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Archive for the ‘biological’ category

Aug 15, 2018

This alga may be seeding the world’s skies with clouds

Posted by in category: biological

After some of these microbes die, their calcium shells make their way into sea air.

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Aug 15, 2018

New water-splitting technology brings clean hydrogen fuel one step closer

Posted by in categories: energy, evolution

In the quest for clean alternative energy sources, hydrogen is a favorite. It releases a lot of energy when burned—with a bonus: The major byproduct of burning hydrogen is pure water.

The big obstacle has been getting pure in sufficient quantity to burn. So scientists are studying , or HERs, a type of water-splitting technology in which electrodes, covered with catalytic materials, are inserted into water and charged with electricity. The interaction of the electricity, the catalysts and the water produce hydrogen gas—a clean fuel—and clean, breathable oxygen.

Alas, there is a problem: At present, electrodes must be coated with precious, expensive metals, most notably platinum.

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Aug 13, 2018

Biomimetic micro/nanoscale fiber reinforced composites

Posted by in categories: biological, engineering, evolution, nanotechnology

Over hundreds of millions of years of evolution, nature has produced a myriad of biological materials that serve either as skeletons or as defensive or offensive weapons. Although these natural structural materials are derived from relatively sterile natural components, such as fragile minerals and ductile biopolymers, they often exhibit extraordinary mechanical properties due to their highly ordered hierarchical structures and sophisticated interfacial design. Therefore, they are always a research subject for scientists aiming to create advanced artificial structural materials.

Through microstructural observation, researchers have determined that many biological materials, including fish scales, crab claws and bone, all have a characteristic “twisted plywood” structure that consists of a highly ordered arrangement of micro/nanoscale fiber lamellas. They are structurally sophisticated natural fiber-reinforced composites and often exhibit excellent damage tolerance that is desirable for engineering structural materials, but difficult to obtain. Therefore, researchers are seeking to mimic this kind of natural hierarchical structure and interfacial design by using artificial synthetic and abundant one-dimensional micro/nanoscale fibers as building blocks. In this way, they hope to produce high-performance artificial structural materials superior to existing materials.

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Aug 13, 2018

The LEAF Advisory Board Expands

Posted by in categories: biological, education, life extension

As our organization grows and we are doing more and more things, there is an ever greater need for specialist knowledge and guidance to help inform our decisions as a company. We rely on the advice and expertize of both our scientific and business advisors and we have added to them this week with two new experts joining us.

We are delighted to announce that Steven A. Garan has joined our scientific advisory board. Steven is the Director of Bioinformatics at the Center for Research & Education on Aging (CREA) and serves on its advisory board, and he is a researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. While at the University of California, Berkeley, he played a major role in the invention and the development of the Automated Imaging Microscope System (AIMS), and he collaborated for many years with a group from Paola S. Timiras’ lab, researching the role that caloric restriction plays in maintaining estrogen receptor-alpha and IGH-1 receptor immunoreactivity in various nuclei of the mouse hypothalamus.

Steven was also the director of the Aging Research Center and is a leading scientist in the field of aging research. His numerous publications include articles on systems biology, the effects of caloric restriction on the mouse hypothalamus, and the AIMS. He is best known for coining the word “Phenomics”, which was defined in “Phenomics: a new direction for the study of neuroendocrine aging”, an abstract published in the journal Experimental Gerontology.

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Aug 12, 2018

Giant neurons from the claustrum found wrapped around mouse brains could explain the biological origin of consciousness

Posted by in categories: biological, neuroscience

Finding the physical pathways that create consciousness in the brain has eluded scientists thus far.

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Aug 10, 2018

Scientists take a closer look at Earth’s first animals

Posted by in category: evolution

When did animals originate? In research published in the journal Palaeontology, we show that this question is answered by Cambrian period fossils of a frond-like sea creature called Stromatoveris psygmoglena.

The Ediacaran Period lasted from 635 to 542m years ago. This era is key to understanding animal origins because it occurred just before the “Cambrian explosion” of 541m years ago, when many of the animal groups living today first appeared in the fossil record.

