This-week-in-science

This week in science - Issue 62

This week in science

Eyes tune in ears tune out, early exposure to antibiotics has setbacks, super waterproofing spray.

  1. This year at the European Respiratory Society International Congress researchers presented their finding after analysing over 30 different studies with over 400,000 patients.

    Their findings suggest that the use of antibiotics in early life increases the risk of developing hay fever and/or eczema, particularly those that were treated with more than one course of antibiotics.

  2. When eyes are busy, ears tune out

    New research from Linköping University has shown that when we are concentrating on something, the brain reduces hearing to make it easier to concentrate.

    Jerker Rönnberg, professor of psychology at Linköping University said: “The brain is really clever, and helps us to concentrate on what we need to do. At the same time, it screens out distractions that are extraneous to the task. But the brain can’t cope with too many tasks: only one sense at a time can perform at its peak. This is why it’s not a good idea to talk on the phone while driving.”

  3. Super waterproofing

    A team of engineers from the Australian National University have developed a revolutionary spray-on waterproofing solution.

    The protective nano-coating is made up of a combination of two plastics, one that is touch and the other flexible. They form an interwoven mesh that is water repellant, transparent and extremely resistant to ultraviolet radiation.

This week in science - Issue 61

This week in science

Far away solar objects, Oldest fossil found, Carbon nanotubes gaining on silicon.

  1. Search for 9th Planet reveals extremely distant objects

    Back in January the possibility of a 9th planet was announced and since then everyone has been looking for it, this has led to the discovery of several extremely distant solar system objects.

    Sciences believe that the newly discovered objects will help in the hunt for the 9th planet, but also help to improve out understanding of the solar system.

    Scott Sheppard, Carnegie Institution for Science, has said that “The smaller objects can lead us to the much bigger planet we think exists out there. The more we discover, the better we will be able to understand what is going on in the outer Solar System.”

  2. 3.7 billion-year-old fossil found in Greenland

    A team of researchers from the University of Wollongong, Australia have unearthed the oldest fossil in a remote area of Greenland.

    The fossil is a 3.7 billion-year-old stromatolite, the discovery has pushed back the fossil record nearly to the beginning of geological records, indicating that life on Earth formed very early on.

  3. Carbon nanotubes catch up to silicon

    Material engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created carbon nanotube transistors that outperform silicon transistors.

    Carbon nanotubes have to potential to open a world of high-performance, high-efficiency electronics, longer battery life, faster wireless communications and faster processing speeds. However, this was nothing more than a dream for the last 20 years.

    The team’s carbon nanotube transistors achieved current that is 1.9 times higher than state of the art transistors.

This week in science - Issue 60

This week in science

Dark Milky Way, Octobots assemble!, Neighbouring Earth like planet, The Greater Great Barrier Reef.

  1. Dark Milky Way

    An international team of astronomers has found a galaxy, Dragonfly 44, that consists almost entirely of dark matter.

    While this is not the first time a dark matter galaxy has been found, it is one of the biggest at 1 trillion times the mass of our Sun, Dragonfly 44 is roughly the same size as our Milky Way.

    “Ultimately what we really want to learn is what dark matter is. The race is on to find massive dark galaxies that are even closer to us than Dragonfly 44, so we can look for feeble signals that may reveal a dark matter particle,” said Yale University astronomer Pieter van Dokkum, lead author of a paper in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

  2. Octobot: first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot

    A team of researchers from Harvard University has created a proof of concept for an autonomous soft robot, which is the first of its kind.

    In the past, such robots were tethered to a rigid structure that contained elements such as the battery.

    “The entire system is simple to fabricate, by combining three fabrication methods – soft lithography, molding and 3D printing – we can quickly manufacture these devices,” said Ryan Truby, a graduate student in the Lewis lab and co-first author of the paper.

    The team hopes to build on this research to design and develop more complex soft robots.

  3. Our nearest neighbour has an Earth-like planet

    Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star that is just four light-years from the Solar System.

    Astronomers have now found clear evidence of an Earth-like planet orbiting the star in the habitable zone. The planet orbits the star much closer than Mercury does to the Sun, however as the star is much fainter than our Sun, it is still well within the habitable zone.

    The planet orbits the star every 11 days and has temperatures that are suitable for liquid water.

    This discovery is the beginning of extensive further observations using both current and future instruments as it is the prime candidate for light elsewhere in the Universe.

  4. The Greater Gret Barrier Reef

    Scientists have known about the existence of geological structures in the Great Barrier Reef since the 1970s and 80s, but the true nature remained elusive until recently.

    High-resolution seafloor data was provided by an LiDAR-equipped aircraft which has allowed for over 6,000 square kilometres of reef to be mapped, this is three times larger than what was expected.

    The new data has revealed unusual donut-shaped mounds spanning as much as 300 meters across and as much as 10 metres deep.

This week in science - Issue 59

This week in science

Read all of NASA’s research online, experiments with a pool full of water ballons, social media bad for school but gaming is good, and a football field size airship.

  1. NASA’s research now available online and free to the public

    NASA is using PubMed Central (PMC) to permanently preserve and provide easy public access to the peer-reviewed papers resulting from NASA-funded research.

    Let’s learn together!

  2. A pool full of water balloons

    Have you ever thought what would happen if you fill a pool up with 25 million waterballs? Thankfully, you don’t have to because they folks from TheBackyardScientist documented Orbeez experiments for all of us to enjoy and shake our heads.

  3. Students who use social media score lower in school

    A study conducted by Albert Posso, an associate professor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology analyzed 12,000 Australian students’ results from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment.

    The findings show that children who regularly use social networks, such as Facebook, tend to score lower in math, reading and science than students who never or hardly use these sites.

    However, students who play video games are associated with higher math, reading and science scores.

    It might be time to ration those #selfies and play more Minecraft.

  4. The world’s largest airship made its maiden voyage

    The Airliner 10, a hybrid aircraft that is a mix of an airplane, airship and helicopter technology. It’s a goliath in the sky spanning 100 yards or 92 meters in length and can stay airborne for weeks at a time.

This week in science - Issue 58

This week in science

A habitable Venus, babies learn by watching parents eat and food commericials influence our childrens food choices.

  1. Venus may have been habitable

    According to the lovely folks at NASA their climate modeling suggests Venus may have been habitable.

    Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York’s observations from computer modeling show Venus may have had shallow-water ocean and habitable surface temperatures for up to 2 billion years of its early history.

  2. Babies watches you eat to learn about food and your identity

    Have you noticed baby staring at your in awe as you chow down on your food? Well, researchers from the University of Chicago, National Institutes of Health and Cornell University propose an early emerging system for reasoning about the social nature of food.

    The study observes that babies learn about food by watching parents and people around them eat, linking food preferences to social identity, which could help infants avoid potentially dangerous foods but also influence the infants to own food preferences and their adventurous nature when trying different foods.

  3. Food commercials influence children’s food choice

    It’s time to make your own food commercials because according to the talented researchers at the University of Missouri, children are influenced to make food choices based on the food commercials.

    The results show that children consider the importance of taste when making food choices and did not use health values as criteria for their food choices. It concludes that food marketing may systematically alter the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of children’s food decisions.

This week in science - Issue 57

This week in science

The reason sunflowers follow the sun, a new chip for testing neuromuscular disorders, the natural disaster that may have started China’s earliest empire and longer lasting rechargeable batteries.

  1. Why sunflowers follow the sun

    If you’re ever lucky enough to see a sunflower follow the sun you might wonder why? According to a new study, scientists suggests that this daily follow the sun is guided by circadian rhythms during development, the rhythmic tracking helps the sunflower grow bigger.

    The experiments involved binding young sunflowers away from the sun as it rose and prevented them from movement towards the glorious rays showed they grew flower compared to regular sunflowers, with a decrease in both biomass and leaf area of 10%.

  2. A new microfluidic chip for testing neuromuscular disorders

    There is a new chip in town and it could help test drugs for neuromuscular disorders like ALS.

    Talented engineers at MIT have developed a microfluidic device that replicates the neuromuscular junction. This is the connection where nerve meets muscle.

    Sebastien Uzel who led the research effort says “The neuromuscular junction is involved in a lot of very incapacitating, sometimes brutal and fatal disorders, for which a lot has yet to be discovered”.

    The device is the size of a US quarter and contains a single muscle strip and a mall set of motor neurons which is genetically modified to respond to light. Amazing!

  3. Ancient earthquake and flood may have led to China’s earliest empire

    A masssive flood may have led to China’s earliest empire. An international team of scientists from all walks of science of archaeology, anthropology, seismology, and geology have analyzed different kinds of materials from ancient texts, sedimentary deposits, earthquake-triggered landslides, and skeletons in collapsed cave dwellings to present a scenario that supports the legend of a great flood and that the Xia dynasty might be real.

    Watch this interesting video about how an ancient earthquake and flood may have led to China’s earliest empire.

  4. The nancoscale workings of batteries with X-ray Microscopy

    How does longer lasting and quick charging batteries sound? Thanks to the amazing team at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) they have developed a new X-ray microscopy technique that has given scientist the ability to image nanoscale changes inside lithium-ion battery particles as they charge and discharge.

    An X-ray microscopy technique has given scientists the ability to image nanoscale changes inside lithium-ion battery particles as they charge and discharge. The real-time images provide a new way to learn how batteries work, and how to improve them.

    Will Chueh, who led the research explains “The platform we developed allows us to image battery dynamics at the mesoscale, which is between a few nanometers and a few hundreds of nanometers. This is a very difficult length scale to image in a functioning battery, but it’s critically important, because this is the scale that controls the fundamental processes involved in battery degradation and recharge time”.

This week in science - Issue 56

This week in science

Solar cells turnings CO2 to fuel, how to maintain a healthy relationship, Neanderthal and Modern Human brain development.

  1. Solar cell captures carbon dioxide and sunlight to produce fuel

    Current solar cells cover sunlight into electricity that is stored in batteries, the talented researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have engineered a breakthrough in solar cell development, capturing CO2 and sunlight to procude burnable fuel.

    Like a plant, the new device also captures carbon dioxide into fuel. This could remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.

    Lead author, Amin Salehi-Khojin says “The new solar cell is not photovoltaic – it’s photosynthetic, instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight.”

  2. The science of maintaining healthy relationships

    Do you want to know the secret to maintaining a healthy relationship? Because we do! According to a study by the University of Waterloo and Yale University it’s as simple as thinking about the future.

    Alex Hyhn, the lead author explains “When romantic partners argue over things like finances, jealousy, or other interpersonal issues, they tend to employ their current feelings as fuel for a heated argument. By envisioning their relationship in the future, people can shift the focus away from their current feelings and mitigate conflicts”.

  3. Brain development is similar in Neanderthals and modern humans

    According to researchers from the University of Zurich and Kochi University of Technology, brain development is similar in Neanderthals and modern humans.

    While Neanderthals and modern humans have differing shaped skulls the scientists used imaging to discover that Neandertal temporal lobes, frontal lobes, and cerebellums grew faster than the rest of the brain in early life, similar to the development modes to modern humans.

This week in science - Issue 55

This week in science

New imaging tool for brain disorders, spying on wildlife from space, how to reserve menopause, take more vacations.

  1. A new way to scan the brain for epilepsy and Alzheimer

    The talented team at Yale University have developed a new approach to imaging common brain disorders that may lead to insights into the diagnosis and treatment.

    The link between nerve cells in brains, changes in synapses have been linked with brain disorders. However, researchers have only been able to evaluate such changes during autopsies. That changes thanks to the combination of PET scanning technology with biochemistry, the researchers developed a radioactive tracer which gets injected into the body, binds to a key protein that is present in all synapses across the brain, and is observed through PET imaging and quantified through algorithms.

    Professor Rich Carson states “This is the first time we have synaptic density measurement in live human beings, up to now any measurement of synaptic density was postmortem.”

  2. The International Space Station spying on wildlife

    The International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space (ICARUS) is using space as a means to track wildlife from space.

    The project involves instrumentation that will be deployed on the International Space Station’s (ISS) Russian Service module, giving members the ability to track the movement of animals, monitor growing trees to stolen dinosaur bones in Mongolia!

  3. Reversing menopause

    Is it possible to reserve menopause? Researchers at the Greek fertility clinic Genesis Athens claims to have found a way to rejuvenate post-menopausal ovaries, enabling them to release fertile eggs.

    While the study isn’t peer-reviewed as yet, we will be watching to see its development, as Roger Sturmey from Hull York Medical School in the UK. points out “It is potentially quite existing but it also opens up ethical questions over what the upper age limit of mothers should be.”

    The therapy involves platelet-rich plasma (PRP) which is created when a person’s blood is put into a centrifuge to isolate the plasma that’s rich in platelets. PRP while heavily debated is used to regenerate tissue by triggering the growth of muscle and bone tissue and is being used to treat injuries today.

    The research team decided to see what will happen if they used PRP treatment in the ovaries of post-menopausal women. They say they were able to restart the menstrual cycles of several patients, including one woman who hadn’t had her period for five years.

  4. The science of vacations

    Here are a few takeaways for NPR’s Stopwatch Science on vacations:

    • People who book accommodations from work were less satisfied
    • You’ll probably gain weight while on vacation. Goodbye beach body!
    • There is such thing as a “vacation high” and it only lasts a month

    Moral of the story? More vacations, please!

This week in science - Issue 54

This week in science

Ducks thinking abstractly, the mathematics of jet-lag and an invisibility cloak.

  1. If it quacks like a duck it’s an abstract thinker

    How smart are ducks? Dr Edward A. Wasserman and team, from the University of Iowa answer that question with an experiment.

    The researchers used imprinting, a learning process where newborn animals focus their attention on the first nearby object they see, touch or hear, finding that ducks can think abstractly even when they’re only a 24-hour old duckling.

    The study examined newly hatched ducklings by showing paired objects that either matched in shape or color, or differed from each other. Within 30 minutes these presumably adorable ducklings were able to recognize and respond to other objects that were group similarly.

  2. A new Jet Lag mathematical model

    The lovely researchers from the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics, University of Maryland have concocted a new mathematical model to help explain jet-lag.

    They present a model of circadian dynamics , neuronal oscillator cells regulate the circadian rhythm or biological clock by syncing with one another and associating external cues in as mere mortals.

    Researchers found that jet-lag recovery isn’t as simple as give yourself one day to recover. The adjustment time require depends on the time zones that are crossed but also the direction you travel. The findings show that traveling eastward through three time zones can take a little more than eight days to recover.

  3. Invisibility cloak Harry Potter would be proud of

    Okay, we are far from the invisibility cloak that J.K Rowling wrote about but the talented scientists and researchers at Queen Mary University of London with the help of composite material of nano-size particles have made an object disappear by enhancing properties on the object’s surface.

    The idea is based on transformation optics, a process on bending or distorting light to electromagnetic conceal an object. The researchers demonstrated a greater range of frequencies for engineering applications, such as nano-antennas and the aerospace industry.

This week in science - Issue 53

This week in science

Kid scientist makes a tornado, super-Jupiter found, Pac-Man at the microscopic level, and mystery of The Lost City of Zakinthos.

  1. A 5-year old scientist adorably explains tornadoes

    Oliver in his Science Lab making a tornado in a jar. Totally adorable and inspiring to watch. Stay curious kids!

  2. A planet that has three suns longer year than Earth

    Thanks to direct imaging, researchers at the University of Arizona discovered a distant planet, HD 131399Ab, four times the mass of Jupiter orbiting a star in a three-sun system. Amazing!

  3. Microscopic Organism Pac-Man

    What happens when you create a Pac-Man course and add tiny single-celled organisms?

    The researchers from University College Southeast Norway and the Institute of Micro and Nano System Technology answered this question, building a Pac-Man board measuring less than a millimeter across before filling it with microscopic creatures and recorded for all of us to awe and wonder!

