By Matthew Whitley Imagine you are walking alone in parking lot, when suddenly somebody grabs you by the arm and flashes a knife, demanding your money. Do you A) scream for help, B) try to wrestle the knife away, or C) remove your arm from your shoulder and make a break for it? Disarming your assailant may seem preferable to dis-arming yourself, but for a lizard option C is a likely response. A lizard tail left behind. Image by Metatron at Wikimedia Commons.You likely have heard before that many........ Read more »
Bateman, P., & Fleming, P. (2009) To cut a long tail short: a review of lizard caudal autotomy studies carried out over the last 20 years. Journal of Zoology, 277(1), 1-14. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2008.00484.x
Gilbert, E., Payne, S., & Vickaryous, M. (2013) The Anatomy and Histology of Caudal Autotomy and Regeneration in Lizards. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 86(6), 631-644. DOI: 10.1086/673889
NASA's Curiosity Mars. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSSOn August 6, 2012, the NASA Curiosity rover landed on Mars at the base of Mount Sharp, a mountain the size of Kilimanjaro (~19,000 feet) in the middle of Gale Crater. Nina Lanza, space scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, remembers the day well. As part of the team that built ChemCam, one of the ten instruments on the rover, she spent three months at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, living on “Mars time” to fol........ Read more »
ntrinsically disordered proteins are thought to be fully functional, yet do not confirm to a single conformation, thereby identifying their structure via crystallography becomes problematic. Many intrinsically disordered proteins have been studied and analyzed using NMR methods, however the question as to why proteins are intrinsically disordered is still debatable.... Read more »
Basile, W., Sachenkova, O., Light, S., & Elofsson, A. (2017) High GC content causes orphan proteins to be intrinsically disordered. PLOS Computational Biology, 13(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005375
It’s a foggy morning in London. Meteorologist George Simpson, the director of the British Meteorological Office, sips his tea and opens a paper authored by a scientist named Guy Stewart Callendar. The last sentence of the abstract reads, “The temperature observations at 200 meteorological stations are used to show that world temperatures have actually increased at an average rate of 0.005°C per year during the past half century.”Simpson shakes his head and thinks, “Nonsense. It’s all ........ Read more »
Callendar, G. (1938) The artificial production of carbon dioxide and its influence on temperature. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 64(275), 223-240. DOI: 10.1002/qj.49706427503
With increasing computational power (aka GPU) that can be accessed these days, it is no wonder that performing all-atom molecular dynamics simulation for a longer time, with duplicates and/or triplicates, has become easier.... Read more »
Zuo Z, & Liu J. (2016) Cas9-catalyzed DNA Cleavage Generates Staggered Ends: Evidence from Molecular Dynamics Simulations. Scientific reports, 37584. PMID: 27874072
Marzinek JK, Holdbrook DA, Huber RG, Verma C, & Bond PJ. (2016) Pushing the Envelope: Dengue Viral Membrane Coaxed into Shape by Molecular Simulations. Structure (London, England : 1993), 24(8), 1410-20. PMID: 27396828
By Jefferson LeThe blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is the largest mammal on the planet. Image byNMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NOAA) available at Wikimedia Commons.Helloooooo! My name is Bailey and I am a 25 meter long blue whale, the largest living mammal on Earth! My friend Finley, a 21 meter long fin whale comes in second for largest in size. We had an interesting adventure recently where we were followed by humans. While Finley and I were foraging for food, I overheard the huma........ Read more »
Croll DA, Acevedo-Gutiérrez A, Tershy BR, & Urbán-Ramírez J. (2001) The diving behavior of blue and fin whales: is dive duration shorter than expected based on oxygen stores?. Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular , 129(4), 797-809. PMID: 11440866
President Trump this week repeated an assertion he made shortly after his election: that millions of ballots cast illegally by undocumented immigrants cost him the popular vote. If true, this would suggest the wholesale corruption of American democracy.
Not to worry: As far as anyone knows, the president’s assertion is akin to saying that millions of unicorns also voted illegally.
- In a
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Preller, K., Herdener, M., Pokorny, T., Planzer, A., Kraehenmann, R., Stämpfli, P., Liechti, M., Seifritz, E., & Vollenweider, F. (2017) The Fabric of Meaning and Subjective Effects in LSD-Induced States Depend on Serotonin 2A Receptor Activation. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.030
Wacker, D., Wang, S., McCorvy, J., Betz, R., Venkatakrishnan, A., Levit, A., Lansu, K., Schools, Z., Che, T., Nichols, D.... (2017) Crystal Structure of an LSD-Bound Human Serotonin Receptor. Cell, 168(3), 377-2147483647. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.12.033
In the spirit of Halloween we bring you the science fact and fiction behind the undead. Zombies, those brain loving little guys, (and girls) are everywhere. Sure, we are all familiar with the classic zombie, but did you know that we aren't the only zombie lovers out there? It turns out that nature has its own special types of zombies, but this isn't a science fiction movie, this is science fact! Sometimes fact can be scarier than fiction, so let's dive in.
