Exploring The Underground Network of Trees – The Nervous System of the Forest

by Valentina Lagomarsino figures by Hannah Zucker When scientists first studied the structure of nerve cells that comprise the human brain, they noted their strong resemblance to trees. In fact, dendrites, the term to describe projections from a nerve cell, comes from the Greek word Dendron, for “tree.” While the connection in the appearance of nerve cells was made to trees, the comparison may have been more … Continue reading Exploring The Underground Network of Trees – The Nervous System of the Forest

Read My Mind: An Implant That Translates Brain Activity into Speech

For those who lose or lack the ability to speak, communication can be slow and painstaking. For example, towards the end of his life famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking communicated solely through the movement of a single cheek muscle as a result of his motor neuron disease (ASL). With the aim of finding a solution to this problem, a team at University of California have coupled … Continue reading Read My Mind: An Implant That Translates Brain Activity into Speech

When conservation isn’t enough: rewilding lost ecosystems

Last week, a new study reported that the Antarctic’s second largest colony of emperor penguins continues to decline, after warming weather and high winds led to the loss of over 15,000 eggs in 2016. With reports like these becoming depressingly commonplace, environmental biologists are thinking of out-of-the-box solutions to fight the destruction of ecosystems around the world. One popular solution: Rewilding. Rewilding involves active and … Continue reading When conservation isn’t enough: rewilding lost ecosystems

River Dolphins Have a Surprisingly Large Vocabulary

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is home to a dizzying array of life, from colorful poisonous frogs to deadly jaguars. One resident is the Araguaian river dolphin, which was only recently discovered by scientists in 2014. Unlike playful ocean dolphins, the Araguaian river dolphin is relatively solitary. Mother dolphins interact frequently with their baby calves, but rarely do adults interact with each other. Because of the river … Continue reading River Dolphins Have a Surprisingly Large Vocabulary

The Computer Science behind DNA Sequencing

by Alex Cabral figures by Sean Wilson In 2003, with the completion of the Human Genome Project, the entire human genome was sequenced for the first time. The sequencing cost nearly $1 billion and took 13 years to complete. Today, the human genome can be sequenced for about $1000 in less than two days. Industry leaders hope to bring that cost down to just $100 within … Continue reading The Computer Science behind DNA Sequencing

Need to jog your memory? A zap to the brain could help

As you read this article, you may not be consciously trying to memorize each sentence, but the words do need to stick around temporarily. After all, you have to remember what you just read to understand the full article. This is your working memory, sometimes called “short-term memory,” and it allows us to remember things just long enough to complete a task. Its decline is … Continue reading Need to jog your memory? A zap to the brain could help

Evidence of an Ancient Human Species Unearthed in the Philippines

In 2007, during an excavation on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, archeologist Armand Salvador Mijares discovered a 67,000-year-old foot bone that led scientists to rethink the history of human evolution.  The bone had features resembling hominins—a subfamily of primates comprised of modern Homo sapiens and others closely related human species.  The finding provided the earliest direct evidence of human presence in the Philippines, … Continue reading Evidence of an Ancient Human Species Unearthed in the Philippines

Clean Corn? Study Measures Effects of Air Pollution in Corn Farming

Air pollution conjures up images of dirty factory smokestacks or crowded traffic-clogged cities. A recent study, however, revealed that one significant source of air pollution in America is actually associated with corn. The researchers found that the fertilizer used to increase crop yields can cause a kind of air pollution called PM2.5 (Particle Matter 2.5 micrometers thick), resulting in negative health impacts for people living nearby. … Continue reading Clean Corn? Study Measures Effects of Air Pollution in Corn Farming

Speedy Plants for Improving Food Production Efficiency

By introducing a tool commonly used to study brain function into the leaves of plants, researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed a technique that shows promise in improving the efficiency of food production by controlling how quickly plants respond to changing conditions. Not only does this method produce a more desirable solution to improving efficiency than previous methods, it also highlights the importance of employing tools in non-conventional scenarios to produce clever solutions to complex problems. Continue reading Speedy Plants for Improving Food Production Efficiency

Pain works differently between the sexes

For a long time, scientists did not often carefully consider sex as a variable in their research, and often worked with only male or only female animals depending on the ease of housing and handling these animals. In 2016, the NIH began requiring grant applications to justify the choice of sex of experimental animals, as part of a growing movement to consider sex as a … Continue reading Pain works differently between the sexes