  4. The Lost City of Zakinthos mystery solved?

    In 2013, findings of what appeared to be ancient artefacts off the cost of Greek island of Zakinthos turns out was built by microbes, not by ancient Greeks.

    Geochemist Julian Andrews of England’s University of East Anglia and team extracted samples to determine the formations are the creation of microbes living in vents below the seafloor, the suppose ruins are fossilized remains of sediments laid down by methane-chomping microbes millions of years ago.

This week in science - Issue 52

This week in science

It’s good news all around, the ozone layer is healing, aurora ‘fireworks’ on Jupiter and with the release of Issue 52, Theory Tot’s This Week in Science turns one!

We look forward to the year ahead and bringing you the latest and greatest in science news!

  1. First signs of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer

    In an attempt to restore the heavily depleted ozone layer, the countries of the world came together in 1987 and signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

    This included banning the use of CFC’s and creating a timeline to wean off of HCFCs.

    And it looks like it is working!

    Researchers from MIT and across the world have found that the September ozone hole had shrunk by more than 4 million square kilometres since 2000, at what point the ozone was at its peak level of depletion.

  2. Jupiter shows off with a stunning display of auroras

    Astronomers from the University of Leicester have pointed the Hubble Space Telescope at Jupiter, to study auroras and boy did Jupiter put on a show!

    “These auroras are very dramatic and among the most active I have ever seen”, says Jonathan Nichols from the University of Leicester, UK, and principal investigator of the study. “It almost seems as if Jupiter is throwing a firework party for the imminent arrival of Juno.”

    It’s hard to say if Jupiter was just ‘showing off’, or if it was a fireworks display to celebrate Theory Tot’s 1 year birthday. Either way, we are very impressed!

  3. In the belly of chronic fatigue syndrome

    Chronic fatigue syndrome is sometimes dismissed as laziness, it’s difficult to diagnose with no known triggers.

    Now researchers from Cornell University have found evidence that indicates chronic fatigue originates from the gut.

    The new report has found biological markers in the gut bacteria as well as inflammatory microbial agents in the blood. The team was able to identify chronic fatigue with an 83% accuracy. While not perfect, it is great progress.

  4. Common household chemicals negatively impact brain development

    A new report, “Project TENDR: Targeting Environmental NeuroDevelopment Risks,” along with several scientists, health practitioners and children’s health advocates are calling attention to the growing evidence that suggests many common chemicals are detrimental to the neurodevelopment of fetuses and children of all age.

    While chemicals like lead and mercury are commonly known, other chemicals like organophosphate, phthalates and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) are less commonly known but are found in readily found around the home in everyday items like personal care products, lunch boxes, cleaning product, furnishings, textiles, electronics and pesticides.

    Chemicals like phthalates and PBDEs are known to disrupt the thyroid hormone function and with 90% of pregnant women in the USA testing positive for both, there is reason for concern.

    “Thyroid hormone is involved in almost every aspect of brain development, from formation of the neurons to cell division, to the proper migration of cells and myelination of the axons after the cells are differentiated,” said Schantz. “It regulates many of the genes involved in nervous system development.”

  5. Benign bacteria block mosquitoes from transmitting Zika, chikungunya viruses

    While we are all stressing out about catching Zika, particularly with the Rio Olympics coming up, researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have been busy figuring out how to control the spread of Zika.

    They have confirmed that the benign bacterium Wolbachia pipientis can block the transmission of the Zika virus in the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the species that passes the virus to people.

This week in science - Issue 51

This week in science

Coral bleeching accelerating because of increase of ocean temperature, tridymite mineral found on Mars, an algorithm that binge watches TV clips to predict human behavior, and ultra-thin solar cell that will wrap around a pencil.

  1. Coral reefs increased bleeching

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) outlook show the global effects of climate change to coral reefs around the world. U.S. coral reefs facing warming waters increased bleaching which is attributed to hotter-than-normal ocean temperatures which continue for a 3rd consecutive year.

    Jennifer Koss, NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program director exclaims, “It’s time to shift this conversation to what can be done to conserve these amazing organisms in the face of this unprecedented global bleaching event. We have boots on the ground and fins in the water to reduce local stressors. Local conservation buys us time, but it isn’t enough. Globally, we need to better understand what actions we all can take to combat the effects of climate change.”

    NOAAA released an infographic of Coral Bleaching and its cause.

  2. NASA Scientists Discover Unexpected Mineral on Mars

    Thanks to NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, scientists have discovered tridymite, an unexpected mineral in a rock sample at Gale Crater on Mars, a finding that may alter our understanding of how the planet evolved.

    Richard Morris, NASA planetary scientist at Johnson explains, “On Earth, tridymite is formed at high temperatures in an explosive process called silicic volcanism. Mount St. Helens, the active volcano in Washington State, and the Satsuma-Iwojima volcano in Japan are examples of such volcanoes. The combination of high silica content and extremely high temperatures in the volcanoes creates tridymite.”

  3. Algorithemic human behavior

    A paper by Carl Vondrick, Hamed Pirsiavash and Antonio Torralba from MIT and the University of Baltimore, wrote about Anticipating Visual Representations and created an algorithm that can predict how humans will react in certain situations.

    Using hundreds of hours of TV show, including The Big Bang Theory and The Office, the algorithm was able to correctly identify what happened next 43 percent of the time. While, this is considerably worse than humans, who are able to correctly predict what would happen 71 percent of the time, this is still a credit to the development of better artificial intelligence.

    Soon computers binge watching on Netflix might be able to understand you better than you can understand yourself!

  4. Solar cells thin enough to bend around a pencil

    Solar power is an exciting category to be a part of, from solar panels you see on the roof to building Solar cities to harness the Sun’s glory. Scientists from South Korea have developed ultra-thin solar cells that can easily bend around a pencil!

    The application can help power wearable electronics that require flexibility and agility. Personally, I wouldn’t mind solar cell thermal clothing for the long winter hike.

This week in science - Issue 50

This week in science

Chiral molecule-life’s first handshake detected in interstellar space, correlation between brain development and antisocial behavior, and running with shoes change how your foot muscles work.

  1. Scientists detect Chiral molecule in interstellar space

    Scientists using highly sensitive radio telescopes has discovered a molecule essential for biology, the chiral molecule. Found in interstellar space is the first molecule to be found beyond meteorites on Earth and comets in our Solar System.

    Brett McGuide, chemist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Virginia says “This is the first molecule detected in interstellar space that has the property of chirality, making it a pioneering leap forward in our understanding of how prebiotic molecules are made in the Universe and the effects they may have on the origins of life”.

    The chiral molecule is not superimposable on its mirror image, it’s an important chemical property of life on Earth that helps form living things like amino acids, enzymes, and proteins.

  2. Research from Cambridge University claims there may be a link between brain development and antisocial behavior.

    Brain scans of young men who had been diagnosed with conduct disorder, defined by persistent problems that ranged from aggressive and destructive behaviour, to lying and stealing, carrying weapons or staying out all night showed structural changes of the thickness of the brain’s cortex or outer layer of the neural tissue compared to scans of healthy men of the same age. This may result from abnormal development in early life.

    Lead research Luca Passamonti explains “It may be that problems they experience in childhood affect and delay the way the cortex is developing”

  3. Does running shoes alter how you feet work?

    The lovely folks at the University of Queensland researched the impact of running shoes with the mechanics of human feet.

    The experiment included 16 participants complete two rounds on a treadmill, one with a pair of running shoes and once barefoot.

    Interestingly, running with shoes increased activation in muscles with reduced springiness of the arch.

This week in science - Issue 49

This week in science

Naming four new elements, antidepressant drugs ineffective for children, chemo and blood stem cell combination therapy treatment for aggressive MS.

  1. Let’s name some elements

    Back in December the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) reviewed and approved the discovery of the elements 113, 115, 117 and 118.

    Now all that’s left is to name these bad boys!

    The teams that discovered the element were invited to propose names for the elements which have been revealed as:

    Nihonium (Nh) for element 113, Moscovium Mc for element 115, Tennessine (Ts) for element 117 and Oganesson (Og) for element 118.

    The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry will now hold a public comment period until the 8th of November, so get in there with your suggestions and if all goes well these elements should have names by the end of the year!

  2. Most antidepressants don’t work on kids

    A new comprehensive study has found that out of 14 antidepressant drugs prescribed to kids, only one was more effective at relieving symptoms of depression that a placebo. Even more alarming is that fact that some of the antidepressant drugs were linked to increased risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts compared with placebo.

    The researchers warn that the effectiveness and risk are unclear due to several factors including lack of reliable data, poor design of clinical trials and selective reporting.

    Of the 34 trials that were analysed it was found that 22 (65%) trials were funded by pharmaceutical companies, with 10 (29%) of the trials rated as ‘high risk of bias’, 20 (59%) as moderate, and four (12%) as low.

    The overall quality of evidence was rated as very low. Dr Andrea Cipriani said that: “It has been widely argued that there needs to be a transformation of existing scientific culture to one where responsible data sharing should be the norm.”

  3. Hope for people with early, aggressive MS

    The results of a 13-year trial are extremely positive, led by Dr Harold Atkins and Dr Mark S. Freedman of The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa, and funded by the MS Society of Canada.

    Dr Freedman, a neurologist and senior scientist, said: “Although this trial was relatively small, it was intensive, with the longest prospective follow-up of any such treatment group to date, and that is what makes the results so convincing. However, this is a very complex procedure that should only be performed at very specialised centres with expertise in both the management of MS patients and blood stem cell transplantation.”

    The method is quite aggressive known as immunoablation and autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (IAHSCT). The procedure involves giving a person medication to make their hematopoietic stem cells move from their bone marrow to their blood, the stem cells are extracted, purified and frozen. The patient then received high doses of chemotherapy which eliminates the diseased immune system, when the frozen stem cells are transplanted back they establish a new immune system that has no memory of attacking the central nervous system.

This week in science - Issue 48

This week in science

Universe is expanding faster, red blood cell genetic code discovered, MRSA destroyed by copper touch, colon cancer may be prevented by walnuts.

  1. Universe is expanding faster than expected

    The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered that the universe is expanding 5-9 % faster than expected.

    Adam Riess, the study lead and Nobel Laureate, said: “This surprising finding may be an important clue to understanding those mysterious parts of the universe that make up 95 percent of everything and don’t emit light, such as dark energy, dark matter, and dark radiation.”

  2. Skin cells reprogrammed into red blood cells.

    A team of researchers from Lund University in Sweden and Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona discovered how to reprogram skin cells into red blood cells.

    The study found that it takes just 8 days and 4 genes to reprogram skin cells to start producing red blood cells.

    “We have performed this experiment on mice, and the preliminary results indicate that it is also possible to reprogram skin cells from humans into red blood cells. One possible application for this technique is to make personalized red blood cells for blood transfusions, but this is still far from becoming a clinical reality”, says Johan Flygare, manager of the research group and in charge of the study.

  3. MRSA doesn’t like copper

    MRSA is a bacterium that is responsible for several infections that are difficult to treat with standard types of antibiotics.

    A new study from the University of Southampton has shown that copper can destroy MRSA much faster than stainless steel or other surfaces.

  4. Walnuts may help prevent colon cancer

    A team of researchers from the University of Connecticut have discovered that eating walnuts may change gut bacteria in such a way that suppresses colon cancer.

    Daniel W. Rosenberg said that “Our results show for the first time that walnut consumption may reduce colon tumor development, There is accumulating evidence that eating walnuts may offer a variety of benefits related to health issues like cancer. This study shows that walnuts may also act as a probiotic to make the colon healthy, which in turn offers protection against colon tumors.”

This week in science - Issue 47

This week in science

Anger leads to heart problems, Dark Matter made of black holes, less kids smoke weed, no lore jet lag.

  1. Anger leads to heart problems, stonewalling to back pain

    A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, and Northwestern University looked at how couples behave during conflicts.

    Researchers found that they could predict the development of health problems based on the way the argument played out. People that displayed outbursts of anger were at a greater risk of developing chest pain, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular problems over time.

    While people that stonewalled by hardly speaking and avoided eye contact were more likely to develop backaches, stiff necks or joint and muscle tension.

    Robert Levenson, a psychologist at UC Berkeley and senior author of the study said: “For years, we’ve known that negative emotions are associated with negative health outcomes, but this study dug deeper to find that specific emotions are linked to specific health problems. This is one of the many ways that our emotions provide a window for glimpsing important qualities of our future lives.”

  2. Dark matter might be made of black holes

    Dark matter makes up a large portion of the universe, yet we know very little about it. It was suggested that maybe dark matter is made up of a massive exotic particle that we have not yet discovered.

    Now there is another very intriguing theory that perhaps dark matter is made up of primordial black holes, the black hole that formed in the first few seconds after the big back.

    Alexander Kashlinsky, an astrophysicist at NASA Goddard said: “This study is an effort to bring together a broad set of ideas and observations to test how well they fit, and the fit is surprisingly good. If this is correct, then all galaxies, including our own, are embedded within a vast sphere of black holes each about 30 times the sun’s mass.”

  3. Less young people are using marijuana

    Despite that fact that more U.S states are legalizing or decriminalizing the use or marijuana the number of young people using marijuana is actually falling.

    Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine analyzed 12 years worth of data collected from 12 to 17 year olds. They found that the number of children that had problems with marijuana had dropped by as much as 24% from 2002 to 2013.

    Richard A. Grucza, associate professor of psychiatry and first author said: “We were surprised to see substantial declines in marijuana use and abuse. We don’t know how legalization is affecting young marijuana users, but it could be that many kids with behavioral problems are more likely to get treatment earlier in childhood, making them less likely to turn to pot during adolescence. But whatever is happening with these behavioral issues, it seems to be outweighing any effects of marijuana decriminalization.”

  4. Time maybe up for jet lag

    Scientists from Nagoya University’s Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM) have designed an synthesized the first circadian shortening molecules.

    The team hope that the new research will help to further our understanding and better control the circadian rhythm to treat evertyhing from jet lag to improved treatments for sleeping disorders.

This week in science - Issue 46

This week in science

President’s call to all kid scientists, 14,500-year-old human found in Florida, sleepy trees and a unique helium microscope.

  1. To all kid scientists, your President is calling for you

    Every year at the White House, President Obama invites students to share their science projects.

    Watch kid scientist Jacob tell Obama why science is awesome for kids and he needs a Kids Advisory Group.

  2. Humans in Florida 14,500 years ago

    Thanks to a sinkhole discovery in Florida, researchers found a stone knife, mastodon bones and fossilised dung in an underwater sinkhole show humans lived in north Florida about 14,500 years ago. What an archaeologic find!

  3. Do trees sleep?

    Scientists from Austria, Finland and Hungary studied trees with laser scanners to determine if trees go to sleep. By investigating the day-night rhythm of trees, they conclude that trees, do in fact sleep!

    Eetu Puttonen of the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute, says “Our results show that the whole tree droops during night which can be seen as position change in leaves and branches.”

  4. Detailed helium microscope

    Scientists from downunder, hailing from University of Newcastle (AU) in collaboration with the University of Cambridge (UK) have come up with a helium microscope that captures high resolution detail without damaging the samples, where the alternative-electron microscope’s negative effects of frying or exploding samples.

This week in science - Issue 45

This week in science

REM sleep = memory formation, Microbiome Initiative, space weather explored, the perfect quantum metamaterial.

  1. Memory formation thanks to Rapid Eye Movement sleep

    Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is the phase where dreams appear and the Researchers from McGill University and the Universe of Bern provides evidence that Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep plays a role in memory formation based on studies on mice.

    Sylvain Williams, researcher and professor of psychiatry at McGill University explains “We already knew that newly acquired information is stored into different types of memories, spatial or emotional, before being consolidated or integrated”, Williams further explains “How the brain performs this process has remained unclear – until now. We were able to prove for the first time that REM sleep is indeed critical for normal spatial memory formation in mice,”

    By targeting neurons that regulate the activity of the hippocampus, a structure that is critical for memory formation during wakefulness, the researchers were able to conduct experiments on mice to test long-term spatial memory. When these mic were in REM sleep, the researchers used right pulses to remove memory-asscoicated neurone to find the mice did not succeed the spatial memory task learned, their memory impaired or erased.

