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May 21, 2021

Strange “Black Swan” Defect Discovered in Soft Matter for First Time

Posted by in categories: biological, materials

Using an advanced microscopy technique, Texas A&M researchers have uncovered a twin boundary defect in a soft polymer that has never been observed before.

Texas A&M University scientists have for the first time revealed a single microscopic defect called a “twin” in a soft-block copolymer using an advanced electron microscopy technique. This defect may be exploited in the future to create materials with novel acoustic and photonic properties.

“This defect is like a black swan — something special going on that isn’t typical,” said Edwin Thomas, professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “Although we chose a certain polymer for our study, I think the twin defect will be fairly universal across a bunch of similar soft matter systems, like oils, surfactants, biological materials, and natural polymers. Therefore, our findings will be valuable to diverse research across the soft matter field.”

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May 20, 2021

Deadly Fungi Are the Newest Emerging Microbe Threat All Over the World

Posted by in category: biological

These pathogens already kill 1.6 million people every year, and we have few defenses against them.

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May 19, 2021

The mysterious microbes that gave rise to complex life

Posted by in categories: biological, evolution

Archaea are more than just oddball lifeforms that thrive in unusual places — they turn out to be quite widespread. Moreover, they might hold the key to understanding how complex life evolved on Earth. Many scientists suspect that an ancient archaeon gave rise to the group of organisms known as eukaryotes, which include amoebae, mushrooms, plants and people — although it’s also possible that both eukaryotes and archaea arose from some more distant common ancestor.


As scientists learn more about enigmatic archaea, they’re finding clues about the evolution of the complex cells that make up people, plants and more.

May 19, 2021

‘E-nose’ can discriminate various mint scents

Posted by in categories: biological, law

In nature, scents emitted by plants attract animals such as insects. However, scents are also used in the industry, for example in the production of perfumes and aromas. In order to achieve a reliable, quick, and objective discrimination of mint scents in particular, researchers at KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) embarked on an interdisciplinary collaboration and developed an electronic nose with an artificial sense of smell. This E-nose achieves high precision in recognizing different mint species, which makes it a suitable tool for applications ranging from pharmaceutical quality control to the monitoring of mint oil as an environmentally friendly bioherbicide.

“So far, scientists were able to identify an estimated 100000 different biological compounds through which neighboring plants interact with each other or control other organisms, such as insects,” says Professor Peter Nick from the Botanical Institute of KIT. “These compounds are very similar in plants of the same genus.” A classic example from the plant world is mint, where the different varieties produce with very species-specific scents. Industrial quality control of mint oil, in particular, is subject to strict legal regulations in order to prevent adulteration, is time-consuming, and requires a great deal of expertise, the scientist explains. A new “electronic nose” equipped with sensors made from combined materials will support this process.

May 19, 2021

Unexpected ‘Black Swan’ defect discovered in soft matter for first time

Posted by in categories: biological, materials

In new research, Texas A&M University scientists have for the first time revealed a single microscopic defect called a “twin” in a soft-block copolymer using an advanced electron microscopy technique. This defect may be exploited in the future to create materials with novel acoustic and photonic properties.

“This defect is like a black swan—something special going on that isn’t typical,” said Dr. Edwin Thomas, professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “Although we chose a certain polymer for our study, I think the twin defect will be fairly universal across a bunch of similar soft matter systems, like oils, surfactants, and natural polymers. Therefore, our findings will be valuable to diverse research across the soft matter field.”

Continue reading “Unexpected ‘Black Swan’ defect discovered in soft matter for first time” »

May 18, 2021

Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, Founder / President, Amazon Biodiversity Ctr — Snr. Fellow, United Nations Fnd

Posted by in categories: biological, climatology, drones, economics, policy, sustainability

Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, is an innovative conservation biologist, who is Founder and President of the non-profit Amazon Biodiversity Center, the renowned Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, and the person who coined the term “biological diversity”.

Dr. Lovejoy currently serves as Professor in the department of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University, and as a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation based in Washington, DC.

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May 16, 2021

Clocking Electron Movements Inside an Atom – Shutter Speed of a Millionth of a Billionth of a Second

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, particle physics

Scientists dramatically enhance the achievable resolution at free-electron lasers with a new technique.

Hard X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) have delivered intense, ultrashort X-ray pulses for over a decade. One of the most promising applications of XFELs is in biology, where researchers can capture images down to the atomic scale even before the radiation damage destroys the sample. In physics and chemistry, these X-rays can also shed light on the fastest processes occurring in nature with a shutter speed lasting only one femtosecond – equivalent to a millionth of a billionth of a second.

However, on these minuscule timescales, it is extremely difficult to synchronize the X-ray pulse that sparks a reaction in the sample on the one hand and the laser pulse which ‘observes’ it on the other. This problem is called timing jitter, and it is a major hurdle in ongoing efforts to perform time-resolved experiments at XFELs with ever-shorter resolution.

Continue reading “Clocking Electron Movements Inside an Atom – Shutter Speed of a Millionth of a Billionth of a Second” »

May 14, 2021

Dr. Natasha Bajema — Dir., Converging Risks Lab, Council on Strategic Risks — WMD Threat Reduction

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, cyborgs, policy, security, terrorism, transhumanism

Nuclear Nonproliferation, Cooperative Threat Reduction and WMD Terrorism — Dr. Natasha Bajema, Director, Converging Risks Lab, The Council on Strategic Risks.


Dr. Natasha Bajema, is a subject matter expert in nuclear nonproliferation, cooperative threat reduction and WMD terrorism, and currently serves as Director of the Converging Risks Lab, at The Council on Strategic Risks, a nonprofit, non-partisan security policy institute devoted to anticipating, analyzing and addressing core systemic risks to security in the 21st century, with special examination of the ways in which these risks intersect and exacerbate one another.

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May 12, 2021

Perseverance’s Robotic Arm Starts Conducting Science Program

Posted by in categories: biological, robotics/AI, science, space

NASA’s newest Mars rover is beginning to study the floor of an ancient crater that once held a lake.

NASA’s Perseverance rover has been busy serving as a communications base station for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter and documenting the rotorcraft’s historic flights. But the rover has also been busy focusing its science instruments on rocks that lay on the floor of Jezero Crater.

What insights they turn up will help scientists create a timeline of when an ancient lake formed there, when it dried, and when sediment began piling up in the delta that formed in the crater long ago. Understanding this timeline should help date rock samples – to be collected later in the mission – that might preserve a record of ancient microbes.

May 8, 2021

This lab-grown meat grows on spinach skeletons

Posted by in categories: biological, food, sustainability

In the last decade, lab-grown meat has emerged a sustainable alternative to traditional livestock methods. Livestock strain Earth’s land resources and account for about 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But while scientists can grow thin sheets of cow meat and scrape it together to form a patty, people eat with their eyes as much as their mouths. For lab-grown meat to replace a fresh steak, it needs to look like a steak.

Growing lab-based meat into 3D structures is difficult because it needs constant delivery of oxygen and nutrients. In living organisms, vascular systems fill that need. Researchers at Boston College previously showed that skeletonized spinach leaves, stripped of everything but their veiny, oxygen-dispersing, vascular system, can support patches of heart muscle cells. Now, they show that lab-grown meat can grow on skeletonized spinach, an essential step to growing steak-shaped meat in the lab.

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