Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Alton Parrish
6,436 followers
6,436 followers
About
Alton's interests
View all
Alton's posts

Post has attachment
A University of Michigan biologist combined the techniques of “resurrection ecology” with the study of dated lake sediments to examine evolutionary responses to heavy-metal contamination over the past 75 years.

To accomplish this, Mary Rogalski hatched long-dormant eggs of Daphnia, tiny freshwater crustaceans also known as water fleas, that accumulated in the lake sediments over time.

After rearing the critters in the lab, she exposed them to various levels of two heavy metals to see how their sensitivity to the environmental contaminants changed over time. Surprisingly, she found that sensitivity to copper and cadmium increased as the levels of those toxic metals rose in the lakes she studied.

“These findings are unexpected because evolutionary theory predicts that a population should adapt quickly to a stressor like this and become less sensitive to it, not more sensitive to it. It is difficult to explain the results of this study,” said Rogalski, a postdoctoral researcher in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Microscope image of a 4-day-old Daphnia ambigua crustacean, like those used in a new study of evolutionary responses to heavy-metal contamination in lakes.

Post has attachment
Obesity and a diet high in fat could lead to a harmful activation of the immune system, increasing a person’s risk of heart disease, according to a study led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Previous research has shown that obesity increases blood pressure and cholesterol – both risk factors for heart disease. Now researchers funded by the British Heart Foundation believe obesity could also trigger an immune response, increasing a person’s risk of a heart attack. The findings could lead to new treatments that target this inflammation to reduce a person’s risk of heart disease.

The study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, involved taking blood samples from 1,172 lean, overweight or obese people. They found that a certain type of white blood cell, or T-cell, was present in higher levels in obese people.

Post has attachment
Just as cars in Germany need to be inspected every two years to ensure they are safe, other safety-critical objects – turbines, generators or high-pressure containers, for example – have to be examined regularly as well. This is especially important when the materials and products used are pushed to their outermost performance limits in order to increase economic efficiency. To carry out these assessments, inspectors receive a printout map of the factory grounds to help them find their way.

Once they locate the structure to be inspected – say, a high-pressure container – they inspect it with help from a sensor. The difficulty is that they have to inspect the entire surface. But which parts have they already evaluated with the sensor, and what still needs to be done? Inspectors also have to undergo a lengthy training process and need a great deal of experience in order to reliably gauge the condition of the various objects to be examined. It is hard to find experienced engineers for this.

AR-system for intelligent inspection and quality control of safety-critical objects.

Post has attachment
Astronomers are borrowing principles applied in biology and archaeology to build a family tree of the stars in the galaxy. By studying chemical signatures found in the stars, they are piecing together these evolutionary trees looking at how the stars formed and how they are connected to each other. The signatures act as a proxy for DNA sequences. It’s akin to chemical tagging of stars and forms the basis of a discipline astronomers refer to as Galactic archaeology.

It was Charles Darwin, who, in 1859 published his revolutionary theory that all life forms are descended from one common ancestor. This theory has informed evolutionary biology ever since but it was a chance encounter between an astronomer and an biologist over dinner at King’s College in Cambridge that got the astronomer thinking about how it could be applied to stars in the Milky Way.

Image showing family trees of stars in our solar system, including the Sun

Post has attachment
Tullimonstrum gregarium, known as the Tully Monster, is an extinct, soft-bodied vertebrate that lived in shallow tropical coastal waters of muddy estuaries during the Pennsylvanian geological period, about 300 million years ago. Examples of Tullimonstrum have been found only in the Mazon Creek fossil beds of Illinois, United States. Until 2016, its classification was uncertain, and interpretations of the fossil likened it to a mollusc, an arthropod, a conodont, or to one of the many phyla of worms.

Last year, headlines in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Scientific American and other outlets declared that a decades-old paleontological mystery had been solved. The “Tully monster,” an ancient animal that had long defied classification, was in fact a vertebrate, two groups of scientists claimed. Specifically, it seemed to be a type of fish called a lamprey.

The problem with this resolution? According to a group of paleobiologists led by the University of Pennsylvania’s Lauren Sallan, it’s plain wrong.

Post has attachment
In an ideal world, we would all be able to freely move wherever we wanted. The basic right of people to escape from war, persecution and poverty would be accepted as a given, and no one would have their life determined by their place of birth.

But we don’t live in this world, and national borders continue to block the freedom of people to move. Around the world, protectionism is on the rise, as people are told to blame outsiders for threatening their way of life and, more importantly, stealing their jobs.

There is, however, an overwhelming case for open borders that can be made even in the traditionally self-interested language of economics. In fact, our best estimates are that opening the world’s borders could increase global GDP by US$100 trillion.

Post has attachment
University of British Columbia microbiologists have found a yeast in the gut of new babies in Ecuador that appears to be a strong predictor that they will develop asthma in childhood. The new research furthers our understanding of the role microscopic organisms play in our overall health.

“Children with this type of yeast called Pichia were much more at risk of asthma,” said Brett Finlay, a microbiologist at UBC. “This is the first time anyone has shown any kind of association between yeast and asthma.”

In previous research, Finlay and his colleagues identified four gut bacteria in Canadian children that, if present in the first 100 days of life, seem to prevent asthma. In a followup to this study, Finlay and his colleagues repeated the experiment using fecal samples and health information from 100 children in a rural village in Ecuador.

Post has attachment
Cellphones and other devices could soon be controlled with touchless gestures and charge themselves using ambient light, thanks to new LED arrays that can both emit and detect light.

Made of tiny nanorods arrayed in a thin film, the LEDs could enable new interactive functions and multitasking devices. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Dow Electronic Materials in Marlborough, Massachusetts, report the advance in the Feb. 10 issue of the journal Science.

“These LEDs are the beginning of enabling displays to do something completely different, moving well beyond just displaying information to be much more interactive devices,” said Moonsub Shim, a professor of materials science and engineering at the U. of I. and the leader of the study. “That can become the basis for new and interesting designs for a lot of electronics.”

A laser stylus writes on a small array of multifunction pixels made by dual-function LEDs than can both emit and respond to light.

Post has attachment
When is an internal combustion engine not an internal combustion engine? When it’s been transformed into a modular reforming reactor that could make hydrogen available to power fuel cells wherever there’s a natural gas supply available.

By adding a catalyst, a hydrogen separating membrane and carbon dioxide sorbent to the century-old four-stroke engine cycle, researchers have demonstrated a laboratory-scale hydrogen reforming system that produces the green fuel at relatively low temperature in a process that can be scaled up or down to meet specific needs.

The process could provide hydrogen at the point of use for residential fuel cells or neighborhood power plants, electricity and power production in natural-gas powered vehicles, fueling of municipal buses or other hydrogen-based vehicles, and supplementing intermittent renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics.

Georgia Tech researchers have demonstrated a CHAMP reactor, which uses the four-stroke engine cycle to create hydrogen while simultaneously capturing carbon dioxide emission. 

Post has attachment
Creating tiny muscle-powered robots that can walk or swim by themselves — or better yet, when prompted — is more complicated than it looks.

Rashid Bashir, the head of the bioengineering department at the University of Illinois, and Taher Saif, a professor of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois, will speak in Boston on the design and development of walking and swimming bio-bots at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Tiny walking “bio-bots” are powered by muscle cells and controlled by an electric field.
Wait while more posts are being loaded