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Fossils of a saber-toothed top predator reveal a scramble for dominance leading up to 'the Great Dying'

Giant gorgonopsian Inostrancevia with its dicynodont prey, scaring off the much smaller African species Cyonosaurus. Illustration courtesy: Matt Celeskey.

CHICAGO, IL.- Two hundred and fifty-two million years ago, Earth experienced a mass extinction so devastating that it's become known as "the Great Dying." Massive volcanic eruptions triggered catastrophic climate change, killing off nine out of every ten species and eventually setting the stage for the dinosaurs. But the Great Dying was a long goodbye— the extinction event took place over the course of up to a million years at the end of the Permian period. During that time, the fossil record shows drama and upheaval as species fought to get a foothold in their changing environments. One animal that exemplifies this instability was a tiger-sized, saber-toothed creature called Inostrancevia: a new fossil discovery suggests that Inostrancevia migrated 7,000 miles across the supercontinent Pangaea, filling a gap in a faraway ecosystem that had lost its top predators, before going extinct itself. "All the big top predators in the late Permian in South Africa went extinct well before the end-Permian ... More

Stable qubit is a prime candidate for universal quantum computer   A look into the heart of cellular waste disposal   HERACLES beamline to accelerate cathode research

PhD researcher is holding a PCB with two connectors and tweezers holding the quantum chip. Image courtesy: QuTech.

DELFT.- Researchers from QuTech improved the so-called "Andreev spin qubit" in a critical way and believe it can become a prime candidate in the pursuit of a perfect qubit. The new type of qubit is created in a more reliable and intrinsically stable way, compared to previous versions, by combining the advantages of two other types of qubits. The team has published their work in Nature Physics. Unlike the world of conventional computers, where bits are based on very well established and reliable technologies, the perfect qubit has not been invented yet. Will the quantum computer of the future contain qubits that are based on superconducting transmon qubits, spin qubits in silicon, NV centers in diamond, or perhaps some other quantum phenomenon? Each type of qubit has their own advantages—and disadvantages. One is more stable, the second has a higher fidelity, and others are more easily mass-produced. The perfect qubit does not exist. Yet. In ... More

Fluorescent lipids were to see how the nanomachine accelerates lipid transfer when necessary. Image courtesy: © MPI f. Multidisciplinary Sciences & Pouya Hosnani / University Medical Centre Göttingen/ Anh Nguyen.

GÖTTINGEN.- To prevent our body’s cells from overflowing with garbage and to keep them healthy, the waste inside them is constantly being disposed of. This cleaning process is called autophagy. Scientists have now, for the first time, rebuilt the complex nanomachine in the laboratory that starts this process – and it works quite differently from other cellular machines. The researchers’ new insights could help open up new approaches for the treatment of cancer, immune disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases in the future, and possibly even delay aging. Have you ever put off cleaning the house or decluttering the overflowing basement? Living cells cannot afford this procrastination when it comes to clearing the decks. Tiny garbage chutes are constantly active there to capture worn-out proteins, faulty cell components, or defective organelles ... More

Graduate student Sam Levenson, left, and CLASSE Research Associate Matt Andorf show off the HERACLES beamline in Newman Lab. Image courtesy: Savan DeSouza.

ITHACA, NY.- Cornell is breaking new ground in electron beam research with the HERACLES beamline, a state-of-the-art electron gun that mimics the harsh environments of the world’s largest particle colliders. Originally designed during the university’s Energy Recovery Linear Accelerator program, the electron gun at the heart of HERACLES (the High ElectRon Average Current for Lifetime ExperimentS) allows researchers at Newman Laboratory to study cathodes that can be used in everything from semiconductor manufacturing to the proposed electron-ion collider. Accelerator technology relies on photocathodes to produce high-current electron beams for a variety of applications. For example, a robust photocathode can sustain a high-current electron beam in particle colliders, where one of the most important criteria is beam luminosity (the number of particle collisions produced). A higher beam ... More

Clinical trial shows that modulation of gut microbiome using oral microencapsulated live bacteria improves long COVID   New study challenges some dogmas about marine microbial life   Tree species diversity increases likelihood of planting success

From 2021 to 2022, a total of 463 recovered patients with at least one long COVID symptom joined the RECOVERY study. Image courtesy: CUHK.

