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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: How to Make an Egg
12 July 2010 4:24 pm
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Scientists aren't any closer to answering that question, but they have figured out how the egg forms. According to a study published this month in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, a protein called OC-17 provides the catalyst for one of nature's most elegant creations. Researchers used a computer simulation to track the formation of eggshells, which are composed mostly of calcium carbonate. In the simulation, the OC-17 protein (illustration, left), which is found only in the hard part of the eggshell, clamps its molecular fingers onto a microscopic particle of calcium carbonate (right). That creates a nucleus, from which the calcium carbonate can crystallize. When the particle nucleus gets big enough, OC-17 can no longer hold onto it. The molecule's fingers detach, leaving it free to grab onto another nucleus and repeat the process. The chain reaction continues until the eggshell has formed. The research, says the team, could someday help scientists grow other types of crystals, such as those needed to house quantum computers or superconducting materials.
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