(Phys.org) — Research published in the peer-review Journal of the Royal Society Interface on Wednesday presents a close look at the structure and physical properties of silkworm cocoons. The paper’s research efforts could move scientists closer toward coming up with tomorrow’s design principles for materials inspired by silkworm cocoons. Those materials might provide important advancements in materials for such areas as defense and manufacturing. The authors, Fujia Chen, David Porter, and Fritz Vollrath, note that silkworm cocoons have an impressive range of optimal structures. These are lightweight, strong and porous, and ideal for the development of “bio-inspired” composite materials. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Source: Wikimedia Commons The authors examine cocoon structure. Specifically, they present observations and measurements on twenty-five diverse types of cocoons. They set out to correlate their physical properties with the cocoons’ structure and morphology.Some advanced materials that could benefit from that understanding might end up in the manufacture of car panels, helmets and protective suits for mine workers. The study’s research was funded by a grant from the U.S. Air Force.Their work is certainly not the first nor the last that will talk about nature’s silk producers and what scientists can learn. Spider silk is recognized as an intriguing material in that it is strong and tough and elastic enough to stretch several times its original length. Earlier this year, Discover issued a report on lab work at the University of Wyoming, where silk-spinning silkworms were genetically engineered to spin a hybrid material, partly their own silk and partly that of a spider. Also earlier this year, scientists from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research created artificial heart tissue from silk produced by silkworms.Earlier this week, The Engineer reported that scientists from Tufts University in the U.S. bonded silk protein microfibers from silkworm cocoons to a silk protein scaffold to create a material that mimics the stiffness and surface roughness of bone.As for the publication on Wednesday, Prof. David Porter for the last few years has been collaborating with spider expert Fritz Vollrath at Oxford to study polymer science models and spider silk.They are part of The Oxford Silk Group, in the Department of Zoology, at Oxford. In studying the biology of spider silks, they hope to unravel the chemistry and evolution of these materials, along with a focus on spider-web engineering and behavior. As produced by spiders and insects, natural silks are made under benign conditions— ambient temperature, low pressure, and with water as solvent. “Clearly,” according to a statement from the Oxford Silk Group, “this is something we should aim to copy when designing and making fibers for the future.” Silkworms spinning spider webs © 2012 Phys.Org Journal information: Journal of the Royal Society Interface Citation: Silkworm structures drive push for new materials (2012, May 3) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-05-silkworm-materials.html Explore further
© 2014 Phys.org Close-ups of an experiment conducted by John Bush and his student Daniel Harris, in which a bouncing droplet of fluid was propelled across a fluid bath by waves it generated. Credit: Dan Harris (Phys.org) —It was an interesting week for physics research, as a team at MIT began taking a second look at pilot-wave theory—they’re wondering if, when looked at a certain way , fluid mechanics might suggest an alternative to quantum orthodoxy—they’re taking a new approach to define whether some types of matter are particles, or waves, or whether it’s about particles being carried along by waves. Meanwhile, another team at Chalmers University of Technology announced that the sound of an atom has been captured. By using sound to communicate with an artificial atom, they are looking to find ways to allow sound to take on the role of light in certain quantum physics situations to demonstrate certain phenomena. And at Princeton University, researchers have begun crystallizing light to create “solid” light that could compute previously unsolvable problems—locking photons together, they suggest, might also help answer some of the fundamental questions physicists still have regarding matter.Space scientists have been busy as well. One team built a model that simulates the birth of our solar system revealing a planetary mystery—are the planets that exist now part of a normal natural process or was there one or more rare events that led to their formation? More research will have to be done to find better evidence. Also, researchers working with Hubble found a supernova companion star after two decades of searching.In more practical news, researchers at the University of Glasgow reported that they had found a Hydrogen production breakthrough that could herald cheap green energy—they claim their process is 30 times faster than conventional techniques. Another team at UW-Madison claimed to have developed a tabletop motor using an entirely new driving principle based on an electric, rather than magnetic, field.There were also some surprises last week as well: Researchers at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine announced a potential breakthrough in treating liver cancer—they found that a hormone that is involved in mammalian