    Interestingly, silencing the same neurones outside REM episodes had no effect on memory. Indicating that REM sleep is required for memory consolidation.

  2. Microbiome Initiative x The White House

    The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy announced the National Microbiome Initiative to encourage the development of integrated study of microbiomes across different ecosystems to advance research and development in fields of human health, climate change and food security.

    The initiative is investing $121 million into the program and includes several agencies contributing to the fund, which includes NASA, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the US Department of Agriculture. Additionally, over 100 organisations will also contribute to the project, including $100 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

  3. Understanding space weather

    NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission which flew four spacecraft through a region of space where reconnection takes place and measured!

    The MMS researchers found that electronics moved in a more concerted way. The Electron-scale measurements of magnetic reconnect in space (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2016/05/10/science.aaf2939) paper found direct evidence for electron demagnetization and acceleration at sites along the sunward boundary of Earth’s magnetosphere where the interplanetary magnetic field reconnects with the terrestrial magnetic field.

  4. A perfect quantum metamaterial?

    A proposal by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley, the use of an atomic framework or lattice structure made of laser light to trap atoms in regular spaced nanoscale pockets.

    Developing a quantum metamaterial, an engineered material with exotic properties not found in nature using ultra cold atoms composed in light captured by an artificial crystal, represents new possibilities to manipulate atoms to transmit information, perform complex computation or function as powerful sensors.

    Scientists have devised a way to build a “quantum metamaterial” – an engineered material with exotic properties not found in nature – using ultracold atoms trapped in an artificial crystal composed of light. The theoretical work represents a step toward manipulating atoms to transmit information, perform complex simulations or function as powerful sensors.

This week in science - Issue 44

This week in science

Laser spie on biological processes, First look at human implantation, T cells secret handshake, Brain determins confidence using statistics.

  1. World’s most powerful X-ray laser used to see how bacterial sensor respond to light in real time

    A lot of biological processes, like photosynthesis depend on light, which is hard to capture as it happens almost instantaneously.

    Now, a team of researchers from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have used the world’s most powerful X-ray laser to take snapshots of these processes in motion at speeds 1,000 times faster than ever before.

    Marius Schmidt, the study’s principal investigator said: “We’re the first to succeed in taking real-time snapshots of an ultrafast structure transition in a protein, in which a molecule excited by light relaxes by rearranging its structure in what is known as trans-to-cis isomerization”

  2. First look at key stage of human development

    Implantation is a critical stage of human development, it occurs shortly after fertilization and is the process by which the small hollow ball of cells (blastocyst) attaches to the uterus.

    Even with all of the recent biomedical advancements, implantation has been a bit of a mystery, until now.

    Scientists from the Rockefeller University devised a novel method to replicates implantation in an experimental setting, outside of the uterus. This allowed scientists to see, for the very first time, the development that occurs up to day 14 after fertilization.

    The scientists believe this technique will vastly expand our knowledge and understanding of our very beginning.

  3. T cells have a secret handshake

    T cells are the security guards of the immune system, they patrol the body searching for any invaders that shouldn’t be there. While scientists have known about this for decades, they did not understand how the process by which the T cell determined friend or foe and responded.

    Khalid Salaita, a physical chemist at Emory University said: “We’ve provided the first direct evidence that a T cell gives precise mechanical tugs to other cells, and we’ve shown that these tugs are central to a T cell’s process of deciding whether to mount an immune response. A tug that releases easily, similar to a casual handshake, signals a friend. A stronger grip indicates a foe.”

  4. Brain uses statistics to figure out how confident it is feeling

    Confidence is critical to decision making and according to a new study, it is the result of the brain constantly processing data to make a statistical assessment and transalting that into a feeling of confidence.

    Professor Adam Kepecs, a neuroscientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and lead author of the study said: “The feeling [of confidence] ultimately relies on the same statistical computations a computer would make”.

This week in science - Issue 43

This week in science

New treatment for leukemia with 93% remission rate, Happiness gene is real, Spanking =/= good results, 1-minute workout as good as 45 minutes, Birdbrain no longer an insult.

  1. 93% advanced leukemia patients in remission after immunotherapy

    Exciting results from a new trial conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

    27 of 29 patients all of whom had an advanced type of leukemia went into remission after their T cells were genetically engineered to fight their cancers.

    The experimental therapy is designed in such a way that it harnesses the power of the immune system to fight cancer. By taking patients T cells and genetically engineering them with a synthetic receptor molecule called a CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) the T cells can recognize and kill cancer cells with a the marker CD19.

    While the results are extremely promising, not all of the patients stayed in complete remission and required another round of treatment. These are all important to steps in order to understand and improve treatment strategies.

    Dr. David Maloney, senior author said: “In early-phase trials, you’re continually learning. You don’t expect results like these from early-phase trials. That’s why these response rates are so extraordinary”

  2. Happiness gene discovered

    For the first time ever, researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has isolated the part of the human genome that could explain how humans experience happiness.

    Professor Meike Bartels said, “This study is both a milestone and a new beginning: A milestone because we are now certain that there is a genetic aspect to happiness and a new beginning because the three variants that we know are involved account for only a small fraction of the differences between human beings.”

    The team also found overlap with depressive symptoms and hope that this research can also offer new insight into the causes of depression.

  3. Spanking does the opposite of what parents want to achieve

    Experts from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan have published the most complete analysis to date of outcomes associated with spanking. The team looked at 50 years worth of research and more than 160,000 children.

    The team concluded that the more children are spanked the more likely they are to defy their parents, experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties.

    According to a 2014 UNICEF report, around 80 percent of parents around the world spank their children, despite the overwhelming evidence that spanking does the opposite of what parents want to achieve.

    Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences said: “We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors, yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

  4. Work out for a minute to achieve same results as a traditional workout, because SCIENCE

    A new study from McMaster University has basically eliminated the most common excuse for not exercise, the ol’ “I have no time”.

    The team recruited 27 sedentary men and split them up into three groups, one group had to perform three 45-minute workouts per week, the other group just three 10 minute sessions per week and finally the control group that did no exercise.

    The 10 minutes of exercise consisted of a two minute warm up, three minute cool down, 3 x 20 seconds of all-out cycling, with a total of two minutes recovery in between.

    After 12 weeks of training, the results between the 45 and 10-minute groups were remarkably similar, even though the 45-minute group had committed five times as much time exercising.

    Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study said: “Most people cite ‘lack of time’ as the main reason for not being active Our study shows that an interval-based approach can be more efficient — you can get health and fitness benefits comparable to the traditional approach, in less time.”

  5. Birds as smart as apes

    Researchers from Lund University have shown that ravens are just as clever as chimpanzees, despite that fact that their brains are much smaller.

    The study indicates that the neuronal density and structure of the brain play a more important role than size alone in establishing intelligence.

    Can Kabadayi, doctoral student in Cognitive Science said: “There is still so much we need to understand and learn about the relationship between intelligence and brain size, as well as the structure of a bird’s brain, but this study clearly shows that bird brains are not simply birdbrains after all!”

This week in science - Issue 42

This week in science

Brain caught in the filing room, Remember drawing is best, Trojan nanoparticles trick immune system, Long live the nano-battery.

  1. Brain caught ‘filing’ memories

    A new study on rats, from University College London, has found that memories are formed in one part of the brain, then replayed and transferred to a different area during rest.

    Six rats were taken and ran on a track for 30 minutes and rested for 90 minutes, during which time the team observed the rats brain activity. They found that the rats re-ran the track in their minds at a rate of 10-20 times faster than in reality, the replay also happened almost simultaneously in another region of the brain, suggesting the memory transfer.

    The team hopes that these new finding will be able to better understand conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and where the memory disruptions occur.

    Lead researcher, Dr. Freyja Ólafsdóttir, said “We know people with Alzheimer’s have difficulty recalling the recent past but can often readily remember childhood memories, which seem more resilient. The parts of the brain we studied are some of the first regions affected by Alzheimer’s and now we know they are also involved in memory consolidation.”

  2. If you need to remember something, draw it

    A team of researchers from the University of Waterloo set out to test a number of different methods to commit things to memory and have found that drawing came out on top every time.

    Lead author, Jeffrey Wammes said “We discovered a significant recall advantage for words that were drawn as compared to those that were written. Participants often recalled more than twice as many drawn than written words.”

    The team believes the reason drawing trumps other methods is that drawing helps to create a more cohesive memory trace that better integrates visual and semantic information.

  3. Trojan nanoparticles stop asthma and peanut allergies

    According to new research from Northwestern University biodegradable nanoparticles shells can be used like tiny Trojan horses, with hidden allergens inside, that penetrate the immune system and teach it to not attack. This results in a long term solution.

    Another benefit of this approach is that it creates a more normal and balanced immune system by increasing the number of regulatory T cells and turns off the dangerous Th2 T cells that cause allergies.

    This technology is currently progressing towards clinical trials, but for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and celiac disease, but according to the team could be used to treat a vast number of disease and conditions.

  4. Nano batteries that never need replacing

    Nanowires are amazing, they are thousands of times thinner than a strand of hair, are highly conductive and have a large surface area for the storage and transfer of electrons. A dream material for a battery. The only problem is they are extremely fragile and are not great with recharging and discharging, in fact, they tend to become brittle and crack fairly quickly. Until now.

    A team of scientists from the University of California, Irvine have invented a nanowire-based battery that can be recharged thousands of times without cracking, in fact, the team tested the material over a period of 3 months recharging it some 200,000 times and did not detect any loss of capacity or power and without fracturing any nanowires.

    This is an important step towards developing batteries that never need replacing with a huge lifespan.

This week in science - Issue 41

This week in science

Fossil fuel need not apply in 10 years, Greener surrounds longer life, New treatment for alcoholisim, Mothers milk goodness found in cow milk, Electricshock makes you creative.

  1. Energy think tank thinks fossil fuel could be phased out in 10 years

    When Europe transitioned from wood to coal it took between 96 and 160 years, the transition to electricity took less than half that time between 47 and 69 years to enter the mainstream.

    More recently, Indonesia moved move two-thirds of the population from kerosene to LPG, that’s a staggering 166 million people, in just three years.

    Now a new study suggests that it may be possible to transition away from fossil fuel to cleaner energy in as little as 10 years.

  2. Surrounding yourself with greenery leads to longer life

    Over an eight-year study period, it was found that US women who lived in greener areas, had a much lower mortality rate than women living in the least green areas.

    The study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggested several mechanisms for these outcomes including improved mental health, lower levels of depression, increased opportunities for social engagement, higher physical activity, and lower exposure to air pollution.

  3. New treatment for alcohol addicts

    Alcohol addiction is responsible for almost 3.8% of deaths worldwide, now researchers from the Queensland University of Technology, Australia may have found an inexpensive treatment, pindolol.

    The drug is pindolol is an FDA-approved beta blocker that is already used to treat high blood pressure and angina.

    Researcher Omkar Patkar said, “More research is required but we believe the results from our study show that pindolol represents a novel, safe and ready to test treatment therapy option for managing alcohol dependence in humans.”

  4. Protective compound of mother’s milk found in cow milk

    Breast milk provides an inexpensive, nutrient-filled source of food for babies -

    Mother’s milk is the primary source of nutrition for newborns, it contains complex proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, more importantly, it contains compounds that guide the development of the gut microbiota which nourish and protect the child.

    A team from the University of California, Davis, have now identified the compound in the milk that supplies this nourishment and have shown that it can be obtained from cow’s milk. This work could allow for the creation of cow milk based prebiotics for infants that better mimic the benefits of breast milk.

  5. Electrical stimulation can make you more creative

    A team of researchers from Georgetown have published a new study in Cerebral Cortex, with their finding suggesting that electrical stimulation can make you more creative.

    By giving the frontopolar cortex, the far front of the brain, a small ‘zap’ individuals can enhance the brain’s natural thinking cap boost in creativity,

    Psychology professor Adam Green said “People with speech and language difficulties often can’t find or produce the words they need. Enhancing creative analogical reasoning might allow them to find alternate ways of expressing their ideas using different words, gestures, or other approaches to convey a similar meaning.”

This week in science - Issue 40

This week in science

3D printed ovaries, Quality time = quality aspirations, Healing like wolverine, Salmon diet lowers risk of asthma in newborns, ‘Junk’ gene leads to Celiac

  1. Bioengineering an artificial ovary with 3D printing

    A team of researchers from Northwestern University achieved a world first when they used a 3D printer to create a functioning ovary. When the ovaries were implanted in female mice, they were able to ovulate and give birth to a healthy litter.

    The researchers hope to be able to use the technology to restore fertility in women, particularly survivors of childhood cancer, who have an increased risk of infertility.

  2. Quality time improves educational aspirations

    A new study from the University of Warwick has found that teenagers who spend quality time with their parents and engage in cultural activities were more likely to aspire to continue their studies compared to teenagers that attended homework clubs or engaged in extra-curricular activities.

    Dr. Dimitra Hartas, the lead research said: “Filial dynamics such as emotional closeness to parents and cultural capital were better predictors than more school-driven parent-child interactions.”

  3. Regenerating limbs and organs may be possible

    Unlike salamanders, zebrafish, and other animals, humans can not regenerate lost limbs or organs.

    Now a team from Duke University, USA have found that humans lost the ability to regrow limbs millions of years ago, but the DNA sequences needed to perform such a feat may actually still be lingering.

    Kenneth D. Poss, senior author of the study said “Our study points to a way that we could potentially awaken the genes responsible for regeneration that we all carry within us. We want to know how regeneration happens, with the ultimate goal of helping humans realize their full regenerative potential”.

  4. Eating oily fish while pregnant may reduce the risk of asthma

    According to a study led by Professor Philip Calder from the University of Southampton, pregnant women that eat salmon lower the list of asthma in their child.

    A randomized controlled trial was conducted in which a group of women ate salmon twice a week from week 19 of pregnancy and the other group did not. Allergy tests were conducted on the children at six months and showed little different between the two groups. However when the allergy tests were performed at two to three years of age, children whose mothers ate salmon were much less likely to have asthma.

  5. Gene responsible for Celiac development discovered

    Celiac is a chronic, immunological disease that primarily affects the small intestine, if untreated it can cause chronic diarrhoea and even intestinal lymphoma. Currently, the only treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.

    While 40% of the population carry the gene considered as the main risk factor, only about 1% actually have celiac. Now, a team of researchers from the University of the Basque Country have found a new gene that influences its development, in what was considered ‘junk’ DNA.

    Genetics José Ramón Bilbao, an author of the paper said “This study confirms the importance of the regions of the genome previously regarded as ‘junk’ in the development of common complaints such as coeliac disease and opens up the door to a new possibility for diagnosis. Right now, we are interested in finding out whether the low levels of this RNA are an early feature of coeliac disease (and of other immune diseases), which could be used as a diagnostic tool before its onset”.

This week in science - Issue 39

This week in science

Sunscreen upsets sperm, BioPen prints stem cells, 50-day weather forecast, Bluetooth device predicts epileptic seizures.

  1. Sunscreen may upset sperm

    It has been known for some time that some of the chemicals used in sunscreen to protect us from UVA and UVB can have unintended consequences, by penetrating the skin and entering out blood stream. Back in September we wrote about a new sunscreen from Yale University that was set to address the problem of absorption.

    Now, a study from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark has not only confirmed that indeed some chemicals are absorbed into the skin, but that they may also affect fertility.

    Some of the chemicals were found to mimic the female hormone progesterone and disrupt the normal function of sperm cells.

    The team hypothesises that these results may explain in part why infertility is so prevalent, but more testing will need to be done.

