This category contains 31 posts

Using Silkworms to Make More than Silk

We have a long history with the silkworm (Bombyx mori), which was native throughout Asia and thought to have been domesticated more than 5,000 years ago in China to make silk. Silkworms today are biological silk-producing machines, the products of thousands of years of careful breeding. Silk production is now a multi-billion dollar industry, with … Continue reading »

Creating Lucid Dreams

Have you ever had a lucid dream? Lucid dreams can be quite fun and freeing — they are when the dreamer realizes that they are in a dream, and can control the dream to be what they want it to be. And recently, researchers found out how they could cause somebody to have a lucid … Continue reading »

Making Plastic from Food

As we become more aware of the resources that we’re quickly using up, we increasingly look for ways to recycle and reuse what we’ve got. For example, some people have been figuring out how to “reuse” food waste by turning it into plastic. And not just any type of plastic — it’s actually biodegradable plastic, … Continue reading »

STAP Retraction Imminent

In January, two papers were published in the prestigious journal Nature showing how to make stem cells using a shockingly simple and completely novel approach — by putting cells in an acid bath. The resultant mouse stem cells were called STAP cells (for stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency). However, since then, other researchers have had great … Continue reading »

Citizen Biology

Are you not a scientist by training but you’d like to help scientists do real research? Or maybe you are a scientist and would like to aid others in doing more investigations in your spare time. Whatever your background, there are actually many ways that you can now do real scientific research in your spare … Continue reading »

Genome-Wide Effects of Down’s Syndrome

Normally, a person has 46 chromosomes total, or 23 pairs of chromosomes. If a person has three copies of one of the chromosomes (instead of two copies), it can lead to serious developmental complications. One possibility is trisomy 21, or three copies of chromosome 21, which causes Down’s syndrome. (Most trisomies are lethal during development, … Continue reading »

Potentially Habitable Earth-Sized Planet Discovered

Just last week, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the discovery of the first Earth-sized planet we’ve found that may be habitable. Specifically, the planet is called Kepler-186f and it’s thought to be potentially habitable because it’s within the “habitable zone” of its solar system, or just the right distance from the star … Continue reading »

The Latest on the STAP Controversy

Back in late January, two papers were published in the prestigious journal Nature showing a completely novel and shockingly simply way to make stem cells – the approach used an acid bath. Since then, there’s been huge controversy surrounding the creation of these mouse stem cells, called STAP cells (for stimulus-triggered aquisition of pluripotency). This … Continue reading »

Building Computer Circuits from Slime

It might sound like science fiction, but researchers are actually exploring how to make computer circuits using slime molds. Why slime molds? It turns out that while slime molds don’t have a brain or even a nervous system, they’re able to make chemical-based decisions, and this behavior can be utilized to make some basic circuit … Continue reading »

Building a Genome: The First Synthetic Yeast Chromosome

When you were a kid, did you ever dream up fantastical creatures, like cats with wings or super-intelligent dogs that could speak? While we’re nowhere near making such animals, we’re definitely becoming increasingly better at genetically modifying the organisms around us. One amazing recent breakthrough is the creation of a synthetic yeast chromosome. This is … Continue reading »