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Life Sciences

Researchers develop microbubble scrubber to destroy dangerous biofilms

Stiff microbial films often coat medical devices, household items and infrastructure such as the inside of water supply pipes, and can lead to dangerous infections. Researchers have developed a system that harnesses the power of bubbles to propel tiny particles through the surfaces of these tough films and deliver an antiseptic deathblow to the microbes living inside.

Study: Kidney stones have distinct geological histories

A geologist, a microscopist and a doctor walk into a lab and, with their colleagues from across the nation, make a discovery that overturns centuries of thought about the nature and composition of kidney stones. The team’s key insight, reported in the journal Scientific Reports, is that kidney stones are built up in calcium-rich layers that resemble other mineralizations in nature, such as those forming coral reefs or arising in hot springs, Roman aqueducts or subsurface oil fields.

Study: Large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara would increase heat, rain, vegetation

Wind and solar farms are known to have local effects on heat, humidity and other factors that may be beneficial – or detrimental – to the regions in which they are situated. A new climate-modeling study finds that a massive wind and solar installation in the Sahara Desert and neighboring Sahel would increase local temperature, precipitation and vegetation. Overall, the researchers report, the effects would likely benefit the region.

Our brains process irony in emojis, words in the same way

The brain processes ironic or sarcastic emojis in the same way it does ironic or sarcastic words.

Discovery: Mechanical properties of viral DNA determine the course of infection

A new study reveals a previously unknown mechanism that governs whether viruses that infect bacteria will quickly kill their hosts or remain latent inside the cell. The discovery, reported in the journal eLife, also may apply to viruses that infect humans and other animals, the researcher said.

Infants can distinguish between leaders and bullies, study finds

A new study finds that 21-month-old infants can distinguish between respect-based power asserted by a leader and fear-based power wielded by a bully.

Color-changing sensor detects signs of eye damage in tears

A new point-of-care rapid-sensing device can detect a key marker of eye injury in minutes – a time frame crucial to treating eye trauma.  

University of Illinois researchers developed a gel laden with gold nanoparticles that changes color when it reacts with a teardrop containing ascorbic acid, released from a wound to the eye. In a new study published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the researchers used the sensor, called OjoGel, to measure ascorbic acid levels in artificial tears and in clinical samples of fluid from patients’ eyes. 

Ancient African herders had lasting ecological impact on grazed lands

Ancient animal herders added to the ecological richness and diversity of the African savanna thousands of years ago – an effect that persists to the present day, a new study finds. The herders’ practice of penning their cattle, goats and sheep at night created nutrient-rich grassy glades, called hotspots, that still attract wildlife and have increased habitat diversity in the region, researchers report in the journal Nature.

Post-workout muscle building and repair blunted in obese adults, study finds

Obesity is associated with a host of health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. According to a new study reported in the Journal of Physiology, obesity also diminishes a person’s ability to build muscle after engaging in resistance exercise.

Connectivity explains ecosystem responses to rainfall, drought

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers reveal techniques – inspired by the study of information theory – to track how changes in precipitation alter interactions between the atmosphere, vegetation and soil at two National Science Foundation Critical Zone Observatory sites in the western United States.

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