing the prediction with more recent state-of-the-art experimental measurements made at CERN and DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory gives scientists a way to test for tiny differences between matter and antimatter, and search for effects that cannot be explained by the Standard Model. The new calculation represents a significant improvement over the group’s previous result, which was published in Physical Review Letters in 2015.


Based on the Standard Model, it gives a range of values for what is called “direct CP symmetry violation” in kaon decays that is consistent with the experimentally measured results. That means the observed CP violation is now, to the best of our knowledge, explained by the Standard Model, but the uncertainty in the prediction needs to be further improved since there is also an opportunity to reveal any sources of matter/antimatter asymmetry lying beyond the current theory’s description of our world.


“An even more accurate theoretical calculation of the Standard Model may yet lie outside of the experimentally measured range. It is therefore of great importance that we continue our progress, and refine our calculations, so that we can provide an even stronger test of our fundamental understanding,” said Brookhaven Lab theorist Amarjit Soni.


All of the experiments that show a difference between matter and antimatter involve particles made of quarks, the subatomic building blocks that bind through the strong force to form protons, neutrons, and atomic nuclei—and also less-familiar particles like kaons and pions. “Each kaon and pion is made of a quark and an antiquark, surrounded by a cloud of virtual quark-antiquark pairs, and bound together by force carriers called gluons,” explained Christopher Kelly, of Brookhaven National Laboratory.


The Standard Model-based calculations of how these particles behave must therefore include all the possible interactions of the quarks and gluons, as described by the modern theory of strong interactions, known as quantum chromodynamics (QCD). In addition, these bound particles move at close to the speed of light. That means the calculations must also include the principles of relativity and quantum theory, which govern such near-light-speed particle interactions. 


“Because of the huge number of variables involved, these are some of the most complicated calculations in all of physics,” noted Tianle Wang, of Columbia University.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

China Starts Testing Covid-19 Nasal Spray Vaccine in World First

China Starts Testing Covid-19 Nasal Spray Vaccine in World First | Amazing Science |
The newest Covid-19 vaccine candidate to start human testing is the first where volunteers won’t get a painful injection. Instead, they’ll receive a spray through the nose.


China recently approved phase I human testing for the nasal spray vaccine, which is co-developed by researchers at Xiamen University and Hong Kong University, as well as by vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co.

Intranasal spray has previously been developed as a vaccine for the flu and is recommended for use among children and adults who want to avoid the more common needle injection. While it is not the most frequent choice for delivery, scientists around the world are working to develop sprays as an alternative to muscle jabs for all sorts of vaccines. The intranasal vaccine is the 10th candidate from China to proceed to the crucial stage of human testing. The country is building its lead in vaccine development after western front-runner AstraZeneca Plc had to pause its late-stage human trial to investigate a spinal cord illness in a person who received its experimental shot.

The intranasal spray contains weakened flu virus that carries the genetic segments of the coronavirus’s spike protein. Administered through the nasal tract, it mimics the natural infection of respiratory viruses to stimulate the body’s immune response against the pathogen that cause Covid-19, according to Science and Technology Daily, a paper affiliated with China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.


Some scientists hope a vaccine that gets sprayed through the nose may have a better chance of stopping the spread of the insidious virus through respiratory tracts. A needle injection can arouse a systematic immune response to prevent severe illness, but may not be strong enough to ward off infection. Preclinical studies have shown the nasal vaccine can significantly reduce lung damage among mice and hamsters when challenged with the coronavirus, Science and Technology Daily reported.

Global Race

The nasal spray joins about 35 other candidates currently in human testing, as the global race to be first with an effective vaccine against the deadly pathogen intensifies. In the wake of AstraZeneca’s setback, China’s most advanced vaccine developers, including CanSino Biologics Inc. and state-owned China National Biotec Group Co., have emphasized the safety of their own shots.


CNBG said the two shots it is testing are effective in staving off infection. None of the Chinese diplomats and workers traveling to virus hot spots overseas has reported infections several months after receiving the vaccines, Zhou Song, CNBG’s general counsel, said in a article published in Science and Technology Daily.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Computational modeling explains why blues and greens are brightest structural colors in nature

Computational modeling explains why blues and greens are brightest structural colors in nature | Amazing Science |

Researchers from the University of Cambridge used a numerical experiment to determine the limits of matt structural color – a phenomenon which is responsible for some of the most intense colors in nature – and found that it extends only as far as blue and green in the visible spectrum. The results, published in PNAS, could be useful in the development of non-toxic paints or coatings with intense color that never fades.


Structural color, which is seen in some bird feathers, butterfly wings or insects, is not caused by pigments or dyes, but internal structure alone. The appearance of the color, whether matt or iridescent, will depending on how the structures are arranged at the nanoscale.


Ordered, or crystalline, structures result in iridescent colors, which change when viewed from different angles. Disordered, or correlated, structures result in angle-independent matt colors, which look the same from any viewing angle. Since structural color does not fade, these angle-independent matt colors would be highly useful for applications such as paints or coatings, where metallic effects are not wanted. “In addition to their intensity and resistance to fading, a matt paint which uses structural color would also be far more environmentally-friendly, as toxic dyes and pigments would not be needed,” said first author Gianni Jacucci from Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry. “However, we first need to understand what the limitations are for recreating these types of colors before any commercial applications are possible.”


“Most of the examples of structural color in nature are iridescent – so far, examples of naturally-occurring matt structural color only exist in blue or green hues,” said co-author Lukas Schertel. “When we’ve tried to artificially recreate matt structural color for reds or oranges, we end up with a poor-quality result, both in terms of saturation and color purity.”


The researchers, who are based in the lab of Dr Silvia Vignolini, used numerical modeling to determine the limitations of creating saturated, pure and matt red structural color. The researchers modeled the optical response and color appearance of nanostructures, as found in the natural world. They found that saturated, matt structural colors cannot be recreated in the red region of the visible spectrum, which might explain the absence of these hues in natural systems.


