воскресенье, 2 декабря 2018 г.

Getting the Drop Droplets are normally a menace to…


Getting the Drop


Droplets are normally a menace to manufacturing – from architecture to engineering to cooking, dribbles forming where they shouldn’t have unpredictable effects. Here, scientists are showing drops of liquid plastic who’s boss – forcing them into patterns that may change our lives. Drops form after a tug-of-war between surface tension – the ‘stickiness’ of a surface – and gravity. Playing with these competing forces, by spinning these coated discs at different speeds, grows or shrinks the plastic drops (coloured purple). Changing the patterns etched into the surfaces leaves them clinging on in precise designs – some mimicking biological phenomena like the tiny ciliary carpets of hairs found in our airways. Creating such ‘soft materials’ usually requires expensive moulds, but here a quick spin may create structures to help deliver drugs, or support tissues inside our bodies.


Written by John Ankers



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Last light of the day at Spurn Point today, East Yorkshire, 2.12.18.


Last light of the day at Spurn Point today, East Yorkshire, 2.12.18.


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2018 December 2 The Fairy of Eagle Nebula Image Credit: NASA,…


2018 December 2


The Fairy of Eagle Nebula
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, The Hubble Heritage Team, (STScI/AURA)


Explanation: The dust sculptures of the Eagle Nebula are evaporating. As powerful starlight whittles away these cool cosmic mountains, the statuesque pillars that remain might be imagined as mythical beasts. Featured here is one of several striking dust pillars of the Eagle Nebula that might be described as a gigantic alien fairy. This fairy, however, is ten light years tall and spews radiation much hotter than common fire. The greater Eagle Nebula, M16, is actually a giant evaporating shell of gas and dust inside of which is a growing cavity filled with a spectacular stellar nursery currently forming an open cluster of stars. This great pillar, which is about 7,000 light years away, will likely evaporate away in about 100,000 years. The featured image in scientifically re-assigned colors was released in 2005 as part of the fifteenth anniversary celebration of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181202.html


Prehistoric Light Painting at Edgworth Moor, 2.12.18.


Prehistoric Light Painting at Edgworth Moor, 2.12.18.


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HiPOD (1 December 2018): Slopes on the North Wall of Coprates…


HiPOD (1 December 2018): Slopes on the North Wall of Coprates Chasma 


   – 265 km above the surface, and less than 5 km across.


NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


How should we interpret the movements of people throughout Bronze Age Europe?

Below are a couple of interesting talk abstracts from the upcoming Genes, Isotopes and Artefacts conference in Vienna (see here). The first one looks like the abstract from a rewritten version of the Wang et al. preprint on the genetic prehistory of the Greater Caucasus. But I could be wrong. In any case, check out the links at the bottom of the post to see what I’ve said about this manuscript. Admittedly I’ve said a lot, maybe too much. Feel free to speculate to your heart’s content in the comments about what these abstracts “really” mean, but try to keep it real. Emphasis is mine:



At the interface of culture and biology – First results from a paleogenetic transect through Bronze Age populations of the Caucasus
Svend Hansen, Sabine Reinhold, Wolfgang Haak, Chuan-Chao Wang
The Caucasus is one of the most important geographical joints in Western Eurasia. Linking Europe, Western Asia and the Eurasian steppe zone, this region today is one of the genetically and linguistically most diverse spots of Eurasia. It is easy to imagine that repeated population influx and drain, but similarly compartmentalisation in the remote mountain valley is behind this modern situation. Eneolithic and Bronze Age populations play an important role in this scenario, as they represent the first epochs of formations, which can be regarded either as associated ‘cultures’ and/or coherent biological populations. A first study on the paleogenetic background of 50 individuals from the 5th to the 2nd millennium BC, which represent all cultural formations of Bronze Age Caucasia, give a first insight into highly complex scenarios of interaction. The paleogenetic perspective could proof the presence of populations with different genetic-make ups and different biological vectors of formation among these individuals. Affiliation by material cultural and other archaeological attributes, however, revealed epochs of interaction, where cultural and biological borders were crossed, and those, where no population exchange seemed to have happened among the neighbouring inhabitants of one area. This region thus allows to study in detail the mixing and interdigitation of people, their materiality and cultural systems and challenge many of the too simple models developed for another interface of the Eurasian steppe zone those directed towards Europe.

Steppe and Iranian ancestry among Bronze Age Central and Western Mediterranean populations
Ron Pinhasi, Daniel Fernandes, David Reich
Steppe-related ancestry is known to have reached central Europe ca. 3000 BCE, while Iran-related ancestry reached Greece by 1500 BCE. However, the time course and extent of their spread into the central/western Mediterranean remains a mystery. We analysed 48 Neolithic and Bronze Age individuals from Sicily, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands aiming to investigate when and how continental European and Aegean influences affected these insular populations. Results show that the first Balearic settlers had substantial Steppe-related ancestry which was subsequently diluted by increasing proportions of farmer-related ancestry. In Sardinia, we identified the appearance of Iran-related ancestry from the Aegean as early as the Middle Bronze Age, with no genetic influences seen from populations carrying Steppe-related ancestry despite cultural or commercial exchanges with Bell Beaker populations. In Sicily, during the Early Bronze Age, and possibly earlier, we found evidence for admixture with groups carrying both these ancestries. These results suggest that Steppe-related migrants had a crucial role in the settlement of the Balearic Islands and their ancestry reached as far south as Sicily, and that the population movements that brought Iran-related ancestry to the Aegean also impacted the Western Mediterranean around the same time the first civilizations started to develop.



See also…
Yamnaya: home-grown
Big deal of 2018: Yamnaya not related to Maykop
Steppe Maykop: a buffer zone?
Ahead of the pack
Genetic borders are usually linguistic borders too
Yamnaya isn’t from Iran just like R1a isn’t from India
On the genetic prehistory of the Greater Caucasus (Wang et al. 2018 preprint)

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Decorated Cist Cairn Stone Lining, Kelvingrove Museum and Gallery, Glasgow, 1.12.18.The...



Decorated Cist Cairn Stone Lining, Kelvingrove Museum and Gallery, Glasgow, 1.12.18.


The interior of a prehistoric cist cairn decorated with patterns.


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Making Contact In multicellular organisms, fundamental…


Making Contact


In multicellular organisms, fundamental processes enabling cells to grow, move and communicate rely on connections between cells and their environment, known as the extracellular matrix. Membrane proteins called integrins are critical to linking cells to this matrix, but they themselves need to associate with another protein, talin, in order to be active. Researchers have only recently uncovered the specific mechanisms behind this process: talin binds to lipids [fat] in the cell membrane, causing structural changes that reveal a previously-hidden site, which then contacts integrin. In cells with talin mutants lacking their membrane-binding portion (pictured, with the cytoskeleton protein actin in pink, and cell nuclei in blue), talin (in green) accumulates in the centre of the cell rather than moving to the membrane, and connections with the extracellular matrix are compromised. As processes requiring integrin are involved in cancer progression, a better understanding of talin’s role could suggest new therapeutic approaches.


Written by Emmanuelle Briolat



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