Biology Genetics 

Did Life On Earth Start as an RNA World?

By Emily Bentley You might not speak Latin, but you probably understand the concept of omnis cellula e cellula—all cells come from other cells. For several thousand years, many scholars endorsed the idea of spontaneous generation, which held that certain plants and animals are created whole from inorganic matter like dust, mud, or rotting meat. In 1668 this notion was disproved by Italian physician and biologist Francesco Redi. His experiments showed that maggots appeared only on meat that had been exposed to egg-laying flies, providing some of the first evidence…

Read More
Astronomy Chemistry 

Two Weeks as a Visiting Astronomer in the Quiet Zone

By Olivia Wilkins (@livwithoutlimit) Pictured in the image above is the Jansky Laboratory, where scientific research is conducted at the Green Bank Observatory, with the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in the background. The Jansky Lab is named for physicist and telephone engineer Karl Guthe Jansky, who in the 1930s first detected radio waves coming from the center of the Milky Way. Image by author. Green Bank, West Virginia is known as “America’s Quietest Town”: there is no cell-phone service, and the use of wireless Internet, digital cameras, and even microwaves…

Read More
Environment Physics 

How Wildfires Start Their Own Weather

By Emily Folk (@EmilySFolk) In the past decade, the United States has seen no shortage of natural disasters. From hurricanes that tear across the coast, destroying homes and flooding properties, to wildfires that consume thousands of acres of land, nature is often vicious and indifferent to human life. But it is also very peculiar. Most consider wildfires transient in their destruction, a singular event that burns forests and homes before firefighters quell the flames. But under the right conditions, an intense wildfire can produce its own weather with the potential…

Read More
Biology Genetics Health 

Depression: In Our Genes or All In Our Heads?

By Mary McMillan (@maryemcmillan) World Health Organization estimated that more than 300 million people around the world are currently affected by depression. That’s just over 4 percent of the world’s population. Despite how serious this disorder is and the huge numbers of people that suffer from it, there is still a lot of stigma associated with having depression, and people often misunderstand what causes it (Jorm, 2000). You may have heard people say that depression is all in someone’s head and that they should just get over it. However, scientists…

Read More
Chemistry 

Using Flow Cytometry in Biomedical Science

By Kate Warde (@girlinthelab) Flow cytometry is a common laser technique scientists use to look at the characteristics of each single cell in a large population of cells. How flow cytometry works In flow cytometry, cells are labeled with fluorescent tags that correspond to a specific target; for instance, if we want to look at protein X on a cell, we add a tag that binds to this protein. When the cells run through the cytometer, they are contained in a liquid that flows in single file so that each…

Read More
Animals Biology 

Seahorses Give a Whole New Meaning to “Dad Bod”

By Ive Velikova (@ScienceWithIve) Seahorses give a whole new meaning to the term “dad bod.” You see, they are one of the only animals species in which the males get pregnant and give birth. Let’s start with the basics. In biology, members of the species that produce sperm are generally classified as “male,” and members of the species that produce eggs are classified as “female.” Eggs are larger and more energetically costly to produce than sperm. They also contain materials and nutrients necessary for embryo growth once the eggs are…

Read More
Biology Genetics 

Most of the Human Genome Isn’t Being Actively Studied

By Katherine Lindemann Career incentives drive researchers away from understudied genes that could be important to human health. There are around 20,000 human protein-coding genes, but recent studies have suggested scientists actively study only about 2,000 of them. New research investigates why some genes are studied over and over again, while others are neglected. Its authors found that a genes’ medical significance—how likely it is they play a role in human disease—doesn’t explain the discrepancy. Instead, while many researchers are interested in understudied genes, career incentives encourage scientists to focus on genes…

Read More
Animals Biology Health 

How Does Tissue Regenerate?

By Noeline Subramaniam (@spicy_scientist) Regeneration often sounds like science fiction—Wolverine’s healing superpowers probably spring to mind. But you don’t have to be a mutant to be able to regenerate. In fact, humans have the ability to regenerate in utero until the beginning of the third trimester. With the exception of our liver and digit tips, we largely lose this capacity as adults—but why? Let’s turn to the animal kingdom for answers. Is regeneration lost through evolution? Before we get to the species that, for the most part, are unable to…

Read More
Biology Videos 

It’s Okay To Fart

Farting is hilarious and gross and everyone is doing it so why can’t we talk about the science of it?! Flatulence, passing gas, cutting the cheese, toots… whatever you call it, it’s natural. Humans pass gas about 20 times a day on average, and collectively, we fart about 7 billion liters of gas each day! Here’s how it works. Farts are either the result of trapped, swallowed air being expelled from the body, or as byproducts of the microbes living in your gut. In this episode of It’s Okay to Be Smart,…

Read More
error: