sciencecenter:


Wooly mammoth protein replicated, explains how mammoths survived in freezing temperatures

Scientists have often wondered how woolly mammoths survived and thrived in the frigid climes of the far north in Earth’s last ice age. The hemoglobin in elephant (and human) blood cannot easily transfer oxygen to other cells in the body at low temperatures. Instead, the blood’s hemoglobin holds onto its oxygen in icy extremities and the tissue eventually dies; that’s the main reason we get frostbite. There must, then, have been something special about mammoth hemoglobin.
Enter researcher Kevin Campbell, who published the genetic code of the mammoth hemoglobin last year after taking tissue from three animals that died in Siberia more than 25,000 years ago. Now, in a new study in the journal Biochemistry, Campbell’s team went a step further and actually recreated mammoth hemoglobin, starting with the code from the African elephant’s protein and introducing three changes unique to the mammoth using site-directed mutagenesis. They then compared the biochemical properties of the protein from the mammoth, elephant, and human, and found that the mammoth hemoglobin was less sensitive to temperature fluctuations and better able to unload oxygen at cold temperatures. Researchers say insights into the compound’s structure could lead to the design of new artificial blood products for use in hypothermia induced during brain and heart surgeries.

sciencecenter:

Wooly mammoth protein replicated, explains how mammoths survived in freezing temperatures

Scientists have often wondered how woolly mammoths survived and thrived in the frigid climes of the far north in Earth’s last ice age. The hemoglobin in elephant (and human) blood cannot easily transfer oxygen to other cells in the body at low temperatures. Instead, the blood’s hemoglobin holds onto its oxygen in icy extremities and the tissue eventually dies; that’s the main reason we get frostbite. There must, then, have been something special about mammoth hemoglobin.

Enter researcher Kevin Campbell, who published the genetic code of the mammoth hemoglobin last year after taking tissue from three animals that died in Siberia more than 25,000 years ago. Now, in a new study in the journal Biochemistry, Campbell’s team went a step further and actually recreated mammoth hemoglobin, starting with the code from the African elephant’s protein and introducing three changes unique to the mammoth using site-directed mutagenesis. They then compared the biochemical properties of the protein from the mammoth, elephant, and human, and found that the mammoth hemoglobin was less sensitive to temperature fluctuations and better able to unload oxygen at cold temperatures. Researchers say insights into the compound’s structure could lead to the design of new artificial blood products for use in hypothermia induced during brain and heart surgeries.

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ianbrooks:

The Saturn Pulsed Power Accelerator
Located at Sandia National Labs in New Mexico and sounding like the secret weapon of a mad scientist, “Saturn is specifically designed to convert as much electrical power as it can into X-rays, in order to simulate what happens during a nuclear detonation. To do this, the accelerator channels its output pulse through a tiny cylinder made of very thin tungsten wires. As each wire essentially gets hit by its own lightning bolt, it gets turned into a plasma, which is instantly driven inward by the intense electromagnetic field. This implosion releases hundreds of thousands of joules of X-ray energy, which is as close as we can get to seeing what happens when a nuke goes off without actually, you know, setting off a nuke”. See more glamour shots of the Accelerator in action at Sandia’s flickr. I want one.
(via: dvice)

ianbrooks:

The Saturn Pulsed Power Accelerator

Located at Sandia National Labs in New Mexico and sounding like the secret weapon of a mad scientist, “Saturn is specifically designed to convert as much electrical power as it can into X-rays, in order to simulate what happens during a nuclear detonation. To do this, the accelerator channels its output pulse through a tiny cylinder made of very thin tungsten wires. As each wire essentially gets hit by its own lightning bolt, it gets turned into a plasma, which is instantly driven inward by the intense electromagnetic field. This implosion releases hundreds of thousands of joules of X-ray energy, which is as close as we can get to seeing what happens when a nuke goes off without actually, you know, setting off a nuke”. See more glamour shots of the Accelerator in action at Sandia’s flickr. I want one.

(via: dvice)

sciencecenter:

Are humans the only animals that keep livestock?
If the best guess of biologists proves toe be true, the answer is a surprising ‘no.’ We already know that ants practice a primitive form of agriculture - collecting leaf fragments to grow tasty fungus - and even cultivate aphids in order to ‘milk’ them of their honeydew, as seen in the above picture. However, an amazing discovery could mean that ants raise other insects for meat in a manner directly analogous to humans raising cattle. Melissotarsus ants share their colonies with ‘scale insects’ that neither secrete milk nor have an edible outer covering. Therefore, scientists suggest that the ants raise the scale insects explicitly in order to eat them, potentially the best example of true domestication outside of humans and crops. The ants are highly secretive, so the carnivorous activity hasn’t been directly observed yet. Even still, this finding offers a tantalizing example of the amazing spectrum of nature’s animal behavior.

This is totally happening on a tree in my backyard. I have ant farmers!

sciencecenter:

Are humans the only animals that keep livestock?

If the best guess of biologists proves toe be true, the answer is a surprising ‘no.’ We already know that ants practice a primitive form of agriculture - collecting leaf fragments to grow tasty fungus - and even cultivate aphids in order to ‘milk’ them of their honeydew, as seen in the above picture. However, an amazing discovery could mean that ants raise other insects for meat in a manner directly analogous to humans raising cattle. Melissotarsus ants share their colonies with ‘scale insects’ that neither secrete milk nor have an edible outer covering. Therefore, scientists suggest that the ants raise the scale insects explicitly in order to eat them, potentially the best example of true domestication outside of humans and crops. The ants are highly secretive, so the carnivorous activity hasn’t been directly observed yet. Even still, this finding offers a tantalizing example of the amazing spectrum of nature’s animal behavior.

This is totally happening on a tree in my backyard. I have ant farmers!