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Tracking specific hair cells reveals how stress causes gray hair

Tracking specific hair cells reveals how stress causes gray hair

It's no surprise that chameleons can change colors to pink, blue, orange, red, and black. These color changes are partly mediated by stress. For example, of tawny dragon lizards. That same stress and color change relationship also applies to human hair. Hair graying has long been associated with increased stress and aging. But little actual evidence as proven science behind this observation. A team of scientists from Harvard University have now this mystery. Activation of MeSCs produces fully formed melanocytes, which migrate to the base of the hair follice and make the melanin that colors...

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Sara Wong
19h ago
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The Milky Way's supermassive black hole might have enabled the evolution of life on Earth

The Milky Way's supermassive black hole might have enabled the evolution of life on Earth

No matter which theory , water is a key component. A new takes one step beyond to consider how water became so abundant in our galaxy, the Milky Way. The researchers present evidence that the Milky Way’s central , Sagittarius A*, might have made the Milky Way a much nicer place to live.When supermassive black holes consume galactic gas and dust, they emit huge amounts of radiation, temporarily becoming active galactic nuclei (). Similar activity in conducive to life, which occurs as . This release of free electrons can accelerate the creation of organic molecules.The researchers constructed...

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Keir Birchall
3d ago
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Every flood drives destructive Asian carp further into North American waters

Every flood drives destructive Asian carp further into North American waters

As spring arrives, so do the floods. The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting intense flooding in the Midwest. The good news is that the floods are predicted to be less severe than those in 2019 that cost the Midwest but they’re still coming — and they may bring in some unwanted visitors.Scientists have long feared the arrival of silver and bighead carp — invasive fish native to Asia — to the Great Lakes. Invasive carp are already found in  in the Mississippi River Basin and its tributaries. Another extreme flooding event could allow carp to move further...

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Olivia Box
3d ago
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Freshwater species boom in the time of the insect apocalypse

Freshwater species boom in the time of the insect apocalypse

The insect apocalypse is . It is estimated that over 50 percent of insect species since 1970, and currently 41 percent of insect are . But new research from a team in Germany shows it’s not all black and white — rather, it’s terrestrial and freshwater. A study published in found that while terrestrial insect abundance has declined by 9 percent, freshwater species have increased by 11 percent. This complicates the idea of the insect apocalypse — while many species are at risk of disappearing altogether, land use changes and conservation play a large role in the narrative of disappearing...

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Olivia Box
5d ago
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Scientists recreated ancient Earth's ocean hell to figure out how life began

Scientists recreated ancient Earth's ocean hell to figure out how life began

One theory for how life emerged suggests that it originated in the sea, at . It's impossible to observe life-in-the-making in hydrothermal vents nowadays, though, as the seabed in the billions of years since. Instead, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have recreated early Earth’s deep-sea conditions in their lab to experimentally verify this theory. , led by Lauren White, have built a reactor that mimics early Earth’s geological processes at the bottom of the ocean. By mixing CO2 and hydrogen-rich fluids — proxies for and alkaline hydrothermal spew — across a reconstruction of...

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Shi En Kim
6d ago
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Surgeons can feel a robot’s hands performing surgeries for them

Surgeons can feel a robot’s hands performing surgeries for them

Although a “robot hand” might sound like something out of a science fiction movie, highly functional robotic hands are being developed for use in surgeries. Robotic hands are more compact than human hands, which reduces the size of the incisions needed to accommodate them. Robotics may also allow surgeries to be performed remotely, enabling surgeons to protect themselves in the case of, say, a global pandemic.The major hurdle facing surgeon-guided robotic hands is the inability to accurately gauge the position of the hand in space. That’s because with the loss of a human hand comes the loss...

