October 18, 2018

    Yellowstone has benefited from the reintroduction of wolves

    Life | Oct 17, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Reintroduction of wolves has made Yellowstone's ecosystem dynamic and complex
    Yellowstone has benefited from the reintroduction of wolves - ecology science news

    The reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park in 1995 has made the park’s ecosystem very complex and heterogeneous, a new study shows. While human interventions in the park are kept minimal, the presence of wolves led to the recovery of a variety of plants and trees, and bison have replaced elk as the dominant herbivore in the Northern Range of the park. Yellowstone has thus benefited from the reintroduction of wolves in the park, but this success is not easy to recapitulate in other areas where the influence of human activity (agriculture, hunting, livestock) is dominant.

    Read the full story: University of Alberta
    Scientific publication: Journal of Mammalogy


    Terrorism does not increase PTSD more than other distresses

    Health | Oct 17, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Ground zero. Interest for the effects of terrorism on mental health was sparked by the events of 9/11.
    Terrorism does not increase PTSD more than expected - health science news

    By reviewing more than 400 scientific publications describing the association between acts of terrorism and mental health, scientists conclude that terrorims does not cause more post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than would be expected from any other traumatizing or distressing event. This observation goes against the much heard view in the media that terrorist attacks negatively impact on peoples’ psychological wellbeing. The scientists argue that policy-makers should focus more on promoting social bonds and people’s resilience in response to terrorist attacks, rather than stressing peoples’ psychological vulnerability.

    Read the full story: University of Bath
    Scientific publication: The Lancet Psychiatry


    NASA wants to send manned missions to Venus

    Space | Oct 17, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    One day, astronauts could hoover Venus using airships flying in the atmosphere of the planet. Credit: HAVOC/NASA
    NASA wants to send manned missions to Venus - space science news

    Planet Venus is one of the most inhospitable places one could imagine, with temperatures on the surface of 460 degrees Celsius, a toxic atmosphere and crushing pressure. However, this doesn’t stop NASA from planning a manned mission to Venus.

    The plan is to use ships that are able to hover the planet in its dense atmosphere. Between 50 and 60 km from the surface, the conditions in the atmosphere are similar to the ones found on Earth’s surface. Moreover, its density can protect astronauts from radiations.

    The imagined airship would float around Venus allowing the exploration of the planet. Overall, such a mission would require less time to complete than sending people to Mars.

    Read the full story: The Conversation
    Scientific publication: HAVOC Mission, NASA


    Controlling genes with light

    Technology | Oct 17, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Fluorescent cells shaped as number 10 (to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Department of Biosystems in Basel). In response to the light, transcription was initiated in the illuminated cells. Credit: Group Mustafa Khammash/ETH Zurich
    Controlling genes with light - science news

    Scientists report the development of a new technology that controls gene transcription using light. Gene transcription is the process that allows the conversion of DNA into RNA, a crucial step in producing proteins that impact how cells function.

    The researchers used single yeast cells genetically engineered to respond to blue light. When the light is present, the cells activate a transcription factor and thereby promote the transcription of a specific gene.

    Currently, the technique only works under the microscope, so the applications are limited. However, it is very useful for research, tissue engineering and, stem cells. Further studies will be conducted to expand the applicability of the discovery.

    Read the full story: ETH Zurich
    Scientific publication: Molecular Cell


    Imaging the 3D structure of leaves

    Life | Oct 16, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    3D anatomical modeling of wheat, sunflower and tomato leaves. Image: University of Sydney/ANU
    Imaging the 3D structure of leaves - life science news

    Scientists have succeeded in imaging leaves in their three-dimensional structure by using new technology. The images are created from biological specimens, by integrating two-dimensional measurements to create the 3D pictures. The images reveal the complexity of leaves in much more detail than traditional 2D images used until now, and make it possible to better understand how water and gases flow through leaves, or how photosynthesis precisely works.

