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Study reveals continuous pathway to building blocks of life

Researchers have long sought to understand the origins of life on Earth. A new study conducted by scientists at the Institute for Advanced Study, the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI), and the University of New South Wales, among other participating institutions, marks an important step forward in the effort to understand the chemical origins of life. The findings of this study demonstrate how “continuous reaction networks” are capable of producing RNA precursors and possibly ultimately RNA itself—a critical bridge to life. The study is published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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What can we do to preserve our cleaner air?

In the past weeks, there have been dozens of scientific papers and thousands of news articles that focus on the links between this pandemic and air pollution. Dramatic work lockdowns and decreases in travel and in industry have significantly reduced air pollution to unexpectedly low levels. Major cities that suffer from the world’s worst air pollution have seen reductions of deadly particulate matter by up to 60 percent from the previous year. Cities studied, including New Delhi, Seoul, Tel Aviv, Wuhan and Mumbai, saw significant improvements in air quality as a result of the quarantines. Satellite images of the U.S. have revealed dramatic changes across the country and especially in the northeast. People in India can see the Himalayas for the first time in decades as the lockdown eases air pollution.

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Plasma medicine research highlights antibacterial effects and potential uses

As interest in the application of plasma medicine—the use of low-temperature plasma (LTP) created by an electrical discharge to address medical problems—continues to grow, so does the need for research advancements proving its capabilities and potential impacts on the health care industry. Across the world, many research groups are investigating plasma medicine for applications including cancer treatment and the accelerated healing of chronic wounds, among others.

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Tree trunks take a licking as koalas source water

Koalas are one of the world’s most charismatic animals. But there is a lot we still don’t know about them. For example, how do the marsupials access water in the treetops? Do they only absorb moisture from the gum leaves they eat? Or do they come down from the trees to drink from a waterhole? Until now, no one really knew.

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