Latest News

Flies caught napping

Researchers discover two molecules that help fruitflies sleep.

Mutant flies that lack the chemicals sleep more. In mammals the same molecules are also involved in learning and memory, supporting the idea that one function of sleep is to consolidate our record of the day’s experiences 1 .

The molecules are cyclic AMP and CREB, chemical messengers that work within cells. Cyclic AMP activates CREB, which then switches on genes.

Joan Hendricks, of th

Computers spot shape clues

Two techniques may help deduce proteins’ functions.

Imagine trying to guess what machines do just be looking at them. Even a can-opener would pose problems, if you didn’t know about cans. This is the challenge that faces molecular biologists as they try to make sense of protein molecules in the cell.

Two new techniques may help. One deduces a protein’s function from its shape; the other deduces its shape from a list of component parts 1 , 2 .

Felling trees has sky-high price

Deforestation is drying out cloud forests.

“It drips,” says ecologist Robert Lawton, describing the Costa Rican cloud forest, “and it’s plastered with plants of all sizes climbing over each other. Stand still for long and they’re growing on you.”

Now the lush life he describes may be threatened. Satellite pictures show that deforestation at the foot of western Costa Rican mountains is drying out swirling summit mists.

When warm, wet tradewinds blowing off the Caribb

And now December’s weather

Meterologists look up for long-range forecasts.

Looking high into the atmosphere now might tell us whether we’re in for a white Christmas. Unusual stratospheric conditions herald changes in winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere up to two months later, say US researchers 1 .

The finding won’t let your weather forecaster warn you to wrap up warm two months hence, but it may be a valuable addition to meteorologists’ toolkits. “The effect works on average, bu

ATTO-TEC® Stable activated fluorescent dyes at room temperature (RT)

ATTO-TEC® has developed the second generation of fluorescent dyes which are stable at room temperature for more than six months.

With Atto 520, Atto 565 and Atto 590 we are pleased to offer three stable fluorescent dyes as amine-reactive succinimidyl esters which will be available from November 2001 on. This allows researchers an easy handling for selectively target- labeling by linking a fluorophore to primary amine groups on proteins or modified nucleic acids.
Further stable activate

Breast cancer screens scrutinised

Study questions whether mammography saves lives.

Breast-cancer screening programmes may not save lives, according to a new examination of clinical trials. The controversial findings have led to calls for a re-evaluation of the routine monitoring procedure undergone by numerous women.

Mammography, X-ray breast imaging, is used in Europe and the United States to catch cancers early. “We’ve based a national screening programme on a set of results which do not stand up to scrut

Fat busts fits

A large, long-term study confirms that diet can help some epileptic children.

A strict high-fat, low-carbohydrate, calorie-restricted diet reduces seizures in children with intractable epilepsy. So concludes the largest and longest trial of an eating plan that was first suggested almost a century ago.

For about two years, epileptic youngsters on a ’ketogenic diet’ eat 25% less than normal and consume 90% of their daily calories as fats. They take vitamins and minerals to avo

Protection racket generates drug leads

Chemists build molecules by paring them down

Complex molecules, such as many drugs, can be fiddly to assemble. By binding their starting compounds in chains 1 , chemists in Denmark may have found a way speed the automated chemical synthesis of such complicated products.

Les Miranda and Morten Meldal of Carlsberg University in Copenhagen have solved the following problem. Complex molecules are usually built up from a core with several near-identical hooks on w

Cancer risk takes shape

About half of all patients with hereditary breast or ovarian cancer have mutations in a gene called BRCA1. Now the first images of the protein the gene encodes, BRCA1, are helping researchers work out how the mutations cause human disease.

The pictures reveal fine detail of how BRCA1 interacts with other proteins. Such information should help researchers work out how BRCA1 prevents cells becoming cancerous. They suspect that it is involved in DNA repair, controlling cell division and regula

Birds fly in the face of green farming incentive scheme

European subsidies to enhance farmland wildlife may not be working.

The effectiveness of schemes that seek to promote biodiversity by paying farmers to cut back on intensive agriculture could be called into question by some research findings from Holland.

The incentive programmes, which already cost the European Union 1.7 billion euros (US$1.5 billion) each year and are rapidly expanding in scope, are partly motivated by the desire of European governments to subsidize farmin

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Physics and Astronomy

Atom interferometry demonstrated in space for the first time

Researchers present results of experiments with atom interferometry on a sounding rocket / Further rocket missions set to follow. Extremely precise measurements are possible using atom interferometers that employ the…

A Novel Tunable Force in Electrolyte Solutions

Solutions that conduct electricity, ‘electrolytes’, are ubiquitous not only in batteries and capacitors but also in biofluids including blood plasma; of great practical importance is thus to understand how electrolytes…

Quantum boost for a classical cooling technology

New material improves magnetic cooling near absolute zero … Cooling is a long-standing technological challenge. Standard cooling cycle based on vapor compression exploits expensive helium gas to reach temperatures near…

Life Sciences and Chemistry

Chemists create renewable plant-based polymers

What makes them different is that they can be easily recycled. Researchers at the Laboratory of Cluster Catalysis at St Petersburg University have synthesised polymers from biomass. What makes them…

First images of cells exposed to COVID-19 vaccine reveal native-like Coronavirus spikes

New research has for the first time compared images of the protein spikes that develop on the surface of cells exposed to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to the protein spike of…

Popeye with a whiff of rotten eggs

A sulfosugar from green vegetables promotes the growth of important gut bacteria. Diet and the gut microbiome With the consumption of a single type of vegetable such as spinach, hundreds…

Agricultural and Forestry Science

UMD reports six novel variants for CRISPR-Cas12a in plants …

– expanding genome engineering … In a new publication in Nature Communications, associate professor of Plant Science at the University of Maryland Yiping Qi continues to innovate genome editing and…

Artificial Light Affects Plant Pollination Even During the Daytime

Streetlights alter the number of flower visits by insects not just at night, but also during the daytime. Artificial light at night thus indirectly affects the entire plant-pollinator community, with…

Rice Plant Resists Arsenic

The agricultural cultivation of the staple food of rice harbours the risk of possible contamination with arsenic that can reach the grains following uptake by the roots. In their investigation…

Information Technology

Machine learning at speed

Inserting lightweight optimization code in high-speed network devices has enabled a KAUST-led collaboration to increase the speed of machine learning on parallelized computing systems five-fold. This “in-network aggregation” technology, developed…

Challenging the design of electrovibrations to generate a more realistic feel

A user should feel realistic haptic feedback on a touchscreen embedded with electrovibration technology. Unfortunately, not even the most advanced touchscreen devices provide a realistic user experience – all images…

NIST demo adds key capability to atom-based radio communications

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and collaborators have demonstrated an atom-based sensor that can determine the direction of an incoming radio signal, another key part…