“Because of the complex interplay between single scattering and multiple scattering, and contributions from correlated scattering, we found that in addition to red, yellow and orange can also hardly be reached,” said Vignolini. Despite the apparent limitations of structural color, the researchers say these can be overcome by using other kinds of nanostructures, such as network structures or multi-layered hierarchical structures, although these systems are not fully understood yet.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

COVID-19 lockdown causes 50% global reduction in human-linked Earth vibrations

COVID-19 lockdown causes 50% global reduction in human-linked Earth vibrations | Amazing Science |
LOCKDOWN EARTH - The lack of human activity during lockdown caused human-linked vibrations in the Earth to drop by an average of 50% between March and May 2020.


The lack of human activity during lockdown caused human-linked vibrations in the Earth to drop by an average of 50% between March and May 2020. This quiet period, likely caused by the total global effect of social distancing measures, closure of services and industry, and drops in tourism and travel, is the longest and most pronounced quiet period of seismic noise in recorded history.


The new research, led by the Royal Observatory of Belgium and five other institutions around the world including Imperial College London, showed that the dampening of ‘seismic noise’ caused by humans was more pronounced in more densely populated areas.

The relative quietness allowed researchers to listen in to previously concealed earthquake signals, and could help us differentiate between human and natural seismic noise more clearly than ever before.


Co-author Dr Stephen Hicks, from Imperial’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering, said: “This quiet period is the longest and largest dampening of human-caused seismic noise since we started monitoring the Earth in detail using vast monitoring networks of seismometers.


“Our study uniquely highlights just how much human activities impact the solid Earth, and could let us see more clearly than ever what differentiates human and natural noise.” The paper been published in the journal Science.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Quantum Thermometer Using Nanodiamonds To Sense a ‘Fever’ in Tiny C. elegans Worms

Quantum Thermometer Using Nanodiamonds To Sense a ‘Fever’ in Tiny C. elegans Worms | Amazing Science |

A team from Osaka City University, in collaboration with other international partners, has demonstrated a reliable and precise microscope-based thermometer that works in live, microscopic animals based on quantum technology, specifically, detecting temperature-dependent properties of quantum spins in fluorescent nanodiamonds.


The research is published in Science Advances.

The optical microscope is one of the most basic tools for analysis in biology that uses visible light to allow the naked eye to see microscopic structures. In the modern laboratory, fluorescence microscope, an enhanced version of the optical microscope with various fluorescent biomarkers, is more frequently used. Recent advancements in such fluorescence microscopy have allowed for live imaging of the details of a structure, and through this, obtaining various physiological parameters in these structures, such as pH, reactive oxygen species, and temperature.


Quantum sensing is a technology that exploits the ultimate sensitivity of fragile quantum systems to the surrounding environment. High-contrast MRIs are examples of quantum spins in fluorescent diamonds and are some of the most advanced quantum systems working at the forefront of real-world applications. Applications of this technique to thermal biology were introduced seven years ago to quantify temperatures inside cultured cells. However, they had yet to be applied to dynamic biological systems where heat and temperature are more actively involved in biological processes.


The research team decorated the surface of the nanodiamonds with polymer structures and injected them to C. elegans nematode worms, one of the most popular model animals in biology. They needed to know the base "healthy" temperature of the worms. Once inside, the nanodiamonds moved quickly but the team's novel quantum thermometry algorithm successfully tracked them and steadily measured the temperature. A fever was induced within the worms by stimulating their mitochondria with a pharmacological treatment. The team's quantum thermometer successfully observed a temperature increase in the worms.


"It was fascinating to see quantum technology work so well in live animals and I never imagined the temperature of tiny worms less than 1 mm in size could deviate from the norm and develop into a fever," said Masazumi Fujiwara, a lecturer at the Department of Science at Osaka City University. "Our results are an important milestone that will guide the future direction of quantum sensing as it shows how it contributes to biology,"

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Sensitive robots – New electronic skin can react to pain like human skin

Sensitive robots – New electronic skin can react to pain like human skin | Amazing Science |
Artificial skin reacts to pain just like real skin, opening the way to better prosthetics, smarter robotics and less invasive options for skin grafts.


Researchers have developed electronic artificial skin that reacts to pain just like real skin, opening the way to better prosthetics, smarter robotics and non-invasive alternatives to skin grafts. The prototype device developed by a team at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, can electronically replicate the way human skin senses pain. The device mimics the body's near-instant feedback response and can react to painful sensations with the same lighting speed that nerve signals travel to the brain.


Lead researcher Professor Madhu Bhaskaran said the pain-sensing prototype was a significant advance towards next-generation biomedical technologies and intelligent robotics. "Skin is our body's largest sensory organ, with complex features designed to send rapid-fire warning signals when anything hurts," Bhaskaran said. "We're sensing things all the time through the skin but our pain response only kicks in at a certain point, like when we touch something too hot or too sharp. No electronic technologies have been able to realistically mimic that very human feeling of pain -- until now. Our artificial skin reacts instantly when pressure, heat or cold reach a painful threshold. It's a critical step forward in the future development of the sophisticated feedback systems that we need to deliver truly smart prosthetics and intelligent robotics."


Functional sensing prototypes

As well as the pain-sensing prototype, the research team has also developed devices using stretchable electronics that can sense and respond to changes in temperature and pressure. Bhaskaran, co-leader of the Functional Materials and Microsystems group at RMIT, said the three functional prototypes were designed to deliver key features of the skin's sensing capability in electronic form. With further development, the stretchable artificial skin could also be a future option for non-invasive skin grafts, where the traditional approach is not viable or not working. "We need further development to integrate this technology into biomedical applications but the fundamentals -- biocompatibility, skin-like stretchability -- are already there," Bhaskaran said.

Richard Platt's curator insight, September 12, 2:17 PM

Artificial skin reacts to pain just like real skin, opening the way to better prosthetics, smarter robotics, and less invasive options for skin grafts. Researchers have developed electronic artificial skin that reacts to pain just like real skin, opening the way to better prosthetics, smarter robotics, and non-invasive alternatives to skin grafts. The prototype device developed by a team at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, can electronically replicate the way human skin senses pain. The device mimics the body's near-instant feedback response and can react to painful sensations with the same lighting speed that nerve signals travel to the brain. The pain-sensing prototype was a significant advance towards next-generation biomedical technologies and intelligent robotics. "Skin is our body's largest sensory organ, with complex features designed to send rapid-fire warning signals when anything hurts," Bhaskaran said. "We're sensing things all the time through the skin but our pain response only kicks in at a certain point, like when we touch something too hot or too sharp. No electronic technologies have been able to realistically mimic that very human feeling of pain -- until now. Our artificial skin reacts instantly when pressure, heat, or cold reach a painful threshold. It's a critical step forward in the future development of the sophisticated feedback systems that we need to deliver truly smart prosthetics and intelligent robotics."

