Latest News

Material bones up

Programmed molecules build themselves into a bone-mimic.

Scientists in the United States have made self-assembling synthetic bone 1 . Carefully designed building-blocks join up to mimic bone’s complex molecular-scale architecture, bringing better prosthetics a step closer.

Materials engineers are keen to emulate the strength and toughness of biominerals such as bone, tooth and shell. Mollusc shells, for example, a composite of the mineral calcium carbonate a

BSE’s epidemic proportions

While prion diseases seem to be waning in humans, they could be waxing in sheep.

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) may claim only around 200 victims, a new model predicts 1 . This degenerative brain disease is thought to occur when people are exposed to misfolded prion proteins from meat infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or ’mad cow disease’).

Meanwhile, another study warns that a huge BSE epidemic could be brewing in the UK

Flower Chemicals Both Attract Friends and Deter Foes

Talk about multi-tasking. A new study reveals that in the St. John’s Wort plant, Hypericum calycinum, the same chemical not only attracts pollinating insects but also deters herbivores that pose a threat to its survival. The findings appear in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

To the human eye, the flowers of H. calycinum appear as uniform yellow disks (top image). Insects with ultraviolet-sensitive eyes, however, see a dark, ultraviolet-absorbing ce

Stiff challenge to instability

The secret of a steady hand is tightening the right muscles.

Controlling the stiffness of some of our muscles lets us manage tricky feats of manipulation, such as keeping a screwdriver in a screw, researchers have found 1 . We tune the stiffness to oppose motions in the direction of instability, such as the sideways slips that would let the screwdriver slide out of the slot.

Although demanding on the brain, this is the most energy-efficient strategy, say Mitsu

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

Page
1 17,793 17,794 17,795 17,796 17,797 17,808

Physics and Astronomy

Practical 3D tracking at record-breaking speeds

With speeds over 200 times faster than traditional methods, new technology could benefit autonomous driving, industrial inspection and security applications. Researchers have developed a new 3D method that can be…

Astronomers see a massive black hole awaken in real time

In late 2019 the previously unremarkable galaxy SDSS1335+0728 suddenly started shining brighter than ever before. To understand why, astronomers have used data from several space and ground-based observatories, including the…

Cosmic blast hunter SVOM to launch with optimal optics from Leicester

Mission to find gamma ray bursts is latest to use technology from University of Leicester in X-ray optics. A satellite telescope designed to rapidly hunt down the universe’s biggest explosions…

Life Sciences and Chemistry

‘Invisible’ protein keeps cancer at bay

Scientists in Germany have revealed how an unstructured protein traps cancer-promoting molecules. Each second of our lives, cells in our body grow and divide to ensure we stay healthy. However,…

Hidden partners: Symbiodolus bacteria found in various insect orders

The endosymbiont Symbiodolus clandestinus, living inside insect cells, has remained undiscovered until now. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology report its discovery in at least six insect…

A Railroad of Cells – Computer simulations explain cell movement

Looking under the microscope, a group of cells slowly moves forward in a line, like a train on the tracks. The cells navigate through complex environments. A new approach by…

Materials Sciences

Electrifying insights into how catalysts work at the atomic level

An approach developed by materials scientists is already yielding discoveries that could improve the efficiency and durability of metallic catalysts used in a variety of processes. A team led by…

Watching energy materials as they form

Eyes glued to a live transmission from inside a reaction vessel, LMU researchers watch chemical reactions at work. Their results will improve the manufacture of the next generation of energy…

New class of materials called ‘glassy gels’

Researchers have created a new class of materials called “glassy gels” that are very hard and difficult to break despite containing more than 50% liquid. Coupled with the fact that…

Information Technology

Breakthrough may clear major hurdle for quantum computers

The potential of quantum computers is currently thwarted by a trade-off problem. Quantum systems that can carry out complex operations are less tolerant to errors and noise, while systems that…

Researchers leverage shadows to model 3D scenes

…including objects blocked from view. This technique could lead to safer autonomous vehicles, more efficient AR/VR headsets, or faster warehouse robots. Imagine driving through a tunnel in an autonomous vehicle,…

LIST launches pioneering nanosatellite experiment

…to demonstrate energy harvesting innovation in space. The mission entails sending technologies developed at LIST into space for testing with an aim to achieve flight heritage. The Luxembourg Institute of…