This week, a young science journalist goes on a boat with a research team and liveblogs it, cells are becoming zombies (not really), scientists track people after natural disasters using cellphone signals and more. I also included three blog posts published at the student-run science publication of Imperial College London, UK, I, Science, which I’m really digging these days.
Good stuff, good stuff! Dig in.
Rose Eveleth, science journalist, is currently blogging on Scientific American’s Expeditions blog. Her ongoing series is really cool (plus she’s funny) and gives a good insight into the research group she’s tagging along. Oh, said team is on boat in the Atlantic Ocean studying “a globally important type of phytoplankton called coccolithophores, and a virus that routinely attacks them.” Her latest post looks at different aspects of this epic battle.
So far I’ve told you about the phytoplankton we’re studying — the coccolithophores, how we figure out where they’re going to be, and how we collect them. But there’s a key element that’s missing in this description: the virus that infects them. And a lot of you wanted to know about it.
From Ada Ao, science blogger at Scitable, who assures us that her post is non-zombie related: Stem cells. From dead man. Alive and replicating after 17 days. I’ll let you decide for yourselves.
As a fan of the Walking Dead television series, I was tickled to learn of an article in this week's Nature Communications that reported viable muscle stem cells have been isolated from refrigerated cadavers 17 days after death! (And brought me thoughts of zombies.) The cells were even capable of regenerating new muscle cells in a dish. Not only that, the 17-day window was only a limit imposed by the lack of older human specimens and suggested the stem cells may survive beyond 17 days. The explanation for these observations was found in muscle stem cells recovered from mice that were dead for 14 days (refrigerated, of course). These mouse cells were found to be dormant, which may explain why they were able to survive for 2 weeks in the low-oxygen, starving conditions that are typical of dead tissues.
Miriam Kramer, at NYU, writes about an interesting “big data” study which tracked displaced Haitians during the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake using cellphone signals at Popular Mechanics.
New research using cellphone GPS data to track displaced people after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti could lead to better ways of getting aid to people in the aftermath of a disaster. After a disaster, people scatter. Earthquakes, hurricanes, or even droughts are surefire ways to clear out a city. But no matter where displaced people move, their exodus creates a serious issue for aid workers: You can't help anybody unless you know where they are.
Hannah Krakauer, science journalist, writes about an admirable quest by some soldiers (deep into WWII) to preserve an apple pie at Technology Review.
In September 1943, there was a flurry of activity in MIT's biological-engineering research labs. In the midst of battle in North Africa, 20 German prisoners had been taken by American forces. They were first shipped to a holding facility in Cameron, Virginia, and then to researchers in Building 35 at MIT. Starting up spectrometers and microscopes for a thorough analysis, the scientists eagerly examined their captives: 20 samples of German military rations—ingredients, main courses, and desserts.
Nadia Drake, astronomy reporter, reports that we can see the creation of the first stars at Science News. By we, I mean, radio telescopes.
A 3-D simulation of the early universe suggests that the first stars left a cosmic signature large enough to be read by radio telescopes. “It’s a new way to probe the universe when it was very young,” says Zoltan Haiman, a cosmologist at Columbia University, who was not involved in the new work. “We have very few ways to do that.”
I am absolutely loving I, Science, the student-run science publication of Imperial College London, UK. Great content. Featuring blog posts from Victoria Charlton, Jo Poole and Joel Winston here:
Failure to consult the public on a new drug-pricing policy may store up trouble for the future. Somewhere, in the depths of Whitehall, an elephant has taken up residence. This big, pink, imaginary elephant – let’s call her Nellie – is currently standing in a bustling project room, squeezed, I imagine, somewhere between a conference table and a flip-chart. And Nellie is feeling pretty miffed. Because, despite her remarkable presence in this room, and notwithstanding her many attempts at making herself heard, Nellie is being ignored.
Does the solution to paralysis emulate an infant’s developing nervous system? Can we regrow spines? Medicine has come a long way in the past century, and like most technology, progress has been exponential with the addition of automated machinery and global research collaboration. However, there remain conditions stubbornly resistent to the physician’s intent to cure. Many of these recalcitrant conditions involve the central nervous system. It makes us a higher organism but it leaves us vulnerable.
Bovine TB rates are much higher than estimated. Bovine Tuberculosis (BTB) has become a devastating problem for British farmers, resulting in the slaughter of around 25,000 cattle last year, at a cost of more than £90 million to the taxpayer. But despite the eradication strategy pushed forward by the government, BTB infection rates continue to rise and the disease persists in spreading.
Share more links in the comments below. Have a great weekend wherever you are.