Category Archives: Science

Lets Play RNA

Thanks to Phil Krause for suggesting this video.

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How curiosity changes the brain to enhance learning

The more curious we are about a topic, the easier it is to learn information about that topic. New research publishing online October 2 in the Cell Press journal Neuron provides insights into what happens in our brains when curiosity is piqued. The findings could help scientists find ways to enhance overall learning and memory in both healthy individuals and those with neurological conditions. “Our findings potentially have far-reaching implications for the public because they reveal insights into how a … Continue reading

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Study reveals messenger molecules in cell walls can double as hormones

Researchers have discovered that some common messenger molecules in human cells double as hormones when bound to a protein that interacts with DNA. The finding could bring to light a class of previously unknown hormones and lead to new ways to target diseases – including cancers and a host of hormone-related disorders. Published in the Oct. 6 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, these results were made possible, in part, by X-ray experiments at the Department of … Continue reading

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Researchers take cells from chrysalis and grow butterfly wings in the lab

A pair of researchers, one from Oxford University, the other with the Natural History Museum in London, has found a way to grow butterfly wings in their lab. In their paper published in Bioinspired, Biomimetic and Nanobiomaterials, Helen Townley and Andrew Parker describe the transparent nature of certain butterfly and beetle wings and their efforts to reproduce them using cell cultures to grow colored materials. Many butterfly wings, it turns out, are not actually colored by pigments or dyes—instead, their … Continue reading

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Nobel Prize for the brain’s GPS discovery

The Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine has been awarded to three scientists who discovered the brain’s “GPS system”. UK-based researcher Prof John O’Keefe as well as May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser share the award. They discovered how the brain knows where we are and is able to navigate from one place to another. Their findings may help explain why in Alzheimer’s disease patients cannot recognise their surroundings. “The discoveries have solved a problem that has occupied philosophers and scientists … Continue reading

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Attacking type 2 diabetes from a new direction with encouraging results

Type 2 diabetes affects an estimated 28 million Americans according to the American Diabetes Association, but medications now available only treat symptoms, not the root cause of the disease. New research from Rutgers shows promising evidence that a modified form of a different drug, niclosamide – now used to eliminate intestinal parasites – may hold the key to battling the disease at its source. The study, led by Victor Shengkan Jin, an associate professor of pharmacology at Rutgers Robert Wood … Continue reading

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New technology that tracks the origin of blood cells challenges scientific dogma

A 7-year-project to develop a barcoding and tracking system for tissue stem cells has revealed previously unrecognized features of normal blood production: New data from Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital suggests, surprisingly, that the billions of blood cells that we produce each day are made not by blood stem cells, but rather their less pluripotent descendants, called progenitor cells. The researchers hypothesize that blood comes from stable populations of different long-lived progenitor cells that are responsible … Continue reading

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Scientists sound alarm over long wait for Nobel prize

Awarding Nobels decades after the original scientific discovery could lead to the coveted prize becoming irrelevant, some observers say, as ageing researchers miss out on their turn to get the long-awaited call from Sweden. That’s what happened in 2011 when the Nobel committee announced that half the prize for medicine and physiology would go to Canadian-born biologist Ralph Steinman. It soon emerged that Steinman had died three days earlier, but the Nobel committee made an exception to its own rule … Continue reading

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Why does wet feel wet?

Human sensitivity to wetness plays a role in many aspects of daily life. Whether feeling humidity, sweat or a damp towel, we often encounter stimuli that feel wet. Though it seems simple, feeling that something is wet is quite a feat because our skin does not have receptors that sense wetness. The concept of wetness, in fact, may be more of a “perceptual illusion” that our brain evokes based on our prior experiences with stimuli that we have learned are … Continue reading

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Why did Ebola Spread in West Africa?

Here is a great insight into the spread of Ebola by Deskarati favourite Prof. Hans Rosling.

