Here is some of the most interesting research to have appeared in top science journals last week
2000-year-old water filter
About 2000 years ago at the Maya city of Tikal, in northern Guatemala the residents had a sophisticated water filter system. Special X-ray analysis and radiocarbon ages showed that drinking water in the Corriental reservoir — an important source of drinking water — was filtered through a mixture of zeolite and crystalline quartz. These minerals are used in modern water filtration.
Say Hi to exoplanets that may be seeing us
Researchers have identified 1,004 stars (similar to our sun) that might contain planets with habitable zones and which should be able to see Earth as a transiting exoplanet. “If observers were out there searching, they would be able to see signs of a biosphere in the atmosphere of our Pale Blue Dot,” notes Lisa Kaltenegger, director of Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute in a release.
Paint it white
A new cool solution for hot buildings — white paint developed using calcium carbonate fillers. Researchers show that the paint has a high solar reflectance of 95.5%. The team conducted a field test for two days and found that the painted area stayed 10°C below the ambient temperature at night, and at least 1.7°C below the ambient temperature at peak noon.
A universal flu vaccine?
Antibodies that can bind to more than one distinct antigen are called polyreactive and these could help develop a universal vaccine against influenza virus. By analysing more than 500 antibodies induced by various influenza vaccines and infections, the team was able to find the antibodies that were polyreactive. More studies will determine if these antibodies can be leveraged safely to produce the vaccine.
Because I’m happy
The happy hormone serotonin has now been found to have another function — it can act as a growth factor in the developing human neocortex. The team writes that this finding may help explain how malfunctions of serotonin during fetal brain development can lead to congenital disorders and may suggest novel approaches for therapeutic avenues.