Unusual galaxy set to prompt rethink on how structures in the Universe form
Astronomers have captured an image of a super-rare type of galaxy – described as a “cosmic ring of fire” – as it existed 11 billion years ago.
The galaxy, which has roughly the mass of the Milky Way, is circular with a hole in the middle, rather like a titanic doughnut. Its discovery, announced in the journalNature Astronomy, is set to shake up theories about the earliest formation of galactic structures and how they evolve.
Analysis of reef damage in the Indo-Pacific during the 2016 El Nino reveals that several different stressors influence bleaching.
Scientists in the Indian and Pacific Oceans used the El Nino of 2016 – the warmest year on record – to evaluate the role of excess heat as the leading driver of coral bleaching and discovered the picture was more nuanced than existing models showed.
The findings were, in a word, complicated, according to marine researchers led by the US based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The international cohort included scientists from Macquarie University in NSW, the University of Queensland, University of WA and two western Australian state government departments.
You can learn a lot about hearts by trying to build one from scratch. A pair of scientists have grown ‘beating’ human heart muscle tissue from stem cells and are exploring cardiac regeneration.
Developmental biologist Associate Professor Enzo Porrello became interested in how newborn mammal hearts can regenerate while working in Dallas, Texas at one of the leading labs researching heart development.
Examining how individual heart cells develop is revealing how the cells make decisions to form a working heart.
Once an adult heart is damaged, it has no ability to heal itself. Dr Nathan Palpant at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland and Associate Professor Joseph Powell at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the University of New South Wales are trying to understand how that might be changed by tracking individual stem cells along their journey to becoming heart cells.
For the past decade scientists have been able to reprogram skin cells, nasal cells and other mature cells to become pluripotent stem cells that can turn into any cell type in the human body. How it works is only starting to become clear.
Teams led by Professors Ryan Lister at the University of Western Australia, Jose Polo at Monash University and Ernst Wolvetang at The University of Queensland are working together to understand how this process occurs, whether all cell types follow the same path to becoming pluripotent cells, and if this impacts their ability to mimic disease in the laboratory.
The idea that long-term memory might be stored in our brain’s DNA is being tested by Professor Geoff Faulkner, using brains affected by Alzheimer’s.
Geoff has already shown that the DNA in our brains is different to the DNA in the rest of our bodies and that it changes as we learn. He’s proposing that these changes are associated with how we store our long-term memories.
More recently, he’s linked these differences to the function of genes in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory and spatial navigation, and has been implicated in memory loss with ageing, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. Continue reading Are memories stored in DNA?→
Professor Mark Kendall is planning to dispatch the 160-year-old needle and syringe to history. He’s invented a new vaccine technology that’s painless, uses a fraction of the dose, puts the vaccine just under the skin, and doesn’t require a fridge.
The Nanopatch is a 1 cm square piece of silicon with 20,000 microscopic needles engineered on one side. Coat the needles with dry vaccine, push it gently but firmly against the skin, and the vaccine is delivered just under the outer layer of skin.
It’s a technology he invented in response to a call from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeking ideas for delivery of vaccines in developing countries—where it’s a challenge to keep conventional wet vaccines cold to the point of delivery.
Dating of ancient human teeth discovered in a Sumatran cave site suggests modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought.
The international research, led by Dr Kira Westaway from Macquarie University and published in Nature, has pushed back the timing of when humans first left Africa, their arrival in Southeast Asia, and the first time they lived in rainforests.