Observable Universe contains ten times more galaxies than previously thought

October 13, 2016

Astronomers using data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescopes and other telescopes have performed an accurate census of the number of galaxies in the Universe. The group came to the surprising conclusion that there are at least 10 times as many galaxies in the observable Universe as previously thought. The results have clear implications for our understanding of galaxy formation, and also help solve an ancient astronomical paradox — why is the sky dark at night?

One of the most fundamental questions in astronomy is that of just how many galaxies the Universe contains. The Hubble Deep Field images, captured in the mid 1990s, gave the first real insight into this. Myriad faint galaxies were revealed, and it was estimated that the observable Universe contains about 100 billion galaxies [1]. Now, an international team, led by Christopher Conselice from the University of Nottingham, UK, have shown that this figure is at least ten times too low. Read more

Researchers describe new large prehistoric shark

October 13, 2016

Megalolamna paradoxodon is the name of a new extinct shark described by an international research team who based their discovery on fossilized teeth up to 4.5 centimeters (1.8 inches) tall found from the eastern and western United States (California and North Carolina), Peru and Japan.

The newly identified fossil shark lived during the early Miocene epoch about 20 million years ago and belongs to a shark group called Lamniformes, which includes the modern-day great white and mako sharks. Read more

Infant gut microbiome seems to shape allergy risk by altering immune responses

September 15, 2016

The microbial communities, or microbiota, that naturally colonize the digestive tract in very young infants can affect their risk of later developing childhood allergies and asthma. Scientists now have identified a specific type of microbiota composition and corresponding metabolic environment in the neonatal gut that appears to influence immune cell populations and promote allergy and asthma development. The work was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. Read more

Insights into the beginning of the universe

August 19, 2016

What did the universe look like just after the Big Bang? How did the first stars and galaxies evolve? Seeking answers to these questions, researchers at Bielefeld University are looking way back into the past. With the digital radio telescope LOFAR, they are picking up signals that have taken billions of years to reach us. ‘research_tv’ is presenting the LOFAR station in Norderstedt. It is being run by Bielefeld University in cooperation with Universität Hamburg. Read more

Denver Museum of Nature Science curator discovers real reason turtles have shells

July 16, 2016

It is common knowledge that the modern turtle shell is largely used for protection. No other living vertebrate has so drastically altered its body to form such an impenetrable protective structure as the turtle. However, a new study by an international group of paleontologists suggests that the broad ribbed proto shell on the earliest partially shelled fossil turtles was initially an adaptation, for burrowing underground, not for protection. Paleontologist Tyler Lyson from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is among the scientists that helped make this discovery. Read more

Physicists discover family of tetraquarks

July 8, 2016

Physicists in the Syracuse University College of Arts and Sciences have made science history by confirming the existence of a rare four-quark particle and discovering evidence of three other “exotic” siblings.

Their findings are based on data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s biggest, most powerful particle accelerator, located at the CERN science laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.

Professor Tomasz Skwarnicki and Ph.D. student Thomas Britton G’16, both members of the Experimental High-Energy Physics Group at Syracuse and the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) collaboration at CERN, have confirmed the existence of a tetraquark candidate known as X(4140). They also have detected three other exotic particles with higher masses, called X(4274), X(4500) and X(4700). Read more

Erasing unpleasant memories with a genetic switch

June 30, 2016

Researchers from KU Leuven (Belgium) and the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology (Germany) have managed to erase unpleasant memories in mice using a ‘genetic switch’. Their findings were published in Biological Psychiatry.

Dementia, accidents, or traumatic events can make us lose the memories formed before the injury or the onset of the disease. Researchers from KU Leuven and the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology have now shown that some memories can also be erased when one particular gene is switched off. Read more

Scientists train for future missions on Mars using diverse flora in Utah

June 9, 2016

Future Martian explorers might not need to leave the Earth to prepare themselves for life on the Red Planet. The Mars Society have built an analogue research site in Utah, USA, which simulates the conditions on our neighbouring planet.

Practicing the methods needed to collect biological samples while wearing spacesuits, a team of Canadian scientists have studied the diverse local flora. Along with the lessons that one day will serve the first to conquer Mars, the researchers present an annotated checklist of the fungi, algae, cyanobacteria, lichens, and vascular plants from the station in their publication in the open-access journal Biodiversity Data Journal. Read more

Rapid eye movement sleep: Keystone of memory formation

May 16, 2016

For decades, scientists have fiercely debated whether rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – the phase where dreams appear – is directly involved in memory formation.

Now, a study published in Science by researchers at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute (McGill University) and the University of Bern provides evidence that REM sleep does, indeed, play this role – at least in mice.

“We already knew that newly acquired information is stored into different types of memories, spatial or emotional, before being consolidated or integrated,” says Sylvain Williams, a researcher and professor of psychiatry at McGill. Read more

Brain’s stopping system may be at fault for derailed train of thought

April 19, 2016

Have you had the experience of being just on the verge of saying something when the phone rang? Did you then forget what it is you were going to say? A study of the brain’s electrical activity offers a new explanation of how that happens.

Published in Nature Communications, the study comes from the lab of neuroscientist Adam Aron at the University of California San Diego, together with collaborators at Oxford University in the UK, and was led by first author Jan Wessel, while a post-doctoral scholar in the Aron Lab. The researchers suggest that the same brain system that is involved in interrupting, or stopping, movement in our bodies also interrupts cognition — which, in the example of the phone ringing, derails your train of thought. Read more

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