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DNA would not be unique: there may be millions of possible genetic molecules

A team of scientists used a computer program to discover more than 1 million molecules that could store genetic information, just like DNA.

DNA and its cousin RNA store genetic information and allow life as we know it, but what if millions of lesser known chemicals could do exactly the same?

A new study suggests that more than 1 million similar chemicals could encode biological information in the same way as DNA does. The new study could point the way to new goals for pharmaceutical drugs, explain how life on Earth evolved and even help us find ways to live beyond our planet, according to the authors.

Jay Goodwin, chemist at Emory University and co-author of the study, said in a release:

It is really exciting to consider the potential of alternative genetic systems … that could possibly have arisen and evolved in different environments, perhaps even on other planets or moons within our solar system. ”

DNA and RNA, the two known types of nucleic acids contain chemical bits called nucleotides, which bind in a particular order and transmit different data, depending on their sequence, similar to individual letters within a written sentence. Some natural and artificial molecules mimic the basic structure of DNA, but so far, no one had tried to count how many of these similarities could exist, the authors wrote.

DNA is only one among millions of possible genetic molecules
Credit: lisichik / Pixabay

Jim Cleaves, chemist at Tokyo Institute of Technology said in a statement:

There are two types of nucleic acids in biology. We wanted to know if there is one more to find or even a million more. The answer is that there seems to be many, many more than expected. ”

Simulating DNA-like molecules

The authors designed a computer program to generate chemical formulas for molecules similar to nucleic acids. In DNA, nucleotides are joined in different pairs and joined in a line, so scientists made sure that their generated molecules could be formed in the same way. In the end, his program gathered more than 1,160,000 different molecules that met these basic criteria.

Markus meringer, chemist at German Aerospace Center in Cologne, said in a statement:

“We were surprised by the result of this calculation. It would be very difficult to estimate a priori that there are more than one million scaffolds similar to nucleic acids. Now we know, and we can start analyzing some of these in the laboratory. ”

Credit: PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

The multitude of similarities can clarify the story of how life arose on Earth, before DNA and RNA dominated the world of biology. Theoretically, evolution may have performed “tests” with some of these other molecules before establishing nucleic acids as the best carriers of genetic data, the authors suggested.

The similar ones can also boost future medical advances, they added. According to the statement, drugs that resemble nucleotides are already used to undermine dangerous viruses and malignant cancer cells in the human body. With a library of structurally similar molecules at hand, drug developers could adopt similar DNA as an important weapon in the fight against disease.

Pieter Burger, biochemist of the Emory University said in a statement:

It is absolutely fascinating to think that through the use of modern computational techniques we could find new medicines by looking for alternative molecules to DNA and RNA that can store hereditary information. ”

The scientific study has been published in Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling.

Source: Live science

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Science & Technology

Facebook patented hand tracking system

Facebook patented hand tracking with finger emitters.

Facebook Technologies / USPTO, 2020

Facebook has patented a hand tracking system using small transponders at the ends of the fingers. The patent describes a glove with several emitters and a receiving system that distinguishes the signals from each emitter, calculates their location and restores the shape of the hand. The Patently Apple website drew attention to the patent.

Motion capture systems are often used when shooting movies, as well as in virtual reality. There are several standard tracking methods. For professional projects, an external system is often used, which consists of high-speed infrared cameras on the walls and infrared markers on clothes.

This is a rather inconvenient and extremely expensive system, so home VR systems usually use gloves that track the pose of the hand, and a separate massive beacon on the arm that allows the base station near the computer to track its location. Also recently, hand tracking systems using cameras and machine vision algorithms have begun to develop. In particular, at the end of 2019, such a feature appeared in Oculus Quest, which is being developed by a Facebook-owned company.

In a new patent, Facebook engineers described a method for tracking brush poses across multiple emitters. It is assumed that the system will consist of two parts: a glove and a tracking station nearby, for example, on a table near a computer or set-top box. The glove contains several transponders operating on millimeter waves. They can be located at the ends of the fingers, as well as on other parts of the brush for more precise tracking.

System diagram Facebook Technologies / USPTO, 2020

The tracking station has several antennas. They emit signals towards the glove, and transponders emit response signals. After this, the antennas receive response signals, using triangulation, they calculate the location of the transponders and create a three-dimensional model of the brush. The authors note that the signals can be modulated by time, frequency, or changed by other parameters so that they are unique for each transponder and facilitate the task of creating a model.

Glove diagram with transponders Facebook Technologies / USPTO, 2020

In recent years, many miniature emitters for the millimeter radio band have appeared. Most often they are  offered to be used for communication of the 5G standard (mmWave range), as well as in compact radars for smartphones and smart watches.

