Boston University News Service – In the summer of 2012, during the worst drought in twenty years, Danforth, Illinois, went for six weeks without rain but the corn in Hoekstra Farm grew tall and green. The corn in the neighboring fields was almost a foot shorter. While farmers across the Corn Belt watched their crops shrivel and die, Harold Wilken of Hoekstra Farm made enough money from his crops that summer to pay a bonus rent to his landowner.
Boston University News Service – Before synthetic nitrogen fertilizers existed, plants and bacteria worked together to return nutrients to the soil. A type of bacteria living in plant roots, called nitrogen-fixing bacteria or Rhizobia, enriches the soil with nitrogen from the atmosphere, making it available to the host plants. But not all plants can host Rhizobia, because the plants’ immune systems repel the bacteria. Scientists have long believed that only legumes, or plants like soybean, pea, and alfalfa, could chemically communicate, and therefore accept, the nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
I had a reservation for four at 7 pm on Saturday night. I had reminded the three friends joining me for dinner to be punctual, and we were all at the restaurant as the clock struck seven. Still, we had to wait fifteen minutes before we were finally seated in the crowded restaurant.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grounded Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner fleet recently because of lithium-ion battery fire incidents. Similar lithium-ion batteries are found in many consumer electronic devices such as laptops, cameras and cellphones. Can the batteries in your laptop catch on fire?
As noon approached on a recent Sunday, a line of people began to form outside the multi-purpose room in the M.I.T. Sidney Pacific Graduate Residence. These people were mostly from Singapore, queuing patiently, as Singaporeans are known to do, for good food. The rich aromas of cooking curry mixed with various aromatic spices began to waft from the doors. The chatter grew louder, more animated, until it abruptly fell to an absolute silence as a student came out of the multi-purpose room and calmly began to instruct people what to do once they went in. Then, the line started moving. The kopitiam was open for business.
Boston University News Service – It was an hour of trekking in the Lincoln woods with George Davis, a retired chemist and president emeritus of the Boston Mycological Club, before I finally spotted our prey: mushrooms. They were right beneath my feet, almost impossible to distinguish from the fallen leaves that covered the ground. Davis quickly classified the bright yellow mushrooms, with rounded caps and rings around their stems, as Amanita, a group of fungi in which many members are known to be poisonous.
Imagine printing a picture on a piece of paper, and printing over it repeatedly such that the picture ‘grows’ out of the paper and into a three-dimensional structure. Researchers from University of California, San Diego and collaborators from Zhejiang University did that, but with biocompatible polymers instead of regular ink to form complex three-dimensional scaffolds. The researchers can then inject living cells into these scaffolds to create artificial organs.
Human sperm’s race to their finish line used to be a private affair. Now, scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, have developed a novel technique to view and monitor the sperm’s movement patterns in a dish.
For many people with severely torn ligaments or knee replacements, the ability to run and jump as though they have never been injured before remains a dream. Tissue engineering might lead to the day when damaged cartilage can simply be replaced with synthetic materials that resemble human tissue, giving injured joints new life. In an article published last week in Nature, that day comes closer when a team of eight scientists reported the synthesis of a novel hydrogel that is extraordinarily strong, stretchable and capable of self-healing.