RESPECT FOR AN ELDER. Twenty-one-year-old Dara Neuman, a senior majoring in biology in Cornells College of Arts and Sciences, displays a naked mole-rat that was born years before she was. The extreme longevity of the rodents is said to help confirm the evolutionary theory of senescence
Cornell University Photography
Copyright © Cornell University
Virtually hairless, venerably wrinkled and very nearly blind, naked mole-rats -- those homely rodents from underground Africa -- remind some zoo-goers of little old men.
The resemblance is more than coincidence. They really are really old males -- and females, too -- biologists report in an article scheduled for November publication in the Journal of Zoology (Vol. 258, Part 3). Many naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber) in laboratory colonies in the United States and South Africa have lived more than 20 years, and some are at least 26 years old, making them by far the oldest small rodents in captivity.
That distinction won’t get them birthday greetings from the president. But their species is being hailed as a perfect exemplar for the evolutionary theory of senescence (or aging), which explains why some bodies wear out before others. Senescence theory also tries to explain, for example, why gerbils live only a couple of years, humans regularly live eight to nine decades and redwood trees for millennia.
Roger Segelken | EurekAlert!
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22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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