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Science & Technology

Do Advanced Extraterrestrial Civilizations extract energy from black holes?

Researchers from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow in the UK have proven a half-century hypothesis that suggests that technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations could potentially extract energy from spinning black holes. An article by researchers is published in the journal Nature Physics.

In 1969, the British physicist Roger Penrose suggested that aliens can extract energy from a rotating black hole due to the fact that particles or waves flying through the ergosphere take away the energy of rotation of the black hole (this phenomenon became known as the Penrose process). 

The Soviet physicist Yakov Zeldovich developed this idea and put forward the hypothesis that a rapidly rotating cylinder is capable of amplifying the “swirling” electromagnetic waves incident on it (that is, having a certain orbital angular momentum), including quantum fluctuations in a vacuum. 

However, this effect has not yet been experimentally verified, since the cylinder had to rotate at a frequency of at least a billion times per second.

In a new work, scientists for the first time managed to observe the Zeldovich effect, achieved using acoustic waves with a frequency of 60 hertz. 

During the experiment, the researchers installed 16 speakers in the form of a ring and directed the sound toward a rotating disk made of noise-absorbing foam. In this case, the acoustic waves from one speaker lagged behind in phase from the waves from another speaker, which made it possible to simulate the orbital angular momentum. Conditions satisfying the Zeldovich effect were achieved by rotating the disk with a frequency of only 15-30 revolutions per second.

The experimental results confirmed that low-frequency modes can be amplified by up to 30 percent, passing through the noise-absorbing layer of the disk. As the speed of the disk increases, the frequency of sound waves decreases due to the Doppler effect, however, when a certain speed is reached, it again returns to its previous value, while the volume (i.e. the amplitude) increases. This is due to the fact that the waves took part of the rotational energy from the disk.

The Penrose process occurs when the body has two parts, one of which falls beyond the horizon of events. If two fragments have certain speeds, a special position relative to each other and fly along the correct paths, then the fall of one fragment transfers the energy to the other part, greater than the energy that the body had originally.

 For an outside observer, it looks as if the body was divided into a part with positive energy and a part with “negative energy”, which when falling beyond the horizon reduces the angular momentum of the black hole. As a result, the first fragment takes off from the ergosphere, “taking” the energy of rotation of the black hole.

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Science & Technology

What if we could create antigravitу?

Are уou tired of cramped citу life? Then anti-gravitу is just what уou need! We still don’t know the technologу, but if we do, it will completelу change our world.

How can this change the waу we build our cities? Whу would this allow us to travel further into space? And how can this help us colonize alien worlds?

According to astronomers, gravitу is “the force bу which a planet or other bodу pulls objects to its center. We reallу don’t know whу gravitу behaves like this; we just know that this is so, and that’s all we need for this.

As we talk about things that we know too little about, let’s get to know her better. Antigravitу, as the name implies, is a hуpothetical means of counteracting the effects of gravitу.

Although manу scholars saу this is not possible, this does not stop us from reasoning. But if we ever find out, we will have to delve into an even more mуsterious part of our universe – antimatter.

To understand what antimatter is and how it relates to antigravitу, we will go back during the Big Bang. When the Big Bang occurred, he created matter and antimatter. Matter consists of atoms – the building blocks of chemical elements such as helium, oxуgen and hуdrogen.

Inside the atoms уou will find particles, such as protons, which have a positive electric charge, and electrons, which usuallу have a negative charge. For antimatter, the electric charge of these particles is reversed.

This led to some speculations that other properties will also be changed, such as how theу react to gravitу. We could not verifу how antimatter reacts to gravitу – for now. However, some theories saу that when we do this, we will find that antimatter particles do not fall, giving us our first real example of antigravitу.

If so, this could lead to a scientific and technological revolution. We could theoreticallу use antimatter to develop technologу that protects people or objects from gravitational forces. In other words, we can make so manу things float in the air.

So what would we do with this crazу technologу? Well, firstlу, there should be hoverboards, right? We’re talking about real hoverboards that don’t touch the ground!

We could build floating cities to accommodate our ever-growing population. Massive structures can be suspended over ponds or rockу terrain that we could not build. But perhaps we will see the greatest importance of anti-gravitу technologу, if we look even further – at the stars.

Space travel will be much safer and cheaper. Space shuttles will not need rocket fuel to launch from our atmosphere. Instead, we could just stop the effects of gravitу on them.

Antigravitу will not onlу help us get to space; It can also help us find a new home there. We no longer need to worrу about planets with gravitу too strong for human habitation, since we can simplу use antigravitу to protect ourselves from it.

Yes, we understand that there is a lot of unknown and hуpothetical with this, but here’s what happens when we talk about something as mуsterious as antimatter.

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