Plasma made from matter and antimatter

Pulsar has atmosphere of matter and anti matter.

Pulsar has atmosphere of matter and anti matter.

One of the all-time great mysteries in physics is why our Universe contains more matter than antimatter, which is the equivalent of matter but with the opposite charge. To tackle this question, our international team of researchers have managed to create a plasma of equal amounts of matter and antimatter – a condition we think made up the early Universe.

Matter as we know it appears in four different states: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma, which is a really hot gas where the atoms have been stripped of their electrons. However, there is also a fifth, exotic state: a matter-antimatter plasma, in which there is complete symmetry between negative particles (electrons) and positive particles (positrons).

This peculiar state of matter is believed to be present in the atmosphere of extreme astrophysical objects, such as black holes and pulsars. It is also thought to have been the fundamental constituent of the Universe in its infancy, in particular during the Leptonic era, starting approximately one second after the Big Bang.

One of the problems with creating matter and antimatter particles together is that they strongly dislike each other – disappearing in a burst of light whenever they meet. However, this doesn’t happen straight away, and it is possible to study the behaviour of the plasma for the fraction of a second in which it is alive.

Understanding how matter behaves in this exotic state is crucial if we want to understand how our Universe has evolved and, in particular, why the Universe as we know it is made up mainly of matter. This is a puzzling feature, as the theory of relativistic quantum mechanics suggests we should have equal amounts of the two. In fact, no current model of physics can explain the discrepancy.

Despite its fundamental importance for our understanding of the Universe, an electron-positron plasma had never been produced before in the laboratory, not even in huge particle accelerators such as CERN. Our international team, involving physicists from the UK, Germany, Portugal, and Italy, finally managed to crack the nut by completely changing the way we look at these objects.

Instead of focusing our attention on immense particle accelerators, we turned to the ultra-intense lasers available at the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, UK. We used an ultra-high vacuum chamber with an air pressure corresponding to a hundredth of a millionth of our atmosphere to shoot an ultra-short and intense laser pulse (hundred billions of billions more intense that sunlight on the Earth surface) onto a nitrogen gas. This stripped off the gas’ electrons and accelerated them to a speed extremely close to that of light.

The beam then collided with a block of lead, which slowed them down again. As they slowed down they emitted particles of light, photons, which created pairs of electrons and their anti-particle, the positron, when they collided with nuclei of the lead sample. A chain-reaction of this process gave rise to the plasma.

However, this experimental achievement was not without effort. The laser beam had to be guided and controlled with micrometer precision, and the detectors had to be finely calibrated and shielded – resulting in frequent long nights in the laboratory.

But it was well worth it as the development means an exciting branch of physics is opening up. Apart from investigating the important matter-antimatter asymmetry, by looking at how these plasmas interact with ultra powerful laser beams, we can also study how this plasma propagates in vacuum and in a low-density medium. This would be effectively recreating conditions similar to the generation of gamma-ray bursts, some of the most luminous events ever recorded in our Universe.



Red Blood Cells Take On New Geometry During Clotting

Red Blood Cells Take On Many-Sided Shapes:

Red Blood Cells Take On Many-Sided Shape During Clotting

Red Blood Cells Take On Many-Sided Shape












Red blood cells are real levers of change in body shape, perhaps the most malleable of all cell types , transformation – among other forms – in compressed discs able to pass through capillaries with diameters less than the cell itself blood . While the study of how blood clots John W. contract Weisel , Ph.D. , Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and his colleagues discovered a new geometry that red blood cells are supposed to when compressed during clot formation .

Although red blood cells were visualized for the first time in the mid-17th century and studied extensively since then , this new study , published online ahead of print in the journal Blood, describes a previously unknown and new function potential of red blood cells . The Penn team found that red blood cells can be compressed into multifaceted structures close together – polyhedral – instead bi – concave , free-flowing form of the disc.

What is more , contrary to expectations , the fibrin and platelet aggregates which form highly clots are mainly employed on the outside of clots , with red blood cells crowded into the clot , while the content of clots are more homogeneous before shrinkage occurs .

Hired clots can form a watertight seal and help prevent vascular obstruction, but confer resistance to penetration of drugs that break down fibrin, the structural component of blood clots , one common treatment option for heart attacks and strokes.

