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Isle of Wight fossil suggests Europe had its own family of small herbivorous dinosaurs

Image courtesy: University of Bath.

BATH.- Scientists have discovered a new species of small plant-eating dinosaur on the Isle of Wight in southern England (UK). The new species, Vectidromeus insularis, is the second member of the hypsilophodont family to be found on the island, suggesting that Europe had its own family of small herbivorous dinosaurs, distinct from those found in Asia and North America. Hypsilophodonts were a group of nimble, bipedal herbivores that lived around 125 million years ago. The animals lived alongside early tyrannosaurs, spinosaurs, and Iguanodon. The new fossil represents an animal about the size of a chicken but was a juvenile and may have grown much larger. Vectidromeus is a close relative of Hypsilophodon foxii, a dinosaur originally described in the Victorian era, and one of the first dinosaurs to be described from relatively complete remains. Small and with gracile, with bird-like hindlimbs, hypsilophodonts were used by famous scientist Thomas Henry Huxley as evidence that birds were related to ... More

New discovery for treatment of primary liver cancer shows promise in mice   World's first 3D simulations reveal the physics of exotic supernovae   Lego-like gene editing tool lets researchers improve cancer immunotherapy

Image courtesy: Monash University.

MELBOURNE.- A preclinical study led by Monash University has discovered a drug combination with the potential to treat one of the most fatal and globally widespread cancers, a type of primary liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The team of researchers from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) found the drug combination reverses the symptoms of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and, subsequently, markedly reduces the onset of NASH-driven HCC, without affecting the liver in mice. The study, published in Science Advances, used a mouse model that mimics human NASH-driven HCC to implement a combination treatment of an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress inhibitor called "BGP-15" with the inflammation blocker, "Olamkicept." Both of these drugs are already proven to be safe in humans and have progressed to Phase 2 and 3 human clinical trials for other metabolic and/or inflammatory diseases. The study's lead author, Pr ... More

The three-dimensional simulation of the exotic supernova reveals the turbulent structures generated during the material ejection in the explosion. Image courtesy: Ke-Jung Chen/ASIAA.

TAIPEI.- After years of dedicated research and over 5 million supercomputer computing hours, a team has created the world's first high-resolution 3D radiation hydrodynamics simulations for exotic supernovae. This work is reported in The Astrophysical Journal. Ke-Jung Chen at Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA) in Taiwan, led an international team and used the powerful supercomputers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan to make the breakthrough. Supernova explosions are the most spectacular endings for massive stars, as they conclude their life cycles in a self-destructive manner, instantaneously releasing brightness equivalent to billions of suns, illuminating the entire universe. During this explosion, heavy elements formed within the star are also ejected, laying the foundation for the birth of new stars and planets and playing a crucial role ... More

Researchers at Gladstone Institutes and UC San Francisco—including Theodore Roth (left) and Franziska Blaeschke (center)—used a new method to screen 10,000 combinations of gene edits in immune cells engineered to fight cancer.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- In recent years, scientists have used gene modification technologies to reprogram immune cells into therapeutics that can attack cancers. But such immunotherapies don't work for all patients or all cancer types, and screening through every possible combination of genetic changes that might improve these reprogrammed immune cells is a daunting and slow task. Now, scientists at Gladstone Institutes and UC San Francisco (UCSF) have developed a technology that lets them rapidly "snap" together thousands of different combinations of genetic edits to test in immune cells. They used their screening technology, called Modular Pooled Knockin Screening (ModPoKI), to identify a new combination of genes that, when added to immune cells, makes the cells last longer and become more effective at fighting cancers. "This is a major step forward in our ability to ask questions about how we put pieces of genetic programs together into cells and test ho ... More

Polar experiments reveal seasonal cycle in Antarctic sea ice algae   Researchers discover tissue-specific protection against protein aggregation   Scientists achieve breakthrough in highly efficient electrocatalyst for clean energy

Co-authors Hannah Dawson (left) and Susan Rundell collect samples of seawater and sea ice off West Antarctica in November 2018. Image courtesy: Rebecca Trinh/Columbia University.

