November 23, 2017

Week In STEM-15 Aug

Scientists Discover Genetic Switch that Begins Aging Process

A new study, conducted by researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois, has revealed that a simple genetic “switch” may be the key to the solving the mystery of aging. The study of worms showed adult cells abruptly begin their downhill slide when they reach reproductive maturity. A genetic switch then allows aging to begin by “turning off” certain processes which protect cells within the body.

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Handy Device For Locating Veins

Those who fear needles are not likely to want to experience the prick more than once. And even experienced medical professionals can miss a vein sometimes, so it helps to have a little guidance. The VeinViewer uses harmless, near-infrared light to show precisely where veins are located and take the guesswork out of the process.

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Setting High Goals Without Burning Out

Researchers analyzed 43 studies on perfectionism and burnout, and found that holding high expectations — whether for academic achievements, career goals or athletic pursuits — isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, people with perfectionistic tendencies tend to pair their high expectations with what are called “perfectionist concerns.” This means they are extremely self-critical, and take it personally when they fail to reach their very challenging goals.

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Helping Cocoa Farmers To Tackle Climate Change

A project based on applied climate science has been launched to help cocoa farmers in Ghana adapt to the effects of climate change.
The project, which targets cocoa-based farming systems in Ghana, leverages existing value chain interventions and will translate climate science into actionable strategies for farmers and supporting actors including industry, certifiers and investors.

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New Design Brings Fusion Power One Step Closer

Advances in magnet technology have enabled researchers at MIT to propose a new design for a practical compact fusion reactor. Using commercially available superconductors, the researchers were able to create a strong magnetic field which makes it possible to produce the required magnetic confinement of the superhot plasma—that is, the working material of a fusion reaction—but in a much smaller device than those previously envisioned.

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Smartwatch navigation App For The Visually Impaired

Novartis has released a new Apple Watch and Android Wear app geared at helping visually-impaired people navigate their environment. The app is one of two Via Opta apps that have been available on the iPhone since August 2014, but a new upgrade adds additional features and brings Via Opta Nav onto a wearable for more convenient navigation.

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Growing & Eating Vegetables In Space

NASA has revealed that its ISS crew will munch on space-grown veggies (specifically, the red romaine lettuce in our feature image) for the first time on August 10th. This will give NASA a sense of what it’s like for spacefarers to eat fresh food that has only ever experienced microgravity and artificial lighting.

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$120 Million Into Revolutionary Gene-Editing Startup

Four years ago, the protein called CRISPR-Cas9, an enzyme that bacteria use to attack viruses that infect them, was unknown to humans. Now it is ubiquitous in science labs as the most efficient way of cutting-and-pasting DNA yet invented. Now an american company is taking this a step further….

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Robots That Build Robots Independently

Researchers at Cambridge University have developed a robot that can build “baby” robots that get progressively better at moving – without any human intervention. The ultimate aim is to develop robots that can evolve and adapt to their surroundings.

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Chronic Inflammation & Links To Cancer

Researchers have discovered a means by which the immune system can create cancerous DNA mutations when fighting off infections. The researchers unveil how one of a battery of chemical warfare agents used by the immune system to fight off infection can itself create DNA mutations that lead to cancer.

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Mass Extinction Can Accelerate Evolution

Researchers have found that robots evolve more quickly and efficiently after a virtual mass extinction modeled after real-life disasters such as the one that killed off the dinosaurs. Beyond its implications for artificial intelligence, the research supports the idea that mass extinctions actually speed up evolution by unleashing new creativity in adaptations.

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Can Gorillas Talk?

A gorilla named Koko became famous for her ability to learn sign language in order to communicate with her keepers. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison say that she is now displaying signs of being capable of speech.

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Younger Version of Jupiter Provides Clues to Planet Formation

Younger version of Jupiter provides clues to planet formation – It’s likely not the first time you’ll hear scientists compare an exoplanet to Jupiter. According to a team of astronomers, though, this one called the 51 Eridani b isn’t only similar in size – it’s “very much what models suggest Jupiter was like in its infancy.”

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