Established in 2020 Saturday, September 23, 2023
Last Seven Days
Friday 22 Thursday 21 Wednesday 20 Tuesday 19 Monday 18 Sunday 17 Saturday 16

Scientists probe the source of key hydrocarbons on Earth-and in space

The formation of naphthalene—the simplest polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon—from two resonantly stabilized free radicals, propargyl and benzyl. Image courtesy: Ralf I. Kaiser, University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

WASHINGTON, DC.- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a type of organic molecule that carry fused rings made of the chemical benzene. Scientists believe that PAHs are responsible for chemical processes that eventually lead to soot and other carbonaceous nanoparticles on Earth and around and between the stars in deep space. On Earth, PAHs form in part because of the incomplete combustion of coal, oil, and other substances and are detrimental to human health. Across the universe, PAHs account for as much as 30% of all carbon, whether around stars, interstellar clouds, or planets. However, scientists do not fully understand the role of reactions involving two free radicals in how PAHs form in extreme environments. Free radicals are molecules with an unpaired electron, which is delocalized over at least three atoms. In a study published in the journal Chemical Science, researchers conducted experiments to uncover how the prototype PAH—naphthalene—can form from reactions that take place in ... More

AI-driven tool makes it easy to personalize 3D-printable models   ATLAS experiment places some of the tightest limits yet on magnetic monopoles   Making AI smarter with an artificial, multisensory integrated neuron

With Style2Fab, makers can rapidly customize models of 3D-printable objects, such as assistive devices, without hampering their functionality. Image courtesy of the researchers.

CAMBRIDGE, MA.- As 3D printers have become cheaper and more widely accessible, a rapidly growing community of novice makers are fabricating their own objects. To do this, many of these amateur artisans access free, open-source repositories of user-generated 3D models that they download and fabricate on their 3D printer. But adding custom design elements to these models poses a steep challenge for many makers, since it requires the use of complex and expensive computer-aided design (CAD) software, and is especially difficult if the original representation of the model is not available online. Plus, even if a user is able to add personalized elements to an object, ensuring those customizations don’t hurt the object’s functionality requires an additional level of domain expertise that many novice makers lack. To help makers overcome these challenges, MIT researchers developed a generative ... More

Illustration of magnetic monopoles (larger image) and a magnetic dipole (inset). Image courtesy: CERN.

GENEVA.- Magnets, those everyday objects we stick to our fridges, all share a unique characteristic: they always have both a north and a south pole. Even if you tried breaking a magnet in half, the poles would not separate—you would only get two smaller dipole magnets. But what if a particle could have a single pole with a magnetic charge? For over a century, physicists have been searching for such magnetic monopoles. A new study on the preprint server arXiv from the ATLAS collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) places new limits on these hypothetical particles, adding new clues for the continuing search. In 1931, physicist Paul Dirac proved that the existence of magnetic monopoles would be consistent with quantum mechanics and require—as has been observed—the quantization of the electric charge. In the 1970s, magnetic monopoles were also predicted by new theories attempting to unify all the fundamental forces of nature, inspiring physicist Joseph Polchinski to claim tha ... More

Co-authors, from left, Muhtasim Ul Karim Sadaf, graduate student in engineering science and mechanics; Saptarshi Das, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics. Image courtesy: Tyler Henderson/Penn State.

STATE COLLEGE, PA.- The feel of a cat's fur can reveal some information, but seeing the feline provides critical details: is it a housecat or a lion? While the sound of fire crackling may be ambiguous, its scent confirms the burning wood. Our senses synergize to give a comprehensive understanding, particularly when individual signals are subtle. The collective sum of biological inputs can be greater than their individual contributions. Robots tend to follow more straightforward addition, but Penn State researchers have now harnessed the biological concept for application in artificial intelligence (AI) to develop the first artificial, multisensory integrated neuron. Led by Saptarshi Das, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State, the team published their work on September 15 in Nature Communications. "Robots make decisions based on the environment they are in, but their sensors do not generally talk to each other," said Das, w ... More

New SARS-CoV-2 variant Eris on the rise, study shows   Revealing the secrets of protein evolution using the AlphaFold database   Corals storm back after 'sea-weeding' project

Work at the Infection Biology Unit of the German Primate Center—Leibniz Institute for Primate Research. Image courtesy: Heike Hofmann-Winkler.

GÖTTINGEN.- As a result of vaccination or infection, our immune system produces antibodies that attach to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, preventing the virus from entering and replicating within cells. In response, the virus develops mutations that cause antibodies to bind less effectively to the spike protein. Since May 2023, the EG.5 lineage of SARS-CoV-2, known as Eris, has been spreading globally and was classified as a Variant of Interest by the World Health Organization (WHO) in early August. However, the cause of the increasing spread of Eris has been unclear. Scientists from the German Primate Center—Leibniz Institute for Primate Research in Göttingen have now examined the characteristics of the Eris sublineage EG.5.1. The researchers found that EG.5.1 is not more infectious than its predecessors, meaning it cannot infect host cells more effectively. However, EG.5.1 can escape neutralizing antibodies better than ot ... More

Revealing the secrets of protein evolution using the AlphaFold database. Image courtesy: Karen Arnott/EMBL-EBI.

