Science (category filter × )

Manipulating nerve cells makes mice ‘see’ something that’s not there
  • Neuroscientists use optogenetics to shoot an image straight into the neurons in mice brains.
  • The experiment relied on precise lasers, carefully controlled by liquid crystals, and a newly-discovered light-responsive protein called ChRmine to activate neurons.
  • Each mouse was trained to react to lines, then in total darkness the image of the lines was created in their brains with lasers.
  • The mice reacted, and their neurons fired off similarly to when the visual part of the brain really saw the image.
  • It’s a breakthrough, and similar approaches could let scientists manipulate other perceptions (smells, touches, tastes), or study complex brain tasks like memory.

Association of Genetic and Environmental Factors With Autism in a 5-Country Cohort
  • Study on 2 million people, with 22 156 diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), shows that ASD is inherited with genes.
  • It took from 2016 to 2018 to analyze data from children born in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Israel, and Australia between 1998 and 2011, followed up to the age of 16.
  • The heritability of ASD was estimated to be 80%.
  • Heritability is a measure of how much differences in genes account for changes in traits (intelligence or height), and disorders like ASD or schizophrenia.
  • It’s an important step towards understanding the origins and development of ASD.

  • Two research teams working together might have cracked the issue of how to generate free electrons from organic semiconductors.
  • They combined a single layer of molybdenum disulfide with a recently discovered 2-dimensional semiconductor.
  • To study it, they used two experimental tools based on ultrafast lasers, time-resolved photoemission spectroscopy and transient optical absorption.
  • The ultimate result of their ongoing work will be a blueprint on how to design surfaces that can turn light into electrical current with high efficiency.
  • It could eventually lead to technology like solar-panel walls, which would cost a fraction of current solar panel costs.

Generation of extreme-ultraviolet beams with time-varying orbital angular momentum
  • New property of light discovered - researchers dub it the "self-torque" of light.
  • The self-torqued beam was produced by shooting infrared pulses at a gas target with a tiny, precise time delay.
  • The resulting beam essentially resembles a moving spiral.
  • It will open new avenues for quantum research, enabling super-fast laser-matter manipulation on nanometer scales.
  • This type of beam could also be used to control magnetic, topological, and quantum impulses, or manipulate molecules and nanostructures.

Physicists can predict the jumps of Schrödinger’s cat (and finally save it)
  • The paradox of Schrödinger's cat refers to a black cat enclosed in a box sealed with a radioactive source and a poison that will activate when the radioactive substance disintegrates.
  • According to the theory of the superposition of states of quantum mechanics, until someone opens the box the cat is alive or dead.
  • When you open the box and observe the cat, a quantum jump occurs in a non-continuous way and its quantum state changes suddenly and randomly and the cat will be alive or dead, according to Niels Bohr.
  • In relation to this quantum argument, an experiment described in the journal Nature reveals that quantum jumps are continuous and predictable, and the cat can be saved.
  • This discovery opens new perspectives to control quantum information and can be useful in the design of quantum computers.