Mistletoe hanging in doorways announces that the holidays are just around the corner. For some people, however, the symbolic plant might one day represent more than a kiss at Christmas time: It may mean better liver health. Researchers have found that a compound produced by a particular variety of the plant can help fight obesity-related liver disease in mice.
A new study is helping to answer a longstanding question that has recently moved to the forefront of Earth science: Did our planet make its own water through geologic processes, or did water come to us via icy comets from the far reaches of the solar system? The answer is likely both.
Rice Univ. scientists have detected at least three instances of cross-species mating that likely influenced the evolutionary paths of “old world” mice, two in recent times and one in the distant past. The researchers think these instances of introgressive hybridization are only the first of many needles waiting to be found in a very large genetic haystack.
In one of the most comprehensive laboratory studies of its kind, Rice Univ. scientists traced the uptake and accumulation of quantum dot nanoparticles from water to plant roots, plant leaves and leaf-eating caterpillars. The study found that nanoparticle accumulation in both plants and animals varied significantly depending upon the type of surface coating applied to the particles.
New work from Carnegie Institute's Ivan Naumov and Russell Hemley delves into the chemistry underlying some surprising recent observations about hydrogen, and reveals remarkable parallels between hydrogen and graphene under extreme pressures.
Engineers at Yale Univ. have discovered that the stiffness of liquid drops embedded in solids has something in common with Goldilocks: While large drops of liquids are softer than the solid that surrounds them, extremely tiny drops of liquid can actually be stiffer than certain solids. But when they’re “just right,” the liquid drops have the exact same stiffness as the surrounding solid.
Squid, what is it good for? You can eat it and you can make ink or dye from it, and now a Penn State Univ. team of researchers is using it to make a thermoplastic that can be used in 3-D printing. The team looked at the protein complex that exists in the squid ring teeth (SRT). The naturally made material is a thermoplastic, but obtaining it requires a large amount of effort and many squid.
A rare weather phenomenon at the Grand Canyon had visitors looking out on a sea of thick clouds just below the rim. The total cloud inversion is expected to hang inside the canyon throughout Thursday.
Pretty soon, powering your tablet could be as simple as wrapping it in cling wrap. A Univ. of Toronto team has invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs)—a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.
Stanford Univ. engineers have designed and built a prism-like device that can split a beam of light into different colors and bend the light at right angles, a development that could eventually lead to computers that use optics, rather than electricity, to carry data.
The flu vaccine may not be very effective this winter, according to U.S. health officials who worry this may lead to more serious illnesses and deaths. Flu season has begun to ramp up, and officials say the vaccine does not protect well against the dominant strain seen most commonly so far this year. That strain tends to cause more deaths and hospitalizations, especially in the elderly.
Take two poisonous mushrooms, and call me in the morning. While no doctor would ever write this prescription, toxic fungi may hold the secrets to tackling deadly diseases. A team of Michigan State Univ. scientists has discovered an enzyme that is the key to the lethal potency of poisonous mushrooms.
Geckos, found in places with warm climates, have fascinated people for hundreds of years. Scientists have been especially intrigued by these lizards, and have studied a variety of features such as the adhesive toe pads on the underside of gecko feet with which geckos attach to surfaces with remarkable strength.
New research from Rice Univ. and the Univ. of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center shows how ovarian tumors co-opt a specific type of adult stem cell from abdominal tissues to fuel their growth. The research, published online in Cancer Research, suggests a new way to target aggressive ovarian cancers by disrupting the metabolic processes that allow them to thrive.
First developed in China in about the year A.D. 150, paper has many uses, the most common being for writing and printing upon. Indeed, the development and spread of civilization owes much to paper’s use as writing material. According to some surveys, 90% of all information in businesses today is retained on paper, even though the bulk of this printed paper is discarded after just one-time use.
The house mouse, stickleback fish and honey bee appear to have little in common, but at the genetic level these creatures respond in strikingly similar ways to danger, researchers report. When any of these animals confronts an intruder, the researchers found, many of the same genes and brain gene networks gear up or down in response.
A pair of researchers from the Univ. of California, Los Angeles Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has created the first surface texture that can repel all liquids, no matter what material the surface is made of. Because its design relies only on the physical attributes of the texture, the texture could have industrial or biomedical applications.
In recent years it has been established that copper plays an essential role in the health of the human brain. Improper copper oxidation has been linked to several neurological disorders. Copper has also been identified as a critical ingredient in the enzymes that activate the brain’s neurotransmitters in response to stimuli. Now, a new study has shown that proper copper levels are also essential to the health of the brain at rest.
Researchers at KU Leuven’s Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis have successfully converted sawdust into building blocks for gasoline. Using a new chemical process, they were able to convert the cellulose in sawdust into hydrocarbon chains. These hydrocarbons can be used as an additive in gasoline, or as a component in plastics.
The 1962 Nobel Prize James Watson won for his role in the discovery of the structure of DNA is going on the auction block. The auctioneer says the gold medal could bring $2.5 to $3.5 million on Dec. 4. Christie's says it's the first Nobel medal to be offered at auction by a living recipient. Watson made the 1953 discovery with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins.
While the turkey you eat on Thursday will bring your stomach happiness and could probably kick-start an afternoon nap, it may also save your life one day. That’s because the biological machinery needed to produce a potentially life-saving antibiotic is found in turkeys. Looks like there is one more reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving.
The body responds to tuberculosis infection by locking the bacterial offenders into tiny clusters of immune cells called granulomas, which are a hallmark of the disease. This containment strategy succeeds at first, but eventually the bacteria manage to break out of these intercellular jails and spread throughout the body.
If you spot someone stuck to the sheer glass side of a building on the Stanford Univ. campus, it's probably Elliot Hawkes testing his dissertation work. Hawkes, a mechanical engineering graduate student, works with a team of engineers who are developing controllable, reusable adhesive materials that, like the gecko toes that inspire the work, can form a strong bond with smooth surfaces but also release with minimal effort.
Scientists have discovered that genes switch off as memories are being formed, allowing for new connections between nerve cells. The discovery could eventually lead to a key for treating conditions such as autism and dementia. Researchers studying honeybees during learning activities have shown that memory management in the bee brain is controlled by small genetic elements called microRNAs that help regulate gene expression.
A widely presumed problem of aging is that the brain becomes less flexible or plastic, and that learning may therefore become more difficult. A new study led by Brown Univ. researchers contradicts that notion with a finding that plasticity did occur in seniors who learned a task well, but it occurred in a different part of the brain than in younger people.