Archive for the ‘evolution’ category

Mar 13, 2024

Seismological study shows ancient lower mantle flow field under Philippine sea plate

Posted by in categories: evolution, materials

Researchers from China and Japan have discovered distinct characteristics of Earth’s lower mantle flow field. They investigated seismic anisotropy in the upper part of the lower mantle beneath the Philippine Sea Plate (PSP) and found that the ancient lower mantle flow field is still preserved there.

The study is published in Nature Geoscience.

The is an important layer of the Earth and may play an important role in the evolution and material cycling of Earth’s interior. It is generally believed to be not only the final destination of subducted slabs, but also the birthplace of mantle plumes, which are two major styles in the evolution and material cycling of the Earth’s surface and interior. However, our knowledge of the characteristics of the flow field and geodynamics of the lower mantle is still deficient.

Mar 12, 2024

JWST Unveils the Earliest Galaxy Merger: Insights into Rapid Star Formation

Posted by in categories: cosmology, evolution

How fast did the first galaxies and stars form after the Big Bang? This is what a recent study published in Nature Astronomy hopes to address as an international team of scientists led by the University of Melbourne used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to observe the merger of two galaxies that occurred approximately 510 million years after the Big Bang, or approximately 13 billion years ago. This study holds the potential to help astronomers better understand the processes behind galaxy formation and evolution during the universe’s youth.

“It is amazing to see the power of JWST to provide a detailed view of galaxies at the edge of the observable Universe and therefore back in time” said Dr. Michele Trenti, who is a Professor and Cosmologist in the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne and a co-author on the study. “This space observatory is transforming our understanding of early galaxy formation.”

For the study, the researchers used JWST’s powerful infrared instruments to observe what they hypothesize to be two merging galaxies comprised of a primary clump and a long tail with a mass equivalent to approximately 1.6 × 109 masses of our Sun that contains approximately 10 percent of the metals of our Sun and growing by approximately 19 solar masses per year. Additionally, they estimate the stars within these merging galaxies are less than 10 million years old within the main clump of the merger and stars in the outer regions to be approximately 120 million years old.

Mar 10, 2024

Revolutionary 3D Snapshot Unveils Secret Machine Behind Photosynthesis

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, evolution, genetics

For the survival of life on Earth, the process where plants perform photosynthesis to generate oxygen and chemical energy using sunlight is crucial. Scientists from Göttingen and Hannover have now achieved a breakthrough by creating a high-resolution 3D visualization of the chloroplasts’ copying mechanism, the RNA polymerase PEP, for the first time. This intricate structure offers fresh perspectives on the operation and evolutionary history of this vital cellular apparatus, instrumental in interpreting the genetic blueprints for proteins involved in photosynthesis.

Without photosynthesis, there would be no air to breathe – it is the basis of all life on Earth. This complex process allows plants to convert carbon dioxide and water into chemical energy and oxygen using light energy from the sun. The conversion takes place in the chloroplasts, the heart of photosynthesis. Chloroplasts developed in the course of evolution when the ancestors of today’s plant cells absorbed a photosynthetic cyanobacterium. Over time, the bacterium became increasingly dependent on its “host cell”, but maintained some significant functions such as photosynthesis and parts of the bacterial genome. The chloroplast therefore still has its own DNA, which contains the blueprints for crucial proteins of the “photosynthesis machinery”

Mar 9, 2024

New study discovers how altered protein folding drives multicellular evolution

Posted by in categories: biological, evolution

Researchers have discovered a mechanism steering the evolution of multicellular life. They identify how altered protein folding drives multicellular evolution.

In a new study led by researchers from the University of Helsinki and the Georgia Institute of Technology, scientists turned to a tool called experimental evolution. In the ongoing Multicellularity Long Term Evolution Experiment (MuLTEE), laboratory yeast are evolving novel multicellular functions, enabling researchers to investigate how they arise.

The study, published in Science Advances, puts the spotlight on the regulation of proteins in understanding evolution.

Mar 9, 2024

Webb Telescope Discovers Ancient ‘Dead’ Galaxy: A Look Back 13 Billion Years

Posted by in categories: cosmology, evolution

“The first few hundred million years of the universe was a very active phase, with lots of gas clouds collapsing to form new stars,” said Dr. Tobias Looser.

When do galaxies stop forming new stars? This is what a study published today in Nature hopes to address as a team of researchers led by the Kavli Institute for Cosmology used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to discover a 13-billion-year-old “dead” galaxy that stopped producing stars shortly after its own formation, approximately 700 million years after the Big Bang. This study holds the potential to help astronomers better understand the formation and evolution of galaxies in the early universe and the processes behind why some of these galaxies cease to form new stars.