  2. BioPen prints stem cells

    A team of researchers from Australia have created an astounding proof of concept experiment by developing a handheld #D printing pen that can print human stem cells.

    The concept was developed by Professor Peter Choong, Director of Orthopaedics at St Vincent’s Hospital and ACES Director Professor Gordon Wallace. The goal was to develop a device that is lightweight and protable making it easy to use in the constraints of surgery.

  3. Predicting weather more than a month in advance

    A team of researchers from Harvard University, USA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) have discovered a pattern that may help to predict extreme heatwaves by as much as 50 days in advance.

    Most forecast models can only make predictions for 10 days in advance and have very limited skills predicting extreme weather.

  4. Epileptic seizure predicted by wearable technology

    Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures, affecting about 1% of the population. In 70% of patients medication is enough to suppress and manage seizures, however, this is not always the case, resulting in patients living in fear of sudden seizures.

    A combined effort from researchers of Kumamoto University, Kyoto University and Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan have discovered that it is possible to predict the onset of seizures with a 91% accuracy rate with a simple heart monitor.

    Dr. Toshitaka Yamakawa, Assistant Professor at Kumamoto University said “The next step is to develop a wearable seizure prediction device, with that kind of device, patients would be able to ensure their safety before a seizure occurs and since the envisioned device would be attached to the chest, where it’s invisible externally, they would be able to have normal daily lives while wearing it. They wouldn’t need to be afraid of sustaining injury due to an unexpected seizure.”

This week in science - Issue 38

This week in science

Ancient viruses lurking, HIV vaccine, Splitting water x3, Another cleft lip gene, Protein + diet = good sleep.

  1. Ancient viruses in our DNA

    A new study has found that we are less human than previously thought, our DNA that is.

    Scientists from the University of Michigan Medical School and Tufts University, USA have found nineteen new pieces of DNA left by viruses that infected our ancestors.

    In addition to the new findings, the team confirmed 17 other pieces of virus DNA found by scientists in recent years. Turns out our DNA is littered with ancient viruses, some of which have been put to good use by our body.

  2. HIV vaccine

    The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects vital cells in the human immune system that can eventually lead to AIDS.

    However, there are people that produce antibodies that can neutralize many strains of the HIV virus. Now scientists are working to develop a vaccine that would trigger this kind of reaction. With a series of engineered HIV proteins, scientists hope to teach the immune system how to produce the antibodies needed to fight against HIV.

  3. New Catalyst is better at splitting water

    A team of scientists from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, USA and the University of Toronto, Canada have developed a new catalyst that is three times better, than the previous record holder, at splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. This process is vital for making fuels from renewable solar and wind power.

    Even more impressive, the team used a combination of three readily available metals – iron, cobalt and tungsten, unlike the competition which uses costly metals.

    Aleksandra Vojvodic, SLAC staff scientist who led the theoretical side of the work, said: “The good things about this catalyst are that it’s easy to make, its production can be very easily scaled up without any super-advanced tools, it’s consistent, and it’s very robust”.

  4. Cleft lip and palate gene found

    An international team led by Newcastle University, United Kingdom and the University of Bonn, Germany have identified variants near gene GREM1 that increases the risk of cleft lip and palate.

    While the condition is not life-threatening for patients with access to postnatal surgery, it can lead to dental issues, speech problems as well as an increased risk of serious ear infections and hearing loss.

    The team believes that these findings will provide a framework for further analysis and broaden our understanding of the processes that regulate and form the face.

  5. High protein diet improves sleep

    According to new research from Purdue University, USA people who are overweight who take on a high-protein diet regime to lose weight are more likely to sleep better.

    Wayne Campbell,professor of nutrition science said “We found that while consuming a lower calorie diet with a higher amount of protein, sleep quality improves for middle-age adults. This sleep quality is better compared to those who lost the same amount of weight while consuming a normal amount of protein.”.

This week in science - Issue 37

This week in science

Inventive bacteria, not-so-random prime numbers, electric currents helping stroke recovery, and turning off that hungry feeling.

  1. Bacteria invented the wheel

    Long before humans made wheels, it was bacteria that came up with it first. Many bacteria swim by spinning a flagellum, a propeller-like tail that pushes the microbes along. Scientists using a special 3D-imaging technique show bacteria spin this flagellum using a wheel-shaped molecular motor, where each type of motor has different strength, adapted to the species’ lifestyle.

  2. Surprising pattern found in prime numbers

    Two mathematicians, Kannan Soundararajan and Robert Lemke have found a strange pattern in prime numbers, showing that the numbers are not distributed as randomly as theorists often assume.

    They created a computer program to search for the first 400 billion primes and found prime numbers avoided having the same last digit as their immediate predecessor. If the sequence were truly random, then a prime with 1 as its last digit should be followed by another prime ending in 1 one-quarter of the time.

  3. Brain Stimulation Could Speed Stroke Recovery

    A small clinical trial found that for people who’ve had a stroke, treatment that involves applying an electric current to the brain may help boost recovery of their mobility.

    Stroke is the most common cause of severe, long-term disability, and the new study’s findings showed that “we can speed up stroke rehab with brain stimulation,” Johansen-Berg said. “If we could routinely add brain stimulation to rehabilitation, this could help ensure that each patient reaches their true potential for recovery.”

  4. Scientists find an appetite on-off switch

    Scientists at Johns Hopkins have found a “switch” in the brain that helps to control appetite, which could explain why some people find it hard to know when to stop eating.

    The researchers believe that sugar levels in the bloodstream are involved in triggering when the switch is turned on during a meal so that people begin to feel full. But when the switch fails, it leads to overeating and obesity.

This week in science - Issue 36

This week in science

Feeding on plastic, identifying Banksy through science, Marvel promoting girls in STEM, and amazing science photography.

  1. Hungry bacteria eat plastic

    An incredible team of scientists from Japan has discovered bacteria that evolves to feed on plastic.

    Ideonella sakaiensis breaks down the plastic by using two enzymes to hydrolyze PET and a primary reaction intermediate, eventually yielding basic building blocks for growth.

  2. Will Science unmask Banksy?

    Can science prove Banksy’s identity? Queen Mary University of London scientists are using their own geographic profiling system called the “Dirichlet process mixture modelling” to plot out an incident map and circle the location of the ever elusive graffiti artist.

    Data collected from 140 of Banksy’s alleged work have pointed the finger at Robin Gunningham.

  3. Marvel engaging Girls in STEM

    The National Academy Of Science’s Science & Entertainment Exchange and Marvel have launched a contest aimed at encouraging teenage girls to change the world through science.

    Ideas can be new, or a science project. Five finalists will receive a trip to the premier of the new Captain America movie and present their ideas to leaders in science and industry at Marvel Studios. The winner of the competition will receive an internship at Marvel Studios.

  4. Winning images in science photography

    The Wellcome Image Awards are a collection of photography celebrating science, medicine and life.

    Check out the amazing photos and be in awe of by the collection of thought-provoking images from around the world.

This week in science - Issue 35

This week in science

Impeccable Cabrian nervous system, Massive new fossil site, Graphene doesn’t lose energy, new materials galore, drinking water better than we thought.

  1. 520 million-year-old nervous system discovered

    Researchers have found a 520 million-year-old fossil in southern China. What makes this particular fossil so unique is that it’s the most complete central nervous system from the Cambrian period.

    It is so well preserved that individual nerves are visible, which will help our understanding of how the nervous system evolved.

  2. Massive Jurassic fossil site discovered in Argentina

    Still on the topic of fossils, but this time from Argentina where a massive Jurassic fossil site was discovered. The newly found site contains the largest number of fossils ever found from the Jurassic period.

    Argentina just keeps on racking up fossil records, with the discovery of the largest titanosaur just last month and the discovery of Dreadnoughtus a few years ago, which still holds the record for the largest terrestrial animal.

  3. Graphene: All the electrical transmission goodness none of the energy lose

    For the first time, the theoretical properties of graphene have been confirmed. In a recent study by Plymouth University, England, a team of researchers have found that electrical signals transmitted at high frequencies lose none of their energy when passed through graphene. This would make graphene better than any known superconductor when carrying high-frequency electrical signals.

    Researchers say that the applications for the ‘wonder’ material would range from next generation high-speed transistors to satellite communications and even ultra-sensitive biological sensors.

  4. Rationally approach to new materials

    New materials can lead to huge breakthroughs or even usher a new age, like the bronze age. Throughout history, these discoveries were accidents or flukes. With at least 95 known stable elements, the number of possible combinations is huge and the current methods of looking for new materials are terribly inefficient. That is until now.

    Dr. Ramamurthy ‘Rampi’ Ramprasad from the University of Connecticut, USA designed a system that could accurately predict properties of a polymer like if it is a good conductor or insulator.

    The hope is that the new system will be able to scan millions of theoretical compounds to find which one would make the best solar cell or computer chip.

  5. Drinking more water its good for you

    A new study from the University of Illinois, USA has found that people that increased their consumption of plain water by only 1, 2 or 3 extra cups daily decreased their daily calory intake by as much as 205 calories per day.

    But wait there’s more, sodium intake was reduced by up to 235 milligrams, up to 18 grams less sugar and consumed as much as 21 milligrams of cholesterol in a single day. All of this from only 3 extra cups of water day.

    The results were the same across race/ethnicity, education, income levels and body weight. The team believes it might be sufficient to design and deliver universal educational campaigns that promote plain water consumption for the public to reap the benefits of drinking more water. Bottoms up!

This week in science - Issue 34

This week in science

Ultralight solar cells, Passive Wi-Fi, Fancy new photo of the Milky Way, Nanomaterial assembly lines, Skin cells that kill cancer.

  1. Solar cells so light they can float on soap bubbles

    Researchers at MIT have created the thinnest, lightest solar cells ever, at just 80 microns thick it may power the next generation of electronic devices.

    The device is a proof-of-concept that has taken several years to develop and may take several years more to become a commercial product, but that does not change the fact that this is a new approach to making solar cells.

    Unlike traditional solar cells that require high temperatures and harsh chemicals, the new device instead uses a simple process in a vacuum chamber at room temperature and does not require solvents.

    Vladimir Bulović, an MIT professor and co-author, said that like most new inventions, it all sounds very simple — once it’s been done.

  2. New ‘Passive Wi-Fi’ uses 10,000 times lower power

    A team of computer scientists and electrical engineers from the University of Washington, USA have demonstrated that it is possible to generate a Wi-Fi transmission using 10,000 times less power.

    Named as one of the 10 breakthrough technologies of 2016 by MIT Technology Review

    “We wanted to see if we could achieve Wi-Fi transmissions using almost no power at all,” said co-author Shyam Gollakota, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering. “That’s basically what Passive Wi-Fi delivers. We can get Wi-Fi for 10,000 times less power than the best thing that’s out there.”

    Passive Wi-Fi will not only save battery life on current devices it opens up the doors to innovations for household devices and wearables allowing them to communicate via Wi-Fi without worrying about power.

  3. ATLASGAL produces spectacular new image of the Milky Way

    5,100 meters above sea level, on the Chajnantor Plateau in Chile’s Atacama region, sits the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope or APEX. The telescope has just completed mapping the full area of the Galactic Plane visible from the southern hemisphere.

    The APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy (ATLASGAL) has produced a spectacular new image of the Milky Way and will allow astronomers to study the cold Universe including gas and dust which are only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero.

  4. New nanomaterial assembly lines

    Nanoparticles are the future, they are used in everything from drug delivery formulations to high-definition televisions. The problem is that they are difficult to produce and very expensive. For example, gold nanoparticles have been shown to be infinitely useful and currently cost about $80, placing their price at $80,000 per gram, compared to raw gold which is just $50 per gram.

    What makes the nanoparticles so expensive is the difficult and time-consuming process, that is until now. Researchers at the University of Southern California, USA have created a new way to manufacture nanoparticles in a large-scale automated assembly line.

  5. Skin cells used to hunt down and kill cancer

    Glioblastoma is a common but aggressive cancer that begins in the brain, burrowing deep into the brain making it nearly impossible to remove. Most patients die within a year and a half of their diagnosis with survival rates beyond two years at about 30%.

    However a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA have discovered a new and effective treatment for the disease. Researchers have turned skin cells into killers that can hunt down and destroy the brain tumor.

    The technique builds on the Nobel Prize winning technology of 2007, which allow for skin cells to be turned into embryonic-like stem cells at can be used to home in on and kill any cancer cells, the stem cells could even be engineered to produce a tumor-killing protein, just to add another blow.

    Survival time in mice was increased by as much as 220 percent. The next stage will focus on working with human stem cells and testing more effective anti-cancer drugs that can be loaded into the stem cells.

This week in science - Issue 33

This week in science

Understanding the sleep or lack thereof, why healthy birds make us sick, eliminating core symptom of schizophrenia, running can shrink tumors, 3D printing tissues.

  1. Biologists identify gene that helps regulate sleep

    The lovely biologists at Caltech have identified the gene that helps regulate sleep. This is thanks to performing the first large-scale screening in a vertebrate animal. Overexpression of the gene, neuromedin U (Nmu) causes severe insomnia.

    Did you know our understanding of how sleep is regulated is surprisingly little, and the findings of Nmu can help address new therapies for sleep disorders.

  2. Birds may hold the key to destroying fatal fungal infections

    The good work of scientist from the University of Sheffield reveal how birds can carry potentially fatal infections to humans but not get ill, where the fungus can grow slowly within the bird’s digestive tract, but its immune system will kick in and destroy it if the fungal pathogen tries to invade the bird’s body.

    The discovery shows birds have a white blood cell called macrophage, that has the ability to completely block the growth of the fatal fungus. This explains why healthy birds can spread the infection.

  3. Scientists eliminate core symptom of schizophrenia in mice

    Researchers have successfully used a chemical compound to regrow connections between brain cells, or neurons. The outcome restored memory deficits. The article states “The abnormal or stunted growth of neurons in the brain’s memory centers is a key indicator of schizophrenia.”

    Dr. Joseph Gogos explains “With these findings, we showed that restoring cellular connections reversed memory deficits—a symptom of schizophrenia for which there is no effective treatment”

  4. Running helps slow cancer growth in mice

    It’s time to get off that comfortable couch because the benefits of exercise keep on giving. Experiments by the University of Copenhagen have discovered that mice who spent their free time on a running wheel were better able to shrink tumors by 50% compared to their less active counterparts.

  5. Scientists prove feasibility of ‘printing’ replacement tissue

    How’s this for amazing, Wake Forest Baptists Medical Center scientists prove the feasibility of 3D printing replacement tissue. The development of precision 3D printers will contribute to solving the shortage of donated tissues available for transplants, having the ability of tailor-make tissues for patients.

This week in science - Issue 32

This week in science

Helping people with paralysis move with the power of thought, barley diet for a healthier life, robots inspired by cockroaches, artifical organs thanks to cotton candy machines, and hidden galaxies discovered.

  1. Device to get people with paralysis on their feet again

    How’s this for amazing: medical researchers have created a paperclip sized device that will give people with spinal cord injuries new hope to walk again with the power of thought!

    The development of the stentrode is a minimally invasive device that can read signals from the brain’s motor cortex. Dr Thomas Oxley, from the University of Melbourne, exclaimed the stentrode’s revolutionary feat is thanks to the collaboration of other medical leaders and researchers from The Royal Melbourne Hospital, The University of Melbourne and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

  2. Barley improve your sugar levels and reduce appetite

    Sweden’s Lund University studied the effects of barley and it shows that barley can improve people’s health by reducing blood sugar levels and the risk for diabetes. The secret lies in the special mixture of dietary fibres found in barley, which can also help reduce people’s appetite and risk for cardiovascular disease.

    We <3 Barley.

  3. Robots squeezes through cracks thanks to Cockroach

    We can learn a thing or two about survival from cockroaches, and UC Berkeley biologists have found inspiration from these little critter’s ability to squeeze through the tiniest cracks.

