Concrete

Roman Building Techniques – Stronger Than We Thought

There is something unusual about Roman sea walls: they last for a very long time. In fact, while modern concrete erodes when exposed to seawater and eventually requires replacement, Roman concrete grows even stronger. Professor Marie Jackson at the University of Utah investigated the old concrete using imaging techniques called electron microscopy, X-ray micro-diffraction, and Raman spectroscopy. The Romans made concrete out of a mixture of … Continue reading Roman Building Techniques – Stronger Than We Thought

Gallium

Scientists draw from nature to build a material that is both stiff and tough—a rarity in material science

In material science, it is difficult to engineer a material that is both highly stiff and tough. In the past, scientists have increased the stiffness of soft polymers by adding nano-sized particles of stiff materials (e.g. carbon nanotubes, silica), but this does not increase the toughness. Drawing inspiration from structures in nature that are both stiff and tough, scientists injected a flexible elastomer disc with pockets of liquid gallium. Compared to control structures, the addition of liquid gallium significantly increased the stiffness and toughness of the overall structure. While this study leaves us with several questions, it demonstrates that putting liquid inside of solid doesn’t necessarily make the combined material softer, thus contradicting a long-standing theory in the material-science world. Continue reading Scientists draw from nature to build a material that is both stiff and tough—a rarity in material science

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It’s Going Viral: (Re)-emerging viruses and epidemics in our increasingly global world

by Apurva Govande figures by Anna Maurer Viruses and the globe In a hidden part of our world exists the vastly diverse microscopic universe. This micro-universe exerts a great amount of influence on our lives via minuscule, unseen molecular packages like viruses. Viruses are tiny structures made of protein that can contain DNA or RNA (the more unstable cousin of DNA) to produce more viruses after infecting … Continue reading It’s Going Viral: (Re)-emerging viruses and epidemics in our increasingly global world

Teeth_SITN

Tooth Decay: An epidemic in America’s poorest children

by Leah Rosenbaum Last April, Dr. Paul Reggiardo saw a patient who was referred to his dental office in Huntington Beach, California from the local emergency room. She was an eight-year-old girl with facial swelling, the soft tissue on her head puffy from infection. It was facial cellulitis, said Reggiardo, caused by an infected tooth. He sees multiple cases like this each year: an untreated … Continue reading Tooth Decay: An epidemic in America’s poorest children

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What’s in Your Genes: Newly approved genetic testing for disease risks

by Catherine Weiner figures by Michael Gerhardt A decade ago, the idea of analyzing your DNA from the comfort of your own home seemed like science fiction. Tests required several weeks, thousands if not millions of dollars, and a lab of highly specialized PhDs. Today, thanks to technical advances and companies like 23andMe, you can perform this analysis for $199. The U.S. Food and Drug … Continue reading What’s in Your Genes: Newly approved genetic testing for disease risks

Autism_boy_help

Potential repurposing of sleeping-sickness drug for autism

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication. The cause of autism is unknown, but several theories have been proposed. One theory speculates that exposure to stress or other cellular threats can trigger a “cellular danger response” involving purines. If this self-defense mechanism is not regulated properly, the response can remain permanently active, ultimately affecting neuronal development and lead to autism. Based on this theory, Dr. Robert … Continue reading Potential repurposing of sleeping-sickness drug for autism

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The war on malaria gets a new weapon: a toxic fungus

As mosquitoes develop resistance to insecticides used to control their populations, scientists have been developing new tools. The latest idea: infecting mosquitoes with a fungus genetically engineered to produce arachnid toxins. After infecting the mosquitoes with fungal spores, the bugs showed increase mortality within 2.5 days after exposure and fed less in the days before their death, compared to their healthy counterparts. Continue reading The war on malaria gets a new weapon: a toxic fungus