The Frustrating Search for New Physics

by Daniel Ang figures by Aparna Nathan Particle physics says that the universe shouldn’t exist. This is a radical claim! But if the current theories that underlie particle physics are correct and complete, then the Big Bang that birthed the universe would have simply resulted in a massive flash of light. Nothing else would remain – no stars, planets or galaxies. And neither you nor … Continue reading The Frustrating Search for New Physics

Biologists and Physicists Work Together to Image Subcellular Interactions Like Never Before

Antibiotics, while life-saving, can also wreak havoc on healthy systems. The drugs work by attacking the protein-synthesizing center (ribosomes) in bacteria. When the ribosomes in human cells are mistaken for bacterial ribosomes, antibiotics can cause a range of side effects from nausea to kidney failure. To understand what conditions cause healthy cells to be attacked, scientists are implementing novel imagining techniques to study interactions between … Continue reading Biologists and Physicists Work Together to Image Subcellular Interactions Like Never Before

Amygdala On My Mind

The amygdala is an area of the brain named for its almond shape (amygdala is Latin for almond). The amygdala is necessary for any biologically significant event, or anything related to survival, because of its involvement in decision-making, memory, and emotional responses, including both positive and negative. The amygdala is most commonly known for its role in aversive learning, in which a behavior is taught … Continue reading Amygdala On My Mind

Looking for a Trash Can: Nuclear waste management in the United States

by Madeleine Jennewein figures by Rebecca Senft Across the United States, nuclear waste is accumulating in poorly maintained piles. 90,000 metric tons of nuclear waste requiring disposal are currently in temporary storage. The United States, however, has yet to construct a long-term storage solution for this waste, leaving the nuclear material vulnerable to extreme weather events such as hurricanes, rising sea levels, and wildfire. Nuclear … Continue reading Looking for a Trash Can: Nuclear waste management in the United States

How Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing Services Led to the Capture of the Golden State Killer

by Raehoon Jeong figures by Jovana Andrejevic Like fingerprints, each person’s DNA, or genetic code, is unique. Therefore, DNA evidence from traces like hair or blood found at crime scenes can be used to exonerate or incriminate suspects. However, DNA evidence is generally only helpful when it matches the DNA of a suspect or of someone in the FBI’s criminal database. Oftentimes, this is not … Continue reading How Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing Services Led to the Capture of the Golden State Killer

Pee is for Pregnant: The history and science of urine-based pregnancy tests

by Kelsey Tyssowski figures by Olivia Foster Let me look at your pee, and I’ll tell you your future. For over 3000 years, women wondering if they’ll be mothers have heard some variation of this phrase. In the first known pregnancy tests, ancient Egyptian women urinated on barley or wheat seeds: quickly sprouting seeds indicated pregnancy. While this may sound like pseudoscience, several modern studies … Continue reading Pee is for Pregnant: The history and science of urine-based pregnancy tests

Why Mosquitoes Like You The Most

Carrying diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus and yellow fever, a few species of mosquitoes are responsible for more than one million deaths each year. Certain species of mosquitoes actually prefer feeding on humans, and even show preferences between people. A common wives’ tale suggests to kids that mosquitoes prefer sweeter blood (“eat more veggies!”). However, there is no scientific evidence supporting changing your … Continue reading Why Mosquitoes Like You The Most

Zombie genes help eradicate elephant cancer in early stages

Let’s consider a paradox of probabilities. If all cells have the same risk of becoming cancerous, then the likelihood of developing cancer is proportional to the number of cells in an animal. This argument generally holds true for the incidence of cancer and body size for individuals within a given species. However, when comparing across different animal species, there is no constant proportionality between body … Continue reading Zombie genes help eradicate elephant cancer in early stages

Mitochondrial Transfer: The making of three-parent babies

by Catherine Weiner figures by Rebecca Clements The question, “where do babies come from?” used to have a simple answer. A man and woman have sex, the male sperm fertilizes the female egg, and 9 months later a baby is born. But in today’s world, medical advances have complicated this answer. For example, a new technique called mitochondrial transfer has recently emerged to prevent the … Continue reading Mitochondrial Transfer: The making of three-parent babies