Dolphins Use Corals to Treat Skin InfectionsJust like humans, dolphins have their skincare routine too!Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins have been seen lining up to rub themselves against the corals in the Northern sea, off the coast of Egypt. Apparently, these corals have medicinal properties that treat the dolphins' skin conditions. This dolphin phenomenon was spotted way back in 2009. Ever since that year, researchers have been spending time and effort to continuously observe and learn about the behavior. Scientifically speaking, the mucus that is being released by corals and sponges regulate the dolphins' microbiome and treats their infections. Being the smart animals that they are, these dolphins probably know what these corals can do to their skin which is why they know the exact corals that they should rub their bodies on.Image credit: Angela Ziltener#Dolphins #Corals #UnderwaterLife #Research #IndoPacificBottlenoseDolphins
Common Arthritis Drug May Treat Alopecia and Let Patients Regrow HairAlopecia, also known as Alopecia areata, is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks hair follicles. Alopecia can cause people to fully lose their hair. This condition usually occurs in people aged 40 years old and below and has no FDA-approved treatment.It seems that there is now new hope for Alopecia treatment, thanks to a new study that showed one in three patients were able to regrow hair after taking a common arthritis drug. The medicine is baricitinib, a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor that is used for arthritis. “Alopecia areata is a crazy journey, marked by chaos, confusion, and profound sadness for many who suffer from it,” Lead author Brett King said. “It will be incredible to have a medicine to help people emerge on the other side, normalcy restored, recognizable again to themselves and those around them.”Image credit: King et.al #alopecia #treatment #research #medicine #barincitinib
Gender Bias in Face Pareidolia: Illusory Faces Tend to be Seen as MalePareidolia is a phenomenon where your eyes play a trick on you by showing you a face that isn’t on the area you were staring at. A new study discovered that while we usually see an illusory face, we also tend to see age, emotion, and gender.According to one of the researchers, Jessica Taubert, the study was done to find out if the examples of the perceived illusions from the phenomenon carry social signals, such as gender and expression. From the 3,815 participants, Taubert and her colleagues found a pattern. The pattern showed a bias in gender perception– more illusory faces were seen as male than female. When it comes to emotions, the responses were varied, with 34 percent of the images perceived as happy, 19 percent surprised, 19 percent neutral, and 14 percent angry.Image credit: Harry Grout, Taubert et.al #research #pareidolia #illusion #genderbias #perception
Scientists Translated Spider's Web Into MusicThese scientists never run out of new ideas, huh!Spider's Canvas is an interactive musical instrument that was derived from the three-dimensional structure of a spider’s web and translated into music. This project was a result of a collaboration between scientists and artist Tomás Saraceno. The researchers behind the instrument now refined and built a new interactive virtual reality feature that allows people to interact with the web. "The spider lives in an environment of vibrating strings," engineer Markus Buehler of MIT explained in 2021. "They don't see very well, so they sense their world through vibrations, which have different frequencies."Image credit: Torbjørn Helgesen#music #spider #science #research #SpidersCanvas
Do Mushrooms Communicate with Each Other with Electrical Impulses as "Words"?The short answer is: sort of. The rest of the scientific community still wants more studies to be conducted, though.Experts have noticed that fungi tend to send electric signals to one another. A mathematical analysis of these signals shows a pattern that is somehow similar to human speech. Scientists hypothesized that there is a possibility that fungi use this electrical “language” to share information about food or injury with distant parts of themselves, or with hyphae-connected partners such as trees.Sure, it's like a messaging system. With the similarities noticed in the electrical signals sent by fungi and human speech, an interesting question was raised: do they actually use human words [or the equivalent of it]?University of the West of England’s Andrew Adamatzky aimed to answer this question by analyzing the signals sent by a species of fungi – enoki, split gill, ghost, and caterpillar fungi. “We do not know if there is a direct relationship between spiking patterns in fungi and human speech. Possibly not,” Adamatzky said. “On the other hand, there are many similarities in information processing in living substrates of different classes, families and species. I was just curious to compare.”Image credit: Hans Veth#fungi #mushroom #communication #science #research #electricsignals 
Scientists Can Now Make Tissue Samples and Body Parts TransparentAll it needs is some good tissue cleaning.Experts from Scripps Research developed a new cleaning method that allows large biological samples to turn transparent. As to the importance of having that kind of opacity for samples, it turns out that this would make it easier for scientists to visualize and study biological processes occurring across multiple organ systems. According to the study’s senior author, Li Ye, PhD, the method is a “simple and universal tissue-clearing technique for studies of large body parts or even entire animals.” The new method uses a combination of organic solvents and water-based detergents, which can be used in an ordinary lab. For protecting the molecules within the tissue during the cleaning processes, water-based hydrogels will be used. “In many cases, you can just put the whole thing in a jar and keep it in a shaker on your benchtop until it’s done,” said co-first author Victoria Nudell. “This makes it practical and scalable enough for routine use.”Image credit: Ye et.al #tissue #research #study #biology #science #cleaning #solvents
