When I enter my lab, I’m greeted by the pops and crackles of mantis shrimp smashing snail shells with tiny hammers moving at bullet-like accelerations. Other days, I listen to their eerie, low-frequency rumbles, joined by the scratchy rasps of the violin- like mechanism that spiny lobsters use to scare away predators. For the past twenty years, I have probed the physics and evolution of these and other strange and wonderful creatures. Many have revealed unexpected insights into extraordinary capabilities that are unmatched by human- made systems.
DURHAM, N.C. -- Allowing underwater seismic surveys for oil and gas to be conducted off the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Southeast coasts could pose a substantial threat to one of the world’s most critically endangered whale species, a group of leading marine scientists say.
Scientists can now watch how hundreds of individual cells work together to maintain and regenerate skin tissue, thanks to a genetically engineered line of technicolor zebrafish.
Every cell on the surface of the fish, from the center of the eye to the tip of each scale, is genetically programmed to glow with a slightly different hue. But these zebrafish weren’t bred to brighten up an aquarium; the colors effectively stamp each cell with a permanent barcode, letting scientists track its movements in a live animal for days or even weeks at a time.
Consumers can easily go astray—especially if they are ordering naughty items or treating themselves for doing good deeds. And please, don’t trust them with portion sizes. At least that’s what the results of three studies done by Fuqua researchers examining consumer habits suggest.
Tiny spirals of DNA can encode more than just the color of your eyes or the shape of your nose. Using self-assembling DNA wires, Duke engineer Chris Dwyer is building optical computing chips so compact that you could cram 5,000 movies on a single CD-sized disc. The chromophores (red dots) absorb light and transform it into packets of energy called excitons. Then these excitons leap from chromophore to chromophore in a specific pattern.
This 3D scan of the fossilized hand of Australopithecus sediba, a human ancestor whose two-million-year-old remains were discovered in a South African cave, is one of nearly 9,000 fossil scans available for download at MorphoSource.org. Visitors to the site can zoom in or out and rotate the fossil scans, download them and even make their own physical copies to hold in their hands using 3-D printing.
Mongolia, a country of rugged, windswept expanses, is home to three million people and 50 million horses, camels, sheep and cattle. It is there that Greg Gray, professor of global health, infectious diseases and environmental sciences, has set up a remote research outpost that could detect the next global infectious disease pandemic.
The muscle cells of a zebrafish heart, called cardiomyocytes and colored red in this image, are able to re-grow after an injury, something cell biologist Ken Poss and cardiologist Ravi Karra would like to teach human heart cells to do. This image comes from 2015 paper in PNAS, in which their team identified a gene transcription factor that is key to the regeneration program activated in cardiomyocytes after an injury.
Rising seas threaten coastal marshes worldwide, like this marsh just outside Venice, Italy pictured in a satellite image. But a new study by Marco Marani of the Nicholas School finds marshes are more resilient than previously believed. Elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 boost plant biomass production, allowing marshes to trap more sediment and generate more organic soil.