Established in 2020 Sunday, January 16, 2022

Tuning the bonds of paired quantum particles to create dissipationless flow

An illustration of positively charged holes interacting with negatively charged electrons between two sheets of graphene to form a bosonic pair. Image courtesy: Cory R. Dean, Columbia University.

NEW YORK, NY.- Electrons flowing through power lines and computers inevitably encounter resistance; when they do, they lose some of their energy, which dissipates as heat. That's why laptops get hot after being used for too long and why the server farms that power the cloud require so much air conditioning to keep the machines from overheating. Likewise, any particles carrying energy tend to lose that energy when they flow in a typical environment. There are a few exceptions, which usually occur at very low temperatures when particles form pairs called quantum condensates. This leads to superconductivity, with vanishing electrical resistance, in some metals such as aluminum, and superfluidity in liquified helium, which can then flow without dissipation. Many applications, from dissipationless power transmission to quantum computation, have been developed based on superconducting materials showing these quantum condensate states. But, known superconducting materials need to be kept cold—often imp ... More

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Being in space destroys more red blood cells   Photon recycling: The key to high-efficiency perovskite solar cells   New research finds that collective neural activity is shaped like the surface of a doughnut

Astronaut Tim Peake's first blood draw completed in space. The sample was taken as part of the MARROW experiment. Image courtesy: NASA.

OTTAWA.- A world-first study has revealed how space travel can cause lower red blood cell counts, known as space anemia. Analysis of 14 astronauts showed their bodies destroyed 54 percent more red blood cells in space than they normally would on Earth, according to a study published in Nature Medicine. "Space anemia has consistently been reported when astronauts returned to Earth since the first space missions, but we didn't know why," said lead author Dr. Guy Trudel, a rehabilitation physician and researcher at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa. "Our study shows that upon arriving in space, more red blood cells are destroyed, and this continues for the entire duration of the astronaut's mission." Before this study, space anemia was thought to be a quick adaptation to fluids shifting into the astronaut's upper body when they first arrived in space. Astronauts lose 10 percent of the liquid in their blood ... More

Additional light emission is achieved by recursively recycling trapped photons in perovskites. Image courtesy: Dr. Changsoon Cho.

DRESDEN.- Scientists from TU Dresden, in cooperation with researchers at Seoul National University (SNU) and Korea University (KU), demonstrated the role of the re-use of photons (known as 'photon recycling') and light scattering effects in perovskite solar cells, providing a pathway towards high-efficiency solar energy conversion. The study has been published in Science Advances. Metal halide perovskites are receiving great attention as next-generation semiconductors for solar energy conversion. Since the first demonstration of 3.8 percent efficiency in 2009, efficiencies have increased rapidly and state-of-the-art perovskite solar cells exhibit high efficiencies over 25 percent, close to the record efficiencies of silicon photovoltaics. This fast growth during the last decade raises the question of whether perovskite solar cells will be able to reach the upper (thermodynamic) limit of photovoltaic efficiency, which is known to be 34 percent ... More

The researchers set up three experiments with conditions that put the network's intrinsic behavior to the test. Image courtesy: Helmet and the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience.

TRONDHEIM.- High-level brain functions result from the orchestration of activity between many thousands of neurons in neural networks. For grid cells, these neural network conversations result in our understanding of location, our capacity to navigate, and our mental maps. "This discovery provides one of the first insights into how brain cells operate collectively, as a society. It provides an unprecedented glimpse into how large networks of neurons produce properties that cannot be inferred from the activities of single cells. These collective codes are the clue to all high-level cognitive functions of the brain," said Edvard Moser, a professor of neuroscience and co-director of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience. In neuroscience, theory and experiment go together like map and terrain. Without a map, you'd be lost in the unknown. Without access to the neural landscapes, you're stuck just ... More

Lost birds and mammals spell doom for some plants   Strong evidence shows Sixth Mass Extinction of global biodiversity in progress   Unusual team finds gigantic planet hidden in plain sight

A Bohemian waxwing takes off with a fruit in its bill. Image courtesy: Christine Johnson.