HONG KONG.- 70% of patients in Hong Kong who have recovered from COVID-19 continue to suffer from at least one long COVID symptom at around 6 months. There is however no proven treatment for long COVID. The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s (CUHK) Faculty of Medicine (CU Medicine) conducted a triple-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial and showed that modulation of the gut microbiome using oral microencapsulated live bacteria (SIM01) developed by CUHK led to improvement in long COVID symptoms. Findings of the study were presented in May 2023 at the late breaking abstract plenary session in a world leading international conference (Digestive Disease Week 2023) in Chicago. Long COVID is defined as persistence of long-term symptoms beyond four weeks after the diagnosis of COVID-19. Professor Martin Wong Chi-sang, Professor in The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care at CU Medicine, stated, &# ... More

A dividing bacterial cell under the fluorescence microscope. The constriction in the middle where the cell divides is clearly visible. The cell is colored green, the genomes blue. Image courtesy: Jan Brüwer/Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology.

BREMEN.- If scientists want to find out how fast a population of bacteria grows, they often measure how their cell count changes over time. However, this method has a major flaw: it does not measure how fast the bacteria multiply or die. Yet these factors are very important for understanding ecological processes. That is why researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen have now taken a closer look at these processes during a spring bloom in the German Bight. In doing so, they challenge some previous dogmas. The researchers around Jan Brüwer, Bernhard Fuchs and Rudolf Amann investigated the growth of bacteria during the spring bloom off Helgoland using various methods: With the microscope, they counted and identified not only the cells present, but also the frequency of cells that were currently dividing. This way, they were able to calculate how ... More

The team of scientists and interns who planted BiodiversiTREE in 2013, along with roughly 100 volunteers. From left: Susan Cook-Patton, Whitney Hoot, Caitlyn Cecil, Jess Shue, John Parker, Kim Holzer and Lada Klimesova. Image: Susan Cook-Patton.

EDGEWATER, MD.- Planting forests with diverse species can help ensure their success, according to a new study published May 18 from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and The Nature Conservancy. The discovery is the result of a decade of research from BiodiversiTREE, a large-scale reforestation project at SERC designed to run 100 years, testing the effects of different tree planting strategies on sapling survival and other ecosystem functions. Forests are naturally diverse, and this diversity of plant species brings an array of benefits: pest and disease resistance, resilience to climate change and increased wildlife habitat. However, nearly all forest plantations, and some restoration projects, are planted as monocultures—where a single plant species is grown on the land. This practice leaves both managed and unmanaged forests ecologically and ... More

Earlier snowpack melt in the West could bring summer water scarcity   World's most sensitive model-independent experiment starts searching for dark matter   Different methods of giving patients a drug to prevent stroke complications lead to 'massive variation' in outcomes

CU Boulder researchers collect snow measurements near the Continental Divide in Colorado for the snow survey last May. Image courtesy: Kate Hale.

BOULDER, CO.- Snow is melting earlier, and more rain is falling instead of snow in the mountain ranges of the Western U.S. and Canada, leading to a leaner snowpack that could impact agriculture, wildfire risk and municipal water supplies come summer, according to a new CU Boulder analysis. Published in Nature Communications Earth & Environment, the study documents more than 60 years of change in snowpack water storage across Western North America. It found that from 1950 to 2013, snowpack water storage has significantly declined in more than 25% of the Mountain West, in part because more snow is melting during winter and spring, eroding this seasonal boundary. “On average and in every mountainous region that we looked at, snow melt is occurring closer in time to when it fell,” said Kate Hale, lead author of the study and a 2022 geography graduate. “The timing of water availability is shifting toward earlier in the springtime, wit ... More

Magnet row of the ALPS experiment in the HERA tunnel: In this part of the magnets, intense laser light is reflected back and forth, from which axions are supposed to form. Image courtesy: DESY, Marta Mayer.