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Sarah Anderson
6d ago
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Genome analysis of Lactobacillus bacteria finds that they make up 25 distinct groups

Genome analysis of Lactobacillus bacteria finds that they make up 25 distinct groups

One of the most important groups of probiotic bacteria – both in terms of their impact on human health and for their economic significance – are the Lactobacilli. These are the ones you especially find in yogurts and yogurt drinks that heavily advertise their probiotic virtues.The Lactobacillus genus is one of oldest known groups of bacteria, and the first species was named in the . More recently, the genus one of the on the planet, because of its impact on and societal development through its role in innovations like .As of March 2020, over 250 species belonged to the genus Lactobacillus –...

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Lauren Sara McKee
7d ago
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Female toads breed with a different species when it helps their tadpoles survive

Female toads breed with a different species when it helps their tadpoles survive

There are many barriers for reproduction between different species. So many, in fact, that hybridization — breeding between species — is rare and considered "an accident" . Many hybrids are sterile and cannot pass on their genes; the themselves.Why, then, would the Mexican spadefoot toad and the plains spadefoot toad be seen so often? Is it possible that these toads actively hybridize based on the current environment?Although , hybridizing can be adaptive for the plains spadefoot. Spadefoot tadpoles develop in desert ponds that often dry up before the tadpoles are adults, resulting in their...

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Caitlyn Finton
May 18
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Climate change will make allergy sufferers suffer a little bit longer each year

Climate change will make allergy sufferers suffer a little bit longer each year

Seasonal allergies are about to get a whole lot worse. With people all over the world concerned about sickness, a sneeze or sore throat has become much more concerning these days. Some early symptoms of COVID-19 overlap with symptoms of hay fever, such as coughing and fatigue. As of 2018, over 24 million adults and children in the United States had been diagnosed with or reported hay fever in the past year. Hay fever is a common name for seasonal allergies – the reaction of the immune system in response to pollen produced by flowering plants – which are estimated to cost the United...

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Lila Westreich
May 18
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Meet Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, who figured out what the universe is made of

Meet Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, who figured out what the universe is made of

"I spring quite literally from a pagan background."There is only one person capable of introducing themselves that way in their own : Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, one of the most original scientists to ever live. She was the first to determine that the stars were made of hydrogen and helium. In doing so, as a young graduate student, she bucked contemporary scientific theory. Prevented by sexism from being awarded her degree, and then a professorship, she eventually became the woman to chair a department at Harvard University.Cecilia Payne knew she wanted to be a scientist early on. As an eight...

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Arianna Soldati
May 18
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Your language brain matters more for learning programming than your math brain

Your language brain matters more for learning programming than your math brain

When you think of learning another language, you probably think of French, Spanish, or Chinese. But what about Python or Java? The two processes might be more similar than you'd think. A recent  published from researchers at the University of Washington showed that language ability and problem solving skills best predict how quickly people learn Python, a popular programming language. Their research, published in Scientific Reports, used behavioral tests and measures of brain activity to see how they correlated with how fast and well participants learned programming. For the study, 42...

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Amy Nippert
May 13
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Got a sweet tooth? Your gut bacteria are asking for some sugar

Got a sweet tooth? Your gut bacteria are asking for some sugar

From kids with sugar rushes to grandparents who swear they just need one more bite of chocolate, humans absolutely love sugar. In an , it makes sense. Sugar used to be relatively hard to come by, and it is packed with valuable calories. Recently, however, our relationship with sugar has been complicated, to say the least. In the US, we consume an average of everyday, far exceeding any nutritional guidelines. While we continue to study why our brains love sugar so much, a group of scientists showed that it might not even be, technically, our fault. The team from Columbia University found...

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Thiago Arzua
May 11
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Extreme microbes survive the desert by dissolving rocks with acid

Extreme microbes survive the desert by dissolving rocks with acid

Bombarded by the dry heat deep in the Atacama Desert, Jocelyne DiRuggiero’s team anchored a blue tarp to the roof of their truck for some much-needed shade. Those tarps proved futile though, getting ripped out by the afternoon's winds. It’s hard to imagine anything thriving in such a bone-dry stretch of this Chilean desert. And yet, , a biologist at Johns Hopkins University, came here looking for life — in the rocks. It’s no news that even the harshest places on Earth can support life. Even Atacama, a classic stand-in for Mars’ surface in , supports life. finding life there in 2006. Because...