Researchers Identified the Most Boring Person in the WorldUh, is this a compliment? I mean, congratulations, I guess?Research from the University of Essex has determined the most boring person in the world. The team behind this study looked at more than 500 people to determine the jobs, characteristics, and hobbies that are perceived as boring. The blandest jobs were data analysis, accounting, cleaning, and banking. In addition, the dullest hobbies were seen to be religion, watching TV, bird watching, and smoking.Aside from the stereotypical discoveries, the study determined that the most boring person in the world is a religious data entry worker, who likes watching TV, and lives in a town. According to Dr. Wijnand Van Tilburg, the lead researcher of the study, the topic was chosen to explore the stigma of boredom and the stereotypes that are associated with it. “These papers show how persuasive perceptions of boredom are and what an impact this can have on people.” In addition, Tilburg shared that the research was done to show how these stereotypes can affect preconceptions. “Perceptions can change but people may not take time to speak to those with ‘boring’ jobs and hobbies, instead choosing to avoid them. They don’t get a chance to prove people wrong and break these negative stereotypes,” he explained. Image credit: Javier Cañada#boredom #research #study #UniversityofEssex
Researchers Stack "Holobricks" to Generate Large Seamless Holographic 3D ImagesShould this be fully produced and utilized in the future, this newest technology could enable scalable holographic 3D displays. Imagine the possibilities!Developed by researchers from the University of Cambridge and Disney Research, the holobrick is a proof-of-concept tool. The holobrick can tile holograms together to form a large seamless 3D image. The research was done to hopefully provide a way to procure a method for generating high-quality visual experiences. “Delivering an adequate 3D experience using the current technology is a huge challenge,” explained Professor Daping Chu from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, who led the research. “Over the past ten years, we’ve been working with our industrial partners to develop holographic displays which allow the simultaneous realization of large size and large field-of-view, which needs to be matched with a hologram with a large optical information content.”The holobrick unit was based on a seven-year-old concept developed by CAPE with Disney Research. They utilized the coarse integrated holographic displays for angularly tiled 3D images to form the holograms with large viewing areas and fields of view. Image credit: Li, et.al #research #display #holograms #3D #Disney #UniversityofCambridge #holobrick
AI-Powered Simulations Let Robot Cheetah Teach Itself How to Run Faster Than EverA robot developed at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has successfully broken the record for the fastest run ever recorded.The unique aspect about this android cheetah was that it wasn’t programmed to run at an incredible speed, it was tasked to figure out how to run that fast through trial and error. Usually, programming machines involve humans doing all the work. Humans typically install precise instructions on what to do and how to do it. According to Gabriel Margolis and Ge Yang, the problem with this approach is that it isn’t scalable. A huge chunk of time is needed to manually program a robot to operate in many different environments. The robot cheetah is a manifestation of experts attempting to create a robot that functions through a learn-by-experience model. Through the project, the robot was able to hit a top speed of 3.9 meters per second, or roughly 8.7 mph, when sprinting. Check out MIT’s video on the project and its results below. image credit: MIT #robotics #MIT #research #AI #reinforcementmodel #programming 
"Opposites Attract" Debunked by Science: Friends and Lovers Actually Tend to Share Core Beliefs, Values and HobbiesWould you actually spend long periods of time with someone who doesn’t have the same interests, beliefs, or values as you? Let’s ponder a more specific example. Would you willingly spend time or romance someone who has different political and moral values than you? Personally, not really. Most friendships and relationships to some extent rely on people having almost similar or compatible interests and beliefs. With that being said, does that mean that the phrase “opposites attract” still applies? Apparently not. According to science, that is.Clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula believes, “people who have shared interests, temperaments and all that do tend to be more likely to date.” Other researchers have also debunked the idea of “opposites” dating for years. Studies show that friends and romantic partners tend to share core beliefs, values and hobbies. In addition, some suggest that people go for others with similar personalities. Aside from debunking this popular trope in romance, research also points to opposites repelling. In a world where social, political, and cultural awareness is much more evident, it is less likely that people will fall for someone who thinks very differently from them. Image credit: Annette Sousa#romance #research #science