HOUSTON, TX.- In one of the first studies of its kind, researchers have gauged how biodiversity loss of birds and mammals will impact plants’ chances of adapting to human-induced climate warming. More than half of plant species rely on animals to disperse their seeds. In a study featured on the cover of this week’s issue of Science, U.S. and Danish researchers showed the ability of animal-dispersed plants to keep pace with climate change has been reduced by 60% due to the loss of mammals and birds that help such plants adapt to environmental change. Researchers from Rice University, the University of Maryland, Iowa State University and Aarhus University used machine learning and data from thousands of field studies to map the contributions of seed-dispersing birds and mammals worldwide. To understand the severity of the declines , the researchers compared maps of seed dispersal today with maps showing what dispersal would look like withou ... More

Native Hawaiian snail habitat on Pu'u Kukui, Maui. Image courtesy: Robert Cowie.

HONOLULU, HI.- The history of life on Earth has been marked five times by events of mass biodiversity extinction caused by extreme natural phenomena. Today, many experts warn that a Sixth Mass Extinction crisis is underway, this time entirely caused by human activities. A comprehensive assessment of evidence of this ongoing extinction event was published recently in the journal Biological Reviews by biologists from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa and the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France. "Drastically increased rates of species extinctions and declining abundances of many animal and plant populations are well documented, yet some deny that these phenomena amount to mass extinction," said Robert Cowie, lead author of the study and research professor at the UH Mānoa Pacific Biosciences Research Center in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST). "This denial is based on a biased view of the cris ... More

Lick Observatory's Automated Planet Finder, used to help calculate the new planet's mass and orbit. Image courtesy: Laurie Hatch/Lick Observatory.

RIVERSIDE, CA.- A University of California Riverside astronomer and a group of eagle-eyed citizen scientists have discovered a giant gas planet hidden from view by typical stargazing tools. The planet, TOI-2180 b, has the same diameter as Jupiter, but is nearly three times more massive. Researchers also believe it contains 105 times the mass of Earth in elements heavier than helium and hydrogen. Nothing quite like it exists in our solar system. Details of the finding have been published in the Astronomical Journal and presented at the American Astronomical Society virtual press event on Jan. 13. "TOI-2180 b is such an exciting planet to have found," said UCR astronomer Paul Dalba, who helped confirm the planet's existence. "It hits the trifecta of 1) having a several-hundred-day orbit; 2) being relatively close to Earth (379 lightyears is considered close for an exoplanet); and 3) us being able to see it transit in front of its star. It is very rare f ... More

Bald eagle rebound stunted by poisoning from lead ammunition   Signaling mechanisms in pancreatic cancer cells could provide new target for treatment   Fossil shows evidence of gymnosperm pollination of alienopteridae

Habitat loss, climate change, West Nile virus and other infectious diseases are all threats that could affect bald eagles’ resilience and lead to population declines, Schuler said. Image: Philipp Pilz, Unsplash.

ITHACA, NY.- Bald eagle populations have slowly recovered from near devastation after the government banned DDT in 1972, but another ongoing issue has weakened that rebound – lead poisoning from gunshot ammunition. A new study, published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, finds that despite increasing numbers of bald eagles, poisoning from eating dead carcasses or parts contaminated by lead shot has reduced population growth by 4% to 6% annually in the Northeast. The results could help educate and inform policy on ammunition choices for hunters, as copper-based ammunition exists though supplies of all ammunitions have been low lately. “Hopefully, this report will add information that compels hunters, as conservationists, to think about their ammunition choices,” said Krysten Schuler, assistant research professor in the ­­Department of Public and Ecosystem Health in the College of Veterinary Medicine and senior author on t ... More

3D medical animation, still shot showing pancreatic cancer. Image courtesy: Scientific Animations.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Research led by scientists at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) at UCLA provides new insights into molecular “crosstalk” in pancreas cancer cells, identifying vulnerabilities that could provide a target for therapeutic drugs already being studied in several cancers. This interdisciplinary research was led by a team of JCCC investigators, Dr. Caius Radu, an expert in cancer cell metabolism, and Dr. Timothy Donahue, a pancreas cancer surgeon and an expert in pancreas cancer biology. “Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, which is highly resistant to current therapies, is expected to become the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States within this decade,” said senior author Caius Radu, MD, a researcher at Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA and Professor in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA. “Results of this study increase our understanding ... More

Alienopterid nymphs and gymnospermous pollen grains Monosulcites. Image courtesy: NIGPAS.