    The robotics project called CRAM, for compressible robot with articulated mechanisms, uses cockroach techniques where it can splay its legs outward when squashed and it’s capped with a plastic shield similar to the tough, smooth wings covering the back of a cockroach.

    Professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley explains, “In the event of an earthquake, first responders need to know if an area of rubble is stable and safe, but the challenge is, most robots can’t get into rubble”.

  4. Cotton candy flavored artificial organs!

    Leon Bellan from Vanderbilt University is using cotton candy machines to make finer networks that can be used as templates to produce capillary systems required to create full-scale artificial organs.

    You could say it’s a 3D printer for organs, where the cotton candy machine spins out networks of tiny threads to spec: size, density and complexity to the patterns form by capillaries; the branch that transports blood.

  5. Hello Hidden Galaxies behind the Milky Way!

    For the first time, hundreds of hidden nearby galaxies have been studied. It’s shedding light on a mysterious gravitational anomaly dubbed the Great Attractor!

    This may explain the Great Attractor region as its gravitational force which is equivalent to a million bill Suns is drawing the Milky Way and hundreds of thousands of other galaxies towards it.

This week in science - Issue 31

This week in science

New material to detect explosives, Stem cells rebuilding face bones, Babies need mama’s germs and detecting bacteria all in this week in science.

  1. New material lights up near explosives

    A new material has been created by a team of researchers from the University of Southern Denmark, which becomes fluorescent in the presence of an explosives molecule.

    Previous materials that were created to detect explosives were unreliable and reacted to a wide range of chemicals. However the new material only becomes fluorescent when it is exposed to TNB and some specific salts that are based on chlorine or fluorine, making it extremely reliable.

  2. Scientists discover stem cells capable of repairing skull, face bones

    Scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center, USA have been able to identify and isolate stem cells that are capable of skull formation and bone repair in mice.

    The team also confirmed that the stem cell population isolated are unique to the bones in the head, with separate and distinct stem cells being responsible for the formation of different bones in other parts of the body.

    Senior author Wei Hsu, Ph.D., believes that the findings will contribute to the field of tissue engineering, leading the way with superior ways of replacing damaged bones, due to disease or trauma.

  3. C-section babies need mama’s germs

    There are several studies that suggest babies delivered by C-section have an increased risk of obesity, asthma, allergies, atopic disease and other immune deficiencies. It turn’s out that many of these diseases have been linked to the microbiome, or microbes that live on the babies body.

    A team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego, USA have conducted a pilot study and determined that a newborns microbial makeup can be altered by exposing the newborn to their mothers vaginal fluids.

    In the pilot study, four C-section delivered babies were swabbed with sterile gauze that had been incubated in the mothers vagina for an hour. It was found that babies had been swabbed had a microbiome that more closely resembled that of the vaginally delivered infants, while the babies that did not receive the microbial transfer showed a very different microbiome that was noticeable even after the baby were one month old.

    There is still some way to go as this was just a small pilot study, but the team plans to do a follow-up study to determine how long the microbial differences last and if microbial exposure at birth has an affects on long-term health.

  4. New probe to detect infections

    In medicine, infections are a major challenge, currently it takes about 24 hours to plate bacteria and incubate it overnight.

    However a new method for detection could allow physicians to detect infection on the spot, in under one minute. Researchers from the George Washington University, USA have developed an inexpensive, disposable electrochemical sensor that can identify molecules produced by the bacteria Pseudomonas.

    Further improvements and testing will be needed, however the promise for the device is huge, as it would allow for physicians to switch from broad-spectrum antibiotics to specific directed therapies much sooner, which would lower the health care costs, minimizing drug resistance, and improve patient outcomes.

This week in science - Issue 30

This week in science

STOP! ALS, Mini-microscope to ID cancer, Graphene and brain play nice, gene-editing for eye mutation, vapor: lungs hate it, bacteria cant get enough.

  1. ALS halted in mice

    Researchers from Oregon State University, USA have been able to stop the progression of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in mice for a period of over 2 years.

    Decades have been spent researching ALS however no curses or treatments were ever discovered that could prolong life for about one month.

    Lead author and professor of biochemistry and biophysics, Joseph Beckman said “We are shocked at how well this treatment can stop the progression of ALS,”

    Even though these are the best outcomes possible, it is impossible to say if humans will respond to the treatment in the same way. Researchers are currently testing for safety and moving towards human trials as soon as possible.

  2. Pen size microscope to ID cancer

    When operating on a malignant tumor, surgeons must remove all of the cancerous material and leave as much of the healthy tissue as possible, however this can be challenging as often it is impossible to tell where the tumor ends and the healthy tissue starts. That is until now.

    A team of mechanical engineers from the University of Washington, USA have developed a handheld, miniature microscope that surgeons can use in the operating theatre to determine where to stop cutting.

    Another application for the device is as a cancer-screening tool in dental and dermatological clinics. This would allow doctors to assess lesions and moles on a cellular level on the spot, to better determine if a biopsy is really needed. Researchers expect trials to begin testing the device in a clinical setting next year.

  3. Graphene plays nice with the brain

    Researchers from the University of Trieste, Italy and the Cambridge Graphene Centre, UK have demonstrated that it is possible to interface graphene neurons, without damaging the integrity of the cell.

    The team hope that this method will allow for the development graphene based electrodes that can be implanted into the brain, in order to restore sensory functions for people that maybe paralized or have motor disorders such as epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease.

  4. Gene-editing technology repairs blindness

    Scientists from Columbia University Medical Center, USA and University of Iowa, USA have used CRISPR, a new gene-editing technology, to repair a genetic mutation that leads to blindness.

    The most common variants of retinitis pigmentosa is caused by a single mistake in a gene called RGPR, which causes the retina to degrade and leads to blindness.

    Scientists took a skin sample from patient’s and created stem cells, the team then made pinpoint repairs to the damaged region, transforming the cell’s into healthy retinal cells. The cell’s are then re-transplanted back into the patient to treat the retina and restore vision loss.

  5. Vapor: lungs hate it, bacteria cant get enough

    Researchers from University of California, San Diego, USA have published their latest study that suggests that e-cigarettes are toxic to human airway cells, suppress the bodies immune system and alter inflammation.

    Even more startling is the fact that vapor from e-cigarettes were beneficial to bacterial pathogens. When exposed to the vapor the bacteria were better able to form biofilms, invade the airway cells and resist natural human antimicrobial peptides.

This week in science - Issue 29

This week in science

Our brain is bigger, ninth planet hiding beyond Pluto, 3D printed plane parts, Noodles and lasagne sheets in Space, Moths inspired new Glass

  1. The brain can store as much information as the whole World Wide Web

    Researchers from The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, USA have found that the capacity of the human brain is some 10 times more than previously thought.

    The memory capacity of neurons is dependent on synapse size, so when the team found that there were actually about 26 different size categories of synapses they knew that previous estimates of capacity fell short.

    These findings could help computer scientists build computers that are more precise but also very energy-efficient, after all the brain only generates about 20 watts of power.

    Terry Sejnowski, Salk professor and co-senior author of the paper, said that “This is a real bombshell in the field of neuroscience, this trick of the brain absolutely points to a way to design better computers. Using probabilistic transmission turns out to be as accurate and require much less energy for both computers and brains.”

  2. There maybe a ninth planet lurking beyond Pluto

    Using mathematical modeling and computer simulations, researchers from the California Institute of Technology, USA have found evidence of a giant planet that they have nicknamed Planet Nine.

    The planet is about 10 times the mass of Earth and takes between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make an orbit around the sun.

    While the planet has not been directly observed, its gravitational dominates of the area is so great that there is little doubt that it is out there.

    Mike Brown, Professor of Planetary Astronomy and co-author, has said “I would love to find it, but I’d also be perfectly happy if someone else found it. That is why we’re publishing this paper. We hope that other people are going to get inspired and start searching.”

  3. 3D printed plane parts pass the test

    American aerospace and defense technologies company Orbital ATK has successfully tested a 3D printed hypersonic engine combustor at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

    The combustor was produces using a method known as powder bed fusion (PBF) where powder is fused using a laser to produce a 3D form. The part under went rigorous testing, only to confirm that it had met or exceeded all of the requirements.

    This is truly a great feat, the technology has come a very long way in a short period of time. Hopefully the results encourage engineers to put this technology to good use.

  4. Noodles, lasagne sheets or hazelnuts floating in our Galaxy

    Astronomer from CSIRO, Australia have used innovative new techniques to identify structures that look like hollow noodles, lasagne sheets or hazelnut shells.

    The structures appear to be ‘lumps’ in the thin gas found between the stars in our Galaxy. The lumps appear to be as big as the Earth’s orbit and are about 3,000 light years away.

    Dr Keith Bannister, Principal Research Engineer, said that these findings “could radically change ideas about this interstellar gas”. As for the shape, the team believe that more observations will help sort out the geometry.

  5. New efficient anti-glare glass inspired by moths eyes

    The University College London, England with support from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, England have developed a type of glass with a nanocoating based on nature that is self cleaning, energy saving and anti-glare.

    By creating a pencil like nano-pattern on the surface, the glass is very resistant to water and a coating of vanadium dioxide, a cheap and readily available material prevents heat loss during the colder months. The team estimated that the new glass could reduce energy bills by as much as 40%.

    Most impressively the nano-structure on the glass were inspired by the anti-reflective properties of the eyes of a moth which were evolved to hide from predators.

This week in science - Issue 28

This week in science

Brain and immune system officially connected, new metal-glue, reinventing the light bulb and wooden styrofoam.

  1. The brain is connected to my lymph node

    Researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, USA have made a game changing discovery when they discovered that the brain is directly connected to the immune system.

    The vessels have somehow gone undetected, even though the lymphatic system is thoroughly mapped out. This discovery means that not only will decades of textbooks need to be rewritten but in the effect it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.

  2. Sol­dering with no heat

    Hanchen Huang a professor at the Northeastern University, USA and two of his PhD student’s have developed a new metal glue that is set to replace soldering as we know it. The team, experts in nanotechnology, have developed ‘MesoGlue’, a metal glue that binds metal to metal or to glass at room temperature and requires little pressure to seal.

    Even more impressive is that the technique provides the strength and electrical conductivity of a metal bond, is functional at high temperatures and high pressures and it is very resistant to air and gas leaks. A bit of a wonder-glue if you will.

  3. Reinventing the light bulb

    The incandescent light bulb has not changed very much since Thomas Edison demonstrated it to the public in 1879. While it was revolutionary then it is very wasteful and inefficient with more than 95% of energy being wasted mostly in the form of heat.

    A group of professors from MIT have developed a proof of concept to demonstrate their two-stage process to make the new and improved incandescent bulbs.

  4. Renewable and biodegradable wooden styrofoam

    Researcher from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden have designed a new shock-absorbing material that is both renewable and biodegradable.

    The new material is a Styrofoam replacement that is made from a wood-based foam and has been dubed ‘Cellufoam’. To demonstrate the materials versatility, Cellutech, a Stockholm startup, has created a bike helmut that is completely made from wood, even the straps are made from extra strong paper.

This week in science - Issue 27

This week in science

Neanderthal immunities, New elements confirmed, echo chambers on Facebook and 3D glasses for bugs!

  1. Neanderthals and Denisovans gave us genes

    Two independent studies have found that Neanderthals, Denisovans and Humans interbred, which played an important role in the evolution of the human immune system to protect the body from infections.

    People with the Neanderthal and Denisovans genes are more sensitive to bacteria, fungi, and parasites triggering a rapid inflammatory and anti-microbial responses. However it looks like the greater sensitivity might also be responsible for the rise of allergies in modern day people.

  2. Four new elements confirmed

    The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has reviewed and approved the claims for discovery of the new elements 113, 115, 117 and 118.

    A team from RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-based Science in Japan have been credited with the discovery of element 113 and will be the first Asian country to name an element.

    Elements 115, 117 and 118 have been credited to a collaboration between Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the USA.

    The new elements still need to be named and go through a review process which can take several months, once that is done the 7th row the of periodic table will really be complete.

  3. Facebook users find people that reinforce their views

    An international team of researchers from Italy and the USA have found that Facebook users access and consume news in ways that tends to establish ‘echo chambers’, similar to traditional news sources.

    People limit their exposure to news that goes against their beliefs and are drawn to sources that support and reinforce their beliefs. When several people do the same thing, using the same source they create what is known as an ‘echo chamber’.

    What is interesting is that previously these ‘echo chambers’ were fairly small, but with the rise of the Internet and Facebook a lot more people can connect and reinforce their view points. The researchers suggest that such practices can explain odd phenomena like widespread rejection of scientific evidence of global warming.

  4. 3D Glasses for the praying mantis

    A team of scientists from Newcastle University have made tiny 3D glasses for a praying mantis to study and better understand 3D vision.

    Most of the information that we have about 3D vision comes from vertebrates but the team have confirmed that praying mantis an invertebrate do see in 3D.

    Jenny Read, Professor of Vision Science and study leader said “Better understanding of their simpler processing systems helps us understand how 3D vision evolved, and could lead to possible new algorithms for 3D depth perception in computers.”

This week in science - Issue 26

This week in science

What a year! Happy 2015 to all and here’s to more amazing science for 2016.

  1. Science Photos of 2015

    Check out Wired’s “The best of the year’s otherworldly science images”, it’s a curated photo gallery, so sit back and marvel at the year that was.

  2. Flying hoverboard are a thing

    Living our Back to the Future fantasy gets closer and closer, and for £13,500 you can be hovering all over the world.

    ArcaBoard has designed a floating dream with 272 horsepower under your feet and is propelled by 36 ducted fans spinning at 45,000rpm.

  3. The rise of social robots

    This is the droid you are looking for! How about meeting your doppelgänger in robot form.

    Professor Nadia Thalmann expresses “Robotics technologies have advanced significantly over the past few decades and are already being used in manufacturing and logistics. As countries worldwide face challenges of an aging population, social robots can be one solution to address the shrinking workforce, become personal companions for children and the elderly at home, and even serve as a platform for healthcare services in future”.

    Are you looking forward for ready a companion that understands you, knows your quirks, hopes, dreams and vices? We can’t wait to have our very own socially conscious C-3PO. May the force be with you!

  4. 2015, A Year Of Remarkable Science

    We’re always in awe of the amazing people working on science and as the year 2015 nears an end, it’s been an incredible year for science. NPR recounts the year that was recapping accomplishment of space science and physics for 2015.

This week in science - Issue 25

This week in science

Space X sticks the landing, High IQ = Longer Life and Gullies on Mars were not made by water, all in this week in science.

  1. Space X vertical landing

    For the first time in history an orbital rocket has been launched and successfully returned to earth, landing vertically on a landing pad in Cape Canaveral.

    The Space X reusable launch system development program was set up to make space travel cheap and accessible, and with the successful landing of Falcon 9 they are one step closer to opening up space travel for all.

  2. High intelligence = longer life

    Researchers have confirmed a link between IQ and life expectancy. While strange and lacking a proper explanation, the results have been replicated in more than 20 studies from all over the world and even established the field of cognitive epidemiology, which focuses on understanding the relationship between cognitive functioning and health.

    One major finding from the field have revealed that socioeconomic factors do not completely explain the IQ-mortality relationship, instead genes may be responsible. For the time being, more research is needed as the link between IQ and mortality remains elusive.

  3. Gullies on Mars formed by ice not flowing water

    A new study conducted by two French scientists have found that the Gullies on Mars may have formed due to dry ice processes rather than flowing liquid water.

    The study was published in Nature Geoscience and shows that during late winter CO2 gas condensed from the atmosphere and freeze on to the surface of the planet, when the weather warms up it causes destabilization with debris flow resulting in gullies that look like they have been formed by flowing water.

