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Radhika Gupta verified badge
Electronics Engineer | Editor at The Surg.
July 8, 2017 · 14 Reads

Top stories in science this week

Scientists say Magic Mushrooms can be used for depression therapy

A review of the research on combining therapy with the psychoactive component from magic mushrooms has concluded it’s not only a safe and effective way to treat conditions related to anxiety, depression, and addiction, it could be better than many existing forms of treatment.

The findings reinforce the need to explore the full impact of the psychedelic compound called psilocybin, a drug that is showing increasing promise in its ability dramatically improve the lives of those who suffer debilitating psychiatric disorders.

Reference: Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

A simple sugar-based filter could help clean toxic waterways

Scientists have created an inexpensive material that removes a highly toxic industrial pollutant from water. The filtration material is made by turning a naturally occurring sugar molecule into a polymer and it performs much better than our current filtration technology at dealing with one big contamination problem.

Reference: Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The Large Hadron Collider just detected a new particle heavier than Proton

The Large Hadron Collider has once again done what it does best – smash bits of matter together and find new particles in the carnage. This time physicists have come across a real charmer. It’s four times heavier than a proton and could help challenge some ideas about how this kind of matter sticks together.

The experiments run in CERN’s colliders all involve accelerating matter and then bringing it to a quick stop. The resulting burst of energy results in a shower of particles with different properties, most of which we’re pretty familiar with.

Reference: Physical Review Letters.

Saliva from ticks could save you from Heart diseases

Saliva from ticks could be a potential lifesaver, scientists have discovered, as it’s been shown to block the harmful chemicals associated with a particular kind of heart disease.

If we can develop a drug from this tick spit we win a valuable new treatment option for myocarditis, which can occur when the heart becomes infected by a common virus, and leads to heart failure in around 30 percent of cases.

Reference: Scientific Reports.

Gut bacteria affects human emotions, new study suggests

The more we find out about the bacteria that live in our gut, the more we’re coming to realise how these microbiota could have an impact on every facet of our lives – and not just our physical health and well-being, but our thoughts and emotions too.

A new study has identified associations between two kinds of gut microbiota and how they affect people’s emotional responses, and the researchers say it’s the first evidence of behavioural differences related to microbial composition in healthy humans.

Reference: Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

Scientists developed a new camera that doesn’t require lens

Engineers have developed a type of camera that doesn’t require any lenses. They’re replacing curved glass with something that does the same job computationally – an ultra-thin optical phased array. Researchers hope that the findings could turn a wide range of flat surfaces into image collectors.

To capture the perfect selfie or Instagram photo, cameras use lenses. In digital cameras, the lenses are used to focus the light on to a digital sensor. The optical phased array has a group of light receivers that adds a minute delay to the light as it is captured. This allows the camera to switch focus and look in different directions using nothing but electronic trickery.

Reference: OSA Technical Digest.

The Sun is ‘Sneezing’ violent solar storms towards Earth

Right now, the Sun is stirring up violent eruptions capable of wiping out the technology we are so dependent on, and new research has found that these blasts are even harder to predict than scientists first thought.

The findings reveal that these coronal mass ejections hurl into Earth’s atmosphere like a sneeze rather than a stream of bubble-like structures. The cloud-like eruptions are also strongly influenced by the solar wind, forcing researchers to reconstruct their space weather forecasting.

Reference: Scientific Reports.

New DNA from Neanderthal bone provides evidence of a lost human tribe

A femur discovered in a cave in southwestern Germany has provided researchers with firm evidence that a small population of humans left Africa and then vanished, long before the big migration that saw humans populate the globe.

Signs of this mysterious early migration remained in the DNA of the Neanderthal who left the leg bone behind, revealing not only a previous tryst between the two hominin populations, but a sign that Neanderthals were far more diverse than we thought.

Reference: Nature Communications.

Male fertility doesn’t last forever, IVF study shows

While it’s well known that women start to experience a decline in fertility in their thirties, scientists have found new evidence suggesting men also have a ‘biological clock’ that limits their ability to reproduce as they get older.

A new study shows that in vitro fertilisation (IVF) delivery rates are affected by the age of the male partner, with successful IVF procedures becoming less likely as would-be fathers get older.

Reference: European Society of Reproduction and Embryology

Scientists have built a Gecko-inspired robot to clean up space junk

Over the past 60 years, humans have successfully launched satellites, space vehicles and humans into Earth’s orbit. We’ve also managed to leave a whole bunch of stuff floating up there that can destroy satellites in an instant.

Thankfully, researchers have designed a robotic gripper that can pick up the junk we’ve left behind on our space adventures. Taking design cues from gecko feet, the gripper’s super clingy adhesive could enable climbing robots to carry out a range of tasks on a spacecraft, from checking and repairing defects to shooting videos.

Reference: Science Robotics.

The Surg is an exclusive platform for scientists to blog about their latest peer-reviewed publications. If you would like to write about your research, email us at write@thesurg.com

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