Damn cool background!!!
…is a species of pelagic colonial tunicate found in temperate waters worldwide. Like other pyrosomes P. atlanticum is a colony of simple grazers that feed on organic particles that run into the colony while they drift in the water column. Pyrosomes are planktonic and rely completely on the current to move, however colonies can cover great distances and some large colonies have been recorded moving up to 2,000 vertical feet daily. Like most pyrosomes this species is highly bioluminescent and colonies can produced brilliant light shows when stimulated.
Helminths, aka parasitic worms that live in our guts, are very good at quieting down the immune system in order to avoid rejection.
As a consequence, some scientists think that these critters may also protect people against autoimmune diseases. And clinical trials are underway to test that strategy.
Recently, P’ng Loke and his team at reviewed how helminths modulate the immune system in the journal PLOS Pathogens.
The picture shows eggs of a whipworm, or Trichuris trichiura, inside a female worm.
Image by Kimberley Evason, UCSF School of Medicine, Department of Pathology
The Pinhole Eye of the Nautilus, by Marc Gosselin:
“The Nautilus is the only animal on the planet with pinhole eyes.”
Quantum dots are tiny nanocrystals with extraordinary optical and electrical properties with possible uses in dye production, bioimaging, and solar energy production. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a way to introduce precisely four copper ions into each and every quantum dot.
The introduction of these “guest” ions, called doping, opens up possibilities for fine-tuning the optical properties of the quantum dots and producing spectacular colors.
“When the crystallinity is perfect, the quantum dots do something that no one expected—they become very emissive and end up being the world’s best dye,” says Preston Snee, assistant professor of chemistry at UIC and principal investigator on the study.
The results are reported in the journal ACS Nano, available online in advance of print publication. Incorporating guest ions into the crystal lattice can be very challenging, says UIC graduate student Ali Jawaid, first author of the paper.
Controlling the number of ions in each quantum dot is tricky. Merely targeting an average number of guest ions will not produce quantum dots with optimal electrical and optical properties.
Jawaid developed a procedure that reliably produces perfect quantum dots, each doped with exactly four copper ions. Snee believes the method will enable them to substitute other guest ions with the same consistent results.
“This opens up the opportunity to study a wide array of doped quantum dot systems,” he said.
Donald Wink and Leah Page of UIC and Soma Chattopadhyay of Argonne National Laboratory also contributed to the study.
Credit: Jeanne Galatzer-Levy
Dr. Sonja Pyott
University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Specimen: Cochlea and Hair Cells
Mammalian organ of Corti - the epithelium which contains the sensory hair cells of the ear (stained green here). The inner hair cells are in the lower left, and the three rows of outer hair cells are to the upper right. Nuclei of the inner hair cells are blue and the spindly red things are the neurons, which are synapsing on the inner hair cells’ surface. The spiky things shooting out of the top of the inner hair cells are the stereocilia (which are made of actin, so green) which project into the fluid filled space above the organ of Corti. When sound waves are picked up by the ear canal and focused into the cochlea, the basilar membrane vibrates, causing the stereocilia to bend, which depolarizes the hair cells.
“According to Japan Times, a new species of carnivorous plant has been found in Aichi Prefecture, on the central-southern coast of Japan’s main island. The Japan Times calls it a “pitcher plant,” which it is not; as a species related to (and mistaken for) Drosera indica, it’s actually a sundew.
Sundews and pitcher plants are both carnivorous, and largely insectivorous, but they’re very different otherwise. Pitcher plants have a large, cup-shaped flower with a slippery rim that unsuspecting prey falls into, where it is digested. Sundews, on the other hand, have tentacles, looking like very small spines topped with a clear drop of dew, hence the name. It isn’t dew, of course; it’s a sort of sticky mucous that traps insects, where they die of exhaustion, dehydration, starvation, or suffocation, to be digested by the enzymes within the mucous.”