Best of the web - November 2010 | Summary and Q&A

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November 23, 2010
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New Scientist
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Best of the web - November 2010

TL;DR

Catch the latest online science videos featuring DNA research, zebrafish food recognition, flexible architecture, kidney stone prevention, climbing turkeys, detailed 3D flower models, worm behavior studies, immune cell routes, water-resistant surfaces, and NASA's next Space Telescope.

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Key Insights

  • 💯 DNA strands of the perfect length have practical applications in designing chemical sensors and Drug Delivery Systems.
  • 😋 Understanding how zebrafish recognize food could provide insights into visual processing in the brain.
  • 🏑 Flexible plastic materials have the potential to revolutionize the field of architecture.
  • 🥌 A mimic for kidney stone protein has the potential to prevent painful stone formation.
  • ✈️ The climbing ability of young brush turkeys sheds light on the evolutionary significance of wings before flight.
  • 💐 Detailed 3D models of flowers provide a deeper understanding of their complex structures.
  • 🪱 Worm behavior studies can provide insights into locomotion and adaptive strategies.
  • 🩸 Immune cell routes through blood vessels offer opportunities for suppressing immune reactions to implants.
  • 💦 Water-resistant surfaces coated with carbon nanotubes have various applications, including fabric and coating improvements.

Questions & Answers

Q: How can DNA be used as microscopic building material?

DNA strands of the perfect length have been discovered, making it easier to design DNA-based chemical sensors and Drug Delivery Systems. Longer strands can cause tangling, while shorter strands may fail to attach to one another.

Q: What brain circuits in zebrafish help them recognize food particles?

Scientists have recently uncovered the brain circuits in zebrafish that assist in separating food images from the cluttered background. This discovery improves the understanding of the brain's visual processing.

Q: What are the implications of flexible plastic tiles in architecture?

These special plastic tiles can change shape when voltage is applied, allowing architects to create buildings that bend, twist, and fold. This material opens up new possibilities for future architectural designs.

Q: How can kidney stone formation be prevented?

Researchers have developed a mimic for the protein crystal found in kidney stones, which interferes with bonding and hinders the formation of large crystals. Although not ready for use yet, this could potentially lead to therapies to prevent painful kidney stones.

Q: How do young brush turkeys climb walls?

Young brush turkeys use their wings to balance and get a boost as they climb walls to avoid predators. However, as they get older, their leg muscles grow bigger, making steep climbs more difficult.

Q: How was a detailed 3D model of a flower created?

A flower was sliced into cross-sections, imaged under a microscope, and then reconstructed layer by layer, resulting in a detailed 3D model of the flower's outer and inner structure.

Q: What is being studied about worm behavior?

Scientists are studying how worms transition from swimming to crawling when their water source is removed. By setting worms loose on a grid of tiny pillars and modeling their behavior, researchers aim to understand how worms get around.

Q: How do immune cells attack harmful invaders without damaging normal cells?

Scientists have discovered that immune cells take specific routes through blood vessels that enable them to bypass healthy tissue. This finding could lead to improved ways of suppressing immune reactions to implants.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • DNA strands of the perfect length have been found, which can aid in designing DNA-based chemical sensors and Drug Delivery Systems.

  • Scientists have uncovered the brain circuits in zebrafish that help them recognize food particles.

  • Flexible plastic tiles can change shape when voltage is applied, allowing for new possibilities in architecture.

  • A mimic for kidney stone protein has been developed, which could potentially be used in therapies to prevent painful stones.

  • Young brush turkeys can run up walls using their wings, while older turkeys have difficulty due to their increasing leg muscle size.

  • A detailed 3D model of a flower's outer and inner structure was created using microscope images and reconstructing them layer by layer.

  • Scientists are studying worm behavior on a grid of tiny pillars to better understand their modes of movement.

  • Immune cells take specific routes through blood vessels to bypass healthy tissue, which may lead to improved ways of suppressing immune reactions to implants.

  • Water-resistant surfaces coated with carbon nanotubes can make drops of water bounce away, potentially leading to better fabrics and coatings.

  • NASA's next Space Telescope promises to provide unprecedented views of the universe, including planet formation and early Universe processes.

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