March 1, 2021
Slime with memories, and 3d printed materials to repair damaged neurons. How can a slime form memories? Where does it store them? What is the largest single cell organism and how does it remember things? How can you store memories in an interconnected series of tubes? How can you use 3D printed self assembling materials to help regrow damaged neurons?
- Mirna Kramar, Karen Alim. Encoding memory in tube diameter hierarchy of living flow network. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (10): e2007815118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2007815118
- Karen Alim, Natalie Andrew, Anne Pringle, Michael P. Brenner, Mechanism of signal propagation in P. polycephalum, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 2017, 114 (20) 5136-5141; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1618114114
- Alexandra N. Edelbrock, Tristan D. Clemons, Stacey M. Chin, Joshua J. W. Roan, Eric P. Bruckner, Zaida Álvarez, Jack F. Edelbrock, Kristen S. Wek, Samuel I. Stupp. Superstructured Biomaterials Formed by Exchange Dynamics and Host–Guest Interactions in Supramolecular Polymers. Advanced Science, 2021; 2004042 DOI: 10.1002/advs.202004042
February 22, 2021
Perseverance has landed and begun it's long mission, but how can scientists on Earth help research on Mars? Can we study life on Mars here on Earth? Robotic missions aren't the only way Martian rock has made it's way to Earth. Rare meteorites from Mars can be used to test how life would grow in Martian soil. Just how old is the Jezero crater? Can you date a crater without doing detailed tests? How does measuring lunar craters help us put a date on the age of Martian craters like Jezero?
- T. Milojevic, M. Albu, D. Kölbl, G. Kothleitner, R. Bruner, M. Morgan. Chemolithotrophy on the Noachian Martian breccia NWA 7034 via experimental microbial biotransformation. Communications Earth & Environment, 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s43247-021-00105-x
- Cassata, W. S., Cohen, B. E., Mark, D. F., Trappitsch, R., Crow, C. A., Wimpenny, J., . . . Smith, C. L. (2018). Chronology of martian breccia nwa 7034 and the formation of the martian crustal dichotomy. Science Advances, 4(5). doi:10.1126/sciadv.aap8306
- Simone Marchi. A new martian crater chronology: Implications for Jezero crater. The Astronomical Journal, 2021 [abstract]
February 15, 2021
Can plants produce magnetic fields? By studying Venus Fly Traps, scientists can figure out if plants can make their own magnetic fields. Do pulse of plants produce magnetic fields like those we see in animal muscles? Can you give a plant an MRI? The iconic Venus Fly trap can help us understand how to study the health of plants without harming them. Is there a way to measure the metabolism of a plant directly? By studying the sugar inside plant cells, scientists can understand their growth and response to stress.
- Anne Fabricant, Geoffrey Z. Iwata, Sönke Scherzer, Lykourgos Bougas, Katharina Rolfs, Anna Jodko-Władzińska, Jens Voigt, Rainer Hedrich, Dmitry Budker. Action potentials induce biomagnetic fields in carnivorous Venus flytrap plants. Scientific Reports, 2021; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-81114-w
- Chiara Diacci, Tayebeh Abedi, Jee Woong Lee, Erik O. Gabrielsson, Magnus Berggren, Daniel T. Simon, Totte Niittylä, Eleni Stavrinidou. Diurnal in vivo xylem sap glucose and sucrose monitoring using implantable organic electrochemical transistor sensors. iScience, 2021; 24 (1): 101966 DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2020.101966
February 8, 2021
What is umami and how can it make our food taste better? You've heard of umami in food, but can you also get it from drinks? Can you get an umami boost from combining certain food and drinks? Chemically what happens inside food and drink to give it an umami boost? Can different juicing techniques lead to healthier drinks? Does blending or squeezing lead to different amounts of vitamins in drinks?
- Charlotte Vinther Schmidt, Karsten Olsen, Ole G. Mouritsen. Umami potential of fermented beverages: sake, wine, champagne, and beer. Food Chemistry, 2021; 128971 DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.128971
- Junyi Wang, Guddadarangavvanahally K. Jayaprakasha, Bhimanagouda S. Patil. Untargeted Chemometrics Evaluation of the Effect of Juicing Technique on Phytochemical Profiles and Antioxidant Activities in Common Vegetables. ACS Food Science & Technology, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acsfoodscitech.0c00013
February 1, 2021
Sourdough baking has rising to become a global hobby, but how diverse are they? Each sourdough starter is a tiny ecosystem, and a global study shows how diverse they are. Scientists analysed 500 sourdough from across the world to find out what makes the best loaf. Baking is about carefully cultivating a microbiome. What can be done to make wheat and peanuts less dangerous for people with allergies? Can you make wheat and peanuts that are better for allergies?