milk production might also help prevent liver cancer. And another team in England has created a new digital map that reveals some stunning, hidden archaeology of Stonehenge. It’s actually kind of eerie looking at it.And finally, if you’ve been wondering if you, or perhaps some of those around you, are inherently evil, a team of psychologists suggests that evil is not so banal, after all. They’re looking into what is known as the “banality of evil,” where ordinary people go along with atrocities, such as the holocaust, as mindless puppets. They think such instances are not banal at all and instead occur because those that go along when ordered to do so, do it out of a feeling of identification—this would mean that people committing such acts have far more choice in the matter than most of us would like to believe. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Best of Last Week – The sound of an atom captured, solid light created and the banality of evil (2014, September 15) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-09-week-atom-captured-solid-banality.html Explore further The sound of an atom has been captured
Explore further Journal information: Science Morality clearly plays a role in modern society, in many instances, it might even be cited as one of the prime preventers of chaos—people see, hear and engage in things that they deem moral, or immoral, and tend to respond in certain ways because of it. But because of its ephemeral nature, scientists have had difficulty not only defining and measuring it but perhaps more importantly, finding the ways in which it works in people and in society as a whole. In this latest effort, the researchers sought to learn more about how morality works by periodically asking people directly about their observations, feelings and acts.In the experiment, 1,252 people found via social media, agreed to download an app to their phone that allowed the researchers to query them at random times regarding moral acts they engaged in or witnessed during the prior hour, how it made them feel and how they responded. Text messages were sent to the volunteers and received from them over a period of three days. Afterwards, the researchers analyzed the 13,240 messages they’d received from the volunteers to see if they could spot patterns, trends or other pertinent information.Among the host of findings, the team discovered that those who considered themselves religious didn’t necessarily commit more or less moral or immoral acts than those who did not. They also found that people who were the target of a moral act tended to feel better about themselves than did those who committed a moral act themselves—and those same people tended to also be more likely to commit a moral act later on—social scientists call it moral contagion.The researchers also found evidence that suggests political affiliation had an impact on morality as well—those of a liberal persuasion, for example, tended to focus more on fairness between people, while those who saw themselves as more conservative tended to respond more strongly to acts of respecting authority or the status quo.The study marks a new foray into sociological testing techniques using new technology and might just be one of many to come that seek to better define the rules by which people behave in society. (Phys.org) —A team of researchers with members from the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands has uncovered some new ideas about the nature of morality by using a smartphone app. In their paper published in the journal Science, the researchers describe how they enlisted a large group of people to serve as volunteers in a morality experiment, and what they learned as a result. Jesse Graham, of the University of Southern California offers a Perspective piece in the same journal issue. Citation: Smartphone app used by experimenters to learn more about aspects of morality (2014, September 12) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-09-smartphone-app-experimenters-aspects-morality.html Image of the Smartphone Experience-Sampling Signal (SMS linking to smartphone survey). Credit: Wilhelm Hofmann More information: Morality in everyday life, Science 12 September 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6202 pp. 1340-1343 DOI: 10.1126/science.1251560 ABSTRACTThe science of morality has drawn heavily on well-controlled but artificial laboratory settings. To study everyday morality, we repeatedly assessed moral or immoral acts and experiences in a large (N = 1252) sample using ecological momentary assessment. Moral experiences were surprisingly frequent and manifold. Liberals and conservatives emphasized somewhat different moral dimensions. Religious and nonreligious participants did not differ in the likelihood or quality of committed moral and immoral acts. Being the target of moral or immoral deeds had the strongest impact on happiness, whereas committing moral or immoral deeds had the strongest impact on sense of purpose. Analyses of daily dynamics revealed evidence for both moral contagion and moral licensing. In sum, morality science may benefit from a closer look at the antecedents, dynamics, and consequences of everyday moral experience. © 2014 Phys.org How do former churchgoers build a new moral identity? This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
