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Eight scientific discoveries that were made in 2018



Scientific knowledge develops very slowly and depends on the teamwork of many anonymous people. In addition, researching and discovering new things is usually a tedious, complicated process (so much so that in most cases you don’t get results) and difficult to understand from the outside. For all these reasons, the media usually speaks only of great achievements and the most curious or understandable discoveries.

Although this is not the most relevant research, this year there were many interesting and really impressive achievements. Some do not go beyond the anecdotal behavior, but others promise a long scientific journey.

New organ in the human body

This is a case of discovery of a new organ in the human body. In May 2018, scientists from the University Medical School in New York (USA) discovered the so-called "interstitium", a network of fluid-filled connective tissues that are located under the skin and cover many other organs. Until now, this has remained unnoticed, because the methods of anatomical observation, which are focused on fixing tissue samples with chemicals, did not allow to observe it. In general, there was talk of interstitial space located between cells, but not about the organ itself.

The interstitium shown in the image is under the skin and covers the lungs, blood vessels, muscles, etc.

The interstitium shown in the image is under the skin and covers the lungs, blood vessels, muscles, etc. The image is provided by Jill Gregory. Printed with permission from Mount Sinai Health System.

"This discovery can lead to impressive advances in the medical field, including the fact that taking samples of interstitial fluid will become a powerful diagnostic tool," said a doctor and researcher from the Medical School of the University of Neil Teys. New York and co-author of the study.

New geometric shape

In 2018, scientists also discovered a new geometric shape when conducting research on embryonic animal development. In a study published in Nature Communications, they reported that because the embryo cells multiply and condense in three-dimensional forms, they take the configuration in the form of “escutoides”, and this gives them greater stability.

Escutoid representation

Eskutoid representation.

This new form is characterized by the presence of curved surfaces and the presence of at least one vertex in a plane different from the top of two bases. “In the course of our modeling work, we obtained very rare results,” said Javier Buceta, co-author and scientist from Lehigh University (USA), in a statement. “Our model predicted that as the curvature of the fabric increased, more forms appeared than simple columns or bottles.” To our surprise, a form appears for which we do not even have a name in mathematics! which is usually not possible to name a new form. "

Bacteria living in the brain?

This year, a group of researchers from the University of Alabama in Birmingham (USA) examined brain samples when they accidentally discovered elongated shapes inside. Subsequent observations have shown that these spots are bacteria that belong to the three groups of microbes that are usually found in the intestine. At the moment, studies do not exclude that these bacteria enter the brain cells due to pollution, but suggest that there may be bacteria in the brain of healthy people.

Photograph of an astrocyte, a cell supporting neurons. The gray spot in the center is the capillary, on the left is a few bacteria

Photograph of an astrocyte, a cell supporting neurons. The gray spot in the center is the capillary, on the left is a few bacteria.

This discovery aroused interest among researchers, since it suggests that these microbes can be harmless or even beneficial to the body. If this is confirmed, “this will be a paradigm shift in our thinking about the brain,” said Rosalinda Roberts, head of research.

"Selfies" cheat on you

A team of researchers from Rutgers University School of Medicine in New Jersey confirmed what many have intuitively understood: this selfie has the ability to distort the size of our nose.

“Young people,” said Boris Pashover from the otolaryngology department of the said person, “constantly take selfies to hang them on their social networks, and they think that these images really reflect how they see themselves, what can have an impact in their emotional state . "

Selfies have the ability to distort the nose

Pashover, in fact, said that many of his patients show him to be an example of why they want to undergo surgery that reduces the size of their nose. In fact, the report of the American Academy of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery of the face suggests that up to 55% of surgeons say that people turn to their services in search of procedures and “settings” that can improve their self-awareness. ,

New type of neuron

This year, a group of neurologists discovered a type of brain cell, a pink hip neuron, and found that it is only present in humans.

This type of neuron, which got its name because it has the shape of a bush, is very rare and forms only about 10% of the neocortex neurons, the modern brain region from an evolutionary point of view and which is important for sight and hearing.

Researchers still do not know the function of this neuron, but it has been found that it is usually associated with pyramidal cells, a type of excitatory neuron on which they act as a brake.

Electricity in the intestines

Investigation that was published in nature Scientists from the University of California at Berkeley (USA) have found that hundreds of bacteria in the intestinal microbiota are capable of generating electricity. Until now, microbes with this ability have been found in oxygen-free environments (without oxygen), such as mines and lacustrine deposits, but never in the intestines.

In particular, scientists have discovered a new mechanism for producing electric current, which is used by microbes, such as lactobacilli, streptococci, and pathogens that cause diarrhea (Listeria monocytogenesgangrene (Clostridium perfringens) or hospital infections (Enterococcus faecalis).

Representation of bacteria, releasing electrons from metal particles from the environment.

Image of bacteria releasing electrons from metal particles from the environment – the image of Amy Cao. Copyright UC Berkeley.

“The fact is that many bugs that interact with humans, be they pathogens, probiotics, or even as part of the microbiota or participate in the fermentation of certain products, are electrogenic,” said Bernley Bernley, a researcher in his statement. head of investigation. “So far we have not noticed this. It's interesting that you could tell us a lot about how these bacteria infect us or help us have a healthy gut. ”

Cosmos approached Earth

A study published in Acta Astronautica confirmed that the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, the Karman line, is 20% closer than previously thought, that is, at an altitude of 80 kilometers, not 100,

Prior to this, scientists believed that space begins from a height of 100 kilometers. This point is characterized, as established by aerodynamics expert Theodor von Karman, by the fact that the speed required to maintain an aircraft in flight in the atmosphere is equal to the speed necessary to maintain it in orbit.

Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has compiled an extensive list of rocket launches. Thus, he noted that outer space begins from an altitude of 85 kilometers in the so-called mesopause (the coldest point of the atmosphere).

Data from the orbits of thousands of satellites and models led him to the conclusion that the boundary between the atmosphere and space is from 66 to 88 kilometers in height. Although it will not mean any changes when launching ships and missiles, it will be important when it comes to the development of spatial policies and laws.

Death on the threshold of hell

The Romans believed that the world is covered by the gates of hell. The priests conducted ritual complexes in which they placed living animals in this gates of hell, so that helpers could observe how they died without human intervention.

In the ancient city of Hierapolis, in Turkey, there is one of these gates to hell, known as Plutonium, in honor of Pluto, the god of the underworld. This door, which gives access to a small grotto, is located in the center of the area with thermal activity. In addition, it is built just above the volcanic crack, which constantly emits carbon dioxide. This gas, harmless at low concentrations, is capable of killing from suffocation. In fact, in 2011 it was discovered that birds that fly too close to the door fall dead.

Neighborhoods of Plutonium Hierapolis

Neighborhoods of Plutonium Hierapolis

This year, volcanologist Hardy Pfanz from the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany) intended to explore the deadly force of the door in more detail. Therefore, he found that with the passage of the day, CO2 behaves differently. During the day, it dissipates, and at night it forms a small “lake” that accumulates on the ground. At dawn, the door becomes more deadly when the gas rises and forms a layer 40 centimeters high, capable of killing animals or people in just a few minutes.

Pfanz concluded that the priests made these sacrifices at dawn or in the afternoon, and that they knew that the door’s deadly force had reached a certain height. For this reason, people could enter, but the animals died, as historical records show.

Source: ABC.es / Science


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