Tufts biologists induced one species of flatworm -- <em>G. dorotocephala</em>, top left -- to grow heads and brains characteristic of other species of flatworm, top row, without altering genomic sequence. Examples of the outcomes can be seen in the bottom row of the image.
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New study suggests more than 8 percent of children with cancer have genetic predisposition

James R. Downing, M.D., president and chief executive officer of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, was instrumental in launching next-generation DNA sequencing and its treatment applications.The most detailed analysis yet of the role germline mutations in genes associated with cancer predisposition play in the development of childhood cancer suggests that comprehensive genomic screening may be...

Aging star's weight loss secret revealed

<p>The star VY Canis Majoris is a red hypergiant, one of the largest known stars in the Milky Way. It is 30-40 times the mass of the Sun and 300 000 times more luminous. In its current state, the star would encompass the orbit of Jupiter, having expanded tremendously as it enters the final stages of its life.

<p>New observations of the star using the SPHERE instrument on the VLT have clearly revealed how the brilliant light of VY Canis Majoris lights up the clouds of material surrounding it and have allowed the properties of the component dust grains to be determined better than ever before.

<p>In this very close-up view from SPHERE the star itself is hidden behind an obscuring disc. The crosses are artefacts due to features in the instrument.VY Canis Majoris is a stellar goliath, a red hypergiant, one of the largest known stars in the Milky Way. It is 30-40 times the mass of the Sun and...

Iowa State astronomers say comet fragments best explanation of mysterious dimming star

This illustration shows a star behind a shattered comet. Observations of the star KIC 8462852 by NASA's Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes suggest that its unusual light signals are likely from dusty comet fragments, which blocked the light of the star as they passed in front of it in 2011 and 2013. The comets are thought to be traveling around the star in a very long, eccentric orbit.Was it a catastrophic collision in the star's asteroid belt? A giant impact that disrupted a nearby planet? A dusty cloud of rock and debris? A family of comets breaking...

How the Earth's Pacific plates collapsed

This image shows Professor Arculus, The Australian National University.Scientists drilling into the ocean floor have for the first time found out what happens when one tectonic plate first gets pushed under another.

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Fighting and females determine how males make sperm

The sperm of the Asian elephant has the shortest sperm relative to its body size, whereas the house mouse (Mus musculus) has the longest. Humans and elephants have sperm of roughly the same length, less than half the size of mouse sperm."The sperm of rodents is at least twice as long as sperm of large mammals like primates, tigers, and even whales. We wanted to know why sperm sizes differ so...

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Powering the next billion devices with Wi-Fi

The UW team used ambient signals from this Wi-Fi router to power sensors in a low-resolution camera and other devices.University of Washington engineers have developed a novel technology that uses a Wi-Fi router -- a source of ubiquitous but untapped energy in indoor environments -- to power devices.

Sequencing algae's genome may aid biofuel production

Close-up view of <i>Chrysochromulina tobin</i>.There's an ancient group of algae that evolved in the world's oceans before our backboned ancestors crawled onto land. They are so numerous that their gigantic blooms can affect the...

Tropical fossil forests unearthed in Arctic Norway

This is a reconstructed drawing of Svalbard fossil forest.UK researchers have unearthed ancient fossil forests, thought to be partly responsible for one of the most dramatic shifts in the Earth's climate in the past 400 million years.

Scientists discover the secret behind the power of bacterial sex

Migration between different communities of bacteria is the key to the type of gene transfer that can lead to the spread of traits such as antibiotic resistance, according to researchers...

Urgent attention needed to improve education for Syrian refugee children, report finds

There is an urgent need to improve both short-term and long-term approaches to education for the large number of Syrian refugee children in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, according to a...

Half of all Amazonian tree species may be globally threatened

Acaricuara (<em>Minquartia guianensis</em>) tree is shown in the forest.More than half of all tree species in the world's most diverse forest--the Amazon--may be globally threatened, according to a new study.

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Fish skin provides invisibility in open ocean

Researchers have found that fish that live in the open ocean, such as these lookdowns, reflect polarized light from their skin in a way that makes them seemingly disappear from predators' view.Scientists have solved a longstanding mystery about how some fish seem to disappear from predators in the open waters of the ocean, a discovery that could help materials scientists and...