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Max Levy
May 9
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Parasitic wasps murder insects with a smallpox-like virus

Parasitic wasps murder insects with a smallpox-like virus

In the virus world, smallpox and are horrifying. Despite the fact that smallpox was in the 1970s, the entire family of poxviruses into the heart of scientists.But if you're a , poxviruses are essential. Parasitoid wasps are no stranger to being outcasts. These  wasps make their living by laying their eggs inside other insects so their larvae can slowly eat away the host and release the mature insects fully fed and ready to reproduce. Frightened yet? It gets worse. These wasps carry a type of poxvirus, Diachasmimorpha longicaudata entomopoxvirus (DIEPV) in their venom glands. This virus has...

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Marnie Willman
May 7
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Viruses may solve the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria

Viruses may solve the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria

Antibiotics changed the face of medicine since their introduction in the 1940s. Before antibiotics came into widespread use, if a person accidentally scraped their hand and the wound became infected, there would have been a 1 in 10 chance that they would lose the limb. Antibiotics changed that.However, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics have led to several bacterial pathogens becoming notoriously resistant to them. Therefore, scientists have been looking for alternate ways to treat bacterial infections. One such approach is bacteriophage therapy.100% of the mice infected with A....

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Sridevi Ranganathan
May 4
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We can measure coronavirus's spread by looking at people's poop

We can measure coronavirus's spread by looking at people's poop

Many scientists are following the same rules of social isolation as everyone else. University labs around the world have closed, and we are pivoting to working from home, delivering lectures, supervising students online, and putting our research on ice for now.Other scientists have completely turned their research programs around to start contributing to the fight against COVID-19. This includes heroic efforts to develop new screens for infection, new antibody assays, and rapid new blood tests. A very different kind of project has been started in many cities, including my adopted home of...

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Lauren Sara McKee
May 4
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One person's trash is a scientist's rhizotron

One person's trash is a scientist's rhizotron

Plant roots are complex and delicate structures that provide the aboveground stem and leaves with nutrients and water. Studying them can tell us a lot about a plant's survival strategy and its associations with soil fungi and bacteria. There's a lot going on beneath our feet that we just can't see.And that's part of the problem: roots are very difficult to study because they are hidden below layers of soil. To , plant biologists must either dig up the plant, an approach aptly referred to as "destructive sampling," or install a see-through chamber called a rhizotron. A rhizotron is kind of...

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Cassie Freund
May 2
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Hurricanes are shaping lizard feet all over the world

Hurricanes are shaping lizard feet all over the world

Two and a half years ago, when biologist Colin Donihue meandered through Turks and Caicos lassoing lizards with dental floss, he couldn’t have predicted how his project would eventually evolve.His team traveled to the islands to catch and measure lizards. “Lo and behold, three days after we left, the islands were hit by Hurricane Irma, and then Hurricane Maria a couple weeks later,” says , a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis. His team returned to the island a few weeks later for a rare opportunity.Climate change is constantly testing the animal kingdom. Sea level...

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Max Levy
Apr 30
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Tinkering with brain proteins may add insulation back to damaged nerve cells

Tinkering with brain proteins may add insulation back to damaged nerve cells

Under a microscope, the brain looks like a cutdown forest of many tree stumps with dark tree rings. The "rings" are , an insulation made of fat that wraps around nerves to help send faster electrical signals.Unfortunately, myelin is also the target of many diseases like (MS), which . In this disease, the immune system inexplicably attacks the body’s own myelin and the cells that produce it. As the now bare nerves die, cells can no longer reach the injured area to wrap new myelin around the damaged nerves., but the real question is how to insulate the nerves again? , scientists found that a...

