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Sunday, October 24, 2021
Researchers find a chemical that makes locusts swarm

Researchers find a chemical that makes locusts swarm

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The year 2020 may be one for the record books in terms of apocalyptic tidings. In addition to the usual background of fires, floods, and earthquakes, the plague is still around. And you might have heard something about a pandemic. But what really nails down the apocalyptic vibe is the fact that the year has…
Researchers engineer photosynthetic bacteria to produce hydrogen

Researchers engineer photosynthetic bacteria to produce hydrogen

The price of photovoltaic power has plunged, making it competitive with fossil fuel-powered electrical generation. But there is still a range of applications, like ships and aircraft, where electrical power doesn't help much. And storing the electricity produced by solar power so that it can be used at night remains an unsolved problem. For those…
First drug known to work against SARS-CoV-2 imaged in action

First drug known to work against SARS-CoV-2 imaged in action

Enlarge / The RNA being copied is in dark blue; the copy is in turquoise; the enzyme is in pale green; and the drug is in pink. Covid-19 Coverage View more stories Just this week, we had the first promising report of a drug that appears to improve the recovery time of patients suffering from…
Newly engineered enzyme can break down plastic to raw materials

Newly engineered enzyme can break down plastic to raw materials

Plastics have a lot of properties that have made them fixtures of modern societies. They can be molded into any shape we'd like, they're tough yet flexible, and they come in enough variations that we can tune the chemistry to suit different needs. The problem is that they're tough enough that they don't break down…
Researchers completely re-engineer yeast to make more biofuel

Researchers completely re-engineer yeast to make more biofuel

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Enlarge / Colonies of genetically modified yeast. A little while ago, we covered the idea of using photovoltaic materials to drive enzymatic reactions in order to produce specific chemicals. The concept is being considered mostly because doing the same reaction in a cell is often horribly inefficient because everything else in the cell is trying…
“Living concrete” is an interesting first step

“Living concrete” is an interesting first step

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Enlarge / The cyanobacteria in flasks contribute to the structure at right.Cell Press It seems like every week, I can do an article on some interesting science that ended up buried under hyperbolic headlines and overly credible coverage. This week's victim is "living concrete." It only sort of exists, in that the material can either…
Single response mix can produce all 4 RNA bases

Single response mix can produce all 4 RNA bases

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Simple chemicals can grow complex pretty quickly. There's a strong consensus that life on Earth got its start through RNA, a close chemical sibling of DNA. Over the last few decades, researchers have described how individual RNA bases can spontaneously polymerize, forming longer chains that could ultimately catalyze key chemical reactions, including building even longer…
X-rays expose the colors of a 3 million-year-old fossil mouse

X-rays expose the colors of a 3 million-year-old fossil mouse

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Enlarge / A false color synchrotron X-ray image of the fossil chemistry. Blue represents calcium in the bones, green is the element zinc, which has been shown to be important in the biochemistry of red pigment, and red is a particular type of organic sulfur that cannot be imaged by traditional methods. This type of…

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