MI weekly selection #458

DNA can store more than just genetic code

A team of researchers added seven synthetic nucleobases to DNA’s current four-letter code, thereby expanding the innate ability of the double helix to store a variety of information, findings in the journal Nano Letters reveal. The study suggests this method may be a solution to sustainable data storage in the future.


Star system offers rare glimpse of “stellar vampirism”

Researchers looking for black holes instead captured a binary star system in the midst of “stellar vampirism,” which occurs when one star’s atmosphere is being drained by its companion star. The system, HR 6819, is just 1,000 light years from Earth and could provide an opportunity to understand the lifecycle and evolution of the galaxy’s largest stars.

Ars Technica

2D compound stronger than steel

Researchers have successfully polymerized a material in two dimensions to produce a new compound that’s tougher than steel but as lightweight as plastic. The compound is derived from melamine.

Business Insider

Ocean litter provides transport for invasive species

The discovery of 15 non-native species on plastic waste found in coastal Spain suggests that some invasive organism may use ocean litter as a means of traveling from one location to the next. “The identification of these organisms can provide us key information on the processes of plastic dispersion and transport in the oceans,” said Blanca Figuerola, co-author of the study.


Tiny algae tells tale of prehistoric man’s death

Human bones dating to the Stone Age found in what is now northern Chile are the remains of a fisherman who died by drowning. Using a method previously reserved for modern skeletal remains, scientists examined the bone marrow of the skeleton and found microscopic algae that would have entered the man’s bloodstream at the time of his death.

Live Science

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