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Major Test of First Possible Lyme Vaccine In 20 Years Begins

Slashdot - Science - Mié, 10/08/2022 - 08:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Associated Press: Researchers are seeking thousands of volunteers in the U.S. and Europe to test the first potential vaccine against Lyme disease in 20 years -- in hopes of better fighting the tick-borne threat. Lyme is a growing problem, with cases rising and warming weather helping ticks expand their habitat. While a vaccine for dogs has long been available, the only Lyme vaccine for humans was pulled off the U.S. market in 2002 from lack of demand, leaving people to rely on bug spray and tick checks. Now Pfizer and French biotech Valneva are aiming to avoid previous pitfalls in developing a new vaccine to protect both adults and kids as young as 5 from the most common Lyme strains on two continents. Most vaccines against other diseases work after people are exposed to a germ. The Lyme vaccine offers a different strategy -- working a step earlier to block a tick bite from transmitting the infection, said Dr. Gary Wormser, a Lyme expert at New York Medical College who isn't involved with the new research. How? It targets an "outer surface protein" of the Lyme bacterium called OspA that's present in the tick's gut. It's estimated a tick must feed on someone for about 36 hours before the bacteria spreads to its victim. That delay gives time for antibodies the tick ingests from a vaccinated person's blood to attack the germs right at the source. In small, early-stage studies, Pfizer and Valneva reported no safety problems and a good immune response. The newest study will test if the vaccine, called VLA15, really protects and is safe. The companies aim to recruit at least 6,000 people in Lyme-prone areas including the Northeast U.S. plus Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. They'll receive three shots, either the vaccine or a placebo, between now and next spring's tick season. A year later, they'll get a single booster dose.

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Drought in England: Dry rivers and stressed plants hit wildlife hard

New Scientist - Mié, 10/08/2022 - 07:21
Birds, fish and insects in England are already under strain from extremely dry conditions, which are expected to persist into the autumn

How England's looming drought will hit the country's wildlife hard

New Scientist - Mié, 10/08/2022 - 07:21
Birds, fish and insects in England are already under strain from extremely dry conditions, but an expected lengthy drought will hit wildlife even harder

On Sonorous Seas review: What a dead whale can tell us

New Scientist - Mié, 10/08/2022 - 07:00
When a beaked whale carcass washed up near her home, part of a mass stranding around the region, Mhairi Killin was inspired to launch an artistic challenge to the military's impact in the area

Underwater robot scans seabed to seek out the most harmful pollution

New Scientist - Mié, 10/08/2022 - 06:48
A robot equipped with AI image recognition can identify and map rubbish on the seafloor to help prioritise clean-up operations towards the most toxic materials

A 'potentially hazardous' blue-whale-size asteroid will zip through Earth’s orbit on Friday

Live Science - Mié, 10/08/2022 - 06:00
The asteroid is being tracked by NASA and isn’t a danger to Earth.

Best meal delivery service 2022: Complete nutrition delivered to your door

Live Science - Mié, 10/08/2022 - 06:00
These are the best meal delivery services we've tried, from heat-and-eat time options, to culinary homers

Scientists uncover ancient source of oxygen that could have fueled life on early Earth

Live Science - Mié, 10/08/2022 - 05:00
Chemical reactions in early Earth's crust may have provided oxygen to ancient microbes.

Scientists Create a More Sustainable LED From Fish Scales

Slashdot - Science - Mié, 10/08/2022 - 05:00
Scientists have discovered that by microwaving fish waste, they can quickly and efficiently create carbon nano-onions (CNOs) -- a unique nanoform of carbon that has applications in energy storage and medicine. This method could be used to make cheaper and more sustainable LEDs in the future. The researchers from Nagoya Institute of Technology in Japan published their findings in Green Chemistry. Smithsonian Magazine reports: CNOs are nanostructures with spherical carbon shells in a concentric layered structure similar to an onion. They have "drawn extensive attention worldwide in terms of energy storage and conversion" because of their "exceptionally high electrical and thermal conductivity, as well as large external surface area," per the paper. They've been used in electronics and for biomedical applications, such as bio-imaging and sensing and drug delivery, write the authors in the study. Though CNOs were first reported in the 1980s, conventional methods of manufacturing them have required high temperatures, a vacuum and a lot of time and energy. Other techniques are expensive and call for complex catalysts or dangerous acidic or basic conditions. This "greatly limits the potential of CNOs," per a statement from Nagoya Institute of Technology. The newly discovered method requires only one step -- microwave pyrolysis of fish scales extracted from fish waste -- and can be done within ten seconds, per the authors. How exactly the fish scales are converted into CNOs is unclear, though the team thinks it has to do with how collagen in the fish scales can absorb enough microwave radiation to quickly increase in temperature. This leads to pyrolysis, or thermal decomposition, which causes the collagen to break down into gasses. These gasses then support the creation of CNOs. This method is a "straightforward way to convert fish waste into infinitely more useful materials," and the resulting CNOs have a high crystallinity, which gives them "exceptional optical properties," per the statement. They also have high functionalization, which means they're "bonded to other small molecules on their surface," writes Ellen Phiddian for Cosmos. This combination of attributes means the CNOs can glow bright blue.

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Giant yellow crustacean in an aquarium turns out to be new species

New Scientist - Mar, 09/08/2022 - 23:01
A new species of creamy-yellow isopod was hiding in plain sight in Japan’s Enoshima Aquarium. It was first found in the Gulf of Mexico and mistaken for another species.

