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

One Step Closer to Cyborgs: The development of artificial nerves

by Anqi Zhang figures by Daniel Utter Have you ever met anyone with only one leg or arm? I bet you have. An estimated 185,000 people undergo amputation procedures in the US every year, with the leading cause being vascular diseases. Thanks to the advances in medical devices, some of the functionalities of the lost limbs can be restored by artificial arms or legs, or … Continue reading One Step Closer to Cyborgs: The development of artificial nerves

World’s first clinical trial to treat Parkinson’s disease with stem cells

Researchers from Kyoto University in Japan started a clinical trial this month to treat Parkinson’s disease with reprogrammed stem cells. This follows the successful restoration of brain cell function in monkeys using these stem cells reported last year. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the loss of a specific type of neuron in the brain, called dopaminergic neurons, which make the essential neurotransmitter dopamine. The reduced … Continue reading World’s first clinical trial to treat Parkinson’s disease with stem cells

The Mysterious Fear Learner: The locus coeruleus

by Mona Han figures by Mona Han and Daniel Utter In the 19th century, Pavlov, a Russian scientist, electrically shocked dogs’ feet while ringing a bell. He found that his dogs quickly learned to dread the sound of his bell. We now think that learning to fear an innocuous stimulus, like the bell, is what underlies Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD patients dread things associated … Continue reading The Mysterious Fear Learner: The locus coeruleus

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