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Jun 4, 2020

Scientists Gene-Hack Human Cells to Turn Invisible

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

The cells fully integrated the genes that let squids turn translucent.

Jun 4, 2020

Scientists Create an AI From a Sheet of Glass

Posted by in categories: mobile phones, robotics/AI

It turns out that you don’t need a computer to create an artificial intelligence. In fact, you don’t even need electricity.

In an extraordinary bit of left-field research, scientists from the University of Wisconsin–Madison have found a way to create artificially intelligent glass that can recognize images without any need for sensors, circuits, or even a power source — and it could one day save your phone’s battery life.

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Jun 4, 2020

Metasurface opens world of polarization

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials

Polarization, the direction in which light vibrates, is invisible to the human eye. Yet, so much of our optical world relies on the control and manipulation of this hidden quality of light.

Materials that can manipulate the polarization of —known as birefringent materials—are used in everything from digital alarm clocks to medical diagnostics, communications and astronomy.

Just as light’s polarization can vibrate along a straight line or an ellipse, materials can also be linearly or elliptically birefringent. Today, most birefringent materials are intrinsically linear, meaning they can only manipulate the polarization of light in a limited way. If you want to achieve broad polarization manipulation, you need to stack multiple birefringent materials on top of one another, making these devices bulky and inefficient.

Jun 4, 2020

World’s Smallest MRI Machine Means We Can Now Scan Individual Atoms

Posted by in categories: computing, nanotechnology, quantum physics

Unprecedented View

The researchers believe this new nanoscale imaging technique could lead to the development of new materials and drugs, as well as the creation of better quantum computing systems.

“We can now see something that we couldn’t see before,” researcher Christopher Lutz told The New York Times. “So our imagination can go to a whole bunch of new ideas that we can test out with this technology.”

Jun 4, 2020

We should have done more, admits architect of Sweden’s Covid-19 strategy

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Anders Tegnell says there was ‘potential for improvement’ in country’s strategy to fight pandemic.

Jun 4, 2020

The truth about graphene

Posted by in category: materials

The truth about graphene. Ever since it was first discovered in 2004, graphene has been hailed as one of the most important breakthroughs in materials since the plastics revolution more than a century ago. The early predictions were that graphene would almost immediately enable the kinds of products and technologies that we’re used to seeing in sci-fi movies. Cut to more than a decade and a half later and that still hasn’t happened. Not even close. With opinions split between people overhyping graphene or calling it a massive disappointment, it’s time we got to the truth of what is really happening with this so-called ‘wonder material’.

▻ Watch the truth about solid state batteries — how close are they?:

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Jun 4, 2020

Study reveals continuous pathway to building blocks of life

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry

Researchers have long sought to understand the origins of life on Earth. A new study conducted by scientists at the Institute for Advanced Study, the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI), and the University of New South Wales, among other participating institutions, marks an important step forward in the effort to understand the chemical origins of life. The findings of this study demonstrate how “continuous reaction networks” are capable of producing RNA precursors and possibly ultimately RNA itself — a critical bridge to life.

The paper is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While many of the mechanisms that propagate life are well understood, the transition from a prebiotic Earth to the era of biology remains shrouded in mystery. Previous experiments have demonstrated that simple organic compounds can be produced from the reactions of chemicals understood to exist in the primitive Earth environment. However, many of these experiments relied on coordinated experimenter interventions. This study goes further by employing a model that is minimally manipulated to most accurately simulate a natural environment.

Jun 4, 2020

Diet and gut bacteria fundamentally influence cancer drug toxicity

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

An incredibly focused study, led by researchers at the University of Virginia, has demonstrated the profound influence diet and gut bacteria has on the effectiveness and toxicity of drugs used in chemotherapy. Using a roundworm as a simplified microbiome model, the study showed how just one type of bacteria can exponentially increase a drug’s toxicity and the researchers conclude the complexity of drug, diet, and bacteria interactions in humans is “astronomical.”

A review article published last year in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology effectively summarized the current evidence supporting a hypothesis suggesting the gut microbiome plays a fundamental role in determining the efficacy of cancer chemotherapy. Recent research has shown how the pharmacological effects of a given drug can be directly influenced by bacteria in the gut, mediating a drug’s toxicity and efficacy.

Although a great deal of observational connections have been made between the gut microbiome and treatment outcomes for patients with a variety of diseases, this new study set out to zoom in on the underlying molecular processes at play.

Jun 4, 2020

Astronomers discover 30 degree arc of ultraviolet emission centered on the Big Dipper

Posted by in categories: cosmology, physics

Astronomers announced the discovery of a ghostly, almost perfectly circular, arc of ultraviolet emission centered on the handle of the Big Dipper and stretching 30 degrees across the Northern sky. If the arc were extended, it would completely encircle the Big Dipper with a diameter of 60 degrees.

This unique object was discovered by Andrea Bracco, an astronomer at the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb, Croatia, Marta Alves, an astronomer at Radboud University in the Netherlands, and Robert Benjamin, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the United States. Benjamin, who contributed to the analysis of the structure, presented the team’s newest results at an on-line meeting of American Astronomical Society on June 2. A report on the discovery has been published in the April volume of Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters.

The arc, stretching beyond the constellation Ursa Major, is 30 degrees long, a fraction of a degree thick, and made of compressed, energized interstellar gas. The source of the energy and the arc shape indicate an advancing shock wave from a stellar explosion or supernova which occurred 60 degrees above the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy. The distance and age of the explosion which created the shock wave is highly uncertain. The team estimates that the explosion occurred more than 100,000 years ago at a distance of approximately 600 .

Jun 4, 2020

New biosensor visualizes stress in living plant cells in real time

Posted by in categories: biological, climatology

Plant biologists have long sought a deeper understanding of foundational processes involving kinases, enzymes that catalyze key biological activities in proteins. Analyzing the processes underlying kinases in plants takes on greater urgency in today’s environment increasingly altered by climate warming.

Certain “SnRK2” kinases (sucrose-non-fermenting-1-related protein -2s) are essential since they are known to be activated in response to , triggering the protective closure of small pores on leaf surfaces known as stoma. These pores allow carbon dioxide to enter leaves, but also lose more than 90 percent of their water by evaporation through them. Pore opening and closing functions help optimize growth and drought tolerance in response to changes in the environment.

Now, plant biologists at the University of California San Diego have developed a new nanosensor that allows researchers to monitor SnRK2 protein kinase activity in live plant cells. The SnRK2 activity sensor, or “SNACS,” is described in the journal eLife.