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Dec 12, 2018

What a Newfound Kingdom Means for the Tree of Life

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The tree of life just got another major branch. Researchers recently found a certain rare and mysterious microbe called a hemimastigote in a clump of Nova Scotian soil. Their subsequent analysis of its DNA revealed that it was neither animal, plant, fungus nor any recognized type of protozoan — that it in fact fell far outside any of the known large categories for classifying complex forms of life (eukaryotes). Instead, this flagella-waving oddball stands as the first member of its own “supra-kingdom” group, which probably peeled away from the other big branches of life at least a billion years ago.

“It’s the sort of result you hope to see once in a career,” said Alastair Simpson, a microbiologist at Dalhousie University who led the study.

Impressive as this finding about hemimastigotes is on its own, what matters more is that it’s just the latest (and most profound) of a quietly and steadily growing number of major taxonomic additions. Researchers keep uncovering not just new species or classes but entirely new kingdoms of life — raising questions about how they have stayed hidden for so long and how close we are to finding them all.

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Dec 12, 2018

New method gives microscope a boost in resolution

Posted by in category: mathematics

Scientists at the University of Würzburg have been able to boost current super-resolution microscopy by a novel tweak. They coated the glass cover slip as part of the sample carrier with tailor-made biocompatible nanosheets that create a mirror effect. This method shows that localizing single emitters in front of a metal-dielectric coating leads to higher precision, brightness and contrast in Single Molecule Localization Microscopy (SMLM). The study was published in the Nature journal Light: Science and Applications.

The sharpness of a microscope is limited by —structures that are closer together than 0.2 thousandths of a millimeter blur, and can no longer be distinguished from each other. The cause of this blurring is diffraction. Each point-shaped object is therefore not shown as a point, but as a blurry spot.

With , the resolution can still be drastically improved. One method would calculate its exact center from the brightness distribution of the blurry spot. However, it only works if two closely adjacent points of the object are initially not simultaneously but subsequently visible, and are merged later in the . This temporal decoupling prevents superimposition of the blurry spot. For years, researchers in have been using this tricky method for super high-resolution light of cells.

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Dec 12, 2018

New X-ray imaging approach could boost nanoscale resolution for advanced photon source upgrade

Posted by in categories: biological, nanotechnology, neuroscience, particle physics

A longstanding problem in optics holds that an improved resolution in imaging is offset by a loss in the depth of focus. Now, scientists are joining computation with X-ray imaging as they develop a new and exciting technique to bypass this limitation.

The upcoming Advanced Photon Source Upgrade (APS-U) project at Argonne will put this problem under one of the brightest spotlights imaginable. The upgrade will make the APS, a Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility, 500 times brighter than it is today, further enhancing the capabilities of its X-rays to study the arrangements of atoms and molecules in a wide range of biological and technological materials.

“A whole variety of X-ray imaging experiments ultimately will need something like this as they all push the resolution to finer length scales in the future,” said Chris Jacobsen, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow and professor of physics at Northwestern University. With the Upgrade in place, the APS’s X-rays could allow scientists to study systems like the brain’s full network of synaptic connections, or the entire volume of an integrated circuit down to its finest details.

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Dec 12, 2018

Algorithms to locate centrioles in the cell

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, information science

Investigators from the Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Group at the University of Extremadura are studying signaling mediated by a pathway known as planar cell polarity (PCP), which regulates the coordinated orientation of cells during organogenesis, the process of organ formation in living organisms. This pathway has been highly conserved on the evolutionary scale, and one of its key functions in vertebrates is the regulation of the coordinated positioning of centrioles/ciliary basal cells inside cells.

This signaling pathway was discovered initially in the fruit fly genus Drosophila, although the majority of the pathway components have been retained in humans. It has likewise been observed that certain pathologies such as hydrocephaly, infertility and some kinds of cancers are associated with defective functioning of this signaling.

Under the auspices of the project EPICENTR within the Spanish national research plan, whose objective is to study the planar polarisation of centrioles in epithelial , the UEx researchers have now published the first results of their investigation in the journal Development. These results are related to the polarised positioning mechanism of centrioles in Drosophila and its correlation with actin.

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Dec 12, 2018

Go inside your brain!

Posted by in category: neuroscience

The Allen Institute has released an open database of live human brain cells.

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Dec 12, 2018

Pew study: Artificial intelligence will mostly make us better off by 2030 but fears remain

Posted by in categories: education, employment, health, robotics/AI

But many experts, even those mindful of such risks, have a more positive outlook, especially in health-care and possibly in education.

Most experts canvassed by Pew say artificial intelligence will leave most of us better off by 2030. But there are fears about jobs and mayhem.

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Dec 12, 2018

Humans may be reversing the climate clock

Posted by in categories: climatology, futurism

Our future on Earth may also be our past. In a study published Monday (Dec. 10, 2018) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers show that humans are reversing a long-term cooling trend tracing back at least 50 million years. And it’s taken just two centuries.

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Dec 11, 2018

Space mining: the new goldrush

Posted by in category: space

While space mining is still a decade or so off, next year the industry is ramping up their efforts.

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Dec 11, 2018

LIVE NOW: Do you like penguins?

Posted by in category: space

Do you like space? 🌌 A science team is presenting about their expedition to document a supercolony of penguins in Antarctica — which they found by using NASA Earth satellite imagery! 🛰️ Learn all about how to study penguins from space!

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Dec 11, 2018

Curry signals willingness to meet with NASA over Moon landing doubts

Posted by in category: space travel

NASA offered to give Stephen Curry a tour of its lunar labs in Houston after the NBA superstar expressed doubts on the moon landings.

Three-time NBA champion Stephen Curry on Tuesday signaled that he is willing to take NASA up on its offer to tour its lunar lab in Houston after his pronouncement this week that he does not believe humans ever walked on the Moon.

During the “Winging It” podcast released on Monday, the Golden State Warriors guard asked fellow players Vince Carter and Kent Bazemore whether they believed humans had ever been to the Moon.

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