April 23, 2018

Top STEM News 30th April

A collection of our editors Top STEM News during the week from across the world

Scientists have pushed water molecules into a whole new state of matter

Physicists have managed to squeeze water molecules into a brand new state that doesn’t adhere to the usual laws of solids, liquids, and gases. By trapping water into very tiny cracks, similar to those that also exist in nature, the researchers have managed to get its hydrogen and oxygen atoms to behave in very peculiar ways.

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Neuroscientists create ‘atlas’ showing how words are organised in the brain

Using brain imaging, scientists have built a map displaying how words and their meanings are represented across different regions of the brain.

Like a colourful quilt laid over the cortex, the atlas displays in rainbow hues how individual words and the concepts they convey can be grouped together in clumps of white matter.

“Our goal was to build a giant atlas that shows how one specific aspect of language is represented in the brain, in this case semantics, or the meanings of words,” said Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Experimental drug cancels effect from key intellectual disability gene in mice

A researcher who studies the most common genetic intellectual disability has used an experimental drug to reverse — in mice — damage from the mutation that causes the syndrome. The condition, called fragile X, has devastating effects on intellectual abilities.

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Even a little air pollution may have long-term health effects on developing fetus

Even small amounts of air pollution appear to raise the risk of a condition in pregnant women linked to premature births and lifelong neurological and respiratory disorders in their children, new research suggests.

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Study finds genetic markers that influence addiction

Why does addiction vulnerability differ from individual to individual? For the first time, scientists have shown in selectively bred animals that the propensity for addiction is linked to differences in expression of genes for specific molecules in a specific brain region. It’s also the first demonstration that a DNA tag called an epigenetic marker can predispose an individual to addiction and relapse.

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Hubble discovers moon orbiting the dwarf planet Makemake

Peering to the outskirts of our solar system, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a small, dark moon orbiting Makemake, the second brightest icy dwarf planet — after Pluto — in the Kuiper Belt.

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Investigating world’s oldest human footprints

Software has unearthed new information about Laetoli’s lost tracks, revealing hints of a previously undiscovered fourth track-maker at the site. The Laetoli tracks were discovered by Mary Leakey in 1976 and are thought to be around 3.6 million years old.

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First happiness genes have been located

For the first time in history, researchers have isolated the parts of the human genome that could explain the differences in how humans experience happiness. These are the findings of a large-scale international study in over 298,000 people.

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Seeing the benefits of failure shapes kids’ beliefs about intelligence

Parents’ beliefs about whether failure is a good or a bad thing guide how their children think about their own intelligence, according to new research. The research indicates that it’s parents’ responses to failure, and not their beliefs about intelligence, that are ultimately absorbed by their kids.

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Vitamin stops the aging process of organs

By administering nicotinamide riboside to elderly mice, researchers restored their organs’ ability to regenerate and prolonged their lives. This method has potential for treating a number of degenerative diseases.

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