In dangerous fungal family’s befriending of plants, a story of loss

With its red and white cap and hallucinogenic properties, the fly amanita has long inspired art and literature. Its friendly association with plants came about by letting go of a few key genes, new research finds

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NSF awards UW $3 million to advance quantum physics, technology

University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers secured three grants totaling $3 million to advance high-risk, high-reward and interdisciplinary research into quantum physics and technology, the National Science Foundation announced today, Sept. 24.

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Blazes of light reveal how plants signal danger long distances

That fluorescent light tracks calcium as it zips across the plant’s tissues, providing an electrical and chemical signal of a threat. In more than a dozen videos like this, University of Wisconsin–Madison Professor of Botany Simon Gilroy and his lab reveal how glutamate — an abundant neurotransmitter in animals — activates this wave of calcium when the plant is wounded. The videos provide the best look yet at the communication systems within plants that are normally hidden from view.

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Kids connect with robot reading partners

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have built a robot, named Minnie, to serve as a reading buddy to middle school kids, and Minnie’s new friends grew more excited about books and more attached to the robot over two weeks of reading together.

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Is fire the new normal in the American West?

Monica Turner, a University of Wisconsin–Madison professor of integrative biology, was at Yellowstone in the immediate aftermath of the 1988 fires to study and closely document the forests’ recovery. She has spent the last three decades of her career there, and in places like Grand Teton National Park, to better understand the nature of forests and fire.
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Could computers help close partisan divides?

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are using computers in new ways to develop a comprehensive picture of how people communicate about politics, and how those conversations can be shaped by media, social networks and personal interactions.

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A video game can change the brain, may improve empathy in middle schoolers

This fantastical scenario is the premise of a video game developed for middle schoolers by University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers to study whether video games can boost kids’ empathy, and to understand how learning such skills can change neural connections in the brain.

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Can plants and trees change the weather?

By this time next year, an army of towers will be keeping watch over a plot of land in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest of northern Wisconsin. They will be joined by a turbo-prop plane, an ultralight aircraft, a state-owned Cessna, ground-based atmospheric instruments, and a troop of students and scientists, each playing a role in helping to understand how plants and trees contribute to weather patterns on a local scale.

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Study suggests buried internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise

Thousands of miles of buried fiber optic cable in densely populated coastal regions of the United States may soon be inundated by rising seas, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of Oregon.

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