More information: One-pot room-temperature conversion of cyclohexane to adipic acid by ozone and UV light, Science 19 December 2014: Vol. 346 no. 6216 pp. 1495-1498. DOI: 10.1126/science.1259684ABSTRACTNitric acid oxidation of cyclohexane accounts for ~95% of the worldwide adipic acid production and is also responsible for ~5 to 8% of the annual worldwide anthropogenic emission of the ozone-depleting greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). Here we report a N2O-free process for adipic acid synthesis. Treatment of neat cyclohexane, cyclohexanol, or cyclohexanone with ozone at room temperature and 1 atmosphere of pressure affords adipic acid as a solid precipitate. Addition of acidic water or exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light irradiation (or a combination of both) dramatically enhances the oxidative conversion of cyclohexane to adipic acid. An efficient catalytic process converts sugary biomass into a renewable feedstock for polymer production Explore further To make nylon, popularly used in panty hose, rope and a huge variety of other products, manufacturers first make adipic acid by mixing nitric acid with hexagon-shaped carbon molecules (cyclohexane) and other ingredients such as cobalt, copper, manganese, vanadate salts, and highly pressured oxygen. In addition to adipic acid, the process gives off nitrous oxide which is allowed to escape into the atmosphere where it harms the planet’s ozone layer (it’s also considered a greenhouse gas). So popular is nylon, and adipic acid (95 percent of it that’s made is used to make nylon), that prior research has found that up to eight percent of the eight million metric tons of nitrous oxide released into the atmosphere each year, is the result of making adipic acid for nylon production. In this new effort, the pair of researchers describe a process they developed for creating adipic acid that doesn’t release any nitrous oxide at all—it’s also simpler and costs less.Instead of adding nitric acid to cyclohexane (or cyclohexanol, or cyclohexanone) the two added ozone bubbles and ultraviolet light. The UV light caused the ozone to break down to O2 releasing single highly reactive oxygen atoms. Those atoms attached themselves to the carbon molecules weakening their bonds and eventually causing the hexagon rings to break, which resulted in the formation of adipic acid. They note that the process doesn’t require high pressure or any other new ingredients.Excited by their discovery, the two researchers tried the same method on other, larger hydrocarbons—no report on what they found, but they imply that the possibilities are tantalizing, which suggests other researchers might be looking to do the same very soon—that could conceivably lead to the development of ways to create other common materials that aren’t so harmful to the planet. Comparison of the industrial process and the method presented herein for production of adipic acid. (A) Industrial nitric acid process. (B) O3-UV method. Credit: Science 19 December 2014: Vol. 346 no. 6216 pp. 1495-1498. DOI: 10.1126/science.1259684 Citation: Research pair devise a way to make nylon precursor that is less harmful to the ozone layer (2014, December 19) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-12-pair-nylon-precursor-ozone-layer.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2014 Phys.org (Phys.org)—A pair of researchers working at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, has found a way to make a precursor to the synthetic polymer commonly known as nylon that doesn’t cause the release of ozone damaging nitrous oxide. Kuo Chu Hwang and Arunachalam Sagadevan describe their process in a paper they’ve had published in the journal Science and explain why what they’ve discovered is important. Journal information: Science
A true fusion reactor, if one can be built, would of course represent a transformative event in human history—it is believed such reactors could provide the energy needed to relieve our reliance on coal, and nuclear fission. The idea is relatively simple—it is the implementation that has proven to be difficult. A gas is heated to a temperature high enough so that its atoms lose their electrons creating a mass of ions and electrons, i.e. plasma. If those ions run into each other with enough force, they fuse together, causing some of their mass to be converted into energy (as happens in the sun). The trick is in heating the gas to such a high temperature that no known material could hold it—to get around that, researchers have two main possibilities, cause an implosion that occurs so quickly that the material holding it would not be impacted, or use a magnetic field—the researchers at Tri Alpha are reportedly using the second approach, but with a twist, they put magnets around a cigar shaped field-reversed configuration that allows for firing angled plasma beams at one another and hemmed in the results with magnets and electrodes. Using this approach, they were reportedly able to heat the gas up to 10 million degrees Celsius and only stopped the machine because they ran out of fuel.While impressive, the achievement by the team in California still falls far short of the 3 billion degrees Celsius temperature needed to achieve a fusion reaction—the team next plans to tear down the machine, dubbed C-2U and replace it with an upgraded model which they believe will allow them to achieve a ten-fold increase in temperature. Citation: Tri