"Acoustic Fabric" Converts Sound into Electrical SignalsEngineers from MIT worked with people from the Rhode Island School of Design to create a fabric that can capture sound and turn it into electric signals. The item, called an “acoustic fabric,” works like a microphone. The resulting cloth, aside from being able to detect and convert sounds, is soft, durable, and comfortable.This special cloth was developed from a flexible fiber, a “piezoelectric” material that produces an electrical signal when bent or mechanically deformed. The special trait of this material enables the fabric to convert sound vibrations into electrical signals. According to Wei Yan, the lead author of the study, their invention has a lot of potential uses. “Wearing an acoustic garment, you might talk through it to answer phone calls and communicate with others,” says Yan, who is now an assistant professor at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. “In addition, this fabric can imperceptibly interface with the human skin, enabling wearers to monitor their heart and respiratory condition in a comfortable, continuous, real-time, and long-term manner.”Image credit: Greg Hren #acousticfabric #research #MIT #RhodeIslandSchoolofDesign #clothing #sounds
Rose-Veiled Fairy Wrasse is a Newly Discovered Fish in the MaldivesOh, this fish is pretty!The Rose-Veiled Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa) is a newly-discovered fish species off the coast of Maldives. The creature’s pink hues earned it the name  ‘finifenmaa’ which meant ‘rose’ in the local Dhivehi language. In addition, its name was a tribute to the island nation’s national flower. Local Maldinevian scientists were involved in describing and analyzing the new species. “This time it is different and getting to be part of something for the first time has been really exciting, especially having the opportunity to work alongside top ichthyologists on such an elegant and beautiful species,” said study co-author and Maldives Marine Research Institute biologist Ahmed Najeeb.The researchers involved in the study took note of the anatomy and other details of the fish and compared it to a discovered specimen (C. rubrisquamis ) to confirm that C. finifenmaa is indeed a unique species. They have discovered that the two species are unique and are different from each other. However, before the C. finifenmaa was given its scientific name, it had already been exploited through the aquarium hobbyist trade. Image credit, in order of appearance: Yi-Kai Tea; Luiz Rocha © California Academy of Sciences#marinebiology #science #research #Maldives #newspecies
Neuroscientists Identify Neurons in the Brain that Light Up When We Hear Human Singing But Not Other Types of MusicScientists, following the same vein of research in specific areas of the brain that work during different tasks, have successfully identified the part of the human brain that lights up when we hear singing. It is important to note that this area only responds when the combination of voice and music is heard. The area, found in the auditory cortex, does not respond to regular speech or instrumental music.Neuroscientists from MIT followed up a 2015 study that they worked on. The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify a population of neurons in the brain’s auditory cortex that responds specifically to music. This new study used a different method to determine brain activity through recordings of electrical activity taken at the surface of the brain to obtain more information. According to Sam Norman-Haignere, the lead author of the study, the recordings gave them a higher resolution where they were able to pick the neurons apart.Image credit: Josh Rocklage#neuroscience #brain #neurons #research #study #science
Argas brumpti Tick Survived for 8 Years Without FeedingLiving without eating for years is possible– if you’re a tick, at least!An East African species of tick, called Argas brumpti, was able to survive for eight years without eating. Julian Shepherd, an associate professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University discovered the insect’s abilities after running out of a food source for the said species. After initially receiving these creatures as a gift in 1976, Shepherd was surprised to find out that they survived for a very long time without eating any food. The set of ticks he acquired was composed of six adult females, four adult males, and three nymphs of the species. He fed them lab rabbits, mice, and rats until 1984 when the professor decided to stop feeding them due to a lack of source. The male ticks died four years after they weren’t able to eat. The females survived for 8 years and even managed to reproduce asexually, a behavior Shepherd noticed for the very first time. After 45 years of researching and studying the insects’ behaviors, he published his findings in the Journal of Medical Entomology.Image credit: Jonathan Cohen#food #survivial #animals #insects #ticks #research #Argasbrumpti
Scientists Found That The Black Death Wasn't as Deadly as Originally ThoughtA new study has looked at the effect of the Black Death, one of the most devastating pandemics that hit the world. The plague, which lasted between 1346 and 1353, was believed to reach nearly every corner of Europe and is estimated to have killed 30%-50% of the population.A new study, however, is focused on correcting these initial beliefs. The study is aiming to correct the imbalance of information concerning the coverage of the plague. Instead, it is attempting to discover ways for fully working out the real extent of the Black Death’s mortality. Researchers are relying on pollen analysis because they can be counted in each sediment sample they had. In addition, counting and analyzing these grains can reconstruct the landscape and changes over time. While at first glance, learning about the agricultural landscape isn't related to the plague, it implies the human behavior exhibited during the pandemic. If Europe’s population did dwindle to the believed amount, a near-collapse of the medieval cultivated landscape should have happened. After analyzing pollen data and testing different scenarios region by region, the researchers found out that the Black Death did not equally devastate every European region. In addition, they pointed out that the plague did not just spread through rats and their fleas. Local conditions, such as economic activity and population density would have influenced the spread of the disease. Therefore, differences in local conditions yielded different transmission rates.Image credits: Gilles Li Muisis, Annales, Bibliothèque Royal de Belgique, MS 13076-77, f. 24v.; Izdebski et al., Nature Ecology & Evolution 2022#plague #BlackDeath #pandemic #research #study #polleanalysis
