The mountains of Pluto are snowcapped, but not for the same reasons as on Earth — ScienceDaily

In 2015, the New Horizons space probe discovered spectacular snowcapped mountains on Pluto, which are strikingly similar to mountains on Earth. Such a landscape had never before been observed elsewhere in the Solar System. However, as atmospheric temperatures on our planet decrease at altitude, on Pluto they heat up at altitude as a result of solar radiation.

So where does this ice come from? An international team led by CNRS scientists* conducted this exploration. They first determined that the “snow” on Pluto’s mountains actually consists of frozen methane, with traces of this gas being present in Pluto’s atmosphere, just like water vapour on Earth.

Then, to understand how the same landscape could be produced in such different conditions, they used a climate model for the dwarf planet, which revealed that due to its particular dynamics, Pluto’s atmosphere is rich in gaseous methane at altitudes. As a result, it is only

Read More
Read More

A study detailing the processes that control mole size may help scientists find new ways to prevent skin cancer from growing — ScienceDaily

Moles stop growing when they reach a certain size due to normal interactions between cells, despite having cancer-associated gene mutations, says a new study published today in eLife.

The findings in mice could help scientists develop new ways to prevent skin cancer growth that take advantage of the normal mechanisms that control cell growth in the body.

Mutations that activate the protein made by the BRAF gene are believed to contribute to the development of skin cancer. However, recent studies have shown that these mutations do not often cause skin cancer, but instead result in the formation of completely harmless pigmented moles on the skin. In fact, 90% of moles have these cancer-linked mutations but never go on to form tumours. “Exploring why moles stop growing might lead us to a better understanding of what goes wrong in skin cancer,” says lead author Roland Ruiz-Vega, a postdoctoral researcher at

Read More
Read More

Researchers are working on tech so machines can thermally ‘breathe’ — ScienceDaily

In the era of electric cars, machine learning and ultra-efficient vehicles for space travel, computers and hardware are operating faster and more efficiently. But this increase in power comes with a trade-off: They get superhot.

To counter this, University of Central Florida researchers are developing a way for large machines to “breathe” in and out cooling blasts of water to keep their systems from overheating.

The findings are detailed in a recent study in the journal Physical Review Fluids.

The process is much like how humans and some animals breath in air to cool their bodies down, except in this case, the machines would be breathing in cool blasts of water, says Khan Rabbi, a doctoral candidate in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and lead author of the study.

“Our technique used a pulsed water-jet to cool a hot titanium surface,” Rabbi says. “The more water we

Read More
Read More

Boosting the efficiency of single-cell RNA-sequencing helps reveal subtle differences between healthy and dysfunctional cells — ScienceDaily

Sequencing RNA from individual cells can reveal a great deal of information about what those cells are doing in the body. MIT researchers have now greatly boosted the amount of information gleaned from each of those cells, by modifying the commonly used Seq-Well technique.

With their new approach, the MIT team could extract 10 times as much information from each cell in a sample. This increase should enable scientists to learn much more about the genes that are expressed in each cell, and help them to discover subtle but critical differences between healthy and dysfunctional cells.

“It’s become clear that these technologies have transformative potential for understanding complex biological systems. If we look across a range of different datasets, we can really understand the landscape of health and disease, and that can give us information as to what therapeutic strategies we might employ,” says Alex K. Shalek, an associate professor

Read More
Read More

Earphone tracks facial expressions, even with a face mask — ScienceDaily

Cornell University researchers have invented an earphone that can continuously track full facial expressions by observing the contour of the cheeks — and can then translate expressions into emojis or silent speech commands.

With the ear-mounted device, called C-Face, users could express emotions to online collaborators without holding cameras in front of their faces — an especially useful communication tool as much of the world engages in remote work or learning.

With C-Face, avatars in virtual reality environments could express how their users are actually feeling, and instructors could get valuable information about student engagement during online lessons. It could also be used to direct a computer system, such as a music player, using only facial cues.