NANJING.- Alienopteridae were originally proposed as a new insect order (Alienoptera) in 2016. At first, they were only found in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber, but later specimens were also reported from Brazil and the U.S. However, the life history, systematic position, and taxonomic status of Alienopteridae (Alienoptera) have been much disputed since the group was established. Recently, Luo Cihang, a postgraduate student supervised by Prof. Wang Bo, and his colleagues from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS) investigated the morphology, life habits and evolutionary history of Alienopteridae. This study was published in Earth-Science Reviews. The team used an array of methods, including optical microscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), X-ray microcomputed tomography, geometric morphometric analysis and phylogenetic analysis. "We discovered that one alienopterid nymp ... More

Tiger shark migrations altered by climate change, new study finds   Penn research shows origin of rare disease FOP rooted in muscle regeneration dysfunction   Archaeologists discover ancient highways in Arabia

In a new study, Neil Hammerschlag, Ph.D., and colleagues used multiple approaches to evaluate the effects of ocean warming on tiger shark movements in the Western North Atlantic. Image courtesy: Bianca Rangel.

CORAL GABLES, FL.- A new study led by scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science revealed that the locations and timing of tiger shark movement in the western North Atlantic Ocean have changed from rising ocean temperatures. These climate-driven changes have subsequently shifted tiger shark movements outside of protected areas, leaving the sharks more vulnerable to commercial fishing. The movements of tiger sharks, (Galeocerdo cuvier) the largest cold-blooded apex predator in tropical and warm-temperate seas, are constrained by the need to stay in warm waters. While waters off the U.S. northeast coastline have historically been too cold for tiger sharks, temperatures have warmed significantly in recent years making them suitable for the tiger shark. "Tiger shark annual migrations have expanded poleward, paralleling rising water temperatures," said Neil Hammerschlag, director of the UM Shark Research an ... More

A mutation in the gene that causes fibrodysplasia ossificans progressive (FOP) doesn’t just cause extra bone growth but is tied to a problem in generating new muscle tissue after injury. Image courtesy: University of Pennsylvania.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is a rare disease characterized by extensive bone growth outside of the normal skeleton that pre-empts the body’s normal responses to even minor injuries. It results in what some term a “second skeleton,” which locks up joint movement and could make it hard to breathe. However, new research in mice by a team at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows that forming extra-skeletal bone might not be the only driver of the disease. Impaired and inefficient muscle tissue regeneration appears to open the door for unwanted bone to form in areas where new muscle should occur after injuries. This discovery opens up the possibility of pursuing new therapies for FOP and was published in NPJ Regenerative Medicine. “While we have made great strides toward better understanding this disease, this work shows how basic biology can provide great insights ... More

Keyhole-shaped tombs flanking a funerary avenue in the al Ha’it Oasis. Image courtesy: University of Western Australia.

PERTH.- Archeologists from The University of Western Australia have discovered people who lived in north-west Arabia in the Early to Middle Bronze Age built 'funerary avenues'—long-distance corridors linking oases and pastures, bordered by thousands of elaborate burial monuments. Dr. Matthew Dalton, from UWA's School of Humanities, is lead author of the findings published in the journal The Holocene. "Funerary avenues were the major highway networks of their day, and show that the populations living in the Arabian Peninsula 4,500 years ago were far more socially and economically connected to one another than we previously thought," Dr. Dalton said. The UWA team, working under the Royal Commission for AlUla, used satellite imagery, helicopter-based aerial photography, ground survey and excavation to locate and analyze the funerary avenues. The team located avenues over an area of 160,000 square km, with more than 17,800 tailed 'pendant' ... More