- Elizabeth A Landis, Angela M Oliverio, Erin A McKenney, Lauren M Nichols, Nicole Kfoury, Megan Biango-Daniels, Leonora K Shell, Anne A Madden, Lori Shapiro, Shravya Sakunala, Kinsey Drake, Albert Robbat, Matthew Booker, Robert R Dunn, Noah Fierer, Benjamin E Wolfe. The diversity and function of sourdough starter microbiomes. eLife, 2021; 10 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.61644
- American Society of Agronomy. (2021, January 27). Making wheat and peanuts less allergenic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210127085239.htm
January 11, 2021
You've probably heard of CRISPR, but what does it mean for the world of professional sports? How could gene-doping be detected by sports administrators? Could you tell if someone had used CRISPR to 'dope' their performance? WADA considers gene editing a form of doping, but how can you detect it? What happens when you mix sweat, gym equipment and cleaning products? When you exercise you release a 3-5 times the amount of chemicals than a sedentary person. What happens to the mix of sweat, amino acids and cleaning products in the air of a gym?
- Alina Paßreiter, Andreas Thomas, Nicolas Grogna, Philippe Delahaut, Mario Thevis. First Steps toward Uncovering Gene Doping with CRISPR/Cas by Identifying SpCas9 in Plasma via HPLC–HRMS/MS. Analytical Chemistry, 2020; 92 (24): 16322 DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.0c04445
- Zachary Finewax, Demetrios Pagonis, Megan S. Claflin, Anne V. Handschy, Wyatt L. Brown, Olivia Jenks, Benjamin A. Nault, Douglas A. Day, Brian M. Lerner, Jose L. Jimenez, Paul J. Ziemann, Joost A. Gouw. Quantification and source characterization of volatile organic compounds from exercising and application of chlorine‐based cleaning products in a university athletic center. Indoor Air, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/ina.12781
January 4, 2021
Waiting for glue to cure can take a long time, but can magnets speed it up? We use epoxy to glue together so much of the modern world, but it takes a lot of energy to cure it. Is there a way to make epoxy glues more 'energy efficient' with magnets? Magnetically activate glues can literally stick your shoes together. Gears are one of the most fundamental mechanical elements, can we get chemicals to form gears themselves. A 1mm thick sheet with some chemicals and you can get gears to form themselves. Small gear trains and mechanical motion can power soft and flexible machines.
- Richa Chaudhary, Varun Chaudhary, Raju V. Ramanujan, Terry W.J. Steele. Magnetocuring of temperature failsafe epoxy adhesives. Applied Materials Today, 2020; 21: 100824 DOI: 10.1016/j.apmt.2020.100824
- Abhrajit Laskar, Oleg E. Shklyaev, Anna C. Balazs. Self-Morphing, Chemically Driven Gears and Machines. Matter, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.matt.2020.11.014
December 28, 2020
How do our eyes process the continually barrage of photos so efficiently? What happens in our eyes that enables us to respond so quickly to stimulus like light or signs of danger? Why do zebra-fish swim towards the light so quickly? How does your brain process and map a room? Does the way your brain processes a space change when you're searching for something rather than exploring?
- Matthias Stangl, Uros Topalovic, Cory S. Inman, Sonja Hiller, Diane Villaroman, Zahra M. Aghajan, Leonardo Christov-Moore, Nicholas R. Hasulak, Vikram R. Rao, Casey H. Halpern, Dawn Eliashiv, Itzhak Fried, Nanthia Suthana. Boundary-anchored neural mechanisms of location-encoding for self and others. Nature, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-03073-y
- Yvonne Kölsch, Joshua Hahn, Anna Sappington, Manuel Stemmer, António M. Fernandes, Thomas O. Helmbrecht, Shriya Lele, Salwan Butrus, Eva Laurell, Irene Arnold-Ammer, Karthik Shekhar, Joshua R. Sanes, Herwig Baier. Molecular classification of zebrafish retinal ganglion cells links genes to cell types to behavior. Neuron, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.12.003
December 7, 2020
Life underneath the sea floor at the deepest parts of the ocean. How can life survive in deep sea with no light and at incredible temperatures? Have you ever thought about life beneath the beneath the sea? How can life survive in soil hotter than boiling water? If a tree feels out of place, it's microbes on leaves tend to blend in with the crowd. What happens to the microbes on the iconic maple leaves as the trees go further north? Feel like a fish out of water, or a maple amongst conifers? Maybe its time to blend in. How can we use plant based compounds to help keep plants safe from bacterial infection?
