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Bee species with little known nesting-behavior observed to use plastic instead of leaves
Little is known about the nesting activities of some lineages of megachiline bees. Among their findings, published in the open access Journal of Hymenoptera Research, is a curious instance of a bee attempting to build brood cells using green pieces of plastic. While the former was seen carrying a freshly cut leaf, the latter seemed to have discovered a curious substitute in the form of green plastic.
Chiral metamaterial produces record optical shift under incremental power modulation
Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have demonstrated an optical metamaterial whose chiroptical properties in the nonlinear regime produce a significant spectral shift with power levels in the milliwatt range. The researchers recently demonstrated properties of their chiral metamaterial, in which they spectrally modified two absorptive resonances by incrementally exposing the material to power intensities beyond its linear optical regime. With a 15 milliwatt change in excitation power, they measured a 10-nanometer spectral shift in the material's transmission resonances and a 14-degree polarization rotation.
Pulling the curtain back on the high cost of drugs
Extreme price hikes for a handful of pharmaceuticals in recent years have severely soured public sentiment toward the industry. Drugmakers are pushing back with a public relations campaign to highlight the new treatments they bring to the table. Rick Mullin, a senior editor at C&EN, notes that part of the industry's reputation problem is one of oversimplification.
Nanoinjection increases survival rate of cells
When biophysicists want to understand what is happening in living cells, they have to introduce fluorescent probes or other foreign molecules. To overcome this resistance when delivering fluorescent probes into the cells, he has developed the method of nanoinjection. His colleague Matthias Simonis tested the nanoinjection method on more than 300 cells and compared the results with those of microinjection. The main finding was that 92 per cent of the cells survived nanoinjection compared to 40 per cent for microinjection.
Jackfruit seeds could help ease looming cocoa bean shortage
Worldwide demand for this mouth-watering treat is outstripping the production of cocoa beans, its primary ingredient. In Brazil, the largest cocoa producer in the Americas, jackfruit seeds are considered waste. The researchers made 27 jackfruit seed flours by acidifying or fermenting the seeds prior to drying. The researchers conclude that jackfruit seeds are capable of producing chocolate aromas and are a potential replacement for the aroma of cocoa powder or chocolate.
Mars Colonisation: NASA joins hands with an astronomical engineer to colonise Mars using 3D printing!
NASA is now one step closer to building a colony in Mars with the help of 3D printers. The space agency has joined hands with engineer Behrokh Khoshnevis to set up habitable houses in the Red Planet. The project, started in 2011, will use Contour Crafting (CC) technology to build houses in Mars. It's hard to imagine what we will have 100 years from now, or 50 years from now.
Saving the environment: Researchers use Google Street View to map ecosystem
A team of researchers, using nearly 100,000 images extracted from Google Street View, has developed a method to map and quantify how street trees regulate ecosystem services. The high resolution images allowed researchers to estimate the amount of solar radiation that reaches the Earth's surface. The team found that increasing the cover of the street tree canopy could reduce ground surface and air temperatures on Singapore's streets.
Researchers uncover the origins of ash tree dieback and set out ways to fight it
It is now threatening one of Europe's most common tree species, killing millions of ash trees across the entire continent. Ash dieback threatens hundreds of species of lichens, mosses, fungi, birds and plants that depend on the survival of the ash trees. Research suggests the tree species that would eventually replace ash would not be able to preserve the features of the initial ecosystems.
Want to eradicate viruses? They made us who we are
While this idea sounds outlandish, from conception to grave, your cells are intricately associated with viruses. Even if you don't have a cold or the flu, you are still part-virus as human DNA plays host to a range of different viruses. An example of this would be viruses which have a virion with a lipid membrane, such as influenza. This use of host components by viruses also makes it clear why it has been so difficult to develop effective antiviral drugs.
NASA data show California's San Joaquin Valley still sinking
Since the 1920s, excessive pumping of groundwater at thousands of wells in California's San Joaquin Valley has caused land in sections of the valley to subside, or sink, by as much as 28 feet (8.5 meters). Already, land subsidence has damaged thousands of public and private groundwater wells throughout the San Joaquin Valley. An initial report of the JPL findings analyzed radar data from several different sensors between 2006 and early 2015.
