Category Archives: Science

Undulatus asperatus

Undulatus asperatus is a cloud formation, proposed in 2009 as a separate cloud classification by the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. If successful it will be the first cloud formation added since cirrus intortus in 1951 to the International Cloud Atlas of the World Meteorological Organization. The name translates approximately as “roughened or agitated waves”. The clouds are most closely related to undulatus clouds. Although they appear dark and storm-like, they tend to dissipate without a storm forming. The ominous-looking clouds have been … Continue reading

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There’s half as much dark matter in the Milky Way as we thought

milky way2

Scientists have long known that everything we see only makes up a tiny part of the Universe – the majority of it is hidden to us. “Stars, dust, you and me, all the things that we see, only make up about 4 percent of the entire Universe,” said lead researcher Prajwal Kafle from the University of Western Australia node of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in a press release. “About 25 percent is dark matter and the … Continue reading

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This Is What a Dead Star Looks Like

Ever wondered what a dead star looks like? Then have a gander at the image above — you’re looking at “Kepler’s Supernova”. First spotted 410 years ago today, it’s the most recent supernova to have been observed without sky-gazing equipment within our own galaxy. Named after Johannes Kepler, the German astrologer and mathematician who first observed the event, Kepler initially thought that the supernova was a brand new star, as it appeared brighter than any other planet in the sky. … Continue reading

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This new veggie burger bleeds like meat

vegi burger

Here’s one for all those vegetarians out there who sometimes just really feel like a good ol’ hamburger – a veggie burger complete with what looks like a perfectly cooked, medium rare beef patty. The burger is the brainchild of biochemistry professor Patrick Brown from Stanford University in the US, and it’s now being manufactured by his food company, Impossible Foods. The secret ingredient is called heme, or ‘plant blood’, which is an organic molecule found in the protein leghemoglobin … Continue reading

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‘Giant leap’ to type 1 diabetes cure

The hunt for a cure for type 1 diabetes has recently taken a “tremendous step forward”, scientists have said. The disease is caused by the immune system destroying the cells that control blood sugar levels. A team at Harvard University used stem cells to produce hundreds of millions of the cells in the laboratory. Tests on mice showed the cells could treat the disease, which experts described as “potentially a major medical breakthrough”. Beta cells in the pancreas pump out … Continue reading

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How infectious is Ebola?

ebola infection rates

So there’s a case of Ebola in the US, and the disease has already killed 70 percent of those it infected in West Africa. Is this the beginning of the end for humanity? Not even close, and here’s why. The US case of Ebola is the first to be identified outside of Africa. The patient, who has now died from the disease, didn’t know that he was infected straight away, so wasn’t quarantined by the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in … Continue reading

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Viruses can turn their DNA from a solid to a liquid to infect your cells

viral DNA

New research has found that viruses have a remarkable biological ability – they can transform their DNA from a glassy solid into a fluid-like state to help them infect cells.A fluorescence image of viral DNA complexes in the cytoplasm of a cell. Although viruses infect our cells with their DNA all the time, it’s a process that scientists have so far struggled to understand – viral DNA is so tightly packed inside its protein shell that, technically, it can barely … Continue reading

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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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