Highest energy light ever seen traced to Crab nebula
A collaboration of Chinese and Japanese astrophysicists has reported the highest energy photons ever seen: gamma rays with energies up to 450 trillion electron volts (TeV).
Biblical Philistines—archenemies of ancient Israelites—hailed from Europe, DNA reveals
As a schoolgirl in Israel, Michal Feldman learned that the ancient Philistines, who lived between present-day Tel Aviv and Gaza during the Iron Age, were “the bad guys.” In the Bible, they were the archenemies of the Israelites, who fought Samson’s armies and sent Goliath into battle against David. “Philistine” is still a slur for an uncivilized barbarian.
Hidden layer of gene control influences everything from cancer to memory
The idea that chemical tags on genes can affect their expression without altering the DNA sequence, once surprising, is the stuff of textbooks. The phenomenon, epigenetics, has now come to messenger RNA (mRNA), the molecule that carries genetic information from DNA to a cell’s proteinmaking factories. At a conference here last month, researchers discussed evidence that RNA epigenetics is also critical for gene expression and disease, and they described a new chemical modification linked to leukemia.
Baffling radio burst traced to a galaxy 3.6 billion light-years away
Fast radio bursts (FRBs)—intense blasts of radio waves from distant galaxies—have perplexed astronomers since they were first detected a dozen years ago. The bursts are so brief, only about one-thousandth of a second, that it’s usually impossible to pinpoint their origins—or their cause, be it a supernova, a neutron star, or something even more exotic.
Embryo experiments take ‘baby steps’ toward growing human organs in livestock
The perpetual shortage of human organs for transplant has researchers turning to farm animals. Several biotech companies are genetically engineering pigs to make their organs more compatible with the human body. But some scientists are pursuing a different solution: growing fully human organs in pigs, sheep, or other animals, which could then be harvested for transplants.
Monarch butterflies raised in captivity don’t migrate
In what may be a cautionary tale for citizen scientists trying to save North America’s iconic monarch butterfly, new research has found that butterflies raised in captivity are sometimes unable to migrate—some as a result of missing genes and others for want of the right environmental cues.
Lost at sea
A growing sensory smog threatens the ability of fish to communicate, navigate, and survive
Bejesus! A cockamamie AI can predict which craptacular words you’ll find funny
Robots might not yet make great standup comedians, but computers are learning to predict what we’ll find funny, according to a study presented here last week at the International Conference on Machine Learning.
Water on Europa—with a Pinch of Salt
Much like Earth’s seas, the subsurface ocean of this icy moon of Jupiter contains sodium chloride, the main ingredient of table salt
Twice as many plants have gone extinct than birds, mammals, and amphibians combined
When scientists talk about recent extinctions, birds and mammals get most of the attention. But the first global analysis of its kind finds that twice as many plants have disappeared than birds, mammals, and amphibians combined.