Physicists have found an exotic variant of potassium that is much longer-lived than predicted — hinting at the existence of other more-extreme atoms that stretch the known limits of nuclear structure. Isotopes are alternative forms of a single chemical element, each with the same number of protons but differing numbers of neutrons. If an isotope has too few neutrons, the nucleus can no longer hold itself together.
The atoms exchanged protons and neutrons, creating potassium, which has 12 neutrons and 19 protons. It is four neutrons beyond the dripline — meaning that it is four neutrons short of being stable.
It might be possible to detect atoms that are as many as seven neutrons beyond the dripline, which could help researchers to test fundamental predictions of quantum physics, the authors write. According to Greek legend, the goddess Hera right had children with her brother Zeus centre , providing a mythological example of extreme inbreeding.
Genomic analysis has provided a new way of investigating a tricky topic: the prevalence of extreme inbreeding in humans.
Cultural and religious taboos around inbreeding make its frequency difficult to assess. Rather than relying on surveys, Loic Yengo and his colleagues at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, examined roughly , human genomes from a British biomedical database. These stretches indicate that the parents were closely related. This indicates unions between full siblings, a parent and a child, a grandparent and a grandchild, or other relatives with similar degrees of relatedness.
People whose genomes showed extreme inbreeding tended to be shorter, less muscular and have weaker cognitive abilities than average. Nature Commun. Batteries in Ontario, California, store renewable energy for release when demand is high. The price of such systems could fall thanks to the development of an electrolyte for calcium-based batteries.
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Credit: Patrick T. The lithium-ion batteries in mobile phones and other electronic devices have numerous drawbacks: they sometimes catch fire, and they depend on increasingly scarce and toxic substances such as lithium and cobalt. Batteries with anodes made of calcium — a more abundant substance — might be more sustainable and safer than batteries with lithium anodes. But researchers working on calcium batteries have lacked a suitable electrolyte, the medium through which electrical charge flows inside a battery.
Zhirong Zhao-Karger at the Helmholtz Institute Ulm in Germany and her colleagues reacted a calcium compound with a fluorine-containing compound to create a new type of calcium salt.
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The resulting material conducted electricity more effectively than any calcium-based electrolyte yet reported. It also efficiently conducted ions at a higher voltage than other calcium-based electrolytes. Calcium-based batteries could be used in industrial-scale systems to store wind and solar energy. Snow coats the Cascade Range in the United States. Modelling suggests that snowpack in the Cascades and other mountains has been underestimated. Scientists could be seriously underestimating the amount of snow stored atop mountains — an important source of water for people around the world.
Melissa Wrzesien at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and her colleagues studied four global data sets that quantify mountain snowpacks. The four data sets agree reasonably well with each other — but they do not agree with high-resolution simulations of snow across several North American mountain ranges, such as the Cascades.
If that pattern holds true globally, then the data sets could be missing as much as 1, cubic kilometres of mountain snowpack. Water Resour. Neat rows of soya beans grow in the Cerrado, a Brazilian region where about half of soya farms have cleared more land than is legally allowed. The data indicate that soya farms are five times more likely to contain illegally cleared land than are other types of property. The researchers also identified roughly 23 million hectares of the Cerrado that have already been cleared of native vegetation and are suitable for growing soya beans.
Policies that nudge soya farmers towards such surplus land could preserve the remaining native plants, the team says.
The Labrador Retriever left is known for its enthusiasm for fetching objects, whereas the Maltese right is sought for companionship. For thousands of years, humans have bred dogs for traits such as slender bodies and sheep-herding abilities. When Erin Hecht at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and her colleagues studied brain scans from 62 dogs across 33 breeds, they found that brain structures varied markedly between breeds.
The team also examined the brain areas that varied the most across breeds. That analysis identified six brain networks — each composed of multiple regions of the brain — that the researchers suspect are involved in tasks from social bonding to movement. Variations in these brain networks were linked to specific breed characteristics: for example, brain regions involved in movement and navigation were bigger in dogs bred for coursing, such as Greyhounds, than in dogs bred for companionship, such as the Maltese.
White barn owls, although relatively visible in the dark of night, are highly effective hunters thanks to the way light reflects off their feathers. Taxidermied owls that barrelled down zip lines have helped scientists to understand how moonlight shaped the evolution of nocturnal animals. The barn owl Tyto alba hunts at night, and ranges in colour from white to brownish-red.
But white owls remained good providers all month long, and hunted best under a full moon. To understand this variation, the researchers attached taxidermied owls to a zip line and flew the decoys at voles under artificial moonlight.
Nature Ecol. Advanced search. Medical research. More Research Highlights USA Immunology. Continue Reading about Why midday might be a golden hour for vaccinations. A glowing tag made of DNA can be used to label a single target molecule in a cell.
Continue Reading about An uncorked champagne bottle imitates a fighter jet. Conditions of impaired iron utilization, including sideroblastic anaemia and anaemia of chronic disease, lead to increased ZnPP as well. ZnPP is also increased in lead intoxication because of the inhibition of ferrochelatase. Haemolysis and hyperbilirubinaemia may give false increased values. Despite this low specificity ZnPP determination is a very good screening tool for iron deficiency and is considered a suitable screening test also for lead intoxication.
Transferrin saturation should always be determined to confirm the presence of iron deficiency. Serum iron levels are reduced after the complete depletion of iron stores but before the haemoglobin level drops. Several manual and automated methods are available and their description is beyond the scope of this book.
The CRISPR fix that could combat inherited blood disorders
Limitations associated with serum iron determination include a wide diurnal variation of serum iron concentrations, lower in the morning as compared to the afternoon , and the diet ingested during the day before eg. Serum iron has a low specificity as low levels may be found in pregnancy, during chronic infections and inflammations, pyrexia, malignancy.
Serum iron should be used in combination with serum transferrin to calculate the percentage of saturation. Transferrin is the iron-transporting protein which can be determined using normal or automated techniques as total iron binding capacity TIBC , ie. Alternatively transferrin can be measured as protein using immunological methods. Serum transferrin increases in iron deficiency, and is falsely reduced in acute inflammation, chronic infections, renal diseases, and malignancy. Transferrin saturation: Transferrin saturation is the ratio of serum iron to iron-binding capacity and is the most accurate indication of iron supply to the bone marrow.
The WHO reference standard is recommended. Serum ferritin levels are increased in acute and chronic infections and inflammations, in liver disease, and in malignancy.
Falsely reduced levels can be found in association with ascorbate deficiency. All rights reserved. The publication contains the collective views of an international group of experts and does not necessarily represent the decisions or the stated policy of the Thalassaemia International Federation. Turn recording back on. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.