SEATTLE, WA.- In the frigid waters surrounding Antarctica, an unusual seasonal cycle occurs. During winter, from March to October, the sun barely rises. As seawater freezes it rejects salts, creating pockets of extra-salty brine where microbes live in winter. In summer, the sea ice melts under constant daylight, producing warmer, fresher water at the surface. This remote ecosystem is home to much of the Southern Ocean's photosynthetic life. A new University of Washington study provides the first measurements of how sea-ice algae and other single-celled life adjust to these seasonal rhythms, offering clues to what might happen as this environment shifts under climate change. The study, published in the ISME Journal, contains some of the first measurements of how sea-ice microbes respond to changing conditions. "We know very little about how sea-ice microbes respond to changes in salinity and temperature," said lead author Hannah Dawson, a UW p ... More

C. elegans head/upper body of two C. elegans worms, with protein aggregates visible in the pharynx in control conditions (shown by yellow fluorescence) and without aggregates due to protein clearance by the SAPA mechanism.

CAMBRIDGE.- Researchers from the Babraham Institute, UK, and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) have identified a backup mechanism of protein quality control which prevents the toxic effects of protein aggregation in specific tissues when normal methods of molecular monitoring fail. Their work has been published in PLoS Biology. By understanding how different tissues tackle protein build up, this research could accelerate the identification of ways to protect tissues that are vulnerable to protein build up, possibly tackling both disease-associated protein aggregates and also age-dependent aggregates that accelerate the functional decline of tissues. Just like factories identifying faulty items coming off the production line, cells use different mechanisms to monitor protein production, folding and accumulation. During aging some proteins become prone to accumulating due to disrupted protein folding and the decline in t ... More

Professor Zhang Hua, Herman Hu Chair Professor of Nanomaterials at CityU. Image courtesy: City University of Hong Kong.

HONG KONG.- A research team led by City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has achieved a groundbreaking advancement in nanomaterials by successfully developing a highly efficient electrocatalyst which can enhance the generation of hydrogen significantly through electrochemical water splitting. This breakthrough has great application potential for the clean energy industry. Professor Zhang Hua, Herman Hu Chair Professor of Nanomaterials at CityU, and his team have developed an electrocatalyst by using the transition-metal dichalcogenide (TMD) nanosheets with unconventional crystal phases as supports. The electrocatalyst exhibits superior activity and excellent stability in electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution reaction in acidic media. "Our research finding is significant in the sense that the hydrogen generated by electrochemical water splitting is regarded as one of the most promising clean energies to replace fossil fuels in the near future, re ... More

A pose-mapping technique could remotely evaluate patients with cerebral palsy   Supermassive black holes alter galactic chemistry   Melting ice likely triggered climate change 8,000+ years ago

MIT engineers developed a machine-learning system that remotely analyzes videos of people with motor or neurological disorders, and assesses their movement in real time. Image: MIT News, figure figures courtesy of the researchers.

CAMBRIDGE, MA.- It can be a hassle to get to the doctor’s office. And the task can be especially challenging for parents of children with motor disorders such as cerebral palsy, as a clinician must evaluate the child in person on a regular basis, often for an hour at a time. Making it to these frequent evaluations can be expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally taxing. MIT engineers hope to alleviate some of that stress with a new method that remotely evaluates patients’ motor function. By combining computer vision and machine-learning techniques, the method analyzes videos of patients in real-time and computes a clinical score of motor function based on certain patterns of poses that it detects in video frames. The researchers tested the method on videos of more than 1,000 children with cerebral palsy. They found the method could process each video and assign a clinical score that m ... More

The spiral galaxy Messier 77 (NGC 1068), as observed by ALMA and the Hubble Space Telescope. Image courtesy: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, T. Nakajima et al.

TOKYO.- New research shows that the supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy can have a direct impact on the chemical distribution of the host galaxy. This provides another piece of the puzzle for understanding how galaxies evolve. It is well known that active supermassive black holes can produce major changes their host galaxies by heating up and removing the interstellar gas in the galaxy. But the compact sizes of black holes, the long distances from Earth, and obscuration by dust in the galaxies have made it difficult to measure the chemical composition distribution of the gas around an active supermassive black hole. In this study, an international team of researchers led by Toshiki Saito at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and Taku Nakajima at Nagoya University used ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) to observe the central region of Messier 77 located 51.4 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Cetus. Messier 77 is a relative ... More

The sediment core being taken from the Ythan Estuary. Image courtesy: University of Leeds.

