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    Avian egg shape: Form, function, and evolution - Avian egg shape is generally explained as an adaptation to life history, yet we currently lack a global synthesis of how egg-shape differences arise and evolve. Here, we apply morphometric, mechanistic, and macroevolutionary analyses to the egg shapes of 1400 bird species. We characterize egg-shape diversity in terms of two biologically relevant variables, asymmetry and ellipticity, allowing us to quantify the observed morphologies in a two-dime...
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    Quantum and isotope effects in lithium metal - The crystal structure of elements at zero pressure and temperature is the most fundamental information in condensed matter physics. For decades it has been believed that lithium, the simplest metallic element, has a complicated ground-state crystal structure. Using synchrotron x-ray diffraction in diamond anvil cells and multiscale simulations with density functional theory and molecular dynamics, we show that the previously accepted martensitic...
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    Breaking Lorentz reciprocity to overcome the time-bandwidth limit in physics and engineering - A century-old tenet in physics and engineering asserts that any type of system, having bandwidth , can interact with a wave over only a constrained time period t inversely proportional to the bandwidth (t· ~ 2). This law severely limits the generic capabilities of all types of resonant and wave-guiding systems in photonics, cavity quantum electrodynamics and optomechanics, acoustics, continuum mechanics, and atomic and optical physics but...
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    Quantum correlations from a room-temperature optomechanical cavity - The act of position measurement alters the motion of an object being measured. This quantum measurement backaction is typically much smaller than the thermal motion of a room-temperature object and thus difficult to observe. By shining laser light through a nanomechanical beam, we measure the beam’s thermally driven vibrations and perturb its motion with optical force fluctuations at a level dictated by the Heisenberg measurement-disturban...
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    On the generation of solar spicules and Alfvenic waves - In the lower solar atmosphere, the chromosphere is permeated by jets known as spicules, in which plasma is propelled at speeds of 50 to 150 kilometers per second into the corona. The origin of the spicules is poorly understood, although they are expected to play a role in heating the million-degree corona and are associated with Alfvénic waves that help drive the solar wind. We compare magnetohydrodynamic simulations of spicules with obse...
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    A catalytic fluoride-rebound mechanism for C(sp3)-CF3 bond formation - The biological properties of trifluoromethyl compounds have led to their ubiquity in pharmaceuticals, yet their chemical properties have made their preparation a substantial challenge, necessitating innovative chemical solutions. We report the serendipitous discovery of a borane-catalyzed formal C(sp3)-CF3 reductive elimination from Au(III) that accesses these compounds by a distinct mechanism proceeding via fluoride abstraction, migratory inser...
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    Metalloprotein entatic control of ligand-metal bonds quantified by ultrafast x-ray spectroscopy - The multifunctional protein cytochrome c (cyt c) plays key roles in electron transport and apoptosis, switching function by modulating bonding between a heme iron and the sulfur in a methionine residue. This Fe–S(Met) bond is too weak to persist in the absence of protein constraints. We ruptured the bond in ferrous cyt c using an optical laser pulse and monitored the bond reformation within the protein active site using ultrafast x-ray pul...
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    Human-in-the-loop optimization of exoskeleton assistance during walking - Exoskeletons and active prostheses promise to enhance human mobility, but few have succeeded. Optimizing device characteristics on the basis of measured human performance could lead to improved designs. We have developed a method for identifying the exoskeleton assistance that minimizes human energy cost during walking. Optimized torque patterns from an exoskeleton worn on one ankle reduced metabolic energy consumption by 24.2 ± 7.4% comp...
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    Mitotic chromosome assembly despite nucleosome depletion in Xenopus egg extracts - The nucleosome is the fundamental structural unit of eukaryotic chromatin. During mitosis, duplicated nucleosome fibers are organized into a pair of rod-shaped structures (chromatids) within a mitotic chromosome. However, it remains unclear whether nucleosome assembly is indeed an essential prerequisite for mitotic chromosome assembly. We combined mouse sperm nuclei and Xenopus cell-free egg extracts depleted of the histone chaperone Asf1 and fo...
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    Local protein kinase A action proceeds through intact holoenzymes - Hormones can transmit signals through adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cAMP) to precise intracellular locations. The fidelity of these responses relies on the activation of localized protein kinase A (PKA) holoenzymes. Association of PKA regulatory type II (RII) subunits with A-kinase–anchoring proteins (AKAPs) confers location, and catalytic (C) subunits phosphorylate substrates. Single-particle electron microscopy demonstrated that AKAP79 ...
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    Assembly principles and structure of a 6.5-MDa bacterial microcompartment shell - Many bacteria contain primitive organelles composed entirely of protein. These bacterial microcompartments share a common architecture of an enzymatic core encapsulated in a selectively permeable protein shell; prominent examples include the carboxysome for CO2 fixation and catabolic microcompartments found in many pathogenic microbes. The shell sequesters enzymatic reactions from the cytosol, analogous to the lipid-based membrane of eukaryotic ...
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    Chemical transformation of xenobiotics by the human gut microbiota - The human gut microbiota makes key contributions to the metabolism of ingested compounds (xenobiotics), transforming hundreds of dietary components, industrial chemicals, and pharmaceuticals into metabolites with altered activities, toxicities, and lifetimes within the body. The chemistry of gut microbial xenobiotic metabolism is often distinct from that of host enzymes. Despite their important consequences for human biology, the gut microbes, g...
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    An environment-dependent transcriptional network specifies human microglia identity - Microglia play essential roles in central nervous system (CNS) homeostasis and influence diverse aspects of neuronal function. However, the transcriptional mechanisms that specify human microglia phenotypes are largely unknown. We examined the transcriptomes and epigenetic landscapes of human microglia isolated from surgically resected brain tissue ex vivo and after transition to an in vitro environment. Transfer to a tissue culture environment ...
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    A global brain state underlies C. elegans sleep behavior - How the brain effectively switches between and maintains global states, such as sleep and wakefulness, is not yet understood. We used brainwide functional imaging at single-cell resolution to show that during the developmental stage of lethargus, the Caenorhabditis elegans brain is predisposed to global quiescence, characterized by systemic down-regulation of neuronal activity. Only a few specific neurons are exempt from this effect. In the abse...
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