Science Teaching researcher Prof. Nir Orion  recently returned from Peru, where his award-winning Blue Planet teaching unit was adopted by the Peruvian Ministry of Education Q: You have been working for many years to get schoolchildren out of the classroom setting. Why? A: Schools in general and science teaching in particular are supposed to teach…

Getting cells to revert to a stem-like state – creating so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells – was a true revolution, but the technique invented in 2006 is only half the game. The first challenges include getting enough adult cells to undergo the “reprogramming” in culture to be of use and removing those traces of…

Not everyone gets their research written about by this week’s Nobel Prize winners: All mammals face the challenge of navigating in complex, three-dimensional (3D) environments, whether they are swinging from branch-to-branch in forests or burrowing underground tunnels. How does the brain maintain a sense of place and direction in 3D? In a beautiful study published…

Sulfur: As You Like It

Speaking of sulfur: This common element turns out to be highly useful for understanding planetary processes – both on Earth and Mars. Two new papers by Dr. Itay Halevy use sulfur chemistry to understand the history of sulfur-loving microbes at the bottom of the ocean and the compounds spewed from Martian volcanoes that may have…

Get rid of your addictions while you sleep? Weizmann Institute researcher Dr. Anat Arzi is not promising this yet, but she and Prof. Noam Sobel have shown that changing bad habits through sleep conditioning could someday be possible. After just one session in the Neurobiology Department’s sleep lab, volunteers reported smoking on average 30% fewer…

Life’s Blueprint

A new book will make you stop and think about the relationship between the microscopic world and the one we pass by every day. Life’s Blueprint – The Science and Art of Embryo Creation; Benny Shilo, Yale University Press, 174 pages. When a stem cell divides, one daughter maintains the stem cell fate while the…

To all bits of clockwork that are adjusted in our bodies according to our day-night timetable, we can now add two more: cancer growth and the schedules of our internal complements of bacteria. Cancer, according to a new Weizmann Institute study, may grow and spread more at night. In this scenario, our cells are getting…

A Real Tractor Beam

In this weeks’ news, Weizmann Institute scientists and researchers in Australia have invented a sort of tractor beam. In essence, a tractor beam is a wave that propagates outwards but pulls objects toward its point of origin, rather than pushing them out. Like the science fiction versions, such “beams” might be designed in the future…

Could artificial sweeteners be helping cause the very thing they are supposed to prevent? They may well do so, and you can probably blame your microbiota – those masses of mostly-friendly bacteria that live in your gut. According to a paper by Weizmann Institute scientists that appeared today in Nature, artificial sweeteners not only encourage…

Here are some more unsung heroes of research: scanners (the human kind). In the 1950s, Donald Glaser invented the bubble chamber – a way to track infinitesimally small quantum particles as they winked in and out of existence. The idea – which may or may not have been tested in beer – was to create…