Category Archives: Science

Antibiotics: US discovery labelled ‘game-changer’ for medicine

The decades-long drought in antibiotic discovery could be over after a breakthrough by US scientists. Their novel method for growing bacteria has yielded 25 new antibiotics, with one deemed “very promising”. The last new class of antibiotics to make it to clinic was discovered nearly three decades ago.The study, in the journal Nature, has been described as a “game-changer” and experts believe the antibiotic haul is just the “tip of the iceberg”. The heyday of antibiotic discovery was in the … Continue reading

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Nice Guys Finish First

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Age of stars is pinned to their spin

Astronomers have proved that they can accurately tell the age of a star from how fast it is spinning. We know that stars slow down over time, but until recently there was little data to support exact calculations. For the first time, a US team has now measured the spin speed of stars that are more than one billion years old – and it matches what they predicted. The finding resolves a long-standing challenge, allowing astronomers to estimate a star’s … Continue reading

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Search for Dark Matter’s Calling Card Heats Up

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Pillars of Creation – latest view

pillars of creation

Click for enlarged view 20 years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope showed the world what has become one of the most famous images of our time (above left). Staring deep into the Eagle Nebula, Hubble demonstrated its sheer imaging power, picking out the vast pillars of gas and dust in a star-making factory. Deep within their dusty cocoons, baby stars are being born, a factor that spawned the apt moniker “Pillars of Creation.” Released today in celebration of Hubble’s 25th … Continue reading

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Cold virus replicates better at cooler temperatures

The common cold virus can reproduce itself more efficiently in the cooler temperatures found inside the nose than at core body temperature, according to a new Yale-led study. This finding may confirm the popular yet contested notion that people are more likely to catch a cold in cool-weather conditions. Researchers have long known that the most frequent cause of the common cold, the rhinovirus, replicates more readily in the slightly cooler environment of the nasal cavity than in the warmer … Continue reading

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The “Dying” Sea?

The Dead Sea is a hypersaline lake with a salinity level of 33.7% that borders Jordan, Israel and the West Bank and covers an area of ~600 km2 (230 sq mi). Hypersaline means that it has an unusually high concentration of salts (sodium chloride and others) and has a higher salinity than the ocean (3.5% salinity). While the Dead Sea is not the saltiest lake in the world – that honour belongs to the Don Juan Pond in Antarctica – … Continue reading

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Scientists Discover the First Protein That Can Edit Other Proteins

The most important job inside any cell is making proteins, and they are all made using instructions from DNA. This process is practically gospel in the field of molecular biology, but new research identifies some exceptions. Some proteins, it turns out, can make other proteins. Proteins are assembled from amino acids inside cellular structures called ribosomes. Normally, the blueprints for every protein—from disease fighting antibodies to structural components that allow muscles to contract—are encoded in DNA and delivered to the … Continue reading

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Some thoughts for the new year – Deskarati


I would like to wish every Deskarati reader a very happy new year. I have been trying to come up with some inspirational thoughts to help you through the coming orbital period around our star. But my prose are too weak, so I have, as always, borrowed from the best. – Happy New Year – Jim – Editor of Deskarati  It is a special blessing to belong among those who can and may devote their best energies to the contemplation and … Continue reading

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Most cancer types ‘just bad luck’

Most types of cancer can be put down to bad luck rather than risk factors such as smoking, a study has suggested. bA US team were trying to explain why some tissues were millions of times more vulnerable to cancer than others. The results, in the journal Science, showed two thirds of the cancer types analysed were caused just by chance mutations rather than lifestyle. However some of the most common and deadly cancers are still heavily influenced by lifestyle.And … Continue reading

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Scientists find that mice can live without an “essential” protein

Researchers from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) in Australia have discovered that generations of mice can survive without a protein long thought to be “essential for life”. The research could change our understanding of how some of the fundamental processes in our bodies occur, and could lead to new treatments for a range of conditions, including multiple sclerosis, dementia, cancer and obesity. The protein is called the mitochondrial translocator protein (TSPO), and is thought to have been … Continue reading

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Molecular mechanism behind health benefits of dietary restriction identified

New study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers identifies a key molecular mechanism behind the health benefits of dietary restriction, or reduced food intake without malnutrition. Also known as calorie restriction, dietary restriction is best known for its ability to slow aging in laboratory animals. The findings here show that restricting two amino acids, methionine and cysteine, results in increased hydrogen sulfide (H2S) production and protection against ischemia reperfusion injury, damage to tissue that occurs following the … Continue reading

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Dickson Despommier on Urban Agriculture & Vertical Farming

Thanks to Phil Krause for recommending this interesting video.

Posted in Ecology, Science | 1 Comment

Bacteria are wishing you a Merry Xmas


A bacterium has been used to wish people a Merry Xmas. Grown by Dr Munehiro Asally, an Assistant Professor at the University of Warwick, the letters used to spell MERRY XMAS are made of Bacillus subtilis, a non-pathogenic bacterium which is found in soil and also human gut. Artificially engineered into biofilms, a structured community of microbes that can form 3D architectural patterns, the letters are 2mm wide but are made up of individual microscopic bacteria cells. Initially left to … Continue reading

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The Most Radioactive Places on Earth

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Origin of the Eukaryotic cell

“The origin and evolution of eukaryotes” is a tale that has yet to be told. At this point in time, it exists only as the title of a fascinating new compendium that has just been produced by the Cold Spring Harbor Press. While this volume is some 400 pages long, there is a palpable feeling among its authors that if they could somehow just compact it into a few pages, a figure, and perhaps even a token energy equation, then … Continue reading

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The world’s loudest sound caused shock waves 100,000 times that of a hydrogen bomb

On 27 August 1883, the Earth made the loudest noise in recorded history. Emanating from the island of Krakatoa, which sits between the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia, the sound could be heard clearly almost 5,000 kilometres away and by people across 50 different geological locations around the world. According to Aatish Bhatia at Nautilus, about 3,200 kilometres away from Krakatoa, residents of New Guinea and Western Australia reported hearing “a series of loud reports, resembling those of … Continue reading

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The Most Influential Scientist You May Never Have Heard Of

Thanks to Tom Robb for suggesting this post Gaze at Alexander Von Humboldt’s 1814 self-portrait and you peer into the eyes of a man who sought to see and understand everything. By this point in his life, at age 45, Humboldt had tutored himself in every branch of science, spent more than five years on a 6,000 mile scientific trek through South America, pioneered new methods for the graphical display of information, set a world mountain climbing record that stood … Continue reading

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How to Build a Human


Created by designer Eleanor Lutz, this addictive animation takes us through the transformation from egg to baby. Made from 396 sketches based on scientific data from Scott F. Gilbert’s textbook, Developmental Biology, the animation starts with a zygote – a fertilised egg cell – which slowly multiplies through the process of mitotic division to produce a multicellular embryo. Click to enlarge.

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New, tighter timeline confirms ancient volcanism aligned with dinosaurs’ extinction

A definitive geological timeline shows that a series of massive volcanic explosions 66 million years ago spewed enormous amounts of climate-altering gases into the atmosphere immediately before and during the extinction event that claimed Earth’s non-avian dinosaurs, according to new research from Princeton University. A primeval volcanic range in western India known as the Deccan Traps, which were once three times larger than France, began its main phase of eruptions roughly 250,000 years before the Cretaceous-Paleogene, or K-Pg, extinction event, … Continue reading

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