Technology Tuesday: September 8
This week: Wasp venom kills cancer cells, giant sea scorpions from prehistoric seas, smaller particle accelerators, the paleo diet had grains after all, and tapping ocean waves for renewable energy.
Brazilian Wasp Venom Kills Cancer and Ignores Healthy Cells
A newly published study shows how Brazilian wasp venom selectively kills cancer cells without harming normal cells.
The social wasp Polybia paulista protects itself against predators by producing venom known to contain a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient. A Biophysical Journal study published September 1 reveals exactly how the venom’s toxin–called MP1 (Polybia-MP1)–selectively kills cancer cells without harming normal cells. MP1 interacts with lipids that are abnormally distributed on the surface of cancer cells, creating gaping holes that allow molecules crucial for cell function to leak out.
Pentecopterus – A Giant Sea Scorpion from the Prehistoric Seas
Geologists discovered the fossils of Pentecopterus in a meteorite crater by the Upper Iowa River in northeastern Iowa.
You don’t name a sea creature after an ancient Greek warship unless it’s built like a predator.
That’s certainly true of the recently discovered Pentecopterus, a giant sea scorpion with the sleek features of a penteconter, one of the first Greek galley ships. A Yale University research team says Pentecopterus lived 467 million years ago and could grow to nearly six feet, with a long head shield, a narrow body, and large, grasping limbs for trapping prey. It is the oldest described eurypterid — a group of aquatic arthropods that are ancestors of modern spiders, lobsters, and ticks.
Plasma Wakefield Acceleration, A Step Toward Smaller Particle Colliders
In a new study, researchers detail how a technique called plasma wakefield acceleration could enable them to build more economical particle colliders.
A study led by researchers from UCLA and the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has demonstrated a more efficient way to accelerate positrons, the antimatter opposites of electrons. The method may help lead to much smaller but more powerful linear electron-positron colliders — machines that could be used to understand the properties of nature’s fundamental building blocks.
Ancient Pestle Shows Paleolithic People Ground Grains For Food
A team of researchers from a variety of institutions in Italy has found evidence of oat grinding by Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers—a stone pestle with bits of grain still intact. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes the stone relic and their study of it and offers some theories on why they believe the early people were grinding grains.
Ocean Waves and Renewable Energy
As the demand for renewable wind and solar energy steadily increases, the need to reduce the cost and extend the life of renewable energy storage batteries becomes even greater.
By getting back to the basics, a University of Cincinnati quantum chemistry researcher looks at how water and other molecules align and influence ionic distribution on the surface where air and the liquid meet. These findings have received respect from top physicists around the globe and show promise for enhancing the efficiency of renewable energy devices.
Know any interesting stories we missed?Let us know in the comments!
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