Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Monthly Archives: December 2013

Varying land use could increase biodiversity

The way farming changes the land is a major threat to biodiversity. Now researchers suggest varying human land use over time could actually increase biodiversity, especially of rarer species. The findings are detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy … Continue reading

Categories: Ecology | 1 Comment

Idaho’s amphitheater-headed canyons formed by megaflooding

Carved into the volcanic basalt of Idaho’s Malad Gorge State Park are two curiously shaped canyons: Woody’s Cove and Stubby Canyon. Each has high vertical walls that curve at the canyon’s head to form a U-shaped amphitheater whose origin has, … Continue reading

Categories: Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Naturally occurring melanin could be the future of edible electronics

Naturally occurring melanin possesses electronic properties that allow it to serve as a battery electrode, scientists report for the first time in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The electronics that power iPhones and laptops are optimized for … Continue reading

Categories: Applied Physical Sciences | Leave a comment

Real-time zinc sensor

Metal ions from calcium to zinc help the human body stay healthy, performing key roles in signaling pathways of living cells. Yet, nailing down exactly what each ion does, and where, is challenging, since individual molecules and ions are too … Continue reading

Categories: Biochemistry | Leave a comment

Yeast metabolism altered by exposure to light

Visible light causes cellular metabolism effects even in cases where the tissue or specimen does not have specialized photoreceptors, report biologists in PNAS Early Edition. That could be a problem for the many researchers who assume natural light or fluorescent … Continue reading

Categories: Microbiology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Porous aerosol particles could play a key role in the atmosphere

Microscopic droplets and particles make up aerosols in the air, clouds of haze, dust and soot that play vital roles in climate, absorbing or reflecting sunlight to help warm or cool the planet and serving as the seeds of precipitation. … Continue reading

Categories: Environmental Sciences | Leave a comment

Particle avalanches insides glassy materials create weaknesses

The randomly ordered atoms of glasses can at times arrange themselves into crystals, weakening them. Now researchers have discovered this crystallization is apparently due to avalanches of particles within glasses, report findings detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy … Continue reading

Categories: Physics | Leave a comment

Understanding the occurrence of rare events

The rich can get richer more often than traditional statistics would predict. This is an example of a statistical distribution with a “heavy tail.” These patterns are common in the real world, including everything from “hundred-year floods” to stock market … Continue reading

Categories: Applied Mathematics | Leave a comment

The structure of Rubella virus’s outer shell

The protective covering—or nucleocapsid—that Rubella viruses use to sneak into the human body, evade the immune system, and carry out their biological attacks looks nothing like the wrapping of other viruses. Now, for the first time, scientists have determined the … Continue reading

Categories: Biophysics and Computational Biology | Leave a comment