Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Interesting News Tuesday

Last week I tried to catch up on medical stuff. This week, let’s see what else is going on….

Okay, how about this:

Shifting ice on Jupiter’s moon could probe its interior

Tremors on Earth have helped scientists probe the interior of the planet, and shakeups on icy moons could do the same. By simulating icequakes on Jupiter’s icy moons Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede, as well as Saturn’s frozen satellite Enceladus, researchers have concluded that each world would have its own unique sound signature. Including an instrument to track the trembling crust on each world on future missions could reveal insights about the habitability of the icy layers beneath the surface….

Of course what I want to find underneath the ice of Europa is this ecosystem, or something very similar.

Here’s something extremely science-fiction-y:

Who needs film when you can store a movie in bacteria DNA?

You might call it the smallest movie ever made….This week, a team of scientists report that they have successfully embedded a short film into the DNA of living bacteria cells.

The mini-movie, really a GIF, is a five-frame animation of a galloping thoroughbred mare named Annie G. The images were taken by the pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge in the late 1800s for his photo series titled “Human and Animal Locomotion.”

This is pretty amazing:

In the end, each frame consisted of 104 DNA sequences that the team inserted into a population of bacteria cells using a process called electroporation. Basically, they zapped the cells with electricity, which caused pores in their membrane to open, allowing the synthesized DNA to pass into them. Once the DNA pieces were in the cells, the researchers relied on the gene editing system known as CRISPR to grab the free-floating pixel codes and insert them into the bacteria’s genome. Using this process, Shipman and his colleagues “uploaded” their movie into the bacteria’s DNA at a rate of one frame each day. After the entire movie had been inserted into the genome, the authors boiled the cells to extract the DNA and then sequenced the regions where they thought the encoded movie frames would be. They ran the extracted sequences through a computer program and found they were able to play back their movie with 90% accuracy.

Really. Amazing.

Okay, here’s something on which you might be able to hang a fantasy novel:

Ancient religious stones hiding secret message only visible at night

Mysterious messages that are only visible at night have been found at an ancient British religious site….The incredible find suggests our Stone Age ancestors left behind hidden carvings designed to be viewed in the darkness….When two pieces of the stone are smashed together, they emit a brief, glowing light. “The smashed quartz at Hendraburnick could have been used as part of night-time activity on the site in order to ‘release’ the luminescent properties of the quartz around the monument and ‘reveal’ the art in a particular way,” the academics wrote.

Interesting and evocative.

Here’s a silly title on an interesting article:

Fronds with benefits: what led to the rise of giant rangeomorphs

Really, “fronds with benefits” is ridiculous. But the rangeomorphs are interesting and I don’t recall having heard of them before:

They lived in the ocean and looked like plants but are believed to have been animals. In a world of micro-organisms they grew to become giants. We call them rangeomorphs, and they dominated their environment for 30 million years, up until about 541 million years ago, when the rest of evolution overtook them during the proliferation of complex plant and animal forms known as the Cambrian Explosion….Rangeomorphs looked a lot like modern ferns, with branching fronds composed of four fractal levels….

Okay, back to current events for one more, and let me note that It’s About Time Someone Did This:

To Shrink Mosquito Population, Scientists Are Releasing 20 Million Mosquitoes

[T]he plan is to release millions of sterile male mosquitoes, which will then mate with wild female mosquitoes. The eggs the females lay won’t hatch, researchers say….Scientists say the goal is to cut the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — the species responsible for spreading Zika, dengue and chikungunya. A. aegypti have been present in California’s Central Valley since 2013 and have been a problem in Fresno County.

This is an extremely promising technique for dropping the population of mosquitoes by better than ninety percent practically overnight, without the use of chemicals such as DDT. I have been hoping plans were in the works for this type of control program. Great to see we’re actually trying it. Every single woman who is pregnant or hoping to become so in a zika-affected area should stand up and cheer. It’d be pretty snazzy to get rid of dengue and chikungunya as well.

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