Richard Platt's curator insight, September 12, 2:31 PM

Artificial skin reacts to pain just like real skin, opening the way to better prosthetics, smarter robotics, and less invasive options for skin grafts. The pain-sensing prototype was a significant advance towards next-generation biomedical technologies and intelligent robotics. "Skin is our body's largest sensory organ, with complex features designed to send rapid-fire warning signals when anything hurts," Bhaskaran said. "We're sensing things all the time through the skin but our pain response only kicks in at a certain point, like when we touch something too hot or too sharp. No electronic technologies have been able to realistically mimic that very human feeling of pain -- until now. Our artificial skin reacts instantly when pressure, heat, or cold reach a painful threshold. It's a critical step forward in the future development of the sophisticated feedback systems that we need to deliver truly smart prosthetics and intelligent robotics."

Yasmin Afmeged's curator insight, September 12, 6:30 PM
This could really help burn victims or people with skin injury/illness. It's really interesting how they developed it as well. 
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Quantum Shake - Strange Quantum Behaviors in an Ultracold Gas

Quantum Shake - Strange Quantum Behaviors in an Ultracold Gas | Amazing Science |

Physicists use classical concepts to decipher strange quantum behaviors in an ultracold gas.


There they were, in all their weird quantum glory: ultracold lithium atoms in the optical trap operated by UC Santa Barbara undergraduate student Alec Cao and his colleagues in David Weld's atomic physics group. Held by lasers in a regular, lattice formation and "driven" by pulses of energy, these atoms were doing crazy things. "It was a bit bizarre," Weld said. "Atoms would get pumped in one direction. Sometimes they would get pumped in another direction. Sometimes they would tear apart and make these structures that looked like DNA."


These new and unexpected behaviors were the results of an experiment conducted by Cao, Weld and colleagues to push the boundaries of our knowledge of the quantum world. The outcomes? New directions in the field of dynamical quantum engineering, and a tantalizing path toward a link between classical and quantum physics. Their research is published in the journal Physical Review Research.


"A lot of funny things happen when you shake a quantum system," said Weld, whose lab creates "artificial solids" -- low-dimensional lattices of light and ultracold atoms -- to simulate the behavior of quantum mechanical particles in more densely packed true solids when subjected to driving forces. The recent experiments were the latest in a line of reasoning that stretches back to 1929, when physicist and Nobel Laureate Felix Bloch first predicted that within the confines of a periodic quantum structure, a quantum particle under a constant force will oscillate.


"They actually slosh back and forth, which is a consequence of the wave nature of matter," Weld said. While these position-space Bloch oscillations were predicted almost a century ago, they were directly observed only relatively recently; in fact Weld's group was the first to see them in 2018, with a method that made these often rapid, infinitesimal sloshings large and slow, and easy to see. A decade ago, other experiments added a time dependency to the Bloch oscillating system by subjecting it to an additional, periodic force, and found even more intense activity. Oscillations on top of oscillations -- super Bloch oscillations -- were discovered.


For this study, the researchers took the system another step further, by modifying the space in which these atoms interact.

"We're actually changing the lattice," said Weld, by way of varying laser intensities and external magnetic forces that not only added a time dependency but also curved the lattice, creating an inhomogenous force field. Their method of creating large, slow oscillations, he added, "gave us the opportunity to look at what happens when you have a Bloch oscillating system in an inhomogenous environment." This is when things got weird. The atoms shot back and forth, sometimes spreading apart, other times creating patterns in response to the pulses of energy pushing on the lattice in various ways.


"We could follow their progress with numerics if we worked hard at it," Weld said. "But it was a little bit hard to understand why they do one thing and not the other." It was insight from Cao, the paper's lead author, that led to a way of deciphering the strange behavior.

"When we investigated the dynamics for all times at once, we just saw a mess because there was no underlying symmetry, making the physics challenging to interpret," said Cao, who is beginning his fourth year at UCSB's College of Creative Studies. To draw out the symmetry, the researchers simplified this seemingly chaotic behavior by eliminating a dimension (in this case, time) by utilizing a mathematical technique initially developed to observe classical nonlinear dynamics called a Poincaré section.


"In our experiment, a time interval is set by how we periodically modify the lattice in time," Cao said. "When we chucked out all the 'in-between' times and looked at the behavior once every period, structure and beauty emerged in the shapes of the trajectories because we were properly respecting the symmetry of the physical system." Observing the system only at periods based on this time interval yielded something like a stop-motion representation of these atoms' complicated yet cyclical movements. "What Alec figured is that these paths -- these Poincaré orbits -- tell us exactly why in some regimes of driving the atoms get pumped, while in other regimes of driving the atoms spread out and break up the wave function," Weld added. One direction the researchers could take from here, he said, is to use this knowledge to engineer quantum systems to have new behaviors through driving, with applications in burgeoning fields such as topological quantum computing.


"But another direction we can take is looking at whether we can study the emergence of quantum chaos as we start to do things like add interactions to a driven system like this," Weld said.

It's no small feat. Physicists for decades have been trying to find links between classical and quantum physics -- a common math that might explain concepts in one field that seem to have no analog in the other, such as classical chaos, the language for which does not exist in quantum mechanics.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

New Artificial Intelligence Platform Uses Deep Learning to Diagnose Dystonia with High Accuracy in Less Than One Second

New Artificial Intelligence Platform Uses Deep Learning to Diagnose Dystonia with High Accuracy in Less Than One Second | Amazing Science |

Researchers at Mass Eye and Ear have developed a unique diagnostic tool that can detect dystonia from MRI scans, the first technology of its kind to provide an objective diagnosis of the disorder. Dystonia is a potentially disabling neurological condition that causes involuntary muscle contractions, leading to abnormal movements and postures. It is often misdiagnosed and can take people up to 10 years to get a correct diagnosis.


