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Jun 13, 2024

A Billion-Year Evolutionary Tale — Biologists Trace Cell Division Back to Its Roots

Posted by in categories: evolution, genetics

Cell division is a crucial process for all life forms, from bacteria to blue whales, enabling growth, reproduction, and the continuation of species. Despite its universal nature, the methods of cell division vary significantly across organisms. A recent study by EMBL Heidelberg’s Dey group, along with their collaborators and published in Nature, investigates the evolution of cell division methods in organisms closely related to fungi and animals. For the first time, this research demonstrates the connection between an organism’s life cycle and its cell division techniques.

Despite last sharing a common ancestor over a billion years ago, animals and fungi are similar in many ways. Both belong to a broader group called ‘eukaryotes’ – organisms whose cells store their genetic material inside a closed compartment called the ‘nucleus’. The two differ, however, in how they carry out many physiological processes, including the most common type of cell division – mitosis.

Most animal cells undergo ‘open’ mitosis, in which the nuclear envelope – the two-layered membrane separating the nucleus from the rest of the cell – breaks down when cell division begins. However, most fungi use a different form of cell division – called ‘closed’ mitosis – in which the nuclear envelope remains intact throughout the division process. However, very little is known about why or how these two distinct modes of cell division evolved and what factors determine which mode would be predominantly followed by a particular species.

Jun 13, 2024

Cosmic Revelations: AI and NASA Swift Map the Universe’s Farthest Gamma-Ray Bursts

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space

Machine learning revolutionizes distance measurement in astronomy, providing precise estimates for gamma-ray bursts and aiding in cosmic exploration.

The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) has been hailed by many as a societal game-changer, as it opens a universe of possibilities to improve nearly every aspect of our lives.

Astronomers are now using AI, quite literally, to measure the expansion of our universe.

Jun 13, 2024

Computation Is All Around Us, and You Can See It if You Try

Posted by in category: computing

Computer scientist Lance Fortnow writes that by embracing the computations that surround us, we can begin to understand and tame our seemingly random world.

Jun 13, 2024

How Genes and Epigenetics Shape Brain Folding

Posted by in categories: genetics, neuroscience

Summary: A new study uncovered how epigenetic marks and the Cux2 protein influence brain folding. The study reveals that the epigenetic mark H3K27ac and Cux2 are key to forming the cerebral cortex’s gyri and sulci.

These findings enhance our understanding of brain development and could inform treatments for brain malformations. The research underscores the complexity of the nervous system and the pivotal role of epigenetics in brain structure.

Jun 13, 2024

Illinois Paves the Way for Affordable Gene Therapy Access

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed an executive order to make cutting-edge gene and cell therapies more affordable and accessible. The order’s primary focus is on treatments for sickle cell disease, a condition that disproportionately affects Black Americans.

Addressing Cost Barriers to Innovation

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) will spearhead efforts to develop new payment models for these transformative but expensive treatments. A newly formed Advisory Council will recommend creating sustainable financing structures, emphasizing models that reward positive health outcomes.

Jun 13, 2024

A missing link in the timeline of Earth’s chemistry may have been found

Posted by in category: chemistry

Eight reactions could connect ancient Earth to modern day. Here’s how.

Jun 13, 2024

The CRISPR Horizon: Envisioning the Future of Genomic Editing

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food

Explore the transformative potential of CRISPR in medicine, agriculture, and beyond, and delve into the ethical debates surrounding this technology.

Jun 13, 2024

Data as the next challenge in atomistic machine learning

Posted by in categories: materials, robotics/AI

As machine learning models are becoming mainstream tools for molecular and materials research, there is an urgent need to improve the nature, quality, and accessibility of atomistic data. In turn, there are opportunities for a new generation of generally applicable datasets and distillable models.

Jun 13, 2024

Here’s Why We Might Live in a Multiverse

Posted by in categories: cosmology, quantum physics

Several branches of modern physics, including quantum theory and cosmology, suggest our universe may be just one of many.

By Sarah Scoles

Humans live in a universe; that is a fact. Up for debate, though, is whether that universe lives in a sea of other universes— a multiverse.

Jun 13, 2024

Quantum mechanics and the puzzle of human consciousness

Posted by in categories: quantum physics, robotics/AI

Some scientists speculate that the strange happenings in this microscopic realm may hold the key to understanding consciousness. But scant evidence has left the majority skeptical.

That includes Christof Koch, Ph.D., meritorious investigator at the Allen Institute. As he wrote in his recent book, Then I am myself the world, “the brain is wet and warm, hardly conducive to subtle quantum interactions.”

Continue reading “Quantum mechanics and the puzzle of human consciousness” »

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