World’s smallest antenna made of DNA can monitor proteins, help crack diseases and drugs

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New Delhi: Researchers from the University of Montreal in Canada have created a nanoantenna to monitor protein movements. The device is made of DNA. The new method of monitoring protein structural changes over time can help scientists better understand natural and man-made nanotechnology.

Co-author Dominic Lauzon was quoted as saying that “in addition to helping us understand how natural nanomachines work or malfunction, thereby leading to disease, this new method may also help chemists identify promising new drugs.” as well as guiding nanoengineers to develop improved nanomachines. ”.

The team is currently working on creating a start-up to commercialize and make this nanoantenna available to most researchers and the pharmaceutical industry.

Inspired by the “Lego-like” properties of DNA, with building blocks that are typically 20,000 times smaller than a human hair, the team created a DNA-based fluorescent nanoantenna that can help characterize protein function.

Like a two-way radio that can both receive and transmit radio waves, the fluorescent nanoantenna receives light in one color, or wavelength, and depending on the motion of the proteins it detects, then transmits light in another. color, which scientists can detect.

One of the main innovations of these nanoantennas is that the receiving part of the antenna is also used to detect the molecular surface of the protein under study via molecular interaction. Learn more here.

Chinese lander finds first evidence of water on the Moon

Data from China’s Chang’e-5 lander has – for the first time – provided evidence of in situ detection of water on the Moon. While several orbital observations and sample measurements – including those from India’s Chandrayaan mission – over the past decade have presented evidence of the presence of water, no in situ measurements have ever been made on the surface. lunar.

The Chang’e-5 spacecraft brought back 1,731g of lunar samples from the Moon.

Before sampling and returning lunar soil to Earth, however, the lunar mineralogical spectrometer aboard the lander performed spectral reflectance measurements of regolith and a rock, providing an unprecedented opportunity to detect the lunar surface water.

Quantitative spectral analysis indicates that the lunar soil at the landing site contains less than 120 ppm (parts per million) of water. This is consistent with preliminary analysis of returned Chang’e-5 samples. Learn more here.

One of the oldest human fossils found even older

Scientists from the University of Cambridge have reassessed a famous human fossil and discovered that it dates back over 230,000 years.

The age of the oldest East African fossils, widely accepted to represent Homo sapiens, has long been uncertain.

The remains – known as Omo I – were discovered in Ethiopia in the late 1960s, and scientists have been trying to date them accurately ever since. To do this, they use the chemical fingerprints of the layers of volcanic ash found above and below the sediments in which the fossils were found.

Previous attempts to date the fossils suggested they were less than 200,000 years old, but the new research shows they must be older than a colossal volcanic eruption that took place 230,000 years ago.

The region where Omo I was found is an area of ​​high volcanic activity and a rich source of ancient human remains and artifacts such as stone tools.

By dating the volcanic ash layers above and below where archaeological and fossil materials are found, scientists have identified Omo I as one of the earliest specimens of Homo sapiens. Learn more here.


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World’s largest fish breeding ground discovered in Antarctica

Scientists from the German Alfred Wegener Institute have discovered the world’s largest fish breeding ground known to date, in the Weddell Sea in Antarctica.

A towed camera system photographed and filmed thousands of icefish nests of the Neopagetopsis ionah species on the seabed. Nest density and the size of the entire breeding area suggest a total number of about 60 million icefish breeding at the time of sighting.

These discoveries support the creation of a “marine protected area” in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean.

Researchers saw numerous fish nests on monitors aboard the German research vessel Polarstern, the towed camera system transmitting live images from the seabed, 535 to 420 meters below the ship.

The assessment showed that there was on average one breeding site per three square meters, with the team even finding a maximum of one to two active nests per square meter.

Mapping of the area suggests a total extent of 240 square kilometres. Extrapolated to this area size, the total number of fish nests was estimated at around 60 million.

Based on the images, the team was able to clearly identify the round fish nests, about 15 centimeters deep and 75 centimeters in diameter, which stood out from the otherwise muddy seabed by a round central area of ​​small stones. Learn more here.

Discovery of a rugby-shaped exoplanet twice the size of Jupiter

Researchers from the University of Bern and the University of Geneva have discovered an exoplanet, WASP-103b.

Due to strong tidal forces, WASP-103b’s appearance resembles a rugby ball rather than a sphere. This is the first time that researchers have detected the deformation of an exoplanet.

On the coasts, the tides determine the rhythm of events. At low tide, the boats remain ashore; at high tide, the exit to the sea is again clear to them. On Earth, the tides are mainly generated by the Moon. Its gravitational pull causes an accumulation of water in the ocean region below, which then lacks in the surrounding regions and thus explains the low tide. Although this deformation of the ocean causes striking level differences in many places, it is hardly recognizable from space.

On WASP-103b, the tides are much more extreme. The planet orbits its star in a single day and is deformed by strong tidal forces so drastically that its appearance resembles a rugby ball.

The planet is located in the constellation of Hercules, it is believed to be almost twice the size of Jupiter, one and a half times its mass and about 50 times closer to its star than the Earth is not the Sun. Learn more here.

(Editing by Sunanda Ranjan)


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