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How the brain navigates cities

A study suggests our brains are not optimized to calculate the shortest possible route when navigating on foot. Instead, pedestrians use vector-based navigation, choosing 'pointiest' paths that point most directly toward their destination, even if the routes are longer.

Optimum pressure to improve the performance of lithium metal batteries

A team of materials scientists and chemists has determined the proper stack pressure that lithium metal batteries, or LMBs, need to be subjected to during battery operation in order to produce optimal performance.

Fasting is required to see the full benefit of calorie restriction in mice

Over the last few decades, scientists have discovered that long-term calorie restriction provides a wealth of benefits in animals. Researchers have largely assumed that reduced food intake drove these benefits by reprogramming metabolism. But a new study finds that reduced calorie intake alone is not enough; fasting is essential for mice to derive full benefit.

The human immune system is an early riser

Circadian clocks, which regulate most of the physiological processes of living beings over a rhythm of about 24 hours, are one of the most fundamental biological mechanisms. By deciphering the cell migration mechanisms underlying the immune response, scientists have shown that the activation of the immune system is modulated according to the time of day. Indeed, the migration of immune cells from the skin to the lymph nodes oscillates over a 24-hours period. Immune function is highest in the resting phase, just before activity resumes -- in the afternoon for mice, which are nocturnal animals, and early morning for humans. These results suggest that the time of day should possibly be taken into account when administering vaccines or immunotherapies against cancer, in order to increase their effectiveness.

Lakes are changing worldwide: Human activities to blame

Worldwide, lake temperatures are rising and seasonal ice cover is shorter and thiner. This effects lake ecosystems, drinking water supply and fishing. International research now shows that these global changes in lake temperature and ice cover are not due to natural climate variability. They can only be explained by massive greenhouse gas emissions since the Industrial Revolution. To demonstrate this, the team has developed multiple computer simulations with models of lakes on a global scale, on which they ran a series of climate models. The researchers found clear similarities between the observed changes in lakes and model simulations of lakes in a climate influenced by greenhouse gas emissions. Besides measuring the historical impact of climate change, the team also analyzed various future climate scenarios.

Mammalian motivation circuits: Maybe they’re born with it

Are animals born to seek rewards or avoid punishment? Researchers found that mice have pre-programmed neurons and circuits that process 'positive' and 'negative' stimuli. Their findings may be useful for studying neurological and psychiatric disorders in humans.

Developing a treatment for vision loss through transplant of photoreceptor precursors

A recent study examining the therapeutic potential of photoreceptor precursors, derived from clinically compliant induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), has demonstrated the safety and therapeutic potential of clinically compliant iPSC-derived photoreceptor precursors as a cell replacement source for future clinical trials.

Scientists discover method to boost energy generation from microalgae

The variety of humble algae that cover the surface of ponds and seas could hold the key to boosting the efficiency of artificial photosynthesis, allowing scientists to produce more energy and lower waste in the process. A study showed how encasing algae protein in liquid droplets can dramatically enhance the algae's light-harvesting and energy-conversion properties by up to three times. This energy is produced as the algae undergoes photosynthesis, which is the process used by plants, algae and certain bacteria to harness energy from sunlight and turn it into chemical energy. When light hits the droplet, light waves travel around the curved edges of the droplet. Light is effectively trapped within the droplet for a longer period of time, giving more opportunity for photosynthesis to take place, hence generating more energy.

Aging breast tissue could set the stage for invasive breast cancer

A new study examines how the extracellular matrix (ECM) -- an underlying network of molecules and proteins that provide the structure for tissue growth -- can trigger invasive cancer-related genes.

Artificial chromosomes study sheds light on gene therapies

A research team led by Dr Karen Wing Yee YUEN, Associate Professor from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), revealed the mechanism of artificial chromosome (AC) formation in the embryos of the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, a 1-mm long, transparent nematode.

Delicious discoveries: Scientists just described a new onion species from the Himalaya

While the onion, garlic, scallion, shallot and chives have been on our plates for centuries, becoming staple foods around the world, their group, the genus Allium, seems to be a long way from running out of surprises. Recently, a group of researchers from India described a new onion species from the western Himalaya region, long known to the locals as 'jambu' and 'phran.'

Challenges and lessons learned caring for diverse, vulnerable populations in the ER

Interviews with two dozen emergency medicine residents in academic medical center found most placed importance on learning to deliver high-quality care to diverse populations. However, many did not feel their programs made enough effort to incorporate effective cultural competency education into the curriculum.

Ecology of fishing jaguars: Rare social interactions

Scientists have gained new insights into the diet, population density and social interactions of a group of Brazilian jaguars.

NASA, ULA launch Lucy Mission to ‘fossils’ of planet formation

NASA's Lucy mission, the agency's first to Jupiter's Trojan asteroids, launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Over the next 12 years, Lucy will fly by one main-belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids, making it the agency's first single spacecraft mission in history to explore so many different asteroids. Lucy will investigate these 'fossils' of planetary formation up close during its journey.

Plant-eating lizards on the cusp of tooth evolution

Researchers found that complex teeth, a hallmark of mammals, also evolved several times in reptiles, prompting the evolutionary success of plant-eating lizards. However, contrary to mammals their tooth evolution was not unidirectional.

Our brains have a 'fingerprint' too

An EPFL scientist has pinpointed the signs of brain activity that make up our brain fingerprint, which -- like our regular fingerprint -- is unique.

Scientists find evidence the early solar system harbored a gap between its inner and outer regions

In the early solar system, a 'protoplanetary disk' of dust and gas rotated around the sun and eventually coalesced into the planets we know today. A new study suggests that a mysterious gap existed within this disk around 4.567 billion years ago, and likely shaped the composition of the solar system's infant planets.

Plankton head polewards

Ocean warming caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions will prompt many species of marine plankton to seek out new habitats, in some cases as a matter of survival. Researchers expect many organisms to head to the poles and form new communities -- with unforeseeable consequences for marine food webs.

Accelerating the discovery of new materials for 3D printing

A new data-driven system accelerates the process of discovering 3D printing materials that have multiple mechanical properties.

A map of mouse brain metabolism in aging

Researchers have created an atlas of metabolites in the mouse brain. The dataset includes 1,547 different molecules across 10 brain regions in male and female laboratory mice from adolescence through adulthood and into advanced old age. The complete dataset is publicly available online.