Alpha Energy reportedly makes important breakthrough in developing fusion reactor (2015, August 26) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-08-tri-alpha-energy-reportedly-important.html Explore further Scientists propose an explanation for puzzling electron heat loss in fusion plasmas (Phys.org)—Science Magazine is reporting that physicists working at Tri Alpha Energy in Los Angeles have succeeded in building a device that held a ball of superheated hydrogen plasma for five milliseconds, longer than any other effort before, offering proof that it is possible to hold such gases in a steady state. The development represents a possible breakthrough in the development of a fusion reactor as the process involved is a move towards developing technology that can hold gases at temperatures high enough to sustain a fusion reaction. © 2015 Phys.org This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Journal information: Animal Cognition Citation: Study suggests virgin male mice prefer watching violence to watching sex (2016, February 15) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-02-virgin-male-mice-violence-sex.html To better understand why humans behave the way they do, scientists sometimes study the behavior of other animals—in this case, the researchers set up experiments with common house mice to learn more about what drives them to make behavioral decisions.The researchers conducted two main types of experiments. In the first, test mice were shown a loop of video on an iPhone that randomly depicted mice sniffing, fighting or having sex with one another. Those mice were then transferred to a cage that had side pockets that mice could enter and stay for as long as they liked—the attraction was video playing on an iPod. Two such trials were conducted, one where mice could watch either sniffing or sex, the other where they could watch either fighting or sex. The team found that on average, the mice spent 41 percent of their time watching sex compared to 34 percent sniffing in the first exercise and 40 percent of their time watching fighting versus 35 percent watching sex in the second—this indicates, the team claims, that the mice prefer to watch fighting most, then sex, then sniffing. Subsequent trials involved showing different clips of the same types of activities and offering rewards to the mice when they learned to recognize the difference between behaviors, to prove that they were responding to specific activities and not just the images in one video.In the second series of exercises, the researchers once again allowed the mice to choose the same type of videos, but this time the mice got an injection of morphine as they entered their miniature theater. Not surprisingly, the researchers found that the mice tended to come back to that theater no matter what was playing. © 2016 Phys.org Serotonin plays active role in the sexual preference of mice Credit: martha sexton/public domain More information: Shigeru Watanabe et al. Preference for and discrimination of videos of conspecific social behavior in mice, Animal Cognition (2016). DOI: 10.1007/s10071-016-0953-xAbstractWe showed mice videos of three conspecific social behaviors, namely sniffing, copulation, and fighting, in pairwise combinations using iPods and evaluated preference as determined by time spent in front of each iPod. Mice preferred the copulation video to the sniffing video, the fighting video to the sniffing video, and the fighting video to the copulation video. In Experiment 1a, we used a single video clip for each social behavior but used multiple video clips for each social behavior in Experiment 2a. Next, we trained mice to discriminate between the fighting and copulation videos using a conditioned-place-preference-like task in which one video was associated with injection of morphine and the other was not. For half of the subjects, the fighting video was associated with morphine injection, and for the other half, the copulation video was associated with morphine injection. After conditioning, the mice stayed longer in the compartment with the morphine-associated video. When tested with still images obtained from the videos, mice stayed longer in the compartment with still images from the video associated with morphine injection (Experiment 1b). When we trained mice with multiple exemplars, the subjects showed generalization of preference for new video clips never shown during conditioning (Experiment 2b). These results demonstrate that mice had a preference among videos of particular behavior patterns and that they could discriminate these videos as visual category. Although relationship between real social behaviors and their videos is still open question, the preference tests suggest that the mice perceived the videos as meaningful stimuli. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further (Phys.org)—A trio of researchers working in Japan has found via experiments they conducted, that male virgin mice prefer to watch videos of other mice fighting with one another, than videos of mice having sex. In their paper published in the journal Animal Cognition, Shigeru Watanabe with Keio University, Kazutaka Shinozuka with the RIKEN Brain Science Institute and Takefumi Kikusui with Azabu University, all in Japan, report on behavioral experiments they conducted with house mice and what they believe their findings suggest about mouse behavior.
