Webb Space Telescope To Explore Forming Planetary Systems

Planetary systems take millions of years to form, which introduces quite a challenge for astronomers. How do you identify which stage they are in, or categorize them? The best approach is to look at lots of examples and keep adding to the data we have – and NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will be able to provide an infrared inventory. Researchers using Webb will observe 17 actively forming planetary systems. These particular systems were previously surveyed by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the largest radio telescope in the world, for the Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project

Bat Guts Become Less Healthy From Diet of “Fast Food” From Banana Plantations

Pallas’s long-tongued bat (Glossophaga soricina), feeding on nectar from banana trees in Costa Rica. Credit: Julian Schneider Banana plantations are a reliable food source for nectar-feeding bats, but their effect on the bat’s gut microbiota is akin to that of a fast food diet on the human gut. Nectar-feeding bats foraging in intensively managed banana plantations in Costa Rica have a less diverse set of gut microbes in comparison to bats feeding in their natural forest habitat or organic plantations, reveals new research published today in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. This is the first study to show an association between

Violent explosion rips open a giant cavity in space and births new stars

A supernova explosion may have given rise to a hole in the universe. ESO/SpaceEngine/L. Calçada There’s a monstrous hole in the universe. Long ago, a star blew up with extreme force and obliterated everything in its path. It even swept minuscule particles of space dust out of its way — but in a surprising turn of events, that space dust collected, collapsed and eventually gave birth to a bunch of baby stars. 

The Epic Span of Early Polynesian Sea Voyages Has Been Mapped in New Genetic Study

Easter Island’s famous megaliths have relatives on islands thousands of miles to the north and west – and so did the people who created them, a study said Wednesday. Research showed that over a 250-year period separate groups of people set out from tiny islands east of Tahiti to settle Easter Island, the Marquesas and Raivavae – archipelagos that are thousands of miles apart but all home to similar ancient statues.   “These statues are only on those islands that are closely connected genetically,” the study’s lead author Alexander Ioannidis of Stanford University told AFP. Using cutting-edge analysis of modern

How your weekly shop could help prevent a mass extinction

All around the world, the way in which we produce, buy and eat food has never been more similar. You may think you have more choice than your parents or grandparents ever did, and on one level that is true. Whether you’re in London, Los Angeles or Lima, you can eat sushi, curry or McDonald’s; bite into an avocado, banana or mango; sip a Coke, a Budweiser or a branded bottle of water – and all in a single day. What we’re being offered appears at first to be diverse, until you realise it is the same kind of ‘diversity’

UW research provides a basic structure of neural networks in the mammalian brain

Two University of Wyoming researchers decided to pick each other’s brain, so to speak. Specifically, they examined the importance of the frontal cortex, the portion of the brain used in decision-making, expressive language and voluntary movement. And the two scientists learned that a recurrent neural network structure, or RNN, is responsible for those functions. “This RNN receives inputs from emotional regions of the brain and sends outputs to the motor cortex, the part of the brain responsible for voluntary movement,” says Qian-Quan Sun, a UW professor of zoology and physiology. “In the artificial intelligence field, computer scientists have designed various

Researchers unravel the structure of bacterial appendages

A research team led by David Thanassi, PhD, of Stony Brook University, has used molecular biology and cryoelectron microscopy to successfully unravel the structure of bacterial appendages called P pili. These pili are deployed by uropathogenic strains of Escherichia coli bacteria that cause kidney infections. The structure of P pili had been elusive to scientists for many years. The finding, published in Nature Communications, is a key step in order to target P pili in the infection process. Given their central role in initiating and sustaining infection, there is intense interest in understanding the mechanisms of pilus assembly and

Winged Microchip Is Smallest-Ever Human-Made Flying Structure – The Size of a Grain of Sand

A 3D microflier sits next to a common ant to show scale. Credit: Northwestern University The size of a grain of sand, dispersed microfliers could monitor air pollution, airborne disease, and environmental contamination. Northwestern University engineers have added a new capability to electronic microchips: flight. About the size of a grain of sand, the new flying microchip (or “microflier”) does not have a motor or engine. Instead, it catches flight on the wind — much like a maple tree’s propeller seed — and spins like a helicopter through the air toward the ground. By studying maple trees and other types

Researchers use new laser-assisted technology for bioprinting adult neuron cells

A group of researchers including a Concordia PhD student have developed a new method of bioprinting adult neuron cells. They’re using a new laser-assisted technology that maintains high levels of cell viability and functionality. PhD candidate and 2020-21 Public Scholar Hamid Orimi and his co-authors present the feasibility of a new bioprinting technology they developed in a recent paper published in the journal Micromachines. They demonstrate how the methodology they created, called Laser-Induced Side Transfer (LIST), improves on existing bioprinting techniques by using bioinks of differing viscosities, allowing for better 3D printing. Orimi, his Concordia co-supervisor Sivakumar Narayanswamy in the

Serum modified PTEN levels associated with increased risk of kidney function decline

High levels of a polyubiquinated form of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) were associated with an almost four-fold higher risk of a 40% decline in kidney function in a cohort of American Indians with or at high risk of diabetic kidney disease. A recently identified modified form of the protein PTEN has been implicated in kidney fibrosis in animals and in fibrotic mechanisms in human cellular studies. Researchers led by Helen C Looker wanted to see if circulating levels of this form of PTEN were associated with progression of kidney disease in American Indians with type 2 diabetes. In a