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Brain’s reaction to certain words could replace passwords

June 3, 2015 8:26 am | by Binghamton Univ. | News | Comments

You might not need to remember those complicated email and bank account passwords for much longer. According to a new study, the way your brain responds to certain words could be used to replace passwords. In "Brainprint," a newly published study in Neurocomputing, researchers from Binghamton Univ. observed the brain signals of 45 volunteers as they read a list of 75 acronyms, such as FBI and DVD.

Yeast protein network could provide insights into obesity

June 1, 2015 11:20 am | by Ker Than, Caltech | News | Comments

A team of biologists and a mathematician have identified and characterized a network composed of 94 proteins that work together to regulate fat storage in yeast. The findings, detailed in PLOS Computational Biology, suggest that yeast could serve as a valuable test organism for studying human obesity.

Ancient algae found deep in tropical glacier

June 1, 2015 11:04 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

The remains of tiny creatures found deep inside a mountaintop glacier in Peru are clues to the local landscape more than a millennium ago, according to a new study. The unexpected discovery of diatoms, a type of algae, in ice cores pulled from the Quelccaya Summit Dome Glacier demonstrate that freshwater lakes or wetlands that currently exist at high elevations on or near the mountain were also there in earlier times.

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Cold improved longevity for some

June 1, 2015 8:13 am | by Laura Williams, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Century-old wisdom holds that cold-blooded creatures live longer in colder environments. And more recent studies have found it's true for mammals as well: Dropping the core body temperatures of mice by less than one degree Fahrenheit can extend their lives by 20%.

Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

June 1, 2015 7:36 am | by Univ. of California, Riverside | News | Comments

Male moths locate females by navigating along the latter's pheromone (odor) plume, often flying hundreds of meters to do so. Two strategies are involved to accomplish this: males must find the outer envelope of the pheromone plume, and then head upwind. Can understanding such insect behavior be useful for robotics research?

Paleontologists pioneer laser-beam scanning of dinosaur fossils

May 28, 2015 8:18 am | by Brendan Lynch, KU News Service | News | Comments

A team of scientists based largely at the Univ. of Kansas and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Washington has developed methods of using commercial-grade laser equipment to find and analyze fossils of dinosaurs. The new laser method causes fossil samples to fluoresce, revealing complex details unseen with traditional visual enhancers like ultraviolet light.

Who needs water to assemble DNA?

May 28, 2015 7:42 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Scientists around the world are using the programmability of DNA to assemble complex nanometer-scale structures. Until now, however, production of these artificial structures has been limited to water-based environments, because DNA naturally functions inside the watery environment of living cells. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have now shown that they can assemble DNA nanostructures in a solvent containing no water.

Expanding the code of life with new “letters”

May 28, 2015 7:29 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

The DNA encoding all life on Earth is made of four building blocks called nucleotides, commonly known as “letters,” that line up in pairs and twist into a double helix. Now, two groups of scientists are reporting for the first time that two new nucleotides can do the same thing, raising the possibility that entirely new proteins could be created for medical uses.

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Glancing at greenery can boost concentration levels

May 26, 2015 11:20 am | by Univ. of Melbourne | News | Comments

A Univ. of Melbourne study shows that glancing at a grassy green roof for only 40 sec markedly boosts concentration. The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, gave 150 students a boring, attention-sapping task. The students were asked to press a key as a series of numbers repeatedly flashed on a computer screen, unless that number was three.

DNA mutations get harder to hide

May 26, 2015 7:34 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers have developed a method to detect rare DNA mutations with an approach hundreds of times more powerful than current methods. The technique allows the researchers to find a figurative needle in a haystack that’s smaller than any needle.

Study: High altitude may boost babies' risks for SIDS deaths

May 25, 2015 2:04 am | by Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Lofty living may make babies vulnerable to sudden infant death syndrome, according to a Colorado study that found higher risks above 8,000 ft (2,400 m). While the research shows that the SIDS rate in Colorado's tall mountains is very low, it's still two times greater than in the Denver area and other regions where the altitude is less than 6,000 ft (1,800 m). The results echo earlier research done in Austria's Alps.

Slinky lookalike “hyperlens” helps us see tiny objects

May 22, 2015 10:27 am | by Cory Nealon, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

It looks like a Slinky suspended in motion. Yet this photonics advancement, called a metamaterial hyperlens, doesn’t climb down stairs. Instead, it improves our ability to see tiny objects. The hyperlens may someday help detect some of the most lethal forms of cancer.

Watching a protein “quake”

May 22, 2015 8:06 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists, for the first time, have precisely measured a protein’s natural “knee-jerk” reaction to the breaking of a chemical bond—a quaking motion that propagated through the protein at the speed of sound. The result, from an x-ray laser experiment at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, could provide clues to how more complex processes unfold as chemical bonds form and break.

