US grand jury indicts Chinese nationals for cyber-theft of research IP

A US federal grand jury has indicted four Chinese nationals for their alleged participation in a global computer hacking campaign to steal intellectual property and confidential business information related to various research areas, including chemicals and infectious diseases. The indictment, announced by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on 19 July and unsealed just days […]

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Enigmatic DNA dubbed ‘Borgs’ discovered in methane-metabolising microbes

Large and unusual DNA entities have been discovered coexisting in methane-metabolising microbes that may play a role in regulating global greenhouse gas emissions. They possess some of their host microbe’s genes, leading the team to dub them ‘Borgs’ after the Star Trek villain that assimilate the biology and knowledge of other organisms. Nineteen distinct Borgs […]

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Snake extract used to speed up haemostasis in new bioadhesive

A gel that stops bleeding and sticks tissue together has been made using reptilase, an enzyme extracted from the venom of a pit viper. Visible light activates the bioadhesive, which also reduces bleeding by promoting blood clotting. Bioadhesives use chemical bonds or physical interactions between themselves and tissue to heal wounds. It’s important to prevent […]

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Glass folded into intricate origami shapes

Researchers in China have developed a way to create intricate three-dimensional structures out of glass by mimicking the ancient art of origami. Glass’ transparency, abrasion resistance and stability make it an extremely useful material, but traditional production methods either require harsh conditions or severely limit the complexity of structures that can be created. Now, researchers […]

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Isaac goes to town

I appear to have become something of a fan of the Cambridge University historian of science, Patricia Fara. The first book of hers that I read, and that some years ago, was Newton: The Making of a Genius (Columbia University Press, 2002), an excellent deconstruction of the myths that grew up around England’s most lauded natural philosopher […]

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Individual cell’s energy metabolism caught on camera for the first time

High-resolution images of human metabolism have been caught on camera for the first time thanks to a new technique that can track glucose metabolism in a single cell. Tracking glucose could provide insights and even new therapies to treat cancer – a disease which often disrupts cellular metabolism. The new technology combines fluorescence resonance energy […]

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Newly discovered marine compound is in a super-carbon-chain league of its own

Researchers in China and Hungary have discovered a new marine natural product with an unprecedented carbon skeleton and unusual structural features. The compound, which they’ve named benthol A, was isolated from unicellular algae known as dinoflagellates from the South China Sea. Marine organic compounds with long polyol carbon chains and many stereocentres are known as […]

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Molecular light switch speeds up tricky cyclodextrin synthesis

A light-activated molecular switch could drive down the cost of a useful, but difficult to make γ-cyclodextrin. Cyclodextrins are ring-shaped structures typically made from six to eight glucose units. Their hydrophilic exterior and hydrophobic cavity makes them important host molecules used in supramolecular chemistry, with applications ranging from food chemistry to drug delivery. γ-cyclodextrin, made […]

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Aluminium compound deconstructs sulfur hexafluoride in minutes

Researchers in the UK have developed a fast and mild method for deconstructing SF6. The method converts the potent greenhouse gas into stable aluminium(iii) fluoride and sulfide compounds, which can serve as nucleophilic sources of F− and S2- in further reactions to make valuable organic products.  Due to its highly inert nature and excellent thermal […]

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Tentacled droplets swim with stored heat energy

If ever a science fiction movie director were seeking inspiration for how to depict tiny robotic alien life forms, they need look no further than those created by a team of scientists in Bulgaria, Poland, the UK and China. Beginning as innocuous oily droplets about 20–40μm across floating in water, these structures take on faceted, […]

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