    Read the full story: University of Sydney
    Scientific publication: Trends in Plant Science


    Forests are minor contributors to the mitigation of climate change

    Earth | Oct 16, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Managing forest to optimize carbon sequestration will not lead to a decrease of global warming
    Forests are minor contributors to the mitigation of climate change - climate change science news

    Managing Europe’s forests to maximize carbon sequestration will have only a negligible effect on the global climate, a new study shows. Using computer modeling, it appeared that, for instance, changing evergreen forests to deciduous forests would result in a cooling of 0.3 degrees centigrade in Scandinavia and the Alps. This effect is too small to have a global impact. Rather, forests themselves will have to adapt to climate change to sustain the production of wood and conserve the forest’s ecosystem.

    Read the full story: Aarhus University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Graphene technologies to transform cutting edge applications in telecommunications

    Technology | Oct 15, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Graphene-integrated devices could be the key ingredient in the evolution of 5G, the Internet-of-Things (IoT), and Industry 4.0. Image: Lauren V. Robinson / © Springer Nature Ltd
    Graphene technologies to transform cutting edge applications in telecommunications - technology science news

    Technology for telecommunications is expected to benefit from graphene, which enables ultra-wide bandwidth communications with low power consumption, researchers report. While current semiconductor technologies are approaching their physical limitations, graphene may offer solutions to enable the realization of 5G, the Internet-of-Things, and Industry 4.0, as it enhances the performance of key components for optical and radio communications to levels that are even beyond the requirements. It is thus expected that graphene-based optical components, integrated on a silicon platform, will become key components in the 5G era.

    Read the full story: Graphene Flagship
    Scientific publication: Nature Reviews Materials


    Cause of dementia may be found in the embryonic stage

    Mind and Brain | Oct 15, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Dementia may be caused by DNA replication errors in the womb
    Cause of dementia may be found in the embryonic stage - neuroscience news

    While dementia (Alzheimers’ disease, Lewy body dementia) has a genetic component, for most patients there are no cases of the disease in their family history. Scientists have now found, by genetic analyses of human brain samples, that spontaneous errors in our DNA might explain the development of dementia. These errors occur already during embryonic development as cells divide and replicate. Some of these errors result in wrongly folded proteins in the brain at old age, and cause dementia. Thus, the origin of dementia for most patients traces back to the time when they were not even born.

    Read the full story: University of Cambridge
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Dissolving snails due to acidification of seawater

    Life | Oct 15, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    A comparison of shells assessed during the research, with the top shell taken from waters with present-day CO22 levels and the bottom one from waters with future predicted levels. Image: Ben Harvey/University of Tsukuba
    Dissolving snails due to acidification of seawater - life science news

    Biologists have found that increased CO2 levels in seawater harms the shell of the snail Charonia lampas, or triton shell. The research was conducted off the coast of Shikinejima in Japan, where CO2 bubbles up from the seabed. This allowed the scientists to assess the effects of future high CO2 levels. The snails living in this CO2-rich area were one third smaller than the snails living in other parts of the ocean nearby, where CO2 levels are still normal. Further, high CO2 levels negatively influenced thickness, density, and structure of the shells. These effects are caused by increased stress imposed by acidification of the water, which reduces the snails’ ability to control the calcification process. The researchers conclude that increased acidification of the oceans will impact on shellfish fisheries and marine ecosystems.

    Read the full story: University of Plymouth
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Marine Science


    Panspermia at galactic scale: could Milky Way spread life?

    Space | Oct 13, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Stellar systems could exchange the building elements of life. Credit: NASA
    Panspermia at galactic scale: could Milky Way spread life? - science news

    The Panspermia theory claims that life may be spread throughout the universe by astronomical objects, such as asteroids.

    Now, a new study tried to understand if panspermia could be possible on a galactic scale.
    The study used a theoretical model to determine how likely it is that objects are being exchanged between star systems on a galactic scale. The model predicted that, even in the worst cases scenarios, Milky Way could be exchanging biotic components across vast distances.

    Thus, the study concluded that panspermia is viable on galactic scales, and even between galaxies. In principle, life could even be transferred between galaxies, since some stars escape from the Milky Way,” said Abraham Loeb, one of the authors.

    Read the full story: Universe Today
    Scientific publication: Arxiv


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