DeepMind AI Can Control Superheated Plasma Inside a Nuclear Fusion ReactorUK-based AI firm DeepMind collaborated with the Swiss Plasma Center at EPFL in Switzerland to create an algorithm that would control the plasma inside a nuclear fusion reactor. The program is tasked to hold the plasma, forcing it to hold its shape long enough to extract energy from it. The resulting AI was able to control the reactor without any fine-tuning. While the model controlled the plasma for only two seconds, that short amount of time was longer than how long reactors can run before getting too hot.The breakthrough can help experts understand how nuclear fusion works. Additionally, it can hopefully help in more ways to stabilize the plasma in reactors to harness a potentially unlimited source of clean energy. Image credit: Curdin Wüthrich, SPC/EPFL#nuclearfusion #artificialintelligence #research #science #technology #DeepMindAI
"Boops", "Honks", and "Hoots": Fish are Surprisingly Chatty by Communicating Underwater with SoundResearchers from Cornell University discovered that fish actually communicate with each other through sound. It is not new knowledge that fish actually emit different kinds of sound. However, with the development of technology, scientists have now confirmed that these aquatic creatures produce sounds for communication.Aaron Rice and his team analyzed the sound-producing physical characteristics (eg. swim bladder musculature) across different species and concluded that ancient sturgeons first started chatting around 155 million years ago. That is right around the same time that mammals began speaking with each other, too! Image credit: Hiroko Yoshii#fish #talk #animals #biology #sound #research
Eating Vegetables Actually Does Not Protect Against Cardiovascular DiseaseAnd that’s another reason to not eat vegetables– or at least a good excuse for anyone looking to push back against someone wanting to make you munch some veggies when you’re not in the mood!A UK Biobank study on 400,000 people discovered little to no evidence that supports the claim that vegetables affect the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the University of Bristol studied and concluded that any small apparent positive effect can be explained by other factors and not just because of consuming cooked or uncooked vegetables.UK Biobank’s large-scale prospective study employed its large sample size, long-term follow-up, and detailed information on social and lifestyle factors to determine whether or not vegetable intake has an effect on the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases. “Our large study did not find evidence for a protective effect of vegetable intake on the occurrence of CVD. Instead, our analyses show that the seemingly protective effect of vegetable intake against CVD risk is very likely to be accounted for by bias from residual confounding factors, related to differences in socioeconomic situation and lifestyle,” Dr. Qi Feng, the study’s lead author further explained. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat vegetables, though! Image credit: Adli Wahid#vegetables #Nutrition #CVD #cardiovasculardiseases #UK #Biobank #study #research
Brain's "Math Neurons" Fire Specifically When You're Doing Math CalculationsA recent study conducted by the Universities of Tübingen and Bonn in Germany showed that the brain has specific neurons that operate when a person performs different mathematical operations. Some neurons were active only during addition, while some were only active during subtraction. The researchers further discovered that these neurons fire on specific operations even if the calculation instruction was written down as a word or a symbol.Five women and four men who participated in the study had electrodes implanted in their brains to record the activity of nerve cells. During analysis of the participants’ brain activity, the researchers found that aside from specific neurons being active during addition or subtraction, other neurons also became active during one and the same arithmetic task. This phenomenon was referred to by researchers as “dynamic coding.” Image credits: Christian Burkert/Volkswagen-Stiftung/University of Bonn #neurology #brain #neurons #science #research
Paralyzed Man with Severed Spinal Cord Can Walk Again Thanks to an Electrical Implant Surgically Attached to His SpineA team of Swiss researchers has developed an implant that allows patients who had a complete cut to their spinal cord to walk again. This miraculous feat was tested by Michel Roccati, who was paralyzed because of a motorbike accident.After getting his spine cut, Roccati had no feeling in his legs. The electrical implant, which was surgically attached to his spine, now enables him to walk. "I stand up, walk where I want to, I can walk the stairs - it's almost a normal life," he said. The new technology was a gift to him. While the implant has assisted Roccati and eight others to move after getting their spines injured, the team behind the implant stressed that it isn’t a cure for a spinal injury. They stressed that the technology is still too complicated to be used in everyday life. Image credit: BBC #implant #technology #spineinjury #paralysis #research
