Get flash to fully experience Pearltrees
Steven Cherry: Hi, this is Steven Cherry for IEEE Spectrum’ s “Techwise Conversations.” Ten months ago, a group of researchers proposed a “large-scale, international public effort [that] aimed at reconstructing the full record of neural activity across complete neural circuits. This technological challenge,” they said, “could prove to be an invaluable step toward understanding fundamental and pathological brain processes.” The group called this proposed effort “the Brain Activity Map Project ,” [PDF] and in March, it spelled out its vision in an article in the journal ACS Nano .
Animals | Free Full-Text | Early Results of Three-Year Monitoring of Red Wood Ants’ Behavioral Changes and Their Possible Correlation with Earthquake EventsThis article is freely available re-usable Article 1 Department of Geology, Faculty of Biology, University Duisburg-Essen, 45141 Essen, Universitätsstr. 5, Germany 2 Am Plexer 7, 50374 Erftstadt, Germany 3 Image Analysis Group, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, TU Dortmund, Otto-Hahn-Straße 4, 44227 Dortmund, Germany * Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
In the late 1990s, a sociologist named Judy Singer—who is on the autism spectrum herself—invented a new word to describe conditions like autism, dyslexia, and ADHD: neurodiversity . In a radical stroke, she hoped to shift the focus of discourse about atypical ways of thinking and learning away from the usual litany of deficits, disorders, and impairments. Echoing positive terms like biodiversity and cultural diversity , her neologism called attention to the fact that many atypical forms of brain wiring also convey unusual skills and aptitudes. Autistic people, for instance, have prodigious memories for facts, are often highly intelligent in ways that don’t register on verbal IQ tests, and are capable of focusing for long periods on tasks that take advantage of their natural gift for detecting flaws in visual patterns.
In 1992, at the age of 70, a US citizen suffered a severe case of viral encephalitis, a swelling of the brain caused by infection. After he recovered two years later, he appeared completely average based on an IQ test (indeed, he scored 103). Yet in other ways, he was completely different. Several decades of his past life were wiped completely from his brain.
A chemical treatment that turns whole organs transparent offers a big boost to the field of ‘connectomics’ — the push to map the brain’s fiendishly complicated wiring. Scientists could use the technique to view large networks of neurons with unprecedented ease and accuracy. The technology also opens up new research avenues for old brains that were saved from patients and healthy donors.
Un article de Wikipédia, l'encyclopédie libre.
Humanity's legacy, including Shakespeare's sonnets, may be best preserved in DNA databases. Nathan Benn / Alamy A team of scientists has produced a truly concise anthology of verse by encoding all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets in DNA. The researchers say that their technique could easily be scaled up to store all of the data in the world.
Animals that turn white in winter are having a mismatch with the reduced snowpack in their environments. Measuring the impact of climate change on animals is difficult, because (a) climate change is complex and (b) animals are complex. Climate change can alter the environment in many different ways, and each of these changes can affect the food supplies, hibernation patterns, reproductive behavior, and migratory patterns of different animal species. The changes in the animals all affect each other, too, since many of them are interrelated in food chains and webs that can be hard to disentangle. Luckily, researchers at the University of Montana stumbled upon one simple, obvious part of an animal that they could measure in response to a simple, obvious change in climate.
The United States Geological Society (USGS) has launched an online database and map that keeps track of more than 100 million different species and where they live within the United States, Biodiversity Serving Our Nation, or BISON (a backronym if ever there was one), contains location-specific records of where living species are within the US. Its data comes from hundreds of different organisations and thousands of scientists, making it the most comprehensive map of American biodiversity ever made. Anyone can search by scientific or common name of any living species (plant or animal), and can look to see what lives within any specific geographic area they want by drawing a perimeter—so, for example, searching to see exactly which forests in Virginia have been infected with a tree fungus. All the results give a breakdown of the data (in map and list form), with information relating to where the data came from and how it was collected.
Researchers have managed to turn indigestible cellulose into starch , a process that could render billions of tons of agricultural waste into food and fuel. Plants grow more than 160 billion tons of cellulose—the material that makes up the walls of plant cells—every year, but only a tiny fraction of that is useful to humans in the crops we grow. This is frustrating, as cellulose is made up of glucose chains that are almost, but not quite, the same as those that make up the starch that constitutes 20 to 40 percent of most peoples' daily calorie intake. With the world's population forecast to reach nine billion by 2050, working out how to alter cellulose glucose into something more practical could be vital for preventing starvation. There's also an extra benefit in that some could be used for biofuels.
We'll probably never know exactly how life on Earth got its start. The conditions in which it began have long since been lost, and there are simply too many precursor molecules and potential environments that could have gotten the process going. Nevertheless, researchers hope to put together a pathway that's at least plausible, starting from simple molecules that were present on the early Earth and building up to an enclosed system with basic inheritance (from there, evolution can take over).
Potted poplar ramets showed increased concentrations and rates of synthesis of phenolic compounds within 52 hours of having 7 percent of their leaf area removed by tearing, as did undamaged plants sharing the same enclosure. Damaged sugar maple seedlings responded in a manner similar to that of the damaged poplars. Nearby undamaged maples had increased levels of phenolics and hydrolyzable and condensed tannin within 36 hours, but exhibited no change in rates of synthesis.
Tout commence en 1983, quand deux chercheurs, Jack Schultz et Ian Baldwin, publient dans la prestigieuse revue « Science », un article montrant qu'un peuplier et un érable émettaient des signaux chimiques qui sont captés par des arbres sains voisins ( Voir Science ). En 1988, des chercheurs néerlandais des universités de Wageningen et Amsterdam montrèrent que, lorsqu’ils sont attaqués par l'acarien Tetranychus urticae, les plants de haricots et de concombres émettent des molécules volatiles qui attirent l'acarien prédateur Phytoseiulus persimilis, qui va venir détruire les Tetranychus. En 1990, une autre équipe de recherche, regroupant des chercheurs des universités de Gainesville, en Floride, et Tifton, en Géorgie, fit une nouvelle découverte : lorsque les des plants de maïs sont attaqués par des chenilles du papillon podoptera exigua, ils ont la bonne idée de produire des composés volatiles qui attirent les guêpes parasites Cotesia marginiventris.
photo: Avi Klapfer Marine biologist Enric Sala was shocked when he came across this bizarre deep sea jellyfish while exploring the remote islands of Desventuradas off the coast of Chile. From the national geographic article: “Avi, who is once again piloting the submarine DeepSee and telling us stories as if we were in his living room back home , suddenly feels a presence on one side of the vessel that, in the prevailing darkness at this depth, is just a shadow. “Something is approaching,” he says.
When Steven Benner set out to re-engineer genetic molecules, he didn't think much of DNA. “The first thing you realize is that it is a stupid design,” says Benner, a biological chemist at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Florida. Take DNA's backbone, which contains repeating, negatively charged phosphate groups.