Reanimated, Cyborg Jellyfish Made From Rats

Aside from being an awesome album title, the above is also the most accurate descriptor of what follows. Scientists at Havard have succeeded in making an abomination when they took rat heart muscle cells, coated a mould with them, allowed them to grow and then shocked them into life. Creating something they then called a Medusoid (which is appropriately terrifying in my opinion). The thing itself was based around the design of a jellyfish which the scientists hoped to mimic.

The aim of this however is a medical one and it’s intended that by playing around with the shapes of heart muscles we’ll get a better understanding into how the heart functions and how drugs effect it.

How To Breathe With No AirWhile it’s commonly believed that air in the blood stream can cause death by embolism a new way of preventing suffocation actually involves injecting oxygen straight into the blood stream. The crucial difference is that the oxygen comes in the form of lipid based single layer microparticles that act as microscopic bubbles (pictured) and was designed by researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital. The technique itself can buy an extra half an hour before oxygen deprivation sets in, considering brain damage begins after 4 minutes of suffocation this can be the difference between life and death. Unfortunately due to the lipid (basically just fat/oil) structure of these microparticles this process can’t be prolonged as it would create further problems.Also interestingly the creation of these particles uses sound-waves to mix the lipid and oxygen together forming a liquid that in the end is 70% oxygen and mixes effectively into the blood. It also carries oxygen about 3-4 times better than our own blood.Image Courtesy of Children’s Hospital Boston

How To Breathe With No Air

While it’s commonly believed that air in the blood stream can cause death by embolism a new way of preventing suffocation actually involves injecting oxygen straight into the blood stream. The crucial difference is that the oxygen comes in the form of lipid based single layer microparticles that act as microscopic bubbles (pictured) and was designed by researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital. The technique itself can buy an extra half an hour before oxygen deprivation sets in, considering brain damage begins after 4 minutes of suffocation this can be the difference between life and death. Unfortunately due to the lipid (basically just fat/oil) structure of these microparticles this process can’t be prolonged as it would create further problems.

Also interestingly the creation of these particles uses sound-waves to mix the lipid and oxygen together forming a liquid that in the end is 70% oxygen and mixes effectively into the blood. It also carries oxygen about 3-4 times better than our own blood.

Image Courtesy of Children’s Hospital Boston

Siderophores

Iron is one of those things that life needs, it’s at the heart of many proteins such as the hemoglobin in your blood. But getting that sweet, sweet ferrous metal is not always so easy. That’s why many creatures have evolved to use special chemical compounds known as siderophores (Greek for iron carrier). Siderophores are produced within the cell and then released into the extracellular environment where they bind to iron ions, helping to solubilize them and thus transfer them into the cell. Enterobactin (pictured above) is a particularly potent siderophore that works somewhat like the claw in one of those games where you try and retrieve a stuffed animal. In this case the oxygen atoms surround and bind to the iron atom to form metal-ligand bonds.

Materials That Fix ThemselvesThe quest for a self-repairing material has been an on going one, for years chemists have dreamed of being able to artificially recreate something that seems so trivial in biology. Now a team at the University of California, San Diego have achieved that using hydrogels. Hydrogels (or aquagels) are hydrophilic polymers which are highly absorbent and have a degree of flexibility very similar to natural tissues, allowing them to be prime components of tissue scaffolding. By manipulating the side chains of the constituent polymers, UCSD scientists have managed to achieve polymers that once broken can rejoin or “heal” by latching on to one of these “dangling” side chains.Image

Materials That Fix Themselves

The quest for a self-repairing material has been an on going one, for years chemists have dreamed of being able to artificially recreate something that seems so trivial in biology. Now a team at the University of California, San Diego have achieved that using hydrogels. Hydrogels (or aquagels) are hydrophilic polymers which are highly absorbent and have a degree of flexibility very similar to natural tissues, allowing them to be prime components of tissue scaffolding. By manipulating the side chains of the constituent polymers, UCSD scientists have managed to achieve polymers that once broken can rejoin or “heal” by latching on to one of these “dangling” side chains.

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blamoscience:

The Bearded Fireworm can reach up to 35 cm in length. When disturbed, the marine annelid exposes beautiful tufts of white bristles. These bristles are hollow and venomous. They protect the worm from harm by penetrating the flesh of it’s attacker and detaching from the worms body.
During mating, females of the species will emit a green phosphorescent light. The males, noting the call, will quickly dash toward the source, emitting their own flashing lights.  As the two grow closer, sex cells are shed and combined.

blamoscience:

The Bearded Fireworm can reach up to 35 cm in length. When disturbed, the marine annelid exposes beautiful tufts of white bristles. These bristles are hollow and venomous. They protect the worm from harm by penetrating the flesh of it’s attacker and detaching from the worms body.

During mating, females of the species will emit a green phosphorescent light. The males, noting the call, will quickly dash toward the source, emitting their own flashing lights.  As the two grow closer, sex cells are shed and combined.

An image showing a mouse hair complete with nerves wrapped around the base. These nerves are responsible for being able to feel when the hair is moved and is responsible for the tickling sensation you get when you move your hand over your arm hair.Image: Hagen Wende and Carmen Birdmeier

An image showing a mouse hair complete with nerves wrapped around the base. These nerves are responsible for being able to feel when the hair is moved and is responsible for the tickling sensation you get when you move your hand over your arm hair.

