Prehistoric herpes, old octopus lures and ultrasound stickers

The prehistoric roots of the cold sore herpes virus

Human herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is the common cause of cold sores and lip sores and is valued to infect 3.7 billion people under the age of 50. Now, recently ancient genomes suggest that the herpes virus strain behind facial herpes emerged around five thousand years ago.

Previously, genetic data on herpes only dated back to 1925, but researchers were able to extract samples from the remains of four ancient individuals spanning a thousand-year period – the oldest of which dated back to the late 1900s. Iron Age about 1,500 years ago.

One of the ancient herpes DNA samples used in the study came from a 26- to 35-year-old man excavated near the banks of the Rhine. The man was an avid clay pipe smoker. Traces of the habit are visible in several places on the teeth, where the hard clay pipe, usually placed in the same place in the mouth, has worn away the teeth. Credit: Dr. Barbara Veselka

“By comparing ancient DNA with herpes samples from the 20th century, we were able to analyze the differences and estimate a mutation rate, and therefore a timeline for the evolution of the virus,” explains co-lead author, Dr Lucy van Dorp from the Institute of Genetics at University College London in the UK.

This calculation led to the estimate that 5,000 years ago something happened that allowed one strain of herpes to overtake all others. The authors of the new study, published in Scientists progresssuggest that it may have coincided with the arrival of a new cultural practice introduced from the east: romantic and sexual kissing.

Stickers that can see inside the body

Engineers have designed a tampon-sized device that sticks to the skin and can provide continuous ultrasound imaging of internal organs for 48 hours – according to a new study published in Science.

The ultrasound sticker produces high-resolution images by combining a stretchable adhesive layer with a rigid array of transducers. The adhesive layer consists of two thin layers of elastomer encapsulating a middle layer of solid hydrogel. Ultrasonic transducers convert electrical energy into sound energy and vice versa to produce and detect sound waves.

“This combination allows the device to conform to the skin while maintaining the relative location of the transducers to generate clearer, more accurate images,” says co-lead author Chonghe Wang, a mechanical engineering doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute. of Technology, in the United States.

The current design requires the stickers to be connected to instruments that translate reflected sound waves into images, but the team is working on wireless devices that could be wearable imaging products for patients.

ultrasonic sticker
MIT engineers have designed an adhesive patch that produces ultrasound images of the body. The tampon-sized device adheres to the skin and can provide continuous ultrasound imaging of internal organs for 48 hours. Credit: Felice Frankel

Simulate fluid flow faster

Modeling the behavior of liquids is important for a wide range of applications, from industrial processes and medical devices to computer graphics and visual simulations. But accurately simulating liquid flow remains one of the most computationally challenging aspects of real-world modeling, as it involves accurately calculating complex and time-varying pressure distributions in the liquid. .

Today, researchers have made a significant breakthrough in computational speed for modeling viscous liquids, by combining efficient mathematics with the low-level parallel computing capabilities of modern computer processors, according to a new study in ACM transactions on charts.

“In this research, we propose the algebraic multigrid method of unsmoothed aggregation as a sophisticated multigrid framework that fully utilizes the features of the modern processor and introduces new numerical methods,” explains co-author Han Shao, PhD student in applied mathematics and Computer Science at King Abdullah. University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia.

“Our framework can be used immediately by industrial users for faster simulation, using the code available on our project’s website.”

A state-of-the-art method for modeling the behavior of liquids described by KAUST researchers represents a breakthrough in computational speed for viscous liquids. Credit: © 2022 KAUST

The oldest octopus lures in the world

Archaeologists have determined that cowrie artifacts found in the Mariana Islands of Western Micronesia are 3,500-year-old decoys for hunting octopus. Similar versions of the lures have been found on islands in the Pacific before, but these are the oldest known examples of their kind.

Decoys use at least a piece of cowrie (Cypraea) – a type of sea snail – tied onto a sinking stone, which is then thrown into the water and manipulated by an attached fiber line. The shell cap and an attached stick mimic the octopus’ favorite snail food, attracting it and activating a hook on the lure or being caught by a spear, net or by hand.

Radiocarbon dating of archaeological soil layers was used to confirm the age of the artifacts, which were excavated between 2011 and 2016. The research was published in the review World archeology.

octopus lures
(Top image) A recreated example of an ancient octopus lure from Tonga housed in the Pitt Rivers Museum in England. The lure is made up of two pierced cowries each, tied to a stone ballast using a fiber cord. (Bottom images) Exterior and interior views of cowrie-shell octopus decoys from (left to right) House of Taga on the Northern Mariana Island of Tinian, 1100–500 BC. Unai Bapot on the Northern Mariana Island of Saipan, 1500-1100 BC; and the House of Taga at Tinian, 1500-1100 BC. Mariana Islands image courtesy of Micronesian Area Research Center, University of Guam.

Ice sheet geology could accelerate ice loss

A new study Posted in nature geoscience suggests that Antarctic ice streams are more vulnerable to rapid ice loss and retreat than previously thought. Researchers from the University of Western Australia, CSIRO and the University of Tasmania studied Antarctic subglacial geology along the continent’s Amundsen and Siple coasts, Wilkes Land and reclamation areas , and found sedimentary basins under the ice at low positions in the earth’s crust. These basins contain large volumes of groundwater. As glaciers retreat, the basins can drain groundwater, which in turn leads to an increased rate of ice loss. Rising global ocean and surface temperatures due to climate change are responsible for the loss of an average of 150 billion tonnes of ice each year. The melting of the ice is in turn adding to the continued rise in sea level.

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