Tropical storms make spiders more aggressive

A group of researchers has discovered that tropical storms make spiders more aggressive. Researchers Jonathan Pruitt and Alexander Little from the University of California at Santa Barbara have analyzed the effects of the tropical storm Florence that struck North Carolina and that of the south and the east coast of the United States. They discovered that the most aggressive spiders had survived the storm, compared to the more “docile” ones, and this caused an evolutionary push which in turn led to colonies of more daring, aggressive and courageous spiders.

This is one of the few studies that analyzes the effects of hurricanes and tropical storms not on humans but on wildlife.

The researchers have in particular analyzed the Anelosimus studiosus, a species of spider that is already known because it is characterized by aggressive or docile behavior. The most aggressive specimens attack the prey very quickly and in large numbers while the most docile specimens spend a greater number of hours in the den.

These are behaviors that evidently on an evolutionary level are increasingly corroborating and diversifying, from one generation to another. The researchers thought that tropical storms and heavy rain combined with very strong winds could be the basis of this behavioral diversification.

Visiting 240 insect colonies in seven states, from Carolina to Florida to pass through Louisiana, they collected various data “measuring” the aggressiveness of spiders near their burrows. Comparing this data with the steps of tropical storms or cyclones, they found that the regions with a greater number of these atmospheric phenomena saw the presence of more aggressive spider colonies.

According to the researchers, that is to say in the fact that the colonies with specimens with more aggressive genetic traits are, for reasons not yet known, more suitable to survive these atmospheric phenomena and these aggressive traits passed from generation to generation to a greater extent than the traits transmitted by the most “docile” spiders who evidently cannot survive in equal numbers.

The study was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

New method to inject nanosubstances into human cells devised by researchers

More and more research in the field of diagnostic medicine and in general of the treatment of human diseases focuses on the use of nanometer-sized materials, ie substances made of particles that have tens or hundreds of nanometers in diameter, naturally completely invisible to the human eye. These substances can be useful if injected into certain cells, but the problem is to make them reach the active sites in the most profitable way possible.

The most “traditional” method sees the use of peptides, fragments of proteins found in cells, tissues and enzymes. Peptides interact with cells and cause the nanomaterial of interest to enter successfully. However, the use of peptides is not yet clear and the possible side effects that such methods may have on the functionality of the cells but above all on the functionality of the introduced nanomaterials are not clear.

In a new study, published in Nature Communications, a group of researchers from the University of Minnesota proposed a new method that sees the introduction of the nanomaterial into cells without the use of peptides.

The method is explained by Hongbo Pang, assistant professor at the College of Pharmacy of the aforementioned university and one of the authors of the study: “Simply by mixing two types of nanometric materials, we discovered a new cellular process that offers a simple solution for entry of nanomaterials in cells. Furthermore, this opens up a new avenue for cellular biology that connects several fundamental elements of living cells. A further understanding of this process will help both the development of cell biology and nanotechnology.”

The new method sees the absorption by the cells facilitated thanks to cysteine, a substance that surrounds the cells themselves.

OutwitTrade Publishes Guide On Nicotine Pouches

OutwitTrade, a popular product review publication, has published a nicotine pouch guide that is intended to be a definitive guide on the topic. Nicotine pouches are a relatively new type of product that many ex-smokers vouch for as an alternative to smoking, since it may be healthier (though that has yet to be verified) and can be consumed anywhere. With the introduction of this product, many people have questions about it, and Karen from OutwitTrade therefore set out to create a guide on the different brands and the main questions people have.

Among the things covered in the guide are the following:

  • What nicotine pouches are
  • Their benefits
  • A short summary of each brand
  • How to use them
  • Known side effects
  • Where to buy them
  • Other things to consider

The piece as it stands now can be found at

“Switch” discovered in the brain of mice that enables and disables hunger

Usually, stress is considered as one of the factors that lead to gaining weight because it is linked to a greater desire for hunger. However, a group of researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center found that by increasing the stress levels in the brain circuits of mice it is possible to decrease the desire to eat by the rodents themselves.

Such a discovery could be useful in particular for those people subjected to anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder for which they avoid food or eat very small amounts. As Qingchun Tong, senior author of the study and professor at McGovern Medical School of UTHealth, explains, researchers identified a part of the brain in mice “that controls the impact of eating-related emotions.”

