Over 1,000 aspirants, including 62 from India, have been shortlisted for an ambitious private mission to send four men and women on a one-way trip to Mars in 2024 to establish a More »
A 10-year effort to identify the genes responsible for ageing has led to researchers finding 238 specific genes that, when removed, significantly extend the lifespan of yeast cells in laboratory testing.
If the results of this genetic editing can be replicated in humans – which is a possibility, since many of the genes and genetic pathways involved are also found in higher life forms – we may be able to seriously boost human lifespans by turning off ageing processes. The researchers found that the life of yeast could be extended by as much as 60 percent in some circumstances.
“This study looks at ageing in the context of the whole genome and gives us a more complete picture of what ageing is,” said Brian Kennedy, president and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing in the US and lead author of the study. “It also sets up a framework to define the entire network that
Right now, more than 2 in 3 adults in the US are considered to be overweight or obese – a statistic that’s mirrored throughout some of the richest countries in the world, with 67 percent of men and 57 percent of women in the UK considered to be overweight or obese, and 63 percent of Australian adults in the same boat.
And while mysterious forces could be at play in some of that
The first color images of Pluto’s atmospheric hazes, returned by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last week, reveal that the hazes are blue.
“Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt? It’s gorgeous,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado.
The haze particles themselves are likely gray or red, but the way they scatter blue light has gotten the attention of the New Horizons science team. “That striking blue tint tells us about the size and composition of the haze particles,” said science team researcher Carly Howett, also of SwRI. “A blue sky often results from scattering of sunlight by very small particles. On Earth, those particles are very tiny nitrogen molecules. On Pluto they appear to be larger — but still relatively small — soot-like particles we call tholins.”
Scientists believe the tholin particles form high in the atmosphere, where ultraviolet sunlight breaks apart and ionizes nitrogen and methane molecules and allows them to react with one another to form more and more complex negatively and positively charged ions. When they recombine, they form very complex macromolecules, a process first found to occur in the upper atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan. The more complex molecules continue to combine and grow until they become small particles; volatile gases condense and coat their surfaces with ice frost before they have time to fall through the atmosphere to the surface, where they add to Pluto’s red coloring.
In a second significant finding, New Horizons has detected numerous small, exposed regions of water ice on Pluto. The discovery was made from data collected by the Ralph spectral composition mapper on New Horizons.
“Large expanses of Pluto don’t show exposed water ice,” said science team member Jason Cook, of SwRI, “because it’s apparently masked by other, more volatile ices across most of the planet. Understanding why water appears exactly where it does, and not in other places, is a challenge that we are digging into.”
A curious aspect of the detection is that the areas showing the most obvious water ice spectral signatures correspond to areas that are bright red in recently released color images. “I’m surprised that this water ice is so red,” says Silvia Protopapa, a science team member from the University of Maryland, College Park. “We don’t yet understand the relationship between water ice and the reddish tholin colorants on Pluto’s surface.”
The New Horizons spacecraft is currently 3.1 billion miles (5 billion kilometers) from Earth, with all systems healthy and operating normally.