A new study has revealed that our European ancestors consumed seaweed and freshwater plants for thousands of years, long before these nutrient-rich resources became marginal in the region. Researchers found "definitive" archaeological evidence of seaweed consumption, suggesting that seaweeds and local freshwater plants were part of the European diet from the Mesolithic era through the Neolithic transition to farming and into the Early Middle Ages. While seaweed remains a superfood in many parts of Asia, it has largely disappeared from traditional European diets. The study highlights the potential for incorporating these foods to enhance health and sustainability.
Gold nanoparticles in potential glioblastoma treatment
In a preclinical study, researchers have developed a method to breach the blood-brain barrier, potentially treating glioblastoma, a common and aggressive brain cancer. Using genetically engineered mice, they introduced medication with vessel-targeted gold nanoparticles and activated them with laser pulses, temporarily making the barrier permeable. Although further research is needed before human trials, the method demonstrated a significant reduction in tumour size and extended survival in their experiments, offering hope for more effective treatments in the future.
Scientists reconstruct extinct ape's damaged skull
Scientists have reconstructed the skull of Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, a great ape species that lived 12 million years ago. This rare find sheds light on the complex evolution of great apes and humans. Using CT scans, the study reveals that Pierolapithecus represents an early member of the great ape and human family, providing valuable insights into our evolutionary past and the challenges posed by fragmentary fossil records.
"Green Living Paint": Turning CO2 into Oxygen in extreme environments
Researchers have developed an innovative paint, known as "Green Living Paint," containing Chroococcidiopsis cubana bacteria. This biocoating captures carbon dioxide (CO2) while producing oxygen and could find applications in extreme environments, such as space stations. This bacterium's ability to survive in harsh conditions makes it a potential candidate for Mars colonisation. This environmentally friendly paint offers a sustainable solution to reducing water consumption in bioreactor-based processes. In contrast, other bacteria like Synechocystis sp. were unable to produce oxygen within the biocoating.
A law of nature?
A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences introduces a groundbreaking concept: a "missing law of nature" that recognises evolution as a common feature in complex natural systems, extending beyond life on Earth. This newly identified "Law of Increasing Functional Information" applies to various systems, from stars and planets to atoms and minerals. It reveals that systems with diverse components evolve to greater complexity and novelty, shedding light on the fundamental processes that drive the universe. This law, distinct from well-known macroscopic natural laws, presents a fresh perspective on the evolution of the natural world.
Art with DNA
Scientists at the University of Vienna have achieved a groundbreaking feat, creating DNA duplexes that can display an astonishing 16 million colors, surpassing the previous limitation of 256 colors. By using fluorescent markers and carefully controlling DNA sequences, they can "paint" with DNA and replicate digital images in high-resolution. This development has significant potential applications in synthetic gene assembly, large-scale nanostructures, and even data storage using DNA.
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