A recent eye infection suffered by 18-year-old Nottingham University student Jess Greaney is the kind of story that fills us with horror. Greaney had keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea, caused by Acanthamoeba castellanii, a parasite that was living and feasting on her eye.
A. castellanii is a ubiquitous organism, found in many ecosystems worldwide. It is able to survive in harsh environmental circumstances – even in some contact lens solutions – and this is not the first occurrence of A. castellanii appearing in the eye. Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) is a neglected malady frequently associated with contact lens wear and it is thought Greaney caught the bug after splashing tap water on her contact lenses.
The ancient Egyptian practice of preserving bodies through mummification is no longer the preferred method to pay homage to our dead, but it is still alive and well in research labs.
We’ve learned a lot about mummification from historical texts and actual mummies, but to truly understand the original embalmers’ secrets, scientists are following millennia-old recipes to make modern-day mummies. In turn, these 21st century mummies are producing new insights about their ancient forebears. Read More
The litterbugs that make the world their personal dumpster can no longer hide in the shadows, thanks to an alarming and futuristic ad campaign.
If you toss an empty coffee cup or cigarette butt onto the street in Hong Kong, you could find a computer-generated image of your face plastered on a billboard at a bus stop. Thanks to a technique called DNA phenotyping, it’s now possible to digitally sketch a person’s face based on telltale genetic markers, which is a useful tool for criminal investigators and environmental activists alike.
If your birthday is June 30, our planet has a special gift for you this year. Thanks to Earth’s rotation, your special day will last 24 hours and one second.
Come midnight Coordinated Universal Time June 30, the official time will read 23:59:60 rather than resetting to 00:00:00. The extra second, or “leap second,” is needed to resynchronize our land-based clocks with Earth’s rotation, which is slowing down ever so slightly each year. This is the 26th time we’ve added a second to the day since the practice began in 1972. Read More
Thunder God Vine is a thoroughly deadly plant: Its flowers, leaves, and roots are all highly toxic. But new research suggests that a compound found in its roots could be a brand-new approach to treat obesity.
A compound called Celastrol, found in the roots of Thunder God Vine, may increase the body’s sensitivity to hormones that help fight obesity, according to new research. Mice given oral doses of Celastrol lost an average of about 45 percent of their body weight – and they lost body fat, not lean mass.
Watching a wriggling, translucent egg transform into a full-grown bee in 60 seconds is certainly amazing.
But there’s a deeper purpose behind this unprecedented video produced by photographer Anand Varma. He partnered with the bee lab at the University of California, Davis, to visually document the first 21 days of a bee’s life in order to better understand what’s making them disappear in alarming numbers. You see, one of the biggest threats to bee colonies today is a tiny parasitic mite from Asia: Varroa destructor. Read More
Video games are a favored target for various kinds of hand-wringing, about things as diverse as obesity, ADHD, and violence. In many cases the evidence is scant. Now, another item has been added to that list.
A small study has found that people who play action games on a regular basis may undergo brain changes associated with certain kinds of neurological and psychiatric disorders. If this linkage holds up under scrutiny, it could mean that gamers are putting their minds at risk.
The mythical “Fountain of Youth” isn’t in some far-off land; it’s flowing beat-by-beat inside every single young person.
Young blood, it turns out, contains special healing properties that seem to fade away as we get older. Scientists in a new study showed that old mouse bones healed faster after a fracture when they were enriched with fresh blood from a young mouse. The findings indicate that, rather than old bones themselves being the problem, fractures in the elderly could be addressed by targeting blood proteins. Read More
This is an updated version of our post from April 2015.
Archaeologists say they’ve unearthed the world’s oldest stone tools made by human ancestors at a dig site in Kenya.
The set of 149 stone flakes, hammers and anvils, found off the shores of Lake Turkana, appears to have been crafted more than 3.3 million years ago — 500,000 years before our genus Homo, designating the first fully fledged humans, came to be. The implications, if the evidence holds up, will be far-reaching, since it has long been believed that tool-making was a skill exclusive to Homo. Read More
In the near future, amateur basement brewers mulling over their next batch may struggle to choose between concocting an IPA or an opioid.
Scientists have recently announced that they’ve genetically engineered brewer’s yeast to convert common sugars into pain-killing opioids like codeine and morphine. The process is simple enough that hobbyists could easily brew morphine with a run-of-the-mill brewing kit — if they get their hands on yeast with the right genetic tweaks. Read More