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Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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…
Superior pinpoints racism in science: Naive scientists plus strategic racists

Superior pinpoints racism in science: Naive scientists plus strategic racists

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Science has had issues with racism from its very beginning. At best, many of the early scientists had ideas that typified the racist societies of their times. At worst, they actively participated in providing justification for that racism, a habit that reached its peak in the eugenics movement of the first half of last century.…
Clustering pattern of Azteca ant colonies may be due to a Turing mechanism

Clustering pattern of Azteca ant colonies may be due to a...

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Enlarge / A recent study by University of Michigan researchers found evidence of Turing patterns in the movement of Azteca ant colonies on coffee farms in Mexico. Azteca ants build their nests in shade trees, and it's relatively common to find other nests in trees nearby. But these clusters of ant nests are often separated…
DNA analysis revealed the identity of 19th century “Connecticut vampire”

DNA analysis revealed the identity of 19th century “Connecticut vampire”

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Enlarge / The 19th century grave of "JB55" in Griswold, Connecticut, showing the remains arranged in a manner to prevent the "vampire" from rising and "feeding" off the community. The man is likely local laborer John Barber.Connecticut Office of State Archaeology Back in 1990, children playing near a gravel pit in Griswold, Connecticut, stumbled across…
Injecting the flu vaccine into a tumor gets the immune system to attack it

Injecting the flu vaccine into a tumor gets the immune system...

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picture alliance/Getty Images A number of years back, there was a great deal of excitement about using viruses to target cancer. A number of viruses explode the cells that they've infected in order to spread to new ones. Engineering those viruses so that they could only grow in cancer cells would seem to provide a…
DNA points to humans as killers of the northern version of the penguin

DNA points to humans as killers of the northern version of...

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The North Atlantic was once home to a bird that bore a remarkable similarity to penguins. The great auk, also known as “the original penguin,” was a large, flightless, black and white bird, that is said to have existed in the millions. Despite its appearance, the great auk is actually a relative of razorbills and…

This timeless piece of “body art” of people having sex in...

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Video courtesy of Improbable Research Christmas just wouldn't be the same for lovers of science without the annual Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The tradition began in 1982, originally as a one-off attempt to bring a bit of levity to the journal for the holidays. While the papers selected for inclusion evinced…
Why killer whales—and humans—evolved menopause

Why killer whales—and humans—evolved menopause

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Enlarge / Southern Resident killer whales, an endangered population that recently lost the oldest known grandma orca to date. There's a rare human trait that doesn't often make it into debates about what makes our species unique: menopause. Humans are among just a handful of species where females stop reproducing decades before the end of…
The physics behind how fire ants band together into robust floating “rafts”

The physics behind how fire ants band together into robust floating...

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Enlarge / A spinning fire ant raft in David Hu's biolocomotion lab at Georgia Tech is an example of collective behavior.Hungtang Ko Fire ants can survive floods by linking their bodies together to form large floating rafts. Now researchers at Georgia Tech have demonstrated that fire ants can actively sense changes in forces acting upon…

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