Biology Botany Chemistry 

Microbes Help Plants Survive Heavy Metal Stress

By Radhika Desikan When you hear the term heavy metal, what do you think of? Music or chemistry? Exposure to heavy metal music can cause stress in some humans. But what about chemical heavy metals? Are they good or bad for the environment and living organisms? In chemical terms, heavy metals are elements in earth’s crust that have a high density (weight), and they include zinc, copper, iron, silver, gold, arsenic, lead, and cobalt, to name a few. While trace amounts of heavy metals such as copper, iron, cobalt, and…

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Anthropology Biology Botany Chemistry 

Leaf Age Matters for Plant Survival

By Radhika Desikan Does age really matter? For us humans, age seems to be a very sensitive issue relevant to how we live our lives. And while it also matters to plants, it does so at a different level. Some of our tissues, like skin, have cells that are constantly dividing (to replace dead cells) and therefore differ in age, but what defines our age as an organism is not the life span of individual cells in our body, but rather the length of time that has passed since our…

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Astronomy Chemistry Paleontology 

Exploding Stars and Life on Earth

By Brian C. Thomas (@DrBrianAstroBio) A massive star that exploded near Earth about 2.5 million years ago—a supernova—may have helped drive the megalodon to extinction and may even have affected human evolution. Research by an international team of scientists and I have produced the most detailed picture ever of just how such a scenario played out. We’ve combined observations from astrophysics and geochemistry with new computer simulations to explore all the possible effects that life on Earth may have experienced. We’ve found that ozone in the atmosphere could have been…

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Biology Botany Chemistry 

To Grow or Not to Grow? Bacteria Make Seeds Think!

By Radhika Desikan A seed is the beginning of new life for most flowering plants. It has all the potential to develop into a new plant, with its own stored food used for germination (the sprouting of a seed). However, if you have done any gardening, you might know that not all seeds always germinate. Whether or not a seed grows into a plant is determined by a number of factors, such as the presence of oxygen, water, and the right temperature. Seeds have a remarkable ability to detect whether…

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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…

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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…

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Science with Sophie: Bubble Gum Chemistry Education Videos 

Science with Sophie: Bubble Gum

Bubble Gum Science Have you ever had gum stuck in your hair? Swallowed your gum? Found a wad of chewed gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe? If these things make you wonder what bubble gum really is and how it works, then you might be a scientist, and this video is for you. Do the science experiment with Sophie To do the bubble gum science experiment, you’ll need these things: 3 sticks of gum 1 freezer Go get those things and start the video! About Science With Sophie…

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Science with Sophie: Tears and Snot: Why do we make tears? Biology Chemistry Education Health Videos 

Science with Sophie: Tears and Snot

To do the science experiment with Sophie, you’ll need: Borax (find it in the laundry aisle of a grocery store) Water Equal parts clear school glue and water (for example, 1 cup glue and 1 cup water) Food coloring 2 bowls 1 Spoon Your hands   About Science With Sophie Science With Sophie is an interactive science comedy series for all ages. This fast-paced show invites viewers to explore science all around them and remember that they are brave, curious, funny, smart scientists every day. Hosted by science educator/actor/comedian Sophie…

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Wood Ants Make Defensive Cocktails Against Microbes Animals Chemistry 

Wood Ants Make Defensive Cocktails Against Microbes

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore Wood ants are natural mixologists, concocting their own defensive cocktails, a new study finds. They protect themselves from infection by mixing self-produced acid with resin collected from trees to create a potent antimicrobial. “This is an unusual case where insects combine plant defenses with their own chemical defenses to produce a potent antimicrobial substance,” says Michel Chapuisat, of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, who is the senior author of the study. We sanitize our homes using cleaners such as alcohol and bleach to protect ourselves from…

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Dichroa febrifuga, a medicinal herb that has been historically used to treat fever, is named for its active ingredient, febrifugine. By Keith Edkins (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons Biology Chemistry 

Malaria Drugs: Herb Garden to Medicine Cabinet

By Bill Sullivan, PhD @wjsullivan We live on a lush planet filled with over 290,000 species of plants. Herbs are a particular type of plant that lack a wooden stem, and humans have often sampled them in hopes of finding a new food or flavoring. Sometimes ingestion of an herb produces unwanted effects, such as death. But other herbs have medicinal qualities, such as the alleviation of fever.  An Old and New Malaria Drug Dichroa febrifuga is one of the most important herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, used for millennia…

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