Synthetic yeast project unveils cells with 50% artificial DNA
20,733 articles from ScienceNOW
A 17-year project to craft a synthetic genome for yeast cells has reached a watershed. Researchers revealed this week in 10 new papers that they have created designer versions of all yeast chromosomes and incorporated almost half of them into cells that can survive and reproduce. “It’s a milestone we have been working on for a long time,” says geneticist Jef Boeke of NYU Langone...
TUESDAY 7. NOVEMBER 2023
U.S. Senate confirms Monica Bertagnolli as NIH director
‘Deeply troubling.’ Indian scientists slam teaching materials on Moon mission
At last, the world’s largest biomedical research agency has a permanent leader. The U.S. Senate today voted 62-36 to confirm oncologist Monica Bertagnolli to direct the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The confirmation of Bertagnolli, who is expected to be sworn in within days and replaces acting Director Lawrence Tabak, brings enormous relief to the biomedical...
New space telescope embarks on biggest 3D map of the universe
Official educational materials aimed at teaching India’s students about Chandrayaan-3, the nation’s third lunar exploration mission, are drawing sharp criticism from some of the nation’s scientists. The teaching guides contain technical errors, misleading content, and pseudoscientific claims rooted in religious texts, the critics say.
“This is a great disservice to...
The European Space Agency (ESA) today
released the first pictures of galaxies
taken by its new space telescope, Euclid, which aims to help researchers understand the dark components that make up 95% of the universe. The telescope’s image of the Perseus Cluster (above), one of the most massive structures in the universe, shows 1000 of its galaxies 240 million light-years...
MONDAY 6. NOVEMBER 2023
Impending sale of scientifically critical helium sparks worries
Algal outbreaks around the world are crowding out corals
After serving as the world’s largest provider of helium for nearly a century, the U.S. government is close to bowing out of the market. Aiming to recoup costs, it began emptying its vast underground reservoir of the gas in the 1990s and has now put the whole federal helium system up for sale. Early next year, the government plans to unveil bids from potential buyers of the Amarillo,...
The Scottish wildcat has been wiped out by breeding with domestic cats
About 11 years ago, Peter Edmunds noticed small dark red splotches on the reefs off the Virgin Islands that he’d been surveying for decades. The culprits, red algae that form a crust on underwater surfaces such as coral, were previously known to grow only in small patches, tucked away in crevices among the reefs. Since he first noticed them, they’ve “just gone gangbusters,” says...
Though it lies in ruins on the northeast coast of England, Kilton Castle was once an imposing stone fortress, home to several noble families, and—it appears—at least eight cats. Archaeological excavations in the 1960s uncovered a well, at the bottom of which lay the bones of several felines dating back to the 14th century. The animals were an odd mix: Some were domestic cats, but...
FRIDAY 3. NOVEMBER 2023
‘Why are we naming birds after people?’ Behind the plan to scrap many bird names
As student and postdoc unions proliferate, academia is scrambling to adapt
the American Ornithological Society (AOS) announced
that, “in an effort to address past wrongs,” it was moving to change the common English names of up to 80 species of birds found in the United States and Canada that are named after people.
The society, a scientific group which maintains the official list of bird names for North America, said the...
Looters continue to pillage Afghanistan’s rich archaeological heritage
After months of tense negotiations and a barely averted strike, this week postdocs and associate researchers at Columbia University agreed to a contract that will boost their minimum salary by $10,000, to $70,000, and provide other benefits, including a $5000 child care allowance. Credit goes to their labor union, which formed in 2018, says Elsy El Khoury, a chemistry postdoc and a union...
Looting of archaeological sites in Afghanistan is continuing, despite vows by the Taliban government to protect the nation’s cultural treasures, a recent analysis finds.
Using artificial intelligence (AI) to help comb through a trove of satellite images, researchers at the University of Chicago’s (UC’s) Center for Cultural Heritage Preservation found that...
THURSDAY 2. NOVEMBER 2023
Rats can ‘imagine’ places they’ve previously visited
News at a glance: Avian flu, a gene-therapy setback, and an opera about a fraudulent researcher
Close your eyes and picture yourself running an errand across town. You can probably imagine the turns you’d need to take and the landmarks you’d encounter. This ability to conjure such scenarios in our minds is thought to be crucial to humans’ capacity to plan ahead.
But it may not be uniquely human:
Rats also seem to be able to “imagine” moving through mental...
The Atlantic is being ringed with tiny sensors in an ambitious effort to track climate change
Lethal bird flu approaches Antarctica
A virulent strain of avian influenza has been confirmed for the first time in the Antarctic region. Scientists with the British Antarctic Survey noticed dead brown skuas on Bird Island in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands starting on 7 October. The virus, H5N1, was likely carried to...