In a new study published September 28 in PNAS, researchers developed an AI-based deep learning platform -called DystoniaNet - to compare brain MRIs of 612 people, including 392 patients with three different forms of isolated focal dystonia and 220 healthy individuals. The platform diagnosed dystonia with 98.8 percent accuracy. During the process, the researchers identified a new microstructural neural network biological marker of dystonia. With further testing and validation, they believe DystoniaNet can be easily integrated into clinical decision-making.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Process That Might Have Lead to First Organic Molecules

Process That Might Have Lead to First Organic Molecules | Amazing Science |

New research led by the American Museum of Natural History and funded by NASA identifies a process that might have been key in producing the first organic molecules on Earth about 4 billion years ago, before the origin of life. The process, which is similar to what might have occurred in some ancient underwater hydrothermal vents, may also have relevance to the search for life elsewhere in the universe. Details of the study are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


All life on Earth is built of organic molecules—compounds made of carbon atoms bound to atoms of other elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen. In modern life, most of these organic molecules originate from the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) through several “carbon-fixation” pathways (such as photosynthesis in plants). But most of these pathways either require energy from the cell in order to work, or were thought to have evolved relatively late. So how did the first organic molecules arise, before the origin of life?


To tackle this question, Museum Gerstner Scholar Victor Sojo and Reuben Hudson from the College of the Atlantic in Maine devised a novel setup based on microfluidic reactors, tiny self-contained laboratories that allow scientists to study the behavior of fluids—and in this case, gases as well—on the microscale.


Previous versions of the reactor attempted to mix bubbles of hydrogen gas and CO2 in liquid but no reduction occurred, possibly because the highly volatile hydrogen gas escaped before it had a chance to react. The solution came in discussions between Sojo and Hudson, who shared a lab bench at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Saitama, Japan. The final reactor was built in Hudson's laboratory in Maine.


“Instead of bubbling the gases within the fluids before the reaction, the main innovation of the new reactor is that the fluids are driven by the gases themselves, so there is very little chance for them to escape,” Hudson said. The researchers used their design to combine hydrogen with CO2 to produce an organic molecule called formic acid (HCOOH). This synthetic process resembles the only known CO2-fixation pathway that does not require a supply of energy overall, called the Wood-Ljungdahl acetyl-CoA pathway. In turn, this process resembles reactions that might have taken place in ancient oceanic hydrothermal vents.


“The consequences extend far beyond our own biosphere,” Sojo said. “Similar hydrothermal systems might exist today elsewhere in the solar system, most noticeably in Enceladus and Europa—moons of Saturn and Jupiter, respectively—and so predictably in other water-rocky worlds throughout the universe.”


“Understanding how carbon dioxide can be reduced under mild geological conditions is important for evaluating the possibility of an origin of life on other worlds, which feeds into understanding how common or rare life may be in the universe,” added Laurie Barge from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, an author on the study.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Has Earth’s oxygen rusted the Moon for billions of years?

Has Earth’s oxygen rusted the Moon for billions of years? | Amazing Science |

To the surprise of many planetary scientists, the oxidized iron mineral hematite has been discovered at high latitudes on the Moon, according to a study published today in Science Advances led by Shuai Li, assistant researcher at the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST).


Iron is highly reactive with oxygen—forming reddish rust commonly seen on Earth. The lunar surface and interior, however, are virtually devoid of oxygen, so pristine metallic iron is prevalent on the Moon and highly oxidized iron has not been confirmed in samples returned from the Apollo missions. In addition, hydrogen in solar wind blasts the lunar surface, which acts in opposition to oxidation. So, the presence of highly oxidized iron-bearing minerals, such as hematite, on the Moon is an unexpected discovery.


“Our hypothesis is that lunar hematite is formed through oxidation of lunar surface iron by the oxygen from the Earth’s upper atmosphere that has been continuously blown to the lunar surface by solar wind when the Moon is in Earth’s magnetotail during the past several billion years,” said Li.


To make this discovery, Li, HIGP professor Paul Lucey and co-authors from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and elsewhere analyzed the hyperspectral reflectance data acquired by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) designed by NASA JPL onboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission. This new research was inspired by Li’s previous discovery of water ice in the Moon’s polar regions in 2018.


“When I examined the M3 data at the polar regions, I found some spectral features and patterns are different from those we see at the lower latitudes or the Apollo samples,” said Li. “I was curious whether it is possible that there are water-rock reactions on the Moon. After months investigation, I figured out I was seeing the signature of hematite.”


The team found the locations where hematite is present are strongly correlated with water content at high latitude Li and others found previously and are more concentrated on the nearside, which always faces the Earth.


“More hematite on the lunar nearside suggested that it may be related to Earth,” said Li. “This reminded me a discovery by the Japanese Kaguya mission that oxygen from the Earth’s upper atmosphere can be blown to the lunar surface by solar wind when the Moon is in the Earth’s magnetotail. So, Earth’s atmospheric oxygen could be the major oxidant to produce hematite. Water and interplanetary dust impact may also have played critical roles”

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Most Americans to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by July 2021, CDC chief expects

Most Americans to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by July 2021, CDC chief expects | Amazing Science |
A top U.S. health official told a U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday that he expects COVID-19 vaccinations to take place over many months and that most Americans could be vaccinated by July of 2021 at the latest.


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Robert Redfield said he expects there to be about 700 million doses of vaccines available by late March or April, enough for 350 million people. “I think that’s going to take us April, May, June, you know, possibly July, to get the entire American public completely vaccinated,” Redfield told the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.


Redfield, U.S. Food and Drug Administration head Stephen Hahn, U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases head Anthony Fauci and Health and Human Services official Brett Giroir were testifying on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused more than 200,000 deaths in the United States. There is no vaccine for COVID-19 yet, but there are several in late stage trials here, including from Pfizer Inc PFE.N, Moderna Inc MRNA.O and Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N. Companies have begun manufacturing the vaccine in anticipation of a fast regulatory authorization once they are shown to work.


