Review Category : Science & Technology

This Week in Science: 1/13 – 1/21

Our hands wrinkle for no real reason Research conducted by Gary Lewin at the Max Debruck Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin-Buch, Germany and recently published in PLOS ONE, uncovered the reason that our hands become wrinkled and soggy from water. The research suggests that finger wrinkling from soaking up too much water is actually not a mammalian adaptation, as previously suggested, but rather an incidental response to feeling warm water for a prolonged period. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/wrinkle-arises-soggy-hand-studies   Promising new drug for PTSD patients Findings of a new drug published in the journal Cell indicate that certain inhibitors may improve treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients. In this preclinical study, researchers tested on mice whether HDACis (inhibitors that activate genes involved in learning and memory) could help the brain to permanently reduce the effect of old traumatic memories. The research suggests that drugs with HDACis in combination with the regular exposure-based therapies can improve treatment for suffering PTSD patients. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116130648.htm   Process behind heart arrhythmias discovered A study conducted by... ...

Read More →

QuizUp hits campus

A new trivia game called QuizUp has surfaced on the iOS platform and since its launch on Nov. 7, 2013 it has gained more than four million users playing across the world. QuizUp is a free, social trivia game that allows you to battle against your friends’ knowledge in a variety of subjects. To connect with your friends, sync QuizUp to Facebook, Twitter or your phone’s contacts. Through the app, you can chat and challenge them to a game of trivia. Unfortunately, an internet connection is needed to play since all matches happen in real time. This affects the game’s mobility because internet isn’t always readily available. There are currently over 300 topics (and counting) for you to choose from in a variety of categories, from history to music, sports, movies and more. The app is said to have a topic for everyone’s taste; however, if you don’t see something for you, you can contribute a topic to the game. There are many educational topics to stimulate yourself — a... ...

Read More →

Watch and learn (the night sky)

The Quadrantids meteor shower opened the new year with its annual display of ice and rock forming blue and white tails as they approached the sun. Unlike other meteor showers that peak for a couple of days, the Quadrantids peaked for only about eight hours around Jan. 3. The Quadrantids also came from an asteroid, an unusual source compared to the typical comet. However, those peaking hours were a special time for stargazers, as they could catch a glimpse of as many as two meteors a minute. If you missed this one, the next closest shower will be in April when the Lyrids rain on the northern hemisphere. January constellations improve as the nights grow late. If being outside in 40 degree weather is acceptable to you, you can catch Orion, the Hunter and Taurus, the Bull around 10 p.m. These constellations contain two of the most brilliant deep sky objects visible to the naked eye. Deep sky objects, or astronomical objects other than stars or solar system objects (e.g.... ...

Read More →

High cholesterol is not only bad for heart, study finds

In a recent study conducted at the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center, a team of experts confirmed the relationship between unhealthy cholesterol fractions in the blood and an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Led in part by Dr. Brian Reed of UC Davis, the study was the first of its kind to demonstrate the correlation between unhealthy cholesterol levels and cerebral amyloid plaque deposition in the brain. The study was published online as  “Associations Between Serum Cholesterol Levels and Cerebral Amyloidosis” on Dec. 30 in JAMA Neurology. The study revealed that elevated circulating levels of cholesterol, specifically “bad” LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and low levels of “good” HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol, lead to the deposition of amyloid proteins in cerebral tissues; amyloid deposits are significant pathological markers for Alzheimer’s disease. “Alzheimer’s disease is defined by a combination of clinical findings and pathology.  Clinically, the person has a dementia — a loss of multiple cognitive abilities severe enough to impair day-to-day function … this dementia is due to damage... ...

Read More →

Professor Profile: Dr. Bryan Enderle

Basic chemistry is the undisputable right of passage for each young science major at the University of California. In what is effectively a three-quarter crash course on all things chemistry-related, the UC Davis Chemistry 2 series serves as an introduction to basic chemical intuition; the series tests the wit and persistence of many young science majors, and eventually beckons them into upper-division coursework. Dr. Bryan Enderle is one of the few professors in the Chemistry 2 series who, for some students, has helped to improve or transform their perspective on the subject. At 39, Bryan Enderle is one of the youngest lecturers in the UC Davis Chemistry Department. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemical and petroleum engineering from UC Berkeley in 1997, and his doctorate in chemical engineering from UC Davis in 2002. He has been on board as an affiliated faculty member at UC Davis ever since. Dr. Enderle’s past endeavors as a UC Davis PhD student have helped him to feel connected with students — he has... ...