Image: Hagen Wende and Carmen Birdmeier

It’s a Shark Eat Shark WorldNeed another reason to be terrified of the ocean/become a marine biologist (depending on how brave you are)? Well here we go. Pictured is a remarkable scene in which a bamboo shark appears to have its head stuck inside some kind of rock. Except that’s no rock, but instead a well camouflaged wobbegong, a type of shark. The picture was taken on the fringe of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the name of the shark also comes from the Aboriginal word for “shaggy beard”.Image

It’s a Shark Eat Shark World

Need another reason to be terrified of the ocean/become a marine biologist (depending on how brave you are)? Well here we go. Pictured is a remarkable scene in which a bamboo shark appears to have its head stuck inside some kind of rock. Except that’s no rock, but instead a well camouflaged wobbegong, a type of shark. The picture was taken on the fringe of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the name of the shark also comes from the Aboriginal word for “shaggy beard”.

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165 Million Year Old Soundscape

One of the only things I remember from Jurassic park is the reconstructed vocal chords of a velociraptor (that was that film right?). Now scientists have done the same thing in real life! Only one catch… instead of a velociraptor it’s a small bug of the katydid variety. None the less it’s remarkable that they were able to reconstruct this noise based simply on an exceptionally preserved fossil. The scientists used the shape and teeth on the wings of the katydid to accurately reconstruct its song. The video above contains this audio, it’s quite faint so you may have to turn your speakers up.

(Source: newscientist.com)

Show Us What You’re Made Of!

The word "protein" is a fairly house hold term, but it seems to me that most people don’t actually know what it is to any level greater than “oh that thing in food that makes you strong!”. A protein is basically a polymer made of amino acids pictured is a basic structure), in humans (and all eukaryotes) proteins are made up from 21 types of amino acids, although the actual number of amino acids is fairly innumerable. Proteins are created at ribosomes within the cell and are coded for by mRNA which is essentially a copy of DNA. The amino acids are transported by tRNA which matches to the mRNA and thus creates the order of amino acids. It is this order which governs the shape of the protein and thus its function, as such small mutations in the DNA can be disastrous such as in sickle cell anemia. Proteins fold due to hydrophobic forces created by side chains (which would be where the R is in the diagram) of the amino acid and are stabilized due to things such as hydrogen bonds. These proteins then go on to make up a large number of structures in your body, from the enzymes that digest your food, to the protein channels that regulate the flow of chemicals in and out of your cells and right down to the haemoglobin in your blood supplying you with oxygen. The protein pictured here is known as the Green Fluorescent Protein and is what is responsible for all those genetically engineered “glow in the dark” animals.

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Just a neat image of the microtubules (green) and DNA (red) in a cancer cell. This image was the winning image in the 2011 IN Cell Analyzer Image Competition. The other entires can be viewed here.Image: Geoffrey Grandjean, MD Anderson Cancer Center/GE Healthcare

Just a neat image of the microtubules (green) and DNA (red) in a cancer cell. This image was the winning image in the 2011 IN Cell Analyzer Image Competition. The other entires can be viewed here.

Image: Geoffrey Grandjean, MD Anderson Cancer Center/GE Healthcare

Want Bullet Proof Skin?Of course you do. Well now bioengineers have developed a skin made in part with spider silk that is capable of stopping a speeding bullet. Spider silk may not seem that strong, but in a strength to weight comparison a weave of it out distances Kevlar 4 fold. I once heard that an inch thick rope of the stuff could stop a jet plane at full throttle. For videos of the tests you can click here. The first test shows a bullet moving only at half speed, while the second test shows it moving at full speed under which conditions the skin is compromised. To be fair though, it’s a step in the right direction and I look forward to being the super villain hero I’ve always wanted to be.Image

Want Bullet Proof Skin?

Of course you do. Well now bioengineers have developed a skin made in part with spider silk that is capable of stopping a speeding bullet. Spider silk may not seem that strong, but in a strength to weight comparison a weave of it out distances Kevlar 4 fold. I once heard that an inch thick rope of the stuff could stop a jet plane at full throttle. For videos of the tests you can click here. The first test shows a bullet moving only at half speed, while the second test shows it moving at full speed under which conditions the skin is compromised. To be fair though, it’s a step in the right direction and I look forward to being the super villain hero I’ve always wanted to be.

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Gold Coated Ants and MicrocogsThis is possibly one of the greatest “just because we can” things I have ever seen. For some inexplicable reason scientists decided to pose this ant with a miniature cogwheel. To get a good image of this using a scanning electron microscope the ant first had to be freeze dried and then covered in a thin layer of gold in order to stop a charge from building up as the specimen is bombarded with electrons. For science!

Gold Coated Ants and Microcogs

This is possibly one of the greatest “just because we can” things I have ever seen. For some inexplicable reason scientists decided to pose this ant with a miniature cogwheel. To get a good image of this using a scanning electron microscope the ant first had to be freeze dried and then covered in a thin layer of gold in order to stop a charge from building up as the specimen is bombarded with electrons. For science!

I’ve Taken a Lichen’ To You ;D

At first glance lichens don’t exactly fill you with wonder and amazement but more a sort of “oh-cool-that-rock-has-mold-on-it…”ment. However we know better than to judge a book by its cover and you can be forgiven for this as the popular opinion about lichens up until the 1800s was that they were an example of rocks spontaneously coming to life. Instead lichens exist as a near perfect symbiotic organism between a fungus and a photosynthetic algae or cyanobacteria. The fungus provides protection, water and in some cases minerals from the substrate (sometimes acquired by dissolving rocks) while the algae produces the food source via photosynthesis. The truly interesting thing about this mutualistic lifestyle is that while we can grow all species involved separately in the lab, they don’t look the same. The fungus grown without the algae is simply a mess of hyphae yet when the algae is introduced it changes into its usual form that best utilizes the photosynthetic abilities of its partner. It’s also been found that introducing different species of algae to the same species of fungus can lead to strikingly different morphologies.

Lichens are found in some of the harshest environments on Earth such as the Antarctic, deserts or even certain species on piles of toxic slag. Despite this most species are incredibly sensitive to air pollution and are a good indicator as to pollution levels.

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