Biosciences

I need my sleep

Insights from flies challenge traditional notions, reports Matthew Brady The complaint ‘I need my sleep’ may have become a thing of the past with the release of some new research from Imperial College. In a paper entitled Most sleep does not serve vital function: Evidence from Drosophila melanogaster in the scientific journal Science Advances, researchers deprived flies of sleep. Using motion detection software calibrated using over 4000 days of fly activity, flies micromovements were monitored. If, after

FOCUS: The Earth as a Natural LIving Laboratory

BlueSci presents three perspectives on how scientists have expanded our understanding of science using the greatest laboratory of all – planet Earth. We begin with a piece by Bryony Yates, on using Earth’s biosphere in the study of life. HUMANS HAVE LONG been fascinated with the natural world, as pre-historic paintings of plants and animals so beautifully illustrate. We can trace formal scientific study back to Ancient Greek philosophers, with

Let's Talk About Soil

Kasparas Vasiliauskas looks under our feet at some of the Earth’s most overlooked material. Met in almost every step we take, soils, despite being so familiar, are often overlooked in discussions of natural systems. This is evident, for example, in making climate models and predictions and even more so when thinking about humanity’s future outside Earth. The entirety of soils and the space where their formation takes place is called

Walking in the footsteps of robotic fossils

Robot of ancient fossil enables scientists to model gait Ripples are forming at the surface of a glass of water; scared children huddle at the back of a car; ominous footsteps resonate on the not-so-distant-anymore horizon. And suddenly, it appears: swinging its tail side-to-side, little arms tucked on the side, a T-rex makes its way into the frame, walking its characteristic walk. But how do we know which gait the now (thankfully) extinct giant adopted? Fossils can

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Scientists work together to create more effective medicines Advances continue to progress personalised medicine, a field in which drugs are tailored to patients’ needs based on their genetic information. Historically, simply screening patients’ genomes enabled this trend but more recently, synthetic nucleotide-based medicines have taken this a step further. Nucleotide-based medicines use artificial DNA and RNA (nucleotides) to target cellular genetic information directly, shutting off genetic diseases at their source.

Stick Spiders from Different Hawaiian Islands Evolve in Parallel

Esther Pilla reports on a discovery in evolution It is very rare for scientists to catch examples of parallel, convergent evolution, but earlier in March Professor Rosemary G. Gillespie and her colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley, published
a study that highlighted parallel evolution in Hawaiian stick spiders. The group analysed a genus of spider, Ariamnes, whose ancestor probably first arrived on the oldest Hawaiian islands and later spread to

A Day In The Life: A Scientist With Wings

Laura Nunez-Mulder interviews Prof. Nicky Clayton Professor Nicky Clayton sits with her knees tucked up and her feet on the sofa, cradling her cup of coffee in her hand. “I’ve always been interested in birds, from as soon as I could start walking. I’m a movement junkie. I wanted to fly, to be like a bird. I’ve got invisible wings – can’t you see them?” She shimmies, and smiles. Nicky

Pterodactyls lived like seagulls

Jack McMinn investigates pterosaur parenting Pterosaurs were the the dominant airborne animals of the Mesozoic Era (252-66 million years ago), dying out alongside the dinosaurs and being ecologically replaced by birds. However, a new study by Xiaolin Wang et al. seems to suggest that pterosaurs often used the same evolutionary strategies as their avian replacements. Fossilised embryos of Hamipterus, a Chinese cousin of the famous Pteranodon, were found still inside

Lady of the Diptera

Matthew Brady talks to Dr Erica McAlister about her work exploring the world for some of science’s smallest animals With approximately 160,000 described species, and having evolved over 260 million years ago, Diptera are amongst the most diverse groups of organisms on the planet. They also mean a lot of science, and vinegar flies have been directly involved in Nobel prize winning work for physiology or medicine six times. The