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Dynamic atmospheres of Uranus, Neptune

During its routine yearly monitoring of the weather on our solar system's outer planets, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a new mysterious dark storm on Neptune (right) and provided a fresh look at a long-lived storm circling around the north polar region on Uranus (left). Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (NASA Goddard Space Flight…

Chemical data mining boosts search for new organic semiconductors

Both the carbon-based molecular frameworks and the functional groups decisively influence the conductivity of organic semiconductors. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) now deploy data mining approaches to identify promising organic compounds for the electronics of the future. Credit: C. Kunkel / TUM Producing traditional solar cells made of silicon is very energy…

Scientists study organization of life on a planetary scale

This graph represents the biosphere, ecosystems and individual organisms' biochemistry as connecting molecules participating in shared reactions. It reveals that various scaling laws are common across different levels of biological organization. Credit: Hyunju Kim When we think of life on Earth, we might think of individual examples ranging from animals to bacteria. When astrobiologists study…

‘Statistics anxiety’ is real, and new research suggests targeted ways to handle it

The high anxiety network formed by pair-wise correlations of the 51 items in the STARS based on the responses from students with high anxiety scores. Thicker lines indicate that the correlation coefficient was closer to +1.0 and thinner lines indicate correlation coefficients closer to +.3. All the lines are green, indicating that all the correlations…

Static electricity could charge our electronics

These images show how the surfaces of magnesia (top block) and barium titanate (bottom block) respond when they come into contact. The resulting lattice deformations in each object contributes to the driving force behind the electric charge transfer during friction. Credit: James Chen, University at Buffalo. Unhappy with the life of your smartphone battery? Thought…

Looking behind a rare brain disease for clues to treat more common mental disorders

One of the two X-chromosomes is randomly selected and inactivated in the early embryonic stage in females (X-chromosome inactivation). Credit: Katsuhiko Tabuchi, Shinshu University, Japan Researchers have clarified, for the first time, the mechanism behind a very rare brain disorder called MICPCH (microcephaly, disproportionate pontine and cerebellar hypoplasia) syndrome in animal models. Information gleaned from…

How should autonomous vehicles be programmed?

This is an example of a situation proposed on the Moral Machine platform. Credit: Edmond Awad et al. Nature. A massive new survey developed by MIT researchers reveals some distinct global preferences concerning the ethics of autonomous vehicles, as well as some regional variations in those preferences. The survey has global reach and a unique…

Fossils of new oviraptorosaur species discovered in Mongolia

Postcranial elements of the holotype specimen (MPC-D 102/111) of Gobiraptor minutus gen. et sp. nov. (A) Skeletal reconstruction in left lateral view (missing and damaged portions of the bones in gray). Credit: Sungjin Lee et al. A new baby oviraptorid dinosaur (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous Nemegt Formation of Mongolia. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14…

Liberal sprinkling of salt discovered around a young star

Artist impression of Orion Source I, a young, massive star about 1,500 light-years away. New ALMA observations detected a ring of salt -- sodium chloride, ordinary table salt -- surrounding the star. This is the first detection of salts of any kind associated with a young star. The blue region (about 1/3 the way out…

Robot combines vision and touch to learn the game of Jenga

The Jenga-playing robot demonstrates something that’s been tricky to attain in previous systems: the ability to quickly learn the best way to carry out a task, not just from visual cues, as it is commonly studied today, but also from tactile, physical interactions. Credit: Courtesy of the researchers In the basement of MIT's Building 3,…

How marijuana may damage teenage brains in study using genetically vulnerable mice

Control: Neurons (red) in the brain's hippocampus. Inhibitory signals (green) that suppress the neurons from firing are located in the synapses--the junctions where the neurons connect and communicate with each other. Credit: Pletnikov lab In a study of adolescent mice with a version of a gene linked to serious human mental illnesses, Johns Hopkins Medicine…

A close look at the specific feeding habits of territorial damselfish reveals strategies for...

In the animal kingdom, food access is among the biggest drivers of habitat preference. Credit: Jacob Eurich In the animal kingdom, food access is among the biggest drivers of habitat preference. It influences, among other things, how animals interact, where they roam and the amount of energy they expend to maintain their access to food.…

Earliest known seed-eating perching bird discovered in Fossil Lake, Wyoming

The 52-million-year-old fossil of Eofringillirostrum boudreauxi, the earliest known perching bird with a beak for eating seeds. Credit: Copyright Lance Grande, Field Museum Most of the birds you've ever seen -- sparrows, finches, robins, crows -- have one crucial thing in common: they're all what scientists refer to as perching birds, or "passerines." The passerines…

Weather at key growth stages predicts Midwest corn yield and grain quality

Average corn grain quality across the Midwest, with red areas showing the highest-protein levels graduating to purple, showing the lowest protein but highest yields. Credit: Carrie Butts-Wilmsmeyer, University of Illinois Corn is planted on approximately 90 million acres across the United States every year. With all that data, it takes months after harvest for government…

Parents’ brain activity ‘echoes’ their infant’s brain activity when they play together

This is a parent and child participating in the study. Credit: Kaili Clackso, CC-BY When infants are playing with objects, their early attempts to pay attention to things are accompanied by bursts of high-frequency activity in their brain. But what happens when parents play together with them? New research, publishing December 13 in the open-access…

Should ethics or human intuition drive the moral judgments of driverless cars?

A car can swerve to avoid hitting a motorcycle but in doing so endangers other lives. How should it be programmed to behave? Credit: © Buffaloboy / Fotolia When faced with driving dilemmas, people show a high willingness to sacrifice themselves for others, make decisions based on the victim's age and swerve onto sidewalks to…

It may be possible to restore memory function in Alzheimer’s, preclinical study finds

Yan and her team used an epigenetic approach to restore memory function in an animal model of Alzheimer's Disease. Credit: Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo Research published today (Jan. 22) in the journal Brain reveals a new approach to Alzheimer's disease (AD) that may eventually make it possible to reverse memory loss, a hallmark of the…

Strategies for growing biomass for fuel can have economic, ecological and environmental benefits

Prairie grass. Credit: George Furey/UMN In efforts to curb our use of greenhouse gas-generating fossil fuels, plant-based biofuels are among the top contenders as alternative liquid energy sources for transportation. However, strategies to produce high yields of biomass for fuels are not a one-size-fits-all proposition, according to a study led by UC Santa Barbara professor…

Microbes help make the coffee

Coffee and beans (stock image). Credit: © / Fotolia When it comes to processing coffee beans, longer fermentation times can result in better taste, contrary to conventional wisdom. Lactic acid bacteria play an important, positive role in this process. Other species of microbes may play a role in this process as well, but more…

The first walking robot that moves without GPS

Antbot, the first walking robot that moves without GPS. Credit: Julien Dupeyroux, ISM (CNRS/AMU) Desert ants are extraordinary solitary navigators. Researchers were inspired by these ants as they designed AntBot, the first walking robot that can explore its environment randomly and go home automatically, without GPS or mapping. This work opens up new strategies for…

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