HAMBURG.- The world's most sensitive model-independent experiment to search for particularly light particles, of which dark matter might be composed, starts today at DESY in the form of the 'light shining through a wall' experiment ALPS II. Scientific calculations predict that this ominous form of matter should occur five times as often in the universe as normal, visible matter. Until now, however, no one has been able to identify particles of this substance; the ALPS experiment could now furnish such evidence. The ALPS (Any Light Particle Search) experiment, which stretches a total length of 250 meters, is looking for a particularly light type of new elementary particle. Using twenty-four recycled superconducting magnets from the HERA accelerator, an intense laser beam, precision interferometry and highly sensitive detectors, the international research team wants to search for these so-called axions or axion-like particles. Such p ... More

Sherif Mahmoud, clinical associate professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Image courtesy: University of Alberta.

EDMONTON.- Different methods of giving patients the same drug to prevent severe complications after a type of stroke lead to different outcomes, according to the first study ever to compare how patients fare after being treated with each method. Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, a life-threatening type of stroke that happens when a ruptured aneurysm causes bleeding into the space surrounding the brain, has an average mortality rate of 30 to 50 per cent. And among patients who survive the initial hemorrhage, about one-third develop severe and often debilitating disabilities because of complications in the days following the hemorrhage. “Delayed cerebral ischemia is one of the main complications contributing significantly to disability and even death if the patient survives the initial bleed,” says Sherif Mahmoud, clinical associate professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and lead author o ... More

Microorganisms' climate adaptation can slow down global warming   NASA scientists make first observation of a polar cyclone on Uranus   NUS study: Brief weekly magnetic muscle therapy improves mobility and lean body mass in older adults

Bacteria and fungi were analyzed in each soil sample. Image courtesy: Carla Cruz Paredes.

LUND.- A new study from Lund University in Sweden shows that the ability of microorganisms to adapt to climate warming will slow down global warming by storing carbon in soil. In the study, researchers collected soil samples from across Europe in a wide range of temperatures, from minus 3.1 to 18.3 degrees Celsius. The samples revealed that microorganisms in soils – such as bacteria and fungi – are strongly adapted to their local climate when it comes to growth and respiration. However, the researchers surprisingly demonstrated that microorganisms can adapt to temperature changes. The organisms can even benefit from these changes. "Despite decades of scientific pondering, researchers have not been able to determine whether microorganisms can adapt to warming, and if they do. We can now confirm that this is the case, and that the organisms can actually mitigate climate warming," says Carla Cruz ... More

This image of Uranus was taken by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1986. Image courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

PASADENA, CA.- For the first time, NASA scientists have strong evidence of a polar cyclone on Uranus. By examining radio waves emitted from the ice giant, they detected the phenomenon at the planet’s north pole. The findings confirm a broad truth about all planets with substantial atmospheres in our solar system: Whether the planets are composed mainly of rock or gas, their atmospheres show signs of a swirling vortex at the poles. Scientists have long known that Uranus’ south pole has a swirling feature. NASA’s Voyager 2 imaging of methane cloud tops there showed winds at the polar center spinning faster than over the rest of the pole. Voyager’s infrared measurements observed no temperature changes, but the new findings, published in Geophysical Research Letters, do. Using huge radio antenna dishes of the Very Large Array in New Mexico, they peered below the ice giant’s clouds, determining that the circulating air at ... More

Image courtesy: National University of Singapore.

SINGAPORE.- A decline in functional mobility, loss of muscle strength and an increase in body fats are often associated with ageing. This trend could potentially be reversed by way of an innovative magnetic muscle therapy pioneered by researchers from the National University of Singapore. In a recent community study conducted in Singapore involving 101 participants aged between 38 to 91 years old, weekly exposure to very low levels of proprietary pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF), using the BIXEPS device invented by NUS researchers in 2019, is associated with significant improvements in mobility and body composition after 12 weeks, particularly in older persons. Participants also reported reduced perception of pain after 3 months of magnetic muscle therapy. The community trial was carried out jointly by researchers from the NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology (iHealthtech), NUS start-up QuantumTX, and Healthy Longevity Translational ... More