- Verena B. Heuer, Fumio Inagaki, Yuki Morono, Yusuke Kubo, Arthur J. Spivack, Bernhard Viehweger, Tina Treude, Felix Beulig, Florence Schubotz, Satoshi Tonai, Stephen A. Bowden, Margaret Cramm, Susann Henkel, Takehiro Hirose, Kira Homola, Tatsuhiko Hoshino, Akira Ijiri, Hiroyuki Imachi, Nana Kamiya, Masanori Kaneko, Lorenzo Lagostina, Hayley Manners, Harry-Luke McClelland, Kyle Metcalfe, Natsumi Okutsu, Donald Pan, Maija J. Raudsepp, Justine Sauvage, Man?Yin Tsang, David T. Wang, Emily Whitaker, Yuzuru Yamamoto, Kiho Yang, Lena Maeda, Rishi R. Adhikari, Clemens Glombitza, Yohei Hamada, Jens Kallmeyer, Jenny Wendt, Lars Wörmer, Yasuhiro Yamada, Masataka Kinoshita, Kai Uwe Hinrichs. Temperature limits to deep subseafloor life in the Nankai Trough subduction zone. Science, 2020 DOI: 10.1126/science.abd7934
- Geneviève Lajoie, Steven W. Kembel. Host neighborhood shapes bacterial community assembly and specialization on tree species across a latitudinal gradient. Ecological Monographs, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/ecm.1443
- Hong-Wu Liu, Qing-Tian Ji, Gang-Gang Ren, Fang Wang, Fen Su, Pei-Yi Wang, Xiang Zhou, Zhi-Bing Wu, Zhong Li, Song Yang. Antibacterial Functions and Proposed Modes of Action of Novel 1,2,3,4-Tetrahydro-β-carboline Derivatives that Possess an Attractive 1,3-Diaminopropan-2-ol Pattern against Rice Bacterial Blight, Kiwifruit Bacterial Canker, and Citrus Bacterial Canker. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2020; 68 (45): 12558 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.0c02528
November 30, 2020
Random numbers are incredibly important for our digital economy, so how do we generate them? What is the best way to make a random number: roll a dice, lava lamp, guess, DNA? What connects lava lamps, e-commerce and synthetic DNA? How can we better generate random numbers using synthesized DNA. How do your mouse movements reveal about your decision making process. Do mouse movements help us identify risk takers or keen deliberators. Whether you know it or not, your mouse moving may be part of your decision making process.
- Linda C. Meiser, Julian Koch, Philipp L. Antkowiak, Wendelin J. Stark, Reinhard Heckel, Robert N. Grass. DNA synthesis for true random number generation. Nature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-19757-y
- Paul E. Stillman, Ian Krajbich, and Melissa J. Ferguson. Using dynamic monitoring of choices to predict and understand risk preferences. PNAS, 2020 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2010056117
November 16, 2020
Studying supernova and air quality with the help of trees. Supernova are some of the most devastating events in the universe, but what is their connection to trees? By studying tree rings we can help piece together the final days of stars. Supernova can cause large spikes in radiation that can be detected in tree rings. Trees do a lot for us but they can also help us track air quality simply and cheaply. Magnets and pine needles can helps us understand air quality. Air quality monitoring can be a matter of running a magnet over some leaves.
- G. Robert Brakenridge. Solar system exposure to supernova γ radiation. International Journal of Astrobiology, 2020; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S1473550420000348
- Grant Rea‐Downing, Brendon J. Quirk, Courtney L. Wagner, Peter C. Lippert. Evergreen needle magnetization as a proxy for particulate matter pollution in urban environments. GeoHealth, 2020; DOI: 10.1029/2020GH000286
November 9, 2020
Ants, acid and yeast that can grow their own acid. Ants use formic acid to keep their colony safe inside and out. By ingesting formic acid, Ants are able to ward off dangerous pathogens. Passing food with your mouth isn't very socially distant, but ants eat acid to make it safe. How can yeast be used to 'grow' materials needed to make perfume and dyes? Succinic acid is a useful chemical precursor, but its possible to grow yeast that are able yo produce on scale as a by product. Finding just the right genes with CRISPR and super computers can turn yeast into a chemical production powerhouse.