For the study, the researchers used JWST’s powerful Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument as part of the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES) to observe the earliest galaxies that existed approximately 700 million years after the Big Bang, or approximately 13 billion years old. Through this, the team observed what they referred to as a “dead” galaxy, meaning a galaxy that ceased producing new stars, which is a profound discovery considering the young age of the universe at the time. But the question is how did this happen?

Continue reading “Webb Telescope Discovers Ancient ‘Dead’ Galaxy: A Look Back 13 Billion Years” »

Mar 9, 2024

Modeling the origins of life: New evidence for an ‘RNA World’

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, genetics

Charles Darwin described evolution as “descent with modification.” Genetic information in the form of DNA sequences is copied and passed down from one generation to the next. But this process must also be somewhat flexible, allowing slight variations of genes to arise over time and introduce new traits into the population.

But how did all of this begin? In the , long before cells and proteins and DNA, could a similar sort of evolution have taken place on a simpler scale? Scientists in the 1960s, including Salk Fellow Leslie Orgel, proposed that life began with the “RNA World,” a hypothetical era in which small, stringy RNA molecules ruled the early Earth and established the dynamics of Darwinian evolution.

Continue reading “Modeling the origins of life: New evidence for an ‘RNA World’” »

Mar 9, 2024

Physicists are reimagining dark matter

Posted by in categories: cosmology, evolution, physics

Dr Freese has also made the case for a Dark Big Bang that could have given rise to dark matter independently of normal matter in the days after the Big Bang. The traditional model of the universe says that matter and dark matter were produced at the same time. The earliest evidence of dark matter, however, only appears later in the early evolution of the universe, when cosmic structure starts to form.

One explanation for this is that matter and dark matter did not, in fact, appear together, but that dark matter entered the universe in a second cataclysmic release of energy from the vacuum—the Dark Big Bang—as much as a month after the traditional Big Bang. The model that Dr Freese and her co-author Martin Winkler explored would explain why dark matter might be completely decoupled from traditional matter and it also naturally produces SIDM candidates. If there was such a Dark Big Bang, it would have left a clear signature—a pattern in the frequencies of the gravitational waves that hum across the universe—that could be picked up by future gravitational-wave detectors.

Mar 9, 2024

Astronomers Observe the Effect of Dark Matter on the Evolution of the Galaxies

Posted by in categories: cosmology, evolution

Dark matter comprises around 85% of all the matter in the universe. Although ordinary matter absorbs, reflects and emits light, dark matter cannot be seen directly, which makes its detection difficult. Its existence is inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, the material that forms stars, planets, and other objects in the cosmos.

Galaxies are made up of these two types of material The dark matter is distributed in halos, which are huge structures surrounding galaxies, while the ordinary matter is mainly present in the central regions where most of the stars are found.

Traditionally observational studies of galactic evolution have centered on the role of ordinary matter, even though it is quite a small fraction of the mass of a galaxy. For decades there have been theoretical predictions about the effect that dark matter should have on the evolution of galaxies. However, in spite of numerous efforts, there is no clear consensus about this.

Mar 9, 2024

An evolutionary mystery 125 million years in the making

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, evolution, genetics

Plant genomics has come a long way since Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) helped sequence the first plant genome. But engineering the perfect crop is still, in many ways, a game of chance. Making the same DNA mutation in two different plants doesn’t always give us the crop traits we want. The question is why not? CSHL plant biologists just dug up a reason.

CSHL Professor and HHMI Investigator Zachary Lippman and his team discovered that tomato and Arabidopsis thaliana plants can use very different regulatory systems to control the same exact gene. Incredibly, they linked this behavior to extreme genetic makeovers that occurred over 125 million years of evolution.

The scientists used genome editing to create over 70 mutant strains of tomato and Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Each mutation deleted a piece of regulatory DNA around a gene known as CLV3. They then analyzed the effect each mutation had on and development. When the DNA keeping CLV3 in check was mutated too much, fruit growth exploded. They published their findings in PLoS Genetics.

Mar 9, 2024

Assembly Theory: Bold New ‘Theory of Everything’ Could Unite Physics And Evolution

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, evolution, quantum physics

A recent study conducted at Tel Aviv University has devised a large mechanical system that operates under dynamical rules akin to those found in quantum systems. The dynamics of quantum systems, composed of microscopic particles like atoms or electrons, are notoriously difficult, if not impossible, to observe directly.

However, this new system allows researchers to visualize occurring in specialized “topological” materials through the movement of a system of coupled pendula.

The research is a collaboration between Dr. Izhar Neder of the Soreq Nuclear Research Center, Chaviva Sirote-Katz of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Dr. Meital Geva and Prof. Yair Shokef of the School of Mechanical Engineering, and Prof. Yoav Lahini and Prof. Roni Ilan of the School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel Aviv University and was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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