Nature Middle East | House of Wisdom

NME’s weekly science dose (August 9-15)

The mystery of why the universe contains more matter than antimatter has long puzzled physicists. The standard model of physics predicts that an equal number of particles and antiparticles should have formed soon after the big bang, cancelling each other out and thereby stopping the “content” of the universe (galaxies, stars, planets, etc.) from forming.

Trying to explain this discrepancy, a group of physicists based in Egypt and Mexico have proposed the existence of a new type of particles, called “right-handed neutrinos”. This hypothesized particle is predicted to break down into particles, but not antiparticles — leaving behind more matter than antimatter. But the idea presents some challenges and presupposes an as yet hypothetical extension of the Standard Model: string theory. Read more about this interesting new research here.

In other news, the diodes that light up our streets and panels (LEDs) are apparently in for metamorphic upgrade: researchers—including Safae Aazou from Morocco—have made an ultra-thin, highly flexible and stretchable variety of them. These “polymeric” LEDs are engineered by sandwiching a thin layer of semiconductor photo-emitting material between a metal and a transparent organic electrode, all fixed on top of a thicker flexible polymeric substrate.

This allows the diode to be bent and stretched while still working properly. The entire setup does not exceed two micrometers in thickness. More details here.

Beyond the hood

Here’s a story that’s sure to let the “don’t play God” squad cringe: glow in the dark rabbits. They’ve been bred at the University of Istanbul. And no they don’t run on Energizer batteries.

Out of a litter of eight, the research team (from Turkey and Hawaii) have produced two rabbits that look like normal fluffy bunnies in the light, but glow an eerie green in the dark. The goal of the study was to demonstrate that a particular genetic manipulation technique works effectively—the hope being that it can then be used to develop new medicines.

To create the glowing effect, the researchers injected jellyfish DNA into a female rabbit’s embryos. These were then placed back into the mother, with the effect being that out of its eight offspring, two glow in the dark. Have a look at this extraordinary video of these rabbits.


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