Science & Technology Desk
Scientists of Royan Institute in Isfahan province, central Iran, managed to clone the endangered Persian mouflon species.
“Many species are on the verge of extinction due unbridled urban development,” said Professor Mohammad Hossein Nasr Isfahani, the head of Isfahan branch of Royan Institute.
Nasr Isfahani added that thanks to efforts in Royan Institute, the researchers managed to clone Persian mouflon.
Currently, the cloned mouflon is in good condition in Royan Institute Farm, he said.
After Japan, China and South Korea, Iran is the fourth Asian country which has applied the cloning technology to save endangered species, he added.
He also said currently, researchers of Royan Institute seek to save other endangered species including Persian cheetah by using this method.
Iran’s Royan Institute for Biotechnology Research had successfully cloned calves earlier in 2009.
Royan Institute for Animal Biotechnology was established in 2004 to improve research in reproduction, development, cell and molecular biology. It is well known for its cloned animals.
The institute also covers many researches in the fields of bioengineering and reproductive technology.
Galaxies show appetite for growth
A team of scientists has used a highly sensitive instrument on one of the world’s largest telescopes to witness a dominant galaxy ingesting the stars of its near neighbors.
Astronomers took extremely wide-view, long exposures of a nearby group of galaxies known as the M81 Group, which lies 11.7 million light years from the Milky Way, Physorg reported.
They observed the dominant central galaxy, M81, capturing stars from its two nearest neighboring galaxies.
The gravitational pull of M81 was shown to distort the shapes of the other galaxies, pulling their stars into long tails, in a process called tidal stripping.
The images reveal for the first time how the stars from smaller galaxies are being ingested into M81.
It is expected that eventually the smaller galaxies will be devoured entirely.
The team, including researchers from the University of Edinburgh, were not surprised to see this process taking place.
However, the degree of interaction witnessed, exceeded their expectations. Findings from the study add to two decades of research during which evidence for this process has been mounting.
In the early 1990s, scientists discovered that Milky Way is in the process of subsuming a smaller system known as the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy.
It was carried out by astronomers from Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, and Hiroshima University.
“The extremely faint outer regions of galaxies are challenging to study, but our findings reveal that they contain a wealth of information about how galaxies capture and cannibalize their smaller neighbors. This is important for understanding how large galaxies like our Milky Way have formed and evolved over time,” Professor Annette Ferguson said.
Converting DC electric field to terahertz radiation
Researchers have designed a new device that can convert a DC electric field into a tunable source of terahertz radiation ― in a step towards more widespread use of terahertz radiation.
This device exploits the instabilities in the oscillation of conducting electrons at the device’s surface, a phenomenon known as surface plasmon resonance.
To address the terahertz gap, the team created a hybrid semiconductor: A layer of thick conducting material paired with two thin, two-dimensional crystalline layers made from graphene, silicene (a graphene-like material made from silicon instead of carbon), or a two-dimensional electron gas. When a direct current is passed through the hybrid semiconductor, it creates a plasmon instability at a particular wavenumber. This instability induces the emission of terahertz radiation, which can be harnessed with the help of a surface grating that splits the radiate on, sciencenewsline.com wrote.
By adjusting various parameters — such as the density of conduction electrons in the material or the strength of the DC electric field — it is possible to tune the cutoff wavenumber and, consequently, the frequency of the resulting terahertz radiation.
“Our work demonstrates a new approach for efficient energy conversation from a dc electric field to coherent, high-power and electrically tunable terahertz emission by using hybrid semiconductors,” said Andrii Iurov, a researcher with a dual appointment at the University of New Mexico’s Center for High Technology Materials and the City University of New York. “Additionally, our proposed approach based on hybrid semiconductors can be generalized to include other novel two-dimensional materials, such as hexagonal boron nitride, molybdenum disulfide and tungsten diselenide.”
Other labs have created artificial sources of terahertz radiation, but this design could enable better imaging capabilities than other sources can provide. “Our proposed devices can retain the terahertz frequency like other terahertz sources but with a much shorter wavelength for an improved spatial resolution in imaging application as well as a very wide frequency tuning range from a microwave to a terahertz wave,” said Iurov.