The same researchers think they are the first to have demonstrated the existence of this neurocircuit that regulates both stress and hunger. This neurocircuit connects two parts of the brain in mice, the paraventricular hypothalamus and the ventral lateral septum. The first is an area linked to food, the second is an emotional area.

The same neurocircuit seems to act as an on / off switch. Activating it, there was an increase in anxiety and stress and in parallel a decrease in appetite. By turning it off, anxiety and stress decreased and hunger increased.

Intraneural electrode bypasses the eye and provides visual signals to the brain

A device that “bypasses” the entire eyeball by sending messages to the brain of the blind was developed by researchers from EPFL in Switzerland and the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Italy. The device directly stimulates the optic nerve with a new generation electrode called OpticSELINE. In the study, published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, positive findings have already been reported in experiments performed on rabbits.

The intraneural stimulation device is based on the production of phosphenes through which users can “see” the light bypassing the eye. The basic technology is already part of different types of retinal implants but these prosthetic devices are not suitable for all pathologies. For example, people with retinitis pigmentosa usually cannot benefit from this technology.

On the other hand, other devices that act directly on the brain, such as brain implants that directly stimulate the visual cortex, are still considered risky. This new intraneural solution can in a certain sense be considered as a middle way that collects the positive aspects of both technologies.

In addition to providing visual information useful to patients, these devices are stable and, once implanted, are less likely to move. The electrodes, in fact, are positioned through a surgical operation around and through the nerve.

Researchers have also developed an algorithm to decode cortical signals because each electrode-induced stimulation induces a specific and unique model in the brain.

Diego Ghezzi, one of the authors of the study, states: “For now, we know that intraneural stimulation has the potential to provide visual information models. It will take feedback from patients in future clinical trials to develop these patterns. From a purely technological perspective, we could do clinical trials tomorrow.”

Silica nanospheres used to deliver drugs in a targeted manner in the body

Small “bottles” of silica glass on a nanometric scale could allow targeted delivery of drugs into the body: this is what a team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology has come to.

These are hollow spheres made of very small silica with a diameter of about 200 nanometers. These small containers have a hole on their surface that could allow the filling and release of drugs only at certain temperatures. The researchers tested these small spheres in the laboratory with a mixture of fatty acids, a dye and an anticancer drug.

Fatty acids remained solid at the temperature of the human body but nevertheless melted as soon as this temperature rose a few degrees. The increase occurred through the projection of an infrared laser that was absorbed by the dye. The heat of the laser caused fatty acids to dissolve and release the drug.

This is a method that could allow the release of drugs in a very targeted manner in specific areas of the body, which could, in specific cases, cancel serious side effects, as specified by Younan Xia, a researcher at Georgia Tech and Emory University and one of the authors of the study adds: “The rest of the drug remains encapsulated by solid fatty acids inside the ‘bottles’, which are biocompatible and biodegradable.”

To change the speed of drug release, it is enough to change the size of the hole on the surface of the nanospheres, an approach defined as “very promising” by Xia himself.

Steam balloons could be used to transport rockets and satellites into space

Balls to launch satellites into orbit: this is the strange idea that has come to a group of researchers from the Finnish meteorological institute led by Pekka Janhunen.

These are steam-powered “hot-air balloons” that could carry rockets complete with satellites at high altitude. Given that in this layer of the atmosphere the air is thinner, throwing the above rockets and satellites in orbit around the Earth from this position is much easier and less expensive. Furthermore, the same balls could be reused because they were designed to return to the ground.

This is not an absolutely new idea: similar tests have already been carried out using hydrogen or helium balloons. However these techniques have shown their disadvantages: helium is very expensive while hydrogen is dangerous because it is flammable.

To explain the new technology with steam-powered balloons is the same Janhunen in the statement published on the site of the same Finnish meteorological institute: “The balloon is filled with hot steam on the ground and released. As the balloon rises, part of the water vapor condenses. Condensation releases a lot of latent heat, which slows down the cooling and helps keep the remaining vapor in the gaseous state. After reaching a sufficiently high altitude, the rocket is released, lights up and flies into space. The balloon is emptied of steam, goes down and can be collected for reuse.”

The same researchers calculate that the weight of the rocket transported could even be 10 tons while the satellite that could carry could weigh even hundreds of kilograms.

The design study appeared on arXiv and was conducted by Pekka Janhunen, Petri Toivanen, Kimmo Ruosteenoja.

Viviparous lizards at great risk of extinction due to global warming

The effects of global warming underway over the next few decades will be most affected by lizards, according to a new study conducted by Nottingham Trent University and the University of Lincoln.