- Simon Tragust, Claudia Herrmann, Jane Häfner, Ronja Braasch, Christina Tilgen, Maria Hoock, Margarita Artemis Milidakis, Roy Gross, Heike Feldhaar. Formicine ants swallow their highly acidic poison for gut microbial selection and control. eLife, 2020; 9 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.60287
- Patrick F. Suthers, Hoang V. Dinh, Zia Fatma, Yihui Shen, Siu Hung Joshua Chan, Joshua D. Rabinowitz, Huimin Zhao, Costas D. Maranas. Genome-scale metabolic reconstruction of the non-model yeast Issatchenkia orientalis SD108 and its application to organic acids production. Metabolic Engineering Communications, 2020; 11: e00148 DOI: 10.1016/j.mec.2020.e00148
November 2, 2020
How can we take pollutants easily out of our water, factories and environment? PFAS contamination is difficult to clear up, but a new method could attract, trap and destroy it with electrodes. PFAS can be found in many things, but taking it out of an area has often been very difficult. Using a tunenable electrode, in 3 hours you could extract and destroy PFAS in contaminated water. A combined clay and glass filter could neatly trap and extract CO2 from a gassy mixture. industrial processes often produce CO2 amongst other gases, but how can you quickly only separate out that CO2, reuse it and prevent it from being emitted? Lead in drinking water is a serious issue,but understanding the amount of exposure is difficult. A new method for analysing lead in drinking water tips acid onto 'filled' filters.
- Kwiyong Kim, Paola Baldaguez Medina, Johannes Elbert, Emmanuel Kayiwa, Roland D. Cusick, Yujie Men, Xiao Su. Molecular Tuning of Redox‐Copolymers for Selective Electrochemical Remediation. Advanced Functional Materials, 2020; 2004635 DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202004635
- Basic Information on PFAS. (2018, December 06). Retrieved October 31, 2020, from https://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas
- Martin Rieß, Renée Siegel, Jürgen Senker, Josef Breu. Diammonium-Pillared MOPS with Dynamic CO2 Selectivity. Cell Reports Physical Science, 2020; 100210 DOI: 10.1016/j.xcrp.2020.100210
- Weiyi Pan, Elizabeth R. Johnson, Daniel E. Giammar. Accumulation on and extraction of lead from point-of-use filters for evaluating lead exposure from drinking water. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 2020; 6 (10): 2734 DOI: 10.1039/d0ew00496k
October 26, 2020
We dive in to the debate around feathers on dinosaurs and pterosaurs. When did the first feathers develop? How did they form and what was their connection to modern birds? What can we learn by studying the feathers of modern birds and dinosaurs? Did Pterosaurs have feathers? Why would pterosaurs feathers upend our understanding of feathered dinosaurs? What colour where archaeopteryx feathers? How different were the feathers of archaeopteryx from modern birds?
- Ryan M. Carney, Helmut Tischlinger, Matthew D. Shawkey. Evidence corroborates identity of isolated fossil feather as a wing covert of Archaeopteryx. Scientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-65336-y
- Thomas G. Kaye, Michael Pittman, Gerald Mayr, Daniela Schwarz, Xing Xu. Detection of lost calamus challenges identity of isolated Archaeopteryx feather. Scientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-37343-7
- David M. Unwin, David M. Martill. No protofeathers on pterosaurs. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-01308-9
- Zixiao Yang, Baoyu Jiang, Maria E. McNamara, Stuart L. Kearns, Michael Pittman, Thomas G. Kaye, Patrick J. Orr, Xing Xu, Michael J. Benton. Pterosaur integumentary structures with complex feather-like branching. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2018; 3 (1): 24 DOI: 10.1038/s41559-018-0728-7
October 12, 2020
The Nobel Prize's legacy on gender and diversity is poor, but are they turning it around? We celebrate the winners of the Nobel Prize, but look critically at the challenges of the system. How do you recognize the collaboration of 100s or 1000s of people with a single award? Is science advanced through singular genius or the collaboration of many? How can CRISPR help us create a more sustainable planet? Growing trees that are easier to process but still able to thrive is possible with CRISPR. How can making trees with less lignin help make a greener planet?
- Advanced information. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Sat. 10 Oct 2020. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2020/advanced-information
- Barbara De Meester, Barbara Madariaga Calderón, Lisanne de Vries, Jacob Pollier, Geert Goeminne, Jan Van Doorsselaere, Mingjie Chen, John Ralph, Ruben Vanholme, Wout Boerjan. Tailoring poplar lignin without yield penalty by combining a null and haploinsufficient CINNAMOYL-CoA REDUCTASE2 allele. Nature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18822-w
September 28, 2020
We find out more about two more Ig Nobel prizes, for Accoustics and Entomology. Spiders aren't insects, but they're pretty similar. So why do so many entomologists fear spiders? Lots of legs, moves suddenly, weird shape, are fine for entomologists but add 2 extra legs and it's right out. Extra legs are a deal breaker for entomologists with a fear of spiders. Helium, Alligators in a tank, and resonant frequencies won this group a Ig Nobel prize. You've heard of beard song, but what about Alligator on helium song? Alligators and Birds can help us understand the songs of Dinosaurs.