Magic's just science that we don't understand yet. Arthur C. Clarke

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Behavioral indicator for preterm infants
TOKYO.- There are a number of risks associated with preterm infants born before 32 weeks. One of these is an increased chance of behavioral and attention problems. Previous studies suggest there might be early indicators of problems that develop in childhood, but results lacked consistency. A new study tests a methodology with improved consistency and explores cognitive and social functions over longer periods of time. Results suggest there are markers that can indicate potential problem areas in the development of preterm infants. Medical progress has increased the survival rate of very preterm and low-birthweight infants. However, such children can often face behavioral and academic problems, for example attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. So, there is an increasing desire to understand how and why ... More

Earth's interior is cooling faster than expected
ZURICH.- Researchers at ETH Zurich have demonstrated in the lab how well a mineral common at the boundary between the Earth’s core and mantle conducts heat. This leads them to suspect that the Earth’s heat may dissipate sooner than previously thought. The evolution of our Earth is the story of its cooling: 4.5 billion years ago, extreme temperatures prevailed on the surface of the young Earth, and it was covered by a deep ocean of magma. Over millions of years, the planet’s surface cooled to form a brittle crust. However, the enormous thermal energy emanating from the Earth’s interior set dynamic processes in motion, such as mantle convection, plate tectonics and volcanism. Still unanswered, though, are the questions of how fast the Earth cooled and how long it might take for this ongoing cooling ... More

Salmonella overcomes host resistance
NASHVILLE, TN.- The microbial species living in our gastrointestinal tract — the gut microbiota — help protect us against invading pathogens. One way they exert this “colonization resistance” is by producing antimicrobial products, such as the fatty acid propionate. Propionate is used in agricultural animals to limit infection by varieties of Salmonella bacteria, which cause food poisoning in humans. Now, however, Mariana Byndloss, DVM, PhD, and colleagues have demonstrated that Salmonella can turn the tables and use propionate for its own purposes. The researchers showed in animal models that in the presence of inflammation, Salmonella changes its metabolism and uses propionate as a source of energy. They demonstrated that propionate metabolism supports expansion of Salmonella in the inflamed gut. The ... More

The role of integrins in kidney "integrity"
NASHVILLE, TN.- Transmembrane receptors called integrins and proteins called laminins play important roles in the formation and function of tissues, including the ducts that collect urine from the filtering units of the kidneys. To better understand their role, Roy Zent, MBBCh, PhD, and colleagues deleted the alpha-3 and alpha-6 subunits of laminin-binding integrins in the developing kidney collecting system of the mouse. Surprisingly, the deletions had little effect on kidney collecting system development. However, the mice developed severe inflammation around the collecting ducts and fibrosis (scarring) that was fatal within 14 months. The inflammation resulted from activation of the nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) pro-inflammatory signaling pathway, and loss of polarity, or proper orientation of the ... More

Vanderbilt researchers contribute to promising global search for gravitational waves
NASHVILLE, TN.- An international team including Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Stephen Taylor, postdoctoral fellow in multi-messenger astrophysics Nihan Pol, graduate student William Lamb and incoming graduate student Levi Schult has released its latest gravitational wave search results showing strong evidence for a low-frequency signal. Such a signal could hint at gravitational waves, which may be detected very soon. They also strengthen the emergence of similar signals that have been found in the individual data sets of the participating collaborations over the past few years, including recent results from the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) led locally by Taylor and his team. Low-frequency gravitational waves originate from pairs of orbiting super ... More

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Tiger Shark Migrations Altered by Climate Change, New Study Finds.


On a day like today, German biochemist Leonor Michaelis was born
January 16, 1875. Leonor Michaelis (16 January 1875 - 8 October 1949) was a German biochemist, physical chemist, and physician, known for his work with Maud Menten on enzyme kinetics in 1913, as well as for work on enzyme inhibition, pH and quinones. Michaelis was one of the first to study enzyme inhibition, and to classify inhibition types as competitive or non-competitive. Michaelis built virtually immediately on Sørensen's 1909 introduction of the pH scale with a study of the effect of hydrogen ion concentration on invertase, and he became the leading world expert on pH and buffers. In his later career he worked extensively on quinones, and discovered Janus green as a supravital stain for mitochondria and the Michaelis–Gutmann body in urinary tract infections (1902). He found that thioglycolic acid could dissolve keratin, a discovery that would come to have several implications in the cosmetic industry, including the permanent wave ("perm").

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