Category Archives: News & Archives

New Results Send Mars Rover on a Quest for Ancient Life

When the Curiosity rover landed in Gale crater 16 months ago, its goal was to find a place on Mars that was habitable 4 billion years ago. It has done that, and now a spate of new findings is driving the mission in a new direction: searching for traces of ancient life. Leaders of the 400-strong Curiosity…
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Coffee or Beer? The Choice Could Affect Your Genome

Coffee and beer are polar opposites in the beverage world. Coffee picks you up, and beer winds you down. Now Prof. Martin Kupiec and his team at Tel Aviv University's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology have discovered that the beverages may also have opposite effects on your genome. Working with a kind of yeast…
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MIT discovers the location of memories: Individual neurons

MIT researchers have shown, for the first time ever, that memories are stored in specific brain cells. By triggering a small cluster of neurons, the researchers were able to force the subject to recall a specific memory. By removing these neurons, the subject would lose that memory. As you can imagine, the trick here is…
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Ancient Minerals: Which Gave Rise to Life?

Life originated as a result of natural processes that exploited early Earth's raw materials. Scientific models of life's origins almost always look to minerals for such essential tasks as the synthesis of life's molecular building blocks or the supply of metabolic energy. But this assumes that the mineral species found on Earth today are much…
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GMOs May Feed the World Using Fewer Pesticides

Walter De Jong shouts over the roar of fans in the greenhouse. He’s telling me about the seedlings beside him, which pepper the dark soil in a grid of small planting pots. De Jong, a potato breeder and geneticist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, hopes that at least one of the plants will…
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Powerful Tool for Genetic Engineering

Viruses cannot only cause illnesses in humans, they also infect bacteria. Those protect themselves with a kind of 'immune system' which -- simply put -- consists of specific sequences in the genetic material of the bacteria and a suitable enzyme. It detects foreign DNA, which may originate from a virus, cuts it up and thus…
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Antibiotic Resistance. Be Afraid. REALLY! Be VERY Afraid!

I just read an alarming piece on what the world will look like, possibly soon, when the efficacy of our current arsenal of antibiotics really starts to fade. There are already dozens of diseases that can resist some of the drugs we use to fight bacterial infections (antibiotics don’t work on viruses), and some can…
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Oldest Large Body of Ancient Seawater Identified Under Chesapeake Bay

USGS scientists have determined that high-salinity groundwater found more than 1,000 meters (0.6 mi.) deep under the Chesapeake Bay is actually remnant water from the Early Cretaceous North Atlantic Sea and is probably 100-145 million years old. This is the oldest sizeable body of seawater to be identified worldwide. Twice as salty as modern seawater,…
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Origin of Species: Protein Imbalances Doom Hybrids

Why do crosses between closely related species fail to produce fertile hybrids? A new study led by Professor Axel Imhof of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich shows that differences in the levels - not necessarily the sequences - of certain key proteins are crucial in mediating reproductive isolation. Two individuals are defined as belonging to the…
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Rare New Microbe Found in Two Spacecraft Clean Rooms

A rare, recently discovered microbe that survives on very little to eat has been found in two places on Earth: spacecraft clean rooms in Florida and South America. Microbiologists often do thorough surveys of bacteria and other microbes in spacecraft clean rooms. Fewer microbes live there than in almost any other environment on Earth, but…
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