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Fri, 17 Nov 2017
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Bulb

Building Better Bone Replacements With Bacteria

Bacteria that manufacture hydroxyapatite (HA) could be used to make stronger, more durable bone implants. Professor Lynne Macaskie from the University of Birmingham is presenting work to the Society for General Microbiology's meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

Based on the use of Serratia bacteria, the research showed that the bacterial cells stuck tightly to surfaces such as titanium alloy, polypropylene, porous glass and polyurethane foam by forming a biofilm layer containing biopolymers that acted as a strong adhesive. The HA coating then builds up over the surface. For practical use, the HA layer must stick tightly, then the material is dried and heated to destroy the bacteria. A micro-manipulation technique used to measure the force needed to overcome the bioglue adhesion showed that dried biofilm stuck 20-times more tightly than fresh biofilm. When coated with HA the adhesion was several times more again. Slightly roughening the surface made the bioglue much more effective.

Hourglass

Healthy Older Brains Not Significantly Smaller Than Younger Brains, New Imaging Study Shows

The belief that healthy older brains are substantially smaller than younger brains may stem from studies that did not screen out people whose undetected, slowly developing brain disease was killing off cells in key areas, according to new research. As a result, previous findings may have overestimated atrophy and underestimated normal size for the older brain.

The new study tested participants in Holland's long-term Maastricht Aging Study who were free of neurological problems such as dementia, Parkinson's disease or stroke. Once participants were deemed otherwise healthy, they took neuropsychological tests, including a screening test for dementia, at baseline and every three years afterward for nine years.

Telescope

Celestial Population Boom

Large meteoroids probably more common than telescopic surveys suggest

The number of car-to-house-sized meteoroids whizzing through the Earth's neighborhood is about 10 times higher than Earth-based telescopic surveys suggest, a new study reveals.

That finding, reported online August 28 and in an upcoming Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets, comes from analyses of recently declassified data on infrasonic waves in the atmosphere detected between November 1960 and April 1972. The network of instruments collecting the data was originally designed to detect low-frequency sound waves produced by aboveground nuclear tests, says Elizabeth Silber, a planetary physicist at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada.

Book

Old Bible Fragment Found Hidden In Egyptian Monastery

© PA
A page from the earliest surviving Bible, of which another fragment has been discovered in Egypt
A British-based academic has uncovered a fragment of the world's oldest Bible hiding underneath the binding of an 18th-century book.

Nikolas Sarris spotted a previously unseen section of the Codex Sinaiticus, which dates from about AD350, as he was trawling through photographs of manuscripts in the library of St Catherine's Monastery in Egypt.

The Codex, handwritten in Greek on animal skin, is the earliest known version of the Bible. Leaves from the priceless tome are divided between four institutions, including St Catherine's Monastery and the British Library, which has held the largest section of the ancient Bible since the Soviet Union sold its collection to Britain in 1933.

Magnify

Print Study: Human fat yields multipurpose stem cells

You know that fat in your body you wish you didn't have? It turns out those cells could be used to create stem cells that one day may be able to cure disease.
Excess fat may one day be able to help cure disease and regenerate damaged tissue, scientists say.

Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that the millions of fat cells removed during liposuction can be easily and quickly turned into induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, more easily than the skin cells that researchers used when the first iPS cells were created in 2007.

These iPS cells, like stem cells derived from embryos, can be turned into many different kinds of cells, and researchers believe they eventually could be used to regenerate tissue for organs and repair damage.

Grey Alien

Twitter and Facebook flooded with alien theories about Google UFO logo

Image
Twitter, Facebook and the worldwide blogosphere have been flooded with alien conspiracy theories about the new Google UFO logo.

The logo, showing a classic saucer-shaped spacecraft shining a light down on the search-engine's regular logo, has been the subject of much speculation.

The world's internet voices want to now whether the all-powerful web giant is trying to tell us something.

Google regularly changes its logo to mark important event such as the recent 40th anniversary of the moon landings.

Magnify

Study of huge numbers of genetic mutations point to oxidative stress as underlying cause

Corvallis, Oregon. - A study that tracked genetic mutations through the human equivalent of about 5,000 years has demonstrated for the first time that oxidative DNA damage is a primary cause of the process of mutation - the fuel for evolution but also a leading cause of aging, cancer and other diseases.

The research, just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also indicated that natural selection is affecting the parts of the genome that don't contain genes - supposedly "junk" DNA that increasingly appears to have important roles in life processes that are very poorly understood.

The analysis was done by scientists at Oregon State University, Indiana University, the University of Florida and University of New Hampshire, in studies supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Magnify

'Achilles' Heel' In Y Chromosome Linked To Sex Disorders

The unique mechanism behind the evolutionary survival of the human Y chromosome may also be responsible for a range of sex disorders, from failed sperm production to sex reversal to Turner Syndrome.

Roughly six years ago, David Page's lab at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research reported the discovery of eight large areas of mirror-imaged genetic sequences, or palindromes, along the Y chromosome. Because the Y chromosome essentially has no partner with which to swap genes, a process that between ordinary chromosome pairs leads to genetic diversity and the exchange of good genes for damaged ones, it relies on its own palindromes to swap genes with itself. The Y, as it turns out, folds itself in the middle of palindromic regions, thereby pairing identical sequences to allow for potentially beneficial genetic exchange.

Blackbox

Pain-free animals could take suffering out of farming

With "hormone-free", "cage-free" and "antibiotic-free" becoming common labels on our supermarket shelves, might "pain-free" be the next sticker slapped onto a rump roast?

As unlikely as that may seem, progress in neuroscience and genetics in recent years makes it a very real possibility. In fact, according to one philosopher, we have an ethical duty to consider the option.

"If we can't do away with factory farming, we should at least take steps to minimise the amount of suffering that is caused," says Adam Shriver, a philosopher at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. In a provocative paper published this month, Shriver contends that genetically engineered pain-free animals are the most acceptable alternative (Neuroethics, DOI: link). "I'm offering a solution where you could still eat meat but avoid animal suffering."

Question

Giant statues give up hat mystery?

© BBC
The ancient statues have giant red hats
At 2,500 miles off the coast of Chile, the island is one of the world's most remote places inhabited by people.

Up to 1,000 years ago, the islanders started putting giant red hats on the statues.

The research team, from the University of Manchester and University College London, think the hats were rolled down from an ancient volcano.