This week in science - Issue 24

This week in science

What a week! Catching a supernova in the act, finding a new possibly habitatal planet, multiplying teeth, and allantoin creams to live longer.

  1. Supernova caught in the act

    We all know that starts love to go out with a bang! The problem is observing these stellar explosions, in the past it has been down to pure luck.

    However on the 11th of December astronomers caught a supernova in the act, what’s more impressive is the fact that they predicted when and where the supernova would blow.

  2. In a galaxy not so far far away

    A team of astronomers from the University of New South Wales, Australia have discovered a new planet, that is in the habitable zone, orbiting a star the is jsut 14 light years away.

    The new planet is one of three planets that the team detected around the red dwarf star known as Wolf 1061.

    “It is fascinating to look out at the vastness of space and think a star so very close to us – a near neighbour – could host a habitable planet,” says lead study author Dr Duncan Wright.

  3. Splitting teeth, to form two

    A team of researchers from RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology and the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, in Japan have found a way to multiply teeth.

    The team removed teeth germs from mice and grew them in culture, this allowed them to grow two fully formed teeth, more impressively once the teeth were implant into the jaws of mice they were fully functional allowing the mice to chew and feel stimulus.

  4. Face cream mimics life-extending effects of diet

    A new study from the University of Liverpool, England has revealed that allantoin, a common ingredient in skin care products, can mimic the life-extending effect of a starvation diet.

    Allantoin is a botanical extract found in many anti-ageing creams increasing the lifespan of worms by mare than 20%.

    Shaun Calvert, the PhD student who carried out the work said: “We have shown so far that our compounds work in worms, but studies in mammalian models are now necessary. The next step for us is to understand the mechanisms by which allantoin extends lifespan, as this could reveal new longevity pathways.”

This week in science - Issue 23

This week in science

Smart bandaids, reversible diabetes, fountain of youth for worms, power paper and babies got blue eyes.

  1. New algorithm lets machines learn like humans

    A team of scientists has developed an algorithm that captures the human learning ability and enables computers to recognize and draw simple visual concepts that are mostly indistinguishable from those created by humans.

    “Our results show that by reverse engineering how people think about a problem, we can develop better algorithms,” explains Brenden Lake, a Moore-Sloan Data Science Fellow at New York University and the paper’s lead author. “Moreover, this work points to promising methods to narrow the gap for other machine learning tasks.”

    When a person is shown a new kitchen utensil or dance move, they only need a few examples to understand its make-up and recognize new instances. However, historically machines can replicate some pattern-recognition tasks that were previously done by humans, such as ATMs reading the numbers written on checks, but the machines generally needs to be given hundreds or thousands of examples before they are able to achieve a similar level of accuracy.

  2. First “Test Tube” puppies

    A team of scientists from Cornell University and the Smithsonian Institution have finally solved the puzzle of canine in vitro fertilization (IVF). Alex Travis, the co-author said “Since the mid-1970s, people have been trying to do [IVF] in a dog and have been unsuccessful.”

    This is a major breakthrough in the field as it opens up the door for preserving endangered canid species as well as eliminating hereditary diseases in dogs.

  3. Mining Wiki reveals most influential universities

    A team lead by Jose Lages from the University of Franche-Comte in France have used the Google pagerank algorithm to analyse the way universities are mentioned on Wikipedia to produce a world ranking.

    The team applied this process to 24 different language editions of Wikipedia, “These 24 languages cover 59% of world population and 68% of the total number of Wikipedia articles in all 287 languages,” they say.

    They found that each language tends to favor its own universities, so the top 100 list in French includes 32 French speaking universities, the top 100 in German includes 63 German-speaking universities, and so on. They combined the results to produce a global ranking.

    The top three universities are:

    1. University of Cambridge U.K.
    2. University of Oxford U.K.
    3. Harvard University U.S.

    Any suprise there? View the full list over at the Wikipedia Ranking of World Universities using PageRank algorithm.

  4. 3D Video games can boost memory

    A new study from the University of California, Irvine has shown that playing #-D video games can boost memory performance by as much as 12%, this is about the same that memory decreases between the ages of 45 and 70.

    While there are plenty of studies that show 2-D video games can improve hand eye coordination and reaction time, these new findings show the potential to implement 3-D games to help people who suffer from memory lose as they age or dementia.

This week in science - Issue 22

This week in science

Smart bandaids, reversible diabetes, fountain of youth for worms, power paper and babies got blue eyes.

  1. Smart bandaid to light up and medicate you

    A team of MIT engineers have created a water-based gel-like material that is sticky, stretchy. Even more impressive is that fact that it is possible to incorporate temperature sensors, LED lights and tiny drug delivering reservoirs. This would allow the ‘bandaid’ to monitor the wound and release medicine in response changes in skin temperature or light up when medicine is running low.

  2. Type 2 diabetes reversible

    As of 2010 there were about 285 million people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, so the findings from Newcastle University, UK could not have come earlier.

    The team led by Professor Roy Taylor has shown that Type 2 diabetes is caused by fat accumulating in the pancreas and by reducing this fat build up Type 2 diabetes could be reversed.

    Professor Taylor said “What is interesting is that regardless of your present body weight and how you lose weight, the critical factor in reversing your Type 2 diabetes is losing that 1 gram of fat from the pancreas.”

  3. Scientists accidental discovery the fountain of youth… for worms.

    Instead of living longer wouldn’t it be great if you could be younger for longer? This is exactly what scientists have achieved in Caenorhabditis elegans, a type of roundworm.

    Before you get too excited about the fountain of youth the team of scientists want to make it clear that they are a ver long way from achieving the same results in humans.

    In 2007 the team discovered that when round worms were injected with an antidepressant called mianserin the worms lifespan increased by 30-40%. The team wanted to know how. Now the results are starting to come to light, it appears that what is causing the increase in lifespan is a newly discovered phenomenon the team have called “transcriptional drift”.

    By examining data from mice and human brains between the ages of 26 and 106 year, the team have confirmed that transcriptional drift also occurs in mammals.

  4. Power paper

    Researchers at Linköping University’s Laboratory of Organic Electronics, in Sweden, have developed power paper – a new material with an outstanding ability to store energy.

    The new material is a cellulose-polymer made from simple materials that are renewable and readily available. Not only that is it light weight and does not require any dangerous chemicals or heavy metals, plus its waterproof!

    ‘Power paper’ has set some new world records in simultaneous conductivity for ions and electrons giving it an exceptional capacity for energy storage. This breakthrough opens the doors to continued development in order to achieve even high capacity and efficiency.

  5. The mother of all blue eyes

    A team at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark have tracked down the cause of blue eyes a genetic mutation which took place between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago.

    “Originally, we all had brown eyes,” said Professor Hans Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. “But a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a “switch,” which literally “turned off” the ability to produce brown eyes.”

    The research shows that people with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor.

This week in science - Issue 21

This week in science

Cells can be tricked by magic, Phobos to put a ring on it, Clear screens coming to a store near you, the more fat you have the more your body tries to hold on and Never forget Plankton.

  1. Magic tricks to trick cells

    Everyone loves a magic trick, they take advantage of our brain’s sensory assumptions and trick us into seeing phantoms or missing the sleight of hand.

    A team of researchers from University of California, San Francisco have discovered that even brainless single-celled yeast have sensory biases and can be tricked by carefully engineers illusions, that could be used to fight diseases such as cancer.

    Wendell Lim, PhD, the senior author of the study said that “The ability to perceive and respond to the environment is a basic attribute of all living organisms, from the greatest to the smallest, and so is the susceptibility to misperception. It doesn’t matter if the illusion is based on molecular sensors within a single cell or neurons in the brain.”

  2. Mars is getting a ring

    Phobos, Mars’ largest moon is slowly falling into Mars! According to a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the moon will not crash into Mars, instead it will be ripped a part to form rings around the planet.

  3. Transparent LED displays might be on their way

    Super thin materials known as monolayer semiconductors have been generating a lot of interested lately, as they could pave the way for ultra efficient solar cells, nanoscale transistors and even transparent LED displays. However when things are that small and thin there can be problems, lots and lots of defects making them virtually usable.

    A team of engineers from the University of California, Berkeley have found a simple way to fix these defects using a chemical treatment, which resulted in a dramatic 100-fold increase in the materials photoluminescence.

    So that transparent LED screen might be closer than you think.

  4. The more fat you have the more your body wants to keep it

    An international team of researchers from the University of Cambridge, UK, and Toho University, Japan, have found that the more fat a person has, the more their body produces a protein known as sLR11.

    What is interesting is that this protein seems try to hold on to the stored energy by helping the fat cells ‘resist’ being burnt.

  5. Don’t forget plankton

    A group scientists from the University of Exeter, UK have found that plankton can evolve incredibly quickly.

    The study showed that plankton placed in warm water initially failed to thrive, however after 100 generations, or 45 days the plankton had evolved a tolerance and the ability to capture more atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    The result indicate that planktons ability to rapidly evolve might offset aid aquatic ecosystems with dealing with global warming.

This week in science - Issue 20

This week in science

This week in Science: A planet is forming! Coffee is dead. Long live coffee! A good breakfast a day, keeps the good grades coming; Non-toxic chemicals to tackle cancer; mathematics, the Japanese way.

  1. New planet forming

    Scientists from Australia and the United States has captured the first-ever images of a planet in the making. An exciting gathering of dust and gas particles! Professor Tuthill, co-author explains the images provided unambiguous evidence. “This is the first time we’ve imaged a planet that is definitely still in the process of forming.”

  2. Want to live longer? Drink Coffee!

    We’re coffee connsiuers here @theorytot and enjoy a hot brew every few seconds. A study shows there are healthy benefits to drinking coffee. According to the results, slurping a few cups of the stuff might just help you live longer, reducing the likelihood of death from a variety of causes, ranging from a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, Parkinson’s and heart problems.

  3. Good breakfast, good grades

    According to a study from British universities reveal a direct and positive link between kid’s breakfast quality and consumption, and their educational attainment. If you want kids to excel in all things, give the next generation a good early feed!

  4. Global task force tackles problem of untreatable cancers and disease relapse

    Many cancer therapies are highly toxic, and even when they appear to work, a significant percentage of patients will experience a relapse after only a few months. Typically these relapses result from small subpopulations of mutated cells which are resistant to therapy, and doctors who try to address this problem with combinations of therapies find that therapeutic toxicity typically limits their ability to stop most cancers.

    Scientist direct their interests on non-toxic chemicals in plants and foods may be key. Keith I. Block, M.D., the Medical and Scientific Director of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Skokie, Illinois. says “We believe that carefully designed combinations of non-toxic chemicals can be developed in a manner that will maximize our chance of arresting most cancers. Currently, clinicians have a limited number of tools to help them treat the disease once it becomes resistant to mainstream therapy, but an approach that can reach a broad-spectrum of targets without toxicity offers considerable promise.”

  5. Teach kids how to learn multiplication the Japanese way

    Easy, fun and super cool! Japanese kids learn how to multiple differently and all you have to do is count the dots and lines you drew!

This week in science - Issue 19

This week in science

Special relativity in 7 minutes, holey liquid, duckbilled dinosaur fills in the blank, 8,500 year old bees and shocking water clean.

  1. Breakthrough Junior Challenge Winner

    Ryan Chester, an 18 year old high school student, is the winner of this years Breakthrough Junior Challenge $250,000 post-secondary scholarship.

    Breakthrough Prize is an international award that celebrate the advancement and importance of science, mathematics, biology and physics. The Breakthrough Junior Challenge asked people between the ages of 13 and 18 to create a short video that communicates a big idea in science.

    Ryan Chester made a 7 minute video about that explains Einstein’s special theory of relativity using easy to understand real world experiments.

  2. Holey liquid

    An international team led by scientists from Queen’s University Belfast have invented the first ever porous liquid.

    Because of the holes in the liquid it can dissolve unusually large amounts of gas, which is a major breakthrough that can pave the way for several new technologies such as carbon capturing.

  3. A new species of duckbilled dinosaur has been discovered by scientists from Montana State University.

    What is more impressive is that the new dinosaur, named Probrachylophosaurus bergei fills a gap between preceding species, Acristavus, which lived about 81 million years ago and the later form Brachylophosaurus, which lived about 77.5 million years ago.

  4. Bee keeping goes way way way back

    According to a team of scientists led by the University of Bristol, humans have been using bees and bee products for at least 8,500 years, which is a lot earlier than previously thought.

    The team analysed over 6,000 samples of prehistoric pottery from more than 150 Old World archaeological sites. The distinctive chemical signature of beeswax showed up at several Neolithic sites across Europe, indicating that there was wide spread use.

  5. Shocking new way to desalinate water

    Clean drinking water is essential to life, with availability becoming a more and more pressing issue across the world.

    A team of scientists from MIT have invented a new method to desalinate and filter water using electrically driven shockwave within a stream of flowing water. The method has been demonstrated to work in the lab, now the team is working on designing a scaled up system to withstand practical testing.

This week in science - Issue 18

This week in science

Teeny-tiny snails, Windy Sun holes, Sperm and Egg checkpoints, sugary blood vessels and eye drops that make you see all in this week in science.

  1. Tiny snail sets world record

    Dutch and Malaysian researchers have discovered a new species of mollusk, with an average shell height of 0.7 millimeters which has set the record for worlds smallest snail.

    The shell of the newly found snail, Acmella nana is so small that it could fit through a needle’s eye 10 times!

  2. There is a hole in the Sun, Aurora to come

    There is a hole on the Sun that is about to take aim at Earth for the 3rd time producing beautiful Aurora’s across large parts of Asia, Europe and North America.

  3. Sperm and egg checkpoint

    Scientists from the University of Southampton have found that eggs have a protective checkpoint to make sure that DNA damaged eggs are not fertilised.

    While known checkpoints in our cells ensure that chromosomes are shared equally during cell division, this newly discovered process is unique in that it responds to DNA damage in the chromosomes.

  4. Sugary blood vessels the future of regenerative medicine

    One of the problems with growing artificial organ or tissue in the lab, is getting oxygen and nutrients to all the cells to make sure they are alive by the end of the process which can take days or even weeks.

    A team of bioengineers and surgeons from Rice University and the University of Pennsylvania have created a network of blood vessels, from sugar that maybe the answer to the problem. The sugar model was used to demonstrate that it is possible to create structures that will with stand the pressures of flowing blood in order to feed artificial cells.

  5. Eye drops to restore eye sight

    A team of scientists from the University of California San Francisco, the University of Michigan, and Washington University in St. Louis have found a new chemical that could potentially clear up cataracts.

    Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in humans and animals, with expensive and invasive surgeries available. The results of this new chemical, temporarily named “compound 29”, have been extremely promising in both mice and human lens tissue that had been removed during surgery.

This week in science - Issue 17

This week in science

Comets, make that a double! Saturn moon’s underground ocean and Neil Degrasse Tyson on going to space to stimulate the economy.

  1. Rosetta finds oxygen on comet 67P in ‘most surprising discovery to date

    Scientists on the Rosetta mission have found oxygen in the gas cloud around comet 67P in what they described as the most surprising discovery about the comet to date.

    Kathrin Altwegg from the University of Bern says “It’s actually the most surprising discovery we have made so far on 67P because oxygen was not among the molecules expected in a cometary coma,” said Kathrin Altwegg at the University of Bern.

  2. Comet Lovejoy caught shedding a whole lot of alcohol and sugar

    Exciting news as scientists have caught a comet releasing ethyl alcohol, glycolaldehyde and 19 other organic molecules, adding further evidence to the idea that comets were the origin of ingredients required for life to arise on our planet we call Earth!

    Nicolas Civer from the Paris Observatory in France puts it in perspective: “We found that comet Lovejoy was releasing as much alcohol as in at least 500 bottles of wine every second during its peak activity”

  3. Saturn moon’s underground ocean

    Cassini spacecraft images as it flew by Enceladus capture the grooved and cratered surface of the moon, and the bright streaks of vapour plumes.