Journal information: ACS Nano The researchers, led by Chunyi Zhi, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the City University of Hong Kong, have published a paper on the new yarn battery in a recent issue of ACS Nano.So far it has been challenging to develop high-performance wearable batteries due to a lack of materials that are both highly conductive yet strong and flexible enough to be woven into fabric. By addressing these issues, the new yarn battery exhibits one of the best performances to date, including a power density similar to that of supercapacitors, as well as an energy density and capacity similar to that of conventional batteries.”We utilize highly conductive and weavable yarns to fabricate a yarn battery with state-of-the-art performance in terms of capacity, energy density, power density, and rate capability,” Zhi told Phys.org. “The yarns are further weaved to make a wristband battery to power various personal electronics.”The core of the yarn battery consists of highly flexible micrometer-sized stainless steel filaments, onto which metals are deposited (zinc as the anode, nickel cobalt hydroxide as the cathode). A gel electrolyte is then coated around the entire piece of yarn. A new low-cost battery offers a hefty voltage and sustained energy capacity As the researchers explain, each material contributes to the good performance of the overall battery: The stainless steel yarn is strong enough to be woven and knitted by both machine and hand, and its conductivity also provides good long-distance electron transport. Synergistic effects between the nickel and cobalt metal ions boost the capacity and energy density values above those that would be possible using either metal alone.By the numbers, the battery delivers power densities of 2.2 W/cm3, and 33 mW/cm2 for the whole battery. It has energy densities of 8 mWh/cm3, and 0.12 mWh/cm2 for the whole battery. All of these values are among the highest reported to date. The battery’s capacity, 16.6 mAh/cm3, is the highest value so far reported for a fiber-based energy storage device, to the best of the researchers’ knowledge.After bending and twisting for 1,000 cycles, the battery retains 80% and 70% of its initial capacity, respectively. The researchers explain that the capacity loss is due to the formation of cracks on the electrodes when deformed.To demonstrate the battery, the researchers wove the conductive yarn into a large conductive cloth, which could be used as a wristband battery to power electronic devices such as watches and LEDs. They expect that the yarn battery will have applications for wearable electronics, smart garments, and in healthcare in the future.”Next we plan to make textile batteries that are washable, water-proof, and durable, in order to be closer to commercialization,” Zhi said. The flexible, conductive yarn can be woven or knitted into cloth, which can later be used to power various electronic devices. Credit: Huang et al. ©2017 American Chemical Society (Phys.org)—Researchers have fabricated rechargeable batteries by using highly conductive yarns that have a diameter and flexibility similar to that of a piece of cotton yarn. The new yarn battery can be woven into fabric and worn as a wristband or other type of clothing to power watches, LEDs, pulse monitors, and other small personal electronics. A wristband made of cloth woven from the new yarn battery can power a watch (left), LEDs (upper right), and a pulse sensor (bottom right). Credit: Huang et al. ©2017 American Chemical Society More information: Yan Huang et al. “Weavable, Conductive Yarn-Based NiCo//Zn Textile Battery with High Energy Density and Rate Capability.” ACS Nano. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b03322 Explore further © 2017 Phys.org Citation: Watches, LEDs powered by yarn battery (2017, August 25) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-08-powered-yarn-battery.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
The proposed model of cytosolic mobility: (Red box) objects (red spheres) larger than the pore size of the cytoskeleton (50-75 nm) are trapped in a viscoelastic medium and experience restricted diffusion, (green box) if objects are perfectly inert they diffuse freely without hindrance due to obstacles, (purple box) when objects interact with intracellular components diffusion is slowed down but remains Brownian, (yellow box) if interactions increase to the point that immobilization time is longer than the time of observation, the diffusion is significantly slowed down to become anomalous, known as subdiffusion. Credit: Nature Materials (2018) doi: 10.1038/s41563-018-0120-7 Play Representative videos of 25 nm fluorescently labelled NPs diffusing in HeLa cells after pinocytic loading for single-particle tracking experiments. Top panel: unburst vesicles with encapsulated NPs; particles in the intact vesicles move very fast and cannot be tracked individually. Bottom panel: examples of typical regions of interest selected for single-particle tracking analysis of NPs, systematically excluding the unburst vesicles. Behavioral difference of free versus encapsulated NPs ensured a reliable discrimination between the two cases. Images were acquired every 10 ms; video was encoded at 30 frames per second (fps). Scale bar 1 µm. Credit: Nature Materials (2018), doi: 10.1038/s41563-018-0120-7. A brief osmotic shock enabled the dispersion of NPs into the cytoplasm. The NP’s diffusion-based exploration of the cell’s interior was monitored by