Tag Archives | Science

Scientists Target New Painkillers From Spider Venom

Scientists may be excited about the prospect of a new class of painkillers derived from spider venom, but will Big Pharma go for them if they’re not highly addictive? From the Wall Street Journal:

Scientists in Australia, home to some of the most poisonous creatures on Earth, have made an important discovery about spider venom that eventually could lead to a new class of painkillers.

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The greenbottle blue tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens) is one of seven species of spiders whose venom Australian researchers found has potential painkilling properties. The creature is native to Venezuela and has some of the most dramatic coloring of any spider species.

Spiders use their venom to immobilize or kill their prey. Researchers from the University of Queensland isolated seven peptides—the building blocks of proteins—in spider venom that blocked the molecular pathway responsible for sending pain signals from the nerves to the brain. One peptide in particular, from a Borneo orange-fringed tarantula, had the right structure, stability and potency to potentially become a painkilling drug, the researchers said.

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Communication from the Future

time-traveller- 3Communication from the Future Discovered and Proven to be REAL!

Did you know that there was a study conducted to see if someone from the future was here present in our time? Yes, it’s true! Astrophysicists – Robert Nemiroff and Teresa Wilson at Michigan Tech University did just that as reported in 2014. They figured that if someone from the future traveled back to our time, there may be trace evidence. Someone may have done internet searches of future events. The search dates would have been prior to the events and would stand out that way. If enough of these searches were traced to one user, it could reveal a pattern of advanced knowledge.

After exhausting their funds, the results of the study remained inconclusive. However, in response to a question posted on one website asking: “Do you believe communication through time would be possible?” I replied that “I believe it has already happened.” Only because I believe that our near future thinkers will be quantum computers with artificial intelligence.… Read the rest

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Tools Found In Kenya 700,000 Years Older Than Previous Record Holder

"LakeTurkanaSouthIsland" by User:Doron - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

LakeTurkanaSouthIsland” by User:DoronOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The tools are 3.3 million years old.

Ian Johnston via The Independent:

The world’s oldest tools – made by ancestors of modern humans some 3.3 million years ago – have been found in Kenya.

Stones had been deliberately “knapped” or flaked to make a sharp cutting edge, researchers said, according to Sciencemagazine.

They are about 700,000 years older than the previous record holder and are likely to have been made by Australopithecus, an ape-like ancestor of Homo sapiens, or another species, Kenyanthropus.

Archaeologist Sonia Harmand, of New York’s Stony Brook University, told the annual meeting of the US Paleoanthropology Society: “The artefacts were clearly knapped and not the result of accidental fracture of rocks.”

About 150 flakes, the stones they were taken from and anvils on which the stones were placed while they were struck were found near Lake Turkana in Kenya.

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How a bee sting saved my life: poison as medicine

© Victoria Jenkins

© Victoria Jenkins

Ellie Lobel was ready to die. Then she was attacked by bees.
Christie Wilcox hears how venom can be a saviour.

“I moved to California to die.”

Ellie Lobel was 27 when she was bitten by a tick and contracted Lyme disease. And she was not yet 45 when she decided to give up fighting for survival.

Caused by corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which enter the body through the bite of a tick, Lyme disease is diagnosed in around 300,000 people every year in the United States. It kills almost none of these people, and is by and large curable – if caught in time. If doctors correctly identify the cause of the illness early on, antibiotics can wipe out the bacteria quickly before they spread through the heart, joints and nervous system.

But back in the spring of 1996, Ellie didn’t know to look for the characteristic bull’s-eye rash when she was bitten – she thought it was just a weird spider bite.… Read the rest

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Do our genes tell us how to vote? Study of twins says they might

The citizens came in two by two. D.C.Atty, CC BY

The citizens came in two by two. D.C.Atty, CC BY

Tim Spector, King’s College London

As a society we believe that our political allegiance depends on which party best marries up with our needs and values – and that these are shaped by our life experiences. But research with twins suggests picking who to vote for in an election might have more to do with your genes than the policies of the parties.

At the Department of Twin Research, which hosts TwinsUK, the biggest adult twin registry in the UK, we recently performed a poll of voting preferences. The twins were all born in the UK and were broadly representative of the UK population. The aim was to explore how much nature and nurture influence our party political allegiances and potential voting preferences so can we draw broader conclusions about people’s voting habits.

Twins provide a unique natural experiment for research.… Read the rest

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200 World-Leading Thinkers Discuss Whether Everything We Know Is Wrong

For people living in the UK wanting to explore controversial new ideas in the real world, 200 world-leading scientists, politicians, artists and philosophers, including Lawrence Krauss, Warren Ellis, Mary Midgley, Paul Krugman, Terry Eagleton, Rae Langton, John Searle, Roger Penrose and many more, are getting together at the end of May at the world’s largest philosophy and music festival HowTheLightGetsIn.