  4. Science the engine of economy

    Neil deGrasse Tyson explains innovation in science and technology “are the engines” of the economy of the future.

This week in science - Issue 16

This week in science

This week in science orange peel to clean the oceans, Parkinson’s Disease smells, seagrass is better than rainforests, hungry black hole and bacteria getting social.

  1. Orange peel to rid oceans of mercury

    Scientists from Flinders University, Australia have accidentally discovered how to remove mercury from water using industrial waste and orange peel.

    By taking sulphur, a by-product from the petroleum industry, and limonene, a by-product from orange peel in the citrus industry, a made to react together to form a soft rubber. Remarkably the material then can grab mercury out of the water.

    The team hopes that due to the affordability of the material it will be used for large-scale environmental clean operations.

  2. Woman can smell Parkinson’s Disease

    Joy Milne noticed a strange musky smell from her husband she didn’t think anything of it. A year later he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and it was when Joy attended the Parkinson Disease support groups that she again noticed the same musky smell.

    The Edinburgh University decided to test her by recruiting 6 people with Parkinson’s and 6 people without. She identified 11 our of 12, but was adamant that one of the ‘control’ subjects had Parkinson’s. It was only 8 months later that the control subject was in fact diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

    Scientists hope to find a molecular signature that is responsible for the odour to develop simple tests, which could lead to early detection of the disease.

  3. Seagrass stores carbon better than forests

    An analysis of seagrass has revealed that seagrass is 35 times more efficient at storing carbon than rainforests. However over the past century around 29% of global seagrass has been destroyed resulting in carbon being released at a similar rate to the emissions of both the UK and Australia combined.

    Seagrass areas that had recovered from damage lost about half as much carbon as the unrecovered areas. The recovery process is slow, but it maybe possible to organise restoration projects to speed up the natural process.

  4. Astronomers observe a black hole devouring a star

    A team of astronomers have observed a black hole some 290 million light years away, feasting on a star.

    Jon Miller, a professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan said that “This is the best chance we have had so far to really understand what happens when a black hole shreds a star.”

  5. Bacteria like to get social and chat

    Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered that bacteria have sophisticated social interactions. They communicate with one another via electrical signaling which is similar to how neurons in our brain talk to one another.

This week in science - Issue 15

This week in science

Greenhouse for Mars, The women behind the code for the Apollo space program, what is this mysterious star in our galaxy, free babies tongue, sitting won’t be the death of you and are you musical?

  1. Greenhouse prototype for Mars

    The Apollo space program saw Margaret Hamilton lead an epic feat of engineering that change the future of what was possible. Being a spaceship programmer is a remarkable feat, Hamilton would bring her daughter Lauren by the lab on weekends and evenings. While 4-year-old Lauren slept on the floor of the office overlooking the Charles River, her mother programmed away, creating routines that would ultimately be added to the Apollo’s command module computer.

  2. Margaret Hamilton’s code got humans on the moon

    The Apollo space program saw Margaret Hamilton lead an epic feat of engineering that change the future of what was possible. Being a spaceship programmer is a remarkable feat, Hamilton would bring her daughter Lauren by the lab on weekends and evenings. While 4-year-old Lauren slept on the floor of the office overlooking the Charles River, her mother programmed away, creating routines that would ultimately be added to the Apollo’s command module computer.

  3. The most mysterious star in our galaxy

    Astronomers have spotted a strange mess of objects whirling around a distant star. Scientists who search for extraterrestrial civilizations are scrambling to get a closer look.

  4. Babies need free tongue movement to decipher speech sounds

    Researchers at the The University of British Columbia have found inhibiting infants’ tongue movements impedes their ability to distinguish between speech sounds.

  5. Sitting won’t kill you

    A study suggests sitting for long periods doesn’t make death more imminent. Researchers from the University of Exeter and University College London found sitting is no worse than standing for a person who doesn’t otherwise move his or her body.

  6. Psychologists find that you may be musical and not even know it

    The Journal of Research in Personality published a study by a team of psychologists, identifying that the personality trait ‘Openness’ predicts musical ability and sophistication. People who score highly on Openness are imaginative, have a wide range of interests, and are open to new ways of thinking and changes in their environment.

This week in science - Issue 14

This week in science

Farming robots, money can’t buy happiness, play action video games to cognitive improvement, a longer life thanks to mapping genes, and fracking wells not good for mother and baby.

  1. Robot farms the future?

    The world’s first fully robotic farm will open in 2017. Spread, a Japanese company is building an indoor lettuce farm that will automate the farming process with the goal of sustainability-cheaper and better for the environment.

  2. Economic growth can’t buy happiness

    An interesting article on behavioral economics / psychology suggesting that more instance of the Easterlin paradox where “high incomes do correlate with happiness, but long term, increased income doesn’t correlate with increased happiness” will be observed, with economic growth not necessarily increasing the happiness of a country’s citizens.

  3. Action video games improve brain function more than so-called ‘brain games

    Everyone, put down your smart phones! Increase your mental fitness by playing action video games! “Action video games have been linked to improving attention skills, brain processing, and cognitive functions including low-level vision through high-level cognitive abilities. Many other types of games do not produce an equivalent impact on perception and cognition,” the researchers commented. “Brain games typically embody few of the qualities of the commercial video games linked with cognitive improvement.”

  4. Mapping the genes that increase lifespan

    The good folks at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the University of Washington have identified 238 genes that, when removed, increase the replicative lifespan of S. cerevisiae yeast cells. This is the first time 189 of these genes have been linked to aging. These results provide new genomic targets that could eventually be used to improve human health.

  5. Premature birth and problem pregnancies near fracking wells

    A new study in the US’s ‘fracking capital’ Pennsylvania has found that pregnant women who live near gas fracking wells are far more likely to give birth prematurely or develop problems during their pregnancies.

This week in science - Issue 13

This week in science

Salty water on Mars, bioadhesive nanoparticle to protect your skin, antenna to catch light, bacteria everywhere preventing asthma and eating out plastic.

  1. Houston, we have salty water!

    NASA has confirmed that new findings provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows on Mars.

    Lead author of the report, Lujendra Ojha first noticed puzzling dark streaks on Mars as an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona in 2010. The dark streaks looked like they were flowing and at times receding.

    Using an imaging spectrometer researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals, which suggests that either the dark streaks or the process that forms them is the source of the hydration.

  2. Worms that can eat plastic

    Global plastic consumption was estimated to be 110 million tons back in 2009, with an estimated 269,000 tonnes in our oceans. We all know that plastic seems almost indestructible taking a very long time to break down. So to say garbage is a problem is an understatement.

    So the latest research from Stanford University in USA and Beihang University in China could not have come any sooner.

    Researchers found that mealworms, the larval form of the darkling beetle can happily live off styrofoam and other polystyrenes, as the worms have gut bacteria that digest the plastic.

  3. The answer to asthma and allergies is gut bacteria

    Researchers at the University of British Columbia, Canada have compared the gut bacteria of three month and one year old children, and discovered that lower levels of four specific gut bacteria increase the risk of asthma.

    Most children naturally get the bacteria Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella and Rothia, or FLVR, but the children that had low levels of FLVR at three months were at high risk of developing asthma at the age of three.

    The research supports the hypothesis that we’re making our environment too clean. It seems that in early life, when a babies immune system is developing the best thing to do is roll around in the dirt.

  4. Optical rectenna that can convert light into DC current

    Engineers at Georgia Institute of Technology, USA have solved a 40 your old challenge and created the worlds first optical rectenna.

    The device is essentially an antenna made up of carbon nanotubes which are coupled to a metal-insulator-metal diode. When the tiny antennas are exposed to light the energy is coupled into the antenna, then another device is used to extract it and convert it to electricity.

    Even though it took over 1,000 iterations there is still a long way to go, however this could lead to new ways to convert heat waste into electricity and capturing solar energy more efficiently.

  5. Super safe, super awesome new sunscreen

    A lot of commercial sunblocks on the market today do prevent sunburn, but they can also go below the skin’s surface, enter the bloodstream and cause unintended side effects.

    Researchers at from Yale University, USA have developed a new sunscreen that is made using bioadhesive nanoparticle, the best part is it stays on the surface of the skin, doesn’t penetrate into the bloodstream and is extremely effective.

This week in science - Issue 12

This week in science

The Super Harvest Blood Moon is upon, chopping up human DNA, new teleportation record, and vinegar wielding killer robots!

  1. Three lunar phenomena at once!

    On the 27th of September, there will be a total lunar eclipse that will coincides with the fall equinox (which is actually tonight the 25th of September) this is known as the harvest moon, if that wasn’t already impressive enough the moon is also on its closest approach to the Earth for the year, making it a Super Harvest Blood Moon!

    This phenomena won’t be seen again for 18 years!

    For more info check out this video on Youtube.

    The best view will be from North and South America here are the viewing times:

    Super Blood Moon Eclipse Event

  2. Simple more precise genome engineering

    A team of scientists have identified a new system for editing the human genome with the potential to dramatically advance genetic engineering.

    The new system allows for much smaller and more accurate cuts to be made to the DNA.

  3. A new world record for teleportation!

    Researcher have set a new world record when they ‘teleported’ or transferred quantum information coded into particles of light that were carried over 100 km of optical fiber, the previous distance record was 25km. four times faster than the previous record.

    Confirming that quantum communication is feasible over long distances in fiber.

  4. Fighting invaders with robots and vinegar

    Crown of thorns starfish are massive, barbed & venomous predators that are destroying coral reefs worldwide. A single crown of thorns starfish can eat up to 6 square meters of living coral in a year.

    Luckily a group of researchers from Australia have created COTSbot, an automated submersible robot that can swim around, detect the evil starfish and inject them with vinegar, dissolving them in their tracks!

This week in science - Issue 11

This week in science

Pluto is still on our minds, feeding the world, coffee vs body clocks, men not needed for reproduction?, improving in vitro fertilization, losing half the ocean’s animals.

  1. Aerial Tour of Photo

    Nasa has kindly mesmerized us again with its yet another Pluto fly over. You have to check out the “Art meets Science in New Pluto Aerial Tour” video.

  2. A look at Pluto’s mountains

    The New Horizons spacecraft is a gift that keeps giving. Pluto “wows”with its spectacular geological features.

  3. How to feed the world

    A food computer that will feed the world. Talk about interesting and amazing technology: light, water, plants. Get excited about city farming! Will you be inspired to start your own aeroponic at home?

  4. How caffeine shifts our circadian clocks

    When you need a get up and go, we usually gravitate to coffee like zombies. Researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder measured how caffeine influenced the circadian rhythms of five human caffeine consumers over 49 days. Caffeine consumers saw their clocks swing by 40 minutes, about half the magnitude of the change caused by bright light, a powerful and well-studied time cue for the circadian clock.

  5. French Startup created sperm in lab

    A French startup working with a top government lab said it has developed in-vitro human sperm, claiming a breakthrough in infertility treatment sought for more than a decade.

  6. New light shed on infertility puzzle, could improve in vitro fertilization

    For the first time, researchers have revealed communication between the sperm and the fallopian tube that helps prepare the sperm for its final big push into the egg. The finding could improve in vitro fertilization and help couples struggling with infertility.

  7. ###In 45 Years, We’ve Lost Nearly Half The Ocean’s Animals A new report from the World Wildlife Fund shows overexploitation and climate change pose a greater risk to the world’s oceans than ever before.

This week in science - Issue 10

This week in science

Tumor killing wasps, sleepy students should start later, new particles that break physics, and how to please your gut all this week in science.

  1. Brazilian Wasp Venom Can Destroy Tumors

    Researchers from University of Leeds in England and Brazil’s Sao Paulo State University have discovered that the venom from the Polybia paulista wasp contains strong anti-cancer peptides, called Polybia-MP1 (MP1).

    In a series of lab tests MP1 was able to inhibit bladder and prostate cancer cells as well as other drug-resistant forms of Leukemia.

    What is even more amazing is that MP1 seems to target and destroy only turmor cells and did not harm healthy cells. While more testing is needed these are certainly very interesting results.

  2. Particle accelerators suggests the existence of a new particles that break the laws of physics

    We all know anything quantum tends to be bizarre, to say the least. So it comes as almost no surprise that new particles that break the laws of physics have shown up.

    What is even more surprising is that two independent teams have encountered the same strange particles, a team at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland and a team from the Belle experiment at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) in Japan.

    At this stage the findings are not conclusive and still require more research, however the suggestive hints are very tantalising for researchers.

  3. Sleepy students should start school later

    A new collaborative study from the University of Oxford, Harvard Medical School and the University of Nevada have found that current school and university start times are damaging to students.

    The new research suggests that 10 year old students should start at 8:30 or later, 16 year olds should start 10:00 or laters and 18 year olds should start at 11:00. By implementing these start times students would be protected from sleep deprivation which is linked to poor learning and health problems.

    These findings come from a better understanding of the circadian rhythms of the body clock, which drastically changes during puberty.

  4. How to please all the different bacteria in your gut

    With as much as 1,000 different types of gut bacteria it can be difficult knowing what to eat to keep everyone happy, on top of that in the past few years research has shown that there are links between some diseases and the composition of gut bacteria.

    Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have not only identified how the most common bacteria interact during metabolism, they have also developed a mathematical calculation platform that can predict how people will respond to different diets, based on the types of gut bacteria they have.

This week in science - Issue 9

This week in science

Another interesting week in science everything from new bionic devices to stop animal testing, time flowing backwards, mutant plants and mutant humans.

  1. A new bionic device to end animal testing, reveals shocking information about common pain pill

    A team of Israeli and German scientists have created a bionic liver to help test the safety of products. Currently many products are tested on animals, but there are a few problems its cruel to the animals and the results aren’t always 100% as humans can react differently. Testing new products on people isn’t an option, and testing on human cells is problematic as the cells die very quickly when outside the body. The development of the bionic liver, nicknamed 3D micro-reactor, is exactly what both scientists and animal-welfare groups have been looking for.

    While testing the bionic liver scientists discovered the previously unknown mechanism of toxicity in the common pain reliever Tylenol or Panadol (acetaminophen). They found that acetaminophen can stop cellular respiration with in minutes and at a much lower dose than previously thought, the findings were published in the journal Archives of Toxicology.

  2. New law hints that time may run backwards inside black holes

    Black holes are very strange places, they are impossible to see directly, nothing can escape not even light. Another lesser known but equally strange property is that black holes seem to ‘know’ what happens in the future.

    Now if that wasn’t crazy enough a team of physicists from University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have been investigating the craziness and have reported a new area law in general relativity that is based on an interpretation of black holes as curved geometric objects called “holographic screens”. Now the new law implies that thermodynamic time runs backwards inside black holes. Crazy right?

  3. A mutant plant that loves to munch on TNT

    Arabidopsis thaliana is a relative of the cabbage, but is so interesting about it is that a mutation allows the plant not only to grow in TNT contaminated soil, but to thrive on it! Usually TNT is toxic to animals and stunts the growth of most plants, but not Arabidopsis thaliana.

    This discovery could potentially be a very elegant and green solution to the problem of millions of acres of contaminated land, in the United States alone there are an estimated 39,000 square miles of TNT contaminated land.

    What is even more impressive is that once the plant takes up TNT it alters the make up and entombs it in the cell walls which are highly stable, and even once the plant dies and decomposes the TNT is not biologically available, meaning its gone for good!

  4. A rare gene may prevent Alzheimer’s

    Alzheimer’s disease has frustrated scientists for a long time, it always seems like every new discovery helps piece together the puzzle in understanding the disease, but not how to treat or prevent it.

    But a new genetic mutation maybe the key scientists have been looking for to prevent Alzheimer’s in the general population. The mutation is found in a gene known as APP, which is thought to disrupt one of the enzymes responsible for breaking down protein, and reduces the plaque buildup in the brain by as much as 40 percent.

