Collider Neutrinos…

Topics: CERN, High Energy Physics, Particle Physics, Research Think “neutrino detector” and images of giant installations come to mind, necessary to compensate for the vanishingly small interaction probability of neutrinos with matter. The extreme luminosity of proton-proton collisions at the LHC, however, produces a large neutrino flux in the forward direction, with energies leading toContinue reading “Collider Neutrinos…”

Every Tank Has Its Limits…

Topics: Biology, Planetary Science, Research, Tardigrades They can survive temperatures close to absolute zero. They can withstand heat beyond the boiling point of water. They can shrug off the vacuum of space and doses of radiation that would be lethal to humans. Now, researchers have subjected tardigrades, microscopic creatures affectionately known as water bears, toContinue reading “Every Tank Has Its Limits…”

Elephants, Mice, and Clocks…

Topics: Biology, DNA, Evolution, Research In her laboratory in Barcelona, Spain, Miki Ebisuya has built a clock without cogs, springs, or numbers. This clock doesn’t tick. It is made of genes and proteins, and it keeps time in a layer of cells that Ebisuya’s team has grown in its lab. This biological clock is tiny,Continue reading “Elephants, Mice, and Clocks…”

Weather Prediction…

Topics: History, Meteorology, Research In August 1861 the London-based newspaper The Times published the world’s first “daily weather forecast.” The term itself was created by the enterprising meteorologist Robert FitzRoy, who wanted to distance his work from astrological “prognostications.” That story has led to a widespread assumption that weather forecasting is an entirely modern phenomenon and thatContinue reading “Weather Prediction…”

Asteroids, Dinosaurs, and Rain Forests…

Topics: Asteroids, Biology, Evolution, Existentialism, Research Note: Working on two reviews, and my research proposal. It’s a very busy writing semester. Dinosaur and fossil aficionados are intimately familiar with the meteorite strike that drove Tyrannosaurus rex and all nonavian dinosaurs to extinction around 66 million years ago. But it is often overlooked that the impact also wipedContinue reading “Asteroids, Dinosaurs, and Rain Forests…”

Women’s History Month, and CRISPR…

Topics: Biology, Chemistry, DNA, Nobel Prize, Research, Women in Science This year’s (2020) Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to two scientists who transformed an obscure bacterial immune mechanism, commonly called CRISPR, into a tool that can simply and cheaply edit the genomes of everything from wheat to mosquitoes to humans.  The award went jointlyContinue reading “Women’s History Month, and CRISPR…”

Our Flexible Molecule…

Topics: Biology, DNA, Physics, Polymer Science, Research DNA molecules are not fixed objects – they are constantly getting broken up and glued back together to adopt new shapes. Davide Michieletto explains how this process can be harnessed to create a new generation of “topologically active” materials. Call me naïve, but until a few years ago I hadContinue reading “Our Flexible Molecule…”

Haplotypes and Neanderthals…

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Genetics, Research Abstract A recent genetic association study1 identified a gene cluster on chromosome 3 as a risk locus for respiratory failure after infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). A separate study (COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative)2 comprising 3,199 hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and control individuals showed that this clusterContinue reading “Haplotypes and Neanderthals…”

Snapping Polymer Discs…

Topics: Chemistry, Polymer Science, Materials Science, Research A polymer-based gel made by researchers in the US and inspired by the Venus flytrap plant can snap, jump and “reset” itself autonomously. The new self-propelled material might have applications in micron-sized robots and other devices that operate without batteries or motors. “Many plants and animals, especially smallContinue reading “Snapping Polymer Discs…”