Researchers shocked to discover protein that conducts electricity

November 1, 2017 by  
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In a new study from researchers at Arizona State University , scientists have documented that a particular protein known as  alphaVbeta3 has the ability to conduct electricity. Proteins serve as building blocks for cells, but until now, none have been observed conducting electricity. “If it’s true, it’s amazing,” said lead researcher Stuart Lindsay, according to Science Daily . “What this paper is mainly testing out are all the alternative explanations of our data, and ruling out all of the artifacts.” In the past four years since their initial discovery, the team at ASU, whose work was published in the journal  Nano Futures, has been vigilant in checking and rerunning the experiment to determine if there was an alternative explanation. Nonetheless, the most likely conclusion remains that the protein was conducting electricity . The research team first began the work that led to their shocking discovery several years ago when experimenting with DNA and amino acid readers developed by Lindsay, who is a biophysicist and ASU Regents’ Professor. These DNA readers incorporate a technology known as recognition tunneling, which traps individual molecules between electrodes. Curious as to how a whole protein would react to such a process, the team placed the glue-like integrin protein domain alphaVbeta3 and found that it demonstrated “remarkably high electronic conductance.” Through further experimentation and research, the team determined that the protein could become either an electrical conductor or an electrical insulator based on electrical fluctuations. “In our experiments, we were seeing this weird behavior in this huge protein conducting electricity, but it is not static. It’s a dynamic thing,” said Lindsay. “Below a certain bias, it’s just an insulator, but when the fluctuations start kicking in, they are huge.” Related: 10 vegan sources of protein you can grow at home The electrically conductive protein may open up an entirely new way of understanding proteins, how they may be used in nanotechnology , and how treatment for protein-related diseases might be improved. After years of experiments and questions, the team remains curious but cautious. “I believe the data now, but it’s only one protein so far,” said Lindsay. More work will be required before this phenomenon can be harnessed in the medical field and beyond. + Nano Futures Via Futurism Lead image via Depositphotos , others via  Weisi Song/Biodesign Institute/Arizona State University  and Depositphotos

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Researchers shocked to discover protein that conducts electricity

Ancient flying reptile was around the size of a small plane

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Pterosaurs roamed the skies long ago as the first animals to evolve powered flight after insects – and in the Gobi Desert , scientists recently found the remains of one that could have been nearly as big as a small aircraft. The massive pterosaur lived around 70 million years ago and could have been one of the biggest pterosaurs to ever walk the Earth, with a 36-foot wingspan. Pterosaurs were reptiles , according to the American Museum of Natural History . They were close cousins to dinosaurs , and some were as tiny as a paper airplane. But this new pterosaur was anything but tiny. An international team led by the University of Tokyo found what they described as fragmentary cervical vertebral elements. From these fossil bones they determined the creature was huge. No pterosaur that large had been found in Asia until this one. Related: Brand new “mega-carnivore” dinosaur discovered in Africa The two biggest pterosaurs we know of are the Quetzalcoatlus , found in the 1970’s in Texas, and Hatzegopteryx , found in the 1990’s in Romania. These reptiles had wingspans of around 32 to 36 feet, and could have reached 18 feet high on the ground – around as tall as a big bull giraffe, according to National Geographic . Pterosaur expert of the University of Portsmouth Mark Witton, who was not a co-author on this study, said there’s a chance this new pterosaur could have been even bigger than those other two. The new pterosaur is part of a group called azhdarchids, though scientists are reluctant to say they come from a new species given the incomplete remains. The pterosaur possibly ate baby dinosaurs, but could have been capable of taking prey the size of a human, according to Witton. It wouldn’t have been an apex predator, because it was alive alongside a 5.5 ton-relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex , Tarbosaurus – although the pterosaur probably wouldn’t have been lunch for those creatures because in mere seconds it could have hurled itself towards the sky from a standing start. The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology published the discovery online in October. Scientists from Mongolia, the United States, and Japan contributed to the research. Via National Geographic Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Ancient flying reptile was around the size of a small plane

Five bridges topped with urban farms could revitalize war-torn Mosul

November 1, 2017 by  
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Architect Vincent Callebaut recently unveiled plans to rebuild war-torn Mosul as a sustainable, self-sufficient city. Callebaut’s proposal includes five bridges built with stalactite-inspired housing amid self-sustaining urban farms that run on solar power and advanced hydroponic systems. After months of intense fighting, the Islamic State was finally pushed out of the Mosul in summer of 2017. The city had been occupied since 2014, and much of the urban areas have been destroyed over the years, including the beloved five bridges that span the Tigris River. Callebaut believes the bridges could be rebuilt as inhabited spaces covered in self-sustaining urban farms . Related: Visionary eco-resort design for the Philippines features rotating seashell towers The architect submitted his design, 5 Farming Bridges, to a competition that sought potential designs and ideas to rebuild the war-torn city: “ Rebuilding Iraq’s Liberated Areas: Mosul’s Housing “. The proposal features mountainous 3D-printed buildings covered with urban farms that would guarantee food independence while providing excellent thermal insulation. The buildings on the bridges are inspired by the Islamic Muqarnas – ornamental vaults – and the homes are stacked in a vertically efficient manner. Wind chimneys would be installed in the new urban areas to provide cool natural air circulation using the thermal energy of the rivers. Solar water heaters would provide hot water thanks to hundreds of photovoltaic-clad pergolas. The bridges’ many farms and orchards would be irrigated with water from the river. Gray water from the communities would be recycled and filtered by plants in lagoon waterfalls that cascade off the bridges into the river below. Biomass composters would be used to fertilize the various suspended vegetable gardens, creating an amazing, self-sufficient urban oasis. + Vincent Callebaut Images by Vincent Callebaut

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Five bridges topped with urban farms could revitalize war-torn Mosul

Rural Italian home clad in lush greenery blends into its idyllic surroundings

November 1, 2017 by  
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It would be safe to say that Italian firm Zanon Architetti Associati really loves nature. The firm recently renovated a country home in Treviso, Italy by not only adding a new glass and steel extension to the home, but by covering its exterior walls almost entirely with lush vegetation . The renovation of the 1,500 square-foot home was focused on blending the new addition into the home’s existing structure, without taking away from its original character. Accordingly, the architects used a combination of glass and steel to create a seamless connection between the home’s expansive living space and its idyllic surroundings. Related: Stunning home in India blends into the earth with segmented green roofs “From the outside, the glass volume reflects the surrounding landscape and becomes part of it,” the architects said. “From the inside the windows become invisible giving the impression of being outdoors: the living room becomes one with the countryside.” The interior of the home is an eclectic design that is perfect for both quiet contemplation or lively socialization. The ceilings are covered in weathered steel panels that give off an industrial look, which is enhanced by the brick-tiled flooring. These two materials create a nice frame for the home’s main feature: the various large glazed walls that flood the new living space with natural light and incredible views. + Zanon Architetti Associati Via Freshome Photography by Paolo Belvedere

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Rural Italian home clad in lush greenery blends into its idyllic surroundings

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