Category Archives: Science

Leonardo’s Hearts

He may be renowned for masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, but Leonardo da Vinci is also one of the greatest anatomists the world has seen. His intricate knowledge of the human body, which was years ahead of his time, is demonstrated in a collection of notebooks which he filled with detailed studies of organs, bones, vessels and muscles using new illustrative techniques. The collection of notebooks, which date between 1452 and 1519, chart much of … Continue reading

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Monster chromosomes are fuelling cancer growth

Massive chromosomes in cancer cells are stitching together our shattered DNA to drive tumour growth, a new study has found. Researchers have figured out what causes neochromosomes – monstrous, DNA molecules that are found in certain cancer cells – to develop. The findings explain that these giant, hybrid DNA strands are actually keeping tumours alive, and offer a new target for anti-cancer drugs. The nucleus of every cell in your body contains about three metres of DNA that’s all tightly … Continue reading

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Common blood-pressure drug cures diabetes in mice – human trials begin in 2015

A new study by a team from the University of Alabama (UAB) in the US has revealed that the drug verapamil, which is commonly used to treat high blood pressure, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat, could be the key to curing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in humans. A few years ago, the team discovered that the progression of diabetes was linked to a pancreatic protein known as TXNIP. They found that diabetes initially develops when high blood … Continue reading

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World-first evidence suggests that meditation alters cancer survivors’ cells

We’re often told that being happy, meditating and mindfulness can benefit our health. We all have that one friend of a friend who says they cured their terminal illness by quitting their job and taking up surfing – but until now there’s been very little scientific evidence to back up these claims. Now researchers in Canada have found the first evidence to suggest that support groups that encourage meditation and yoga can actually alter the cellular activity of cancer survivors. … Continue reading

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Researchers capture the emergence of multicellular life in real-time experiments

All multicellular creatures are descended from single-celled organisms. The leap from unicellularity to multicellularity is possible only if the originally independent cells collaborate. So-called cheating cells that exploit the cooperation of others are considered a major obstacle. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany, together with researchers from New Zealand and the USA, have observed in real time the evolution of simple self-reproducing groups of cells from previously individual cells. The nascent organisms are comprised … Continue reading

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Unprecedented New Image Shows A Planet-Forming Disc Around A Young Star

Now this is extraordinary. It’s the sharpest picture ever made of a protoplanetary disc surrounding a young star. The image, which bears a striking resemblance to prior artistic impressions, is set to revolutionize our understanding of how planets form… …To make this observation, ALMA was pointed at HL Tauri, a young star located about 450 light-years away. The image reveals unexpectedly fine detail in the disc of material left over from star birth. You can actually see a series of … Continue reading

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Shock report reveals universe is being swallowed up by dark energy

Scientists have claimed that the universe could become a void of nothingness, as the dark matter of which the universe is built on is slowly being erased by dark energy. The shocking report, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, showed that dark energy grows as it interacts with dark matter. As the dark energy grows, it slows down the growth of structure in our atmosphere – meaning that we could be left with a universe with almost nothing in … Continue reading

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A bowling ball and feather fall in world’s biggest vacuum chamber

It was Galileo himself who first discovered that in a vacuum, if you were to drop two objects from the same height, they’d hit the ground at exactly the same time, regardless of their respective weights. Of course, on Earth, we rarely – if ever – get the change to see this at play, thanks to a phenomenon known as air resistance. The combination of bowling ball and feather is the perfect way to demonstrate air resistance, also known as … Continue reading

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New electric spoon can zap tongue with extra flavour

spoon

Imagine if you could satisfy your sweet tooth without risking cavities or those few extra calories. This may sound too good to be true, but researchers in the United Arab Emirates have invented a spoon that can recreate flavours such as saltiness, sourness, bitterness, or sweetness, by using electricity – an invention that could be useful for those with dietary restrictions. Researchers at the New York University Abu Dhabi invented the ingenius utensil using a new technology known as a … Continue reading

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Astronomers solve puzzle about bizarre object at the center of our galaxy

