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Jul 23, 2020

LIVE: Progress cargo space craft launches to International Space Station to deliver supplies

Posted by in categories: finance, space

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Jul 23, 2020

Extinct Genetic Strains of Smallpox – World’s Deadliest Virus – Discovered in the Teeth of Viking Skeletons

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Scientists have discovered extinct strains of smallpox in the teeth of Viking skeletons — proving for the first time that the killer disease plagued humanity for at least 1400 years.

Smallpox spread from person to person via infectious droplets, killed around a third of sufferers and left another third permanently scarred or blind. Around 300 million people died from it in the 20th century alone before it was officially eradicated in 1980 through a global vaccination effort — the first human disease to be wiped out.

Now an international team of scientists have sequenced the genomes of newly discovered strains of the virus after it was extracted from the teeth of Viking skeletons from sites across northern Europe. The findings have been published in Science today (July 23, 2020).

Jul 23, 2020

Meet the AI that can write

Posted by in categories: mobile phones, robotics/AI

A new general language machine learning model is pushing the boundaries of what AI can do.

Why it matters: OpenAI’s GPT-3 system can reasonably make sense of and write human language. It’s still a long way from genuine artificial intelligence, but it may be looked back on as the iPhone of AI, opening the door to countless commercial applications — both benign and potentially dangerous.

Driving the news: After announcing GPT-3 in a paper in May, OpenAI recently began offering a select group of people access to the system’s API to help the nonprofit explore the AI’s full capabilities.

Jul 23, 2020

Sending Sound Right Into Your Brain Might Reinvent Music

Posted by in categories: media & arts, neuroscience

The entire notion of sound—today limited by the vibration of air—may be entirely reinvented by electronic signals transmitted directly into your brain.

Jul 23, 2020

Fast food waste and lithium trash are the next big biofuel

Posted by in categories: food, sustainability

Researchers from Brazil have found a way to use leftover kitchen grease and lithium battery waste to create a reliable, eco-friendly biofuel.

Jul 23, 2020

Cells communicate

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry

Cells work around the clock to deliver, maintain, and control every aspect of life. And just as with humans, communication is a key to their success.

Every essential biological process requires some form of communication among cells, not only with their immediate neighbors but also to those significantly farther away. Current understanding is that this information exchange relies on the diffusion of signaling molecules or on cell-to-cell relays.

Publishing in the journal Developmental Cell, a research team at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Medicine reports on a novel method of communication relying on ‘mechano-chemical’ signals to control cell movement. The research group focused on a fundamental pathway—MAPK/ERK, or ERK pathway—and were able to demonstrate how the movement of a single cell could trigger a cascading reaction resulting in the migration of a cell collective.

Jul 23, 2020

Quadruple DNA Strands Discovered In Healthy Cells For The First Time

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

When DNA forms, it usually creates the characteristic double-helix that we’ve all come to recognize. However, given the right ingredients, DNA can fold with another pair of strands to create a quadruple-stranded structure that may have some pretty important roles. These structures, called G-quadruplexes (G4), have only been seen in chemistry lab experiments or in some cancer cells, so understanding exactly what their roles are has been difficult, until now.

Scientists have now produced the first visualization of a G-quadruplex formation in live, healthy cells. By developing a fluorescent marker that can bind to G4s, the researchers could track the formation of a quadruplex structure for the first time, with the results published in Nature. This provides confirmation that normal cellular processes produce these structures, and not a process gone haywire like those in cancer.

“For the first time, we have been able to prove the quadruple helix DNA exists in our cells as a stable structure created by normal cellular processes. This forces us to rethink the biology of DNA. It is a new area of fundamental biology, and could open up new avenues in diagnosis and therapy of diseases like cancer,” said one of the lead researchers Dr Marco Di Antonio in a statement.

Jul 23, 2020

Sony’s wearable air conditioner is pretty cool

Posted by in category: wearables

Sony’s Reon Pocket is shipping now in Japan. It’s a portable air conditioner that you wear inside special T-shirts. But does it actually work?

Jul 23, 2020

EU leaders slash science spending in €1.8 trillion deal

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, science

Following a marathon EU summit in Brussels, national leaders this morning agreed to a €1.8 trillion, 7-year budget and pandemic recovery fund that will spend €81 billion on Horizon Europe, the main EU research program. That’s far less than what researchers had hoped for—and €13.5 billion less than a proposal 2 months ago from the European Commission, the EU executive arm.

An €81 billion budget for Horizon Europe disappoints researchers.

Jul 23, 2020

Lift-off for China’s mission to Mars

Posted by in category: space

China is on its way to the red planet: It launched a probe on Thursday, and hopes to land on Mars in February 2021.

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