Astrocytes are star-shaped cells in the brain and spinal cord that play a role in many functions. Depending on where they are, they oversee things like gluconeogenesis, provide neurons with lactate, regulate ion concentration, repair the nervous system, and generally maintain homeostasis in the brain. Research has shown that disruption to astrocyte function contributes to worsening Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
If only we could award Nobel Prizes to bacteria, this year’s prize in Chemistry would have gone to them. But since these microorganisms do not have hands to accept the award or bank accounts to put money in, the winners went to humans. Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna wrote in a 2012 paper that the adaptive immune systems of prokaryotes, also known as CRISPR, could be used to “rewrite the code of life”. And that right now, opened up even more doors for the genetic engineering community.
Despite all the poetry out there about eyes, these sensory organs simply help living things find food or spot predators. From the simplest “eye” to the most complex ones, they do their part to give organisms a competitive edge. Human peepers are pretty good, but they’re not the best. Like most appendages, we only evolve body parts that are just decent enough, but not exactly perfect.
Kidneys are versatile things, both inside and outside your body. When they’re connected to blood vessels, they act as a filter and regulate blood pressure. But sometimes, removing them is necessary so that someone else can use them. Other times, these bean-shaped organs are taken out to make a lovely tapas dish or pie. Don’t worry, when it comes to food, we’re not talking about human ones.
The atom is the smallest unit of matter. Everything around you is made out of atoms, including cells and molecules. You might think that something so tiny isn’t worth the time to get to know, but have you ever wondered why “stuff” looks and behaves differently? Turns out, it has to do with the atoms. A quick scan of the periodic table might seem like taking a walk through Times Square - colorful, crowded, and confusing. But the periodic table is just an organizational chart for atoms. Using this tool, you can spot patterns in the way atoms behave.