How birds can detect the Earth’s magnetic field

he receptors that sense the Earth’s magnetic field are probably located in the birds’ eyes. Now, researchers at Lund University have studied different proteins in the eyes of zebra finches and discovered that one of them differs from the others: only the Cry4 protein maintains a constant level throughout the day and in different lighting conditions. Cry4 belongs to a group of proteins called cryptochromes. Normally they regulate the biological clock, but have also been considered significant for the magnetic sense. With this study, we now know which of the birds’ cryptochromes do what. “Cry4 is an ideal magnetoreceptor as the level of the protein in the eyes is constant. This is something we expect from a receptor that is used regardless of the time of day”, explains Atticus Pinzón-Rodríguez, one of the researchers behind the study. The conclusion is […]

Journal dedicated to African research launched – Scientific African

A new peer reviewed, open access inter- and multidisciplinary scientific journal to showcase African research known as Scientific African has been launched.   The journal launched at the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) in Rwanda this week (26-28 March) aims to offer African researchers and scientists the opportunity to publish and showcase their research works.   The journal, according to Benjamin Gyampoh, its Editor-in-Chief, is dedicated to expanding access to African researchers and scientists who are largely facing the problem of not having platforms to publish and showcase their research works. “This journal will front research on Africa by Africans that finds local solutions to local problems.” Ron Mobed, Elsevier The first issue of the multidisciplinary scientific journal is expected to be out in the last quarter of this year. Gyampoh speaking during the launch said that it will help build and strengthen scientific capacity in Africa and increase […]

Graphene Invention Makes Seawater Drinkable in One Simple Step

Using a type of graphene called Graphair, scientists from Australia have created a water filter that can make highly polluted seawater drinkable after just one pass. The technology could be used to cheaply provide safe drinking water to regions of the world without access to it. “Almost a third of the world’s population, some 2.1 billion people, don’t have clean and safe drinking water,” said lead author Dong Han Seo. “As a result, millions – mostly children – die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene every year. In Graphair we’ve found a perfect filter for water purification. “It can replace the complex, time consuming and multi-stage processes currently needed with a single step.” Developed by researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Graphair is a form of graphene made out of soybean oil. […]

Ibuprofen in the first three months of pregnancy may harm future fertility of baby girls

Pregnant women who take the pain killer ibuprofen in the first three months of pregnancy may be reducing the store of eggs in the ovaries of their daughters. Researchers have found the first evidence in human ovarian tissue that exposure to ibuprofen during the crucial first three months of foetal development results in a “dramatic loss” of the germ cells that go into making the follicles from which female eggs develop. The germ cells either died or failed to grow and multiply at the usual rate. The authors of the study, which is published today (Friday) in Human Reproduction1, one of the world’s leading reproductive medicine journals, say that their findings raise concerns about the long-term effects of ibuprofen on the future fertility of women exposed to the pain killer when in their mothers’ wombs. “Baby girls are born with a […]

Breastfeeding reduces hypertension risk

A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension indicates that women who breastfeed more children, and for longer periods of time, are less likely to suffer from hypertension after they reach menopause. This is less true of obese women, however. Elevated blood pressure is the greatest single risk factor for disease and mortality. Evidence from epidemiologic data has also shown the beneficial effects of breastfeeding on the health of infants and their mothers. It has been well documented that long-term breastfeeding is associated with reduced children’s allergies, celiac disease, obesity, and diabetes mellitus. However, the effects of breastfeeding on maternal health have been little studied compared with the effects on the children. Several studies consistently found that absent breastfeeding or premature discontinuation was associated with increased risks of diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular diseases. However few […]

Mosquitoes remember human smells, but also attempts to kill them

Your grandmother’s insistence that you receive more bug bites because you’re ‘sweeter’ may not be that far-fetched after all, according to pioneering research from Virginia Tech scientists which shows that mosquitoes remember human smells. The study, published Jan. 25 in the journal Current Biology, shows that mosquitoes can rapidly learn and remember the smells of hosts and that dopamine is a key mediator of this process. Mosquitoes remember human smells and incorporate this information with other stimuli to develop preferences for a particular vertebrate host species, and, within that population, certain individuals. However, the study also proved that even if an individual is deemed delicious-smelling, a mosquito’s preference can shift if that person’s smell is associated with an unpleasant sensation. Hosts who swat at mosquitoes or perform other defensive behaviors may be abandoned, no matter how sweet. Clément Vinauger, an assistant […]

3D Printing Drug Manufacturing System

A new and compact drug manufacturing system, which relies on 3-D printing and chemical analysis software, has the potential to quickly and conveniently produce a variety of medications on-site. The advancement sidesteps many challenges that come with mass production of drugs at large-scale facilitates. For example, central drug manufacturing plants are costly to maintain and to repurpose for the production of different drugs. In contrast, the system created by Philip J. Kitson and colleagues yields a customized blueprint for drug synthesis using simple plastic modules that can easily be assembled on-site, at low cost. First, software is used to identify the chemical reactions and processes that are necessary for the desired drug, and then the ideal chambers and components of the system are created using a cheap 3-D printer (that costs about $2,000). In this study, the researchers chose to […]

Self-healing fungi concrete could provide sustainable solution to crumbling infrastructure

A new self-healing fungi concrete, co-developed by researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York, could help repair cracks in aging concrete permanently, and help save America’s crumbling infrastructure. Congrui Jin, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Binghamton University, has researched concrete and found that the problem stems from the smallest of cracks. “Without proper treatment, cracks tend to progress further and eventually require costly repair,” said Jin. “If micro-cracks expand and reach the steel reinforcement, not only the concrete will be attacked, but also the reinforcement will be corroded, as it is exposed to water, oxygen, possibly CO2 and chlorides, leading to structural failure.” These cracks can cause huge and sometimes unseen problems for infrastructure. One potentially critical example is the case of nuclear power plants that may use concrete for radiation shielding. While remaking a structure would replace […]