Fauci said he expects 50 million doses to be available in November and 100 million by the end of December. He expects a total of 700 million doses by April. Health officials and President Donald Trump have presented different views about when the vaccines will be ready for most Americans. The process for deciding how to distribute vaccines falls largely to the CDC.


With more than 200,000 Americans dead from Covid-19 and President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force reportedly in turmoil, pharmaceutical companies are racing to roll out vaccines to halt the coronavirus pandemic. There are 4 vaccine candidates now in Phase 3 trials:

  • Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced recently that it has started a 60,000-participant trial of its single-dose Covid-19 vaccine in the U.S., Brazil, South Africa, and other countries. The U.S. government is helping to fund the study and initial results could be in by early 2021.
  • AstraZeneca's (AZN) Phase 3 trials started in August 2020 and have resumed abroad but are on hold in the U.S. because a participant in the U.K. developed a serious medical condition. AstraZeneca (AZN) expects to have enough data by the end of 2020 or early next year to submit the vaccine for approval.
  • Moderna (MRNA) started its Phase 3 trial in July 2020 and hopes to have 30,000 volunteers enrolled by the end of September. CEO Stéphane Bancel has said that the vaccine could be found safe and effective by late fall, but more likely in November at the onset of winter or, "in a worst-case scenario in December."
  • Pfizer (PFE) has partnered with the German drug-maker BioNTech for developing a possible vaccine,. They started Phase 3 U.S. trials in July 2020. Pfizer hopes to have data indicating whether its candidate vaccine works by the end of October 2020.


No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

KPMG BrandVoice: How To Maintain Sales And Pricing Discipline In A Downturn

KPMG BrandVoice: How To Maintain Sales And Pricing Discipline In A Downturn | Amazing Science |

Perhaps the most compelling part of any remarkable story is its origin: how it all began. We can take that question back as far as we want, asking what came before and gave rise to whatever we were asking about previously, until we find ourselves pondering the origin of the Universe itself. This is perhaps the greatest origin story of all, which occupied the minds of poets, philosophers, theologians and scientists for countless millennia.


It was only in the 20th century that science began to make progress on that question, however, eventually resulting in the scientific theory of the Big Bang. Early on, the Universe was extremely hot and dense, and has expanded, cooled, and gravitated to become what it is today. But the Big Bang itself wasn't the beginning, after all, and we have four independent pieces of scientific evidence that show us what came before it and set it up.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Rapid test for COVID-19 shows improved sensitivity

Rapid test for COVID-19 shows improved sensitivity | Amazing Science |

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers at MIT and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, along with their collaborators at the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Ragon Institute, have been working on a CRISPR-based diagnostic for COVID-19 that can produce results.


A strip of paper can now indicate presence of pathogens, tumor DNA, or any genetic signature of interest. 100-fold greater sensitivity, the ability to detect multiple targets at once, and other new features further enhance SHERLOCK's power for detecting genetic signatures.


The team that first unveiled the rapid, inexpensive, highly sensitive CRISPR-based diagnostic tool called SHERLOCK has greatly enhanced the tool’s power, and has developed a miniature paper test that allows results to be seen with the naked eye — without the need for expensive equipment.


The SHERLOCK team developed a simple paper strip to display test results for a single genetic signature, borrowing from the visual cues common in pregnancy tests. After dipping the paper strip into a processed sample, a line appears, indicating whether the target molecule was detected or not.


This new feature helps pave the way for field use, such as during an outbreak. The team has also increased the sensitivity of SHERLOCK and added the capacity to accurately quantify the amount of target in a sample and test for multiple targets at once. All together, these advancements accelerate SHERLOCK’s ability to quickly and precisely detect genetic signatures — including pathogens and tumor DNA — in samples.


Described first in Science, the innovations build on the team’s earlier version of SHERLOCK (shorthand for Specific High-sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unLOCKing) and add to a growing field of research that harnesses CRISPR systems for uses beyond gene editing. The work, led by researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has the potential for a transformative effect on research and global public health.


“SHERLOCK provides an inexpensive, easy-to-use, and sensitive diagnostic method for detecting nucleic acid material — and that can mean a virus, tumor DNA, and many other targets,” said senior author Feng Zhang, core institute member at the Broad Institute, investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, and the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience at MIT. “The SHERLOCK improvements now give us even more diagnostic information and put us closer to a tool that can be deployed in real-world applications.”

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Microbial life on Venus? Phosphine gas in clouds of Venus detected

Microbial life on Venus? Phosphine gas in clouds of Venus detected | Amazing Science |

Measurements of trace gases in planetary atmospheres help us explore chemical conditions different to those on Earth. Our nearest neighbor planet, Venus, has clouds that are temperate but hyperacidic. Here we report the apparent presence of phosphine (PH3) gas in Venus’s atmosphere, where any phosphorus should be in oxidized forms. Single-line millimeter-waveband spectral detections (quality up to ~15σ) from the JCMT and ALMA telescopes have no other plausible identification.


Atmospheric PH3 at ~20 ppb abundance is inferred. The presence of PH3 is unexplained after exhaustive study of steady-state chemistry and photochemical pathways, with no currently known abiotic production routes in Venus’s atmosphere, clouds, surface and subsurface, or from lightning, volcanic or meteoritic delivery.


PH3 could originate from unknown photochemistry or geochemistry, or, by analogy with biological production of PH3 on Earth, from the presence of life. Other PH3 spectral features should be sought, while in situ cloud and surface sampling could examine sources of this gas. The detection of ~20 ppb of phosphine in Venus clouds by observations in the millimeter-wavelength range from JCMT and ALMA is puzzling, because according to our knowledge of Venus, no phosphine should be there. As the most plausible formation paths do not work, the source could be unknown chemical processes—maybe even life?


Studying rocky-planet atmospheres gives clues to how they interact with surfaces and subsurfaces, and whether any non-equilibrium compounds could reflect the presence of life. Characterizing extrasolar-planet atmospheres is extremely challenging, especially for rare compounds1. The Solar System thus offers important testbeds for exploring planetary geology, climate and habitability, via both in situ sampling and remote monitoring. Proximity makes signals of trace gases much stronger than those from extrasolar planets, but issues remain in interpretation.