It’s 11 days of big thinking under the theme ‘Fantasy & Reality’ with 650 events and more debates, big names and parties than you can shake a massive hyper-intelligent stick at. Some of the debates taking place include:

Everything We Know Is Wrong

Lawrence Krauss, Steve Fuller, Kenneth Cukier
At a time of uncertainty and doubt, we often suppose that science alone uncovers the truth. Yet a recent study found 90% of scientific papers are unrepeatable. Should we see science as a flawed method and look elsewhere for our truths, or is it the only direct line to reality we’ve got?… Read the rest

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Terminally Ill Man to Have World’s First Full Head Transplant

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Valeri Spiridonov, a 30-year-old Russian, suffers from Werdnig–Hoffmann disease has offered himself to receive the first ever head transplant. “Am I afraid? Yes of course I am,” Spiridonov said. “But it is not just very scary, but also very interesting. You have to understand that I don’t really have many choices. If I don’t try this chance, my fate will be very sad. With every year my state is getting worse.”

Sumitra via Oddity Central:

A head transplant is something you’re likely to come across in a far-fetched sci fi movie, as in reality, as most doctors would tell you, it is medically impossible. But a Russian man suffering from a fatal condition is willing to put his faith in the dubious procedure. In a desperate attempt to gain a new, healthy body, he’s teaming up with controversial surgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero, who claims he can cut off the man’s head and attach it on another body!

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Solving the Four Corners Mystery: Probes Map Methane ‘Hot Spot’

The desert Four Corners region contains beautiful landforms like Shiprock in New Mexico. It's also the site of an anomalous blob containing high levels of methane. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The desert Four Corners region contains beautiful landforms like Shiprock in New Mexico. It’s also the site of an anomalous blob containing high levels of methane.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Stephanie Pappas via Live Science:

A methane “hot spot” over the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest is undergoing serious scrutiny as scientists work to figure out why levels of the gas in the area are so high.

The mysterious methane was firstdetected from space, via a European Space Agency satellite that can measure this potent greenhouse gas. Researchers reported the discovery in October in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, but couldn’t explain where the extra methane was coming from. The “hot spot” persisted from 2003 until at least 2009. And the amount of methane was significant, the researchers reported — equal to nearly 10 percent of all U.S. methane emissions from natural gas.

Now, a team of researchers is tackling the mystery of the extra methane.

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New study hints at spontaneous appearance of primordial DNA

The image shows a droplet of condensed nano-DNA and within it smaller drops of its liquid crystal phase which show up in polarized light on the left. The liquid crystal droplets act as “micro-reactors" where short DNA can join together into long polymer chains without the aid of biological mechanisms. Credit: Noel Clark, University of Colorado

The image shows a droplet of condensed nano-DNA and within it smaller drops of its liquid crystal phase which show up in polarized light on the left. The liquid crystal droplets act as “micro-reactors” where short DNA can join together into long polymer chains without the aid of biological mechanisms.
Credit: Noel Clark, University of Colorado

Noel Clark Via Phys.org:

The self-organization properties of DNA-like molecular fragments four billion years ago may have guided their own growth into repeating chemical chains long enough to act as a basis for primitive life, says a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Milan.

While studies of ancient mineral formations contain evidence for the evolution of bacteria from 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago—just half a billion years after the stabilization of Earth’s crust—what might have preceded the formation of such unicellular organisms is still a mystery. The new findings suggest a novel scenario for the non-biological origins of nucleic acids, which are the building blocks of living organisms, said CU-Boulder physics Professor Noel Clark, a study co-author.

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To Protect Ourselves From Bioweapons, We May Have to Reinvent Science Itself

Bioweapons are so scary you barely want to think about them. Regardless there are plenty of scientists who are spending an awful lot of time doing just that, per Defense One, raising the question of whether or not this is ethical scientific research:

In January 2012, a team of researchers from the Netherlands and the University of Wisconsin published a paper in the journal Science about airborne transmission of H5N1 influenza, or bird flu, in ferrets. The article changed the way the United States and nations around the world approached manmade biological threats.

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This was not the researchers’ intent.

The team had altered the virus’s amino acid profile, allowing it to reproduce in mammal lungs, which are a bit colder than bird lungs. That small change allowed the virus to be transmitted via coughing and sneezing, and it solved the riddle of how H5N1 became airborne in humans.

The U.S.

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