Genetic Signatures May Help Predictive Climate Models
One aspect of the climate change models researchers have been developing looks at how plant ranges might shift, and how factors such as temperature, water availability and light levels might come into play. Forests creeping steadily north and becoming established in the thawing Arctic is just one of the predicted effects of rising global temperatures.
A recent study published in Nature Genetics offers a more in-depth, population-based approach to identifying such mechanisms for adaptation, and describes a method that could be harnessed for developing more accurate predictive climate change models. For the U.S. Department of Energy, which is developing biomass crops for biofuels production, this knowledge could determine which genotypes – genetic makeup of an organism – of biomass crop may thrive better than others in certain environments.
A quantum effect in which excited atoms team up to emit an enhanced pulse of light can be turned on its head to create super-absorbing systems to make the ultimate camera.
Superradiance, a phenomenon where a group of atoms charged up with energy act collectively to release a far more intense pulse of light than they would individually, is well-known to physicists. In theory the effect can be reversed to create a device that draws in light ultra-efficiently. This could be revolutionary for devices ranging from digital cameras to solar cells. But there’s a problem: the advantage of this quantum effect is strongest when the atoms are already 50 percent charged – and then the system would rather release its energy back as light than absorb more.
By striking up the right rhythm in the right brain region at the right time, Brown Univ. neuroscientists report in Nature Neuroscience that they have managed to endow mice with greater touch sensitivity than other mice, making hard-to-perceive vibrations suddenly vivid to them.
The findings offer the first direct evidence that “gamma” brainwaves in the cortex affect perception and attention. With only correlations and associations as evidence before, neuroscientists have argued for years about whether gamma has an important role or whether it’s merely a byproduct — an “exhaust fume” in the words of one — of such brain activity.
Many people think of crystals as little more than sparkly things behind glass cases in museums. But crystals are everywhere, from the dinner table to the human body. Because 2014 is the International Year of Crystallography, Reactions is celebrating with a video highlighting five surprising facts about crystals.
In a study published in Nature Genetics, researchers from Uppsala Univ. have presented the first global analysis of genome variation in honeybees. The findings show a surprisingly high level of genetic diversity in honeybees, and indicate that the species most probably originates from Asia, and not from Africa as previously thought.
The honeybee (Apis mellifera) is of crucial importance for humanity. One third of our food is dependent on the pollination of fruits, nuts and vegetables by bees and other insects. Extensive losses of honeybee colonies in recent years are a major cause for concern. Honeybees face threats from disease, climate change and management practices. To combat these threats it is important to understand the evolutionary history of honeybees and how they are adapted to different environments across the world.
Lower rates of asthma and other health problems are frequently cited as benefits of policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions from sources like power plants and vehicles, because these policies also lead to reductions in other harmful types of air pollution.
But just how large are the health benefits of cleaner air in comparison to the costs of reducing carbon emissions? MIT researchers looked at three policies achieving the same reductions in the U.S., and found that the savings on health care spending and other costs related to illness can be big — in some cases, more than 10 times the cost of policy implementation.
European space officials say they’re investigating whether the inaccurate deployment of two satellites will complicate their efforts to develop a new Galileo satellite navigation system that would rival America’s GPS network.
The European Space Agency and launch company Arianespace say the satellites ended up in off-target orbits after being launched Friday from Kourou, French Guiana, aboard a Soyuz rocket.
The American Heart Association issued new policy recommendations today on the use of e-cigarettes and their impact on tobacco-control efforts. The guidance was published in the association’s journal, Circulation.
Based on the current evidence, the association’s position is that e-cigarettes that contain nicotine are tobacco products and should be subject to all laws that apply to these products. The association also calls for strong new regulations to prevent access, sales and marketing of e-cigarettes to youth, and for more research into the product’s health impact.
Mimicking Evolution Key to Improving Drug Diversity
A revolutionary new scientific method developed at the Univ. of Leeds will improve the diversity of biologically active molecules, such as antibiotics and anti-cancer agents.
The researchers, who report their findings online in Nature Chemistry, took their inspiration from evolution in nature. The research may uncover new pharmaceutical drugs that traditional methods would never have found.
#6. Alfred Binet’s IQ Test Got Hijacked by Eugenics-Obsessed Racists
First, Binet himself knew his test wasn’t all that scientific. It came with tons of disclaimers stressing that the test does not measure static intelligence and should not be used to label people in any way. And, for the single purpose of figuring out a kid’s level of development, it worked pretty well. But then American eugenicists got hold of his work. The eugenicists loved the idea of intelligence tests because they wanted to use them to identify and weed out “the idiots” from the gene pool, which, by sheer coincidence, all happened to include anyone who wasn’t a white American. Never mind that the score can absolutely be improved with education — why burden the system with teaching children when we can just breed superior intelligence into them!
When pallasite meteorites are sliced open and polished, a matrix of stunning yellow crystals are revealed. This specimen was found in 1951 by a farmer in a town called Esquel in the Argentine Patagonia.