LEEDS.- Using geological samples from the Ythan Estuary in Scotland, scientists have identified a melting ice sheet as the probable trigger of a major climate-change event just over 8,000 years ago. And the analysis—involving a team of geo-scientists from four Yorkshire universities led by Dr. Graham Rush, who holds positions at both the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University—could hold clues as to how present-day ice loss in Greenland could affect the world's climate systems. More than 8,000 years ago, the North Atlantic and Northern Europe experienced significant cooling because of changes to a major system of ocean currents known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC. The change in AMOC also affected global rainfall patterns. It is believed that an influx of a massive amount of freshwater into the salt-water seas of the North Atlantic caused the AMOC to breakdown. The research team took core sam ... More

New camera offers ultrafast imaging at a fraction of the normal cost   Ion channel linked to brain inflammation identified   Scientists find banded sand catsharks hiding inside sea sponges

Researchers developed a diffraction-gated real-time ultrahigh-speed mapping (DRUM) camera that can capture a dynamic event in a single exposure at 4.8 million frames per second. Image courtesy: Xianglei Liu and Jinyang Liang, (INRS).

QUEBEC.- Capturing blur-free images of fast movements like falling water droplets or molecular interactions requires expensive ultrafast cameras that acquire millions of images per second. In a new paper, researchers report a camera that could offer a much less expensive way to achieve ultrafast imaging for a wide range of applications such as real-time monitoring of drug delivery or high-speed lidar systems for autonomous driving. "Our camera uses a completely new method to achieve high-speed imaging," said Jinyang Liang from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) in Canada. "It has an imaging speed and spatial resolution similar to commercial high-speed cameras but uses off-the-shelf components that would likely cost less than a tenth of today's ultrafast cameras, which can start at close to $100,000." In a paper, titled "Diffraction-gated real-time ultrahigh-speed mapping photography" appearing in Optica, Liang together wit ... More

Immunohistochemistry of WT hippocampal astrocytes in culture showing expression of Orai1 in the soma and processes. Image courtesy: Nature Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-40968-6.

CHICAGO, IL.- Northwestern Medicine investigators have identified how a calcium channel in the nervous system contributes to brain inflammation, according to a study published in Nature Communications. Astrocytes, the major glial subtype of the nervous system, mediate several important tasks in the brain, including clearing excess neurotransmitters at synapses, providing metabolic nutrients to neurons, and controlling the blood-brain barrier. In addition to these well-established functions, it was recently recognized that astrocytes also cause neuroinflammation, which can cause significant tissue damage and lead to changes in animal behavior. Despite the abundance of astrocytes and widespread nature of neuroinflammation, little is known about the molecular checkpoints that control astrocyte-mediated brain inflammation, said Murali Prakriya, Ph.D., the Magerstadt Professor of Pharmacology and of Medicine in the Division of Allergy and Immunology, and ... More

One of the Banded sand catsharks found hiding in sponges. Image courtesy: CSIRO.

CANBERRA.- When scientists on board the research vessel (RV) Investigator pulled a large sponge from the ocean in 2017, they noticed a tail fin poking out. They expected to find an eel had wriggled into the sponge. Instead, they discovered 30 catsharks hiding inside. It was the first known observation of a shark species living inside a sponge. The paper, "Sharks checking in to the sponge hotel: first internal use of sponges of the genus Agelas and family Irciniidae by banded sand catsharks Atelomycterus fasciatus," was published in the Journal of Fish Biology. This sponge and its catsharks were the first of five large sponges discovered to contain a total of 57 Banded sand catsharks. They were found during two voyages to survey marine biodiversity in marine parks off the coast of north-western Australia. Helen O'Neill, a fish biologist at our Australian National Fish Collection, was on board the second voyage in late 2022. She said the sponges b ... More

More News
Invasive red fire ants found in Europe for the first time
LONDON.- An invasive species of ant has been discovered in Europe for the first time. Nearly 90 nests of the red imported fire ant, or Solenopsis invicta, were found near the city of Syracuse, Italy, according to a new report published in the journal Current Biology. While the ants have occasionally been found in imported products in Europe, this is the first time they have become established in the wild. With a painful sting and a voracious appetite, the ants are known to pose a risk to native ecosystems, farming and human health. Globally, it’s estimated that as much as $32 billion is spent every year to deal with the insects, a cost that will only increase if the ants spread to a new continent. Mattia Menchetti, a PhD student who was the lead author of the new research, says, ‘Solenopsis invicta is one of the world’s worst invasive species, and can spread alarmingly quickly.’ ‘However, despite the vast number of alien ant species establishing in Europe, the absence o ... More

