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  1. Many viruses eject their DNA via a nanochannel in the viral shell, driven by internal forces arising from the high-density genome packing. The speed of DNA exit is controlled by friction forces that limit the molecular mobility, but the nature of this friction is unknown. We introduce a method to probe the mobility of the tightly confined DNA by measuring DNA exit from phage phi29 capsids with optical tweezers. We measure extremely low initial exit velocity, a regime of exponentially increasing velocity, stochastic pausing that dominates the kinetics and large dynamic heterogeneity. Measurements with variable applied force provide evidence that the initial velocity is controlled by DNA–DNA sliding friction, consistent with a Frenkel–Kontorova model for nanoscale friction. We confirm several aspects of the ejection dynamics predicted by theoretical models. Features of the pausing suggest that it is connected to the phenomenon of ‘clogging’ in soft matter systems. Our results provide evidence that DNA–DNA friction and clogging control the DNA exit dynamics, but that this friction does not significantly affect DNA packaging. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 25, 2024
  2. ABSTRACT Recent works have suggested that energy balance spectral energy distribution (SED) fitting codes may be of limited use for studying high-redshift galaxies for which the observed ultraviolet and far-infrared emission are offset (spatially ‘decoupled’). It has been proposed that such offsets could lead energy balance codes to miscalculate the overall energetics, preventing them from recovering such galaxies’ true properties. In this work, we test how well the SED fitting code magphys can recover the stellar mass, star formation rate (SFR), specific SFR, dust mass, and luminosity by fitting 6706 synthetic SEDs generated from four zoom-in simulations of dusty, high-redshift galaxies from the FIRE project via dust continuum radiative transfer. Comparing our panchromatic results (using wavelengths 0.4–500 μm, and spanning 1 < z < 8) with fits based on either the starlight ($\lambda _\mathrm{eff} \le 2.2\, \mu$m) or dust ($\ge 100\, \mu$m) alone, we highlight the power of considering the full range of multiwavelength data alongside an energy balance criterion. Overall, we obtain acceptable fits for 83 per cent of the synthetic SEDs, though the success rate falls rapidly beyond z ≈ 4, in part due to the sparser sampling of the priors at earlier times since SFHs must be physically plausible (i.e. shorter than the age of the universe). We use the ground truth from the simulations to show that when the quality of fit is acceptable, the fidelity of magphys estimates is independent of the degree of UV/FIR offset, with performance very similar to that previously reported for local galaxies. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 9, 2024
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  5. Abstract

    Fluvial erosion of cohesive soil is mediated by interactions between soil physical, biological, and chemical characteristics such as soil aggregate stability and extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). While labile organic matter (OM) stimulates microbial EPS production and significantly improves soil aggregate stability in agricultural soils, these interactions remain unexplored in streambank soils. The study goal was to quantify the impact of OM on aggregate stability, EPS, and fluvial erosion rates of cohesive streambank soil. Increasing amounts of 1‐mm sieved dry grass were incorporated at rates of 0, 1, and 4 g per 100 g of 2‐mm sieved silt‐loam soil (treatments T0, T1, and T4, respectively). Samples (eight replicates per treatment) were matured in a greenhouse for 50 days prior to flume erosion testing. EPS carbohydrates were significantly (p < 0.05) lower in T1 (324 ± 63 μg/g) compared to T0 (388 ± 37 μg/g) and T4 (376 ± 44 μg/g). EPS proteins were significantly higher in T1 (194 ± 15 μg/g) and T4 (223 ± 61 μg/g) compared to T0 (101 ± 20 μg/g) and positively correlated with mean weight diameter (MWD), a measure of soil stability against slaking. MWD was 16% and over 100% higher for T1 and T4, respectively, than for T0. Similarly, the average soil erodibility coefficient of T1 and T4 was 25% and 61% lower than the erodibility of T0; however, only the reduction for T4 was significant. The data presented here underscore the important role labile OM plays in improving soil physical stability and increasing the resistance of cohesive soil to fluvial erosion of streambanks.

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  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  7. Abstract Reliable neutron star mass measurements are key to determining the equation of state of cold nuclear matter, but such measurements are rare. Black widows and redbacks are compact binaries consisting of millisecond pulsars and semi-degenerate companion stars. Spectroscopy of the optically bright companions can determine their radial velocities, providing inclination-dependent pulsar mass estimates. Although inclinations can be inferred from subtle features in optical light curves, such estimates may be systematically biased due to incomplete heating models and poorly understood variability. Using data from the Fermi Large Area Telescope, we have searched for gamma-ray eclipses from 49 spider systems, discovering significant eclipses in 7 systems, including the prototypical black widow PSR B1957+20. Gamma-ray eclipses require direct occultation of the pulsar by the companion, and so the detection, or significant exclusion, of a gamma-ray eclipse strictly limits the binary inclination angle, providing new robust, model-independent pulsar mass constraints. For PSR B1957+20, the eclipse implies a much lighter pulsar (1.81 ± 0.07 solar masses) than inferred from optical light curve modelling. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023