Thus far, Solar System exploration has found compounds of interest, but often in locations where the gas sources are inaccessible, such as the Martian subsurface2 and water reservoirs inside icy moons3,4. Water, simple organics and larger unidentified carbon-bearing species5,6,7 are known. However, geochemical sources for carbon compounds may exist8, and temporal/spatial anomalies can be hard to reconcile, for example, for Martian methane sampled by rovers and observed from orbit9.


An ideal biosignature gas would be unambiguous. Living organisms should be its sole source, and it should have intrinsically strong, precisely characterized spectral transitions unblended with contaminant lines—criteria that are not usually all achievable. It was recently proposed that any phosphine (PH3) detected in a rocky planet’s atmosphere is a promising sign of life10. Trace PH3 in Earth’s atmosphere (parts per trillion abundance globally11) is uniquely associated with anthropogenic activity or microbial presence—life produces this highly reducing gas even in an overall oxidizing environment.


PH3 is found elsewhere in the Solar System only in the reducing atmospheres of giant planets12,13, where it is produced in deep atmospheric layers at high temperatures and pressures, and dredged upwards by convection14,15. Solid surfaces of rocky planets present a barrier to their interiors, and PH3 would be rapidly destroyed in their highly oxidized crusts and atmospheres. Thus PH3 meets most criteria for a biosignature-gas search, but is challenging as many of its spectral features are strongly absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere.


“I was very surprised - stunned, in fact,” said astronomer Jane Greaves of Cardiff University in Wales, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature Astronomy.


Journal References:

  1. Jane S. Greaves, Anita M. S. Richards, William Bains, Paul B. Rimmer, Hideo Sagawa, David L. Clements, Sara Seager, Janusz J. Petkowski, Clara Sousa-Silva, Sukrit Ranjan, Emily Drabek-Maunder, Helen J. Fraser, Annabel Cartwright, Ingo Mueller-Wodarg, Zhuchang Zhan, Per Friberg, Iain Coulson, E’lisa Lee, Jim Hoge. Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of VenusNature Astronomy, Sept. 14, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-1174-4
  2. Sara Seager, Janusz J. Petkowski, Peter Gao, William Bains, Noelle C. Bryan, Sukrit Ranjan, Jane Greaves. The Venusian Lower Atmosphere Haze as a Depot for Desiccated Microbial Life: A Proposed Life Cycle for Persistence of the Venusian Aerial BiosphereAstrobiology, 2020; DOI: 10.1089/ast.2020.2244
  3. Clara Sousa-Silva, Sara Seager, Sukrit Ranjan, Janusz Jurand Petkowski, Zhuchang Zhan, Renyu Hu, William Bains. Phosphine as a Biosignature Gas in Exoplanet AtmospheresAstrobiology, 2020; 20 (2): 235 DOI: 10.1089/ast.2018.1954
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Artificial Intelligence Leads to Gene Activation Discovery

Artificial Intelligence Leads to Gene Activation Discovery | Amazing Science |

Nearly 25% of our genes are widely known to be transcribed by sequences that resemble TATAAA, which is called the “TATA box.” How the other three-quarters are turned on, or promoted, has remained a mystery due to the enormous number of DNA base sequence possibilities, which has kept the activation information shrouded.


Now, with the help of artificial intelligence, researchers at the University of California San Diego have identified a DNA activation code that’s used at least as frequently as the TATA box in humans. Their discovery, which they termed the downstream core promoter region (DPR), could eventually be used to control gene activation in biotechnology and biomedical applications. The details are described September 9, 2020 in the journal Nature.


“The identification of the DPR reveals a key step in the activation of about a quarter to a third of our genes,” said James T. Kadonaga, a distinguished professor in UC San Diego’s Division of Biological Sciences and the paper’s senior author. “The DPR has been an enigma—it’s been controversial whether or not it even exists in humans. Fortunately, we’ve been able to solve this puzzle by using machine learning.”


In 1996, Kadonaga and his colleagues working in fruit flies identified a novel gene activation sequence, termed the DPE (which corresponds to a portion of the DPR), that enables genes to be turned on in the absence of the TATA box. Then, in 1997, they found a single DPE-like sequence in humans. However, since that time, deciphering the details and prevalence of the human DPE has been elusive. Most strikingly, there have been only two or three active DPE-like sequences found in the tens of thousands of human genes.


To crack this case after more than 20 years, Kadonaga worked with lead author and post-doctoral scholar Long Vo ngoc, Cassidy Yunjing Huang, Jack Cassidy, a retired computer scientist who helped the team leverage the powerful tools of artificial intelligence, and Claudia Medrano.


In what Kadonaga describes as “fairly serious computation” brought to bear in a biological problem, the researchers made a pool of 500,000 random versions of DNA sequences and evaluated the DPR activity of each. From there, 200,000 versions were used to create a machine learning model that could accurately predict DPR activity in human DNA.


The results, as Kadonaga describes them, were “absurdly good.” So good, in fact, that they created a similar machine learning model as a new way to identify TATA box sequences. They evaluated the new models with thousands of test cases in which the TATA box and DPR results were already known and found that the predictive ability was “incredible,” according to Kadonaga.


These results clearly revealed the existence of the DPR motif in human genes. Moreover, the frequency of occurrence of the DPR appears to be comparable to that of the TATA box. In addition, they observed an intriguing duality between the DPR and TATA. Genes that are activated with TATA box sequences lack DPR sequences, and vice versa.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Mutations in Angiopoietin 2 (ANGPT2) is Associated with Primary Lymphedema

Mutations in Angiopoietin 2 (ANGPT2) is Associated with Primary Lymphedema | Amazing Science |

Lymphedema can occur when tissue fluid cannot enter or leaks from the lymphatic system into surrounding tissues. Some genetic causes of primary lymphedema are known and previous studies have shown that dominant-negative mutations in angiopoietin 2 (ANGPT2) promote lymphangiogenesis in mice. New research shows that inactivating mutations in ANGPT2 are associated with primary lymphedema in humans.


