Okay fine, I’m not melting, I just feel like it.
Anyway, if you want to know what’s happening around a neighborhood, it’s usually a good bet to talk to the garbage man (or woman); so today, science opens by investigating your brain’s trash truck. It will then find out why volcanoes in Japan in Chile have sunk, speculate on the cellular intelligence of plants, and approach the edge of the universe.
The brain’s waste removal system could hold a key to diseases like Alzheimer’s
The lymphatic system keeps the body clean, but doesn’t extend to the brain—a fact that has long left science a bit in the dark about how the illustrious organ handles its “garbage.” But last August, two-photon microscopy revealed the glymphatic system: a network of vessels parallel to the pathways that bring blood into the brain, through which cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) pumps through the brain to flush out cellular waste and excess proteins.
Now, researchers believe this system likely prevents the buildup of products like amyloid protein plaques that cause alzheimer's. In fact, the malfunctioning of this system could be a major factor in the development of alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, which are associated with the accumulation of waste products in the brain. Researchers hope that developing ways to modulate this glymphatic system could be a tool for treatment.
2010 and 2011 mega-quakes made volcanoes drop as much as 6 inches, study shows
After the Tohoku and Maule quakes in Japan and Chile, scientists independently researching near each quake site found signs of sinking volcanoes. They’re not sure of the exact cause, but researchers suspect that the quaking caused magma and heat-weakened rocks to settle underneath.
In other toasty news, Alaska’s Pavlof Volcano (which spewed a plume of ash that astronauts photographed from the International Space Station in May), erupted early Tuesday, spitting ash 5 miles into the sky and disrupting flights.
Plants “do math” to make sure they stay fed all night
British researchers found that plants regulate their consumption of starch reserves throughout the night to make sure they last almost precisely until dawn. (Previously, scientists thought plants simply broke down starch at a fixed rate at night.) The Arabidopsis thaliana, the plant used in the experiment, was also able to “recalculate” its consumption on the fly when the night came unexpectedly early. This Scientific American post has a pretty interesting take on this.
Data says NASA’s Voyager 1 may soon be leaving our solar system
The Voyager 1 is now more than 11 billion miles from the sun, and it’s on track to become the first human-made object to reach interstellar space. The Voyager 1 has entered an area called the “magnetic highway,” where it’s been detecting the highest rate so far of charged particles from outside the heliosphere—a huge magnetic bubble around our sun. Researchers say the voyager could pop out of this bubble from months to years from now.