Creepy deep-sea 'vanilla Vader' woodlouse is 25 times bigger than a land louse

Live Science - Mar, 09/08/2022 - 23:01
Scientists have identified a woodlouse relative — a 10-inch-long, creamy yellow critter called Bathynomus yucatanensis from deep in the Gulf of Mexico.

Spiders Seem To Have REM-Like Sleep and May Even Dream

Slashdot - Science - Mar, 09/08/2022 - 22:33
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: Barred from her lab by pandemic restrictions, behavioral ecologist Daniela C. Robler caught local jumping spiders and kept them in clear plastic boxes on her windowsill, planning to test their reactions to 3-D-printed models of predatory spiders. When she came home from dinner one night, though, she noticed something strange. "They were all hanging from the lids of their boxes," says Robler, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Konstanz in Germany. She had never seen jumping spiders suspended motionless on silk lines like this before. "I had no idea what happened," Robler says. "I thought they were dead." It turns out the jumping spiders were simply asleep -- and that Robler had discovered an alternate sleeping habit of the species Evarcha arcuata, which had been known to build silk sleeping dens in curled-up dead leaves. But the real surprise came when she decided to spy on them all night. [...] Mostly the spider just hung there. But then her legs started to twitch, and her abdomen and even her silk-producing spinnerets did so as well. Sometimes her legs curled in toward her sternum. With every spider Robler recorded, these odd movements only appeared during distinct bouts that lasted a little more than a minute and occurred periodically throughout the night. "They were just uncontrollably twitching in a way that really looked a lot like when dogs or cats dream and have their little REM phases," she says. [...] Robler and her colleagues wondered if the twitching spiders could be experiencing something like an REM phase of sleep and possibly even having dreams. "We were like, 'Okay, that would be insane,'" she says. Then she thought, "Let's figure it out," and immediately changed her research plans for the spiders. [...] When Robler recorded 34 sleeping spiderlings, she found that their twitches were accompanied by unmistakable eye-tube movements that did not happen during other phases of sleep. [...] But it is too soon to say for sure that the spiders are experiencing something akin to REM sleep in humans. The researchers first need to confirm the spiders are actually asleep during this phase by showing that they are less responsive to their environment. Robler and her "dream team" of co-authors have already started those tests. And she points out that the leg curling is a particularly striking aspect of the spiders' REM-like phase because that pose is typically only seen in dead spiders. Spiders use hydraulic pressure maintained by muscles to keep their legs extended, and the curling could result from the muscle paralysis that typifies REM sleep. The team's initial findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

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Secrets of an ancient Chinese recipe for bronze finally deciphered

New Scientist - Mar, 09/08/2022 - 19:01
Metal-making practices described in a 2300-year-old text called the Kaogong Ji are more sophisticated than anyone realised

Bats show fewer signs of ageing while they are hibernating

New Scientist - Mar, 09/08/2022 - 19:01
Similarly to marmots, a brown bat species (Eptesicus fuscus) expresses reduced ageing biomarkers while hibernating

US government ramps up effort to put in place 'too hot to work' rules

New Scientist - Mar, 09/08/2022 - 16:32
US investigators have carried out an unprecedented number of heat-related workplace inspections this summer, while federal and state governments are adopting measures to protect workers from heat

'STEVE' descends on North America after surprise solar storm

Live Science - Mar, 09/08/2022 - 14:55
A surprise solar storm bashed Earth on Aug. 7 and 8, triggering an appearance of the mysterious glowing phenomenon called STEVE.

5 mind-bending numbers that could reveal the secrets of the universe

New Scientist - Mar, 09/08/2022 - 12:00
From the exceedingly big to the unfathomably small, cosmologists are trying to unravel a bizarre set of figures that may reveal what happens inside a black hole, why the Higgs boson is so light and the chances of you having a doppelgänger

Rainwater Everywhere on Earth Unsafe To Drink Due To 'Forever Chemicals,' Study Finds

Slashdot - Science - Mar, 09/08/2022 - 11:42
Rainwater almost everywhere on Earth has unsafe levels of "forever chemicals," according to new research. saulgood shares a report: Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large family of human-made chemicals that don't occur in nature. They are known as 'forever chemicals' because they don't break down in the environment. They have non-stick or stain repellent properties so can be found in household items like food packaging, electronics, cosmetics and cookware. But now researchers at the University of Stockholm have found them in rainwater in most locations on the planet -- including Antarctica. There is no safe space to escape them. Safe guideline levels for some of these forever chemicals have dropped dramatically over the last two decades due to new insights into their toxicity. "There has been an astounding decline in guideline values for PFAS in drinking water in the last 20 years," says Ian Cousins, lead author of the study and professor at the Department of Environmental Science, Stockholm University. For one well-known substance, the "cancer-causing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)," water guideline values have declined by 37.5 million times in the US.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Tiny electromagnetic robot runs fast and re-forms after being squished

New Scientist - Mar, 09/08/2022 - 11:00
A soft rubber robot smaller than a postage stamp and controlled by electromagnetic forces can swim, jump and rotate – and could be used to deliver drugs or perform procedures inside a human body

Tiny electromagnetic robot runs fast and reforms after being squished

New Scientist - Mar, 09/08/2022 - 11:00
A soft rubber robot smaller than a postage stamp and controlled by electromagnetic forces can swim, jump and rotate – and could be used to deliver drugs or perform procedures inside a human body


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