Read More →

This Week in Science: 11/25 -12/01

Supercomputers and Humanoids With the help of quantum mechanics and supercomputers, scientists are now able to create new materials without having to run experiments first. Materials science allows engineers to turn matter into new and useful forms. Researchers working at the California Institute of Technology and five other institutions plan to use supercomputers to study thousands of chemical compounds at the same time, increasing efficiency. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-supercomputers-will-yield-a-golden-age-of-materials-science Nostalgia at its best A study links nostalgia and boost in optimism for the future. According to Dr. Tim Wildschut, from the University of Southampton, nostalgia for past events invokes self-esteem and maintains self-worth, which helps an individual to foresee the future as optimistic. Optimism seems to be linked with improved health by boosting the immune system. This feeling has also been noted to make people more charitable. http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/nostalgia-for-the-past-boosts-optimism-for-the-future-study-suggests.html Night vision According to a study conducted by Kevin Dieter at Vanderbilt University, half of the 129 participants were able to see the motions of their hand even in the dark, suggesting that our brains... ...

Read More →

Turning photography around, 360 degrees

For those who love taking panoramic pictures and capturing a larger perspective of their special moments, Panono will certainly spark your interest. The Panono camera allows the user to throw the camera into the air and automatically capture a 360 degree image at the highest point the camera reaches. What is achieved is a complete aerial panoramic image of your surroundings. The Panono camera comes in the shape of a ball outfitted with 36 small cameras that deliver a 72 megapixel photo and an incredible “360 degree by 360 degree” image. To take a picture one can throw the Panono up, or also utilize it as a handheld camera and press a button on the top of the ball to snap a picture. The ball is encased in tough clear plastic to ensure its safety during those rare times when the Panono is not caught on the way back down. This device comes from the mind of Jonas Pfeil, creator of the camera and president of the Panono company. Though... ...

Read More →

West Village energy: Close enough

UC Davis’ West Village opened two years ago, boasting to be the largest zero-net energy planned community in the nation. However, a study by the Davis Energy Group revealed that it currently produces only 87 percent of its energy, failing to meet the promised goal of 100 percent of its own energy. West Village is supposed to be a city on the hill for aspiring sustainable developers, and has received quite a bit of media and political attention since opening. Solar panels over the parking lots generate most of the electricity at the moment, and are providing just as much as the initial models predicted. The problem is not in the generation, but in the consumption. Currently housing 1,980 students, faculty and staff, West Village is predicted to house 3,500 in the next several years, and 350 single-family homes will also be built at some point in the future. The energy inefficiency has been identified as collective overuse, as the community planning was based on data from family units, and... ...

Read More →

Influenza strikes UC Davis

It’s that time of year again. The weather has us huddling indoors around warm fires. Friends and family gather together to spread holiday cheer, delicious food and … influenza. It’s not something we typically think about, but it’s important. Right now, especially, UC Davis students should make sure they know all about influenza and how it works. Thomas J. Ferguson, M.D., PhD, is the medical director of the UC Davis Student Health and Wellness Center. “We are starting to see some influenza cases among students,” Ferguson said in an email. Influenza is an infectious disease that affects birds and mammals. It is caused by RNA viruses from the family Orthomyxoviridae. RNA viruses use ribonucleic acid (RNA) as their genetic material to infect hosts. This RNA is what makes us feel sick, as it helps the viruses replicate inside us and produce toxins that can harm us. Influenza is commonly mistaken for other illnesses, such as the common cold and the “stomach flu,” but it is a more intense disease caused... ...

Read More →

Decreasing chlorophyll causes fall colors

It’s that time of year when the thousands of trees on and off campus experience a dramatic change before the cold winter. Leaves are turning gold, red and orange — what is the secret behind these changes? To answer that question, we need to understand the biological purpose of leaves and their chemical components. Leaves are the part of a plant that photosynthesize. They take in energy from the sun in the form of light and turn it into a form they can use, namely, glucose and other sugars. Why do leaves do this instead of other parts of the plant? In trees, especially, leaves are responsible for photosynthesis because they are green. Their unique structure also aids them in their ability to make sugars, but the most important part is their color. The green in plants comes from a specific light-absorbing pigment, known as chlorophyll a. “Leaves are green because the primary photosynthetic pigment, chlorophyll, absorbs the red and blue spectra of light while reflecting the wavelength of visible... ...

