The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Frances H. Arnold and the other half jointly to George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter on Wednesday for their work harnessing the power of evolution to develop new proteins used in drugs and medical treatments. In announcing the award, the Royal Swedish Academy said that this year's prize "awards a revolution based on evolution," and goes to scientists who "applied the principles of Darwin in the test tube."
A new calculation shows that if space is an ocean, we’ve barely dipped in a toe. The volume of observable space combed so far for E.T. is comparable to searching the volume of a large hot tub for evidence of fish in Earth’s oceans, astronomer Jason Wright at Penn State and colleagues say in a paper posted online September 19 at arXiv.org.
Scientists have now modified pathogenicity islands by replacing the toxin-producing genes with genes that, in mice, disabled or killed Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. If the approach works for humans, it could offer an alternative to traditional antibiotics that could one day be used against deadly drug-resistant Staphylococcus strains, researchers report September 24 in Nature Biotechnology.
Although space science can sometimes feel rather alien (excuse the pun) to most people, we actually have a lot to thank NASA for. The Space Race, and the politics surrounding it at the time, was a huge driving force for innovation in Science and Technology, and particularly in Materials Science and Engineering, as space exploration brought with it new challenges that required brand new solutions.
NASA is changing its focus to search for life advanced enough to, like us, create technology. The signs are called technosignatures, as compared with biosignatures, like in microbes, that show signs of life. Technosignatures come primarily as radio signals that allow scientists to infer the existence of technological life in the universe.
In the wake of the Wansink scandal, there have been renewed calls for reforming the methods and culture of scientific inquiry: open data to allow for outside verification of results, pretrial registration so researchers can’t sift through results to come up with post hoc conclusions.
Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which arrived at the near-Earth asteroid on June 27 after a journey of more than three years, released the MINERVA-II1 container from a height of about 60 meters (SN Online: 6/27/18). The container then released two 18-centimeter-wide, cylindrical rovers. Because Ryugu’s gravity is so weak, the rovers can hop using rotating motors that generate a torque and send them airborne for about 15 minutes.
Sequencing the human genome in the 1990s was supposed to reveal the entire universe of genes important to health and disease. But a handful of recent studies have shown that, surprisingly, researchers still focus mainly on only about 2000 of the roughly 19,000 human genes that code for proteins.
Although science may seem to be underappreciated in D.C., demand in the federal government for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) expertise remains high. Each September since 1973, the Science & Technology Policy Fellowships program has responded to this pressing need by bringing scientists and engineers to Washington for a yearlong placement.
Astronomers have finally found the last of the missing universe. It’s been hiding since the mid-1990s, when researchers decided to inventory all the “ordinary” matter in the cosmos--stars and planets and gas, anything made out of atomic parts. (This isn’t “dark matter,” which remains a wholly separate enigma.)