Plans to ‘rewild’ Argentina spark fierce scientific debate
Network of temperature loggers aims to reveal how warming is affecting coastal ecosystems
In Peru, a 20-year study charted Amazon forests—and revealed how warming has changed them
A move to reintroduce
—a wild relative of the llama—to a reserve in Argentina has become the latest flash point in a fierce scientific debate over the nation’s rewilding efforts that has included charges of government malfeasance and legal threats.
Supporters of the effort to move 45 guanacos some 1500 kilometers north from Patagonia to a reserve...
Synthetic ‘super melanin’ speeds skin repair
Landmark project has also trained a new generation of Peruvian scientists
Melanin, the pigment that provides the color in our skin and hair, also plays key roles in protecting skin from ultraviolet (UV) light and repairing skin wounds. Now, researchers report that they’ve created a synthetic version of melanin—what they’re calling “super melanin” —that when applied as a skin cream nearly doubles the speed of skin healing following injury. The...
WEDNESDAY 1. NOVEMBER 2023
Heart-brain link offers new potential explanation for fainting
The universe’s puzzlingly fast expansion may defy explanation, cosmologists fret
Fainting, a temporary loss of consciousness, affects almost 40% of people, yet scientists and physicians don’t know exactly why it happens. A drop in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate—a trio of symptoms long known as the Bezold-Jarisch reflex—can contribute to fainting, researchers have hypothesized. Now, neuroscientists have pinpointed a nerve pathway between the heart...
Where did shoulders come from? Ancient fish reveal joint’s evolution
Discovered less than a century ago, the expansion of the universe causes galaxies to rush away from Earth, stretching their light to longer, redder wavelengths. That observation spawned the idea of the big bang—and decades of bickering over the rate at which the universe is expanding, the Hubble constant. After a brief rapprochement, cosmologists are arguing again. Working from our...
Should scientists include their race, gender, or other personal details in papers?
Researchers have traced an evolutionary connection between the throats of ancient fishes and the anatomy that allows you to swing a golf club or reach a high shelf. The vertebrate shoulder, they conclude, arose in part from ancestral fishes’ gill arches, curved supports encircling the throat.
The analysis, reported today in
, helps reconcile two existing...
Why don’t fish have tonsils? They have a good alternative, study suggests
When Genevieve Wojcik’s co-authors suggested she include details about her race and family background in a May
commentary, she was skeptical. As a genetic epidemiologist, she had always been taught “to take yourself out of the equation completely,” says Wojcik, who is at Johns Hopkins University. But Wojcik’s colleagues argued that
How a California wildfire created a buffet for marine microbes
When microbes try to invade our body through the nose or mouth, they have to get past the tonsils, lumps of tissue garrisoned by immune cells that help fight off the intruders. But many animals don’t have obvious tonsils, an apparent gap in their defenses. In
today, however, researchers report uncovering a comparable organ in fish that may take on a...
On the evening of 4 December 2017, a small patch of brush caught fire near Santa Paula, California. The blaze soon grew into one of the largest wildfires the state had ever experienced. By the time firefighters contained what became known as the Thomas Fire, it had devoured more than 1000 square kilometers of coastal woodland, killed two people, and left hundreds of homes in ruins....
TUESDAY 31. OCTOBER 2023
Pressured by lawsuits, EPA toughens pesticide rules to protect endangered species
- 23/10/31 22:59
U.K. funding agency suspends diversity panel following pressure from science minister
Driven by tight court deadlines, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is radically remaking its approach to regulating pesticides, giving weight to their risk to endangered species. The effort is still in the early stages, but concrete enough that it has alarmed agricultural organizations, which fear widespread restrictions on where and how farmers can spray the chemicals. “It...
- 23/10/31 22:35
First plasma fired up at world’s largest fusion reactor
The United Kingdom’s national funding agency today suspended operations of its newly formed diversity advisory panel “with immediate effect” after science minister Michelle Donelan expressed “disgust and outrage” that members of the panel had publicly posted opinions about the Israel-Hamas conflict that she viewed as “extremist.”
Today’s move came after Donelan...
- 23/10/31 18:50
The long trek toward practical fusion energy passed a milestone last week when the world’s newest and largest fusion reactor fired up. Japan’s JT-60SA uses magnetic fields from superconducting coils to contain a blazingly hot cloud of ionized gas, or plasma, within a doughnut-shaped vacuum vessel, in hope of coaxing hydrogen nuclei to fuse and release energy. The four-story-high...