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Kara Leasure Shanley
Apr 30
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Scientists have revised the recipe for the first gene and the origin of life

Scientists have revised the recipe for the first gene and the origin of life

How did life on Earth begin?One theory biochemists like is called the "." It focuses on how the first gene made of RNA – DNA's cousin – originated from individual molecules. If Earth spontaneously generated life, then the first biomolecule must have arisen, well, spontaneously, meaning from chemical activity. This differs from other biological processes, which function with an assist from enzymes. are catalysts that speed up chemical reactions. Without enzymes, we would not be able to produce energy, fight off bacterial invaders, or create new genes.Recently, Nobel laureate made serious...

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Lauren Gandy
Apr 27
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The brain's imprint on the skull shows what separates humans from other primates

The brain's imprint on the skull shows what separates humans from other primates

What makes us uniquely human? In recent decades, evidence for many supposedly uniquely human traits – such as , , and – has been observed in non-human animals. Still, many believe there must be something unique about the human brain.is that the human brain is unique in its "lateralization," the asymmetric specialization of functions on one side of the brain or the other. Previous have suggested that their brains do not exhibit the same degree of lateralization as the human brain.But evidence for this view was limited, primate brains being rather hard to come by. To test the hypothesis,...

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Hayden Kee
Apr 26
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It will take over one billion dollars to protect one small Louisiana town from climate change

It will take over one billion dollars to protect one small Louisiana town from climate change

One rainy August, Jordan Stadler spent all night ferrying friends and strangers around his neighborhood in his granddad's canoe. Rising water in the streets had been stranding people at their cars and doorsteps. And wasn’t even due to a storm or high river levels. Sometimes in New Orleans there’s just so much water it .Stadler, a lifelong resident of southeastern Louisiana in his late 20s, has since had second thoughts about investing in property in New Orleans. He's been flooded out of various homes at least five times since he was a kid. Buying here just doesn't make sense to him...

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Joan Meiners
Apr 26
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Chemists are decoding the fruity scent of lemur stink flirting

Chemists are decoding the fruity scent of lemur stink flirting

From the tip of a poofy tail, to the tip of a dog-like wet nose, ring-tailed lemurs can communicate in silence.The lemurs — an endangered primate native to Madagascar — are known for a particularly acute sense of smell compared to other primates. Scent glands on their genitals, shoulders, and wrists let them communicate specific messages for,, and – or stink-flirting. In a in the journal Current Biology, chemists from the University of Tokyo have pinpointed the fruity, floral chemicals key to lemur love connections. Some may rush to declare this as the first discovery of primate pheromones,...

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Max Levy
Apr 16
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While you sleep, specialized neurons in your brain help you forget

While you sleep, specialized neurons in your brain help you forget

While you sleep, the brain forgets. But, until recently it was not clear how the brain decides to forget.Scientists by measuring the electrical activity of neurons near the outer layer of the brain. By quantifying brainwave changes, scientists have already determined sleep is not just one process. There are two basic of sleep: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM, or NREM. In , your heartbeat slows, your muscles relax, and your brainwaves fall into a constant rhythm producing slow sleep . In REM, voluntary body motion is and the brain's activity suddenly . We don't remember every detail of...

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Kamila Kourbanova
Apr 15
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We could soon be harvesting anti-viral antibodies from tobacco plants

We could soon be harvesting anti-viral antibodies from tobacco plants

With infectious disease outbreaks such as remaining a continual threat, and cancer rates on the rise, we rely on modern medical treatments like antibodies more than ever before. Antibody production is a major source of research animal use. Scientists use what are called "," which are mice that have immune machinery to make human antibodies, to create antibodies to human medical treatments.  like cancer cells, bacteria, viruses, or anything that isn't human, marking them for destruction by the immune system.if anti-flu plantibodies can make people less infectious if they do become infected,...

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Marnie Willman
Apr 15
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