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Methane-consuming bacteria could be the future of fuel

Methane molecules illustration. Credit: © polesnoy / Adobe Stock Known for their ability to remove methane from the environment and convert it into a usable fuel, methanotrophic bacteria have long fascinated researchers. But how, exactly, these bacteria naturally perform such a complex reaction has been a mystery. Now an interdisciplinary team at Northwestern University has…

Climate change responsible for severe infectious disease in UK frogs

Common frog. Credit: © davemhuntphoto / Adobe Stock Climate change has already increased the spread and severity of a fatal disease caused by Ranavirus that infects common frogs (Rana temporaria) in the UK, according to research led by ZSL's Institute of Zoology, UCL and Queen Mary University of London published today in Global Change Biology…

New type of highly sensitive vision discovered in deep-sea fish

Light shining into dark ocean. Credit: © RadoslawStan / Adobe Stock The deep sea is home to fish species that can detect various wavelengths of light in near-total darkness. Unlike other vertebrates, they have several genes for the light-sensitive photopigment rhodopsin, which likely enables these fish to detect bioluminescent signals from light-emitting organs. The findings…

Gravitational forces in protoplanetary disks may push super-Earths close to their stars

Protoplanetary disc formation. Credit: © Mopic / Adobe Stock The galaxy is littered with planetary systems vastly different from ours. In the solar system, the planet closest to the Sun -- Mercury, with an orbit of 88 days -- is also the smallest. But NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered thousands of systems full of very…

Hummingbird robot uses AI to soon go where drones can’t

Hummingbird. Credit: © Ji / Adobe Stock What can fly like a bird and hover like an insect? Your friendly neighborhood hummingbirds. If drones had this combo, they would be able to maneuver better through collapsed buildings and other cluttered spaces to find trapped victims. Purdue University researchers have engineered flying robots that behave like…

Trained musicians perform better — at paying attention

Musician concentrating (stock image). Credit: © Stefan Körber / Adobe Stock Musical training produces lasting improvements to a cognitive mechanism that helps individuals be more attentive and less likely to be distracted by irrelevant stimuli while performing demanding tasks. According to a new study appearing in the journal Heliyon, published by Elsevier, trained musicians demonstrate…

Researchers discover ‘daywake,’ a siesta-suppressing gene

Fruit fly. Credit: © Studiotouch / Adobe Stock Rutgers researchers have identified a siesta-suppressing gene in fruit flies, which sheds light on the biology that helps many creatures, including humans, balance the benefits of a good nap against those of getting important activities done during the day. Many animals take midday naps, or siestas, that…

To cheat or not to cheat? Researchers uncover the moral dilemmas of doping

Medals and pills. Credit: © martinfredy / Adobe Stock Elite athletes are less likely to take banned substances if they consider the morality of what they are doing, and not just the health consequences of doping, according to a new study led by the University of Birmingham and funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).…

Discovery may lead to new materials for next-generation data storage

Binary data concept. Credit: © gonin / Adobe Stock Research funded in part by the U.S. Army identified properties in materials that could one day lead to applications such as more powerful data storage devices that continue to hold information even after a device has been powered off. A team of researchers led by Cornell…

Minor sleep loss can put your job at risk, study finds

Sleepy man at work (stock image). Credit: © Tiko / Adobe Stock Losing just 16 minutes of sleep could be the difference between a clear-headed day at the office or one filled with distractions. A new study published in the Sleep Health (Journal of the National Sleep Foundation) finds shorting your sleep routine during the…

Oldest known trees in eastern North America documented

Wetland forest with bald cypress. Credit: © PiLensPhoto / Adobe Stock A recently documented stand of bald cypress trees in North Carolina, including one tree at least 2,624 years old, are the oldest known living trees in eastern North America and the oldest known wetland tree species in the world. David Stahle, Distinguished Professor of…

Why unique finches keep their heads of many colors

Gouldian Finch (stock image). Credit: © Duncan Noakes / Adobe Stock There appears to be an underlying selection mechanism at work among Gouldian Finches -- a mechanism that allows this species to produce and maintain individuals with red heads, black heads, and yellow heads. Research by scientists from the the University of Sheffield in the…

Paper wasps capable of behavior that resembles logical reasoning

Paper wasps. Credit: © Floki / Adobe Stock A new University of Michigan study provides the first evidence of transitive inference, the ability to use known relationships to infer unknown relationships, in a nonvertebrate animal: the lowly paper wasp. For millennia, transitive inference was considered a hallmark of human deductive powers, a form of logical…

Antarctic biodiversity hotspots exist wherever penguins and seals poop

Penguins and seals. Credit: © Guy Bryant / Adobe Stock Scientists have found that on the desolate Antarctic peninsula, nitrogen-rich poop from colonies of penguins and seals enriches the soil so well that it helps create biodiversity hotspots throughout the region. Their work, appearing May 9 in the journal Current Biology, finds that the influence…

Fooling nerve cells into acting normal

Nerve cell illustration. Credit: © / Adobe Stock Nerve cells, or neurons -- specifically the "workhorse cells" involved in walking, breathing and chewing -- can adjust to changes in the body, but they never stop working unless there is an fatal injury. What exactly signals neurons to keep acting and operating normally has not…

New brain tumor imaging technique uses protein found in scorpion venom

Scorpion. Credit: © Volodymyr Shevchuk / Adobe Stock A novel imaging technique that uses a synthesized form of scorpion venom to light up brain tumors has shown promise in a clinical trial. The imaging system enables neurosurgeons to better see malignant growths that often are difficult to fully eliminate. Results from the multi-institutional clinical trial,…

New analysis predicts top U.S. counties at risk for measles outbreaks

Vaccination. Credit: © Mediteraneo / Adobe Stock A team of researchers has identified 25 U.S. counties that are most likely to experience measles outbreaks in 2019. Their analysis is based on international air travel volume, non-medical exemptions from childhood vaccinations, population data, and reported measles outbreak information. The predictions were published today in The Lancet…

New state of matter: Elements can be solid and liquid at same time

Potassium chemical symbol (stock image). Credit: © Aleksander / Adobe Stock Scientists have discovered a new state of physical matter in which atoms can exist as both solid and liquid simultaneously. Applying high pressures and temperatures to potassium -- a simple metal -- creates a state in which most of the element's atoms form a…

A new filter to better map the dark universe

Stars in the night sky. Credit: © Sarote / Adobe Stock The earliest known light in our universe, known as the cosmic microwave background, was emitted about 380,000 years after the Big Bang. The patterning of this relic light holds many important clues to the development and distribution of large-scale structures such as galaxies and…

The smell of dark chocolate, demystified

Chocolate. Credit: © Tanja / Adobe Stock Chocolate is one of the most-consumed treats around the world, and the smell alone is usually enough to evoke strong cravings from even the most disciplined eaters. Much like a fine wine, high-quality dark chocolate has a multi-layered scent and flavor, with notes of vanilla, banana or vinegar.…

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