Posts Tagged ‘new’

New species discovered in Papua New Guinea

// October 7th, 2010 // Comments Off on New species discovered in Papua New Guinea // Recent Research, Science Communication

Image by Piotr Naskrecki/iLCP

This katydid is one of the new species discovered in Papua New Guinea during a recent expedition by Conservation International.

Another katydid had huge spiky back legs, which it stuck in the air and jabbed at attackers. The researchers discovered it was quite painful.

Their goal was to rapidly identify new species and give an indication of the wealth of biodiversity in PNG. It gives them ammo when approaching governments and seeking help in conserving the area. Here is a video from a herpetologist (someone who studies frogs, not herpes!) about his experiences. The first bit is a little boring, but then they start sneaking up and pouncing on insects and such which is lolz to watch.

Ivy vs UV, could plant nanoparticles be the new sunscreen?

// July 21st, 2010 // Comments Off on Ivy vs UV, could plant nanoparticles be the new sunscreen? // How Things Work, Recent Research

English Ivy

Image by Tamara Horová

Research published in June shows that nanoparticles from the English Ivy might make superior sunscreen to current brands, offering high broad spectrum protection and lasting for longer than current creams.

The trend towards organics has influenced industries like food, coffee and shampoo as well as pretty much everything you can conceivably imagine. Over the past few years, some people have become worried about sunscreen containing nanosized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. While these absorb light in the UV spectrum and protect the skin, perhaps the tiny particles could be absorbed through the skin and unleash toxic hell on the body! These could be unfounded fears, and damage from the sun is far more likely than damage from the sunscreen.

Personally, I’m all for synthetic chemicals. I think dear old Mother N has some freaky chemical concoctions of her own, many of which did not evolve to help humans but people inject it into their face anyway. Natural does not mean safe in my book.

All the same, ivy nanoparticles make a strong case. They absorbed or scattered light in the UV spectrum over five times better than titanium dioxide. The absorption dropped quickly when reaching the visible spectrum, so like current sunscreens it would look near invisible on your face.

Just like ivy can stick to brick walls and trees, the ivy nanoparticles have adhesive qualities. They could lead to sunscreens which last longer and are more water resistant. Hey, maybe that’s why Adam and Eve seem to always have ivy covering their-

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ResearchBlogging.orgXia, L., Lenaghan, S., Zhang, M., Zhang, Z., & Li, Q. (2010). Naturally occurring nanoparticles from English ivy: an alternative to metal-based nanoparticles for UV protection Journal of Nanobiotechnology, 8 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1477-3155-8-12

New polymer to help clear oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

// June 12th, 2010 // Comments Off on New polymer to help clear oil spill in Gulf of Mexico // Recent Research

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been tragic. To help clean up the mess, a team from the University of Pittsburgh have designed a new way to removing oil from water.

It’s made of cotton dipped in a polymer which lets water through but repels oil. Here is a video of it in action.

On a large scale spill such as the Gulf of Mexico, the team envisages making large troughs out of the material and scooping it along the surface of the water. Not only would it clean the water, but the oil collected can recovered and the filter reused.

Hat tip to Carbon-Based Curiosities.

New images of the sun from NASA’s SDO

// April 25th, 2010 // 4 Comments » // Just for Fun, Recent Research

The SunThis is one of the first images sent to Earth from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) last week. The SDO satellite collects data and images of the sun, producing enough material to fill a CD every 36 seconds.

Most satellites share ground stations, but because of the monster processing power needed to store all this data, the SDO has one all to itself. Located in New Mexico, the ground station is in constant communication with the satellite. The satellite is in geosynchronous orbit, which means it rotates at the same speed as Earth and is always directly above the ground station.

In its voyage of five years, the SDO hopes to understand how and why the sun’s magnetic field changes. From that they hope to predict the solar winds near Earth, which can have drastic effects on technology. They might also learn to forecast the weather in space, potentially lifesaving for astronauts.

The images it has received so far are stunning. Even if the SDO doesn’t unveil all the mysteries of the sun, the mission will not be a failure. Click through for more images from the SDO.

The needle free vaccine, how Nanopatch works

// April 22nd, 2010 // 4 Comments » // How Things Work, Recent Research

Nanopatches

Researchers from Queensland University have discovered a new way to administer vaccines, a Nanopatch. Smaller than a postage stamp, the patch puts the vaccine through your skin. No need for an injection.

So how does it work?

The Nanopatch is full of micro-nanoprojections containing antigen – part of the bacteria or virus you are immunising against. These nanoprojections puncture the skin and deliver the antigen into your epidermis. The puncture is a breadth of a hair deep.

In your epidermis are Langerhans cells, members of the immune system. Their role is to pick up antigens from infecting nasties, or in this case the Nanopatch. Once they have collected something, they physically move from the skin to your lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are the hub of the immune system. Once there, the Langerhans cells mature and display the antigen to passing naïve T-cells.

T-cells are specialised cells which specifically recognise one type of antigen. It’s like a policeman with a picture of just one criminal. A naïve T-cell doesn’t have a picture yet. It collects one from a Langerhans cell and other cells in the lymph nodes. With that the T-cell matures, looking out for the antigen. Next time it sees it, it will be armed and ready.

T-cells, along with B-cells, protect you from getting the same disease twice. T-cells in particular are needed to clear infections like HIV and malaria, and needle vaccines don’t stimulate them enough. The nanopatch focuses on T-cells specifically. It gives them their first look at the disease, without the pesky side-effect of getting traumatically ill.

According to Queensland University, the latest research shows that the Nanopatch can provide a similar level of protection to a needle delivery, but uses 100 times less vaccine. The Nanopatch is still being trialed on mice.

No more screaming kids on injection day isn’t the only benefit. The Nanopatch will be cheaper to produce than normal vaccines and doesn’t need to be refrigerated or administered by a trained nurse. Lead researcher Mark Kendall said “it is easy to imagine a situation in which a government might provide vaccinations for a pandemic such as swine flu to be collected from a chemist or sent in the mail.” It would be perfect for developing countries, where administering needle vaccines can be difficult and expensive.

ResearchBlogging.orgCrichton, M., Ansaldo, A., Chen, X., Prow, T., Fernando, G., & Kendall, M. (2010). The effect of strain rate on the precision of penetration of short densely-packed microprojection array patches coated with vaccine Biomaterials, 31 (16), 4562-4572 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.02.022






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