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Lafferty KD. (2006) Can the common brain parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, influence human culture?. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 273(1602), 2749-55. PMID: 17015323
Vyas A, Kim SK, Giacomini N, Boothroyd JC, & Sapolsky RM. (2007) Behavioral changes induced by Toxoplasma infection of rodents are highly specific to aversion of cat odors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(15), 6442-7. PMID: 17404235
Passamonti L, Crockett MJ, Apergis-Schoute AM, Clark L, Rowe JB, Calder AJ, & Robbins TW. (2012) Effects of acute tryptophan depletion on prefrontal-amygdala connectivity while viewing facial signals of aggression. Biological psychiatry, 71(1), 36-43. PMID: 21920502
Thomas, F., Schmidt-Rhaesa, A., Martin, G., Manu, C., Durand, P., & Renaud, F. (2002) Do hairworms (Nematomorpha) manipulate the water seeking behaviour of their terrestrial hosts?. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 15(3), 356-361. DOI: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.2002.00410.x
W. Wesołowska T. Wesołowski. (2014) Do Leucochloridium sporocysts manipulate the behaviour of their snail hosts?. Journal of Zoology , 292(3), 151-155. info:/10.1111/jzo.12094
Neu5Gc, a non-human sialic acid sugar molecule common in red meat that increases the risk of tumor formation in humans, is also prevalent in pig organs, with concentrations increasing as the organs are cooked, a study has found. The research suggests that Neu5Gc may pose a significant health hazard among those who regularly consume organ meats from pigs.
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Ji, S., Wang, F., Chen, Y., Yang, C., Zhang, P., Zhang, X., Troy, F., & Wang, B. (2016) Developmental changes in the level of free and conjugated sialic acids, Neu5Ac, Neu5Gc and KDN in different organs of pig: a LC-MS/MS quantitative analyses. Glycoconjugate Journal. DOI: 10.1007/s10719-016-9724-9
Household dust exposes people to a wide range of toxic chemicals from everyday products, according to a new study. A multi-institutional team conducted a first-of-a-kind meta-analysis, compiling data from dust samples collected throughout the United States to identify the top ten toxic chemicals commonly found in dust.
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Mitro, S., Dodson, R., Singla, V., Adamkiewicz, G., Elmi, A., Tilly, M., & Zota, A. (2016) Consumer Product Chemicals in Indoor Dust: A Quantitative Meta-analysis of U.S. Studies. Environmental Science . DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b02023
Saving up excess solar and wind energy for times when the sun is down or the air is still requires a storage device. Batteries get the most attention as a promising solution although pumped hydroelectric storage is currently used most often. Now researchers are advancing another potential approach using sugar alcohols—an abundant waste product of the food industry—mixed with carbon nanotubes.
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Zhang, H., Rindt, C., Smeulders, D., & Nedea, S. (2016) Nanoscale Heat Transfer in Carbon Nanotubes - Sugar Alcohol Composite as Heat Storage Materials. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.6b05466
Researchers have found links between the levels of antimicrobial chemicals and antibiotic-resistance genes in the dust of an aging building used for athletics and academics. One of the antimicrobials seen in the study is triclosan, a commonly used antibacterial ingredient in many personal care products.
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Hartmann, E., Hickey, R., Hsu, T., Betancourt Román, C., Chen, J., Schwager, R., Kline, J., Brown, G., Halden, R., Huttenhower, C.... (2016) Antimicrobial Chemicals Are Associated with Elevated Antibiotic Resistance Genes in the Indoor Dust Microbiome. Environmental Science . DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b00262
Electronics integrated into textiles are gaining in popularity: Systems like smartphone displays in a sleeve or sensors to detect physical performance in athletic wear have already been produced. The main problem with these systems tends to be the lack of a comfortable, equally wearable source of power. Chinese scientists are now aiming to obtain the necessary energy from body heat by introducing a flexible, wearable thermocell based on two different gel electrolytes.