“The mutations result in loss of the normal function of the ANGPT2 protein that is known to play a role in lymphatic and blood vessel maturation. This important discovery opens possibilities for the development of improved treatments of lymphedema,” explained Kari Alitalo, MD, research professor at the Finnish Academy of Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Helsinki, and a director of the Centre of Excellence in Translational Cancer Biology and the Wihuri Research Institute.


The study is published in Science Translational Medicine in an article titled, “Characterization of ANGPT2 mutations associated with primary lymphedema.” Lymphedema is a chronic disease resulting from abnormal development or function of the lymphatic system. In affected patients, lymph is poorly drained from tissues, causing swelling, and fibrosis, limiting the mobility of the affected body part, and increasing the likelihood of infections. The 28 currently known genes causing primary lymphedema can explain <30% of cases.


Researchers collected samples from patients (and family members) suffering from primary lymphedema. By screening 543 individuals affected by primary lymphedema, using whole-exome sequencing, mutations in ANGPT2 were discovered in patients from five families; one heterozygous de novo ANGPT2 whole-gene deletion and four heterozygous ANGPT2 missense mutations. The ANGPT2 encodes the angiopoietin 2 protein, a growth factor that binds to receptors in blood and lymphatic vessels. ANGPT2 has previously been shown to influence lymphatic development in mice, but this is the first time when mutations in this gene were found to cause lymphedema in humans,” noted Alitalo.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Painting With Light: Novel Nanopillars Precisely Control the Color and Intensity of Transmitted Light

Painting With Light: Novel Nanopillars Precisely Control the Color and Intensity of Transmitted Light | Amazing Science |

By shining white light on a glass slide stippled with millions of tiny titanium dioxide pillars, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and their collaborators have reproduced with astonishing fidelity the luminous hues and subtle shadings of “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer’s masterpiece. The approach has potential applications in improving optical communications and making currency harder to counterfeit. 


For example, by adding or dropping a particular color, or wavelength, of light traveling in an optical fiber, scientists can control the amount of information carried by the fiber. By altering the intensity, researchers can maintain t the brightness of the light signal as it travels long distances in the fiber. The approach might also be used to “paint” paper money with small but intricate color details that a counterfeiter would have great difficulty forging.


Other scientists have previously used tiny pillars, or nanopillars, of varying sizes to trap and emit specific colors when illuminated with white light. The width of the nanopillars, which are about 600 nanometers in height, or less than one-hundredth the diameter of a human hair, determines the specific color of light that a pillar traps and emits. For a demanding test of such a technique, researchers  examined how well the nanopillars reproduced the colors of a familiar painting, such as the Vermeer.


Although several teams of researchers had successfully arranged millions of nanopillars whose sizes were tailored to transmit red, green or blue light to create a specific palette of output colors, the scientists had no way to control the intensity of those colors. The intensity, or brightness, of colors determines an image’s light and shadow — its chiaroscuro —and enhances the ability to convey impressions of perspective and depth, a signature feature of Vermeer’s work.


Now, by fabricating nanopillars that not only trap and emit specific colors of light but also change its polarization by varying degrees, the NIST researchers and their collaborators from Nanjing University in China have for the first time demonstrated a way to control both color and intensity. The researchers, who include Amit Agrawal and Wenqi Zhu of NIST and the University of Maryland in College Park, and Henri Lezec of NIST, describe their findings in the September 20 issue of the journal Opticaposted online today

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

The true length of the legendary giant shark Megalodon has now been determined

The true length of the legendary giant shark Megalodon has now been determined | Amazing Science |

To date only the length of the legendary giant shark Megalodon had been estimated but now, a new study led by the University of Bristol and Swansea University has revealed the size of the rest of its body, including fins that are as large as an adult human. There is a grim fascination in determining the size of the largest sharks, but this can be difficult for fossil forms where teeth are often all that remain.


Today, the most fearsome living shark is the Great White, at over six meters (20 feet) long, which bites with a force of two tonnes.

Its fossil relative, the big tooth shark Megalodon, star of Hollywood movies, lived from 23 to around three million years ago, was over twice the length of a Great White and had a bite force of more than ten tons. The fossils of the Megalodon are mostly huge triangular cutting teeth bigger than a human hand.


Jack Cooper, who has just completed the MSc in Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, and colleagues from Bristol and Swansea used a number of mathematical methods to pin down the size and proportions of this monster, by making close comparisons to a diversity of living relatives with ecological and physiological similarities to Megalodon. The project was supervised by shark expert Dr Catalina Pimiento from Swansea University and Professor Mike Benton, a palaeontologist at Bristol. Dr Humberto Ferrón of Bristol also collaborated. Their findings are published today in the journal Scientific Reports.


The picture shows the comparison of an adult Megalodon's dorsal fin to a 1.6 m diver. This means an adult human could stand on the back of this shark and would be about the same height as the dorsal fin. The reconstruction of the size of Megalodon body parts represents a fundamental step towards a better understanding of the physiology of this giant, and the intrinsic factors that may have made it prone to extinction.



‘Body dimensions of the extinct giant shark Otodus megalodon: a 2D reconstruction’ by J. A. Cooper, C. Pimiento, H. G. Ferrón, and M. J. Benton in Scientific Reports

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

AI shows how hydrogen turns into a metal inside giant planets

AI shows how hydrogen turns into a metal inside giant planets | Amazing Science |

Dense metallic hydrogen -- a phase of hydrogen which behaves like an electrical conductor -- makes up the interior of giant planets, but it is difficult to study and poorly understood. By combining artificial intelligence and quantum mechanics, researchers have found how hydrogen becomes a metal under the extreme pressure conditions of these planets.


The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, IBM Research and EPFL, used machine learning to mimic the interactions between hydrogen atoms in order to overcome the size and timescale limitations of even the most powerful supercomputers. They found that instead of happening as a sudden, or first-order, transition, the hydrogen changes in a smooth and gradual way. The results are reported in the journal Nature.


Hydrogen, consisting of one proton and one electron, is both the simplest and the most abundant element in the Universe. It is the dominant component of the interior of the giant planets in our solar system -- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune -- as well as exoplanets orbiting other stars.


