Western Pipistrelle (Parastrellus hesperus)
Also known as the “Canyon Bat” the western pipistrelle is a species of vesper bat (Vespertilionidae) that occurs in Mexico and the western United States. Like most bats western pipistrelles are active at night and are insectivorous. During periods of time when the weather gets cold or if food supplies lower P. hesperus is known to enter a period of hibernation, hibernating in caves, mines and rocky crevices.
“Mount Everest” of Synthetic Biology: First Eukaryotic Chromosome
For the first time, researchers have synthesized a eukaryotic chromosome, a new study reports. The chromosome was from one of the best-studied organisms on the planet, baker’s yeast, or Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Yeast is already used to make beer, biofuel and medicine, but once equipped with a full set of synthetic and changeable chromosomes like the one designed here, this single-celled organism could produce better versions of these important commodities, including new antibiotics or more environmentally friendly biofuels.
In this video courtesy of New York University Langone Medical Center, Dr. Jef Boeke discusses the research.
Read more about this research from the 28 March issue of Science here.
A delightful quiz from Nautilus: Can you identify these cities from their light signatures?
A star set to explodeFloating at the centre of this new Hubble image is a lidless purple eye, staring back at us through space. This ethereal object, known officially as [SBW2007] 1 but sometimes nicknamed SBW1, is a nebula with a giant star at its centre. The star was originally twenty times more massive than our Sun, and is now encased in a swirling ring of purple gas, the remains of the distant era when it cast off its outer layers via violent pulsations and winds.
But the star is not just any star; scientists say that it is destined to go supernova! 26 years ago, another star with striking similarities went supernova — SN 1987A. Early Hubble images of SN 1987A show eerie similarities to SBW1. Both stars had identical rings of the same size and age, which were travelling at similar speeds; both were located in similar HII regions; and they had the same brightness. In this way SBW1 is a snapshot of SN1987a’s appearance before it exploded, and unsurprisingly, astronomers love studying them together.
At a distance of more than 20 000 light-years it will be safe to watch when the supernova goes off. If we are very lucky it may happen in our own lifetimes…
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; acknowledgement: Nick Rose
Famed amnesia case, K.C. died last week. Having lost both hippocampuses after a motorcycle accident, he was somehow able to hold on to some memories, though “devoid of all context and emotion”… and his identity.
That’s actually a common theme in the neuroscience of accidents. It’s easy to see the victims of brain damage as reduced or diminished, and they are in some ways. But much of what they feel from moment to moment is exactly what you or I feel, and there’s almost nothing short of death that can make you forget who you are. Amid all the fascinating injuries in neuroscience history, you’ll come across a lot of tales of woe and heartbreak. But there’s an amazing amount of resiliency in the brain, too. [via]
At about 100 meters from the cargo bay of the space shuttle Challenger, Bruce McCandless II was farther out than anyone had ever been before. Guided by a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), astronaut McCandless, pictured above, was floating free in space. McCandless and fellow NASA astronaut Robert Stewart were the first to experience such an “untethered space walk" during Space Shuttle mission 41-B in 1984. The MMU works by shooting jets of nitrogen and has since been used to help deploy and retrieve satellites. With a mass over 140 kilograms, an MMU is heavy on Earth, but, like everything, is weightless when drifting in orbit. The MMU was replaced with the SAFER backpack propulsion unit.
Credit: STS-41B, NASA
Photo by Maynard Pittendreigh
Comet Ikeya–Seki, formally designated C/1965 S1, 1965 VIII, and 1965f, was a long-period comet discovered independently by Kaoru Ikeya and Tsutomu Seki. First observed as a faint telescopic object on September 18, 1965, the first calculations of its orbit suggested that on October 21, it would pass just 450,000 km above the Sun’s surface, and would probably become extremely bright.
Comets can defy all predictions, but Ikeya–Seki performed as expected. As it approached perihelion observers reported that it was clearly visible in the daytime sky next to the Sun. In Japan, where it reached perihelion at local noon, it was seen shining at magnitude −10. It proved to be one of the brightest comets seen in the last thousand years, and is sometimes known as the Great Comet of 1965.
The comet was seen to break into three pieces just before its perihelion passage. The three pieces continued in almost identical orbits, and the comet re-appeared in the morning sky in late October, showing a very bright tail. By early 1966, it had faded from view as it receded into the outer solar system.
Ikeya–Seki is a member of the Kreutz Sungrazers, which are suggested to be fragments of a large comet which broke up in 1106
Minimalist Poster Series Honors Science’s Women PioneersMinimalist Poster Series Honors Science’s Women Pioneers