In a Ghostly Mirror Rainbow

Europium and terbium are two rare earth elements that share a colorful similarity: they emit bright red and green light, respectively, when exposed to ultraviolet light. In the image above, there are five thin polymer films embedded with different concentrations of europium and terbium. The far-left film contains primarily terbium, hence the bright green light, while the far-right film contains primarily the red light-emitting europium. … Continue reading In a Ghostly Mirror Rainbow

Hope for Alzheimer’s patients? The first positive clinical trial results in years

In 2018, approximately 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, a number that is expected to double within the next 30 years. Alzheimer’s disease causes memory loss, mood changes, and eventually difficulty speaking, swallowing, and walking. Currently, no medication exists that can slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and no new treatments have been approved by the FDA in more than 15 … Continue reading Hope for Alzheimer’s patients? The first positive clinical trial results in years

Heat waves hurt your brain: the argument for window AC units

As our planet warms, the effects of heat on the human body will become important information. The human body is capable of dealing with heat, but reprieves are needed to allow our systems to rest, else our bodies become over-stressed. This reprieve often comes in the form of night, when temperatures typically  cool. During heat waves, nights remain toasty, and reprieves only exist for those … Continue reading Heat waves hurt your brain: the argument for window AC units

It’s a planet! Scientists find newborn planet for the first time

After a new star is born, the surrounding gas and dust flattens out into a rotating disk. Some of that matter will condense, eventually forming the planets that circle the star. Unfortunately, it is challenging to watch the formation of a new planet. Light from the star tends to drown out light from the planet. Astronomers have only been able to spot planet-like-objects in these … Continue reading It’s a planet! Scientists find newborn planet for the first time

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: How tomato plants cause cannibalism

by Katherine Wu Herbivores, beware: the humble tomato plant has a trick up its sleeve. When under attack by pests such as caterpillars, plants can goad their predators into selecting another meal: each other. In a study published in July 2017 in Nature Ecology & Evolution, a team of scientists led by Dr. John Orrock at the University of Wisconsin-Madison demonstrated for the first time … Continue reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower: How tomato plants cause cannibalism

How to Talk to Your Plants: Using LEDs to grow better crops

by Andrew McAllister Plants are terrible listeners. I’ve told the plants on my windowsill, “Grow taller, grow faster! Make more delicious leaves for me to put in my food!”, but they just grow in the same slow way they’ve been doing since I bought them. Farmers and florists share my pain, but on a larger scale. Sometimes, no matter what you do the squash isn’t … Continue reading How to Talk to Your Plants: Using LEDs to grow better crops

Cell Fate

As humans, we are aware that we are committed to a certain fate: we are born, we live, and we inevitably die. We are less aware that each of the trillion cells in our bodies also have a fate of their own, and everyday each cell has to decide whether to give birth, live, or die. Not all cells can give “birth” (aka, divide via … Continue reading Cell Fate

You Asked: Why don’t sheep shrink in the rain?

by Katherine Wu Everyone remembers their first. Their first wool sock lost to the treacherous waters of the washing machine, that is. Wool clothing shrinks when it’s wet – so shouldn’t sheep, which are covered in the same material, shrivel up after torrential downpour? Yes – and just like your sweaters, the simple household trick of soaking sheep in conditioner and stretching them back out … Continue reading You Asked: Why don’t sheep shrink in the rain?

Less of the Same: Rebooting the antibiotic pipeline

by Francesca Tomasi figures by Aparna Nathan Too Much of a Good Thing? Ninety years ago, Alexander Fleming happened upon the chemical compound penicillin and sparked a medical revolution. It was a serendipitous occasion – Fleming had been growing plates of bacteria in his lab when he noticed some mold growing on one of them. Just some classic contamination, he probably thought, ready to discard … Continue reading Less of the Same: Rebooting the antibiotic pipeline

Bacteria snatch up foreign material using specialized arm-like structures

In order to adapt to their environments, it is important that bacteria be able to mix up their genetic code. One way that bacteria do this is by taking up bits of free-floating foreign DNA that can be released by other kinds of bacteria into their environments when they die. This process is called ‘transformation.’ The pieces of DNA can occasionally encode components that make … Continue reading Bacteria snatch up foreign material using specialized arm-like structures