biology

Half a mile beneath Antarctic ice, strange new life that scientists can’t explain

Half a mile beneath Antarctic ice, strange new life that scientists can’t explain

Drilling down half a mile beneath the Antarctic ice and discovering mysterious signs of life sounds like the setup to a horror film. Instead, it's the latest finding from the British Antarctic Survey, which is reporting the first time stationary animals have been identified in the deeply inhospitable frozen environment.

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Gabe Newell thinks brain-computer interfaces could be the future of gaming

Gabe Newell thinks brain-computer interfaces could be the future of gaming

Game developers are always looking for ways to make games more immersive, and one area Valve owner and co-founder Gabe Newell is pushing them to consider is brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). Valve has apparently been researching BCIs for a number of years now, and though we aren't likely to see the company release a commercial BCI of its own at any point in the near future, Newell seems convinced that these wearables could be the future of gaming.

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Researchers turn DNA functions on and off using light

Researchers turn DNA functions on and off using light

DNA is the most fundamental building block of life on earth. All genetic information organisms need to function, grow, and reproduce are stored inside of their DNA. Biochemists from the University of Münster have developed a new strategy to control the biological functions of DNA using light. The breakthrough allows researchers to improve their understanding and control of different processes that occur within a cell.

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MIT material can keep perishable goods cool without requiring power

MIT material can keep perishable goods cool without requiring power

MIT researchers have developed a new material inspired by camel fur made from two layers that can keep perishable goods cool without needing any power. The two-layer passive cooling system is made of hydrogel and aerogel. Researchers say that it can be used to keep foods or pharmaceutical cool for days without needing electricity.

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New DNA analysis says you’ve got more pre-human ancestors

New DNA analysis says you’ve got more pre-human ancestors

This week a research paper published in PLOS Genetics revealed a newly developed algorithm for analyzing genomes. Researchers used their new system on the genomes of two Neanderthals, two humans of African descent, and a Denisovan. Approximately 1% of the genome of the Denisovan came from an "unsequenced, but highly diverged, archaic hominin ancestor."

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T-Cell “training” video could help fight Type 1 diabetes

T-Cell “training” video could help fight Type 1 diabetes

Forget outer space or the deep ocean or even the quantum realm. Our bodies are a microcosm of its own, with many parts and processes we still don't completely understand. One of those is our body's own immune system that protects us from diseases. Its most lethal weapon, the T cells, are also unfortunately also the cause of some life-threatening diseases. Doctors are now seeing, for the first time, the T-cells' "safety test" training recorded on video which can hopefully inform them how to properly train these killers.

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Huge shark war to blame for Megalodon extinction say researchers

Huge shark war to blame for Megalodon extinction say researchers

New research suggests that Otodus megalodon, easily one of the most popular prehistoric creatures, went extinct earlier than scientists originally thought. This new discovery pushes the extinction date of megalodon back by about one million years, which is a pretty significant shift. On top of that, this research potentially sheds new light on why megalodon went extinct in the first place.

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Scientists discover new DNA structure called i-motif

Scientists discover new DNA structure called i-motif

Scientists have discovered a new DNA structure that is inside human cells and have dubbed the structure "i-motif." I-motif resembles a twisted knot of DNA rather than the double helix were all learned about in school. This type of DNA had been suggested by previous lab work, but this is the first time that i-motif has been directly observed in living cells.

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Life on Venus could flourish – tiny but hardy – in the clouds

Life on Venus could flourish – tiny but hardy – in the clouds

Extraterrestrial life could be closer than we think, flourishing in the clouds around Venus, though think along the lines of microbes rather than little green men. The possibility of Venus' clouds being habitable was first raised back in the 60s, with subsequent probes dispatched to the planet confirming that the idea wasn't entirely improbable.

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Spiders eat twice as much as humans annually

Spiders eat twice as much as humans annually

If the title didn’t give it away, this piece is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Sure, we won’t be talking gory details, but spiders have the unfortunate reputation of being one of the most feared or hated critters on the planet. And now scientists have just given haters even more ammo. According to research, which admittedly involves a lot of estimating, spiders eat somewhere between 400 to 800 million tons of prey a year. Which is pretty big considering there are believed to be only 25 million tons’ worth of spiders on the planet.

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This “fish-scale” lizard sheds its scale to escape

This “fish-scale” lizard sheds its scale to escape

Lizards are quite famous for their ability to voluntarily cut off and sacrifice their tail in order to escape with their lives. But for some types of lizards, that isn't the only thing they can shed. A specific genus named Geckolepis, endemic to Madagascar and the Comoro archipelago, also known as "fish-scale geckos", can also quickly remove their scales if needed, making them not only harder to capture but also harder to study. Which makes the classification of a new Geckolepis megalepis an even bigger accomplishment than it sounds.

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Frog saliva can be like water, then honey, then water again

Frog saliva can be like water, then honey, then water again

Frogs, among their other amphibious relatives, are popular, or notorious, for their rapid tongues that can seem to catch and hold on to any unwitting victim. But if you think its secret weapon is its tongue, you’d only be half right. Working secretly and almost invisibly is the frog’s reversible saliva. “Reversible” because it can switch from watery fluid to viscous honey-like liquid and back to watery form in a blink of an eye. And that is actually the secret of what makes frogs’ tongues so sticky.

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