MIT Chemical Engineers Created New Kind of Plastic That's Twice as Strong as SteelChemical engineers from MIT produced a new material that is tougher than steel and as light as plastic. It can also be easily manufactured in bulk.“We don’t usually think of plastics as being something that you could use to support a building, but with this material, you can enable new things, it has very unusual properties and we’re very excited about that,” says Michael Strano, senior author of the new study.In the research, Strano and his colleagues devised a new polymerization process that permitted them to create a two-dimensional sheet of polyaramide — something that scientists in the past had tried to make for decades and thus concluded wrongly that such a structure was impossible to create. They used melamine as monomer building blocks. Under the right conditions, these monomers grew in two dimensional-sheets and formed disks which make the structure very strong.The MIT researchers proceeded to coat surfaces with films of the new material, which they called 2DPA-1. They found 2DPA-1 to be four to six times harder to be deformed (elastic modulus) than bulletproof glass. It is also twice as hard to break (yield strength) than steel — while having only one-sixth the density of the latter. The material is also impermeable to gases. “This could allow us to create ultrathin coatings that can completely prevent water or gases from getting through. This kind of barrier coating could be used to protect metal in cars and other vehicles, or steel structures,” Strano says.The Center for Enhanced Nanofluidic Transport (CENT) funded this research.Image credit: polymer film courtesy of the researchers; Christine Daniloff, MIT#research #plastic #engineering #MIT #newmaterial #steel
Chimpanzees Apply Insects to Heal WoundsResearchers from Osnabrück University and the Ozouga Chimpanzee Project observed chimpanzees applying insects to their wounds. The team, led by Dr. Tobias Deschner and Prof. Dr. Simone Pika, investigated the behavior of a group of chimpanzees. The team aimed to record and observe the social relationships, hunting behavior, tool use, and cognitive and communicative skills of the animals.This is the first time that chimpanzees were observed to apply animal matter on open wounds. "Our observations provide the first evidence that chimpanzees regularly capture insects and apply them onto open wounds. We now aim to investigate the potential beneficial consequences of such a surprising behavior," said Dr. Deschner.The authors of the study who documented this behavior have suggested that the insects might have anti-inflammatory or antiseptic properties. Another proposed explanation for this behavior is that it could be part of the local chimpanzee culture.Image credit: Tobias Deschner/ Ozouga chimpanzee project#animals #behavior #chimpanzees #medicine #externalapplication #insects #research #animalbehavior
Egg White without the Chicken: Trichoderma reesei Fungus Genetically Engineered to Produce OvalbuminChicken egg white powder is a resource that is widely used in the food industry due to its high-quality protein. There is a growing demand for the resource and consumption of egg white. The demand is currently 1.6 million tons and is expected to increase further in the coming years. This has raised questions about its sustainability and ethics. Intensive chicken farming has resulted in outbreaks of different zoonotic diseases, and experts are currently seeking ways to avoid the negative results of producing more egg white powder for the growing market. Researchers from the University of Helsinki and the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland discovered a potential alternative to the current method of production, the fungus-produced ovalbumin. According to Dr. Emilia Nordlund, from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, ovalbumin(which is half of the egg white powder) can be produced through a microbial production system. “For example, more than half of the egg white powder protein content is ovalbumin. VTT  has succeeded in producing ovalbumin with the help of the filamentous ascomycete fungus Trichoderma reesei. The gene carrying the blueprints for ovalbumin is inserted by modern biotechnological tools into the fungus which then produces and secretes the same protein that chickens produce. The ovalbumin protein is then separated from the cells, concentrated, and dried to create a final functional product,” she said. Image credit: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland#eggwhite #cellularagriculture #science #research #food
New Brain and Memory Study: Learning Cause Synapses to Proliferate in Some Areas and Disappear in OthersResearchers from the University of Southern California managed to record the physical changes that occur in the brain when a memory is made. This incredible feat was done by inducing a memory in a larval zebrafish. In order to record the changes that were made after the memory was created, researchers mapped the changes in the animal’s transparent head– which had brain cells that lit up like lights in a city.The groundbreaking research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, discovered that synapses (the connections between neurons) appear and disappear in some areas after learning. This was way different than the initial assumption that synapses only weaken or strengthen, not disappear completely. The memory induced caused the synapses in one part of the zebrafish’s brain to be destroyed and caused completely new ones to form in a different region. Image credit: Don Arnold, University of Southern California#neurology #synapses #brain #science #research