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Scientists manipulate molecules inside living cells with temperature gradients

The ability to make measurements of the biomolecular interactions that occur inside living cells is essential for understanding complex biological processes. But probing the inside of living cells without damaging them is a challenge. The cell membrane shields electrical fields, prohibiting the use of electrophoresis, a technique that is commonly used to analyze biological samples in a variety of areas outside living cells. Now in a new paper, researchers have demonstrated for the first time that thermophoresis—the movement of molecules … Continue reading

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Black holes do not exist!

Black holes have long captured the public imagination and been the subject of popular culture, from Star Trek to Hollywood. They are the ultimate unknown – the blackest and most dense objects in the universe that do not even let light escape. And as if they weren’t bizarre enough to begin with, now add this to the mix: they don’t exist. By merging two seemingly conflicting theories, Laura Mersini-Houghton, a physics professor at UNC-Chapel Hill in the College of Arts … Continue reading

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Clue Found to How Black Holes Form

Astronomers know how stellar-mass black holes form: A massive star collapses under its own gravity. But such a process would seem unable to explain how much larger black holes arise, because they can only gobble material up to a rate known as the Eddington limit, and the universe isn’t old enough for them to have grown from stellar mass to supermassive, said Cole Miller, an astronomer also at the University of Maryland. “If you feed matter to the black hole … Continue reading

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Cellular Toggle Switch Could Herald An Anti-Aging Breakthrough

Researchers at the Salk Institute have discovered a toggle switch for aging cells. By controlling the growth of telomeres, it may eventually be possible to coax healthy cells to keep dividing and generating even in old age. The cells in our bodies are constantly dividing, replenishing our lungs, skin, liver, and other organs. Regrettably, most human cells can’t keep on dividing forever. Each time a cell divides, a cellular “timekeeper” at the ends of the chromosomes shortens. These timekeepers, called … Continue reading

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Faraday’s career rested on the outcome of a drunken brawl

Davy and Faraday

Alan Mason tells us an interesting story of Michael Faraday’s early history. It is not widely known that Faraday’s career rests on the outcome of a drunken brawl. He was an apprentice bookbinder and sometimes served in the bookshop attached. A customer saw he was a bright lad and gave him tickets for a series of lectures by Davy on science. Faraday attended all the lectures, took notes and bound the notes into a small book. He wrote to Davy, enclosing … Continue reading

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‘Big Bang Signal’ Could All Be Caused by Dust

Big Bang CMB

There was little need, before, to know exactly how much dust peppers outer space, far from the plane of the Milky Way. Scientists understood that the dimly radiating grains aligned with our galaxy’s magnetic field and that the field’s twists and turns gave a subtle swirl to the dust glow. But those swirls were too faint to see. Only since March, when researchers claimed to have glimpsed the edge of space and time with a fantastically sensitive telescope, has the … Continue reading

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Artificial sweeteners may tip scales toward metabolic problems

Eating artificial sweeteners may spur the very health problems that dieters try to avoid. A new multipronged study of mice and a small number of people finds that saccharin meddles with the gut’s microbial community, setting in motion metabolic changes that are associated with obesity and diabetes. Other zero-calorie sweeteners may cause the same problems, researchers say September 17 in Nature. Though the finding is preliminary, four of seven human volunteers eating a diet high in saccharin developed impaired glucose … Continue reading

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Supervolcano blast would blanket U.S. in ash

A new simulation illustrates the explosiveness of the volcano that lurks beneath Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Around 640,000 years ago, the volcano blew its top and coated North America with roughly 1,000 cubic kilometers of ash, enough to fill Lake Erie twice over. A simulation of the eruption described August 27 in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems reveals that a similar outburst today would bury Billings, Mont., in more than a meter (about 40 inches) of volcanic glass shards and pulverized … Continue reading

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Whodunnit?

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Has Jack the Ripper been identified from DNA?

Thanks to Phil Krause for advising us of this interesting article Scientists have greeted with skepticism (and in some cases derision) the claim that Jack the Ripper has been identified from DNA as an immigrant Polish barber named Aaron Kosminski. It was reassuring to see, for a change, that a good deal of the media coverage reflected that. Is it possible that defense attorneys on TV have taught people — including reporters — to look at claims for evidence more dispassionately? Jack the Ripper, … Continue reading

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