Octopus And Squid Evolution Is Officially Weirder Than We Could Have Ever Imagined
By Signe Dean – They edit their own genes!
Just when we thought octopuses couldn’t be any weirder, it turns out that they and their cephalopod brethren evolve differently from nearly every other organism on the planet.
In a surprising twist, scientists have discovered that octopuses, along with some squid and cuttlefish species, routinely edit their RNA (ribonucleic acid) sequences to adapt to their environment.
This is weird because that’s really not how adaptations usually happen in multicellular animals. When an organism changes in some fundamental way, it typically starts with a genetic mutation – a change to the DNA.
Those genetic changes are then translated into action by DNA’s molecular sidekick, RNA. You can think of DNA instructions as a recipe, while RNA is the chef that orchestrates the cooking in the kitchen of each cell, producing necessary proteins that keep the whole organism going.
But RNA doesn’t just blindly execute instructions – occasionally it improvises with some of the ingredients, changing which proteins are produced in the cell in a rare process called RNA editing.
When such an edit happens, it can change how the proteins work, allowing the organism to fine-tune its genetic information without actually undergoing any genetic mutations. But most organisms don’t really bother with this method, as it’s messy and causes problems more often that solving them.
“The consensus among folks who study such things is Mother Nature gave RNA editing a try, found it wanting, and largely abandoned it,” Anna Vlasits reports for Wired.
But now it looks like cephalopods didn’t get the memo. more> https://goo.gl/A1TS6O
New Projects Create a Foundation for Next-Gen Flexible Electronics
By Josh Brown – Four projects set to move forward at the Georgia Institute of Technology aim to lay the groundwork for manufacturing next-generation flexible electronics, which have the potential to make an impact on industries ranging from health care to defense.
Researchers at Georgia Tech are partnering with Boeing, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, General Electric, and DuPont as well other research institutions such as Binghamton University and Stanford University on the projects.
Flexible electronics are circuits and systems that can be bent, folded, stretched or conformed without losing their functionality. The systems are often created using machines that can print components such as logic, memory, sensors, batteries, antennas, and various passives using conductive ink on flexible surfaces. Combined with low-cost manufacturing processes, flexible hybrid electronics unlock new product possibilities for a wide range of electronics used in the health care, consumer products, automotive, aerospace, energy and defense sectors.
“Flexible electronics will make possible new products that will help us address problems associated with food supply, clean water, clean energy, health, infrastructure, and safety and security,” said Suresh Sitaraman, a professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, who is leading Georgia Tech’s flexible electronics activities. more> https://goo.gl/qjx3UT
- CauteryGuard Wins the InVenture Prize, Laura Diamond
- Empathy from the Sick May be Critical to Halting Disease Outbreaks, John Toon
- China’s Severe Winter Haze Tied to Climate Change, John Toon
- From the Butterfly’s Wings to the Tornado: Predicting Turbulence, Ben Brumfield
- Radiation from Nearby Galaxies Helped Fuel First Monster Black Holes, Says Study, Jason Maderer
- Stem Cell Treatment May Restore Vision to Patients with Damaged Corneas, Charlene Betourney
- New Nanofiber Marks Important Step In Next Generation Battery and Water Electrolysis Development, Josh Brown
- Understanding What’s Happening Inside Liquid Droplets, John Toon
- Brake Dust May Cause More Problems Than Blackened Wheel Covers, Josh Brown
- Study Reveals Complication Predictors in Children with Crohn’s Disease, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
- Chiral Metamaterial Produces Record Optical Shift Under Incremental Power Modulation, John Toon
- Once Overlooked, Uninitialized-Use ‘Bugs’ May Provide Portal for Hacker Attacks, Ben Snedeker
- Triboelectric Nanogenerators Boost Mass Spectrometry Performance, John Toon
- How Protein Misfolding May Kickstart Chemical Evolution, Carol Clark
- Howard Chosen for Atlanta Magazine Honor, Jackie Nemeth
- Letting the Structure Do the Work, Massimo Ruzzene
- Study sheds light on key role for ‘rare’ aquatic microbes in dealing with pollution, balancing ecosystems, Kostas T. Konstantinidis
- Danger in the air? Brown wins NSF CAREER grant to find out, Joe Brown
Posted in Broadband, Business, Communication industry, Economic development, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, Healthcare, Nature, Product, Science, Technology, Transportation
Tagged Broadband, Business improvement, Climate change, Ecology, Georgia Tech, Health, Internet, Manufacturing, Technology
Launch times draw near for Aalto satellites
By Jaan Praks – The Aalto-2 satellite, designed and built by students, is ready and waiting to be launched inside the Cygnus space shuttle at the Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex in the US.
On 22 March, the shuttle will be launched with an Atlas V booster rocket up to the orbiting international space station, where the astronauts will release it later to orbit independently.