CAMBRIDGESHIRE.- By developing an efficient way to compare all predicted protein structures in the AlphaFold database, researchers have revealed similarities between proteins across different species. This work aids our understanding of protein evolution and has uncovered new insights into the origin of human immunity proteins. The research was conducted by EMBL's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), the Institute of Molecular Systems Biology ETH Zurich, and the School of Biological Sciences Seoul National University. The AlphaFold database is a transformative resource in the field of protein research, serving as a comprehensive repository of AI-predicted 3D structures for all known proteins. The database fills a critical gap in understanding protein function and evolution by offering high-quality structural predictions. Although AI predictions are not a substitute for experimentally determined structures, they do provide invaluable insights ... More

Dr. Adam Smith removes macroalgae from corals off the coast of Magnetic Island. Image courtesy: Roxana Caha.

TOWNSVILLE.- A volunteer seaweed removal program involving citizen scientists has seen a dramatic improvement of up to 600% coral regrowth off the coast of Magnetic Island. Led by James Cook University Senior Research Officer Hillary Smith and Professor David Bourne (JCU and Australian Institute of Marine Science), the joint Earthwatch Institute program, which has been ongoing since 2018, saw volunteer citizen scientists help remove macroalgae (aka "sea-weeding") from experimental plots at two reef sites. The findings from the first three years of the project, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, show that in areas of reef that were weeded, significant regrowth was recorded, in a welcome sign for rejuvenation of corals. Over the same time period, no change in coral cover was recorded in plots where the team didn't remove the macroalgae. "We have yet to see a plateau in coral growth within these plots at Magnetic Island, which is characte ... More

New research reveals why and when the Sahara Desert was green   Titanic galaxy cluster collision in the early universe challenges standard cosmology   Chemists use nature as inspiration for a sustainable, affordable adhesive system

Changes of vegetation between humid and arid phases in North Africa. Vegetation zones are based on the minimum precipitation requirements of each vegetation type. Image courtesy: Jani Närhi / University of Helsinki.

BRISTOL.- A pioneering study has shed new light on North African humid periods that have occurred over the past 800,000 years and explains why the Sahara Desert was periodically green. The research, published in Nature Communications, showed periodic wet phases in the Sahara were driven by changes in Earth's orbit around the sun and were suppressed during the ice ages. For the first time, climate scientists simulated the historic intervals of 'greening' of the Sahara, offering evidence for how the timing and intensity of these humid events were also influenced remotely by the effects of large, distant, high-latitude ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. Lead author Dr. Edward Armstrong, a climate scientist at the University of Helsinki and University of Bristol, said, "The cyclic transformation of the Sahara Desert into savannah and woodland ecosystems is one of the most remarkable environmental changes on the planet." "Our study is one o ... More

Composite color image of the interacting galaxy cluster El Gordo. Image courtesy: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/J. Hughes et al; Optical: ESO/VLT & SOAR/Rutgers/F. Menanteau; IR: NASA/JPL/Rutgers/F. Menanteau.

ST ANDREWS.- A collision of two massive clusters of galaxies when the universe was half its current age should not have happened according to the standard theory of cosmology, says a new study by an international group of astronomers, including a physicist at the University of St Andrews. According to the Lambda-cold dark matter (ΛCDM) standard model of cosmology, galaxies form first and only later combine into larger clusters of galaxies. Thus, galaxy clusters should take a lot of time to appear on the cosmic scene. The new study, published in The Astrophysical Journal, challenges this by showing that two extremely large galaxy clusters collided at a very high speed when the universe was only about half its current age. The cluster pair in question is known as El Gordo—which means "The Fat One" in Spanish—an apt name given its mass is about 2,000 trillion times that of the sun (2 followed by fifteen zeroes). The new study u ... More

Purdue University chemistry professor Jonathan Wilker. Image courtesy: Purdue University/ Rebecca Robinos.

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN.- Glue holds the world together. Without adhesives, much of modern human civilization—including our cellphones, cars, furniture, walls and the packages arriving on our doorstep—would simply fall apart. The trouble with all those adhesives is that they are not sustainable. A team of chemists at Purdue University led by Jonathan Wilker, professor of chemistry in the College of Science and of materials engineering, aims to change that with a new, completely sustainable adhesive system. The team's findings were released in a paper in Nature. "Our current adhesives create all sorts of environmental problems," Wilker said. "Almost all glues are petroleum-based and do not degrade. The bonded materials in our products stay stuck together. Consequently, we cannot recycle many of the materials that we put into our recycling bins. Discarded products will sit in landfills for centuries and, sometimes, contribute to ocean microplastics." ... More

Lack of maternal care found to affect development, microbiome and health of wild bees   Syphilis transmission networks and antimicrobial resistance in England uncovered using genomics   Study finds more Texas owls are testing positive for rat poisons

Small carpenter bee (ceratina calcarata) on a pink flower. Image courtesy: Sandra Rehan, York University.

