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
August 17, 2020
Your senses bombard your brain with an overload of information, so how does it process it all? How does y our brain decide what information to focus on? The brain can focus voluntarily or involuntarily on regions of an image to best process it. How does your brain decide which parts of an image to focus on? What part of your brain helps gatekeep the waves of sensory input before it gets processed? How can your brain help regulate and manage an overload of sensory inputs.
- Antonio Fernández, Marisa Carrasco. Extinguishing Exogenous Attention via Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Current Biology, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.07.068
- Yinqing Li, Violeta G. Lopez-Huerta, Xian Adiconis, Kirsten Levandowski, Soonwook Choi, Sean K. Simmons, Mario A. Arias-Garcia, Baolin Guo, Annie Y. Yao, Timothy R. Blosser, Ralf D. Wimmer, Tomomi Aida, Alexander Atamian, Tina Naik, Xuyun Sun, Dasheng Bi, Diya Malhotra, Cynthia C. Hession, Reut Shema, Marcos Gomes, Taibo Li, Eunjin Hwang, Alexandra Krol, Monika Kowalczyk, João Peça, Gang Pan, Michael M. Halassa, Joshua Z. Levin, Zhanyan Fu, Guoping Feng. Distinct subnetworks of the thalamic reticular nucleus. Nature, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2504-5
July 27, 2020
Treating chronic pain through tiny electrodes in your ear. Can 3 phase like stimulating of nerves in your eye help treat chronic pain? Mapping out the inside of the ear in incredibly fine detail can help treat chronic pain. Fine tuning tiny electrodes inside the ear can help relieve chronic pain. Using a printer, tattoo paper and polymers to make long lasting electrodes. Flexible, thin and long lasting electrodes can make it easier to study the brain and the heart. Studying the brain over the long term just got easier with tattoo paper based electrodes.
- Babak Dabiri, Stefan Kampusch, Stefan H. Geyer, Van Hoang Le, Wolfgang J. Weninger, Jozsef Constantin Széles, Eugenijus Kaniusas. High-Resolution Episcopic Imaging for Visualization of Dermal Arteries and Nerves of the Auricular Cymba Conchae in Humans. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, 2020; 14 DOI: 10.3389/fnana.2020.00022
- Laura M. Ferrari, Usein Ismailov, Jean-Michel Badier, Francesco Greco, Esma Ismailova. Conducting polymer tattoo electrodes in clinical electro- and magneto-encephalography. npj Flexible Electronics, 2020; 4 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41528-020-0067-z
July 20, 2020
Making water safe to drink, from evaporation to treatment. How do you simply evaporate water to make it safe? A piece of aluminium and a laser can hold the key to providing cheap and safe drinking water to the world. Pharmaceutical waste can build up in waster water, so how can it be treated? How can two little electrodes deal with the problem of pharmaceutical waste in water? Changing the course of a river can have huge consequences. What can we learn by studying the changes caused by the Panama Canal?
- Subhash C. Singh, Mohamed ElKabbash, Zilong Li, Xiaohan Li, Bhabesh Regmi, Matthew Madsen, Sohail A. Jalil, Zhibing Zhan, Jihua Zhang, Chunlei Guo. Solar-trackable super-wicking black metal panel for photothermal water sanitation. Nature Sustainability, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41893-020-0566-x
- Yassine Ouarda, Clément Trellu, Geoffroy Lesage, Matthieu Rivallin, Patrick Drogui, Marc Cretin. Electro-oxidation of secondary effluents from various wastewater plants for the removal of acetaminophen and dissolved organic matter. Science of The Total Environment, 2020; 738: 140352 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140352
- Jorge Salgado, María I. Vélez, Catalina González-Arango, Neil L. Rose, Handong Yang, Carme Huguet, Juan S. Camacho, Aaron O'Dea. A century of limnological evolution and interactive threats in the Panama Canal: Long-term assessments from a shallow basin. Science of The Total Environment, 2020; 729: 138444 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138444
July 6, 2020
How fast did T-Rex really go? Was it a sprinter or an endurance runner? Being chased by a T-Rex is scary, but you have to be ready for a marathon not a sprint. T-Rex's long legs helped it be efficient rather than speedy. Did raptors hunt in packs or just near each other? What links Komodo dragons and hunting raptors? Can we figure out if raptors hunted in packs by studying their teeth? Can Komodo dragons help bust Jurrassic Park myths? We also find out about an epic battle between Giant squid and a fish trapped for eternity as fossils.