Aalto-2 will take part in the international QB50 Mission, the aim of which is to produce the first ever comprehensive model of the features of the thermosphere, the layer between the Earth’s atmosphere and space. Dozens of satellites constructed in different countries will also be part of the mission.
Construction of the Aalto-2 satellite began in 2012 as a doctoral project when the first students graduated as Masters of Science in Technology after working on the Aalto-1 project.
Since the start of the Aalto-1 project in 2010 and the Aalto-2 project two years later, around a hundred new professionals have been trained in the space sector. The impact is already visible in the growth of space sector start-up companies. more> https://goo.gl/yKLrez
Posted in Business, Construction, EARTH WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Education, Healthcare, Nature, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Aalto University, Business improvement, Construction, Earth, Ecology, Electronics, Manufacturing, Space, Technology
By Leonid Bershidsky – The hyped-up electric vehicle revolution, driven by a fear of being left behind and overzealous regulation, may be forcing car companies to make expensive mistakes. The modern electric vehicle is conceptually inconsistent with how people want to use cars, and in many countries the environmental effect of switching to EVs is negligible.
To spend heavily on electrification, companies have to believe forecasts from experts who don’t have skin in the game. McKinsey, for example, recently put out a report arguing that consumer interest in electric cars is growing. All automakers need to do is keep up incremental improvements and advertising more to increase awareness.
That could turn out to be wishful thinking, because the modern EV caters to a specific-use scenario that increasingly doesn’t work for today’s consumers. more> https://goo.gl/kg48lX
Posted in Broadband, Economic development, Economy, Energy & emissions, Product, Regulations, Science, Technology, Transportation
Tagged Climate change, Ecology, Electric car, Government, Technology
The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace, Author: Margaret Wertheim.
Physics on the Fringe, Author: Margaret Wertheim.
African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design, Author: Ron Eglash.
By Margaret Wertheim – The world is full of mundane, meek, unconscious things materially embodying fiendishly complex pieces of mathematics. How can we make sense of this? I’d like to propose that sea slugs and electrons, and many other modest natural systems, are engaged in what we might call the performance of mathematics.
Rather than thinking about maths, they are doing it.
In the fibers of their beings and the ongoing continuity of their growth and existence they enact mathematical relationships and become mathematicians-by-practice. By looking at nature this way, we are led into a consideration of mathematics itself not through the lens of its representational power but instead as a kind of transaction.
Rather than being a remote abstraction, mathematics can be conceived of as something more like music or dancing; an activity that takes place not so much in the writing down as in the playing out.
Since at least the time of Pythagoras and Plato, there’s been a great deal of discussion in Western philosophy about how we can understand the fact that many physical systems have mathematical representations: the segmented arrangements in sunflowers, pine cones and pineapples (Fibonacci numbers); the curve of nautilus shells, elephant tusks and rams horns (logarithmic spiral); music (harmonic ratios and Fourier transforms); atoms, stars and galaxies, which all now have powerful mathematical descriptors; even the cosmos as a whole, now represented by the equations of general relativity.
The physicist Eugene Wigner has termed this startling fact ‘the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics’.
Why does the real world actualize maths at all? And so much of it?
Even arcane parts of mathematics, such as abstract algebras and obscure bits of topology often turn out to be manifest somewhere in nature. more> https://goo.gl/ifKV2Z
Posted in Book review, EARTH WATCH, Education, History, Nature, Science
Tagged Earth, Ecology, Mathematics, Nature, Physics, Technology
By David Farrier – The Anthropocene, or era of the human, denotes how industrial civilisation has changed the Earth in ways that are comparable with deep-time processes.
The planet’s carbon and nitrogen cycles, ocean chemistry and biodiversity – each one the product of millions of years of slow evolution – have been radically and permanently disrupted by human activity.
The development of agriculture 10,000 years ago, and the Industrial Revolution in the middle of the 19th century, have both been proposed as start dates for the Anthropocene.
But a consensus has gathered around the Great Acceleration – the sudden and dramatic jump in consumption that began around 1950, followed by a huge rise in global population, an explosion in the use of plastics, and the collapse of agricultural diversity.
There is also something disturbingly banal about the Anthropocene.
Arguably, it’s in the encounter with everyday objects, surfaces and textures that we get the best sense of its scope and scale. Some 60 billion chickens are killed for human consumption each year; in the future, fossilised chicken bones will be present on every continent as a testimony to the intrusion of human desires in the geological record.
Plastics, which began being mass-produced in the middle of the 20th century, give us back the world as the West has been taught to see it – pliable, immediately available, and smoothed to our advantage. Yet almost every piece of plastic ever made remains in existence in some form, and their chemical traces are increasingly present in our bodies.
Humans created 5 billion gigabytes of digital information in 2003; in 2013 it took only 10 minutes to produce the same amount of data. more> https://goo.gl/q9dRCD
Posted in EARTH WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Energy & emissions, History, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Anthropocene, Climate change, Earth, Ecology, Industrial economy, Super regions