Top stories in science this week
Stories you don’t want to miss…
1. Artificial intelligence beats doctors at predicting heart attacks
Doctors have lots of tools for predicting a patient’s health. But — as even they will tell you — they’re no match for the complexity of the human body. Heart attacks in particular are hard to anticipate. Now, scientists have shown that computers capable of teaching themselves can perform even better than standard medical guidelines, which significantly increases the rate of correct predictions. If implemented, the new method could save thousands or even millions of lives a year.
2. Blood from human babies makes brains of elderly mice young again
Researchers discovered that plasma from cord blood contains proteins that improve learning and memory skills by enhancing the activity of the hippocampus. The protein could also mitigate the effects of Alzheimer’s.
3. Researchers have finally found a living specimen of the giant shipworm
Digging 3 meters down into the dark marine mud of a former log storage pond in Mindanao, Philippines, scientists have discovered five live specimens of an elusive creature previously known only through the 1- to 1.5-meter-long calcium carbonate shells it left behind. By carefully chipping away at the end of a chalky tube, researchers found a long, black, wormlike mass oozing from its casing — the first live specimen of the giant shipworm Kuphus polythalamia.
4. A cannabis-based treatment showed to decrease seizures
A clinical study showed that a cannabis-based medication could benefit patients, including children, who suffer from a type of epilepsy known as LGS. The results showed that LGS patients who took the medication for 14 weeks had a reduction in drop seizures of about 40 percent.
5. Scientists show how naked mole rats can survive 18 minutes without oxygen
Naked mole rats are the superheroes of lab animals. They show few signs of aging, are resistant to some types of pain, and almost never get cancer. Now, scientists have discovered another superpower: The animals can survive more than 18 minutes without oxygen. They do that by essentially switching their bodies from using one fuel to another — a strategy that might point to new ways of combatting strokes and heart attacks in people.
6. A newly discovered exoplanet may be best candidate in search for signs of life
Scientists have located an exoplanet that’s the best candidate for life as we know it. They believe it may prove to be an even more important target for the future characterization of planets in the habitable zone than Proxima b or TRAPPIST-1.
7. Facebook is working on a brain interface that lets you “communicate using only your mind”
8. Study finds a link between diet drinks and strokes that cause dementia
As part of a series of investigations into how sweet carbonated drinks affect our brains, Boston University School of Medicine used surveys to identify any long term neurological effects of consuming drinks artificially sweetened with substances such as aspartame or saccharine. Crunching the numbers and accounting for factors such as age, education, caloric intake, smoking, and exercise, it appears throwing back at least one diet soda a day makes it nearly three times more likely you’ll have an ischemic stroke — a condition that can cause dementia — or develop Alzheimer’s.
9. A new device uses sunlight to create drinking water from thin air
Scientists have developed a sunlight-powered device that can extract water even from desert skies. The device is powered passively by sunlight and may provide an answer to the billions facing severe water shortages around the world.
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