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Rapid plankton growth in ocean seen as sign of carbon dioxide loading

This is a scanning electron microscope image of a coccolithophore, which can measure from 5 to 15 microns across, less than a fifth the width of a human hair.A microscopic marine alga is thriving in the North Atlantic to an extent that defies scientific predictions, suggesting swift environmental change as a result of increased carbon dioxide in the...

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Tracking down the 'missing' carbon from the Martian atmosphere

Carbon dioxide to generate the atmosphere originates in the planet's mantle and is released through volcanoes or trapped in rocks crystallized from magmas. Once in the atmosphere, the CO2 can exchange with the polar caps, passing from gas to ice and back to gas again. The CO2 can also dissolve into waters, which can then precipitate out solid carbonates, either in lakes at the surface or in shallow aquifers. Importantly, CO2 gas in the atmosphere is continually lost to space at a rate controlled in part by the sun's activity. The ultraviolet (UV) photodissociation mechanism that we highlight occurs when UV radiation encounters a CO2 molecule, breaking the bonds to first form CO and then C atoms. Isotope fractionation occurs when the C atoms are lost to space because the lighter carbon-12 isotopes are more easily removed than the heavier carbon-13 isotopes. This fractionation, the preferential loss of carbon-12 to space, leaves a fingerprint: enrichment of the heavy carbon-13 isotope, measured in the atmosphere of Mars today.Mars is blanketed by a thin, mostly carbon dioxide atmosphere--one that is far too thin to prevent large amounts of water on the surface of the planet from subliming or...

Mountain ranges evolve and respond to Earth's climate, study shows

Ground-breaking new research has shown that erosion caused by glaciation during ice ages can, in the right circumstances, wear down mountains faster than plate tectonics can build them.

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Dark matter dominates in nearby dwarf galaxy

Dwarf galaxies have few stars but lots of dark matter.  This Caltech FIRE (Feedback in Realistic Environments) simulation from shows the predicted distribution of stars (left) and dark matter (right) around a galaxy like the Milky Way.  The red circle shows a dwarf galaxy like Triangulum II.  Although it has a lot of dark matter, it has very few stars.  Dark matter-dominated galaxies like Triangulum II are excellent prospects for detecting the gamma-ray signal from dark matter self-annihilation.Dark matter is called "dark" for a good reason. Although they outnumber particles of regular matter by more than a factor of 10, particles of dark matter are elusive. Their...

Army ants' 'living' bridges span collective intelligence, 'swarm' robotics

Researchers from Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology report for the first time that the "living" bridges army ants of the species <em>Eciton hamatum</em> (pictured) build with their bodies are more sophisticated than scientists knew. The ants automatically assemble with a level of collective intelligence that could provide new insights into animal behavior and even help in the development of intuitive robots that can cooperate as a group.Columns of workers penetrate the forest, furiously gathering as much food and supplies as they can. They are a massive army that living things know to avoid, and that few...

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Insect DNA extracted, sequenced from black widow spider web

Southern black widow spider (<em>Latrodectus mactans</em>) is with its prey house cricket (<em>Acheta domesticus</em>) trapped in spider web.Scientists extracted DNA from spider webs to identify the web's spider architect and the prey that crossed it, according to this proof-of-concept study published November 25, 2015 in the open-access...

Architecture of protein complex hints at its function in chromosome segregation

Whitehead Institute researchers have revealed the architecture of a protein complex that plays a foundational role in the machine that directs chromosome segregation during cell division.

NASA's GPM finds extreme rainfall in Typhoon In-fa

On Nov. 23, GPM saw In-fa dropping rain at an extreme rate of over 266 mm (10.5 inches) per hour in storms just to the northwest of the typhoon's eye where thunderstorms reached altitudes of over 18 km (11.2 miles).The Global Precipitation Measurement mission known as GPM passed over Typhoon In-fa and found extreme rainfall occurring in the storm.

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Mars to lose its largest moon, Phobos, but gain a ring

Mars could gain a ring in 10-20 million years when its moon Phobos is torn to shreds by Mars gravity.Mars' largest moon, Phobos, is slowly falling toward the planet, but rather than smash into the surface, it likely will be shredded and the pieces strewn about the planet in...