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SIG tools for the diagnosis of historic buildings

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Differences between a map of thermal data type and a 3D SIG based map o the same element (Estela de Cenicientos, Madrid)

 

A research carried out at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid suggests a new mapping method based on non-destructive testing on historic buildings using SIG techniques. A female researcher from the School of Architecture at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has mapped data of heritage constructions that was not possible before with conventional methods.  Thanks to the new method, the researcher was able to map diverse factors such as humidity, evaporation, salinity and material degradation. Thus, this powerful tool can interpret the dynamic processes of deterioration on historic buildings by providing a right and rigorous interpretation of data in order to restore such buildings.

 

Luxembourg researchers decipher how the body controls stem cells

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Stem cells are unspecialised cells that can develop into any type of cell in the human body. So far, however, scientists only partially understand how the body controls the fate of these all-rounders, and what factors decide whether a stem cell will differentiate, for example, into a blood, liver or nerve cell. Researchers from the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg and an international team have now identified an ingenious mechanism by which the body orchestrates the regeneration of red and white blood cells from progenitor cells. “This finding can help us to improve stem cell therapy in future,” says Dr. Alexander Skupin, head of the “Integrative Cell Signalling” group of LCSB. The LCSB team has published its results in the scientific journal PLOS Biology (DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000640).

 

Prossima fermata Venere

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NASA e IKI progettano i prossimi passi di Venera D, la missione spaziale deputata all'esplorazione ddi Venere, pronta a volare nel 2026. L'obiettivo sarà studiare il suo clima grazie all'uso di un orbiter, un lander e un veicolo che plani nell'atmosfera.

Washington e Mosca fanno rotta su Venere. L’Agenzia spaziale americana e la IKI - Russian Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Institute – sono a lavoro per stilare l’agenda dei prossimi appuntamenti con lo spazio: il primo obiettivo condiviso sarà definire i prossimi passi per lo sviluppo della missione Venera D – la prima sonda con destinazione Venere progettata per essere lanciata nel 2026 dalla Russia ed erede della generazione delle Venera, spedite dalla vecchia Unione Sovietica.

 

Poca "oscurità" nell'Universo remoto

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Uno studio condotto sulla base delle rilevazioni dell'osservatorio ESO VLT, svela che nelle galassie più distanti e antiche la materia oscura scarseggia mentre la fa da padrona nei dintorni della Via Lattea. La ricerca si basa sul calcolo delle velocità di rotazione.

Quanto “pesa” la materia oscura ai confini del cielo? Meno del previsto, a quanto sembra. Un gruppo internazionale di ricerca, guidato da Reinhard Genzel del Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, ha utilizzato gli strumenti KMOS and SINFONI istallati sul Very Large Telescope dell’ESO per misurare la velocità di rotazione di sei galassie massive e brillanti nell’Universo remoto, a caccia di indizi sulla misteriosa componente di cui si fa un gran parlare… ma che nessuno ha mai visto. A differenza infatti della cosiddetta materia normale - composta da stelle scintillanti, gas incandescente e polvere – l’elusiva materia oscura non è facile da individuare: non emette o assorbe né riflette luce e la sua presenza può essere presunta solo a partire dagli effetti gravitazionali che genera sugli oggetti che circonda.

 

Nothing fishy about new solution for aquaculture wastewater treatment

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Eastern brook trout

Aquaculture, or fish farming, is one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture in the world today. However, farmers in the United States who wish to capitalize on this momentum face regulatory hurdles when dealing with fish waste. But new research shows that a simple, organic system can clean aquaculture wastewater effectively and inexpensively. Researchers built bioreactors—long containers filled with wood chips—to treat wastewater from a fully operational recirculating aquaculture system in West Virginia. The idea is simple: water from the fish tank enters the bioreactor at one end, flows through the wood chips, and exits through a pipe at the other end. Along the way, solids settle out and bacteria housed in the wood chips remove nitrogen, a regulated pollutant.

 

Massive drop in mortality from breast cancer

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The rate of mortality from breast cancer has fallen by one third over the last 30 years. This is due to improvements in early detection, the refinement of treatment concepts and the development of new ones. Nowadays, an important issue for breast cancer experts is also how they can improve the quality of life of their patients. This is one of the main focuses of the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) of MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital – as is the issue of "overtreatment". Together with the development of new treatment guidelines, these two topics are central themes at the 15th St. Gallen Breast Cancer Conference and the 3rd Vienna Breast Surgery Day, which will take place in Vienna from 14 to 18 March 2017.

 

Petrol and jet fuel alternatives are produced by yeast cell factories

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The structure of the FAS enzyme (left), and foreign enzymes embedded into the chambers of FAS (right).


There have been many attempts to modify this stubborn little enzyme, but none have succeeded. Until now. With new findings from Chalmers University of Technology, the fatty acid synthase (FAS) enzyme has started to produce sustainable chemicals for biofuels. The results were recently published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology. We are in great need of sustainable and clean alternatives to oil-derived products. One of the choices at hand is to produce chemicals and biofuels from sustainable biomass. To do this, a research team at Chalmers University of Technology is hard at work trying to design yeast cell factories that can actually produce the chemicals we need in a sustainable way. The group has now had a major breakthrough, having developed a novel method of modifying the fatty acid synthase (FAS) enzyme so that it can create new products.

 

Atomic resolution of muscle contraction

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Figure 1: Architecture of skeletal muscle formed by regular arrays of myosin and actin filaments.

At the molecular level, muscle contraction is defined by myosin molecules pulling actin filaments. New electron cryomicroscopy images with unprecedented resolution taken by researchers at Osaka University reveal unexpectedly large conformational changes in the myosin molecule during the pull. These findings, which can be seen in Nature Communications, provide new insights into how myosin generates force and a paradigm for the construction of nanomachines. To biophysicists like Keiichi Namba, professor at Osaka University, the ability of tiny molecules to generate large amounts of force seen in muscle make myosin an engineering marvel. "Myosin and actin are nanomachines that convert the chemical energy of ATP hydrolysis into mechanical work" he says.

 

Social phobia: indication of a genetic cause

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People with social anxiety avoid situations in which they are exposed to judgment by others. Those affected also lead a withdrawn life and maintain contact above all on the Internet. Around one in ten people is affected by this anxiety disorder over the course of their life. Researchers at the University of Bonn have now found evidence for a gene that is believed to be linked to the illness. It encodes a serotonin transporter in the brain. Interestingly, this messenger suppresses feelings of anxiety and depressiveness. The scientists want to investigate this cause more precisely and are thus looking for more study participants. The results will be published in the journal “Psychiatric Genetics”.

 

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