Aktuelle News

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

Dark glasses go green

New light-sensitive glass can be recycled cleanly.

Researchers in Japan have developed recyclable light-sensitive glass. The new ’ecoglass’ does not contain the environmentally damaging halogen elements chlorine, bromine or iodine. These elements are essential to the photochromic glass that is currently used for car windscreens, sunglasses and visual display units.

Like photographic film, today’s photochromic glasses darken because they contain compounds of silver and halog

When is an ant like a bicycle?

Army ants team little with large to lift heavy loads.

If you can’t see the point of the miniature back wheel on a penny-farthing bicycle, try riding a unicycle or watch an ant colony. Ants have realized that, to carry a heavy load, two supports are better than one – even if they seem comically mismatched.

When army ants partner up to carry a lump of food too big for a single ant to transport, an unusually large worker ant takes the front, and an unusually small one, the back

Storms lower ozone levels

Ozone miniholes over the North Atlantic follow the unsteady pulse of climate fluctuations.

Recurring fluctuations in the North Atlantic climate are punching miniholes in the ozone layer, exposing Scandinavia and northern Europe to higher levels of ultraviolet radiation than normal, say two climatologists.

Seesawing air pressure over Greenland and the subtropical north Atlantic Ocean stirs the atmosphere and wafts ozone-depleted air towards populated high-latitude regions in

Warm favourite

The smart money is on global warming.

An Alaskan sweepstake has become a record of global warming. The competition to predict when ice will melt reveals that, on average, the thaw comes more than five days earlier now than it did 84 years ago 1 .

In the winter of 1917, railway engineers working in Nenana, Alaska whiled away the long winter nights by erecting a wooden tripod on the frozen Tenana River and placing bets on the exact moment in spring when it would

Puffer fish raw and rich

Draft Fugu genome will help find human genes.

A draft sequence of the puffer-fish genome is complete. The fish’s compact genetics should accelerate the discovery of human genes and their key controlling sequences.

Gene-prediction programs struggle to find genes in the 3 billion letters of the human sequence, which includes swathes of junk DNA and defunct pseudogenes.

The bony fish Fugu rubripes shares our gene repertoire but has a genome one-eighth of the size.

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Physics and Astronomy

Taking correlated quantum Hall physics to the third dimension

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids and their international colleagues found signatures of an unconventional Hall response in the quantum limit of the bulk metal…

The next phase of the proton puzzle

Physicists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have tested quantum mechanics to a completely new level of precision using hydrogen spectroscopy, and in doing so they came much…

Pitt researchers create nanoscale slalom course for electrons

Professors from the Department of Physics and Astronomy have created a serpentine path for electrons. A research team led by professors from the Department of Physics and Astronomy have created…

Life Sciences

Small molecules control bacterial resistance to antibiotics

Antibiotics have revolutionized medicine by providing effective treatments for infectious diseases such as cholera. But the pathogens that cause disease are increasingly developing resistance to the antibiotics that are most…

Getting to the core of nuclear speckles

Scaffold of sub-cellular structures identified after a hundred years. Nuclear speckles are tiny agglomerations of proteins in the nucleus of the cell that are involved in the processing of genetic…

Decoding gigantic insect genome could help tackle devastating locust crises

A ‘game changing’ study deciphering the genetic material of the desert locust by researchers at the University of Leicester, could help combat the crop-ravaging behaviour of the notorious insect pest…

Agricultural and Forestry Science

Novel haplotype-led approach to increase the precision of wheat breeding

Wheat researchers at the John Innes Centre are pioneering a new technique that promises to improve gene discovery for the globally important crop. Crop breeding involves assembling desired combinations of…

Climate-adapted plant breeding

Improvement of crops with seeds from gene banks Securing plant production is a global task. Using a combination of new molecular and statistical methods, a research team from the Technical…

Mycorrhizing your way to sweeter tomatoes

Demand for mycorrhizal fungi in gardening and landscaping tasks is steadily climbing, given its ability to boost growth and yield as a natural fertilizer. In a successful first, scientists from…

Information Technology

New electronic chip delivers smarter, light-powered AI

Prototype tech shrinks AI to deliver brain-like functionality in one powerful device. Researchers have developed artificial intelligence technology that brings together imaging, processing, machine learning and memory in one electronic…

New method brings physics to deep learning to better simulate turbulence

Deep learning, also called machine learning, reproduces data to model problem scenarios and offer solutions. However, some problems in physics are unknown or cannot be represented in detail mathematically on…

Intelligent surfaces signal better coverage

Specialized reflective panels located on top of buildings and deployed widely across a city could significantly improve network coverage, shows a KAUST modeling study. Next-generation cellular networks (5G and beyond)…

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