Read More →

UC Davis, NASA study Chelyabinsk meteor’s impact

UC Davis Professor Qing-Zhu Yin of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences has collaborated with an international team including NASA’s preeminent meteor astronomers in the first ever study of the Chelyabinsk meteor. The research was published Nov. 7 in the journal Science. Studies of this type, which employ experts’ knowledge, highly-practiced sets of eyes and specialized technologies have allowed researchers to tell the life story of the meteor, from its cosmic birth billions of years ago, to its turbulent and high-speed conclusion in the frozen base of Lake Chebarkul. On Feb. 15, a decaying remnant of the extra-terrestrial Chelyabinsk meteor plunged through Earth’s atmosphere at an estimated 41,000 miles per hour, roughly 40 times the speed of a triggered bullet. The resulting shock wave, which caused significant damage, passed through the city of Chelyabinsk, shattered windows, knocked locals to the ground and prompted nearly 1,500 people to seek hospitalization. Although less than half of one percent of the meteor remained intact by the time it collided with an ice-capped... ...

Read More →

This Week in Science:11/12 – 11/18

Canyon of fire appears on Sun’s surface, according to NASA A filament of charged particles blasted away from the sun at more than 3 million kilometers per hour, leaving behind a scar in the plasma that NASA has dubbed the “Canyon of Fire.” Interesting mating habits discovered in Australian sea slugs It has been discovered that Australian sea slugs, a hermaphroditic mollusk, have sex by reciprocally stabbing one another in the forehead with their penises, according to Rolanda Lange from the University of Tuebingen in Germany. Fossils suggest Asia, not Africa, as ancestral home of big cats The oldest known fossils from a big cat were found recently in Tibet, and suggest that Asia, not Africa, is the origin of big cat ancestry. Dr. Jack Iseng authored the study along with a team of U.S. and Chinese paleontologists, and their research is published in the Royal Society Journal. Breakthrough in invisibility cloak Dr. George Eleftheriades from the University of Toronto has developed an invisibility cloak capable of completely concealing objects... ...

Read More →

Tech Tip: Mobile app puts new spin on our four wheels

Most students are aware of the Tipsy Taxi service run by Unitrans, which brings you back home safely after one too many drinks. However, Tipsy Taxi is only available from Thursday to Saturday between the hours of 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wouldn’t it be nice to have other late-night modes of transportation that aren’t limited to three nights of the week? In the near future, it could be possible to get a lift from Lyft. Lyft is an app that is available on iPhone and Android-based cell phones and is currently a popular service in San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Seattle and Los Angeles. Originally started in San Francisco, Lyft was created with the younger generation’s needs in mind, promoting peer-to-peer ridesharing when traveling to a similar destination as someone with transportation. For those who live far from home, this app finds people around you who might be headed in the same direction — like driving to L.A. for the holiday break — and allows you to tag... ...

Read More →

Racks-on-chip, a conceptual solution to data centers

Today’s data centers have ever-increasing workloads placed upon them, resulting in the wildly expensive cost of operations and maintenance in addition to supplying the thousands of watts of power they can require. This is the question highlighted in the Oct. 11 edition of the journal Science by Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Chair Shaya Fainman and Center for Networked Systems Associate Director George Porter, both faculty at UCSD. In order to accomplish energy and monetary conservancy in future centers, Fainman and Porter discuss one option which would change the current data center design into racks-on-chip. Rather than large racks of servers arranged in conjunction, individual chips will have “racks” that act like a miniaturized server. “The idea behind racks-on-chip [is] to take the processing power and memory of individual servers in these data centers, and start to integrate them into highly dense packages, reducing the overall power and cooling,” Porter said in an email interview. “By increasing the density of these internet data centers, we have the potential of doing... ...

Read More →

UC Davis begins breeding poultry for impoverished Africans

Africa could be receiving some new hot, healthy chicks if Davis scientists have anything to say about it. Researchers from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis and the School of Veterinary Medicine are working on creating disease-resistant, heat-resistant chickens for hunger-prone areas of Africa. In particular, the work focuses on fighting Newcastle disease, which kills 750 million chickens every year. “Newcastle disease is the number one disease that kills chickens throughout most of the developing world, so across Africa, South [and] Central America and across much of Asia. Newcastle disease kind of sweeps through rural villages once or twice a year and kills most of the chickens,” said David Bunn, director of the effort called Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Genomics to Improve Poultry. With new technology and innovative genomics, the team hopes to breed fowl suitable for the most affected areas. This isn’t genetic modification, but it’s a step up from traditional breeding. They examined local birds that can withstand heat and incorporated what... ...

Read More →