extensive single-particle tracking experiments. Using this approach, a variety of NP surface modifications and particle sizes ranging from 15 to 75 nm were observed to interact with the surroundings for pronounced diffusion anomalies. , Cell © 2018 Phys.org The experimental data were also explained with a minimal model based on continuous-time random walks, where particles were described to take power-law-distributed rests between periods of free diffusion motion. With this approach, the findings on MSD could be reproduced and captured as particle trajectories. Future work is required to explore if these results also apply to crowds of one to 10 nm-sized macromolecules in cells. Gaining an understanding of how anomalous random walks can be altered when modifying non-equilibrium conditions in cells (such as changed metabolic states) will keep both experimentalists and theorists busy. Overall, the researchers proposed a unified framework to describe the dynamics of diffusion related to nanosized objects in the cell cytoplasm. The study also provided a quantitative benchmarking tool to design perfectly inert NPs that could diffuse within cells unhindered by obstacles, and defined them as “lone maze runners.” Such insights may become crucial to design intracellular drug delivery pathways to easily reach molecular targets within cells in the future. Citation: Maze runners and square dancers: Cytosolic diffusion of nanosized objects in mammalian cells (2018, August 15) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-maze-runners-square-dancers-cytosolic.html Cells are complex, multi-compartmentalized entities of matter enclosed with a variety of membrane-bound organelles ranging from the microscale (µm) down to the nanoscale (nm) in diameter. These structures intermingle in a crowded aqueous phase known as the cytoplasm, within which diffusion deviates from Brownian motion. Understanding the concept of “cell crowding” and the impact on intracellular mobility can enable controlled diffusion within cells for improved drug delivery and other medical applications. The eukaryotic cytoplasm is a biphasic poroelastic (fluid and solid interaction) medium, containing a fluid phase (cytosol with water and soluble proteins) and a solid phase (cytoskeleton and other organelles). PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen Explore further , Reports on Progress in Physics More information: Fred Etoc et al. Non-specific interactions govern cytosolic diffusion of nanosized objects in mammalian cells, Nature Materials (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41563-018-0120-7 Matthias Weiss. A tale about square dancers and maze runners, Nature Materials (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41563-018-0126-1A. Einstein. Über die von der molekularkinetischen Theorie der Wärme geforderte Bewegung von in ruhenden Flüssigkeiten suspendierten Teilchen, Annalen der Physik (2007). DOI: 10.1002/andp.19053220806 Alice B. Fulton. How crowded is the cytoplasm?, Cell (2004). DOI: 10.1016/0092-8674(82)90231-8 Felix Höfling et al. Anomalous transport in the crowded world of biological cells, Reports on Progress in Physics (2013). DOI: 10.1088/0034-4885/76/4/046602 O. Bénichou et al. Geometry-controlled kinetics, Nature Chemistry (2010). DOI: 10.1038/nchem.622 Experiments conducted with tracers on intracellular motion have typically revealed both Brownian and subdiffusive motion (or anomalous diffusion). High concentrations of macromolecules in the cytoplasm described as “obstructive molecular crowding” and biochemical interactions (electrostatic or hydrophobic) naturally affect the mobility of intracellular tracers. As a result, a fundamental question has remained unresolved: Can a unified framework account for the large variability of behaviors observed in cytosolic diffusion? Now writing in Nature Materials, Fred Etoc and colleagues have used single-particle tracking of fluorescent nanoparticle (NP) tracers to observe and propose a unified framework that describes the diffusion dynamics of nanosized objects in the eukaryotic cell cytoplasm.The researchers demonstrate:Inert objects were unaffected by obstructive molecular crowding to show Brownian motion, diffusing in a medium of low viscosity—if they were below approximately 75 nm in size. The researchers metaphorically compared them to “maze runners”Tracers that were approximately 25 nm in size but with increased non-specific interactions slowed down diffusion by three orders of magnitude, to gradually become anomalous and were compared to “square dancers”The strength of non-specific interactions is captured into a single parameter using a simple continuous time random walk (CTRW) model, a textbook model that describes the random walk performed by diffusing particles. By fixing a few basic properties of the random walk, it was possible to observe that diffusing particles explored an area (mean square displacement – MSD) that grew linearly in time. To define the phenomenon of intracellular motion experimentally, Etoc and co-workers hijacked a cellular entry gate known as the pinocytosis pathway (observed with vesicle formation to transport biological materials), to import functionalized and fluorescently labelled nanoparticles (NPs) in to living HeLa cells. Cytoplasmic diffusion of individual NPs (20 to 50 NPs per cell) was recorded by time-lapse microscopy and quantified using single-particle tracking analysis. In the cytoplasm of living HeLa cells non-specific interactions mainly contribute to anomalous diffusion. By changing the surface properties of NPs from strong to almost vanishing interactions within the interior of living cells, the trajectories of interacting NPs (square dancers) were shown to exhibit significant anomalous diffusion (indicated by red regions in density plots). In contrast, non-interacting NPs (lonesome maze runners) underwent normal diffusion. Adapted from doi:10.1038/s41563-018-0120-7. Credit: Nature Materials (2018), doi: 10.1038/s41563-018-0126-1. In the study, Etoc et al. estimated mobility at short timescales by computing time averaged MSD at 60 ms, expressed in terms of the diffusion coefficient D60ms To represent the behavior of the whole population of NPs in each condition, the distribution of the parameters α (anomalous exponent) and D60ms arising from each individual trajectory, was presented as a two-dimensional (2-D) density map. Such density plots for hundreds of trajectories and conditions that integrated the results of α and D60ms were summarized elegantly in the findings. , Nature Chemistry The hidden order in DNA diffusion Journal information: Nature Materials This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
The term sustainable growth is an oxymoron. The connotations of growth are essentially and characteristically in contradiction with those of sustainability.Historically, all economic growth has come at the cost of environmental as well as social developments, which contradicts the fundamentals of sustainability. Businesses and governments have been so overly focused towards growth that parameters like GDP, revenue and profit have become generally accepted yardsticks to determine if an institution has been a success or a failure. Also Read – Gateway of criminal justiceMore and more governments today are making some conscious efforts to make necessary shifts towards sustainability, thanks to the myriad perils of accelerated growth coming to the fore. However, the results have been slow to come by and often inadequate. Be it achieving goals of carbon emission reduction or the provisioning of night shelters for the urban homeless, there continues to be a lurching shortage. Why?Arguably, the goals are staggering and the resources required are hardly enough. However, we also considered enough that our idea of sustainability may be fundamentally flawed? Even worse, it may be distorted – the overarching dominance of growth in our thought process being the obvious culprit. Also Read – Turning a blind eyeThe whole notion of growth revolves around creating surplus for targeted beneficiaries – be they individuals, companies or governments. And any creation of surplus in one place is likely to create shortages in some other place. If thriving economies have been firing their growth engines supplied by fossil fuels, we know that ecosystems world over have suffered. Growth and sustainability do not go hand in hand. When growth is set to be a goal, sustainability cannot be expected as an outcome. So governments that truly aspire for sustainability will probably need to find ways to stop making growth-focused plans for economy and instead work to put sustainability parameters at the core of each activity that they conduct. I personally have no idea whether dismantling the planning commission, a primary axis for driving economic growth for decades, has been done with a sustainability agenda as an alternative. However, there indeed lies an opportunity for the government to do so and make the necessary corrections.Does technology have a role to play in making the necessary correction?Technologies in general and IT in particular have been leveraged as key catalysts of growth, so much so that we have got ourselves pushed to the verge of sustainability limits in a matter of few decades. Can these technologies also be applied to give a fillip to sustainability-driven governments and societies? Indeed. Technologies after all are means to an end and not an end in themselves.Depending on how IT technologies are deployed and applied, they could either act as perpetrators of the growth archetypes or emerge as the harbingers of a sustainability era. Yes, growth is too deeply entrenched across all our economic, social and political ecosystems, so larger-than-life forces would be required to shake things up. From such a standpoint, any such changes need to be initiated by none less than the heads of states and institutions. It is no coincidence that the dismantling of the planning commission was done by none other than the prime minister himself.Transformation-oriented ICTThe shift from growth to sustainability requires an all-round transformation – not only in terms of institutional structures and processes but also in terms of the mindsets.As such, it is essential that the IT and communication technologies, employed to achieve the sustainability goals that a government may happen to consider for itself, are chosen with care. It goes without saying that these technologies and paradigms need to scalable, elastic, real-time and contagiously viral so as to bring about a much needed orientation towards the sustainability goals.In this context, cloud computing, big data, social media, et al are some of the new-age models that readily come to mind. For example, cloud models could be used to rapidly push both government-to-government (G2G) and government-to-citizen (G2C) services in a uniform and ubiquitous manner. Big data and analytics could be used to continuously monitor the impact of those G2G and G2C programmes and make necessary refinements – even targeted outreach sub-programmes – seamlessly. Social media channels, along with other digital as well as analogue channels, could be leveraged judiciously to run awareness campaigns, with feedback mechanism interwoven, to ensure that the benefits of the programmes reach the intended groups in a timely fashion. Sustainable ICT is the key The footprints of ICT deployments, if not carried out with a sustainability-first policy, can be deleteriously counterproductive to the extent of being self-defeating. For example, cloud data centres or even the ones that power social media data streams could be gigantic energy guzzlers. Some of the large data centres are known to consume as much power as would be sufficient to run entire cities.It would therefore be important to ensure that the ways and processes in which the ICT technologies are harnessed are designed to be sustainable. For example, if the data centres could be majorly powered by solar or wind energies, that could cut down carbon footprints of these facilities. As a step further, what if these facilities could also produce surplus power that could be routed to grids that power the communities nearby!Renewable energy also offers an exception – it makes it possible to produce a surplus for all and not for a select few, without an environmental trade-off. It should not be an afterthought when it comes to “ICT for sustainability” and instead should become one of the fundamental premises around which the whole architecture is developed.This could actually lead to a change in the very basis on which a state data centre location is decided. The stakeholders could consider building clusters of data centres near deserts where solar and wind power are almost perennially available aplenty.Having said that, why does a state data centre need to be located within the boundaries of a state? It could very well be located in another state where, say, there is no dearth of solar power. The most significant advantage of this would be to rapidly achieve the economies of scale for mega-scale solar power generation and in the process also reduce the dependence of the country as a whole on fossil-fuel powered electricity that accounts for a large chunk of India’s carbon footprint. A simple step like this towards sustainable ICT could help trigger a virtuous cycle of “green” ecosystem development. For instance, a solar-powered energy surplus could make the electric vehicles more dependable and viable, among other various possibilities. Sounds like wishful thinking? Well, from a growth-thinking perspective it does; from a sustainability-thinking standpoint it starts looking possible. Also, to reemphasise, for such sustainability goals to be formed and achieved, a country would need no less than a larger-than-life head of state to be the driver. Kumar is founder analyst at BusinessandMarket.net, a market researcher and strategic adviser with diverse interests. GOVERNANCE NOW
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is all set to fly to Bengaluru on Wednesday to attend the much-anticipated swearing-in ceremony of H D Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister of Karnataka. After B S Yeddyurappa chose to resign as the CM instead of facing the trust vote, Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “Democracy wins. Congratulations Karnataka. Congratulations Deve Gowda Ji, Kumaraswamy Ji, Congress and others. Victory of the ‘regional’ front.”She also called up former Prime Minister Deve Gowda and expressed her satisfaction. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsIt may be recalled that in an interview to a vernacular television channel almost a week ago, Banerjee had maintained that there might be a hung Assembly in Karnataka and H D Kumaraswamy might become the Chief Minister. Her prediction has come true. After the election result in Karnataka was out, Banerjee said it would have been different had the Congress inked ties with the JDS. In the 224-member Assembly, the BJP got 104 seats while Congress and JDS got 78 and 38 seats while others got 2. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedIt was Banerjee who started gathering anti-BJP parties on a common ground and work towards a Federal Front to contest against the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. In the process, she spoke to Chandrababu Naidu, KCR, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. KCR flew down to Kolkata to discuss the matter with her. Banerjee feels that to maintain the federal structure of India, the regional parties should grow stronger.Partha Chatterjee, Trinamool Congress secretary general, said: “It is difficult to say why the one who could not retain his post then, even took the oath. If all are united then BJP will be finished in 2019,” he remarked. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav also took to Twitter soon after Yeddyurappa announced his decision to resign as the Karnataka chief minister.”Truth can never be defeated! Truth will always defeat a lie or liar! #KarnatakaFloorTest,” the younger son of party chief Lalu Prasad wrote on the microblogging website.All those who believe in democracy are happy, said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party exited the NDA in March.”This is a big blow for them(BJP), and I think what they had been planning all along for 2019 has failed, they will now have to rethink and alter their strategies,” said BSP supremo Mayawati.