For years, astronomers have been puzzled by a bizarre object in the center of the Milky Way that was believed to be a hydrogen gas cloud headed toward our galaxy’s enormous black hole. Having studied it during its closest approach to the black hole this summer, UCLA astronomers believe that they have solved the riddle of the object widely known as G2. A team led by Andrea Ghez, professor of physics and astronomy in the UCLA College, determined that G2 … Continue reading

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New research suggests you make better decisions when you’re hungry

You might think that it’s better to be well-fed rather than starving when you’re trying to make a big, life-changing decision, but new research suggests quite the opposite. ‘Hot states’ – a term used to describe a high level of emotion caused by something like hunger – actually improve your ability to make long-term decisions. Researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands conducted three separate experiments on a group of students to test whether hunger led to advantageous strategic decision-making. … Continue reading

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Scientists use stem cells to grow tiny human stomachs

If you ever visit a doctor about some kind of persistent stomach problem, such as frequent bloating, cramps, or constipation, you’ll quickly discover just how mysterious the human stomach is, even to the experts. As you’re referred to an ultrasound machine, a nutritionist, and quite possibly another doctor, and asked to trial various diet changes and treatments over the course of several months, you’ll probably be wondering why there isn’t a better way. Maybe you have the very common gastrointestinal … Continue reading

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Newly explored regions of the human genome reveal fundamental processes of life

genome

Scientists have gained an insight into previously uncharted regions of the human genome, discovering the function of more than 250 genes involved in cell growth and development. Ten years ago, the human genome, often referred to by scientists as the ‘book of life’, was mapped and sequenced. This genetic blueprint was the culmination of years of research, yet we still do not fully understand the function of almost half these genes. In an effort to unravel the role of more … Continue reading

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Why doctors always whack you in the knee

Thanks to Phil Krause for advising us about the Mono-Synaptic Response. Why doctors always whack you in the knee? Yes, yes, reflexes. But why the knee? And what would it mean if your knee didn’t jerk. Find out why you are beaten with a rubber mallet as part of a medical check-up. There are plenty of tests doctors do that live in infamy; especially when it involves telling a patient to cough. Only one term has broken free of the … Continue reading

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Ambition

As Tomek Bagiński’s short film Ambition makes clear, it is the essence of what it means to be human, to attempt difficult things, to reach for seemingly impossible goals, to learn, adapt and evolve. And at the heart of this film is Rosetta, ESA’s real mission to rendezvous with, escort and land on a comet. A mission that began as a dream, but that after decades of planning, construction and flight through the Solar System, has arrived at its goal. … Continue reading

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Scientists have grown a functioning blood vessel in just seven days

Using just two tablespoons of blood, scientists have managed to grow a brand new blood vessel in a week – revolutionising the method used for creating new tissue with stem cells. Three years ago, a patient who was missing the vein that connects the gastrointestinal tract to the liver received a blood vessel transplant grown from their own stem cells. Shortly after this case, the pioneering transplant was performed again on two young children, but this time, the stem cells … Continue reading

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Figuring out how we get the nitrogen we need

Nitrogen is an essential component of all living systems, playing important roles in everything from proteins and nucleic acids to vitamins. It is the most abundant element in Earth’s atmosphere and is literally all around us, but in its gaseous state, N2,, it is inert and useless to most organisms. Something has to convert, or “fix,” that nitrogen into a metabolically usable form, such as ammonia. Until about 100 years ago when an industrial-scale technique called the Haber-Bosch process was … Continue reading

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Now We Know What Makes White Dwarf Stars Go Supernova

What makes a dead star explode? Scientists have long suspected a mechanism for making a white dwarf go supernova, but they weren’t able to confirm it — until now. ESA recently trained its INTEGRAL observatory on an exploding supernova in the M82 galaxy, and were able to catch it in the act as it threw off gamma rays in its final death throes. The signature of those gamma rays, says ESA, are hard evidence of just how fusion is taking … Continue reading

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Sweet! A special cocoa drink may reverse memory loss

A special type of concentrated cocoa drink seems to turn back the clock on memory, changing the brain and helping middle-aged people ace memory tests, researchers reported on Sunday. Plant compounds called flavanols seem to be what does the trick, the team at Columbia University Medical Center report in the journal Nature Neuroscience. “If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of … Continue reading

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Where Does the Smell of Rain Come From?

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