- T. Alexander Dececchi, Aleksandra M. Mloszewska, Thomas R. Holtz, Michael B. Habib, Hans C. E. Larsson. The fast and the frugal: Divergent locomotory strategies drive limb lengthening in theropod dinosaurs. PLOS ONE, 2020; 15 (5): e0223698 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223698
- J.A. Frederickson, M.H. Engel, R.L. Cifelli. Ontogenetic dietary shifts in Deinonychus antirrhopus (Theropoda; Dromaeosauridae): Insights into the ecology and social behavior of raptorial dinosaurs through stable isotope analysis. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2020; 109780 DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2020.109780
- University of Plymouth. (2020, May 6). Fossil reveals evidence of 200-million-year-old 'squid' attack. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 15, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200506133625.htm
June 22, 2020
How do plants manage to recover from damage or fungal attacks? What happens when you shoot a laser at some cress? Studying the way plants respond to damage helps us understand their regeneration methods. Plant cells can regenerate to recover from damage, but what controls this process? Fighting off a fungal invasion means an arms race between plants and fungus. Plants like cabbage use a special mustard oil bomb to fight back against fungal invaders. Fungal invaders like white mold can render even the most sophisticate plant defences useless.
- Lukas Hoermayer, Juan Carlos Montesinos, Petra Marhava, Eva Benková, Saiko Yoshida, Jiří Friml. Wounding-induced changes in cellular pressure and localized auxin signalling spatially coordinate restorative divisions in roots. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020; 202003346 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2003346117
- Jingyuan Chen, Chhana Ullah, Michael Reichelt, Franziska Beran, Zhi-Ling Yang, Jonathan Gershenzon, Almuth Hammerbacher, Daniel G. Vassão. The phytopathogenic fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum detoxifies plant glucosinolate hydrolysis products via an isothiocyanate hydrolase. Nature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16921-2
June 8, 2020
Animals can help us monitor our environment for pollution. From silicon dog tags to tiger snakes in wetlands, animals can help us monitor pollution. How can silicon dog tags help protect humans from environmental pollutants? Cleaning up an oil spill is tricky, but with the right materials it's easy as wringing a sponge. Water hating but Oil loving magnetic sponges can help clean up after oil spills. How do Tiger snakes help us find the cleanest wetlands? Just how clean are urban wetlands?
- Catherine F. Wise, Stephanie C. Hammel, Nicholas Herkert, Jun Ma, Alison Motsinger-Reif, Heather M. Stapleton, Matthew Breen. Comparative Exposure Assessment Using Silicone Passive Samplers Indicates That Domestic Dogs Are Sentinels To Support Human Health Research. Environmental Science & Technology, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b06605
- D. C. Lettoof, P. W. Bateman, F. Aubret, M. M. Gagnon. The Broad-Scale Analysis of Metals, Trace Elements, Organochlorine Pesticides and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Wetlands Along an Urban Gradient, and the Use of a High Trophic Snake as a Bioindicator. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 2020; 78 (4): 631 DOI: 10.1007/s00244-020-00724-z
- Vikas Nandwana, Stephanie M. Ribet, Roberto D. Reis, Yuyao Kuang, Yash More, Vinayak P. Dravid. OHM Sponge: A Versatile, Efficient, and Ecofriendly Environmental Remediation Platform. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.0c01493
June 1, 2020
Finding it hard to wake up in the morning when it's cold? Don't worry you're not alone. What can we Fruit Flies teach us about wanting to stay in bed especially when it's cold outside? How do the cycles of temperature and light impact sleep? Is the right temperature key to a good night's rest? Is the optimum temperature hard coded in creatures brain or is it all relative? Getting a good night's sleep is important for keeping your brain healthy. What can zebrafish and fruit flies help us understand about getting a good night's sleep? Is there a connection between a good night's sleep and cleaning out unwanted proteins in your brain?
