Monarch butterflies’ predators copy their poison resistance at a genetic level

Monarch caterpillars live on poisonous milkweed, which makes the adult monarch butterflies noxious to most predators. Over the past decade, researchers have been able to spot a number of key genetic mutations which allow the monarchs to tolerate milkweed toxins. Now, a study has shown that four of the monarch butterflies’ North American predators also … Continue reading Monarch butterflies’ predators copy their poison resistance at a genetic level

A cleaner way to make a crucial reagent

How do you make medicinal drugs? The techniques are often highly resource intensive, but chemists are working to make them more environmentally friendly. New research has demonstrated a cleaner way to make Grignard reagents, one of the hallmarks of chemistry. Grignard reagents can get carbon atoms to bond to one another in very precise ways, … Continue reading A cleaner way to make a crucial reagent

Charles Townes shines a light

In the 1964 movie Goldfinger, based on the book of that name by acclaimed British writer Ian Fleming, the avaricious Auric Goldfinger captures Secret Service agent James Bond, straps him to a thick metal table and sets a laser beam to begin burning through the table and perhaps eventually slicing through the British super spy. … Continue reading Charles Townes shines a light

How do police forensic scientists investigate a case?

By Brendan Chapman, Murdoch University Recent high-profile missing persons cases, including that of William Tyrrell – who went missing in Kendall, New South Wales, at the age of three in 2014 – have focused public attention on the forensic practices involved in crime scene investigations. As a forensic scientist who has worked at thousands of … Continue reading How do police forensic scientists investigate a case?

How do fingers snap?

Humans have been snapping fingers for thousands of years – records of finger clicking go back to ancient Greece, and it likely happened long before that. But how does finger snapping actually work? A team of US researchers have discovered it has a lot to do with the friction of finger pads. “For the past … Continue reading How do fingers snap?

Let’s talk about genetics and disease

Being told you are genetically predisposed to disease is scary – what does it even mean? Genetics and disease are highly complex and this often means it is hard to navigate whether there is high risk of disease or not. Beyond this, our genetic data can feel personal. So how do we ensure our genetic … Continue reading Let’s talk about genetics and disease

World-first forensic tool for fire-damaged concrete structure

When concrete is exposed to intense fire, materials in the concrete can decompose, leading to a deterioration of strength. Yet there is no widely accepted method of evaluating this damage, making the choice between repair and demolition difficult. Now, a team of researchers, led by Dr Youngsun Heo of the Korean Institute of Civil Engineering … Continue reading World-first forensic tool for fire-damaged concrete structure

Antarctic bacteria live on air and use hydrogen as fuel

By Pok Man Leung, Monash University; Chris Greening, Monash University, and Steven Chown, Monash University Humans have only recently begun to think about using hydrogen as a source of energy, but bacteria in Antarctica have been doing it for a billion years. We studied 451 different kinds of bacteria from frozen soils in East Antarctica … Continue reading Antarctic bacteria live on air and use hydrogen as fuel

Sandy-dandy invention shows its strength

Building sandcastles just got a whole new meaning, thanks to a manufacturing invention that has a sand-based polymer holding up to 300 times its own weight. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US, designed a novel polymer that binds to silica sand. It can be 3D printed into integrated geometries that massively increase the … Continue reading Sandy-dandy invention shows its strength

Crime-fighting algorithm to take up the battle against illegal drugs?

The answer to drug forensics might be AI, according to a new report published in Nature Machine Intelligence. Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, have trained a computer to predict designer drugs based on specific common molecules, even before the drugs hit the market. Clandestine chemists are constantly manufacturing new and dangerous … Continue reading Crime-fighting algorithm to take up the battle against illegal drugs?

Penicillin for the heart

A new study has found that regular, affordable antibiotic treatment significantly reduced the risk of underlying rheumatic heart disease progression in children and adolescents. Based in Uganda and undertaken by a multinational team that includes the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), in Melbourne, the research also shows that early screening is critical in preventing serious … Continue reading Penicillin for the heart

Polly Porter rolls the stones

Polly Porter. The name sounds more like a character in a young-adult adventure story from the early 20th century than a serious scientist. The many books and papers she published – such as “Crystallographic descriptions of some pyridine and picoline derivatives”, in 1921, were under her birth name, Mary Winearls Porter, but to her family … Continue reading Polly Porter rolls the stones