In particular, it will be the lizards that produce live offspring compared to those that lay their eggs to suffer even more these effects over the next sixty years. Scientists have in fact studied the effects of temperature rises on various species of viviparous or oviparous lizards.

The results obtained, among other things, confirm the emerging theory regarding the fact that viviparous reproduction, which involves giving birth to live offspring, has evolved in lizards to colonize colder climates, such as those at altitudes or higher latitudes. Evolution allowed the mother lizards to “hold” the eggs in their bodies so that it was the mother’s own body that acted as an incubator.

This same adaptation, which allowed a greater diffusion of the population, is dragging it towards extinction according to Daniel Pincheira-Donoso, one of the authors of the study. The reproduction of live offspring is not very effective in warmer environments and if the reptiles develop at an evolutionary level this ability then remains “trapped” in the coldest places and can no longer easily adapt to the heat.

Among other things, the same scholars have ascertained that the species of viviparous lizards are moving towards the tops of the mountains or however at higher altitudes at speeds significantly greater than the species that lay eggs, another confirmation of this interesting theory.

Melting of Greenland glaciers will require more Americans to move more inland

A statement released several days ago by Andrew Yang, an American philanthropist and politician who has always been attentive to the environment, has led to a great deal of discussion. According to Yang, Americans living along the coasts should already begin to retreat inland or into higher areas in view of the rising sea level caused by global warming and in particular by melting Arctic ice.

According to Young, it is already too late to stop climate change and it is time for Americans to start settling near the hills as long as there is time to do things neatly. The idea was supported by an intervention on the CNN site of Josh Willis, NASA oceanographer, who clearly states that by the end of this century and by the next many meters of hinterland will be lost near the coasts.

The melting of the Greenland glaciers will be the main cause of the raising: “There is enough ice in Greenland to raise the sea level by 7.5 meters,” says the researcher, suggesting that the enormous volume of ice, even if it melts in part, it will cause devastating damage to the shores of the entire planet.

Together with his research team, Willis has in fact collected alarming data regarding Greenland, particularly in the last few months when various heatwaves hit the northernmost areas of the Americas, the United States and Asia. The surface temperature of Greenland is warming up and this is transforming this piece of land, once entirely covered by ice, into a “mess full of slush.”

The massive ice cap of this huge piece of land is weakening and that means problems for the whole world, not just for Americans.

Also of great concern are the sea temperatures that scientists have measured, particularly near the Helheim glacier, a glacier located on the east coast of Greenland that has unusually warm water all its depth, up to 2000 meters below the surface, which is above feeding the same melting ice.

Humans arrived in Mongolia 45,000 years ago and perhaps joined Denisovani

A group of researchers from the University of California at Davis shows, through a study presented in Scientific Reports, that humans arrived in today’s steppe Mongolia 10 years earlier than previously calculated. Following the discovery of various stone tools in Mongolia, the researchers calculated that the advent of the first human beings in this area must have occurred 45,000 years ago, 10,000 years earlier than previously estimated.

Furthermore, the same study shows the actual possibility of an encounter between these human beings and the Denisovans, our mysterious cousins ​​who died out thousands of years ago. This same meeting could have been the main one that allowed Homo sapiens to take advantage of the particular geniuses of the Denisovans, which allowed our ancestors to be able to live and settle in high-altitude areas such as those of the Tibetan plateau.

The excavations were conducted by Nicolas Zwyns, a professor of anthropology and the lead author of the study, from 2011 to 2016 on the site called Tolbor-16 which is located along the Tolbor river, in the northern Hangaj mountains, in northern Mongolia. The objects found are 826 thick stone artifacts with long and regular blades, among other things similar to many others found in Siberia and China, which indicates the spread of human beings on a large scale in this period in Asia.

“The most intriguing aspect is that they are produced in a complicated but systematic way – and that this seems to be the signature of a human group that shares a common technical and cultural background,” says Zwyns himself regarding these correlations. Precisely this correlation allowed researchers to exclude that these objects had been created by Neanderthals or by the Denisovans themselves, information that they could not have acquired since no human remains were found on the site.

Other findings, for example related to grass and other organic matter of medium-sized cattle, especially sheep and goats as well as horses, have then made it clear that this area must have had a warmer and wetter period that made this region, normally cold and dry, more hospitable and more suitable also for grazing animals.