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STEM News – 9th April

STEM News – 9th April

HIV took just 2 weeks to overcome our best attempt to remove it

We all got really excited a few weeks ago when researchers announced they’d removed HIV from human immune cells using new gene-editing technology called CRISPR/Cas-9, or ‘CRISPR’ for short, which works like a pair of molecular scissors to cut and paste DNA.

As far as we know, that specific result is holding up just fine, but a separate study has revealed that, worryingly, HIV can evolve to survive CRISPR attacks in just two weeks. Even worse, the attack itself could actually be introducing mutations that make the virus stronger.

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SpaceX rocket successfully lands on ocean drone platform for first time

SpaceX landed a reusable rocket on a robotic drone on Friday, its fifth attempt and part of a budding space race between billionaires to revolutionize spaceflight. The Falcon 9 rocket took off with a Dragon cargo capsule at 4.43pm ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida, under clear conditions.

SpaceX employees gathered around the company’s Mission Control in Hawthorne, California, cheered wildly and chanted “USA” after the booster touched down on the barge off the coast of Cape Canaveral. Previous barge attempts had failed.

Watch the landing


 

Digital images can now be stored in DNA

DNA – or deoxyribonucleic acid, to give it its full title – is one of the basic biological building blocks of all living organisms, containing the genetic code that plays a large role in making us who we are. And now scientists have managed to use the same molecules to store digital photographs and retrieve them intact.

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A piece of software that can program living cells like a computer

For the first time, researchers have developed a new kind of software that makes it possible to genetically engineer, or ‘program’, a cell to perform any kind of function, via a simple programming language.

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New stem cell treatment could repair any tissue in the body

In a world first, Australian scientists have figured out how to reprogram adult bone or fat cells to form stem cells that could potentially regenerate any damaged tissue in the body.

The researchers were inspired by the way salamanders are able to replace lost limbs, and developed a technique that gives adult cells the ability to lose their adult charateristics, multiply and regenerate multiple cell types – what is known as multipotency. That means the new stem cells can hypothetically repair any injury in the body, from severed spinal cords to joint and muscle degeneration. And it’s a pretty big deal, because there are currently no adult stem cells that naturally regenerate multiple tissue types.

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We just discovered a new state of matter

Researchers have just discovered evidence of a mysterious new state of matter in a real material. The state is known as ‘quantum spin liquid’ and it causes electrons – one of the fundamental, indivisible building blocks of matter – to break down into smaller quasiparticles.

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Project to drill into ‘dinosaur crater’ gets under way

A joint UK-US-led expedition has got under way to drill into the Chicxulub Crater off the coast of Mexico.

This is the deep scar made in the Earth’s surface 66 million years ago by the asteroid that scientists believe hastened the end of the dinosaurs.

Today, the key parts of the crater are buried beneath 600m of ocean sediment.

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graphene solar panels that generate energy when it rains

Solar power is making huge strides as a reliable, renewable energy source, but there’s still a lot of untapped potential in terms of the efficiency of photovoltaic cells and what happens at night and during inclement weather. Now a solution has been put forward in the form of producing energy from raindrops.

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Is Risk-Taking Behavior Contagious?

Why do we sometimes decide to take risks and other times choose to play it safe? In a new study, Caltech researchers explored the neural mechanisms of one possible explanation: a contagion effect.

The researchers found that the participants were much more likely to take risks if they had previously observed fellow participants also taking risks.

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Gestures improve communication, even with robots

In the world of robot communication, it seems actions speak louder than words. Scientists have discovered that by getting robot avatars to ‘talk with their hands,’ we understand them as well as we do our fellow human beings.

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