Flowers can endanger bees
Despite their beauty, flowers can pose a grave danger to bees by providing a platform of parasites to visiting bees, a team of researchers has determined.
“Flowers are hotspots for parasite spread between and within pollinator populations,” said Peter Graystock, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Riverside and a member of the research team. “Both the flower and bee species play a role in how likely parasite dispersal will occur.”
The study is the first to show that not only can bees disperse parasites around the environment but also that flowers are platforms for a host of pollinator parasites subsequently dispersed onto visiting bees, esciencenews.com said.
“By showing that visits from parasite-carrying bees can turn flowers into parasite platforms, we can say that it is likely that heavily visited flowers may become dirtier with bee parasites,” said Graystock, the research paper’s first author. “Planting more flowers would provide bees with more options, and parasite spread may thus be reduced.”
The researchers found four common honey bee and bumblebee parasites to be dispersed via flowers: Nosema apis (causes a honey bee disease), Nosema ceranae (causes an emergent disease in honey bees and bumblebees), Crithidia bombi (causes a bumblebee disease) and Apicystis bombi (mostly found in bumblebees). These parasites are known to cause lethargy, dysentery, colony collapse, and queen death in heavily infected bees.
Currently, bees are frequently transported across state and international territories. Quarantine and parasite screening usually cover only the screening of host-specific diseases. But bumblebees can transport honey bee parasites, and vice versa, the research team has now shown, and proposes that increased screening protocols be employed to protect pollinator diversity.
Researchers process cheese with microscopic fungus
Researchers of Iran’s Scientific and Industrial Research Organization produced a plant enzyme to process cheese with a kind of microscopic fungus.
Mehrdad Azin, the project manager, told Mehr News that the processed cheese is produced by using animal and recombinant enzymes, which may pose a health risk on human.
He added that one of the traditional methods in the production of cheese was to use enzymes in the stomach of ruminant animals. “However, the method is unscientific and in most cases unhygienic.”
Even though, the health impacts of recombinant enzymes are not clear yet and Iranian dairy industries are not allowed to use such enzymes, some dairy production units use them.
In the new study, researchers studied enzyme alternatives for processing cheese and finally could extract the desired enzyme from a microscopic fungus.
Cars could harvest energy
from bumps in road
The 255 million cars on the road in the United States account for 40 percent of the country’s fuel consumption. Most of that fuel is wasted.
Lei Zuo, an associate professor of mechanical engineering in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, may have a partial solution: Harvesting energy from the car’s suspension.
According to newsfee.com, Zuo explained that only 10 to 16 percent of the fuel a car consumes is actually used to drive — that is, to overcome road resistance and air drag. Most of the rest is lost to heat and other inefficiencies.
Three major opportunities exist for recovering or generating energy while driving: The waste heat given off by the engine, the kinetic energy absorbed during braking, and the vibrational energy dampened by the shock absorbers, he said.
Zuo estimates that a car’s shock absorbers should be able to provide between 100 and 400 watts of energy on normal roads and even more on rougher roads. By comparison, the average cell phone call uses about one watt. That corresponds to an increase in fuel efficiency between one and five percent.
His energy-harvesting shock absorber works by translating the vertical vibrations of the suspension into rotational motion that turns a generator. The generator delivers electricity directly to the car’s battery or electrical devices, reducing the demand on the alternator.
This system has solved a major challenge in harvesting vibrational energy: Converting bidirectional, up-and-down motion into the unidirectional motion needed to drive a generator. A unique combination of gears allows motion in both directions to be converted into electricity, essentially doubling the amount of energy that can be recovered.
Zuo, who is affiliated with the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, explains that this innovation allows the generator to work at a steady speed and reduces the load on the gear teeth, making the system more efficient and reliable. Moreover, the generator keeps rotating even after the vibration has stopped, maximizing the amount of energy recovered.
Microchip retrieves attached cancer cells
A new design of microchip can retrieve microfluidically attached cancer cells for serial in vitro or in vivo analysis via integrating a 3D hydrogel scaffold into a fluidic device.