New simulations reveal a new state of matter that displays characteristics of both liquid and solid states.


A new kind of matter can be both solid and liquid at once.

In this chain-melted state, molten and solid layers intertwine at the atomic level. Recently, using computer simulations, researchers coaxed virtual potassium into a chain-melted state by exposing the metal to conditions of extreme temperature and pressure, the scientists reported in a new study.

What’s more, this dual state persisted even through dramatic changes in the experiments’ conditions within the simulation. This evidence also showed that the chain-melted state is a stable type of matter and not merely a transition between solid and liquid. [The 18 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics]

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Researchers are developing a probiotic to make disease-causing bacteria self-destruct.


As resistance to antibiotics grows in the U.S., researchers are looking for new ways to fight germs like Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that can cause fatal infections in hospitals and nursing homes.

One way to do that: a “CRISPR pill” that instructs harmful bacteria to self-destruct.

CRISPR is the powerful gene-editing technology already being explored as a way to precisely edit human genes to cure diseases (see "Can CRISPR Save Ben Dupree?"). But the technology’s versatility is such that it’s being studied for a huge range of other uses. Just last week scientists in Boston showed they could craft CRISPR into cheap, simple diagnostic tests.

Now scientists want to turn it into ultra-precise antimicrobial treatments to “specifically kill your bacteria of choice,” says food scientist Jan-Peter Van Pijkeren of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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The device could be used to rapidly diagnose genetic diseases or to evaluate the accuracy of gene-editing techniques


Most methods for the detection of nucleic acids require many reagents and expensive and bulky instrumentation. Here, scientists now report the development and testing of a graphene-based field-effect transistor that uses clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) technology to enable the digital detection of a target sequence within intact genomic material. Termed CRISPR–Chip, the biosensor uses the gene-targeting capacity of catalytically deactivated CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) complexed with a specific single-guide RNA and immobilized on the transistor to yield a label-free nucleic-acid-testing device whose output signal can be measured with a simple handheld reader.


The team used the CRISPR–Chip to analyze DNA samples collected from HEK293T cell lines expressing blue fluorescent protein, and clinical samples of DNA with two distinct mutations at exons commonly deleted in individuals with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In the presence of genomic DNA containing the target gene, CRISPR–Chip generates, within 15 min, with a sensitivity of 1.7 fM and without the need for amplification, a significant enhancement in output signal relative to samples lacking the target sequence. The CRISPR–Chip expands the applications of CRISPR–Cas9 technology to the on-chip electrical detection of nucleic acids.

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A virus that inserts itself into the genome of a type of banana plagues plantations in Africa, but CRISPR gene editing can be used to eliminate the viral DNA. Genome editing has been used to destroy a virus that lurks inside many of the bananas grown in Africa. Other teams are trying to use it to make the Cavendish bananas sold in supermarkets worldwide resistant to a disease that threatens to make it impossible to grow this variety commercially in future.


An Australian team has already genetically engineered the Cavendish to make it resistant by adding a gene from a wild banana. But because of the opposition to GM food worldwide, this variety may never be grown commercially. Using CRISPR is seen as preferable because some countries including the US do not regard genome edited plants as transgenic, depending on what has been done. Because the Cavendish is a sterile mutant that can only be propagated by cloning, there is no way to breed resistant varieties. Instead, several teams worldwide are trying to use CRISPR to make it resistant to Tropical Race 4.


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SailDrone makes wind powered + solar powered ocean drones to understand planetary systems affecting humanity. The company designs, manufactures, and operates their global fleet sail-drones — monitoring the state of the planet in real time. Their data sets can be used by commercial enterprise, research institutions, or private groups on specific missions.


SailDrone is making world history by offering high resolution, ocean data collection at-scale. Their sail-drone is 20 feet long, 18 feet high above the water, weighs 600 pounds. It can operate indefinitely: the wind is propulsion that pushes it along, a solar power panel charges the batteries that run the on-board computers + communications equipment.



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Aiming a laser beam at an aircraft isn’t a harmless prank: The sudden flash of bright light can incapacitate the pilot, risking the lives of passengers and crew. But because attacks can happen with different colored lasers, such as red, green or even blue, scientists have had a difficult time developing a single method to impede all wavelengths of laser light. Today, researchers report liquid crystals that could someday be incorporated into aircraft windshields to block any color of bright, focused light.



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The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of eight radio observatories spanning the globe, has set its sights on a pair of behemoths: Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way’s center, and an even more massive black hole 53.5 million light-years away in galaxy M87. In April 2017, the observatories teamed up to observe the black holes’ event horizons, the boundary beyond which gravity is so extreme that even light can’t escape. After almost two years of rendering the data, scientists are gearing up to release the first images in April, 2019. 


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