Researchers Discover How Termites Ventilate

Termites build massive, empty structures above their underground nest in order to control their local environment. Hunter King and Samuel A. Ocko, under the supervision of Applied Mathematics professor Lakshminarayan Mahadevan discovered the key to ventilation in the mounds of an Indian termite species. It is well known that termites build such massive, empty structures above their underground nest in order to control their local environment. The researchers conducted tests on live and dea...
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Mound near lunar South Pole formed by unique volcanic process.

Mafic Mound, a distinctive and enigmatic feature near the Moon’s South Pole, is a volcanic structure unlike any other found on the surface of the Earth’s only natural satellite, says a team of planetary geologists at Brown University. It stands about 2,600 feet tall and 47 miles across and lies in the middle of a giant impact crater known as the South Pole-Aitken Basin. “If the scenarios that we lay out for its formation are correct, it could represent a totally new volcanic process that’s ne...
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Scientists produce clearest-ever images of enzyme that plays key roles in aging, cancer.

An enzyme called telomerase plays a significant role in aging and most cancers, but until recently many aspects of the enzyme’s structure could not be clearly seen. Scientists from UCLA and UC Berkeley have produced images of telomerase in much higher resolution than ever before, giving them major new insights about the enzyme. Their findings, could ultimately lead to new directions for treating cancer and preventing premature aging. “Many details we could only guess at before, we can now see...
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COMPASS method points researchers to protein structures.

University of Illinois researchers developed a new approach, dubbed COMPASS that points directly to a protein’s likely structure using a combination of advanced molecular spectroscopy techniques, predictive protein-folding algorithms and image recognition software. Led by U. of I. chemistry professor Chad Rienstra, the team published its results in the journal Structure. “We’ve taken a process that would take months and brought it down to hours,” said Joseph Courtney, an Illinois graduate studen...
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Supercoiled DNA is far more dynamic than the “Watson-Crick” double helix

Researchers have imaged in unprecedented detail the three-dimensional structure of supercoiled DNA, revealing that its shape is much more dynamic than the well-known double helix. As reported online today in the journal Nature Communications, the simulations also show the dynamic nature of DNA, which constantly wiggles and morphs into different shapes, a far cry from the commonly held idea of a rigid and static double helix. Improving our understanding of what DNA looks like when it is in the...
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How the Brain Controls Sleep

MIT neuroscientists have discovered a brain circuit that can trigger small regions of the brain to fall asleep or become less alert, while the rest of the brain remains awake. This circuit originates in a brain structure known as the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN), which relays signals to the thalamus and then the brain’s cortex, inducing pockets of the slow, oscillating brain waves characteristic of deep sleep. Slow oscillations also occur during coma and general anesthesia, and are associate...
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Cool Oculus – innovative ways to make buildings comfortable

Spiraling and swiveling, the large, metal structure currently sitting in the lobby of Princeton University’s School of Architecture opens and closes like a blossom. An aluminum blossom with sharp, louvered blades for petals. It’s a Cool Oculus, a high-tech chimney prototype that uses passive cooling techniques to keep a building comfortable in a desert climate. It integrates two passive cooling strategies into one architectural system.These complement one another on a day-night cycle in a des...
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