Red, purple and green streamers of the aurora borealis dazzled viewers in North America on Friday and were seen much farther south than normal, with people in California, Arizona and Texas reporting they could see it, according to AccuWeather, Inc. Typically, the spectacular display is only visible in northern locales like Alaska, North Dakota, Canada and Iceland.
DNA-based world’s tiniest antenna looks like Lego. Here is how it will help identify new drugs for cancers and intestinal inflammation – Times Now
- Proteins perform some of the most important biological functions in the human body from supporting the immune system to regulating how our organs work
- Great efforts are being made in understanding protein dynamics but there is still a great deal to work to be done before we can track proteins in action. The DNA-based nanoantenna is one of the latest scientific efforts to address this challenge
- The advantage that the nanoantenna has in being able to capture proteins during short-lived states, explain the authors, means that its applications extend across biochemistry and nanotechnology
From the malaria vaccine to the use of predictive AI in protein structure discovery, 2021 was a great year for scientific discovery. That trend appears to have continued into 2022 with scientists from the Universite de Montreal (UdeM) in Canada announcing the construction of the tiniest antenna ever made. No, we’re not talking about the bulky, metallic dishes that transmit radio waves but, in fact, an organic antenna that measures just five nanometers in length.
Made out of DNA – the molecules, roughly 20,000 times smaller than a human hair, that carry genetic instructions – the nanoantenna is fluorescent, meaning it uses light signals to record and communicate information. The antenna is also fitted with a receiver capable of sensing the molecular surface of the particular protein it latches onto and studies. Depending on how the protein is changing and performing its biological function, the antenna transmits varying signals.
“Like a two-way radio that can both receive and transmit radio waves, the fluorescent nanoantenna receives light in one colour, or wavelength, and depending on the protein movement it senses, then transmits light back in another colour, which we can detect,” said one of the authors of the paper and chemist from UdeM, Alexis Valle-Belisle.
Proteins perform some of the most important biological functions in the human body from supporting the immune system to regulating how our organs work. However, they are large, complex molecules that constantly undergo changes to their structure, evolving from state to state as they go about their jobs. Great efforts are being made in understanding protein dynamics but there is still a great deal to work to be done before we can track proteins in action. The DNA-based nanoantenna is one of the latest scientific efforts to address this challenge.
“Experimental study of protein transient states remains a major challenge because high structural-resolution techniques, including nuclear magnetic resonance and X-ray crystallography, often cannot be directly applied to study short-lived protein states,” explains the researchers in their paper that was recently published in the journal, Nature Methods. The DNA synthesising technology that the team from Canada utilised has, reportedly, been 40 years in the making, and enables researchers to generate bespoke nanostructures of varying lengths and flexibilities to serve specific functions.
The advantage that the nanoantenna has in being able to capture proteins during short-lived states, explain the authors, means that its applications extend across biochemistry and nanotechnology. “For example, we were able to detect, in real-time and for the first time, the function of the enzyme alkaline phosphatase with a variety of biological molecules and drugs,” said Scott Harroun, another one of the paper’s authors. “This enzyme has been implicated in many diseases, including various cancers and intestinal inflammation.”
Solar Storm That Caused Dazzling Auroral Display Could Linger
A coronal mass ejection, an explosion of magnetic fields and plasma from the sun’s atmosphere, hit Earth early Friday with more force than initially forecast. These events can disrupt Earth’s magnetic field causing auroral displays, as well as disrupting satellites, communication and electric grids.
Read more: A Swedish Resort Lets You See the Northern Lights From Your Room
The US Space Weather Prediction Center had originally expected a G2 level storm Friday on its five-step scale, the event measured in at G4, one of the strongest triggered on Earth since 2017.
The impacts from the coronal mass ejection have trailed off, but energy coming from what scientists call a “coronal hole” will continue at least through Saturday and that could mean the aurora could be seen by viewers across Europe, Asia and North America through Sunday, the UK Met Office said on its website.
There are currently eight sunspot clusters visible on the side of the sun facing Earth, however another coronal mass ejection blasting toward us isn’t forecast, the UK Met Office said.
An airplane-sized asteroid will pass between the Earth and moon’s orbits Saturday
An asteroid dubbed “city killer” for its size will pass harmlessly between the moon and the Earth Saturday evening.
The asteroid 2023 DZ2 will pass at a distance of over 100,000 miles, less than half the distance between the Earth and the moon. It’s about 160 feet long — about the size of an airliner. An asteroid that size could cause significant damage if it hit a populated area, hence its nickname.
“While close approaches are a regular occurrence, one by an asteroid of this size (140-310 ft) happens only about once per decade, providing a unique opportunity for science,” NASA Asteroid Watch tweeted.
Astronomers from the International Asteroid Warning Network, established about 10 years ago to coordinate international responses to potential near-Earth object impact threats, will be monitoring and learning from this asteroid.
NASA Asteroid Watch called the opportunity “good practice” in case “a potential asteroid threat were ever discovered.”
Near-Earth objects are asteroids or comets that pass close to the Earth’s orbit, and they generally come from objects that are affected by other planets’ gravity, moving them into orbits that push them close to Earth, according to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.
The European Space Agency maintains a risk list of 1,460 objects, which catalogs every object with a non-zero chance of hitting Earth over the next 100 years. Asteroid 2023 DZ2, which is in orbit around the sun, is not on the risk list.
Large asteroid to zoom between Earth and Moon
On Saturday, the 2023DZ2 will come within a third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
A large asteroid will safely zoom between Earth and the Moon on Saturday, a once-in-a-decade event that will be used as a training exercise for planetary defence efforts, according to the European Space Agency.
The asteroid, named 2023 DZ2, is estimated to be 40 to 70 metres (130 to 230 feet) wide, roughly the size of the Parthenon, and big enough to wipe out a large city if it hit our planet.
At 19:49 GMT on Saturday, it will come within a third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon, said Richard Moissl, the head of the ESA’s planetary defence office.
Though that is “very close”, there is nothing to worry about, he told AFP news agency.
Small asteroids fly past every day, but one of this size coming so close to Earth only happens about once every 10 years, he added.
The asteroid will pass 175,000km (109,000 miles) from Earth at a speed of 28,000 kilometres per hour (17,400 miles per hour). The Moon is roughly 385,000km (239,228 miles) away.
An observatory in La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, first spotted the asteroid on February 27.
Last week, the United Nations-endorsed International Asteroid Warning Network decided it would take advantage of the close look, carrying out a “rapid characterisation” of 2023 DZ2, Moissl said. That means astronomers around the world will analyse the asteroid with a range of instruments such as spectrometers and radars.
The goal is to find out just how much we can learn about such an asteroid in only a week, Moissl said. It will also serve as training for how the network “would react to a threat” possibly heading our way in the future, he added.
The asteroid will again swing past Earth in 2026, but poses no threat of impact for at least the next 100 years – which is how far out its trajectory has been calculated.
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