Bats are masters of flight in the night sky, capable of steep nosedives and sharp turns that put our best aircrafts to shame. Although the role of echolocation in bats’ impressive midair maneuvering has been extensively studied, the contribution of touch has been largely overlooked. A study published in Cell Reports shows, for the first time, that a unique array of sensory receptors in the wing provides feedback to a bat during flight.
New research has brought us closer to being able to understand the health benefits of coffee. Monash Univ. researchers, in collaboration with Italian coffee roasting company Illycaffè, have conducted the most comprehensive study to date on how free radicals and antioxidants behave during every stage of the coffee brewing process, from intact bean to coffee brew.
If you opt to wear soft contact lenses, chances are you are using hydrogels on a daily basis. Made up of polymer chains that are able to absorb water, hydrogels used in contacts are flexible and allow oxygen to pass through the lenses, keeping eyes healthy. Hydrogels can be up to 99% water and as a result are similar in composition to human tissues.
Bombardier beetles, which exist on every continent except Antarctica, have a pretty easy life. Virtually no other animals prey on them, because of one particularly effective defense mechanism: When disturbed or attacked, the beetles produce an internal chemical explosion in their abdomen and then expel a jet of boiling, irritating liquid toward their attackers.
Global warming will eventually push 1 out of every 13 species on Earth into extinction, a new study projects. It won't quite be as bad in North America, where only 1 in 20 species will be killed off because of climate change or Europe where the extinction rate is nearly as small. But in South America, that forecasted heat-caused extinction rate soars to 23%, the worst for any continent.
A type of immune cell that promotes inflammation during the immune response, TH17, can convert into another type of cell that reduces inflammation, Yale Univ. researchers have found. The finding, published in Nature, points to a possible therapeutic strategy for inflammation-mediated diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The human body is a cross between a factory and a construction zone; at least on the cellular level. Certain proteins act as project managers, which direct a wide variety of processes and determine the fate of the cell as a whole. One group of proteins called the WD-repeat (WDR) family helps a cell choose which of the thousands of possible gene products it should manufacture.
Last year was a notable one for scientific achievements: In 2014, European researchers discovered a fundamental new particle that sheds light on the origins of the universe, and the European Space Agency successfully landed the first spacecraft on a comet. Chinese researchers, meanwhile, developed the world’s fastest supercomputer, and uncovered new ways to meet global food demand.
Quantum particles behave in strange ways and are often difficult to study experimentally. Using mathematical methods drawn from game theory, LMU physicists have shown how bosons, which like to enter the same state, can form multiple groups.
Scientists have developed a new approach that combines ptychographic x-ray imaging and fluorescence microscopy to study the important role trace elements play in biological functions on hydrated cells. A team of researchers using the Advanced Photon Source demonstrated unparalleled sensitivity for measuring distribution of trace elements in thicker specimens at cryogenic temperatures, in this case at about 260 degrees below Fahrenheit.
Scientists are getting their best look yet at the DNA code for the woolly mammoth, thanks to work that could be a step toward bringing back the extinct beast. Researchers deciphered the complete DNA code, or genomes, of two mammoths. The new genomes are far more refined than a previous one announced in 2008.
The old adage that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link certainly applies to the risk organizations face in defending against cybersecurity threats. Employees pose a danger that can be just as damaging as a hacker. Iowa State Univ. researchers are working to better understand these internal threats by getting inside the minds of employees who put their company at risk.
Enzymes, the micro machines in our cells, can evolve to perform new tasks when confronted with novel situations. But what if you want an enzyme to do an entirely different job—one that it would never have to do in a cell? In a recent report published in ACS Central Science, researchers show that they can mimic nature and perform evolution in a test tube, developing enzymes that can perform brand-new chemical reactions.
Scientists have demonstrated the potential for softwoods to process more easily into pulp and paper if engineered to incorporate a key feature of hardwoods. The finding could improve the economics of the pulp, paper and biofuels industries and reduce those industries' environmental impact.
Scientists are coming to grips with the superior grasping ability of humans and other primates throughout history. In a new study, a research team led by Yale Univ. found that even the oldest known human ancestors may have had precision grip capabilities comparable to modern humans. This includes Australopithecus afarensis, which appears in the fossil record a million years before the first evidence of stone tools.
Microalgae offer a highly promising alternative to petroleum products without competing for resources used in the food industry. They have now been used, for the first time, to make asphalt. Researchers have recently proved the viability of bioasphalt, demonstrating its close similarity to the "real" asphalt used to pave roads.
It can shift from red to green to violet. It can mimic patterns and designs. And it can do all of this in a flash, literally. The same qualities that define the cuttlefish, a sea dweller that uses its powers of dynamic camouflage to survive and communicate, also apply to a new engineering feat that behaves much like nature's master of disguise.
By combining two highly innovative experimental techniques, scientists at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have for the first time simultaneously observed the structure and the correlated function of specific proteins critical in the repair of DNA, providing definitive answers to some highly debated questions, and opening up new avenues of inquiry and exciting new possibilities for biological engineering.
3D printing has been used to make everything from cars to medical implants. Now, Univ. of Washington ecologists are using the technology to make artificial flowers, which they say could revolutionize our understanding of plant-pollinator interactions.
How does climate change affect the occurrence and distribution of species? This is a key question in the climate debate, and one that is hard to answer without information about natural variation in species abundance. Now researchers from Uppsala Univ. can, for the first time, give us a detailed picture of natural variation through study published in Current Biology.
Scientists at The Univ. of Manchester have discovered a way to make trees grow bigger and faster, which could increase supplies of renewable resources and help trees cope with the effects of climate change. In the study, published in Current Biology, the team successfully manipulated two genes in poplar trees in order to make them grow larger and more quickly than usual.
Zinc deficiency, long associated with numerous diseases like certain cancers, can lead to activation of the Hedgehog signaling pathway, a biomolecular pathway that plays essential roles in developing organisms and in diseases, according to new research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, have developed a statistical model that allows them to tell where a dust sample came from within the continental U.S. based on the DNA of fungi found in the sample.
Nowhere is the adage "form follows function" more true than in the folded chain of amino acids that makes up a single protein macromolecule. But proteins are very sensitive to errors in their genetic blueprints. One single-letter DNA "misspelling" (called a point mutation) can alter a protein's structure or electric charge distribution enough to render it ineffective or even deleterious.
When scientists exposed pregnant mice to levels of bisphenol A (BPA) equivalent to those considered safe in humans, three generations of female mouse offspring experienced significant reproductive problems, including declines in fertility, sexual maturity and pregnancy success, the scientists report in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.