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Meet the Author : Explaining Life Through Evolution

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For our second interview in our Meet the Author series, we spoke to Professor Prosanta Chakrabarty , the Curator of Fishes at Louisiana State University. As an ichthyologist, Professor Chakrabarty studies fishes, especially bony ones to understand the evolution and history of the Earth. His research has taken him to over 30 countries and Chakrabarty is credited with the discovery of over 13 species of fish. His recent book, Explaining Life Through Evolution focuses on similarities between species, rather than the differences. He also states that life is like a book of which we see just a few chapters and it continues to be made, long after we are gone.                                                              Explaining Life Through Evolution                                                                    Image credit: Prosanta Chakrabarty Coffee Table Science is grateful to Professor Chakrabarty for dedicating his valuable time to this interview. CTS: Evolution is something th

Blue-Green Algae Runs Computer for Six Months

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Image: A container holding blue-green algae that powered a computer A computer has been powered for six months by blue-green algae contained in a tiny container. In the near future, similar photosynthetic energy producers might be utilized to power a variety of tiny gadgets without the usage of scarce and unsustainable materials like those used in batteries. Christopher Howe and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge made a tiny enclosure out of aluminum and translucent acrylic approximately the size of an AA battery. They put a colony of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 cyanobacteria – sometimes known as "blue-green algae" – inside, which create oxygen through photosynthesis when exposed to sunlight . During the shutdowns during Covid-19 pandemic in  2021, the device was put on a windowsill at the residence of team member Paolo Bombelli and stayed there from February to August. It ran an Arm microprocessor with a constant current between its anode and cathode. The compu

Personality and Family Group Involvement Influences Capabilities in Marmoset Monkeys

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Image: https://www.britannica.com/ It was always assumed that only humans have personalities. However, personalities have recently been discovered in animals ranging from spiders to apes. Animals labelled as "friends" and, in some circumstances, entire social groups exhibit similar psychological qualities. Personality assessments and a battery of learning tests with common marmosets - tiny monkeys from South America - were undertaken by a group of cognitive and behavioral biologists from the University of Vienna, who discovered that a relationship, entangled with family group membership, occurs in these monkeys as well. The findings of the study were recently published in the journal Scientific Reports . Personalities have been associated with human qualities, as well as cognitive abilities such as academic or professional achievements. It has been suggested that animals who are more explorative and/or bold learn quicker. Vedrana Šlipogor and colleagues from the University

Genetically Modified E. coli Bacteria Play Tic-Tac-Toe Better Than Unskilled Humans, Shows A Spanish Study

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Researchers at the Spanish National Research Council (SNRC) in Madrid have announced that they had genetically modified a strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria and taught it how to play the game of tic-tac-toe. Image Credits: Pixabay The research was started in 2019 when another research group genetically engineered a strain of E. coli bacteria that could sense 12 different chemicals and responded by changing the activity of specific genes. But, the research team at SNRC took this work and applied other modifications. They combined several copies of two circular pieces of DNA called plasmids. Each plasmid encodes a separate fluorescent protein. One is green, and the other is red. The ratio of these two plasmids was constant in bacteria, and hence, their final colour is not predetermined, though it can be affected by different chemicals and antibiotics. Also, the ratio remains constant when no modification is done. Thus, the composition of DNA remains unchanged and stores the

Hubble Asteroid Hunter, A Citizen Science Project Finds 1,701 Asteroid Trails In Archival Images

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In its 32 years of observations , the NASA/ ESA Hubble Space Telescope has built up an archive containing hundreds of thousands of targeted observations of galaxies, the cluster of galaxies, gravitational lenses and nebulae. At times, closer objects such as asteroids pass the telescope's field of view while other targets are being observed, leaving the images' trails. Image Credits: Pixabay On International Asteroid Day in 2019, astronomers launched the Hubble Asteroid Hunter , a citizen science project on the Zooniverse platform (the world’s largest citizen science platform), aiming to visually identify asteroids in archival images from the European Space Agency Hubble Space Telescope (eHST) archive and examine their properties. The initiative was developed by the European Science and Technology Centre (ESTEC) and the European Space Astronomy Centre's Science Data Centre (ESDC), collaborating with Google and Zooniverse. Firstly, the astronomers detected more than 37,000

Self Driving Microscopes to Make Discoveries on Their Own in the Future

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Image: A smart approach to microscopy and imaging developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could drive discoveries in materials for future technologies. Credits: Adam Malin/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy Microscopes are being taught to drive discoveries by researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, using an intuitive algorithm developed at the lab's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences that could lead to breakthroughs in new materials for energy technologies, sensing, and computing.  The method, described in Nature Machine Intelligence , combines physics and machine learning to automate microscopy experiments aimed at determining the functional features of materials at the nanoscale. “There are so many potential materials, some of which we cannot study at all with conventional tools, that need more efficient and systematic approaches to design and synthesize,” said Maxim Ziatdinov of ORNL’s Computational Sciences and Engineering Division and th

AI-Powered Body Scanners to Detect Cancerous Moles on Skin

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  As one enjoys the summer sun,  one might notice new moles on the body due to sun exposure. Medically, these moles, patches, or blemishes are classified as lesions. Over the past few years though these lesions have been increasingly presenting themselves as deadly malignant melanoma. To identify which mole might be cancerous, one needs to undergo a mole scanning procedure. This involves a dermatologist placing a dermoscope on top of a mole to enlarge it and record a picture. The doctor then does the procedure all over the patient's body. These time-consuming scans need the availability of a specialist and are seldom conducted, resulting in neglect and excessive healthcare expenses.  As Europe's sixth most frequent cancer, about 144,000 new cases are detected each year across the continent. The survival rate is 95% if the melanoma is detected while it is less than 1mm deep on the skin surface. Melanoma becomes metastatic if found later, and just 23% of individuals survive for

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