Nearly fifty years ago, researchers discovered that when cells in laboratory cultures are infected by a virus, they secrete a substance that protects other cells from infection. In 1957 Alick Issaks and Jean-Jacques Lindenmann traced this effect to a protein called interferon, a molecule now known to play a key role in the immune system. Human and animal cells produce it in a rapid “first wave” response to infections. Since its discovery, scientists have sought to use this natural substance to cure a
In the powerful, fast-fading realm of gamma-ray bursts, scientists say they have detected for the first time a lingering afterglow of the shortest types of bursts, which themselves disappear within a second.
This afterglow, radiating in X rays, may provide crucial insight into what triggers the mysterious bursts, the most energetic explosions in the Universe, second only to the big bang in total power. Previously, scientists had only detected the afterglow of longer bursts, which can last fr
Interstellar travellers should be “motivated, tolerant and nice”.
One hundred and sixty fertile, motivated, English speakers could make it to distant stars, researchers have worked out. But generations down the line, returning voyagers may speak an alien tongue.
Travel to planets orbiting other stars will soon be technically possible, the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences in Boston heard last week. But the 200-year odyssey will require a cer
Sophisticated jewellery appeared with social events.
Our early ancestors glammed-up for a get-together. Humans worldwide began wearing jewellery at the same time as groups started meeting up, say US researchers. The finding counters the idea that modern behaviour swept the globe when modern humans migrated out of Africa.
Mary Stiner and her colleagues unearthed ancient necklaces at three sites in Asia, Africa and Europe. Residents of Kenya around 40,000 years ago
Bleak forecast for sea level in 2100.
Sea level could rise by up to 30 centimetres over the next century, a new estimate predicts. That’s almost twice as much as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected last year.
“My grandchildren will almost certainly be affected,” says Mark Meier of the University of Colorado, Boulder, who made the revised estimate. Such a rise could push shorelines back by 30 metres, he said, flooding coasts and submerging islands.
Obesity epidemic sweeps into developing world
Obesity is spreading to all corners of the globe, researchers warned the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston. Sedentary lifestyles and fast food are causing previously unaffected populations to fall foul of fat.
“Obesity is no longer confined to Western, industrialized societies,” said anthropologist Marquisa LaVelle of the University of Rhode Island, Providence. Guatemalans in the United S
Match up folds to fight stubborn paper.
No road journey is complete without a wrestle with the map. Now a US computer scientist has worked out why the map usually wins.
Erik Demaine of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge has come up with an origami algorithm that predicts when a stubborn street plan will be re-foldable. “It’s the meeting of paper folding and computer science,” he says.
The rules governing whether a sheet of paper divided into a g
Markus Landgraf of the European Space Agency and colleagues (*) have found the first direct evidence that a bright disc of dust surrounds our Solar System, starting beyond the orbit of Saturn.
Remarkably, their discovery gives astronomers a way to determine which other stars in the Galaxy are most likely to harbour planets and allows mission planners to draw up a ’short-list’ of stars to be observed by ESA’s future planet-search missions, Eddington and Darwin.
The discovery of th
The Society for General Microbiology (SGM) has launched Microbiology Online – a new web site for biology teachers and technicians in schools and colleges. The site is packed with information and resources to support microbiology teaching at all key stages and post-16 level.
In return for completing an on-line feedback form the SGM are offering schools the chance to win either a World of Microbes teaching pack for KS2 or a bioreactor kit worth £105, which is suitable for KS3/4 and post-16. T
Yellow fever has been written off in the past as a global threat. Yet the failure to eradicate this disease has left the door open for new, large, outbreaks as vaccination of travellers and tropical populations declines, according to an article in the February issue of Microbiology Today magazine from the Society for General Microbiology.
“Yellow fever virus attracts less public attention than, for instance, lassa and ebola, but it remains the greater threat. Containment through effective m
Princeton-led study links magic-angle graphene and high-temperature superconductivity. The discovery in 2018 of superconductivity in two single-atom-thick layers of graphene stacked at a precise angle of 1.1 degrees (called ‘magic’-angle…
New filters could benefit data communication, quantum information processing and optical neural networks. Researchers report the development of frequency translating add/drop filters based on electro-optically modulated photonic molecules. The new…
Researchers from Japan develop a platform based on nanofibers to trap brain cancer cells as a therapeutic strategy. Our body heals its injuries by essentially replacing damaged cells with new…
The skin bacterium Staphylococcus aureus often develops antibiotic resistance. It can then cause infections that are difficult to treat. Researchers at the University of Bonn have uncovered an ingenious way…
Light offers an irreplaceable way to interact with our universe. It can travel across galactic distances and collide with our atmosphere, creating a shower of particles that tell a story…
Integrated photonics allow us to build compact, portable, low-power chip-scale optical systems used in commercial products, revolutionizing today’s optical datacenters and communications. But integrating on-chip optical gain elements to build…
Scientists from Skoltech, Philips Research, and Goethe University Frankfurt have trained a neural network to detect anomalies in medical images to assist physicians in sifting through countless scans in search of pathologies….