Findings Tell Us About Who Settled Ancient North America

Anthropologists study of four ancient skulls uncovered in Mexico suggests that the first people to settle in North American were more diverse, biologically, than previously suspected. The skulls belong to individuals who live anywhere from nine thousand to thirteen thousand years ago.

These skulls and their analysis muddle the theory that the first settlers in the Americas were much more biologically similar. Scientists have long talked about the settlement of the Americas as if North and South shared a common narrative, but there stories are indeed very different.

Archaeologists unearthed the four skulls between 2008-15. They found them in submerged caves in Quintana Roo, Mexico. When the people the skulls belonged to were living the caves were above sea level.

The oldest of the skulls was very much akin to North American arctic people. The second oldest skull was more alike to European people. The third more alike to Asian or Native American peoples. The fourth sharing similarities with arctic peoples but having some South American features.

The skulls are very important because in North American fewer than 20 skeletons over eight thousand years old have been found, where as in South America between 300 to 400 have been found.

The work was published in “PLOS ONE”.

OSU Scientists Can Turn Sunlight Into Hydrogen

Researchers at OSU have developed a potentially world changing molecule—one that absorbs sunlight efficiently. But not only that, one that itself can be a catalyst to turn photons into hydrogen (a clean alternative to fossil fuels).

The new molecule absorbs energy from the all of the visible spectrum. Additionally it collects fifty percent more energy than current solar cells. Discoveries like these could lead the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy that don’t contribute to climate change.

Essentially, the scientists have found a very efficient way to store solar energy—the molecule takes photons (energy molecules from the sun) and stores it in the chemical bonds of hydrogen to be used at a later date. Hydrogen is a clean burning fuel that produces no carbon or carbon dioxide.

The system researchers created enables the molecule to be put in a excited state where it absorbs photons (even from the low-energy infrared, which had before been difficult to collect energy from) and is able to store two electrons to make hydrogen. Being able to store two photons and two electrons to make hydrogen is unprecedented.

The findings were published in “Nature Chemistry”.

Researchers Developing New Drug to Treat Sepsis

OSU researchers have discovered a way to enhance the immune system of patients to help them fight sepsis, an extreme and deadly reaction in bodies fighting infection.

How is this possible? Through the use of nanotechnology, scientists can turn healthy immune donner cells into a drug that has powerful anti-bacterial properties.

Scientists have tried the drug on mice with sepsis. The altered immune cells helped kill bacteria in the major organs and blood stream which drastically raised survival rates in the mice.

The focus of the work is to treat late-stage sepsis. During this stage the immune system is compromised to the point where it cannot clear invading bacteria on its own. The researchers are working with specialists who treat sepsis to more rapidly develop the drug for widespread use.

Researchers were quick to point out that sepsis is the leading cause of death in hospitals and there have not been any development in treating the later stages of the immune condition in a long time.

Researchers Illuminate the Importance of Making New Friends in College

A new study, co-authored by Ohio State faculty, has found that friendships developed during the first year of college can be life-long and help students become adults who have bridged cultural divides and develop broader worldviews. Researchers believe this important aspect of the first-year experience will help future generations embrace their differences and come together.

One hundred some students of varying races and religions answered questions about how their close friendships with those who had different religious traditions, political ideas, different cultural backgrounds etc. influenced their outlooks on those with different world views than themselves.

Researchers said that previous studies had proven that the most important factor in a successful college career was a positive learning experience with faculty. The second indicator, more important than learning, graduation rates and economic gains, has been a good relationship with peers. Researchers say their new study illuminates the powerful outcomes of these positive peer relationships.

When first-year students arrive at college, they are typically open to making new friends. This is especially true if they are leaving home for the first time and/or don’t know anyone at their college already.

The college experience is unique in that it places people of different beliefs in a situation where they are spending a lot of time together and living closely with one another.
The study found that 64% of students who had no interworldview friendships when they began college—interworldview friendship is what researchers are calling those friendships with people of different beliefs or cultures—made at least one interworldview friend the first year. 20% of this group claimed to have made five or more interworldview friendships by the end of their first year.

Researchers believe these kinds of peer relationships are absolutely essential to the college experience and that the benefits are measurably positive.