Spider silk is considered the strongest bio polymer known to man and is stronger than steel, It is spun from an organ on the underside of the abdomen called spinnerets.
The spinnerets control how thick, think, dry, sticky, beaded the silk will be and can spin silk for specific purposes. Spiders do not stick to their webs because they only make the spiral region sticky so the spokes joining the web together are not enabling them to exist in their webs.
The web is a temporary feature, they are only effective about a day as dust accumulation and exposure to air causes them to loose their stickiness. To conserve energy as web production is a very costly adaptation, some spiders actually eats its own web to save protein and uses this to make his new one, recycling the energy.
A chromosome is essentially a hybrid structure that contains our genetic information. It is predominantly visualized as X-shaped, but in reality chromosomes only exist like that when they are about to divide. Recent research by scientists at the BBSRC-funded Babraham Institute have created a new technique to generate models of how chromosomes really exist.
The new technique combines molecular measurements of chromosomes and uses the latest DNA sequencing technology. From which they have created a 3D model of how the DNA folds within a chromosome.
These findings reveal the structure of chromosomes which are directly linked to when and how much genes are expressed. This field of study into how the structure contributes to genome control is known as Epigenetics. Additionally 3D models of chromosomes will allow for mapping of specific genes and other important genomic features onto the structures giving further insight into how chromosome structure affects genomes.
The first gif zooms into a cell showing how chromosomes are normally visualized. The second gif shows four typical cell nuclei in which only one of the chromosomes has been dyed in green and all other DNA with a blue dye, note how different chromosomes actually appear. The final gif shows the created 3D chromosome structure.
Inside the D-Wave Twoquantum computer housed at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility. A dilution refrigerator cools the 512-qubit Vesuvius processor to 20 millikelvin (near absolute zero) — more than 100 times colder than interstellar space.
Credit: NASA Ames / John Hardman
Source: What will NASA be doing with its new quantum computer? (io9.com)
A mere seven hundred light years from Earth, in the constellation Aquarius, a sun-like star is dying. Its last few thousand years have produced the Helix Nebula , a well studied and nearby example of a Planetary Nebula, typical of this final phase of stellar evolution.
The molecule is priceless but it is not a matter of cost – a few hundred dollars per kilo. The value lies in its potential. The molecule in question is called graphene and the EU is prepared to devote €1bn ($1.3bn) to it between 2013 and 2023 to find out if it can transform a range of sectors such as electronics, energy, health and construction. According to Scopus, the bibliographic database, more than 8,000 papers have been written about graphene since 2005.
As its name indicates, graphene is extracted from graphite, the material used in pencils. Like graphite, graphene is entirely composed of carbon atoms and 1mm of graphite contains some 3 million layers of graphene. Whereas graphite is a three-dimensional crystalline arrangement, graphene is a two-dimensional crystal only an atom thick. The carbons are perfectly distributed in a hexagonal honeycomb formation only 0.3 nanometres thick, with just 0.1 nanometres between each atom.
This 100% pure carbon simplicity confers some remarkable properties on graphene, very close to the calculated theoretical ones, as observed by the authors of A Roadmap for Graphene published in Nature last year.
Graphene conducts electricity better than copper. It is 200 times stronger than steel but six times lighter. It is almost perfectly transparent since it only absorbs 2% of light. It impermeable to gases, even those as light as hydrogen or helium, and, if that were not enough, chemical components can be added to its surface to alter its properties.
Japanese artist Kumi Yamashita, who lives and works in New York, is continuing her ongoing “Constellation” series: portraits made by winding a single UNBROKEN black thread around nails hammered into a board to create the uncanny likeness of a face. The results are remarkable.
Italy’s Mount Etna is erupting again, producing a series of beautiful vortex rings. Like a dolphin’s bubble ring or a vortex cannon, the volcano's rings are formed when gases are rapidly expelled through a narrow opening. Such formations are extremely common but are generally not visible to the eye. In this case, steam has gotten entrained into the rings to make them visible. Vortex rings can maintain their structure over substantial distances. The photographer of these rings noted that they lasted as many as ten minutes before dissipating. (Photo credit: T. Pfeiffer; via NatGeo)