September 25, 2018

Week In STEM-16th Jan

Scientists discover how we play memories in fast forward

Neuroscientists have discovered how the brain compresses memories of say, a trip to the market or an entire episode of a TV show, into just a few seconds. This compression also works forward in time, allowing us to imagine and plan future events quickly. It would be hard to make sense of our experiences or make decisions about the future without this ability. There are also implications for diseases like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

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Airloy: The New Super Material

The most versatile material in the world may be here, and it’s going to change everything. Aerogels have been around for a while, but new innovations have made the technology even better and more useful. An aerogel is a low-density solid created through the extraction of liquid from gel using the process of supercritical drying. Most commonly, aerogels are made of silica, yet this material makes the super-light solid incredibly brittle. After years of research, scientists from NASA and other independent companies have created a new product, airloy.

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An antibody that can attack HIV in new ways

Proteins called broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) are a promising key to the prevention of infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. bNAbs have been found in blood samples from some HIV patients whose immune systems can naturally control the infection. These antibodies may protect a patient’s healthy cells by recognizing a protein called the envelope spike, present on the surface of all HIV strains and inhibiting, or neutralizing, the effects of the virus. Now Caltech researchers have discovered that one particular bNAb may be able to recognize this signature protein, even as it takes on different conformations during infection—making it easier to detect and neutralize the viruses in an infected patient.

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Monkeys’ reaction to those who have more? Spite

Monkeys, like humans, will take the time and effort to punish others who get more than their fair share, according to a new study. In fact, they can act downright spiteful. Capuchin monkeys will yank on a rope to collapse a table that is holding a partner monkey’s food. While chimpanzees collapse their partner’s table only after direct personal affronts like theft, capuchins punish more often, even in cases where the other monkey merely had more food, according to a new study

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Scientists discover new method of brain wave transmission

Most biology students will be able to tell you that neural signals are sent via mechanisms such as synaptic transmission, gap junctions, and diffusionprocesses, but a new study suggests there’s another way that our brains transmit information from one place to another.

Researchers in the US have recorded neural spikes travelling too slowly in the brain to be explained by conventional signalling mechanisms. In the absence of other plausible explanations, the scientists believe these brain waves are being transmitted by a weak electrical field, and they’ve been able to detect one of these in mice.

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Colossal star explosion detected

Astronomers have seen what could be the most powerful supernova ever detected.

The exploding star was first observed back in June last year but is still radiating vast amounts of energy.

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Killing drug-resistant lung cancer with 50 times less chemo

The cancer drug paclitaxel just got more effective. For the first time, researchers have packaged it in containers derived from a patient’s own immune system, protecting the drug from being destroyed by the body’s own defenses and bringing the entire payload to the tumor.

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Estrogen protects women against the flu

The female sex hormone estrogen has anti-viral effects against the influenza A virus, commonly known as the flu, giving them a stronger immune response to the virus in comparison to men.

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