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Latest University of Zurich Stories

Plants Mimic Scent Of Pollinating Beetles
2012-04-04 03:33:16

The color and scent of flowers and their perception by pollinator insects are believed to have evolved in the course of mutual adaptation. However, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Zurich has now proved that this is not the case with the arum family at least, which evolved its scent analogously to the pre-existing scents of scarab beetles and thus adapted to the beetles unilaterally. The mutual adaptation between plants and pollinators therefore does not always take place....

Chimpanzees Have Policemen, Too
2012-03-09 03:05:12

Conflicts are inevitable wherever there is cohabitation. This is no different with our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. Sound conflict management is crucial for group cohesion. Individuals in chimpanzee communities also ensure that there is peace and order in their group. This form of conflict management is called "policing" — the impartial intervention of a third party in a conflict. Until now, this morally motivated behavior in chimpanzees was only ever documented anecdotally....

2012-03-09 00:04:50

Most plants live in symbiosis with soil fungi and are supplied with water and nutrients as a result. Based on the petunia, plant biologists at the University of Zurich have now discovered that a special transport protein is required to establish this symbiotic relationship. The targeted control of this protein could lead to greater harvests. About 80 percent of all terrestrial plants enter into a symbiotic relationship with fungi living in the soil. The fungi provide the plant with water,...

Image 1 - Global Permafrost Zones Shown In High-res Google Earth Images
2012-02-21 10:07:16

Thawing permafrost will have far-reaching ramifications for populated areas, infrastructure and ecosystems. A geographer from the University of Zurich reveals where it is important to confront the issue based on new permafrost maps -- the most precise global maps around. They depict the global distribution of permafrost in high-resolution images and are available on Google Earth. Unstable cable-car and electricity pylons and rock fall — Alpine countries like Switzerland have already...

2012-02-10 11:51:48

How would you rate your health? This is a question that often appears on questionnaires. The answer is linked to the respondent's probability of survival or death. Needless to say, a pessimistic assessment goes hand in hand with an increased risk of illness or death. It can be assumed that on average people who rate their health as poor have an unhealthier lifestyle, are often in a fragile state of health or are already sick. However, earlier studies that only monitored the participants for a...

2012-01-13 12:00:39

More than half of all cases of dementia in the elderly can be attributed to Alzheimer's disease. Despite vast research efforts, an effective therapy has not been developed, and treatment consists of dealing with the symptoms. Changes in brain tissues are a hallmark of Alzheimer's. In affected individuals, small protein fragments known as amyloid beta peptides accumulate and are deposited in the gray brain matter. Researchers recently identified a series of synthetic compounds (inhibitors)...

2011-12-28 07:48:27

Oxidative stress is the cause of many serious diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, arteriosclerosis and diabetes. It occurs when the body is exposed to excessive amounts of electrically charged, aggressive oxygen compounds. These are normally produced during breathing and other metabolic processes, but also in the case of ongoing stress, exposure to UV light or X-rays. If the oxidative stress is too high, it overwhelms the body's natural defenses. The aggressive oxygen compounds destroy...

Image 1 - Low-mass Star Detected In Globular Cluster
2011-12-16 04:21:18

Even the most powerful high-tech telescopes are barely able to record remote low-mass and thus faint stars. Together with researchers from Poland and Chile, an astrophysicist from the University of Zurich has now detected a low-mass star in globular cluster M22 for the first time through microlensing. The result indicates that the overall mass of globular clusters might well be explained without enigmatic dark matter. Until now, it was merely assumed that low-mass and therefore extremely...

2011-12-01 19:04:41

About two percent of all children suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which consists of obsessive thoughts and acts. Obsessive thoughts are intrusive thoughts such as fear or contamination, injury or violent notions that are perceived to be pointless or distressing. Obsessive acts are ritualized acts that have to be repeated frequently, such as washing one's hands, asking questions, counting, touching, checking or collecting. Without treatment, OCD often has serious consequences,...

2011-11-23 12:12:02

Blossom end rot on tomatoes and cucumbers, bitter-pit in apples — these unpleasant blemishes on fruits and vegetables not only compromises the flavor but also causes significant harvest losses every year. The characteristic blotches and spotting can be traced back to insufficient calcium uptake or faulty calcium transport within the plant. Consequently, the damage can occur even if the soil provides sufficient calcium. A team under the leadership of scientists from the University of...


Word of the Day
kenspeckle
  • Having so marked an appearance as easily to be recognized.
This word may come from the Swedish 'kanspak,' quick at recognizing persons or things, or else from confusion with 'conspicuous.'