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May 21, 2024

When Nightmares Turn Real: Sleep’s Early Warning Signs of Autoimmune Disease

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Nightmares and hallucinations could be early signs of autoimmune diseases like lupus, potentially improving early diagnosis and treatment, according to a new study.

An increase in nightmares and hallucinations – or ‘daymares’ – could indicate the beginning of autoimmune diseases such as lupus. This is according to an international team led by researchers at the University of Cambridge and King’s College London.

They emphasize the importance of recognizing these mental health and neurological symptoms as early warning signs of an impending ‘flare,’ a phase during which the disease intensifies temporarily.

May 21, 2024

A Symphony of Bonds: Sonification Unlocks Protein Folding Pathways

Posted by in category: futurism

Researchers used sound to reveal hidden patterns in protein folding, emphasizing the role of hydrogen bonds and water molecules in shaping protein structures.

Scientists have transformed their data into sounds to uncover how hydrogen bonds contribute to the lightning-fast gyrations that transform a string of amino acids to fold into a functional protein. Their study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers an unprecedented view of the sequence of hydrogen-bonding events that occur when a protein morphs from an unfolded to a folded state.

Continue reading “A Symphony of Bonds: Sonification Unlocks Protein Folding Pathways” »

May 21, 2024

Pandemic Potential: New Research Shows H5N1 Bird Flu Can Transmit Through Air

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, surveillance

In March, the United States reported its first detection of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in dairy cattle, with outbreaks spreading to nine states by May. The transmission method among cattle remains unclear. However, a study published in the journal Nature Communications revealed that a similar H5N1 strain, subtype clade, which previously caused an outbreak in farmed mink in 2022, was capable of airborne transmission to a small group of ferrets.

This is the first time that a member of the group of H5N1 clade viruses has been shown to exhibit this ability. According to the Penn State researchers who led the study, the findings suggest these viruses are evolving to infect mammals and with potentially increased risk to humans.

“While there is no evidence that the strain of H5N1 that is presently affecting dairy cattle is capable of airborne transmission, our study suggests that another member of this family of viruses has evolved some degree of airborne transmissibility,” said Troy Sutton, associate professor of veterinary and biomedical sciences, Penn State, and corresponding author on the paper. “This finding underscores the importance of continued surveillance to monitor the evolution of these viruses and their spillover into other mammals, including humans.”

May 21, 2024

Revolutionizing Electronics: Air-Doped Organic Semiconductors Unveiled

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

Semiconductors are the foundation of all modern electronics. Now, researchers at Linköping University, Sweden, have developed a new method where organic semiconductors can become more conductive with the help of air as a dopant. The study, published on May 15 in the journal Nature, is a significant step toward future cheap and sustainable organic semiconductors.

“We believe this method could significantly influence the way we dope organic semiconductors. All components are affordable, easily accessible, and potentially environmentally friendly, which is a prerequisite for future sustainable electronics,” says Simone Fabiano, associate professor at Linköping University.

Semiconductors based on conductive plastics instead of silicon have many potential applications. Among other things, organic semiconductors can be used in digital displays, solar cells, LEDs, sensors, implants, and for energy storage.

May 21, 2024

Quantum Coherence: Harvard Scientists Uncover Hidden Order in Chemical Chaos

Posted by in categories: chemistry, particle physics, quantum physics

If you zoom in on a chemical reaction to the quantum level, you’ll notice that particles behave like waves that can ripple and collide. Scientists have long sought to understand quantum coherence, the ability of particles to maintain phase relationships and exist in multiple states simultaneously; this is akin to all parts of a wave being synchronized. It has been an open question whether quantum coherence can persist through a chemical reaction where bonds dynamically break and form.

Now, for the first time, a team of Harvard scientists has demonstrated the survival of quantum coherence in a chemical reaction involving ultracold molecules. These findings highlight the potential of harnessing chemical reactions for future applications in quantum information science.

“I am extremely proud of our work investigating a very fundamental property of a chemical reaction where we really didn’t know what the result would be,” said senior co-author Kang-Kuen Ni, Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics. “It was really gratifying to do an experiment to find out what Mother Nature tells us.”

May 21, 2024

Scientists develop artificial brain cell using mix of salt and water

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

In a path-breaking study, researchers have created artificial neurological junctions called synapses using a mix of water and salt, paving the way for the development of advanced computers that mimic the performance of a human brain. The artificial brain cells, developed by the team from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and Sogang University in South Korea, use the same water and salt ingredients the brain uses.

The results of the study were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists striving to develop energy efficient and high-performance computers often look up to human brains as a source of inspiration.

May 20, 2024

Critical Mineral Deposits and Coal: An Unexpected Co-Location

Posted by in category: energy

Can the very locations that fossil fuels are mined also be used to extract rare earth elements (REEs) for renewable energies? This is what a recent study published in Frontiers of Earth Science hopes to address as a team of researchers investigated how coal mines could be exploited for REEs whose metals could be used for technology applications and renewable energies throughout the world. This study holds the potential to help scientists, miners, and conservationists better understand previously unknown avenues for pursuing REEs within the United States, as REEs are traditionally imported from other countries.

“The model is if you’re already moving rock, could you move a little more rock for resources towards energy transition?” said Dr. Lauren Birgenheier, who is an associate professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah and a co-author on the study. “In those areas, we’re finding that the rare earth elements are concentrated in fine-grain shale units, the muddy shales that are above and below the coal seams.”

May 20, 2024

Genetically engineered pig hearts transplanted in two brain-dead patients reveal more about immune response

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

A large team of biomedical researchers affiliated with a host of institutions across the U.S., the U.K., Saudi Arabia and France, has learned more about many of the factors involved in xenotransplantation as they conducted a large number of tests on two brain-dead human patients that had received genetically engineered pig hearts.

May 20, 2024

Scarlett Johansson says she is ‘shocked, angered’ over new ChatGPT voice

Posted by in categories: entertainment, robotics/AI

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, who has said the 2013 Spike Jonze film is his favorite movie, invited comparisons by posting the word “Her” on X after the company announced the new ChatGPT version. But later, OpenAI executives denied any connection between Johansson and the new voice assistant.

Then the company suddenly dropped the voice.

In a post on X just before midnight Pacific time Sunday, OpenAI said the voice would be halted as it addresses “questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT.” A company spokeswoman would not provide further detail.

May 20, 2024

Could Dyson spheres exist in our galaxy?

Posted by in category: space

A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical giant structure that surrounds a star and can capture its solar output. Two separate groups of astronomers have claimed that they have detected dozens of possible Dyson spheres within the Milky Way galaxy. NBC’s Gadi Schwartz speaks with Dr. Michio Kaku about what it would take to create a Dyson sphere and how advanced a civilization would need to be to make it happen.

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