Consciousness may be the product of carefully balanced chaos

Is my yellow the same as your yellow? Does your pain feel like my pain? The question of whether the human consciousness is subjective or objective is largely philosophical. But the line between consciousness and unconsciousness is a bit easier to measure. In a new study of how anesthetic drugs affect the brain, researchers suggest…

Four elements added to periodic table

Four chemical elements have been formally added to the periodic table, completing the scheme’s seventh row. They are the first to be included in the table since 2011, when elements 114 and 116 were added. The first true iteration of the table was produced in 1869 by the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev. The new additions…

Laser light turns graphene paper into a microbot

Blasts of laser light can make a microbot hustle. A rectangle of graphene paper about the size of a fingernail can walk, fold and even turn corners, researchers report November 6 in Science Advances. Materials scientist Jiuke Mu and colleagues from Donghua University in Shanghai designed the paper with a graphene-and-polymer material that sucks water…

Finding new uses for nature’s poisons

A toxin is a poisonous substance produced by a living thing. Certain species of plants, fungi and animals may produce toxins. So can bacteria. (When a toxin is injected, through a bite, sting or other means, it is called venom.) Poison dart frogs absorb toxins from the ants, millipedes, beetles and mites that they eat. The frogs…

Mapping the genes that increase lifespan

Following an exhaustive, ten-year effort, scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the University of Washington have identified 238 genes that, when removed, increase the replicative lifespan of S. cerevisiae yeast cells. This is the first time 189 of these genes have been linked to aging. These results provide new genomic targets…

Psychedelics Could Trigger A ‘Paradigm Shift’ In Mental Health Care

A scientific review of the existing research into the therapeutic applications of psychedelics, published last week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, highlights the enormous potential of substances like LSD, psilocybin (hallucinogenic mushrooms) and MDMA (the active ingredient in Ecstasy) for treating a host of mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, anxiety associated with terminal illness and depression. While…

Hubble’s Andromeda Galaxy survey unlocks clues to star birth

In a survey of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope images of 2,753 young, blue star clusters in the neighboring Andromeda galaxy (M31), astronomers have found that M31 and our own galaxy have a similar percentage of newborn stars based on mass. By nailing down what percentage of stars have a particular mass within a cluster, or…

The wonderful world of wonder materials

In July, scientists at the University of Darmstadt in Germany succeeded in stopping light completely inside a crystal. Some rays of light (in this case from a laser) were barreling along at the universal speed limit of 300 million meters per second — and then, when they entered the crystal, the waves simply stopped dead….

‘Littlest’ quark-gluon plasma produced

Researchers at the University of Kansas working with an international team at the Large Hadron Collider have produced quark-gluon plasma — a state of matter thought to have existed right at the birth of the universe — with fewer particles than previously thought possible. The material was discovered by colliding protons with lead nuclei at…

Cosmic recycling in the Prawn Nebula

Dominating this image is part of the gigantic nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years, stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material that is later returned to the stellar nursery when the aging stars either expel their material…

Brazilian Wasp Venom Kills Cancer Cells

A newly published study shows how Brazilian wasp venom selectively kills cancer cells without harming normal cells. The social wasp Polybia paulista protects itself against predators by producing venom known to contain a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient. A Biophysical Journal study published September 1 reveals exactly how the venom’s toxin–called MP1 (Polybia-MP1)–selectively kills cancer cells without…