How cytoplasm ''feels'' to a cell's components

Under a microscope, a cell’s cytoplasm can resemble a tiny underwater version of New York’s Times Square: Thousands of proteins swarm through a cytoplasm’s watery environment, coming together and breaking apart like a cytoskeletal flash mob.Organelles such as mitochondria and lysosomes must traverse this crowded, ever-changing cytoplasmic space to deliver materials to various parts of a cell.Now engineers at MIT have found that these organelles and other intracellular components may experience the surrounding cytoplasm as very different environments as they travel. For instance, a cell’s nucleus may “feel” the cytoplasm as a fluid, honey-like material, while mitochondria may experience it more like toothpaste.

Hidden river once flowed beneath Antarctic ice

Antarctic researchers from Rice University have discovered one of nature’s supreme ironies: On Earth’s driest, coldest continent, where surface water rarely exists, flowing liquid water below the ice appears to play a pivotal role in determining the fate of Antarctic ice streams.The finding, which appears online this week in Nature Geoscience, follows a two-year analysis of sediment cores and precise seafloor maps covering 2,700 square miles of the western Ross Sea. As recently as 15,000 years ago, the area was covered by thick ice that later retreated hundreds of miles inland to its current location. The maps, which were created from state-of-the-art sonar data collected by the National Science Foundation research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer, revealed how the ice retreated during a period of global warming after Earth’s last ice age. In several places, the maps show ancient water courses — not just a river system, but also the subglacial lakes that fed it.

How high is air pollution in your city and how does it compare to the most polluted cities in the world?

Pollution is a greater global threat than Ebola and HIV, according to warnings by the World Health Organisation. According to its recent report, one in four deaths among children aged under five are now due to environmental hazards such as air pollution and contaminated water.Previously this year, air pollution levels in London were worse than those in Beijing for a brief period - with the UK capital's pollutants frequently breaking UK limits. 

The World Eyes Yet Another Unconventional Source of Fossil Fuels

In May of this year, China claimed a breakthrough in tapping an obscure fossil fuel resource: Researchers there managed to suck a steady flow of methane gas out of frozen mud on the seafloor. That same month, Japan did the same. And in the United States, researchers pulled a core of muddy, methane-soaked ice from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.The idea of exploiting this quirky fuel source would have been considered madness a couple of decades ago — both wildly expensive and dangerous. Until recently, methane-soaked ice was considered explosively unstable. In the Gulf of Mexico, traditional oil rigs have been tiptoeing around these icy deposits for years, trying to avoid them.

Hot spot at Hawaii? Not so fast

Through analysis of volcanic tracks, Rice University geophysicists have concluded that hot spots like those that formed the Hawaiian Islands aren’t moving as fast as recently thought.Hot spots are areas where magma pushes up from deep Earth to form volcanoes. New results from geophysicist Richard Gordon and his team confirm that groups of hot spots around the globe can be used to determine how fast tectonic plates move.Gordon, lead author Chengzu Wang and co-author Tuo Zhang developed a method to analyze the relative motion of 56 hot spots grouped by tectonic plates. They concluded that the hot-spot groups move slowly enough to be used as a global reference frame for how plates move relative to the deep mantle. This confirmed the method is useful for viewing not only current plate motion but also plate motion in the geologic past.

Destruction of small wetlands directly linked to algal blooms in Great Lakes

Canada’s current wetland protection efforts have overlooked how the environment naturally protects fresh-water resources from agricultural fertilizer contaminants, researchers from the University of Waterloo have found.In a recent study, researchers at Waterloo’s Faculty of Science and Faculty of Engineering found that small wetlands have a more significant role to play than larger ones in preventing excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer from reaching waterbodies such as the Great Lakes.

Genome analysis with near-complete privacy possible

It is now possible to scour complete human genomes for the presence of disease-associated genes without revealing any genetic information not directly associated with the inquiry, say Stanford University researchers.This “genome cloaking” technique, devised by biologists, computer scientists and cryptographers at the university, ameliorates many concerns about genomic privacy and potential discrimination based on an individual’s genome sequence.

NASA Gets a Final Look at Hurricane Gert's Rainfall

Before Hurricane Gert became a post-tropical cyclone, NASA got a look at the rainfall occurring within the storm. After Gert became post-tropical NOAA’s GOES-East satellite captured an image as Gert was merging with another system.The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core observatory satellite provided rainfall information on Hurricane Gert on August 16, 2017 at 5:37 p.m. EDT (2137 UTC). At that time, Gert was a strong category two hurricane with maximum sustained winds of about 93.5 mph (85 knots).

Climate Change and Habitat Conversion Combine to Homogenize Nature

Climate change and habitat conversion to agriculture are working together to homogenize nature, indicates a study in the journal Global Change Biology led by the University of California, Davis.In other words, the more things change, the more they are the same.While the individual impacts of climate change and habitat conversion on wildlife are well-recognized, little is known about how species respond to both stressors at once.

Study Reveals Evolutionary History of Imperiled Salmon Stocks

New technologies for analyzing DNA may transform how imperiled species are considered and managed for conservation protection, according to a study published today in the journal Science Advances and led by the University of California, Davis.These technologies can be applied to a wide range of species around the world — from mushrooms to walruses — but the study focuses on two iconic species of Pacific salmon: steelhead and chinook. While steelhead are a legendary sport fish, chinook are considered the workhorse of the West Coast salmon industry.