TORONTO.- Most wild bees are solitary, but one tiny species of carpenter bees fastidiously cares for and raises their offspring, an act that translates into huge benefits to the developing bee's microbiome, development and health, found York University researchers. Not unlike the positive affect human mothers can have on their offspring, the maternal care of these carpenter bees (Ceratina calcarata) staves off an overabundance of harmful fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites in the earliest stage of development. Without maternal care, the pathogen load of these developing bees ballooned—85% of pathogens were fungi, while 8% were bacteria—which can impact their microbiome, a critical component of bee health, as well as their development, immune system and gene expression. This can lead, for example, to changes in brain and eye development, and even behavior. The biggest single fungus found was Aspergillus, known to induce stonebrood d ... More

Photomicrograph of skin biopsy showing secondary syphilis. Image courtesy: Jerad M. Gardner, MD.

CAMBRIDGESHIRE.- Scientists have used genomics to reveal distinct sexual networks for syphilis transmission, defined geographically or by sexual preference, among a background of wider circulation in England. They also show a presence of drug resistance in the majority of cases. By grouping closely related strains of the bacterium that causes syphilis—Treponema pallidum—researchers demonstrate how a large number of cases are linked together. Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and their collaborators at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) sequenced 237 whole genome samples and integrated this with epidemiological data to map the bacterium's evolution and spread through a population. They show distinct transmission chains between individuals as well as significant resistance to a commonly prescribed class of antibiotics in England. The findings, published in The Lancet Microbe, help demonstrate the utility of genomics to unde ... More

New research suggests that owls in Texas have high rates of anticoagulant rodenticides (AR)—blood thinning rat poisons—in their systems. Image courtesy: The University of Texas at San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO, TX.- New research suggests that owls in Texas have high rates of anticoagulant rodenticides (AR)—blood thinning rat poisons—in their systems. Jennifer Smith, a professor of integrative biology in the UTSA College of Sciences, co-authored a research article published recently in PLOS ONE, the world's first multidisciplinary open access journal. Eres Gomez, M.S. '22, a UTSA graduate who had conducted research in the Smith Wildlife Lab as a student, was the article's lead author. Heather Prestridge, a curator in the Texas A&M University Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology at the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections (BRTC) also co-authored the article. Titled "Anthropogenic threats to owls: Insights from rehabilitation admittance data and rodenticide screening in Texas," the article assesses the anthropogenic risks faced by owls in Texas, an important region for migratory and non-migratory owls. Anthropogenic ris ... More

More News
Scientists explain a glitch in the (extracellular) matrix
BOSTON, MA.- Through an electron microscope they may look like the giant sandworms from Dune, but C. elegans nematodes are only 1 millimeter long. The worms have a layer that covers their bodies called the apical extracellular matrix. A similar matrix protects every surface of our own bodies, inside and out. Anything trying to enter a C. elegans or human body—bacteria, viruses, medicines, even tastes and smells—must first cross the matrix. By studying these worms, scientists in the lab of Harvard Medical School geneticist Max Heiman have just added to a growing body of knowledge about how the matrix is organized. In worms, tiny openings in the matrix (arrows in photo) allow taste bud-like sensory cells to poke out into the environment. Heiman's lab focused on a set of openings that form only in adult males (circled on the worm colored in red). Heiman's team found that a genetic switch in a single glial cell—a type of cell in the ... More

ResearchNews Videos
Migratory songbirds change breathing pattern to allow for flight at high altitude

On a day like today, Nobel Prize laureate Edwin McMillan was born
September 18, 1907. Edwin Mattison McMillan (September 18, 1907 - September 7, 1991) was an American physicist credited with being the first to produce a transuranium element, neptunium. For this, he shared the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Glenn Seaborg. A graduate of California Institute of Technology, he earned his doctorate from Princeton University in 1933, and joined the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory where he discovered oxygen-15 and beryllium-10. McMillan co-invented the synchrotron with Vladimir Veksler, and after the war he returned to the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory to build them. He was appointed associate director of the Radiation Laboratory in 1954 and promoted to deputy director in 1958. In 1935, McMillan, Lawrence and Robert Thornton carried out cyclotron experiments with deuteron beams that produced a series of unexpected results. Deuterons fused with a target nuclei, transmuting the target to a heavier isotope while ejecting a proton. Their experiments indicated a nuclear interaction at lower energies than would be expected from a simple calculation of the Coulomb barrier between a deuteron and a target nucleus.


Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the ResearchNews newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful