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A non-destructive method of analysing molecules in cells

When investigating how tumors grow, or how pharmaceuticals affect different types of cells, researchers have to understand how molecules within a cell react—and interact. This is possible with modern laser microscopy. Until now, however, molecules in cell specimens had to be labelled with fluorescent substances in order to make them visible, and this can distort the very behavior of the molecules. Research groups from Bielefeld University and the University of Hong Kong have developed a laser microscope that works without having to label the molecules. For this, the researchers innovated a unique compact fibre laser instead of the solid-state lasers that had previously been used. The new microscope generates far less noise when in use than customary designs, making it suitable for use in operating rooms. The researchers presented their innovative technology in the journal Light: Science and Applications, which is published by Springer Nature.

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The European viper uses cloak-and-dazzle method to escape predators

A study by researchers at the University of Jyväskylä demonstrate that the characteristic zig-zag pattern on a viper’s back performs seemingly opposing functions during a predation event. At first, the zig-zag pattern helps the snake remain undetected. But upon exposure, it provides a conspicuous warning of the snake’s dangerous defense. Most importantly the zig-zag can also produce an illusionary effect that may hide the snake’s movement as it flees. The research, published in Animal Behaviour (2020), reveals how a single color pattern can have multiple effects during a predation event, thereby expanding the discussion on protective coloration and anti-predator adaptations.

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First ancient cultivated rice discovered in Central Asia

Rice has always been the most important food in Asia and the world. About half of the population on earth use rice as their main food source. The origin, spread, evolution, and ecological adaptation of cultivated rice are still one of the most important issues which currently concerned by global archaeologists, biologists, and agricultural scientists.

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Accurate mapping of human travel patterns with global smartphone data

Understanding people’s short- and long-distance travel patterns can inform economic development, urban planning, and responses to natural disasters, wars and conflicts, disease outbreaks like the COVID-19 pandemic, and more. A new global mapping method, developed by scientists from Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of Oxford, provides global estimates of human mobility at much greater resolution than was possible before. It is described in a paper published May 18 in Nature Human Behaviour.

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Seahorse and pipefish study opens window to marine genetic diversity

The direction of ocean currents can determine the direction of gene flow in rafting species, but this depends on species traits that allow for rafting propensity. This is according to a City College of New York study focusing on seahorse and pipefish species. And it could explain how high genetic diversity can contribute to extinction in small populations.

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