More News
Researchers use AI to identify similar materials in images
CAMBRIDGE, MASS.- A robot manipulating objects while, say, working in a kitchen, will benefit from understanding which items are composed of the same materials. With this knowledge, the robot would know to exert a similar amount of force whether it picks up a small pat of butter from a shadowy corner of the counter or an entire stick from inside the brightly lit fridge. Identifying objects in a scene that are composed of the same material, known as material selection, is an especially challenging problem for machines because a material’s appearance can vary drastically based on the shape of the object or lighting conditions. Scientists at MIT and Adobe Research have taken a step toward solving this challenge. They developed a technique that can identify all pixels in an image representing a given material ... More

Immune system discovery could lead to better spinal injury treatments
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.- New research suggests that the immune system's ability to respond to spinal-cord injuries diminishes with age, and identifies potential avenues to improve that response and help patients heal. The findings offer insight into how the immune system responds to spinal-cord injuries, and why that response becomes blunted with the passing years. It also reveals an important role for membranes surrounding the spinal cord in mounting an immune response to injury. With this information, doctors one day may be able to bolster the body's immune response to improve patient outcomes, particularly among older adults. "Our findings suggest in aging, there is an impairment in how the immune response is initiated and resolved, compared to young people," said researcher Andrea Francesca M. Salvador ... More

Capturing transporter structure paves the way for drug development
HOUSTON, TX.- Scientists at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center studied the structure and function of a transporter involved in cancer and immunity. They captured six structures of the transporter, including when it was bound to an inhibitor, providing unprecedented insight into how it works. The findings, published in Cell, have implications for drug development. Transporters escort substances across the cell membrane so that they can carry out their functions. Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) is an important signaling molecule that regulates the immune system, blood vessel formation, auditory function and the integrity of epithelial and endothelial membranes. It aids the progression and survival of cancer cells through chemoresistance ... More

Hubble hunts for intermediate-sized black hole close to home
PARIS.- Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have come up with what they say is some of their best evidence yet for the presence of a rare class of intermediate-sized black holes, having found a strong candidate lurking at the heart of the closest globular star cluster to Earth, located 6,000 light-years away. Like intense gravitational potholes in the fabric of space, virtually all black holes seem to come in two sizes: small and humongous. It's estimated that our galaxy is littered with 100 million small black holes (several times the mass of our sun) created from exploded stars. The universe at large is flooded with supermassive black holes, weighing millions or billions of times our sun's mass and found in the centers of galaxies. A long-sought missing link is an intermediate-mass black hole, w ... More

Study proposes an acoustic approach for cheap and effective monitoring of glacier discharge
SAPPORO.- Acoustic signals can be effectively used for monitoring glacial runoff and provide a cheaper and more accessible alternative to existing methods. Glaciers have been melting and shrinking at an alarming rate, raising the sea-level and causing outburst floods. Scientists are monitoring this change to gauge the meltwater contribution to the ocean and freshwater resources across the globe while also keeping an eye on the risk of glacial flooding. However, glacio-hydrological monitoring is a luxury not every country can afford. The process requires either a substantial effort by observers or sophisticated technology with large volumes of data. A team of scientists from Hokkaido University led by Evgeny A. Podolskiy, has proposed a safe, affordable, and effective approach for monitoring glacial di ... More

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On a day like today, Polish-German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit was born
May 24, 1686. Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (24 May 1686 - 16 September 1736) was a physicist, inventor, and scientific instrument maker. Born in Poland to a family of German extraction, he later moved to the Dutch Republic at age 15, where he spent the rest of his life (1701–1736). A pioneer of exact thermometry, he helped lay the foundations for the era of precision thermometry by inventing the mercury-in-glass thermometer and Fahrenheit scale. According to Fahrenheit's 1724 article, he determined his scale by reference to three fixed points of temperature. The Fahrenheit scale was the primary temperature standard for climatic, industrial and medical purposes in English-speaking countries until the 1970s, presently mostly replaced by the Celsius scale long used in the rest of the world, apart from the United States, where temperatures and weather reports are still broadcast in Fahrenheit.


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