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US scientists score Nobel Prize for groundbreaking chilli sensory discovery

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US researchers David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian score the top prize for their “profound discovery” on receptors and touch.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to two US researchers working on the discovery of a lifetime.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded for the discovery of receptors for temperature and touch.

The two winners, US scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian were announced on Monday by the secretary-general of the Nobel committee.

Julius, born on November 4, 1955 is in affiliation with the University of California, San Francisco while Beirut-born researcher Patapoutian is an affiliate of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in California.

The researches used chilli to identify the nerve sensors responsible for the skin responding to heat while other pressure-sensitive sensors were found that react to mechanical stimulation.

Such discoveries launched intense research into how heat, cold, and mechanical stimuli is sensed by the human nervous system.

Additionally, it’s helped enhance scientific understanding into the complex relationship between human senses and the environment.

Decades in the making

David Julius has been working on this research alongside his co-workers since the late 1990s.

Since then, he’s been trying to understand how the chemical compound capsaicin causes the burning sensation felt when coming into contact with chili peppers.

As part of the research, Julius and his fellow co-workers came up with a library of DNA fragments which matched to genes that are expressed in the sensory neurons.

A long, laborious search followed until a single gene that made cells capsaicin-sensitive was identified.  

Julius and Patapoutian then underwent further research, contributing to the groundbreaking discoveries they’ve made today.

A discovery “crucial for survival”.

The Nobel committee says it’s a “profound discovery” that is “crucial for our survival”.

Their research is helping other researchers develop treatments for a wide range of disease conditions, including chronic pain.

The scientists were awarded a gold medal and more than 10 million Swedish kronor.

It’s the first Nobel prize this year, with more to come over the next week.

Written by Rebecca Borg

Business

Why Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport will cap passenger departures

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Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is capping the number of departures until next year

The airport says airlines “are not happy about it” but ultimately had no choice.

It follows a string of airport chaos over the busy summer period in The Netherlands and Europe more broadly.

Caps are expected to extend through the end of March. But authorities will review the situation again towards the end of this year.

The aviation business continues to be plagued by labor shortages on the back of the pandemic.

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Business

Food delivery drone crashes into powerlines

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Thousands of people have been left without power after a food delivery drone crashed into powerlines

Power was restored after 45 minutes after the drone made a pre-cautionary landing.

‘Wing’ is the company behind the incident who use drones for their food delivery services.

A spokesperson for Energex, the company who supplies power to the 300-affected homes says drones can be dangerous.

It’s believed these instances are very rare and the meal was still hot when emergency crews arrived at the scene.

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Business

Huge win for millions caught up in Optus data breach

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Major news for those impacted by the Optus data incident, with authorities working around the clock to get to the bottom of the saga

Is this a sigh of relief for Optus customers?

It is a major win for those who have been impacted by the massive Optus data breach.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed the telco giant will cover the costs of replacing affected customers’ passports, a move he has labeled as entirely appropriate.

The hacker released the personal details of more than 10,000 people on an online forum, before removing the post.

This is evidently a costly move for Optus, but one which many Australians have been calling for.

On the other side of the coin, it will also be a massive undertaking for the nation’s passport office which has been slammed recently as Aussies head back overseas post-Covid.

This comes as the Australian Federal Police launches an operation to support the data breach victims.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough says affected customers will receive “multi-layered protection from identity crime and financial fraud”.

As the investigation continues, Australian authorities will also be leaning on their international counterparts for assistance, including America’s FBI.

It’s a massive operation and one that many Australians and indeed people right around the world are watching closely.

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