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
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
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
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?
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
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
Approximately 12% of Americans experience migraines. For some people, the attacks are so frequent and painful that episodes can be incapacitating. Historically, doctors have tried a variety of approaches to treating the condition, including drugs that numb nerves, medications that constrict blood flow, and as well as a variety of behavioral approaches. While some patients have found relief using these methods, many are not helped … Continue reading Migraines: Can New Antibody Treatment Help Stop Treatment Resistant Migraines