Latest News

Smell rules fire ants

One gene controls whether a persistent pest serves one or many queens.

A protein that spots smell controls the power structure of fire ant colonies, Michael Krieger and Kenneth Ross of the University of Georgia, Athens, have discovered 1 . One form of the protein leads to nests with several queens living in harmony. The other leaves only one ruler.

Fire ants’ social life is of more than academic interest. The species (Solenopsis invicta) has spread from

Semiconductors get on our nerves

Nerve cells soldered to semiconductors cross computing with neuroscience

Scientists in the United States are soldering nerve cells to semiconductors. Christine Schmidt and colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin use a sliver of protein to connect neurons and tiny crystals of semiconductors called quantum dots 1 .

This cross between biology and electronics could have useful applications, including the manufacture of prosthetics operated directly by a

Gene may fend off prions

A gene may protect people against variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

People who lack a gene involved in immune responses may be three times more likely to suffer from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a new study suggests1. The result, if borne out in larger studies, could point researchers toward therapies for the incurable brain disease.

vCJD is thought to occur when people are exposed to misshapen prion proteins from cows with bovine spongiform encephalopathy – B

Study Shows Sheep Have Keen Memory for Faces

You would be forgiven for underestimating the intelligence of sheep, considering that their daily activities revolve around grazing. But research reported in the current issue of Nature indicates that, in fact, sheep possess more smarts than previously thought.

Keith Kendrick and colleagues at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, England, investigated the sheep’s ability to distinguish and remember faces of both other sheep and humans. Presenting 20 sheep with pictures of 25 pairs of sheep

A little logic goes a long way

Ultra-minaturized electrical components could shrink supercomputers.

Researchers in the Netherlands and the United States have constructed simple computer circuits with electrical components many times smaller than those on commercial silicon chips 1 , 2 . These ultra-minaturized logic circuits hold out the prospect of hand-held computers as powerful as today’s state-of-the-art supercomputers.

Cees Dekker and co-workers at the Delft University

Ancient Bone Tools Suggest Modern Human Behavior Has African Roots

It’s an enduring enigma in paleoanthropology: when and where did modern human behavior arise? The fossil record suggests that anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa sometime between 150,000 and 100,000 years ago. Yet the earliest convincing indications of behavioral modernity in our species, archaeologists have argued, date to tens of thousands of years later and have turned up in Europe, not Africa. With that in mind, some theorists posited that modern behavior blossomed late and rather sudd

New angle on vision

Our brains use angular measurements to decide how far away objects are.

Even if trigonometry wasn’t your strong suit in school, your brain uses it constantly. You judge distance by measuring the angle between the ground and your line of sight to an object, a new study shows. The finding could improve the design of robots and artificial vision systems 1 .

Volunteers who looked through prisms that increased this angle thought objects were closer than they reall

Clean sheet for paper making

New catalyst means greener paper is not pulp fiction.

Pollution from paper production could be cut, say US chemists, with a new way of refining wood pulp 1 . But the process must go through the mill before it can convert industry.

During paper production, gluey wood component lignin is stripped out to leave stringy cellulose. The harsh chemicals used create environmental pollutants, such as toxic and long-lasting chlorinated compounds.

A new chemical

Imaging Study Produces Genetic Brain Maps

Scientists are finally beginning to understand how common genetic differences among individuals underlie differences in the structures that make up their brains. In the first attempt to actually map these variations, neurologist Paul Thompson and colleagues at the University of California at Los Angeles have discovered that brain structures related to cognitive ability and language seem to be under tight genetic control. The group’s findings, which could help explain how diseases like schizophre

Drop in found out

Air lets water droplets skim across the kitchen sink.

Scientists have found the answer to a question pondered over many a kitchen sink: why do little droplets skim across the surface of washing-up water rather than mix with it?

Yacine Amarouchene and colleagues at the University of Bordeaux in Talence, France have discovered that the height from which the drops fall has no effect on their lifespan 1 .

Soap, detergent – and indeed food grease – are ’

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Physics and Astronomy

Unmasking the magic of superconductivity in twisted graphene

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…

On the hunt for hypernuclei

The WASA detector at GSI/FAIR… With the WASA detector, a very special instrument is currently being set up at GSI/FAIR. Together with the fragment separator FRS, it will be used…

Frequency translating add/drop filters designed for on-chip light manipulation

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…

Life Sciences and Chemistry

Under arrest: Using nanofibers to stop brain tumor cells from spreading

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…

How staphylococci protect themselves against antibiotics

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…

Brain cells work remotely

Neurons use local protein synthesis as dominant source of protein production To form and modify synaptic connections and store information, such as memories, neurons continuously remodel their essential cellular resources,…

Agricultural and Forestry Science

Aptasensors helpful in detection of mycotoxins

A publication saw light in Chemosensors. Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of fungi that contaminate agriculture products. Their release in the environment can cause severe damage to human health. Aptasensors are…

New model tracks carbon in agroecosystems

Solution Sets the Bar for Quantifying Carbon Budget and Credit. Carbon is everywhere. It’s in the atmosphere, in the oceans, in the soil, in our food, in our bodies. As…

Tracking future forest fires with AI

As temperatures rise, the risk of devastating forest fires is increasing. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) are using artificial intelligence to estimate the long-term impact that an…

Information Technology

New photonic chip for isolating light may be key to miniaturizing quantum devices

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…

A traffic light for light-on-a-chip

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…

Artificial intelligence spots anomalies in medical images

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….