356 articles from THURSDAY 30.7.2020

One-size does not fit all for post-disaster recovery, study finds

When a natural disaster strikes, it often takes years for vulnerable communities to recover, long after the news coverage fades and the rest of the world seems to move on. A new Portland State University study that followed 400 households after the 2015 Nepal earthquakes provides insight into better understanding the factors that contribute to resilience and change in short-term rural natural...

Chinese and Russian hackers were just sanctioned by Europe for the first time

The European Union imposed its first-ever sanctions for cyberattacks on Thursday, targeting Russian, Chinese, and North Korean groups connected to several major hacking incidents. The action, which includes travel bans and asset freezes on individuals and organizations connected to ransomware and industrial espionage, follow earlier sanctions put in place by the United States. Retaliation...

Astrophysicists observe long-theorized quantum phenomena

At the heart of every white dwarf star—the dense stellar object that remains after a star has burned away its fuel reserve of gases as it nears the end of its life cycle—lies a quantum conundrum: as white dwarfs add mass, they shrink in size, until they become so small and tightly compacted that they cannot sustain themselves, collapsing into a neutron star.

American parents are setting up homeschool “pandemic pods”

In the past few weeks, a new vocabulary has emerged in parenting groups on social media: pandemic pods, copods, microschools, homeschool pods. All describe cobbled-together groups of students who plan to study at home together this fall as the pandemic creeps into a new academic year.  Homeschooling, this is not. As local and federal governments continue to squabble over the risks of...

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Embarks On the Agency’s Most Ambitious Mars Mission Yet

If there were any intelligent beings on Mars, they’d likely be confused by a little plaque recently added to the side of the SUV-sized Perseverance Mars rover, which lifted off at 7:50 AM local time on Thursday morning from Cape Canaveral in Florida and is set to reach Mars in February. Nobody had planned any late additions to the rover—but no one had planned on a lot of things this...

First gene knockout in a cephalopod achieved

Biologists have achieved the first gene knockout in a cephalopod using the squid Doryteuthis pealeii, an exceptionally important research organism in biology for nearly a century. The team used CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to knock out a pigmentation gene in squid embryos, which eliminated pigmentation in the eye and in skin cells (chromatophores) with high efficiency.

Stay or leave? A tale of two virus strategies revealed by math

By modeling experimentally measured characteristics of cells infected with hepatitis C in the lab, researchers found that one virus strain was roughly three times more likely to use copied genetic code to create new viruses compared to another, which instead tended to keep more copies inside an infected cell to accelerate replication. Understanding specific strategies adopted by viruses through...

Ancient mountain formation and monsoons helped create a modern biodiversity hotspot

Researchers examined the plant life in the China's Hengduan Mountains, the Himalaya Mountains, and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Using DNA to build family trees of species, they learned that the diversity of plants in that region today can be traced back to newly-formed mountain ranges 30 million years ago, and monsoons that came later. It's a concrete example of how climatic and environmental...

New understanding of CRISPR-Cas9 tool could improve gene editing

Of the CRISPR-Cas9 tools created to date, base editors have gotten lots of attention because of their seemingly simple editing: they neatly replace one nucleic acid with another, in many cases all that should be needed to fix a genetic disease. Scientists have now determined the structure of the latest base editor as it swaps out nucleic acids, showing why it can go off target but also how it can...

Immune functions traded in for reproductive success

Researchers have investigated the phenomenon of sexual parasitism in deep-sea anglerfish. The scientists show that this very rare mode of reproduction is associated with the loss of adaptive immunity. In the course of evolution, however, the animals have reorganized their immune systems and only survive with the help of their innate immunity.

'Heartless and reckless' to force shielding people back to work, says TUC

Exclusive: scientists demand to see evidence behind decision to drop shielding on 1 August‘I’d rather lose my job than my life’: vulnerable people on the end of shieldingUp to 2 million extremely vulnerable people shielding in England must not be forced to return to their workplaces, trade unions have declared amid concerns over rising coronavirus infection rates.The Trades Union Congress...

Stay or leave? A tale of two virus strategies revealed by math

As small and relatively simple as they may be, even viruses have strategies. Now, researchers in Japan report that they can evaluate two of these strategies through a combination of biology and math, providing a new tool for insight into viruses that could be used to develop better treatments.

Ancient mountain formation and monsoons helped create a modern biodiversity hotspot

One of the big questions in biology is why certain plants and animals are found in some places and not others. Figuring out how species evolve and spread, and why some places are richer in species than others, is key to understanding and protecting the world around us. Mountains make a good laboratory for scientists tackling these questions: mountains are home to tons of biodiversity, in part due...

Challenging a central tenet of chemistry

Steve Granick, Director of the IBS Center for Soft and Living Matter and Dr. Huan Wang, Senior Research Fellow, report together with 5 interdisciplinary colleagues in the July 31 issue of the journal Science that common chemical reactions accelerate Brownian diffusion by sending long-range ripples into the surrounding solvent.