Basic Research

Category archives for Basic Research

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…

There Once Was A….

Once again, there are three new pieces online on our website, each wonderful in its own way. But Haiku just didn’t seem to fit this batch. So, with apologies to the scientists, here are three limericks on the newest Institute research. As before, follow the links to get to our website. (Incidentally, there is some…

Do you know the real price of a piece of beef? Here is a nice, round number to chew on: The environmental cost of beef is ten times that of dairy, eggs or poultry. This means that if you chose to eat a steak over an omelet, (assuming they have equal amounts of protein) the…

At the level of biomolecules, life boils down to two basic principles: sequence and folding. We know, for example, that the sequence of nucleotides in the DNA contains our genetic blueprint, but the way that our DNA is folded and wrapped up in each chromosome helps determine which genes are easily accessible for copying. Proteins…

A Visit to the fMRI

I’ve heard that for some the experience of undergoing an MRI scan is claustrophobic, but I find it oddly comfy and cocoon-like. OK, there are those gear-grinding screeches and thumps interrupting the music in the earphones. And the cumbersome set-up for imaging breasts, along with the usual admonition to keep perfectly still, does not leave…

Today’s new articles involve flow: the flow of positrons through the Universe and the flow of particles around the tiny cilia of corals. They involve beauty and mystery, as well. The particle flow, imaged in brilliant colors, won first place in the photography category of the 2013 Science/National Science Foundation International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.…

Capturing the High End

Perovskite (say it: pə-ˈräv-ˌskīt, -ˈräf-). It may never become a household word, and the chemical formulas (eg., CH3NH3PbI3−xClx ) are as long as the name. But if you find yourself, in the not-so-distant future, adding new-and-improved solar panels to your roof, they may well contain a perovskite layer. If they do, it will be these…