- Michael H. Alpert, Dominic D. Frank, Evan Kaspi, Matthieu Flourakis, Emanuela E. Zaharieva, Ravi Allada, Alessia Para, Marco Gallio. A Circuit Encoding Absolute Cold Temperature in Drosophila. Current Biology, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.038
- Sarah Ly, Daniel A. Lee, Ewa Strus, David A. Prober, Nirinjini Naidoo. Evolutionarily Conserved Regulation of Sleep by the Protein Translational Regulator PERK. Current Biology, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.02.030
May 18, 2020
Colourful feathers on dinosaurs and their descendants. Sleek, fast, with sharp claws and iridescent feathers, Cassowaries are almost like dinosaurs. How do the cassowaries manage to get that special sheen on their feathers? What gives cassowaries they're menacing iridescence? Long flowing rainbow feathers, all wrapped around a small creature the size of a duck, hardly a terrifying image of a dinosaur. What connects a small duck like dinosaur with a hummingbird? Their iridescent feathers.
- Chad M. Eliason, Julia A. Clarke. Cassowary gloss and a novel form of structural color in birds. Science Advances, 2020; 6 (20): eaba0187 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba0187
- Dongyu Hu, Julia A. Clarke, Chad M. Eliason, Rui Qiu, Quanguo Li, Matthew D. Shawkey, Cuilin Zhao, Liliana D’Alba, Jinkai Jiang, Xing Xu. A bony-crested Jurassic dinosaur with evidence of iridescent plumage highlights complexity in early paravian evolution. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02515-y
May 11, 2020
Taste testing maple syrup and long lasting antioxidants. How do you judge the taste of something as complex as maple syrup? How can a golden tongue help find gold, silver and bronze maple syrups? Antioxidants can keep food fresh and wounds safe, so how can they be made long lasting? Tannic acid often found in wines can make great antioxidants, but how to make their chemical effect long lasting? Fine woven meshes embedded with antioxidants can help flexible wrap food and wounds to keep them safe.
- Simon Forest, Trevor Théorêt, Julien Coutu, Jean-Francois Masson. A high-throughput plasmonic tongue using an aggregation assay and nonspecific interactions: classification of taste profiles in maple syrup. Analytical Methods, 2020; DOI: 10.1039/C9AY01942A
- Adwait Gaikwad, Hanna Hlushko, Parvin Karimineghlani, Victor Selin, Svetlana A. Sukhishvili. Hydrogen-Bonded, Mechanically Strong Nanofibers with Tunable Antioxidant Activity. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2020; 12 (9): 11026 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.9b23212
April 27, 2020
What can we learn from spiders webs, venom and combs? How do spiders manage to weave intricate webs without getting tangled in them? How can spider's legs help develop next generation nano materials? How can spider venom help us fight back against the opioid crisis? Spider venom is dangerous but it can also help reduce harm in pain management.
- Akello J. Agwa, Poanna Tran, Alexander Mueller, Hue N. T. Tran, Jennifer R. Deuis, Mathilde R. Israel, Kirsten L. McMahon, David J. Craik, Irina Vetter, Christina I. Schroeder. Manipulation of a spider peptide toxin alters its affinity for lipid bilayers and potency and selectivity for voltage-gated sodium channel subtype 1.7. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2020; 295 (15): 5067 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.012281
- Anna-Christin Joel, Marco Meyer, Johannes Heitz, Alexander Heiss, Daesung Park, Hana Adamova, Werner Baumgartner. Biomimetic Combs as Antiadhesive Tools to Manipulate Nanofibers. ACS Applied Nano Materials, 2020; 3 (4): 3395 DOI: 10.1021/acsanm.0c00130
- Po Peng, Devi Stuart‐Fox, Szu‐Wei Chen, Eunice J. Tan, Guan‐Lin Kuo, Sean J. Blamires, I‐Min Tso, Mark A. Elgar. High contrast yellow mosaic patterns are prey attractants for orb‐weaving spiders. Functional Ecology, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13532