Photosynthetic Solar Cell Converts Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Sunlight into Fuel

An international team of researchers and engineers from South Korea and the United States has developed a solar cell that efficiently converts carbon dioxide directly into synthesis gas, using only sunlight for energy.

Simulated sunlight powers a solar cell that converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into syngas. Image credit: University of Illinois at Chicago.
This new work, published in the journal Science , was led by Dr. Larry Curtiss from the Argonne National Laboratory and Dr. Amin Salehi-Khojin from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Unlike conventional solar cells, the new device essentially does the work of plants, converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into fuel, solving two crucial problems at once.
A solar farm of such cells could remove significant amounts of carbon fro… Read more

South African Fossils Reveal Earliest Hominin Evidence of Cancer

A team of paleontologists led by Dr. Patrick Randolph-Quinney from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University) in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the University of Central Lancashire, UK, announced this week the discovery of the earliest evidence for cancer and bony tumors yet described in the human fossil record.

Image of the external morphology of a hominin foot bone ( Paranthropus robustus or Homo ergaster ) shows the extent of expansion of the primary bone cancer beyond the surface of the bone. Image credit: Patrick Randolph-Quinney.
Dr. Randolph-Quinney and his colleagues found a 1.6-1.8 million-year-old foot bone with definitive evidence of malignant cancer at the cave site of Swartkrans in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa.
The bone belonged to an early hominin, either Par… Read more

South African Fossils Reveal Earliest Hominin Evidence of Cancer

A team of paleontologists led by Dr. Patrick Randolph-Quinney from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University) in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the University of Central Lancashire, UK, announced this week the discovery of the earliest evidence for cancer and bony tumors yet described in the human fossil record.

Image of the external morphology of a hominin foot bone ( Paranthropus robustus or Homo ergaster ) shows the extent of expansion of the primary bone cancer beyond the surface of the bone. Image credit: Patrick Randolph-Quinney.
Dr. Randolph-Quinney and his colleagues found a 1.6-1.8 million-year-old foot bone with definitive evidence of malignant cancer at the cave site of Swartkrans in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa.
The bone belo… Read more

Four New Species of Ants Discovered – Two Named after Game of Thrones’ Dragons

A group of Japanese entomologists has described and named four new species of the ant genus Pheidole from the tropical rainforests of Papua New Guinea and the Fijian islands.

Pheidole viserion : major (A-C) and minor (D-F) workers. Image credit: Masako Ogasawara.
Pheidole is a highly diverse genus of ants, with over 1,000 species recognized so far. The genus has the common name of ‘big headed ants,’ as Pheidole soldier ants usually have huge heads and jaws to break up large food items.
Dr. Eli Sarnat, Dr. Georg Fischer and Dr. Evan Economo from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University incorporated phylogenetic results and a cutting edge 3D imaging technique to identify and model ants in the Pheidole cervicornis group.
“We present our resea… Read more

Indianapolis Zoo’s Orangutan Mimics Human Speech

Rocky, an eleven-year-old male orangutan living at Indianapolis Zoo, offers clues to how human speech evolved, according to new research led by Durham University’s Adriano Lameira.

Orangutans ( Pongo pygmaeus ).
In an imitation ‘do-as-I-do’ game, Rocky, who was eight at the time of the research, was able to copy the pitch and tone of sounds made by the scientists to make vowel-like calls.
“We provide the first evidence for real-time, dynamic and interactive vocal fold control in a great ape during an imitation ‘do-as-I-do’ game with a human demonstrator,” Dr. Lameira and co-authors said.
During the study, a human demonstrator made random sounds with variations in the tone or pitch of her voice which Rocky then mimicked.
The researchers compared these sounds again… Read more

Evidence Indicates Presence of Undescribed Beaked Whale Species in North Pacific

An international team of marine biologists has found genetic evidence of a previously unknown species of beaked whale ( Berardius sp.nov.) that ranges from northern Japan across the Pacific Ocean to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

Berardius sp.nov. Image credit: Uko Gorter.
Beaked whales (Ziphiidae) are the second most diverse family of cetaceans but remain poorly understood. There are currently 22 recognized species, comprising 24 percent of all cetacean species.
These whales are typically found at very low density and in deep offshore or deep basin waters, and observing them is complicated by their medium-to-small size (10-43 feet, or 3–13 m), deep diving behavior that keeps them below the surface for up to an hour, and low surface profile that makes them difficu… Read more

First Confirmed Transmission of Zika Virus by Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes

Led by University of Texas Medical Branch researcher Prof. Scott Weaver, an international team of scientists is the first to directly connect Aedes aegypti with Zika transmission in the Americas, during an outbreak in southern Mexico.

Aedes aegypti biting human. Image credit: James Gathany / CDC.
In early 2015 the first Zika infections were described in Brazil, harbingers of an explosive hemispheric epidemic.
As of July 2016, local Zika infections have been reported in 39 countries and territories in the Americas, with the epidemic spreading throughout most of northern South America and nearly all of Central America and the Caribbean.
Many countries in North America and Europe have also reported hundreds of imported cases.
“Because several experimental studies have suggested that Aedes aegyp… Read more

First Confirmed Transmission of Zika Virus by Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes

Led by University of Texas Medical Branch researcher Prof. Scott Weaver, an international team of scientists is the first to directly connect Aedes aegypti with Zika transmission in the Americas, during an outbreak in southern Mexico.

Aedes aegypti biting human. Image credit: James Gathany / CDC.
In early 2015 the first Zika infections were described in Brazil, harbingers of an explosive hemispheric epidemic.
As of July 2016, local Zika infections have been reported in 39 countries and territories in the Americas, with the epidemic spreading throughout most of northern South America and nearly all of Central America and the Caribbean.
Many countries in North America and Europe have also reported hundreds of imported cases.
“Because several experimental stud… Read more

Genetic Code is More Diverse than We Think

New research is casting doubt on a widely held belief about how cells use DNA to make proteins.

DNA molecule. Image credit: Christoph Bock, Max Planck Institute for Informatics / CC BY-SA 3.0.
Cells take a number of complicated steps to translate their sequence of basic DNA building blocks into proteins, which then act as workhorses to carry out the vital functions of life.
Since many different proteins are encoded on a single DNA strand, the cell uses markers to know when to start and stop making a protein.
Many biology textbooks say that the start marker, called a start codon, always encodes for a compound called methionine.
“New research by our team suggests the textbooks could be wrong,” said Dr. William Duax, a structural biologist at the State University of New York… Read more

Cinema 3D: New Display Enables Viewers to Watch 3D Movies without Extra Eyewear

In a paper published in the journal ACM Transactions on Graphics , researchers from the United States and Israel have demonstrated a display that lets you watch 3D movies in a theater without extra eyewear.

‘Cinema 3D’ could show 3D movies to any seat in a theater, with no eyewear required. Image credit: Christine Daniloff / MIT.
The prototype display, ‘Cinema 3D,’ uses a special array of lenses and mirrors to enable viewers to watch a 3D movie from any seat in a theater.
“Existing approaches to glasses-free 3D require screens whose resolution requirements are so enormous that they are completely impractical,” said co-author Prof. Wojciech Matusik of MIT.
“This is the first technical approach that allows for glasses-free 3D on a large scale.”
Prof. Matusik and his colleagues demonstrated that Cinema 3… Read more

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