At the surfaces of giant planets, hydrogen remains a molecular gas. Moving deeper into the interiors of giant planets however, the pressure exceeds millions of standard atmospheres. Under this extreme compression, hydrogen undergoes a phase transition: the covalent bonds inside hydrogen molecules break, and the gas becomes a metal that conducts electricity.


"The existence of metallic hydrogen was theorised a century ago, but what we haven't known is how this process occurs, due to the difficulties in recreating the extreme pressure conditions of the interior of a giant planet in a laboratory setting, and the enormous complexities of predicting the behaviour of large hydrogen systems," said lead author Dr Bingqing Cheng from Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory.


Experimentalists have attempted to investigate dense hydrogen using a diamond anvil cell, in which two diamonds apply high pressure to a confined sample. Although diamond is the hardest substance on Earth, the device will fail under extreme pressure and high temperatures, especially when in contact with hydrogen, contrary to the claim that a diamond is forever. This makes the experiments both difficult and expensive.


Theoretical studies are also challenging: although the motion of hydrogen atoms can be solved using equations based on quantum mechanics, the computational power needed to calculate the behaviour of systems with more than a few thousand atoms for longer than a few nanoseconds exceeds the capability of the world's largest and fastest supercomputers.


It is commonly assumed that the transition of dense hydrogen is first-order, which is accompanied by abrupt changes in all physical properties. A common example of a first-order phase transition is boiling liquid water: once the liquid becomes a vapour, its appearance and behaviour completely change despite the fact that the temperature and the pressure remain the same.


In the current theoretical study, Cheng and her colleagues used machine learning to mimic the interactions between hydrogen atoms, in order to overcome limitations of direct quantum mechanical calculations. "We reached a surprising conclusion and found evidence for a continuous molecular to atomic transition in the dense hydrogen fluid, instead of a first-order one," said Cheng, who is also a Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College.


The transition is smooth because the associated 'critical point' is hidden. Critical points are ubiquitous in all phase transitions between fluids: all substances that can exist in two phases have critical points. A system with an exposed critical point, such as the one for vapour and liquid water, has clearly distinct phases. However, the dense hydrogen fluid, with the hidden critical point, can transform gradually and continuously between the molecular and the atomic phases. Furthermore, this hidden critical point also induces other unusual phenomena, including density and heat capacity maxima.


The finding about the continuous transition provides a new way of interpreting the contradicting body of experiments on dense hydrogen. It also implies a smooth transition between insulating and metallic layers in giant gas planets. The study would not be possible without combining machine learning, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics. Without any doubt, this approach will uncover more physical insights about hydrogen systems in the future. As the next step, the researchers aim to answer the many open questions concerning the solid phase diagram of dense hydrogen.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Cozying Up - Jupiter's Moons May be Warming Each Other

Cozying Up - Jupiter's Moons May be Warming Each Other | Amazing Science |
The gravitational push and pull by Jupiter's moons could account for more warming than the gas giant Jupiter alone.  


Well, hotter than they should be, for being so far from the sun. In a process called tidal heating, gravitational tugs from Jupiter's moons and the planet itself stretch and squish the moons enough to warm them. As a result, some of the icy moons contain interiors warm enough to host oceans of liquid water, and in the case of the rocky moon Io, tidal heating melts rock into magma.


Researchers previously believed that the gas giant Jupiter was responsible for most of the tidal heating associated with the liquid interiors of the moons, but a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters found that moon-moon interactions may be more responsible for the heating than Jupiter alone.


"It's surprising because the moons are so much smaller than Jupiter. You wouldn't expect them to be able to create such a large tidal response," said the paper's lead author Hamish Hay, a postdoctoral fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who did the research when he was a graduate student in the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.


Understanding how the moons influence each other is important because it can shed light on the evolution of the moon system as a whole. Jupiter has nearly 80 moons, the four largest of which are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.


"Maintaining subsurface oceans against freezing over geological times requires a fine balance between internal heating and heat loss, and yet we have several pieces of evidence that Europa, Ganymede, Callisto and other moons should be ocean worlds," said co-author Antony Trinh, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Lunar and Planetary Lab. "Io, the moon closest to Jupiter, shows widespread volcanic activity, another consequence of tidal heating, but at a higher intensity likely experienced by other terrestrial planets, like Earth, in their early history. Ultimately, we want to understand the source of all this heat, both for its influence on the evolution and habitability of the many worlds across the solar system and beyond."


Tidal Resonance

The trick to tidal heating is a phenomenon called tidal resonance.

"Resonance creates loads more heating," Hay said. "Basically, if you push any object or system and let go, it will wobble at its own natural frequency. If you keep on pushing the system at the right frequency, those oscillations get bigger and bigger, just like when you're pushing a swing. If you push the swing at the right time, it goes higher, but get the timing wrong and the swing's motion is dampened."


Each moon's natural frequency depends on the depth of its ocean.

"These tidal resonances were known before this work, but only known for tides due to Jupiter, which can only create this resonance effect if the ocean is really thin (less than 300 meters or under 1,000 feet), which is unlikely," Hay said. "When tidal forces act on a global ocean, it creates a tidal wave on the surface that ends up propagating around the equator with a certain frequency, or period."


According to the researchers' model, Jupiter's influence alone can't create tides with the right frequency to resonate with the moons because the moons' oceans are thought to be too thick. It's only when the researchers added in the gravitational influence of the other moons that they started to see tidal forces approaching the natural frequencies of the moons. When the tides generated by other objects in Jupiter's moon system match each moon's own resonant frequency, the moon begins to experience more heating than that due to tides raised by Jupiter alone, and in the most extreme cases, this could result in the melting of ice or rock internally.


For moons to experience tidal resonance, their oceans must be tens to hundreds of kilometers -- at most a few hundred miles -- thick, which is in range of scientists' current estimates. However, there are some caveats to the researchers' findings. Their model assumes that tidal resonances never get too extreme, Hay said. He and his team want to return to this variable in the model and see what happens when they lift that constraint. Hay also is hoping that future studies will be able to infer the true depth of the oceans within these moons.

No comment yet.