” When I first saw this, he thought :” This can not be biological , ‘”says Weisel . The team first saw the red blood cells shaped polyhedron – when the coagulation process of contraction is studied using a novel MRI technology , with the co -authors of T2 Biosystems, along with co -author Douglas Cines , MD , director of the Coagulation Laboratory and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Penn. They observed a signal indicating tight red blood cells.

The clot network clots are dimensional network of fibers , mainly consisting of the blood protein fibrinogen , which is converted to fibrin during coagulation , and platelets , which aggregate by binding to fibrin once activated . A blood clot must have the proper degree of rigidity and plasticity to stop the flow of blood when tissue is damaged , however , be flexible enough that it does not block the blood flow .

After a clot forms , actin and myosin in platelets initiate the contraction process and cause the clot is reduced to about one third of its original size. This is an important step to stop bleeding , to reduce the blockage in the blood vessel , and to provide a matrix for the migration of cells involved in wound healing . Red blood cells are involved in the contraction process , especially in the venous system , and get pulled by platelets into the clot, blood and the study indicated .

Little is known about the structure of the contracted clots or the role of red blood cells in the contraction process . “We found that the contracted blood clots develop a remarkable structure with a mesh of fibrin and platelet aggregates outside the clot and close packing , tiled matrix of polyhedral erythrocytes compressed inside ,” says Weisel .

The team also saw the same morphology of compacted clots after initiating coagulation activators and also with several clots formed from reconstituted human blood cellular components and blood plasma and mouse . Such matrices polyhedral packing of erythrocytes or polyhedrocytes as researchers dubbed them , were also observed in human arterial thrombi taken from patients who had heart attacks . This form is likely taken up by the red blood cells when contracted or compressed together when platelets clot in order to decrease the volume , surface energy , or the energy of bending , the authors assume .

Cines notes that these findings may have clinical implications . Doctors need to inject tPA as thrombolytic agents to quickly break thrombi , clots that obstruct blood flow , for example, in the coronary arteries to treat a heart attack or arteries leading to the brain to treat stroke. It is well known that thrombi develop time be broken , which is one reason why early intervention resistance is important . The nearly impermeable barrier formed by the red blood cells within contracted clots was observed in the study of the blood can help explain why . Clot contraction could be a target of intervention to prevent the formation of densely packed array polyhedrocytes .

Type 2 diabetes genes and metabolic markers

Type 2 diabetes: New associations identified between genes and metabolic markers:






In two comprehensive studies, scientists from Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen and Technische Universitaet Muenchen discovered new associations of two major Type 2 diabetes risk genotypes and altered plasma concentrations of metabolic products. The “Virtual Institute Diabetes” joint research cooperation is thereby making an important contribution towards explaining the genetic and molecular basis of diabetes, The results have been published in the journals PLOS ONE and Metabolomics.

For these investigations, participants of the population-based cohort study KORA* carrying high-risk diabetes gene variants without having a diagnosed diabetes, as well as participants without an increased diabetes risk were recruited.

All study participants were subjected to a metabolic load. The nutritients, particularly sugars and fats, were administered either orally or intravenously. The scientists subsequently determined the concentrations of 163 metabolic products in blood samples from the participants. The teams headed by Prof. Dr. Thomas Illig (HMGU) and Dr. Harald Grallert (HMGU), Prof. Dr. Jochen Seißler (LMU), and Prof. Dr. Hans Hauner (TUM) and Dr. Helmut Laumen (TUM) were the first to supply a comprehensive characterisation of the metabolic performance in regard to the respective genotype.

It was observed that the concentrations of the recorded substances represent a particular metabolomic response pattern depending on the genotype. It was possible to verify specific metabolic effects, particularly for the TCF7L2 genotype, which is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. “We are aware of certain high-risk gene variants for type 2 diabetes. However, the causative mechanisms on the path to this disease are still largely unknown. With our results, we are helping to close the gap between disease-associated genes on the one hand and the development of diabetes on the other. A typically changed metabolic performance can supply early indications of diabetes”, explain Simone Wahl from HMGU and Cornelia Then from LMU, first authors of the two publications.

The scientists are currently investigating metabolic responses in additional genotypes. The objective is to advance the fundamental research on the widespread disease diabetes and to contribute the acquired knowledge to the clinical cooperation groups that have developed from the VID in order to promote the knowledge transfer between the laboratory and clinical care of patients suffering from diabetes.