Icosahedral capsid (protein shell that envelops the DNA) of Herpes simples virus 1 (HSV-1). [img 1/2)
"Just about wherever scientists look—deep within the earth, on grains of sand blown off of the Sahara Desert, under mile-thick layers of Antarctic ice—they find viruses. And when they look in familiar places, they find new ones. In 2009, Dana Willner, a biologist at San Diego State University, led a virus-hunting expedition into the human body. The scientists had ten people cough up sputum and spit it into a cup. Five of the people were sick with cystic fibrosis, and five were healthy. Out of that fluid, Willner and her team fished out fragments of DNA, which they compared to databases of the tens of millions of genes already known to science. Before Willner’s study, the lungs of healthy people were believed to be sterile. But Willner and her colleagues discovered that all their subjects, sick and healthy alike, carried viral menageries in their chests. On average, each person had 174 species of viruses in the lungs. But only 10 percent of those species bore any close kinship to any virus ever found before."
Carl Zimmer - A Planet of Viruses
Detail of a pod of flowering legume Scorpius muricatus. Stereomicroscopy, darkfield illumination. Viktor Sýkora, Hyskov, Czech Republic.
More of this: 20 Award-Winning Microscope Images
Brain cells generated from induced pluripotent stem cells (via UW-Madison)
Everything I Didn’t Learn From Taking A Personal Genome Test by Russell Brandom
23andme’s test results are all based on peer-reviewed scientific studies, the closest thing medicine has to a rock-hard, build-your-house-on-it fact. But once they’re translated from the group to the individual level, it’s hard to say what significance these facts actually have. This is what science-in-progress looks like—a tangle of half-tested ideas, each one raising more questions than it answers. Anyone waiting to unlock the mysteries of the human body best not hold their breath.
[img by John Crawford]
A Twisting Tail (via bpod-mrc)
This picture shows Drosophila sperm cells with tails. Their long tails or flagella, curl around in circles. Scientists have no idea why fly sperm need tails up to six centimetres, since this is 20 times the length of the fly itself.
In the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about 1,300 kilometres from the North Pole there is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Svalbard globale frøhvelv) the most secure seedbank of the world. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is designed to preserve the genetic diversity of the world’s food crops, an essential part of the work of preserving the world’s biodiversity.
The Seed Vault has the capacity to store 4,5 million different seed samples and each of these can contain on average 500 seeds, so a maximum of 2,25 billion seeds may be stored in Svalbard. When in full use it will be the world’s largest collection of seeds.
The seedban is constructed 120 metres inside a sandstone mountain. Svalbard is a unique location that was chosen because it has very specific features. It has perfect climate and geology for underground cold storage. Because of the permafrost, the temperature will never rise above minus 3,5 Celsius. The sandstone at Svalbard is stable to build in (its lacks of tectonic activity) and low in radiation. The seeds are stored and conserved in a frozen state at -18°C.
The vault could preserve seeds from most major food crops for hundreds of years. and some, including those of important grains, could survive for thousands of years.
Target: Drug-resistant bacteria
“Most nanotechnology has been targeted to cancer drug delivery or imaging; not many people have shown interest in using a nanotechnology approach for infectious disease” (via MIT)
Walrus in the Chukchi Sea (via USGS)