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Nicotinoid, fungal disease team to break down termites’ defenses

May 22, 2015 7:31 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. research shows that a small amount of nicotinoid pesticide substantially weakens termites' ability to fight off fungal diseases, a finding that could lead to more effective methods of pest control. The study also provides clues into termites' robust defense systems and how nicotinoids affect social insects.

Study backs seaweed’s carbon capture potential

May 19, 2015 8:30 am | by Univ. of Technology, Sydney | News | Comments

There are great hopes for the potential of coastal plants and seaweeds to store carbon and help counter the effects of climate change and a new study is backing that potential. Scientists have carried out the first investigation of how a diverse range of coastal plants and seaweed can contribute to "blue carbon" stocks, the carbon in leaves, sediments and roots that's naturally captured, or sequestered, by plants in coastal habitats.

Bats sonar secrets could make for better drones

May 19, 2015 8:21 am | by Virginia Tech | Videos | Comments

The U.S. Navy has found that it pays to listen to Rolf Mueller carry on about his bat research. From unmanned aerial systems to undersea communications, practical applications flow from the team headed by Mueller, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Discovery paves way for homebrewed drugs

May 18, 2015 11:22 am | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | News | Comments

Fans of homebrewed beer and backyard distilleries already know how to employ yeast to convert sugar into alcohol. But a research team led by UC Berkeley bioengineers has gone much further by completing key steps needed to turn sugar-fed yeast into a microbial factory for producing morphine and potentially other drugs, including antibiotics and anti-cancer therapeutics.

How microbes acquire electricity in making methane

May 18, 2015 10:57 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. scientists have solved a long-standing mystery about methanogens, unique microorganisms that transform electricity and carbon dioxide into methane. In a new study, the Stanford team demonstrates for the first time how methanogens obtain electrons from solid surfaces. The discovery could help scientists design electrodes for microbial "factories" that produce methane gas and other compounds sustainably.

Liquid-crystal-based compound lenses work like insect eyes

May 18, 2015 10:37 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | Videos | Comments

The compound eyes found in insects and some sea creatures are marvels of evolution. There, thousands of lenses work together to provide sophisticated information without the need for a sophisticated brain. Human artifice can only begin to approximate these naturally self-assembled structures, and, even then, they require painstaking manufacturing techniques.

Nanosponge-filled gel cleans up MRSA infections

May 18, 2015 7:23 am | by Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Nanoengineers at the Univ. of California, San Diego developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This "nanosponge-hydrogel" minimized the growth of skin lesions on mice infected with MRSA, without the use of antibiotics.

Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, studies the oil plumes generated by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout.

Further assessment needed of dispersants used in response to oil spills

May 15, 2015 11:28 am | by Alan Flurry, University of Georgia | News | Comments

New commentary argues for further in-depth assessments of the impacts of dispersants on microorganisms to guide their use in response to future oil spills. After the Deepwater Horizon spill, dispersants were used as a first line of defense, even though little is known about how they affect microbial communities or the biodegradation activities they are intended to spur.

Researchers have developed a novel device that may allow individuals to feel hot, cold and the sense of touch through a prosthetic device.

Device may allow sensations in prosthetic hands

May 15, 2015 11:21 am | by Beth Miller, Washington University in St. Louis | News | Comments

To the nearly 2 million people in the United States living with the loss of a limb, including U.S. military veterans, prosthetic devices provide restored mobility, yet lack sensory feedback. A team of engineers and researchers at Washington University in St. Louis is working to change that so those with upper limb prosthetics can feel hot and cold and the sense of touch through their prosthetic hands.

In evolution, “house of cards” model wins

May 14, 2015 4:44 pm | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Using sophisticated modeling of genomic data from diverse species, Yale Univ. researchers have answered a longstanding question about which competing model of evolution works best. Their research suggests that the “house of cards” model explains evolutionary processes better than the theory that species undergo the accumulation of many mutations with small effects.

New target for anti-malaria drugs

May 14, 2015 9:06 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

A new target for drug development in the fight against the deadly disease malaria has been discovered by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a recently published paper, the researchers describe how they identified the drug target while studying the way in which the parasites Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis, and Plasmodium, which causes malaria, access vital nutrients from their host cells.

Digitizing neurons

May 14, 2015 8:21 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Supercomputing resources at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will support a new initiative designed to advance how scientists digitally reconstruct and analyze individual neurons in the human brain. Led by the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the BigNeuron project aims to create a common platform for analyzing the 3-D structure of neurons.

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