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Science Week 2024/25. | Hungarian orange

Science Week 2024/25.  |  Hungarian orange

Neural synapses Hungarian scientists have revealed what happens at synapses, the connection points between nerve cells: the study conducted by brain researchers at the HUN-REN Institute for Experimental Medical Research (KOKI) (PhD student Barti Benjamin, first author of the study using graphics) brought Advancement of science. There are approximately 86 billion neurons in our nervous system, and it is estimated that there are approximately one hundred trillion connection points, i.e. synapses. An electrical signal, the stimulus, passes through it from one neuron to another: neurons “talk” to each other through synapses. Synapses work at different strengths, according to the analogy made by Hungarian researchers, we can imagine it as if we were moving a loudspeaker from minimum to maximum volume: the transmission of impulses in synapses may stop completely, and then gradually increase to the highest level. This “volume regulation” has been studied for a quarter of a century at the institute, where the molecular neurobiology research group led by István Katona has now taken another major step forward by monitoring the quantity and precise location of molecules important in regulation at synapses. For the first time in the world, it has become possible to measure this at a single synapse of a neural network – with the help of special microscopes, and with nanometer precision.

Mars A massive solar storm recently struck Mars, drawing attention to the dangers to astronauts visiting the red planet. The main reasons for the arrival of the solar storm on Mars, which has no global magnetic field but only several umbrella-like sub-magnetic fields, located mainly in the southern hemisphere, were X-class solar flares (flares) that formed on the surface of the Sun in May. Accompanied by coronal material ejection (CME). Probes orbiting the planet and the Mars rover Curiosity “witnessed” firsthand the dramatic effects of a solar storm (i.e., the shower of charged particles arriving at the planet and radiation from the Sun), including the aurora that formed around Mars. The Curiosity rover, currently exploring Gale Crater south of the Martian equator, captured black-and-white images using its navigation cameras during the solar storm. According to NASA, the white lines in the images captured charged particles colliding with Curiosity's cameras. The source of X-rays and gamma rays reaching Mars, as well as plasma matter composed of charged particles, was precisely the cluster of sunspots that had previously sent similar “love beams” in the direction of our planet, heading towards Earth. As a result, the aurora borealis can be detected even at low latitudes. The Sun has shown increasing activity over the past 12 months, and is also approaching the maximum of its 11-year solar cycle, which is expected to occur later this year.

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