This Week in Science – Science Magazine

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Directed evolution has transformed a simple oligomeric protein into a massive, capsid-like structure capable of packaging its own encoding RNA.

Artificial nucleocapsid proteins, which could be analogous to those used by viruses to package their genomes, are a promising way to protect and deliver RNAs. Using an escalating challenge by nucleases, Tetter et al. evolved a protein that forms multimeric, spherical cages into a highly efficient capsid that selectively packages its own encoding RNA. Cryo’electron microscopy of the final design and intermediates revealed a stepwise expansion in size, enabled by destabilizing amino acid substitutions and a domain swap that results in a change of oligomerization interfaces for the base units of the cage. In addition to altering the protein, directed evolution resulted in changes to the encoding RNA structure that enabled efficient uptake versus other cellular RNAs.

Publisher: Science
Date: 2021-06-11
Reference: Visit Source (Read Article)

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See the ‘ring of fire’ solar eclipse captured in stunning, fiery photos

Sunrise was pretty weird for a large chunk of the eastern part of North America on Thursday. Depending on your location, the sun may have looked like a crescent, more akin to a waxing or waning moon than the sun.

This effect is thanks to a partial solar eclipse, when the darkened disc of the moon aligns itself between Earth and the sun to block out some or nearly all of it, depending on when and where you view the phenomenon. Such an event is a bonanza for photographers.

Because the timing of this eclipse lined up with sunrise over much of the US eastern seaboard, many great images got’ captured facing east with a wide open horizon. Some landmarks, like the Delaware Breakwater Lighthouse seen below, also add some nice perspective.

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Cutting shipping air pollution may cause water pollution, and keeping air clean with lightning

News Staff Writer Erik Stokstad joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss possible harms from how the shipping industry is responding to air pollution regulations’instead of pumping health-harming chemicals into the air, they are now being dumped into oceans.

Also this week, William Brune, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, talks about flying a plane into thunderstorms and how measurements from research flights revealed the surprising amount of air-cleaning oxidants created by lightning.

Publisher: Science | AAAS
Date: 2021-05-07T11:36:07-04:00
Author: jcole
Twitter: @newsfromscience
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The Latest Science Scores Are Out. The News Isn’t Good for Schools

Fewer than 1 in 4 high school seniors and a little more than a third of 4th and 8th graders performed proficiently in science in 2019, according to national test results out this week.

‘The 4th grade scores were concerning,’ said Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers NAEP. ‘Whether we’re looking at the average scores or the performance by percentiles, it is clear that many students were struggling with science.’

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The percentage of 4th graders performing below the basic achievement level in science rose significantly in the last decade, to 27 percent, while the percentage at or above the ‘proficient’ level fell in the same time, to 36 percent. (The proportions for grades 8 and 12 remained flat; a third of 8th graders were ‘below basic,’ and slightly more were at or above proficient, while nearly twice as many 12th graders fell below basic as met the proficient benchmark, 41 percent to 22 percent, respectively.)

Publisher: Education Week
Date: 2021-05-25T04:01:42.95
Author: Sarah D Sparks
Twitter: @educationweek
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Greetings Earthlings: Those crazy UFOs again! The data presented above may one day be zapped to another dimension. Just thought you should be aware. Dude, there was a blue light over there just now.