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Yang, P., Liu, K., Chen, Q., Mo, X., Zhou, Y., Li, S., Feng, G., & Zhou, J. (2016) Wearable Thermocells Based on Gel Electrolytes for the Utilization of Body Heat. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201606314
With nearly sixty percent of American adults now taking prescription medications--from antidepressants to cholesterol treatments--there is growing concern about how many drugs are flowing through wastewater treatment facilities and into rivers and lakes. Research confirms that pharmaceutical pollution can cause damage to fish and other ecological problems--and may pose risks to human health too.
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Vatovec, C., Phillips, P., Van Wagoner, E., Scott, T., & Furlong, E. (2016) Investigating dynamic sources of pharmaceuticals: Demographic and seasonal use are more important than down-the-drain disposal in wastewater effluent in a University City setting. Science of The Total Environment. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.07.199
Roger Tsien died a few days ago, at the relatively young age of 64. He was a UCSD scientist, a Nobel laureate and he was one of the first to see the significance and usefulness of GFP. I’ve never met him. … Continue reading →... Read more »
Heim, R., Prasher, D., & Tsien, R. (1994) Wavelength mutations and posttranslational autoxidation of green fluorescent protein. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 91(26), 12501-12504. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.91.26.12501
Intestinal flora has multiple influences on human health, but researchers have revealed that it is also likely to have an effect on the body's response to drugs. Recent research suggests that changes in the intestinal flora, caused by antibacterial and antibiotic drugs or individual differences between people, may have an effect on a person's response to drugs including side effects. The research focused on the changes in proteins due to the condition of intestinal flora that affect th........ Read more »
Kuno, T., Hirayama-Kurogi, M., Ito, S., & Ohtsuki, S. (2016) Effect of Intestinal Flora on Protein Expression of Drug-Metabolizing Enzymes and Transporters in the Liver and Kidney of Germ-Free and Antibiotics-Treated Mice. Molecular Pharmaceutics, 13(8), 2691-2701. DOI: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.6b00259
Move over silicon, tomorrow's computers could be made of something completely different. A team of international researchers managed to find a molecule that, to their opinion, could give the impetus to the development of organic electronics.
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Karpov, Y., Erdmann, T., Raguzin, I., Al-Hussein, M., Binner, M., Lappan, U., Stamm, M., Gerasimov, K., Beryozkina, T., Bakulev, V.... (2016) High Conductivity in Molecularly p-Doped Diketopyrrolopyrrole-Based Polymer: The Impact of a High Dopant Strength and Good Structural Order. Advanced Materials. DOI: 10.1002/adma.201506295
In the open ocean, it's good to have friends. Some young fish like to buddy up with stinging jellies to stay safe from predators. Hiding under the shelter of a jellyfish's bell, they can grow up unharmed (as long as they dodge its tentacles). These fish include some species that humans rely on for food. But in a warming ocean, that buddy system may fall apart.
Many types of fish take advantage of hop-on jelly trolleys. Ivan Nagelkerken, a marine biologist at the University of Adelaide in ... Read more »
Nagelkerken I, Pitt KA, Rutte MD, & Geertsma RC. (2016) Ocean acidification alters fish-jellyfish symbiosis. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 283(1833). PMID: 27358374
The antibiotic arms race is on, while we are rushing to find new antibiotics, bacteria are working on finding ways around them. With that in mind, a new experimental antibiotic developed by a team of scientists successfully treats the deadly MRSA infection and restores the efficacy of a commonly prescribed antibiotic that has become ineffective against MRSA.
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Kaul M, Mark L, Zhang Y, Parhi AK, Lyu YL, Pawlak J, Saravolatz S, Saravolatz LD, Weinstein MP, LaVoie EJ.... (2015) TXA709, an FtsZ-Targeting Benzamide Prodrug with Improved Pharmacokinetics and Enhanced In Vivo Efficacy against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy, 59(8), 4845-55. PMID: 26033735
"Not tonight, honey," says the female burying beetle, chewing up a mouthful of mouse carcass before spitting it into the mouth of a begging larva.
For the first few days of their babies' lives, burying beetles co-parent. They devote themselves to keeping their squirming larvae alive. That means mating and laying more eggs would be a waste of energy. And to make sure males get that message, females emit a pheromone that turns them off.
"It is quite surprising," says University of Ulm be... Read more »
Engel KC, Stökl J, Schweizer R, Vogel H, Ayasse M, Ruther J, & Steiger S. (2016) A hormone-related female anti-aphrodisiac signals temporary infertility and causes sexual abstinence to synchronize parental care. Nature communications, 11035. PMID: 27002429
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