April 9, 2023
A microscope picture shows streaks and speckles in red, yellow, dark blue and bright green on a gray background.

Amyloidosis: Beyond Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

By Amber Dance   Amyloid plaque can build up in body organs other than the brain. The resulting diseases — AL amyloidosis, ATTR amyloidosis and more — cause much suffering.  Read more

Photograph of a Malayan tiger with two cubs.

Zoos need to change

By Rafael Miranda   OPINION: To justify their existence, they must make conservation their top priority  Read more

Wednesday, April 26, 2023 | 12pm Pacific | 3pm Eastern | 7pm UTC
Join us for a conversation about the teenage brain’s strengths and vulnerabilities, how adults can support teenagers with mental health issues, and how teens can help one another.
If you can’t attend the live event, please register and you will receive an email when the replay is available.
This event is part of a series, “Inside the brain: A lifetime of change,” and is supported by a grant from the Dana Foundation. Sign up now for the third event, “The mature mind: Aging resiliently,” and watch the replay of our March 23 event, “The baby brain: Learning in leaps and bounds.”
Though it’s tempting to let your dog frolic on a sandy beach, the canine instinct to hunt and play can stress and kill birds, scare off crabs and otherwise harm wildlife that already may be struggling to survive. Researchers have investigated strategies that nudge dog owners to leash their pets, but the backlash can be severe, writes Ben Goldfarb for Hakai Magazine. Of course, it’s natural for dogs to behave the way they do — and many scientists are studying just that. For more on the lifestyles and cognition of our canine companions and the changes that come with aging, read our story.
A dark-haired dog with white around its muzzle is standing with its mouth open. A small treat is in the air; the dog is preparing to catch it in its mouth.

Inside the brains of aging dogs

By Lesley Evans Ogden   In a citizen science project, thousands of pet dogs are helping scientists to understand what happens to memory and cognition in old age  Read more


Tiny problems

Among the features of a brand-new building at Carnegie Mellon University are the “mites.” Not bugs, but small devices tricked out with sensors that collect data on things like light, temperature and humidity — and also sound and motion. The project designers hoped it’d be a grand experiment in the power of smart devices — a “safe, secure, and easy-to-use” Internet of Things building — but what they got instead was controversy. For MIT Technology Review, Eileen Guo and Tate Ryan-Mosley describe the pushback from faculty and students that culminated in larger and still-murky questions about the ethics and definitions of privacy and consent.

Die by the vine

Think of the rainforest and it may evoke a harmonious, balanced, plant-filled ecosystem. But some of these plants are at war with one another. Woody vines, called lianas, are exploding in number in parts of the tropics, outmaneuvering trees for water and sunlight and even felling their upright plant kin. “They’re killing the trees and then they’re exploiting the gaps that the trees leave,” says a scientist in a story by Douglas Fox for bioGraphic. Fox details the work of researchers who are studying the relationship between vines and trees, and how the liana phenomenon — captured in photos by Christian Ziegler — may be spurred and encouraged by climate change.

Copy and paste

Nearly a quarter of the human genome is small chunks of DNA that interrupt genes. Called introns, these short segments have to be snipped out before a protein can be made. Where these intrusive bits come from and why they show up in different quantities in a given plant, fungus, animal or protist has puzzled scientists for years. Now a growing body of research suggests that a kind of genetic parasite called an introner might be responsible for many of the redundant snippets, reports Jake Buehler for Quanta Magazine. It’s not clear yet what role these tiny, self-copying elements play in evolution, but scientists believe that an aquatic lifestyle, which favors swapping DNA between species, might help introners find their hosts.
Mental Health Article Collection from Annual Reviews
A smiling woman in a brown sweater with gold meteorites shooting down from the neck and zig-zag layers of blue and tan

Planetary purling

If tackling a PhD isn’t challenging enough, how about knitting a sweater inspired by your research? Rachel Kirby, a doctoral student in planetary geology and cosmochemistry at the Australian National University, is interested in meteorite formation. But not just any old meteorites: a weird class of iron meteorites that are thought to form by melting out of their parent body after an impact. Kirby’s research suggests that the 265-kilogram Miles meteorite, which was found on farmland in Australia in 1992, formed in such a manner billions of years ago. Her sweater depicts its origins — a different meteor (repeated at the neck) smashing into an asteroid and forming a crater; and molten metals seeping through cracks in the crater to the rocks below. Check out Kirby’s website and Instagram for more on her science and fiber arts.

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— Rachel Ehrenberg, Knowable Magazine Newsletter Editor
With contributions from James Gaines and Leslie Nemo

Knowable Magazine is a nonprofit publication that seeks to make scientific knowledge accessible to all. Knowable is an editorially independent journalistic endeavor published by Annual Reviews

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