Wet sand may have helped ancient Egyptians move massive stones
Ancient Egyptians dampened the sand to move the 2.5-ton stones used to build the pyramids to prevent berming and halve the amount of force needed to drag the sled, researchers say. The wet sand reduced the friction, making the sledge easier to move. Scientists at the University of Amsterdam used ancient Egyptian artwork as a guide to create miniature sleds that they dragged through sand to determine the right amount of wetness needed.
Viruses hijack deep-sea bacteria genes to help process sulfur
Viruses are helping deep-sea bacteria process sulfur at hydrothermal vents, researchers say. Scientists sequenced DNA of samples from vents found in the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California and found that viruses acquire genes that convert elemental sulfur to sulfite in sulfur-oxidizing bacteria and help the bacteria produce more energy. In return, the bacteria provide a safe haven for the viruses in the harsh deep-sea environment.
Complex structure of Jupiter moon ocean could support life
Jupiter’s moon Ganymede might have an ocean of water capable of supporting life, a study suggests. While scientists have known that the icy moon has a deep ocean of salty water underneath its chilly exterior, they thought that another layer of ice kept the liquid from interacting with rock. A modeling study reveals a much more complicated arrangement, with several ice and water layers stacked on each other and liquid water contacting rock at the bottom, which is necessary to create the kind of chemical reactions needed to support life.
Ancient woman struggled with gluten intolerance
The skeletal remains of an affluent woman who lived in Tuscany 2,000 years ago show signs of celiac disease, as well as an attempt to make dietary changes to cope with her sensitivity to gluten. DNA analysis showed that the young woman had two copies of a gene variant to the immune system that is commonly found in modern celiac disease patients. By analyzing carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the bones, researchers gleaned clues about the woman’s diet, which may have included more meat and fish than plant-based foods.
Bacteria resistant to drugs are becoming widespread, WHO report says
Drug-resistant bacteria are becoming a global epidemic, according to a report by the World Health Organization. The report notes that there is no standardized way for nations to share or assess information about infections that resist drugs.