It’s rainy and wet here in Boston this morning. Dry off with some science.
- Coffee is under threat from a fungal blight called coffee rust. Did you hear me? COFFEE IS UNDER THREAT.
- The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that DNA sequences in their natural state cannot be patented, but that if you take a gene and edit it, then you might have something patentable. It’s like they told Myriad Genetics, holder of contentious patents around breast cancer risk genes, “You didn’t build that!” (Here’s the text of the decision, should you want to read it.)
- Data from advanced tracking collars suggests that cheetahs are more like Porsche 911s than F1 race cars…they’re more about agility than flat out speed.
- If you’re a salamander and you lose a toe, it’s okay; it’ll grow back. If you’re a mouse and you lose a toe, you’re out of luck. Or maybe not. There’s a special layer of stem cells right beneath the nail (or claw) bed that can regenerate that toe. The discovery could help scientists trying to figure out how to regrow lost limbs.
- A survey of microbes in a hospital sink has turned up an entirely new phylum of bacteria. If you remember your Linnaean taxonomy (and you do remember your Linnaean taxonomy, right?), it means that there’s a potentially huge new grouping of bacterial life that we’ve been unaware of.
- Leprosy is one hardy bug, from a genetic standpoint. Comparisons of DNA from modern and medieval strains of Mycobacterium leprae revealed that it hasn’t really changed over the last 1,000 years.
- The science of tear gas is certainly something worth crying over.
- Anatomists announced this week that they’d found a new body part, a previously unknown membrane within the cornea. I guess there’s more to the cornea than meets the eye.
- More eye-related news: Evolution doesn’t just happen in nature. You can force it to happen in a lab. Which is just what a team of scientists did to develop a virus that might be useful for carrying out gene therapy for certain inherited eye diseases.
- And while we’re on the topic of eyes, enjoy this video of how we see color (spoiler: it’s all about your cones):