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Radhika Gupta verified badge
Electronics Engineer | Editor at The Surg.
August 18, 2017 · 578 Reads

Top stories in science this week

Researchers have discovered a new class of bees that can help speed up wound healing

Honey bees really are tiny hardworking superheroes of the insect world – not only do they keep our agriculture going by pollinating many of our crops, but they also produce a myriad of beneficial substances, like honey and beeswax. For thousands of years honey has been prized for its topical antiseptic properties. But now researchers have discovered that its lesser-known cousin, royal jelly, has special molecules that speed up wound healing. Royal jelly is the superfood worker bees secrete and feed all their larvae, especially the queen bees. While queens are developing, they basically float in a pool of this stuff, and humans have figured out how to stimulate queen larva production to then harvest the royal jelly.

Reference: Scientific Reports

Alternative medicine to treat cancer can double the risk of dying, New study suggests

Choosing alternative medicine to treat curable cancer instead of conventional cancer treatments more than doubles your risk of dying in five years, according to a new study. There’s no denying that alternative medicine is a hugely popular choice for many Americans, with one in three taking some kind of alternative remedy – but new data shows that rejecting conventional medicine when faced with a cancer diagnosis is an extremely risky gamble.

Reference: Journal of the National Cancer Institute

New micro robots engineered to swim through acid and deliver drugs for stomach ulcer

A fleet of micromotor bots, each measuring half the width of a human hair, have been used to heal stomach ulcers in mice, the first time such bots have been used in experiments in living organisms. Conventional antibiotic drugs taken orally can get blitzed and blunted by acids in the stomach, but these miniature bots have been shown to withstand the conditions in the gut and pilot themselves towards bacterial infections.

Reference: Nature Communications

Researchers have developed new class of painkillers that cures chronic pains

Researchers have developed a new class of pain relief that acts on an obscure nerve pathway, opening the way to a medication just as concerns have deepened around the US opioid addiction and overdose epidemic. While any marketable pharmaceutical based on the discovery would still need to go through the long process of clinical testing, the compound appears to work as well as other opioid-alternatives, requiring a smaller dose and remaining effective for a longer period.

Reference: PNAS

Scientists provide additional evidence to confirm Einstein’s theory of General Relativity

If you really, really want to scrutinise the limits of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, there’s a unique testing ground you ought to know about, although it’s a little out of the way. The galactic centre – the heart of the Milky Way, some 26,000 light-years from Earth – hosts a supermassive black hole with a mass 4 million times that of the Sun. Now, for the first time, scientists have accurately recorded the orbits of stars around this giant void, and the results suggest Einstein was right all along. To backtrack a little, before Einstein showed up, Newtonian gravity predicted that astronomical bodies would orbit one another with gravitational forces proportional to their respective mass.

Reference: The Astrophysical Journal

Quantum weirdness has been tested beyond the particle scale for the first time

A small tweak on a definitive experiment in quantum physics has allowed scientists to observe for the first time exactly how molecules behave as waves. The results are solidly in line with what theory covering complex quantum phenomena predicts, so don’t expect any radical new physics here. But as with most quantum experiments, the implications of seeing such a counter-intuitive theory in action makes our head spin.

Reference: Science Advances

Researchers think there is a substantial amount of ice under the Martian Surface

A closer look at data from NASA’s oldest functional Mars orbiter has thrown up a puzzling result scientists didn’t see coming: the Red Planet is hiding water ice where there shouldn’t be any. A reanalysis of readings sourced by the Mars Odyssey probe reveals substantial amounts of water ice buried just under the Martian surface around the Red Planet’s equator – but given what we know about Mars’s climate, that shouldn’t be possible.

Reference: Icarus

Scientists have found a way to overcome genetic infertility

Scientists have created healthy offspring from genetically infertile male mice, offering a potential new approach to tackling a common genetic cause of human infertility. Our sex is determined by the X and Y chromosomes. Usually, girls have two X chromosomes (XX) and boys have one X and one Y (XY), but approximately 1 in 500 boys are born with an extra X or Y. Having three rather than two sex chromosomes can disrupt formation of mature sperm and cause infertility.

Reference: Science

Astronomers had their first real look at a Supernova crashing into a neighbouring star

Roughly 55 million light years away, in the galaxy NGC 5643, an exploding star sent a wave of gas and radiation crashing into a neighbouring sun. And it was just what astrophysicists had been waiting for. To the researchers who caught a glimpse of this cataclysmic event it was solid evidence that this type of supernova could emerge from different processes, potentially affecting how vast distances in space are currently measured.

Reference: The Astrophysical Journal Letters

Australian researchers may have created a cure for the peanut allergy

In a long-term trial, an oral treatment for peanut allergy proved effective four years after being administered in children. Scientists in Australia reported that the immune-based therapy, where the participants were given a probiotic and small peanut amounts every day for 18 months, had helped children dodge reactions for the said time period.

Reference: The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health

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