Yet when large fossils from the Ediacaran Period were first identified during the 20th century they included unique frond-like forms, which were not quite like any living animal. This prompted one of the greatest debates still raging in evolution. What exactly were these enigmatic fossils, often called the Ediacaran biota?

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Aug 10, 2018

Risks for Life on Habitable Planets from Superflares of Their Host Stars

Posted by in categories: alien life, economics, evolution, existential risks

We explore some of the ramifications arising from superflares on the evolutionary history of Earth, other planets in the solar system, and exoplanets. We propose that the most powerful superflares can serve as plausible drivers of extinction events, and that their periodicity corresponds to certain patterns in the terrestrial fossil diversity record. On the other hand, weaker superflares may play a positive role in enabling the origin of life through the formation of key organic compounds. Superflares could also prove to be quite detrimental to the evolution of complex life on present-day Mars and exoplanets in the habitable zone of M- and K-dwarfs. We conclude that the risk posed by superflares has not been sufficiently appreciated, and that humanity might potentially witness a superflare event in the next $\sim {10}^{3}$ years, leading to devastating economic and technological losses. In light of the many uncertainties and assumptions associated with our analysis, we recommend that these results should be viewed with due caution.

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Aug 9, 2018

Recording every cell’s history in real-time with evolving genetic barcodes

Posted by in categories: biological, genetics

All humans begin life as a single cell that divides repeatedly to form two, then four, then eight cells, all the way up to the ~26 billion cells that make up a newborn. Tracing how and when those 26 billion cells arise from one zygote is the grand challenge of developmental biology, a field that has so far only been able to capture and analyze snapshots of the development process.

Now, a new method developed by scientists at the Wyss Institute and Harvard Medical School (HMS) finally brings that daunting task into the realm of possibility using evolving genetic barcodes that actively record the process of cell division in developing mice, enabling the lineage of every cell in a mouse’s body to be traced back to its single-celled origin.

The research is published today in Science as a First Release article.

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Aug 4, 2018

Scale-invariant magnetoresistance in a cuprate superconductor

Posted by in categories: evolution, law, quantum physics

Cuprate superconductors have many unusual properties even in the “normal” (nonsuperconducting) regions of their phase diagram. In the so-called “strange metal” phase, these materials have resistivity that scales linearly with temperature, in contrast to the usual quadratic dependence of ordinary metals. Giraldo-Gallo et al. now find that at very high magnetic fields—up to 80 tesla—the resistivity of the thin films of a lanthanum-based cuprate scales linearly with magnetic field as well, again in contrast to the expected quadratic law. This dual linear dependence presents a challenge for theories of the normal state of the cuprates.

Science, this issue p. 479

The anomalous metallic state in the high-temperature superconducting cuprates is masked by superconductivity near a quantum critical point. Applying high magnetic fields to suppress superconductivity has enabled detailed studies of the normal state, yet the direct effect of strong magnetic fields on the metallic state is poorly understood. We report the high-field magnetoresistance of thin-film La2–xSrxCuO4 cuprate in the vicinity of the critical doping, 0.161 ≤ p ≤ 0.190. We find that the metallic state exposed by suppressing superconductivity is characterized by magnetoresistance that is linear in magnetic fields up to 80 tesla. The magnitude of the linear-in-field resistivity mirrors the magnitude and doping evolution of the well-known linear-in-temperature resistivity that has been associated with quantum criticality in high-temperature superconductors.

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Aug 2, 2018

Time Is Precious, So Let’s Enjoy More of It

Posted by in categories: biological, life extension

Life extension would give us more time to enjoy; why not?


At times, meeting people feels like going to the theater. Conversations tend to revolve around the same topics and can sound so cliché that they seem scripted. Of course, it depends on the people—close friends tend to be far more genuine than that—but if you pay attention during a conversation, a certain topic will pop up several times: aging.

Depending on the age of the people involved, the way they discuss aging will be different. Teenagers probably won’t even touch the subject; it generally starts creeping up in conversations once working life has begun or is about to begin. At this stage, chronological and biological aging are mostly conflated; responsibilities, more demanding schedules, and abandoning student life are all seen as hallmarks of growing older, when, in fact, they are only signs of growing up and are not absolute.

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