Scientists figure out why sun overexposure makes our skin sore (a sunburn!)

A group of scientists have figured out (at least in part) why overexposure to UV light makes our skin get sore, red and swollen.

It goes like this:

  • You sit out in the sun too long. (As if you haven’t been told.)
  • Inside your skin cells, that little RNA molecule is damaged by UV-B — and its shape gets altered.
  • Damaged skin cells release altered pieces of RNA.
  • The altered RNA can bind to a receptor in undamaged skin cells and immune cells called peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
  • These cells, as a result, start pumping out chemicals called cytokines that induce inflammation.
  • Redness and swelling follow.

That’s not the end of it, though. Even though there’s a short term ramp-up in immune activity during sunburn, later on the immune system is suppressed for a period of time.

 

Learn more: L.A. Times – Ow, sunburn: Scientists figure out what’s going on in our skin

 

Continue reading Scientists figure out why sun overexposure makes our skin sore (a sunburn!)

Scientists build first working quantum network – mind-bogglingly powerful

Scientists at the Quantum Dynamics division of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) in Garching, Germany announced Wednesday that they have built the very first, elementary quantum network comprised of a pair of entangled atoms that transmit information to each other via single photons.

That and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee, plus anything from a perfectly secure data exchange system to the massive scaling via distributed processing of the already mind-bogglingly powerful, if theoretical, potential of a standalone quantum computer.

These are indeed heady days for the pioneers of quantum computing, with each news cycle seemingly bringing forth a major breakthrough in a subatomic frontier that appears poised to revolutionize how our calculating machines deliver us everything from satellite mapping to LOLcats.

 

Building it was the hardest part:

…had to figure out a means of exercising “perfect control” over all the components in their quantum network, which first meant getting the two atoms that make up the network’s receptor nodes to somehow stay stationary, because a couple of free-floating atoms wouldn’t be able to communicate with the photons relaying information between the two very efficiently.

The team was able to fix their atoms in optical cavities, basically a couple of highly reflective mirrors a short distance from each other, by means of fine-tuned laser beams.

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