Latest News

Melt down

Half a century of thinning ice leaves Greenland’s future looking wet.

There is new evidence that the Greenland ice pack is in retreat. The finding may be a foretaste of still more rapid melting, and in turn, rising sea levels.

The ice sheet over northwest Greenland has thinned by 10-15 cm a year over the past 40 years, two scientists calculate 1 . The trend indicates “a significant long-term thinning”, says one, Niels Reeh, of the Technical University of

Water wings aid desert survival

Humans learn water-gathering trick from bumpy beetle.

A desert beetle turns fog into drinking water with its wings, new research reveals. Materials mimicking the insect could help humans survive harsh environments.

Southwest Africa’s Namib Desert is one of the hottest and driest places on Earth. There is no rain, but on about six mornings a month a fog blows in off the Atlantic and across the land at gale force.

The beetle Stenocara traps this fleeting resour

Pores for thought

Dazzling snapshots show how ions power nerve signals round the body.

“Potassium channels underlie all our movements and thoughts,” says Rod MacKinnon of Rockefeller University in New York. His team has now unravelled the molecular mechanics of these minute protein pores. Some say the work merits a Nobel Prize.

Potassium (K + ) channels power the transmission of nerve signals through the body and the brain by ushering K + ions in and out of our cells. MacKin

Floods forecast for Bangladesh

With a weather monitoring network a new model could predict coastal floods in Bangladesh. A new model should help forecast the massive floods to which the northern coast of Bangladesh is prone 1 . In principle, the model can predict the heights and arrival times of the huge waves that cyclones cause, and so could improve the planning of sea defences. The effectiveness of the model will depend on the availability of accurate, timely and detailed meteorological data, ca

Gene Gives Plants a Unique Defense against Disease

Researchers have put a new face on what may be an old genetic weapon to help plants fight off a pesky infection. Abhaya Dandekar and colleagues at the University of California at Davis gave plants an extra gene that protected them from crown gall disease—a scourge of the walnut, grape and rose, among others—when tested in the lab. They publish their findings today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When the bacterium that causes crown gall disease enters a plant, it starts

Study Elucidates Relationship Between "Parkinsonian Personality" and Dopamine

Scientists have long noted that people suffering from Parkinson’s disease commonly exhibit a specific personality type characterized by, among other things, a lower-than-average tendency to seek out new experiences. In explanation, investigators suggested that this trait was rooted in an inability to reap the pleasurable rewards of increased dopamine levels normally brought about by new stimuli because the disease destroys the neurotransmitter. Previous studies of personality and dopamine activi

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Physics and Astronomy

Compact accelerator technology achieves major energy milestone

Particle accelerators hold great potential for semiconductor applications, medical imaging and therapy, and research in materials, energy and medicine. But conventional accelerators require plenty of elbow room — kilometers —…

Vectorial adaptive optics: correcting both polarization and phase

Adaptive optics (AO) is a technique used for real-time correction of phase aberrations by employing feedback to adjust the optical system. Polarization aberrations represent another significant type of distortion that…

New insights into broken symmetries

The Lorentz reciprocal theorem can now be applied to fluids with broken symmetries. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (MPI-DS) in Göttingen have found a way…

Life Sciences and Chemistry

Revolutionizing cancer treatment through programmable bacteria

Texas A&M University researchers are co-leading a $20 million project to develop a $1 cancer treatment. What if a single one-dollar dose could cure cancer? A multi-university team of researchers,…

When growth becomes a weakness

Growth is a fundamental biological process and a prerequisite for living organisms to develop and reproduce. The processes of cell growth (i.e. the production of new biomass) and of cell…

Heart repair via neuroimmune crosstalk

Unlike humans, zebrafish can completely regenerate their hearts after injury. They owe this ability to the interaction between their nervous and immune systems, as researchers led by Suphansa Sawamiphak from…

Materials Sciences

New study shows how heat can be used in computing

Physicists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and Central South University in China have demonstrated that, combining specific materials, heat in technical devices can be used in computing. Their discovery…

Hybrid transistors set stage for integration of biology and microelectronics

Microprocessor-scale transistors detect and respond to biological states and the environment. Your phone may have more than 15 billion tiny transistors packed into its microprocessor chips. The transistors are made…

Discovery of structural regularity hidden in silica glass

Glass – whether used to insulate our homes or as the screens in our computers and smartphones – is a fundamental material. Yet, despite its long usage throughout human history,…

Information Technology

Single ions in nano-sized particles

A new platform for quantum information processing. Processing quantum information relies on interacting qubits – the basic building blocks of quantum information – to perform computational tasks. Scientists are searching…

New computer code for mechanics of tissues and cells in three dimensions

Open-source supercomputer algorithm predicts patterning and dynamics of living materials and enables studying their behavior in space and time. Biological materials are made of individual components, including tiny motors that…

ccelerating the phase identification of multiphase mixtures with deep learning

Researchers develop a deep learning model that can detect a previously unknown quasicrystalline phase present in multiphase crystalline samples. Crystalline materials are made up of atoms, ions, or molecules arranged…