Roadside hedges can reduce harmful ultrafine particle pollution around schools
CAMBRIDGE.- A new study led by Cambridge University confirms that planting hedges between roadsides and school playgrounds can dramatically reduce children's exposure to traffic-related particle pollution. The research, a collaboration with Lancaster University, found that hedges can act as protective barriers against air pollution from major city roads by soaking up significant quantities of harmful particles emitted by traffic. The study is published in the journal Science of The Total Environment. The researchers applied a new type of pollution analysis, using magnetism to study particles trapped by a hedge separating a major 6-lane road from a primary school in Manchester, UK. They found that the hedge was especially successful in removing ultrafine particle pollution, which can be more damaging to health. "Our findings show that hedges can provide a simple, cheap and effective way to help reduce exposure to local sources of pollution," said ... More

Matter found to comprise 31% of the total amount of matter and energy in the universe
CHIBA.- One of the most interesting and important questions in cosmology is, "How much matter exists in the universe?" An international team, including scientists at Chiba University, has now succeeded in measuring the total amount of matter for the second time. Reporting in The Astrophysical Journal, the team determined that matter makes up 31% of the total amount of matter and energy in the universe, with the remainder consisting of dark energy. "Cosmologists believe that only about 20% of the total matter is made of regular or 'baryonic' matter, which includes stars, galaxies, atoms, and life," explains first author Dr. Mohamed Abdullah, a researcher at the National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics-Egypt, Chiba University, Japan. "About 80% is made of dark matter, whose mysterious nature is not yet known but may consist of some as-yet-undiscovered subatomic particles." "The team used a well-proven technique to determin ... More

Matchmaking (with AI) to help proteins pair up
MIAMI, FL.- Successful matchmaking with protein molecules is like all other kinds of matchmaking: The two must click for it to work. Except for proteins—the estimated 200 million unique molecular building blocks of life found in all people, animals, plants and bacteria that work together to carry out countless vital functions—figuring out the perfect pair can be a bit complicated. Compatibility has a lot to do with how they are shaped. It's like trying to find a specific key to fit a very specific keyhole. Although a difficult and time-consuming process for scientists, knowledge of protein structures and how they best bind is critically important in the design of better medications and vaccines. To help narrow the search, a collaborative team of FIU researchers created a new machine-learning model that outperforms similar state-of-the-art software in predicting how protein molecules will successfully bind together. The AI-based method us ... More

A scalable and user-friendly platform for physicists to carry out advanced quantum experiments, cheaply
BANGALORE.- Quantum computers can solve certain computational problems much faster than ordinary computers by using specific quantum properties. The basic building blocks of such machines are called quantum-bits or qubits. Qubits can be realized using several physical platforms such as nuclear spins, trapped ions, cold atoms, photons, and using superconducting Josephson circuits. Several such qubits operate in the microwave frequency domain, and require specialized room temperature microwave electronics for control and readout of the quantum states of the qubits. However, there lies a challenge when it comes to connecting classical electronics to these qubits. The qubits need high frequency (GHz) electromagnetic signals for control and readout pulses in the order of a few tens of nanoseconds. The traditional setup for generation and capture of such signals is often costly and complex with many components. This can be addressed by developing a specific FPGA-based system that brings the functionalit ... More

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TiPACCs #3: Tipping points of the Antarctic Ice Sheet

On a day like today, Russian physicist Vadim Kuzmin died
September 17, 2015. Vadim Alekseyevich Kuzmin (16 April 1937 - 17 September 2015) was a Russian theoretical physicist. Kuzmin completed his undergraduate studies in 1961 at Moscow State University and his PhD in 1971 at Lebedev Institute. He has been a member of the Institute for Nuclear Research in Moscow since its founding in 1970. There, he became a professor and chair of the department of particle astrophysics and cosmology. In 1987, he obtained the Russian doctoral title. In 1966, he and Georgiy Zatsepin predicted (what is now called) the GZK limit for cosmic rays. In neutrino physics, he proposed an experiment using gallium/germanium detectors to detect low-energy solar neutrinos. In 1970, he proposed neutron/antineutron oscillations as a possibility for observing violation of baryon number. Also in 1970, he independently discovered the Sakharov conditions. In the 1980s, he was a pioneer in the theory of electroweak baryogenesis. In 1985, his influential work with Valery Rubakov and Mikhail Shaposhnikov estimated the rate of anomalous electroweak process that violated baryon-number conservation in the cosmic plasma of the early universe.


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