- Parent Category: Microbiology
- Category: Research
Are viruses alive? Viruses have found an ingenious way of perpetuating themselves, without ever being truly alive.
Unlike most living organisms, they can be frozen or boiled, but then explode into life if conditions are right. Viruses enter other organisms' cells and take over their machinery, making copies of themselves, but they can't "reproduce" on their own.
Using a combination of imaging techniques, researchers have determined that some viruses infect cells by piercing the cells' outer membranes, digesting the walls and injecting virus DNA into the cell. These findings explain how viruses invade cells and offer a new way to deliver genes and drugs directly into cells.
The study, funded by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Biological Sciences Directorate, was led by researchers Michael Rossman of Purdue University and Vadim Mesyanzhinov of the Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry in Moscow. The team studied the structure of the bacteriophage T4—a virus that attacks the familiar microbe E. coli.
- Parent Category: Mathematics
- Category: News
Scientists in Spain have proven the existence of gas-phase electride materials through a computational method with the ability to distinguish electrides from similar ionic compounds.
Ionic compounds usually comprise both positive and negative ions – a typical example being sodium chloride. Electrides are a rare and unique type of ionic compound where isolated electrons held in space through electrostatic forces constitute the anionic part. Owing to their distinctive magnetic, chemical, electric and optical properties, electrides are promising materials for a plethora of applications including catalysts for ammonia production, hydrogen storage agents and optoelectronic devices. However, being difficult to synthesise and characterise, up to now only 10 electrides have been prepared and only three are stable at room temperature. ‘Their experimental characterisation is only possible by indirect means,’ explains Eduard Matito from the University of Girona who led the work. ‘The density of a free electron – or a handful of them – is not large enough to be located in the x-ray of a crystal structure.’
- Parent Category: Imaging
- Category: Techniques
Lattice light sheet microscopy, a new imaging platform developed at Janelia, lets biologists see 3-D images of subcellular activity in real time.
- Parent Category: Engineering
- Category: Robotics
This past fall, Ph.D. student Anthony Spears’ studies with the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Georgia Tech took him to one of the most remote places on earth.
Spears spent October and November in Antarctica as part of Georgia Tech’s Sub-Ice Marine and PLanetary-analog Ecosystems (SIMPLE) team. The SIMPLE team is made up of researchers from ECE, the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, as well as other research institutions across the United States. Their research involves the design, development, and testing of an autonomous underwater vehicle for use in polar regions.
The team’s focus is on the formation and evolution of icy ocean environments that mimic the conditions on Jupiter’s innermost moon, Europa. Their findings will help determine if Europa could support life and inform future exploration to the icy moon.
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