Category Archives: Science

Woman found functioning without a cerebellum in her brain

brain-new

Doctors have discovered that somehow, a woman living in China has reached the age of 24 while missing a large part of her brain. They say this is evidence of how incredibly adaptable our brains can be.  When a woman checked herself into the PLA General Hospital in China’s Shandong Province, she reported symptoms of dizziness and nausea. She’d had a shaky walk for most of her life, and unlike most people, who learn to walk when they’re very young … Continue reading

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Why Do We Have More Boys Than Girls?

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Activating a specific gene makes fruit flies live 30% longer

Drosophila

A team of biologists has shown that activating a gene called AMPK in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster can add two weeks to their usual six-week lifespan. And the fruit flies didn’t just live longer, their brains aged more slowly and they stayed healthier for longer as well. AMPK is a gene that helps regulate energy in cells – when cellular energy levels are low, it gets activated. It’s also found in humans in low levels, which led the researchers … Continue reading

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Bacteria found in bees show potential as an alternative to antibiotics

bees

Antibiotic resistance is an increasingly serious problem in the western world, and in April this year, the World Health Organisation declared it a major threat to public health. For centuries, people have used raw honey to help fight infections, but scientists have struggled to figure out what gives it its antimicrobial properties. Now a team of researchers from Lund University in Sweden has identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria (LAB) that come from the honey stomach of … Continue reading

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Mass spectrometry in your hand

If you’re out in the field doing environmental testing, food checks, forensic work, or other chemical analysis, mass spectrometry is an extremely accurate detection tool with one huge drawback: You can lose days in sending samples back to the lab for analysis. MIT researchers now have developed technologies that promise to enable mass spectrometers that are handheld and much more inexpensive than today’s lab systems. “The opportunity in mass spectrometers is to bring the analytical power of brick and mortar … Continue reading

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How a Bean Becomes a Fart

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Platelet-Like Particles Augment Natural Blood Clotting for Treating Trauma

A new class of synthetic platelet-like particles could augment natural blood clotting for the emergency treatment of traumatic injuries – and potentially offer doctors a new option for curbing surgical bleeding and addressing certain blood clotting disorders without the need for transfusions of natural platelets. The clotting particles, which are based on soft and deformable hydrogel materials, are triggered by the same factor that initiates the body’s own clotting processes. Testing done in animal models and in a simulated circulatory … Continue reading

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What is a fungus?

Fungi are a biologically important, and often overlooked Kingdom of organisms. In this Naked Science Scrapbook we find out what a fungus actually is, how they live and how they cause and fight disease. Plus we see that many of our favourite meals wouldn’t be the same without them.

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Volcano Eruption in Papua New Guinea

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A visual guide to understand different types of stroke

Ischemic Stroke: The most common type of stroke is known as an ischemic stroke. Nearly nine out of 10 strokes fall into this category. The culprit is a blood clot that obstructs a blood vessel inside the brain. The clot may develop on the spot or travel through the blood from elsewhere in the body. Hemorrhagic Stroke: Hemorrhagic strokes are less common but far more likely to be fatal. They occur when a weakened blood vessel in the brain bursts. … Continue reading

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Researchers find ovarian cancer oncogene in ‘junk DNA’

Over the years researchers have made tremendous strides in the understanding and treatment of cancer by searching genomes for links between genetic alterations and disease. Most of those studies have focused on the portion of the human genome that encodes protein – a fraction that accounts for just 2 percent of human DNA overall. Yet the vast majority of genomic alterations associated with cancer lie outside protein-coding genes, in what traditionally has been derided as “junk DNA.” Researchers today know … Continue reading

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Banked blood grows stiffer with age, study finds

It may look like fresh blood and flow like fresh blood, but the longer blood is stored, the less it can carry oxygen into the tiny microcapillaries of the body, says a new study from University of Illinois researchers. Using advanced optical techniques, the researchers measured the stiffness of the membrane surrounding red blood cells over time. They found that, even though the cells retain their shape and hemoglobin content, the membranes get stiffer, which steadily decreases the cells’ functionality. … Continue reading

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We all live in Laniakea!

Superclusters – regions of space that are densely packed with galaxies – are the biggest structures in the Universe. But scientists have struggled to define exactly where one supercluster ends and another begins. Now, a team based in Hawaii has come up with a new technique that maps the Universe according to the flow of galaxies across space. Redrawing the boundaries of the cosmic map, they redefine our home supercluster and name it Laniakea, which means ‘immeasurable heaven’ in Hawaiian.

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What color is the Sun?

sunset

Ask anyone to draw a Sun and they will immediately reach for the yellow crayon. It seems normal. We’ve been using that yellow crayon for the Sun ever since we were little and all we could draw was the crappy front of a house and the Sun smiling in the corner. If we ever needed more evidence, we could just go outside and look at the sun and it definitely appears to be yellow. Thing is, though, that we see … Continue reading

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Neurons in our skin are performing advanced calculations

touch-neurons

Researchers from Umeå University in Sweden have been studying a particular class of sensory neurons in the human tactile, or touch, system called ‘first-order neurons’ to discover that they possess some pretty incredible properties. These neurons branch through our skin to record the sensation of touch from many highly sensitive zones on our fingertips, and it’s now been revealed that they’re not just sending signals to the brain indicating that the skin has encountered some kind of object. It turns … Continue reading

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Mystery solved: ‘Sailing stones’ of Death Valley seen in action for the first time

moving stones

Racetrack Playa is home to an enduring Death Valley mystery. Littered across the surface of this dry lake, also called a “playa,” are hundreds of rocks — some weighing as much as 320 kilograms (700 pounds) — that seem to have been dragged across the ground, leaving synchronized trails that can stretch for hundreds of meters. What powerful force could be moving them? Researchers have investigated this question since the 1940s, but no one has seen the process in action … Continue reading

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What’s going on at SciFoo this year?

Scifoo

Thanks to Deskarati’s friend George Ford for pointing out this interesting blog by Dominic Cummings. – Deskarati Dominic recalls his experience at this years SciFoo Camp conference and lists some of the scenarios being discussed: 1) Extinct species are soon going to be brought back to life and the same technology will be used to modify existing species to help prevent them going extinct. 2) CRISPR  – a new gene editing technology – will be used to cure diseases and … Continue reading

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You have a bacterial ‘aura’ that follows you around

microbial(1)

Auras belong in the realm of pseudoscience, but microbiologists may have just discovered an element of truth in the concept. Scientists have found a microbial ‘aura’ of unique and identifiable communities of bacteria living on people’s skin and in their homes. These communities follow people whereever they go and leave traces that can be used almost like a fingerprint to determine a person’s movements. The US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago conducted the research … Continue reading

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Enceladus

enceladus2

On this day in 1789 William Herschel discovered Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, Enceladus. The moon’s richly textured surface implies that Enceladus has been tectonically active in (geologically) recent times. Geyser-like jets of water vapor shoot into space from its south pole. Indirect evidence of a large subsurface ocean of water suggests that Enceladus could harbor extraterrestrial life. In Greek mythology Enceladus was one of the Gigantes (Giants), who according to Hesiod, were the offspring of Gaia, born from the blood that fell when Uranus (Sky) … Continue reading

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‘Gut Reaction’ – Part 2

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