Latest News

Water drop holds a trillion computers

Devices with DNA software may one day be fitted into cells.

“If you wear the right glasses, a lot of what you see inside the cell is computation,” says Ehud Shapiro of the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel. Now Shapiro and his colleagues have turned the computational power of biological molecules to their own ends 1 .

The researchers have built a machine that solves mathematical problems using DNA as software and enzymes as hardware. A trillion such biomol

Deception fuels domestic bliss

Evolution may make men ignorant and gullible.

Gentlemen: ignorance is bliss and gullibility is the best policy. A new mathematical analysis suggests that evolution favours babies who don’t much resemble their fathers, and males who believe their partner when she says a child looks just like him.

Anonymous-looking newborns make for uncertain fathers. But they also allow men to father children through undetected adultery, Paola Bressan of the University of Padova calculates

Cystic Fibrosis Study Points to Potential Treatment

Researchers have discovered the mechanism by which the genetic defect underlying cystic fibrosis (CF) leads to fatal bacterial colonization of the lungs. The new findings, published today in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that an aerosol treatment aimed at balancing pH in lung cells could be developed to stave off or delay such infections.

The most common inherited lethal disorder in Caucasians, CF stems from mutations in a gene that

Bugs enjoy hamster sex

Bacteria caught mating with mammalian cells.

Cross-species coupling is generally frowned upon. But in the liberal labs of California it is actively being encouraged. Bugs that are persuaded to get down and dirty with hamster cells are rewriting sex manuals in the act.

Like humans, bacteria mate using a timely protruding phallus. It suckers a nearby bacterium and drags it close enough to shoot in DNA – a process called conjugation.

Although bacteria have been persuad

Study Shows Massive Magma Chamber Lies Beneath Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius, the volcano most famous for blanketing the towns of Pompei and Herculaneum with lava and debris in 79 A.D., may be sitting atop a reservoir of magma that covers more than 400 square kilometers, a new study suggests. The finding, reported in the current issue of the journal Science by a group of Italian and French scientists, may lead to more accurate monitoring of the area surrounding the volcano.

Building on previous work that suggested the presence of a magma zone underne

New form of oxygen found

Scientists have detected a molecule they’ve been looking for since the 1920s.

Scientists in Italy have discovered a new form of oxygen 1 . In addition to the two well-known forms – ozone and the oxygen molecules in air – there is a third, they say, in which oxygen atoms are grouped in fours.

The oxygen molecules that we breathe (denoted O 2 ) consist of two oxygen atoms. This, the most stable form of oxygen, makes up about one-fifth of air. Ozone is

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

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Physics and Astronomy

Simulations shed significant light on janus particles

Interfacial diffusion of nanoparticles strongly affected by their shape and surface coating. Named for a Roman god, Janus particles refer to nanoparticles that possess surfaces with two or more distinct…

The Tip of the Mathematical Iceberg

ISTA professor Hausel publishes new theory about the fundamental mathematics underlying particle physics. Symmetries are fundamental to physics. Searching and analyzing them helped physicists to construct a theory of a…

Orbital insertion burn a success, Webb arrives at L2

24 Jan 2022, at 2 p.m. EST, Webb fired its onboard thrusters for nearly five minutes (297 seconds) to complete the final postlaunch course correction to Webb’s trajectory. This mid-course correction…

Life Sciences and Chemistry

Hungry yeast are tiny, living thermometers

Membranes are crucial to our cells. Every cell in your body is enclosed by one. And each of those cells contains specialized compartments, or organelles, which are also enclosed by…

Neuronal cooperation in the auditory cortex

Our brain consists of a right and a left hemisphere. Both hemispheres have different tasks and functions in perceiving and learning. In a recent study with Mongolian gerbils, researchers at…

New treatments in the pipeline for severe cases of COVID-19?

Team of biologists from the University of Magdeburg identifies causes of vascular damage in severe cases of COVID-19. Scientists from the Institute of Biology at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg…

Materials Sciences

Atomic Armor for accelerators enables discoveries

Advancement in single-atom layer graphene coatings improves accelerator electron source lifespans. Protective coatings are common for many things in daily life that see a lot of use: we coat wood…

Rusting iron can be its own worst enemy

Rice team’s simulations show iron catalyzes corrosion in ‘inert’ carbon dioxide. Iron that rusts in water theoretically shouldn’t corrode in contact with an “inert” supercritical fluid of carbon dioxide. But it does….

Advancing materials science with the help of biology and a dash of dish soap

High-speed X-ray free-electron lasers have unlocked the crystal structures of small molecules relevant to chemistry and materials science, proving a new method that could advance semiconductor and solar cell development….

Information Technology

How big does your quantum computer need to be?

What size will a quantum computer need to be to break Bitcoin encryption or simulate molecules? Quantum computers are expected to be disruptive and potentially impact many industry sectors. So…

Autonomous underwater maintenance

Project consortium presents powerful IT infrastructure for innovative dual-arm AUV. Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), operated and controlled by artificial intelligence (AI) methods, inspect, maintain, and repair offshore installations underwater. A…

Aircraft in radio contact

TU Graz develops simulation tools for transponder occupancy. The simulation tool developed at the Institute of Microwave and Photonic Engineering shows the site-specific transponder occupancy caused by radar interrogations in…