- “A Chinese Alligator in Heliox: Formant Frequencies in a Crocodilian,” Stephan A. Reber, Takeshi Nishimura, Judith Janisch, Mark Robertson, and W. Tecumseh Fitch, Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 218, 2015, pp. 2442-2447.
- “Arachnophobic Entomologists: When Two More Legs Makes a Big Difference,” Richard S. Vetter, American Entomologist, vol. 59, no. 3, 2013, pp. 168-175.
September 21, 2020
We celebrate the Ignobel Prizes once again, and this year we take a deep dive into the Physics prize for 2020. Faraday waves (standing waves in liquids or liquid filled objects) look pretty, but can anything filled with like have one? What about a worm? Can you make Faraday waves and resonant frequencies in Worms? What happens when a laser, a worm, and a speaker go into a lab? The result is an Ignobel Prize.
- Maksymov, I.S., Pototsky, A. Excitation of Faraday-like body waves in vibrated living earthworms. Sci Rep 10, 8564 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-65295-4
- 2020 Ceremony. (2020, September 18). Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://www.improbable.com/ig-about/the-30th-first-annual-ig-nobel-prize-ceremony/
September 14, 2020
Is that food safe to eat? How can you tell if food has gone bad beyond just reading a date? Ever been confused by best before or use by? A new type of label could make it a mater of colors. Color based labels could help detect if your food has gone bad or is contaminated by bacteria. How can we study the microbes that live inside our intestines? The gut microbiome is incredibly fascinating but difficult to study without damaging it. A tiny pill that takes snapshots of micro organisms inside your stomach as it passes through.
- Doyoon Kim, Yunteng Cao, Dhanushkodi Mariappan, Michael S. Bono Jr., A. John Hart, Benedetto Marelli. A Microneedle Technology for Sampling and Sensing Bacteria in the Food Supply Chain. Advanced Functional Materials, 2020 DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202005370
- Lu Chen, Lina Gruzinskyte, Steffen Lynge Jørgensen, Anja Boisen, Sarvesh Kumar Srivastava. An Ingestible Self-Polymerizing System for Targeted Sampling of Gut Microbiota and Biomarkers. ACS Nano, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.0c05426
September 7, 2020
Plants are incredibly important for a healthy planet and a well fed population. How can we improve our plants by learning from some unusual ones? You normally picture a plant with lots of leaves, but some only grow one lonely leaf. Deep in limestone caves of South East Asia grows a plant with only ever one giant leaf. How can a plant survive with just one leaf and why does it continue to grow in size? What can we learn by studying the root systems of different plants? Can breeding plants to have more flexible roots lead to more resilient crops?
- Ayaka Kinoshita, Hiroyuki Koga, Hirokazu Tsukaya. Expression Profiles of ANGUSTIFOLIA3 and SHOOT MERISTEMLESS, Key Genes for Meristematic Activity in a One-Leaf Plant Monophyllaea glabra, Revealed by Whole-Mount In Situ Hybridization. Frontiers in Plant Science, 2020; 11 DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2020.01160
- James D. Burridge, Harini Rangarajan, Jonathan P. Lynch. Comparative phenomics of annual grain legume root architecture. Crop Science, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/csc2.20241
August 24, 2020
Life in the ocean is more than just fish, whales and squid, it goes down to a microbial level. We can learn a lot about the health of a whole reef system by studying microbial life in the water. Just one teaspoon of the ocean contains thousands of unique microbes. The ocean currents carry and mix ocean microbes. What makes a healthy reef? Well take a look at the microbes. How can nutrient and soil runoff damage a reef?
- Maria G. Pachiadaki, Julia M. Brown, Joseph Brown, Oliver Bezuidt, Paul M. Berube, Steven J. Biller, Nicole J. Poulton, Michael D. Burkart, James J. La Clair, Sallie W. Chisholm, Ramunas Stepanauskas. Charting the Complexity of the Marine Microbiome through Single-Cell Genomics. Cell, 2019; 179 (7): 1623 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.11.017
- Laura Weber, Patricia González‐Díaz, Maickel Armenteros, Víctor M. Ferrer, Fernando Bretos, Erich Bartels, Alyson E. Santoro, Amy Apprill. Microbial signatures of protected and impacted Northern Caribbean reefs: changes from Cuba to the Florida Keys. Environmental Microbiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.14870