The human body is fine-tuned to Earth's gravity. Scientists are now conducting an experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) to study whether this also applies to human cells. We know the effect of gravity on muscles, bones and joints inside out; it has been studied extensively in medicine for centuries. For a long time, however, exactly how gravity affects the cells remained a mystery.
A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft full of NASA cargo, experiments and equipment blazed into orbit Friday, April 18, aboard the company's Falcon 9 rocket. The astronauts aboard the International Space Station will unload the supplies after the Dragon arrives at the orbiting research laboratory.
Psychologists have made a brain-related discovery that could revolutionize doctors' perception and treatment of attention-deficit disorders. This discovery opens up the possibility that environmental and/or genetic factors may hinder or suppress a specific brain activity that the researchers have identified as helping us prevent distraction.
The adage "Everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it" may one day be obsolete if researchers further develop a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning. Other possible uses of this technique could be used in long-distance sensors and spectrometers to identify chemical makeup.
Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But in the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More than just an insurance policy against late frosts or unexpected dry spells, it turns out that seed dormancy has long-term advantages too: plants whose seeds put off sprouting until conditions are more certain give rise to more species.
This shows the female penis of N. aurora. Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but related species in the genus Neotrogla, are the first example of an animal with sex-reversed genitalia.
This shows active droplets. Droplets of filamentous material enclosed in a lipid membrane: these are the models of a "simplified" cell used by the SISSA physicists Luca Giomi and Antonio DeSimone, who simulated the spontaneous emergence of cell motility and division - that is, features of living material - in inanimate "objects". The research is one of the cover stories of the April 10th online issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.
Mitochondria in hepatitis C-infected cells (bottom row) are self-destructing. The self-annihilation process explains the persistance and virulence of the virus in human liver cells. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a mechanism that explains why people with the hepatitis C virus get liver disease and why the virus is able to persist in the body for so long.