Protecting engineering materials from water impact
Mark Gee, Fellow at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), discusses new ways to assess and reduce erosion from water impact in an article for Adjacent Open Access. Erosion caused by the impact of water droplets on component surfaces can lead to failures in key technological applications. In response, NPL has designed and manufactured a rotating arm test system to evaluate the effectiveness of these new materials.
Conservation of Indonesian river and forest habitats in order to protect wildlife
TPSFs are important habitats for freshwater fish species, which are an important source of livelihood and protein for many of the communities living by the rivers and forests of Borneo. TPSFs are also vital to our global climate balance, storing significant amounts of carbon in their soils. It is therefore essential to improve our understanding of these wetland habitats, their importance for community livelihoods and cultures, and ultimately find ways of promoting conservation alongside community development.
Researchers imitate molecular crowding in cells
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles. In science, this constriction is called molecular crowding. The kinetics of chemical reactions by a given enzyme could thus be determined for the first time, taking molecular crowding into account.
When bigger mammals live longer than smaller ones, why do taller humans die younger?
In people, height is negatively correlated with longevity; that is, taller individuals don't tend to live as long. While these are extreme examples, in the general population there also is a trend of greater height leading to reduced longevity. For example, taller woman are more likely to suffer from cancer in later, post-menopausal life.
Automated measurement system enhances quality, reduces handling in Pu-238 production
Under a collaborative partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Energy (DOE), a new automated measurement system developed at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will ensure quality production of plutonium-238 while reducing handling by workers. The new automated measurement system robotically removes the Np-237 pellets from their holding tray, and measures their weight, diameter, and height. About 52 Np-237 pellets can be measured per hour using the new automated measurement system, Miller said.
Chemical reaction alters the colours of plasmonic prints
In plasmonic printing, colours are formed on the surfaces of tiny metallic particles when light excites their electrons to oscillate. The metallic particles, which usually appear silvery, copper-coloured or golden, then take on entirely new colours. These adjustment parameters therefore serve the same purpose in plasmonic printing as the palette of colours in painting. It can undergo a reversible chemical reaction in which the metallic character of the element is lost, explains Laura Na Liu, who leads the Stuttgart research group.
How to monitor urine in pools-by testing sweetness
Even though Olympic swimmers have admitted doing it, peeing in the pool is not a condoned practice. Urine contributes to the formation of compounds in pool water that can be harmful to people's health. To estimate how much urine-and potentially DBPs-might be in a given pool, Li's team needed to identify what compound might consistently be present in urine. Nitrogenous organics in urine can react with chlorine in swimming pools to form volatile and irritating N-Cl-amines.
UN sees bird flu changes but calls risk of people spread low (Update)
The World Health Organization says it has noticed mutations in the bird flu virus now spreading in China, but says the risk of the disease spreading easily between people remains low. Wenqing Zhang, head of WHO's flu department, said the rate is similar to what has been picked up in previous years. Although bird flu cases have surged this year, Barclay said there was no suggestion the virus is adapting more easily to human transmission.
Londoners among most likely to feel ground move beneath feet
London tops the table of 52 European cities for the number of people exposed to possible ground instability, according to a new study. Geohazards is a term covering a wide range of geological phenomena that have the potential to cause harm to property or people. For many Europeans, including authorities with environmental responsibility, this might be the first time that they've heard of the possible hazards lying beneath their feet, homes and workplaces.
Caterpillars found to use vibrations to attract other caterpillars
Prior research had shown that the tiny birch caterpillar uses parts of its body to communicate with other caterpillars. To learn more about communication among birch caterpillars, the researchers captured several specimens and brought them into their lab for study. Here, we present the first evidence that caterpillars produce complex vibratory signals to advertise food and shelter sites to conspecifics. The vibratory signaling repertoire of these tiny caterpillars exhibits a complexity rivaling that of eusocial insects.

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