218 articles from WEDNESDAY 18.12.2019

NASA's Mars 2020 rover completes its first drive

NASA's next Mars rover has passed its first driving test. A preliminary assessment of its activities on Dec. 17, 2019, found that the rover checked all the necessary boxes as it rolled forward and backward and pirouetted in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The next time the Mars 2020 rover drives, it will be rolling over Martian soil.

Nanopores can identify the amino acids in proteins, the first step to sequencing

While DNA sequencing is a useful tool for determining what's going on in a cell or a person's body, it only tells part of the story. Protein sequencing could soon give researchers a wider window into a cell's workings. A new study demonstrates that nanopores can be used to identify all 20 amino acids in proteins, a major step toward protein sequencing.

The delicate water lily: A rose by another name?

A new study published in Nature reports the 409-megabase genome sequence of the blue-petal water lily (Nymphaea colorata). The conclusion of the 47 coauthors is that although a rose is a rose, most flowering plants may owe their success, including employing floral scent for attracting pollinators, in part to the genetic innovations observed in the delicate water lily.

Thawing permafrost affecting northern Alaska's land-to-ocean river flows

A new analysis of the changing character of runoff, river discharge and other hydrological cycle elements across the North Slope of Alaska reveals significant increases in the proportion of subsurface runoff and cold season discharge, changes the authors say are "consistent with warming and thawing permafrost."

The delicate water lily: A rose by another name?

A new study reports the 409-megabase genome sequence of the blue-petal water lily (Nymphaea colorata). The conclusion of the 47 coauthors is that although a rose is a rose, most flowering plants may owe their success, including employing floral scent for attracting pollinators, in part to the genetic innovations observed in the delicate water lily.

Membrane inspired by bone and cartilage efficiently produces electricity from saltwater

Inspired by membranes in the body tissues of living organisms, scientists have combined aramid nanofibers used in Kevlar with boron nitride to construct a membrane for harvesting ocean energy that is both strong like bone and suited for ion transport like cartilage. The research overcomes major design challenges for technologies that harness osmotic energy to generate an eco-friendly and widely...

Researchers determine age for last known settlement by a direct ancestor to modern humans

An international team of researchers has determined the age of the last known settlement of the species Homo erectus, one of modern humans' direct ancestors. The site is called Ngandong, on the Indonesian island Java. The team dated animal fragments where Homo erectus remains were found and the surrounding landscape. The team determined the last existence of Homo erectus at Ngandong between...

Zika vaccine protects fetus in pregnant monkeys

An experimental vaccine against the Zika virus reduced the amount of virus in pregnant rhesus macaques and improved fetal outcomes. The work could help support development and approval of an experimental Zika DNA vaccine currently in early stage trials in humans.

Drops of liquid crystal molecules branch out into strange structures

New research published in Nature reveals that, when cooled, droplets containing chain-like liquid crystal molecules transform from spheres into complex shapes such as flowers, corals, and fibrous networks. 'It was a visually spectacular effect. We weren't expecting it at all,' says lead author Arjun Yodh. 'We were trying to make designer drops, but in the process, we saw something interesting and...

Pair living as stepping stone from solitary life to complex societies

Alone, as a pair or in groups - the diversity in social systems of primates is interesting because it may also provide insights into human social life. Biologists investigated how different primate societies evolved. Their reconstructions showed that the evolution from a solitary way of life to group living usually occurred via pair living.