Ancient amber contains a cockroach—and a surprise
Look closely at this piece of fossilized amber and you’ll spot something unusual: a cockroach trapped with its own feces (arrow).
New drugs aim to disarm the immune system’s ‘atomic bomb’ cells
Seeking a new treatment for people who have dangerous blockages in their coronary arteries, doctors in London are trying to disarm the body’s own defenders. The 90 patients in the study receive the usual treatments for heart disease, such as small tubes called stents to prop open their narrowed arteries. But half of the patients in the phase II trial, conducted by clinical pharmacologist Albert Ferro of King’s College London and colleagues, also pop pills targeting a class of immune cells called neutrophils. Researchers think that by invading the fatty obstructions, or plaques, in clogged arteries, neutrophils make them even more dangerous. The drug is designed to steer the cells away.
Minimuscles let amputees control a robot hand with their minds
Building a beautiful robotic hand is one thing. Getting it to do your bidding is another. For all the hand-shaped prostheses designed to bend each intricate joint on cue, there’s still the problem of how to send that cue from the wearer’s brain.
Was this life’s first meal?
Studies of the origin of life are replete with paradoxes. Take this doozy: Every known organism on Earth uses a suite of proteins—and the DNA that helps build it—to construct the building blocks of our cells. But those very building blocks are also needed to make DNA and proteins.
New sense discovered in dog noses: The ability to detect heat
Dogs’ noses just got a bit more amazing. Not only are they up to 100 million times more sensitive than ours, they can sense weak thermal radiation—the body heat of mammalian prey, a new study reveals. The find helps explain how canines with impaired sight, hearing, or smell can still hunt successfully.
The coronavirus seems unstoppable. What should the world do now?
The global march of COVID-19 is beginning to look unstoppable. In just the past week, a countrywide outbreak surfaced in Iran, spawning additional cases in Iraq, Oman, and Bahrain. Italy put 10 towns in the north on lockdown after the virus rapidly spread there. An Italian physician carried the virus to the Spanish island of Tenerife, a popular holiday spot for northern Europeans, and Austria and Croatia reported their first cases. Meanwhile, South Korea’s outbreak kept growing explosively and Japan reported additional cases in the wake of the botched quarantine of a cruise ship.
Scientists say they’ve cracked the mystery of why whales migrate—and it’s all about healthy skin
Some people travel across oceans to seek warm, healing waters in spas or coastal resorts. It turns out that whales are likely making their annual migrations for much the same reason: to maintain healthy skin, according to a new study out today.
From ‘living’ cement to medicine-delivering biofilms, biologists remake the material world
The bricks in Wil Srubar’s lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder, aren’t just alive, they’re reproducing. They are churned out by bacteria that convert sand, nutrients, and other feedstocks into a form of biocement, much the way corals synthesize reefs. Split one brick, and in a matter of hours you will have two.
Is an Aboriginal tale of an ancient volcano the oldest story ever told?
Long ago, four giant beings arrived in southeast Australia. Three strode out to other parts of the continent, but one crouched in place. His body transformed into a volcano called Budj Bim, and his teeth became the lava the volcano spat out.
Scientists are racing to model the next moves of a coronavirus that’s still hard to predict
Beyond China itself, Thailand is the country that most likely will have people who arrive at one of its airports with an infection by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has sickened more than 30,000 people. So says the latest update of a global risk assessment model created by a team of researchers from the Humboldt University of Berlin and the Robert Koch Institute that relies on air travel data.