ScienceDaily: Quirky - October 25, 2023
Top quirky research news
Scientists studied the genomes of 30 kingfisher species to try to identify the genes that allow kingfishers to dive headfirst into water without huring their brains. The researchers found that the diving birds have unusual mutations to the genes that produce tau: a protein that helps stabilize tiny structures in the brain, but which can build up in humans with traumatic brain injuries or Alzheimer's disease. The researchers suspect that these variations in the kingfishers' tau proteins might protect their brains when they dive.
Primatologists are using genetic analysis to determine the geographic origin of ancient mummified baboons found in Egypt. The team finds evidence that the two legendary trading regions of Punt and Adulis may have been the same place separated by a thousand years of history.
Researchers have proposed a new way of using quantum light to 'see' quantum sound. A new paper reveals the quantum-mechanical interplay between vibrations and particles of light, known as photons, in molecules. It is hoped that the discovery may help scientists better understand the interactions between light and matter on molecular scales. And it potentially paves the way for addressing fundamental questions about the importance of quantum effects in applications ranging from new quantum technologies to biological systems.
Two years after the striking discovery that a near-Earth asteroid could be a chunk of the moon, another UArizona research group has found that a rare pathway could have enabled this to happen.
What if your house plant could tell you your water isn't safe? Scientists are closer to realizing this vision, having successfully engineered a plant to turn beet red in the presence of a banned, toxic pesticide.
A team of researchers has created smart, advanced materials that will be the building blocks for a future generation of soft medical microrobots. These tiny robots have the potential to conduct medical procedures, such as biopsy, and cell and tissue transport, in a minimally invasive fashion.
The perception of persistent thermal sensations, such as changes in temperature, tends to gradually diminish in intensity as our bodies become accustomed to the temperature. This phenomenon leads to a shift in our perception of temperature when transitioning between different scenes in a virtual environment. Researchers have now developed a technology to generate a virtual cold sensation via a non-contact method without physically altering the skin temperature.
Biologists have long known mushrooms of the genus Mycena, commonly known as bonnet mushrooms, as fungi that live off of dead trees and plants. New research demonstrates that bonnets can also find their ways into young, healthy trees and plants, where they try to cooperate. In doing so, they have made an evolutionary leap which challenges our understanding of the ecological roles of fungi.
By analyzing tiny lunar crystals gathered by Apollo 17 astronauts in 1972, researchers recalculated the age of the Earth's Moon. Although previous assessments estimated the Moon as 4.425 billion years old, the new study discovered it is actually 4.46 billion years old -- 40 million years older than previously thought.
Scientists have uncovered 13 mummified cadavers of mice from the summits of Andean volcanoes that stretch nearly 4 miles above sea level. Analyses of the mummies, combined with the capture of live specimens, suggest that the mice scaled the Mars-like peaks on their own -- and are somehow managing to live on them.
The fossils of a 170-million-year-old ancient marine reptile from the Age of Dinosaurs have been identified as the oldest-known mega-predatory pliosaur -- a group of ocean-dwelling reptiles closely related to the famous long-necked plesiosaurs. The findings are rare and add new knowledge to the evolution of plesiosaurs.
Researchers are studying the dramatic physical transformation that some insects undergo to give birth to live young. This includes suppressing their immune systems to accommodate babies, which is something some insects and people have in common. Understanding how these systems work can help improve treatments for fibromyalgia and other immune disorders. An international team of researchers has examined the complex structural and physiological changes that take place in Hawaii's beetle-mimic cockroaches, which give birth to live young.
Turning unused waste from food production into clean energy: Researchers are using chicken feathers to make fuel cells more cost-effective and sustainable.
An international team has spotted a remote blast of cosmic radio waves lasting less than a millisecond. This 'fast radio burst' (FRB) is the most distant ever detected. Its source was pinned down by the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in a galaxy so far away that its light took eight billion years to reach us. The FRB is also one of the most energetic ever observed; in a tiny fraction of a second it released the equivalent of our Sun's total emission over 30 years.
An international team of scientists has recently developed a novel type of nano engine made of DNA. It is driven by a clever mechanism and can perform pulsing movements. The researchers are now planning to fit it with a coupling and install it as a drive in complex nano machines.
A research team has discovered that parasites manipulate their hosts using stolen genes that they likely acquired through a phenomenon called horizontal gene transfer.
Researchers have invented an experimental wearable device that generates power from a user's bending finger and can create and store memories, in a promising step towards health monitoring and other technologies.
About 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals, who had lived for hundreds of thousands of years in the western part of the Eurasian continent, gave way to Homo sapiens, who had arrived from Africa. This replacement was not sudden, and the two species coexisted for a few millennia, resulting in the integration of Neanderthal DNA into the genome of Sapiens. Researchers have analyzed the distribution of the portion of DNA inherited from Neanderthals in the genomes of humans (Homo sapiens) over the last 40,000 years. These statistical analyses revealed subtle variations in time and geographical space.
Taking inspiration from music streaming services, a team of engineers has designed the simplest way for users to program their own exoskeleton assistance settings.