First Video of DNA Organization Settles Scientific Debate

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 22, 2018 1:52 pm
A condensin protein complex creates a loop in DNA. (Credit: Cees Dekker Lab TU Delft/Scixel)

A condensin protein complex creates a loop in DNA. (Credit: Cees Dekker Lab TU Delft/Scixel)

For all its precise helical structure, the DNA inside our cells is a mess.

When a cell isn’t preparing for the process of splitting itself in two, our DNA lies in a massive tangle inside the cell nucleus; a strand more than six feet in length jumbled like an earbud cord. But when it comes time to undergo cellular division, this disorderly strand must be packaged neatly into chromosomes to be passed onto daughter cells — stuffed into a space much tighter than before. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: genes & health

Neanderthals Were the Original Artists

By Carl Engelking | February 22, 2018 1:00 pm

A drawing from Panel 78 in La Pasiega cave in Spain. (Credit: C.D Standish, A.W.G. Pike and D.L. Hoffmann)

If you still think Neanderthals were dull-witted brutes, you simply aren’t woke.

In 1856, laborers in a limestone quarry in Germany’s Neander Valley unearthed a skull cap that belonged to our closest evolutionary ancestor, and from the start we asserted our intellectual superiority over our thick-skulled cousins. To this day, the hunched-over, doltish caveman stereotype persists, an image that likely stems from Marcellin Boule’s reconstruction of a mostly complete, geriatric Neanderthal skeleton discovered 110 years ago in France. Read More


Is It Possible to Forecast Evolution?

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 21, 2018 1:37 pm
(Credit: yod67/Shutterstock)

(Credit: yod67/Shutterstock)

Can we predict the course evolution will take?

That’s the question an international team of researchers decided to tackle, using a quarter-century of stick insect observations. Comparing the first half of the data set to the latter half, they set out to see if they could forecast the path of natural selection. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, evolution

Study Adds Weight to Benefits of Genetically Engineered Crops

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 21, 2018 12:10 pm
(Credit: TTstudio/Shutterstock)

(Credit: TTstudio/Shutterstock)

A review of the research on genetically engineered corn concludes that the benefits appear to outweigh the drawbacks.

In a meta-analysis, where researchers synthesize the findings of many studies, researchers from the University of Pisa and the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies look at papers on genetically engineered (GE) corn from between 1996 and 2016. They were looking for research on crop yields, grain quality, impacts on other organisms and how well the corn degraded in fields after harvest. Read More

MORE ABOUT: agriculture

Red Wine Could Yield a Better Toothpaste

By Carl Engelking | February 21, 2018 11:34 am

Don’t open wine like this. As my dentist says, “Your teeth are jewels, not tools.” (Credit: Shutterstock)

Red wine colors your tongue, but your teeth may not mind a little juice of the vine.

Sipping moderate—keyword, moderate—amounts of wine on a regular basis can be good for your colon, heart, immune system and mental health. Wine, after all, was at the core of the so-called “French paradox,” or the observation in 1980 that cardiovascular disease was far less prevalent among the French, despite their penchant for saturated fats, low activity levels and cigarettes. The outlier: The French also consumed more wine per capita than other nations. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: personal health

Why Partisanship Is Such a Worthy Foe of Objective Truth

By Charlotte Hu | February 20, 2018 4:18 pm


The truth is out there, but if it doesn’t come from “my side” who cares?

In an era of “fake news” our relationship status with factual knowledge, and a shared reality, has changed to “it’s complicated”. Democracies depend on informed populations, but objective truth has of late taken a back seat to partisanship. In an essay published in Cell Press Reviews, New York University psychologists Jay Van Bavel and Andrea Pereira attempt to demystify how partisan bias has skewed the pursuit of truth. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology

Mr. Steven, a Netted Claw-Boat, Could Save SpaceX Millions

By Lauren Sigfusson | February 20, 2018 3:06 pm

Mr. Steven is expected to save SpaceX millions of dollars. Mr. Steven, by the way, is a giant boat with a net.

Building and launching reliable rockets into space is a costly endeavor, and SpaceX has been hellbent on bringing those costs down since the rocket company…launched. Until recently, spent rockets could only be used once. But Elon Musk, CEO and founder of SpaceX, has proven rockets are reusable, and can coordinate a simultaneous landing. But the cost-cutting can go even further. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

An Adorable Dumbo Octopus Stretches Its ‘Wings’

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 20, 2018 12:37 pm


See this little guy? He’s just emerged into the world, but the appropriately-named Dumbo octopus is already taking his first flaps.

Resemblance to a certain flying elephant notwithstanding, Dumbo octopuses actually live far below the ocean’s surface. They’re some of the deepest-living octopuses, and are so rare that this is the first hatchling that was caught on camera. The “ears” are actually fins that help them to swan about the seafloor. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, ocean

Jellyfish Chips: A Delicious Oxymoron

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 20, 2018 7:00 am
A dried-out jellyfish chip. (Credit: Anders Boe/University of Southern Denmark)

A dried-out jellyfish chip. (Credit: Anders Boe/University of Southern Denmark)

Ah, nothing beats the crispy crunch of a jellyfish chip. Wait, what?

Forget “Lady Doritos,” jellyfish chips are a future snack for the masses. It turns out that the swimming gelatinous invertebrates can be leached of water to leave behind a thin, crispy wafer. It tastes of sea salt, apparently. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals

So Unfair! How the Brain Responds to Injustice

By Lauren Sigfusson | February 19, 2018 1:10 pm

(Credit: Shutterstock)

In this cruel world, it’s impossible to navigate from cradle to grave without experiencing the bitter fruits of injustice. But bitter fruits, it turns out, are better shared. According to findings from a study published Monday in the journal JNeurosci, punishing the wrongdoer seems to be more rewarding than helping out the victim.

The participants, 53 males (a bit skewed, I’d say), all played a two-player game designed to analyze how people perceive and respond to a thief. Each player — the taker and the partner — started with 200 chips. Taker could steal up to 100 of the partner’s chips, and the partner could retaliate by spending up to 100 chips to reduce the taker’s stash by up to 300 chips. Study participants played either a partner or observer role, and they could decide to spend chips to help out the partner or punish the taker. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts


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