    While the mutation of APP may still be years away it is a major breakthrough in the search for a treatment for this debilitating disease.

This week in science - Issue 8

This week in science

This is a week of discoveries from super massive black holes with company, 3,600 year old spartan perfume and swords, IceCube neutrinos & muons oh my and a trapped 20 million year old lizard!

  1. The nearest quasar is powered by two black holes!

    An international team of astrophysicists and astronomers, led by Dr Youjun Lu, have discovered two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth.

    “We are extremely excited about this finding because it not only shows the existence of a close binary black hole in Mrk 231, but also paves a new way to systematically search binary black holes via the nature of their ultraviolet light emission,” said Lu.

  2. A 3,600 year old palace unearthed near Sparta

    Greek archaeologists working at the site of Agios Vasileios in the valley of Sparta, southern Peloponnese, have found the ruins of a Mycenaean palace.

    The palace had ten rooms and was built around 1,600 BC. Archaeologists found some amazing artefacts like swords, part of a chariot wheel, vases, perfume products as well as clay tablets written in Linear B, a pre-alphabetic Greek script.

    This discovery will offer a unique insight into the Mycenaean people, their beliefs and language.

  3. The IceCube Neutrino Observatory confirms astrophysical neutrinos

    Researchers at the IceCube neutrino observatory, a cubic-kilometre particle detector sunken deep into the Antarctic ice, announced back in November 2013 that they believe they have discovered astrophysical neutrinos. The results published on August 20, 2015 in the journal Physical Review Letters are the first independent confirmation of this discovery.

  4. A 20 million year old salamander discovered in a chunk of amber

    A 20 million year old salamander discovered in a chunk of amber.

    Half way between Puerto Plata and Santiago, in an amber mine in the northern mountain range of the Dominican Republic a 20 million year old salamander was discovered preserved in a piece of amber.

    What makes this discovery so special is the fact that there are very few salamander fossils, let alone such well preserved 20 million year old ones!

    George Poinar, Jr a professor emeritus of Oregon State University was the lead author of the paper published in the journal Palaeodiversity and is a world expert in the study of insects, plants and other life forms preserved in amber. Poinar said that “Finding it in Dominican amber was especially unexpected, because today no salamanders, even living ones, have ever been found in that region.”

This week in science - Issue 7

This week in science

It’s been another amazing week in science, from veggies in space to record breaking artificial leaves on Earth. It has been a week of confirmations the good and the heartbreaking.

  1. The exercise hormone irisin is real!

    Irisin was first discovered in 2012, when levels or irisin were inscreased in mice, their blood and metabolism improved, in humans the results were unclear which divided the scientific community, some thought it existed other thought it did not.

    Now the research team at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have demonstrated once and for all that irisin exists in humans. By using a state of the art technology they looked blood samples from individuals after exercise and found that these people irisin had been released, which activates fat cells to increase energy turn over!

  2. Houston, we have a vegetable

    Most of the food in space, is prepackaged, freeze-dried overly processed and not very delicious. But on Monday the ISS astronauts got a treat of freshly grown red romaine lettuce.

    Growing veggies, or anything else in space can be problematic because there is no gravity to pull the water down to the roots. The NASA Veggie project used some clever technologies like aerated clay pillows to provide structure to the lettuce even in zero gravity.

    And the verdict? Trent Smith, the Veggie project manager said the plants were just fantastic, [with] big large leaves”. As for the taste, astronaut Kjell Lindgren told mission control in Houston, “That’s awesome, tastes good”

  3. Malaysian Sumatran rhinos are all gone

    Technology works in deliberate ways and thanks to the Internet, collaboration and building upon ideas is making it easier. How about a social network for sharing and discovering research–Yes, please!

  4. Artificial Leaf is the best one yet!

    Researchers at Monash University in Australia have designed an artificial leaf that produces hydrogen fuel at 22% energy efficiency, smashing the previous record of 18%.

    While this is the best efficiency ever seen, it is still a long way off being financially viable. However the researchers say that they are aware of several parameters that need fine-tuning in order to improve efficiency even further.

    The lead researcher Professor Leone Spiccia said that “Electrochemical splitting of water could provide a cheap, clean and renewable source of hydrogen as the ultimately sustainable fuel. This latest breakthrough is significant in that it takes us one step further towards this becoming a reality”.

This week in science - Issue 6

This week in science

It’s that time of year again, when you can look up at the sky and see the glorious Perseid Meteor Shower!

But there is also plenty of Tetris fighting cravings, new planets, opioid producing yeast and kids health all in this week in science!

  1. Perseid Meteor Shower

    Every year from mid July until the end of August, Earth crosses the orbital path of Comet Swift-Tuttle, the debris left by the comet crash into the Earth’s atmosphere and light up the sky.

    The Northern Hemisphere can catch between 50-100 meteors per hour on a clear moonless night. The Southern Hemisphere won’t miss out either, while only about a third a many meteors will be seen, there is still more than enough to go around!

    So here is everything you need to know:

  2. Playing Tetris can decrease cravings

    A new study has found that playing Tetris interferes with cravings and desires. Playing Tetris on a smart phone for only 3 minutes can decrease cravings for food, drugs and activities by up to 20%

  3. Aerobically fit kids are better at math

    A new study from the University of Illinois suggests that cardiorespiratory fitness in kids contributes to grey matter thinning, which aids the development of structures in the brain that make kids good at mathematics.

    Grey matter thinning is the normal process by which the brain matures and develops better reasoning, this study found that thinner grey matter corresponded to better math performance particularly in kids that we fit.

    While the study has resulted in some interesting suggestions about kids health and math performance, it is not conclusive with a lot of work still to be done.

  4. Astronomers discover a new planet orbiting two stars!

    The planet known has Kepler-453b was discovered orbiting 2 stars in the ‘habitable zone’, so if you where to look in the sky you would see two Suns in the sky, just like Tatooine in Star Wars.

  5. New genetically modified yeast produces painkillers in a few days in stead of a year.

    New genetically modified yeast produces painkillers in a few days in stead of a year.

    Hydrocodone is an opioid used to make painkillers, it take a year to produce a batch of medicine, starting with growing poppies, harvesting, shipping to pharmaceutical factories for processing and extracting and refining into medicine, that is until now.

    Researchers at Stanford have genetically engineered yeast to produce hydrocodone in just 3 to 5 days. The research was started over a decade ago, with many experts believing it would be impossible to engineer yeast that would replace the current process.

    Though the output is small, it has been demonstrated that it is possible, what’s more impressive is the fact that the techniques developed can be adapted to produce other plant-derived compounds to fight cancer, infections, chronic conditions even arthritis.

This week in science - Issue 5

This week in science

Balance beams, a new animal, eating earth, exploring comets and 3D mapping the brain, is all in a week of science!

  1. Astronomers discover what maybe the largest structure in our universe

    A team of astronomers have found a ring of nine gamma ray bursts that measure 5 billion light years across. Current models set the theoretical limit for the largest structures at 1.2 billion light years, meaning that the new discovery is 4 times larger than what is possible.

    Prof Lajos Balazs, who led the team, said that “If we are right, this structure contradicts the current models of the universe. It was a huge surprise to find something this big – and we still don’t quite understand how it came to exist at all.”

    The team wants to find out more about the ring to figure out what led to its creation or if we need to revise the current theories about the evolution of the cosmos.

  2. Science and Cooking for Kids

    What’s more fun than science and cooking! “Science and Cooking for Kids” is an amazing program coordinated by the Harvard’s Public School Partnerships team, in which students learn various cooking techniques and how to connect food with math and science.

    “Science and cooking are beautifully interconnected,” said Vayu Maini Rekdal, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and one of the session’s organizers. “Cooking was perhaps the first form of science that humans explored, and is the science that billions of people around the world unknowingly use every day.”

    Hungry?

  3. The Pace of Scientific Research Is Picking Up

    Technology works in deliberate ways and thanks to the Internet, collaboration and building upon ideas is making it easier. How about a social network for sharing and discovering research–Yes, please!

  4. National Science Foundation (NSF) invests in interstate collaboration in science and engineering research

    Research is a crucial component of the innovation that improves life for everyone. The NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is a program designed to fulfill the foundation’s mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide.

    This year, eight awards will fuel the development of research programs in 12 states.

    Research Projects:

    • Innovative, Broadly Accessible Tools for Brain Imaging, Decoding, and Modulation. University of Rhode Island

    • Developmental Chronnecto-Genomics (Dev-CoG): A Next Generation Framework for Quantifying Brain Dynamics and Related Genetic Factors in Childhood. The Mind Research Network

    • Feeding and Powering the World — Capturing Sunlight to Split Water and Generate Fertilizer and Fuels. University of Mississippi

    • Unmanned Aircraft System for Atmospheric Physics. Oklahoma State University

    • Bridging Cognitive Science and Neuroscience Using Innovative Imaging Technologies. Medical University of South Carolina

    • Strengthening the scientific basis for making decisions about dams: Multi-scale, coupled-systems research on ecological, social, and economic trade-offs. University of New Hampshire

    • Low-Cost, Efficient Next-Generation Solar Cells for the Coming Clean Energy Revolution. Brown University

    • Catalysis for Renewables: Applications, Fundamentals and Technologies (CRAFT). University of Kansas Center for Research Inc.

  5. ‘Daily Show’ Science: 7 Times Jon Stewart Got Nerdy

    With Jon Stewart’s tenure on the Daily Show at an end. The lovely folks @livescience help us relive times where science headlined the much beloved comedy news satire television show.

This week in science - Issue 4

This week in science

Balance beams, a new animal, eating earth, exploring comets and 3D mapping the brain, is all in a week of science!

  1. Climbing trees and balancing on a beam can improve your working memory by as much as 50%

    A recent study by the Department of Psychology at the University of North Florida has shown that dynamic activities can drastically improve the ability to processing of information. in as little as 2 hours.

    Activities like climbing trees, walking or crawling on a balance beam, running barefoot, navigating around obstacles, even carrying awkwardly weighted objects were shown to significantly improve the working memory capacity of people after only 2 hours!

    So go outside and climb a tree!

  2. The first new canine discovered in over 150 years

    A new study has revealed that the Golden jackals of Africa and Eurasia are actually two different species that evolved separately for millennia. It turns out that the Africa’s golden jackal is actually a type of wolf and has been dubbed the African golden wolf.

  3. Early results from Philae’s Comet landing have been published in a special edition of the journal Science

    Early results from Philae’s Comet landing have been published in a special edition of the journal Science.

    The data was sent when Philae landed on the Comet 67P/Churyumov­-Gerasimenko on the 12th of November 2014. Some of the highlights from the first suite of analysis include complex molecules that could be key building block of life, assessment of the surgace properties and internal structure of the comet and the daily rise and fall of temperature.

    Due to some issues with the landing, Philae is not in the designated area which means that it does not get enough sunlight to recharge its batteries. However mission controllers hope that on the 13th of August 2015, when the comet is closes to the sun, Philae will research and send back more data!

  4. Scientists create an unprecedentedly high resolution, 3D map of the brain

    The team was led by Narayanan Kasthuri, a neurobiologist at Harvard University. The map of the brain that was produced from a compilation of images taken with nanoscale resolution. This makes it possible to view structures found in individual nerve cells.

    Researchers plan to use the detailed 3D brain map to study abnormal connections between brain cells to better understand neurological disorders like schizophrenia and depression.

  5. Wild chimpanzees in Uganda eat clay to ‘detox’

    Researchers from Oxford University have found that wild chimpanzees in the Budongo forest have started to eat more and more clay.

    It was originally thought that the chimps had turned to clay as a result of the destruction and scarcity of the raffia palm trees, which chimps would often eat. However, it seems that the main reason for the chimps eating clay is actually to boost their mineral intake, help them ‘detox’ and digest their food.

This week in science - Issue 3

This week in science

Discoveries for the soul! Adventure, history and education—Science is a humbling and an inspirational venture.

  1. Genes influence academic ability

    Research has shown that genes play an important role in educational achievement.

    In a UK, a study investigated the “genetic and environmental influences on, and links between, the various subjects” based on the high school exam results of 12,632 twins.

    It concludes that academic performance “are highly heritable, and many of the same genes affect different subjects independent of intelligence”.

  2. Four Legged Snake Fossil Surprises Scientists

    While there have been discoveries of extinct snakes with stunted hind legs, Dr David Martill from the University of Portsmouth puts, “But no snake has ever been found with four legs. This is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery.”

    How old is this fossil? The fossil site which dates back to the early Cretaceous period which ended 66 million years ago.

  3. NASA’s Kepler Mission Discover Bigger, Older Cousin to Earth

    NASA’s Kepler mission to explore the structure and diversity of planetary systems has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.”

  4. $100 million Breakthrough Listen Initiative to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life

    $100 million Breakthrough Listen Initiative to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life.

    Earlier this week, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking announced the global Breakthrough Listen initiative, to search for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life.

    Milner will provide $100 million in funding over 10 years making this the biggest, most comprehensive and ambitious SETI program. The project is set to begin in 2016.

  5. Adventure Science Enters the Space Age

    Nick Nielsen and Jacob Shively of the Icarus Interstellar said it best: “Science is an intellectual adventure. Sometimes it is also a physical adventure.”

    Are you ready for an adventure, spacefaring into the cosmos?

This week in science - Issue 2

This week in science

What a week in science and Pluto, I love you too. Let the lovefest begin!

  1. New Horizons phones home to confirm the successful mission to Pluto!

    After nine and a half years of flying New Horizons has finally reached Pluto marking the historic event as the first spacecraft to explore Pluto. New Horizons is collecting so much data it will take over 16 months to send it all back to Earth! NASA hopes that the great success of this mission will inspire a whole new generation of explorers!

  2. Pluto finally in focus!

    When Pluto was first discovered in the 1930, the images we had were pixilated, grainy and impossible to make out. Now thanks to New Horizons we can finally see Pluto and its heart in all their glory!

  3. How big is Pluto?

    The size of Pluto has been debated since it was discovered, now thanks to New Horizons we finally have the answer. At 2,370 kilometers in diameter, Pluto is the King of Kuiper Belt!

This week in science - Issue 1

This week in science

Welcome to the inaugural issue of this week in science, celebrating all things science! Enjoy and let’s learn something new:

  1. The discovery of neurons responsible for memories and learning

    Researchers at the University of Leicester and The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center have discovered that individual neurons in the brain instantly began to fire differently when a new memory or association was formed. The study suggests that learning can actually be traced back to these changes.

    By understanding how a normal brain forms new memories it maybe possible to help with neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.

  2. A new study suggests that low levels of education maybe as deadly as smoking

    A collaboration between the University of Colorado, New York University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that while life expectancy is increasing it was those that have a higher level of education that are reaping most of the benefits. One of the researchers, Virginia W. Chang said that “paying attention to education has the potential to substantively reduce mortality”.

  3. After a slight malfunction earlier this week, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is on track to rendezvous with Pluto

    After a slight malfunction earlier this week, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is on track to rendezvous with Pluto.

    Launched on the 19th of January 2006, New Horizons has been zooming through space for its rendezvous with Pluto on the 14th of July. Images sent back from the spacecraft are already the most detailed with have, but this is nothing compared to what we will see on its closes approach.

  4. GHOST: a display technology that changes shape as they are used will change how we interact with smartphones, laptops and computers

    GHOST: a display technology that changes shape as they are used will change how we interact with smartphones, laptops and computers.

    GHOST (generic, highly-organic shape-changing interfaces) are malleable displays that can change to retain random shapes to allow users to manipulate the shape of the display and interact with information in a new way. The research project is supported by the European Union and has already delivered some interesting prototypes showcasing possible applications.

  5. Bumblebees are on a steep decline because of climate change

    Led by scientists at the University of Vermont, the most comprehensive study ever conducted on pollinators has concluded that bumblebees are in steep decline across both North America and Europe because of climate change, and their reluctance to expand their territory to the warming north.