November 23, 2017

Week In STEM-17th Oct

Europe and Russia mission to assess Moon settlement

he European and Russian space agencies are to send a lander to an unexplored area at the Moon’s south pole. It will be one of a series of missions that prepares for the return of humans to the surface and a possible permanent settlement.

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Sixth sense: How do we sense electric fields?

A variety of animals are able to sense and react to electric fields, and living human cells will move along an electric field, for example in wound healing. Now researchers have found the first actual ‘sensor mechanism’ that allows a living cell detect an electric field.

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Woman gains sight with new bionic eye

Only about 100 people across the globe have had this life-changing surgery allowing victims to gain back that sense they thought was lost forever. The technology basically works with a prosthetic and a signal receiving glasses laboring in tandem with each other. The glass captures images of what is being seen with a small camera built into the framework. The image is sent to a tiny wearable computer that is also on the glasses and transmits the image to the eye implant. Patients also undergo therapy to understand the images transmitted from the eye implant, which is like learning a new language.

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A Cure For Cancer Accidentally Discovered?

Scientists might have accidentally made a huge step forward in the search for a cure for cancer — discovering unexpectedly that a malaria protein could be an effective weapon against the disease.

Danish researchers were hunting for a way of protecting pregnant women from malaria, which can cause huge problems because it attacks the placenta. But they found at the same time that armed malaria proteins can attack cancer, too — an approach which could be a step towards curing the disease.

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First ‘in womb’ stem cell trial to begin

The first clinical trial injecting foetal stem cells into babies still in the womb has been announced.

It is hoped the cells, which are able to transform into a range of tissues, will lessen symptoms of incurable brittle bone disease.

The trial, starting in January, will be led by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and in the UK by Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The stem cells will come from terminated pregnancies.

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Larger brains do not lead to high IQs

Is brain size related to cognitive ability of humans? This question has captured the attention of scientists for more than a century. An international team of researchers provides no evidence for a causal role of brain size for IQ test performance. In a meta-analysis of data from more than 8000 participants, they show that associations between in vivo brain volume and IQ are small.

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Engineers create artificial skin that can send pressure sensation to brain cell

Engineers have created a plastic skin-like material that can detect pressure and deliver a Morse code-like signal directly to a living brain cell. The work takes a big step toward adding a sense of touch to prosthetic limbs.

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Sexual transmission of Ebola virus after recovery

A suspected case of sexual transmission of Ebola virus disease in Liberia was confirmed using genomic analysis, thanks to in-country laboratory capabilities. The work provides molecular evidence of Ebola virus transmission between a disease survivor and his female partner. It also demonstrates the value of real-time genomic surveillance during an outbreak.

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Using smartphones to predict bi-polar episodes

A team with the Center for Research and Telecommunication Experimentation for Networked Communities in Italy has conducted a small study to test the possibility of using smartphones to predict bi-polar episodes in people with the disorder.

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Exploring how synesthetes see smells

Being able to identify a smell or flavor appears to be the most important factor in how some synesthetes ‘see’ them, according to a new study.

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Genes involved in schizophrenia and obesity highlighted

Genes involved in schizophrenia and obesity have been highlighted in a new UCL study, which could lead to a better understanding of the DNA variants which affect risk of these conditions and aid the development of improved strategies for prevention and treatment.

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