Variations of a single gene drive diverse pigeon feather patterns

In a new study, a University of Utah-led team has discovered that different versions of a single gene, called NDP (Norrie Disease Protein), have unexpected links between color patterns in pigeons, and vision defects in humans. These gene variations were likely bred into pigeons by humans from a different pigeon species and are now evolutionarily advantageous in wild populations of feral pigeons living in urban environments.

The biologists analyzed the genomes of … Read more

VERITAS SUPPLIES CRITICAL PIECE TO NEUTRINO DISCOVERY PUZZLE

The VERITAS array has confirmed the detection of high-energy gamma rays from the vicinity of a supermassive black hole located in a distant galaxy, TXS 0506+056. While these detections are relatively common for VERITAS, this blackhole is potentially the first known astrophysical source of high-energy cosmic neutrinos, a type of ghostly subatomic particle that can be made at astrophysical sources of ultra-high energy cosmic rays.

The University of Utah is one … Read more

That sound makes me dizzy

For some people, certain sounds like a trumpet blowing a particular tone can make them dizzy, and it’s not because they’re giddy from a Wynton Marsalis melody.

It has been estimated that 1 in 100 people around the world have a congenital inner ear condition known as semicircular canal dehiscence, a thinning of the bone enclosing the inner ear that can lead to vertigo in response to certain sounds, changes in … Read more

How Antifreeze Proteins Stop Ice Cold

How do insects survive harsh northern winters? Unlike mammals, they don’t have thick coats of fur to keep warm. But they do have antifreeze. Antifreeze proteins (AFPs) prevent ice from forming and spreading inside their bodies.

The existence of these AFPs has been known for decades, but the mechanisms governing this unique survival technique have proven difficult to determine. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of … Read more

Physicists uncover why nanomaterial loses superconductivity

The struggle to keep drinks cold during the summer is a lesson in classical phase transitions. To study phase transitions, apply heat to a substance and watch how its properties change. Add heat to water and at the so-called “critical point,” watch as it transforms into a gas (steam). Remove heat from water and watch it turn into a solid (ice).

Now, imagine that you’ve cooled everything down to very low … Read more

Utah soil’s slippery grip on nutrients

Lawns in the Salt Lake Valley up to 100 years old are not yet saturated in the nutrient nitrogen, which is added by fertilizer, according to a new study from University of Utah researchers. The result is surprising, since previous studies in the Eastern U.S. suggested that fertilized soil would become saturated with nitrogen within a few decades.

Something different is happening in Salt Lake’s soils, according to postdoctoral researcher Rose … Read more