Biology of bats!


-Music- Earthquake-resistant bridge columns. The powerful force of an earthquake can collapse bridges instantly, stranding, and even killing
people. That is why, with funding from the National
Science Foundation, engineers at Texas A&M University are leading an NSF-funded collaborative
research effort with the University of Colorado-Boulder to investigate alternative bridge structures. Traditional bridge columns are cast as one
piece, which means that as the earth shakes, these structures crack like a stick at both
ends. The team has proposed one possible alternative:
hybrid sliding-rocking or HSR columns, which are built as a series of individual concrete
segments stacked on top of each other and held together by steel cables that allow the
columns to shift and rock without sustaining structural damage. By preventing bridge damage, we can maintain
access to the affected areas immediately after an earthquake, saving lives and accelerating
recovery of affected communities. PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE! Believe it or not, cancer cells are actually
lazy! New research reveals that while cancer cells
can spread quickly through the body, they’re slow and will opt for the easiest, widest
spaces to navigate to reduce energy requirements during movement. A team of biomedical engineers at Vanderbilt
University, with funding from the National Science Foundation, found that energy expenditure
and metabolism are significant factors within metastatic migration. This research could lead to new ways to target
metabolism and even possibly prevent metastasis. By manipulating different variables, the team
was able to track and build predictions of cellular preference for these paths of least
resistance in the body based on how much energy a cell would need to move. The team believes this initial understanding
of energy and cell migration could soon have broader implications for a variety of situations
beyond cancer. BIOLOGY OF BATS! It turns out that warm-blooded animals aren’t
warm all of the time! Researchers at Brown University studying the
muscles in bats’ wings found that their wings operate at a significantly lower temperature
than their bodies, especially during flight. The National Science Foundation-funded team
says this shows that warm-blooded animals have a lot more variation in body temperature
than expected. That has implications for how animals are
moving around, including humans. If we can understand more about how muscles
in bats and other specialized animals work at extreme temperatures, maybe we can find
new ways to support people that have to work at extreme temperatures too. To conduct their research, the team used a
specialized bat wind tunnel and high-resolution cameras to capture bats’ wings during flight
to better visualize the flow around the wings and movement from every angle. We find that the muscles of the bats don’t
have the same temperature everywhere in the wing, If we measure the temperature of the
muscles that are the main power muscles for flight, the ones that move the wing at the
shoulder, those are really close to body temperature. As soon as we cross a joint, the temperature
will be close to 5 degrees Celsius colder. And that temperature will drop another 5 degrees
Celsius as we cross the next joint and another 5 degress as we move closer to the hand. That’s a huge drop for muscle temperature. Most muscles move more slowly when it’s
cold, So a bat wing can continue to perform in a
really sophisticated way even when its gets colder and colder.” Understanding muscular and behavioral adaptation
could help scientists to improve the regulation of human exercise in the cold, or even in
heat. This could prove particularly important for
workers like fisherman who operate in cold water or even scientists and other personnel
working at NSF’s scientific research stations, in Antarctica! For more information about these stories,
visit us at nsf.gov. This is NSF Science Now, I’m Dena Headlee. -Credits- NSFLogo

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