“This device is simpler, less obtrusive and more capable than any existing ear-mounted wearable technologies for tracking facial expressions,” said Cheng Zhang, assistant professor of information science and senior author of “C-Face: Continuously

Read More
Read More

The effects of repeated droughts on different kinds of forests — ScienceDaily

Drought is endemic to the American West along with heatwaves and intense wildfires. But scientists are only beginning to understand how the effects of multiple droughts can compound to affect forests differently than a single drought alone.

UC Santa Barbara forest ecologist Anna Trugman — along with her colleagues at the University of Utah, Stanford University and the U.S. Forest Service — investigated the effects of repeated, extreme droughts on various types of forests across the globe. They found that a variety of factors can increase and decrease a forest’s resilience to subsequent droughts. However, the study, published in Nature Climate Change, concluded that successive droughts are generally increasingly detrimental to forests, even when each drought was no more extreme than the initial one.

Droughts usually leave individual trees more vulnerable to subsequent droughts. “Compounding extreme events can be really stressful on forests and trees,” said Trugman, an assistant

Read More
Read More

Unique view into the new Arctic — ScienceDaily

With the return of the Polarstern, the largest Arctic expedition of all times has come to a successful end. For more than a year, the German research icebreaker travelled in 5 cruise legs with more than 400 people from 20 countries to investigate the epicentre of climate change more precisely than ever before. At the end of the expedition, which cost around 140 million euros, the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), came to a positive conclusion: despite all the unforeseeable difficulties, it had succeeded in advancing knowledge about the Earth’s climate system and its changes by a decisive step.

From Leipzig’s point of view, the complex project was also successful: all 7 participants from the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) and the Leipzig University are back in good health and with valuable climate data. Two measurement programmes that are central to research into

Read More
Read More

The deep sea is slowly warming — ScienceDaily

New research reveals temperatures in the deep sea fluctuate more than scientists previously thought and a warming trend is now detectable at the bottom of the ocean.

In a new study in AGU’s journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers analyzed a decade of hourly temperature recordings from moorings anchored at four depths in the Atlantic Ocean’s Argentine Basin off the coast of Uruguay. The depths represent a range around the average ocean depth of 3,682 meters (12,080 feet), with the shallowest at 1,360 meters (4,460 feet) and the deepest at 4,757 meters (15,600 feet).

They found all sites exhibited a warming trend of 0.02 to 0.04 degrees Celsius per decade between 2009 and 2019 — a significant warming trend in the deep sea where temperature fluctuations are typically measured in thousandths of a degree. According to the study authors, this increase is consistent with warming trends in the shallow ocean

Read More
Read More

Researchers confirm the safety of home discharge for low-risk patients with COVID-19 — ScienceDaily

A new study shows that the vast majority of patients who visited the Ruth and Harry Roman Emergency Department at Cedars-Sinai with suspected COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) symptoms, and who were treated and sent home to recuperate, recovered within a week.

The study, published by the Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians Open, showed that none of those patients died from the virus and fewer than 1% required intensive care.

“When the pandemic began there was minimal evidence to guide us as to who should be hospitalized and who could be sent home,” said Sam Torbati, MD, co-chair and medical director of the Ruth and Harry Roman Emergency Department at Cedars-Sinai. “In real time, we began developing our criteria for who needed hospitalization for monitoring, intensive care, and who could recover at home. And this study shows our patients received the appropriate level of care.”

In the retrospective study,

Read More
Read More

New 3-D model of a DNA-regulating complex in human cells provides cancer clues — ScienceDaily

Scientists have created an unprecedented 3-dimensional structural model of a key molecular “machine” known as the BAF complex, which modifies DNA architecture and is frequently mutated in cancer and some other diseases. The researchers, led by Cigall Kadoch, PhD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, have reported the first 3-D structural “picture” of BAF complexes purified directly from human cells in their native states — rather than artificially synthesized in the laboratory -providing an opportunity to spatially map thousands of cancer-associated mutations to specific locations within the complex.

“A 3-D structural model, or ‘picture,’ of how this complex actually looks inside the nucleus of our cells has remained elusive — until now,” says Kadoch. The newly obtained model represents “the most complete picture of the human BAF complex achieved to date,” said the investigators, reporting in the journal Cell.

These new findings “provide a critical foundation for understanding human disease-associated mutations

Read More
Read More