Among the work published by HBCU researchers last month were studies of the health benefits of alcohol, the merits of “super sap,” and the mathematics of mud.
Genes, regulation, and the 99%. Delores Grant and her colleagues at North Carolina Central University are finding value in junk DNA. Though it makes up 99% of our genome, junk DNA is so called because it doesn’t encode for genes. Nonetheless, it can influence which genes get turned on and off, and when. In a new paper, the NCCU team reviews techniques for determining which junk DNA sequences influence which genes.
The oldest problem in fluid mechanics, made new. We’ve all seen them: the swirls and eddies that form in the wake of a pebble in a stream. Now Daniel Canuto and Kunihiko Taira, of the joint mechanical engineering program at Florida A&M University and Florida State University, have put a new twist on that age-old fluid mechanics problem: What happens, they ask, when the stream is not water but air and doesn’t rush but rather creeps past its obstacle? According to Canuto and Taira, that’s exactly the kind of thing we need to know to understand how aircraft work on Mars.
Could the occasional drink be good for the heart? This much we already knew: High levels of alcohol consumption can cause cells in our heart to commit suicide, so to speak. (That’s apoptosis, if you want to be technical about it.) But a new study from Mark Burke and coworkers at Howard University suggests that moderate levels of alcohol make those cell die-offs less likely, and makes the heart beat more strongly, than if alcohol were absent.
How dirt becomes mud. A team from Alabama A&M University developed a mathematical formula that predicts how fast soil soaks up rainwater. Then they tested it in a patch of fallow farmland in Bangladesh. Here’s what they found.
A match made in eco-heaven. Don’t throw out those eggshells just yet! As we’ve noted previously, they could become the high-performance, biodegradable nanomaterial of the future. Now a Tuskegee group led by Vijaya Rangari has cooked up a super-strong, super-tough version of the ecofriendly material by combining egg-shell powder with so-called “super sap,” a biodegradable resin commonly used to coat surf boards.