news from the lab 2014
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EPFL chemists have developed a method that can significantly increase the yield of sugars from plants, improving the production of renewable fuels, chemicals, and materials.
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute and EPFL have developed a new type of biosensor able to precisely quantify metabolites using a single drop of blood.
Sleeping sickness-causing parasites contain an unusual protein synthesis machinery. A team of researchers from ETH Zurich and the University of Bern resolved its very special structure for the first time.
In Lakes Thun and Brienz, evolutionary biologists from Eawag and Bern University have discovered a new whitefish species.
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Fruit flies respond more effectively to danger when in a group. A research team discovered this behavior as well as the neural circuits which relay this information, opening a new field of research.
How do fireflies produce those mesmerizing light flashes? Using cuttingedge imaging techniques, scientists from Switzerland and Taiwan have unraveled the firefly's intricate light-producing system for the first time. Fireflies used rapid light flashes to communicate. This "bioluminescence" is an intriguing phenomenon that has many potential applications, from drug testing and monitoring water contamination, and even lighting up streets using glow-in-dark trees and plants.
The need for ever faster and more efficient electronic devices is growing rapidly, and thus the demand for new materials with new properties. Oxides, especially ones based on strontium titanate (SrTiO 3 ), play an important role here. Researchers recently discovered that SrTiO 3 , although actually an insulator, can form a metallic layer on its surface, in which electric current can flow.
The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS ) collaboration has today presented its latest results. These are based on the analysis of 41 billion particles detected with the space-based AMS detector aboard the International Space Station. The results, presented during a seminar at CERN 2 , provide new insights into the nature of the mysterious excess of positrons observed in the flux of cosmic rays.
After dementing the romours that Roche would buy all the outstanding shares of Chugai it does not yet own, the pharma giant has after all been involved in some mergers and acquisitions activity with a $8.3 billion offer in cash for InterMune.
Scientists have clarified the workings of thalidomide at the molecular level. Their analysis of various structures indicates that the drug can interfere with cellular processes in two different ways-once preventing and once promoting protein degradation-thus explaining its diverse clinical effects. In the early 1960s, thalidomide - a drug widely prescribed at that time as a sedative and for the treatment of morning sickness in pregnancy - became notorious when it was found to cause birth defects.
The manipulation of atoms has reached a new level: Physicists were able to place 20 single atoms on a fully insulated surface at room temperature to form the smallest “Swiss cross”, thus taking a big step towards next generation atomic-scale storage devices. Ever since the 1990s, physicists have been able to directly control surface structures by moving and positioning single atoms to certain atomic sites.
Scientists have resolved the mechanism controlling the maintenance of the light detectors - the cone photoreceptor outer segments - in the retina. With this knowledge, they have been able to induce the formation of functional photoreceptors in cultured retinas derived from embryonic stem cells. This opens up exciting new avenues for the study and treatment of blindness.
The CMS experiment at CERN reports new results on an important property of the Higgs particle, whose discovery was announced by the ATLAS and CMS experiments on 4 July 2012. The CMS result follows preliminary results from both experiments, which both reported strong evidence for the fermionic decay late in 2013.
The brains of bilingual people do not differ in their structure, but are capable of developing differentiated strategies according to the demands placed on them by particular contexts.
Something went wrong when gluing something? No problem. Researchers have developed a polymer structure which is capable of reversibly gluing materials together using nothing but light.
CERN 's CLOUD experiment has shown that biogenic vapours emitted by trees and oxidised in the atmosphere have a significant impact on the formation of clouds, thus helping to cool the planet. These biogenic aerosols are what give forests seen from afar their characteristic blue haze. The CLOUD study shows that the oxidised biogenic vapours bind with sulphuric acid to form embryonic particles which can then grow to become the seeds on which cloud droplets can form.
A research has shown that limb motor control is regulated by a selective synaptic connectivity matrix between the brainstem and the spinal cord. In particular, the researchers have pinpointed a brainstem area responsible for the control of grasping. This is the first time it has been possible to link defined neuronal circuit elements unequivocally to a specific phase of movement.
Scientists have used a particle accelerator to obtain high-speed 3D X-ray visualizations of the flight muscles of flies. The team developed a groundbreaking new CT scanning technique at the PSI's Swiss Light Source to allow them to film inside live flying insects. 3D movies of the blowfly flight motor offer a glimpse into the inner workings of one of nature's most complex mechanisms, showing that structural deformations are the key to understanding how a fly controls its wingbeat.
Data on a hard drive is stored by flipping small magnetic domains. Researchers have now changed the magnetic arrangement in a material much faster than is possible with today's hard drives. The researchers used a new technique where an electric field triggers these changes, in contrast to the magnetic fields commonly used in consumer devices.
Chemists have developed a one-pot synthesis process to encapsulate nanoparticles. This type of particle could improve the antimicrobial coating of implants.
A research team developed a computer programme to identify mutations causing certain genetic diseases by analysing the genome sequencing data. The software can also detect the mutations leading to the appearance of tumours in patients with cancer. It is available to researchers all over the world.
Development of the nematode C. elegans is directed by rhythmic patterns of protein production. As researchers have shown, oscillations with an 8-hour period occur across a wide variety of tissues, structures, cells and genes. The extent of the phenomenon suggests that the process involved could be a fundamental mechanism in the development of many organisms .
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